Ji Zhinong came home from the theater with a lot on his mind.
When Li Shaoyao asked him what he wanted to eat so Ah Jing could make it, Ji Zhinong turned a deaf ear and kept staring at the computer screen.
Li Shaoyao walked over and took a look at the screen, which was displaying news from two years ago about the suspicion that Pei Song went for psychotherapy in the hospital.
Zhinong shut the computer and curled up in the corner of the sofa with his hand over his chest, drooping like a wilted flower.
Li Shaoyao sat next to him and caught his bare ankles with his hands. “Are you sad about Pei Song?”
He wasn’t just feeling sad, but also self-blame.
Wen Che remembered how the silly Pei Song had told him with a serious expression, “Mr. Wen, you’re my dream and faith.” That was the reason why he signed the ten-year contract without any hesitation. But now, his “dream and faith” was a burden that nearly pushed him into depression.
He blamed himself and realized for the first time that his death had been a serious crisis for others.
“I want to save him.” He lifted his gaze to meet Li Shaoyao’s and took his hands. “Can you help me?”
Li Shaoyao asked calmly, “You have to tell me the reason. Are you trying to save him simply out of sympathy?”
“I don’t want him to end up the same way I did,” Ji Zhinong said sincerely. “Not everyone has the luck to meet a savior like you.”
“You think I’m a savior?”
“You’re mine, at least.”
“…” Li Shaoyao couldn’t refuse him. “What are you planning to do?”
“I have some savings on me. I’ll pay Pei Song’s contract violation fee. I want to start a studio and buy all of Wen Yi’s advent copyrights as well.”
Li Shaoyao asked probingly, “You’re… feeling sorry about Wen Che’s efforts?”
“What?” Wen Che only then realized that his actions were completely out of character for “Ji Zhinong”.
Li Shaoyao kept asking, “Have you interacted with Wen Che before?”
“…He …yeah, my textbooks are filled with him.”
Zhinong wanted to slip out of it, but Li Shaoyao got even more serious.
“But you never passed your previous exams. Your textbooks are also new. You probably didn’t even touch the books, did you?”
Two years ago, Ji Zhinong was a transfer student of the Department of Acting at Q University. Because he didn’t have a score for the university entrance exam, