The next morning, Ji Zhinong went downstairs with dark eye circles and sat at the table absent-mindedly, almost falling onto his butt. Li Shaoyao caught him in time and asked while looking at his eye circles, “Did you not sleep well last night?”
“…” Zhinong kept silent and lowered his head to drink milk.
He was sleeping next to Li Shaoyao yesterday but thought about Lu Yuankong the entire time.
Ji Zhinong felt like he was having an emotional affair and couldn’t meet Li Shaoyao’s eyes.
Just one sleepless night made him visibly exhausted and pale, his eye circles dark.
Seeing him so haggard, Li Shaoyao reached over to check his temperature, but Zhinong avoided him subconsciously.
“Did I make you angry?” He awkwardly reflected on his loss of self-control last night. “Zhinong, your acting brought Lu Yun to life. I’m really grateful to you. Yesterday… we were just discussing the plot. I didn’t mean to blame you, so… don’t be angry.”
Zhinong had always kept his acting and reality separate, and it was his first time getting them confused last night.
The only reason that he cared so much was because that character was once Lu Yuankong’s projection.
He was conflicted over it for the entire night, but in reality, he didn’t even have the courage to talk to Lu Yuankong over the phone. Besides, six years had passed, and people change. Everyone had their own new lives.
Thinking about past relationships any further would be unreasonable. How was having feelings for a fictional character written by a scriptwriter any different from Li Shaoyao getting a 2D substitute?
Wen Che warned himself that he couldn’t be so chunni as someone who was over thirty years old mentally, nor should he get angry for no reason at the kid Li Shaoyao.
By the time he finished the milk, he had already gotten over it.
“I’m not angry. I just had a nightmare and didn’t sleep well.”
He picked up a slice of bread, drew a smiley face on it with chocolate syrup, and put it into Li Shaoyao’s plate.
Li Shaoyao smiled as happily as he felt. Zhinong couldn’t help laughing and thought that Li Shaoyao really was still a chunni kid that was easy to comfort.
A certain someone finished his smiley face bread and pretended to say casually, “Wake me up the next time you have a nightmare. I’ll hug you while you sleep.”
“Oh.” Ji Zhinong swallowed a bite of egg. “But you sleep like a rock”
“Who did you say is a rock?”
He reached his slender hand across the table and pinched Zhinong’s nose softly. “You can hug me yourself too. Why are you being so reserved when we’re already sharing a bed?”
“I got it, I got it!”
“You’re just brushing me off,” Li Shaoyao got serious. “Why is it always me who hugs you at night and never you?”
“Aren’t you hot in the summer?”
“But you didn’t hug me in the winter either.”
“I’ll make it up to you tonight, okay?”
As he was saying it, Li Shaoyao got up and reached out to hug Zhinong.
Ji Zhinong: “…”
Whatever. He’d just satisfy the chunni kid.
He put down his spoon and gave a certain someone a big hug. Li Shaoyao took the chance to turn the innocent hug into an indecent kiss and defended himself after it. “This is the interest for the entire winter.”
He smiled shamelessly. “You can keep repaying it tonight.”
Ji Zhinong, who was panting with his face red from the kiss, complained with tears in his eyes, “You profiteer!”
If Ah Jing weren’t in the kitchen, a certain someone would probably carry through with his profiteer and greedy principles.
Seeing Zhinong’s exhaustion, he had Yang Yi postpone Zhinong’s work for the day and gave him a day of rest.
Seeing the dark circles reflected in the mirror, Ji Zhinong didn’t think he was presentable either and agreed to the rest day.
But when he was really sent to bed, he rolled up in the blanket and said, “I can’t fall asleep.”
“You can’t fall asleep?”
Li Shaoyao put down his computer and suggested, “How about we go to the movie theater to see your masterpiece?”
“Didn’t you watch it just yesterday?”
“Watching it at home and in the movie theater is different. I’ll have Chen Qing arrange it.” Li Shaoyao thought it through earnestly. “Zhinong, you have fans now. The movie theater in the center of the city is my property, so how about I have them clear the place out?”
Ji Zhinong immediately tried to talk him out of it. “That’s not necessary! Isn’t that making it obvious instead? I’m not some huge celebrity anyway. Not many people would recognize me when I’m outside.”
Li Shaoyao said with certainty, “Maybe not now, but definitely in the future.”
Chen Qing was on call 24/7, and as soon as he got orders from his boss, he made the arrangements in a minute.
In order to directly observe the viewer’s reactions, Li Shaoyao didn’t even reserve all the seats.
They sat in the couple seats in the back row of the movie theater like normal viewers before it started.
Out of the fifty seats in the theater, only half were full.
It was the day of the movie premiere and also the weekend, so the low turnout wasn’t looking good.
Li Shaoyao pretended to casually watch Zhinong’s expression. But his staring was too obvious, and Zhinong quickly noticed.
Li Shaoyao patted Zhinong’s shoulder and said seriously, “I really think that you interpreted Lu Yun well.”
Zhinong only just realized that there weren’t many attendees. Li Shaoyao was afraid that he would be sad, which was why he was praising him so desperately.
Ji Zhinong had been whitewashed in the past year, causing many people’s impressions of him to only be the constantly disproven vulgar rumors. Practically no one remembered that his actual career was that of an actor. Adding on his bad quality works from before, Treading on a Courtyard of Orchids 2 wasn’t as popular as the producers had expected it to be.
Li Shaoyao was afraid that Ji Zhinong would break down and was a little regretful about coming to the movie theater to “be humiliated”. But instead he heard Zhinong say quietly in his ear, “I‘ve never doubted my professionalism before.”
In the brightness from the screen, he saw Zhinong smile confidently and broadly.
“I do my best, and the rest is up to the viewers to judge.”
Li Shaoyao’s worried expression turned into one of admiration. He took advantage of the couple’s seat to wrap his arm around Ji Zhinong and secretly kissed him on the forehead.
“That’s great. You’re really similar to him in that respect.”
The movie was too loud, and Ji Zhinong didn’t hear what he said in the end.
During the two hours that the movie played, no one left early. As it progressed, the audience kept crying, but at its end, many laughed through their tears. The twenty something viewers in the audience were drawn in for the two hours, their emotions strangely united.
After the movie ended, Zhinong blended into the leaving crowd and heard some comments straight out of their mouths.
“It’s been six years. Lu Yun finally came back to life.”
“If I hadn’t seen the casting beforehand, I would’ve thought that Wen Che himself appeared.”
“What do you mean? Stop belittling the legendary Wen Che. Ji Zhinong did pretty well though. Wasn’t he really bad at acting before? Did he get himself straightened out?”
Wen Che, who was in the crowd: “…” I’m belittling myself.
When they got out of the theater, a man wearing a black suit handed over a cup of milk tea. Li Shaoyao took it and passed it to Zhinong.
“Didn’t you say you were thirsty?” Li Shaoyao said, “I had my assistant buy it.”
“I just said it without thinking…” He looked at the milk tea brand—it was the one that took an hour to buy from at any time.
He immediately told the man, “Sorry for the trouble.”
The manager of the movie theater was all smiles. “Being able to serve the madam is an honor!”
Zhinong: “…” Li Shaoyao’s subordinates were such boot-lickers! He ripped the straw open, put it into the milk tea, and started to drink. But then he suddenly noticed a familiar movie name on an advertisement: Abyssal Chess Chats. The poster was of a recognizably bad quality, and the reason why he took note of it was because written on the poster was “Adapted from the novel Chess Chats.”
To Wen Che, the name Chess Chats was something murky in his memories, but after a bit of thinking, he remembered that this novel was once the project he valued most after creating his studio. The male lead was Pei Song, a talent he had personally chosen and planned to support. Considering that, he wasn’t surprised to see that the producer was JianWen Studio.
The manager noticed the madam’s gaze and took the initiative to explain, taking advantage of every opportunity to perform well. “That’s also another movie that just premiered today. But there aren’t many people watching it. It’s just going through the theater chain for a short while; three days later, it’ll stop airing in theaters and become an unimpressive web drama.”
Hearing that, Zhinong immediately asked urgently, “Why? Can’t you guys give a movie with such a great original work and actors a chance?”
The manager thought that the madam was a naive person but was afraid to go against his wishes. He only explained the matter after getting the ok from Li Shaoyao. “It’s true that Pei Song was the popular future celebrity that year. He signed a contract with Mr. Wen as soon as he graduated… Seeing how young you are, do you know about Wen Che, madam?”
Wen Che: “…” What, was this supposed to be part of his childhood memories?!
Li Shaoyao answered for him. “Of course. Wen Che showed up in his textbooks before.”
The manager clapped his hands. “So that’s how it is! It’ll be easy to explain then. Wen Che was at the prime of his career that year. When he signed Pei Song, the media were reporting that Pei Song would definitely be his successor and had limitless potential. ‘WenJian Studio,’ or the current ‘JianWen Studio,’ brought several high quality works. Mr. Wen had very good taste, and as time showed, the market developed just as he predicted. The copyrights that he bought would’ve definitely been a strategic advantage as soon as they were turned into movies. What a pity that the accident happened afterwards…”
The manager didn’t have the guts to mention the past accident in front of Li Shaoyao and skipped it.
Wen Che didn’t notice the change in Li Shaoyao’s expression. He only cared about what happened to the people and projects he had had high hopes for right then. “Tell me what was a pity!”
The manager said regretfully, “It’s a pity that after Mr. Wen passed, his cousin Wen Yi took over WenJian Studio. He… was a layman that graduated from vocational school and didn’t understand how a company operated. Mr. Wen’s workers stayed a year out of loyalty, but reportedly, they couldn’t take Wen Yi’s behavior and quit together. Ms. Yang Yi, your current manager, left Wenjian then, madam.”
Zhinong: “…” He knew that Yang Yi quit her original studio, but he didn’t think that the reason behind her quitting would be that. He’d thought that it was because of her marriage and family!
“The staff could leave, but Pei Song couldn’t. He had signed a ten-year contract with Wen Che, but something happened to Mr. Wen after just half a year. Pei Song rejected offers from other major companies and stayed at WenJian Studio for Wen Che, and he didn’t dissolve the contract immediately after Wen Che passed. He stayed for two years and worked on so-called major films like Monsters vs. Roseman. He got held back for two years and wanted to dissolve the contract, but he was trapped by the sky-high contract violation fee Wen Yi set. Pei Song’s family was only middle-class—they couldn’t pay a contract violation fee in the tens of millions.”
“You said he was a good actor, madam, and it’s true he once was. But after six years, his energy had long been robbed from him by those horrible films. He has no future. And the projects that Mr. Wen had high hopes for were completely ruined. No matter how good the project was, it couldn’t reach its full potential in Wen Yi’s hands. So now even the studio’s name has changed to ‘WenJian Studio’.”
“It’s been six years. Everyone had hopes for the studio at first in consideration of Wen Che. But now, seeing the words ‘Produced by JianWen Studio’ is like seeing trash. No one even looks at it. Mr. Wen Che’s efforts before he passed were all put to waste by those people.”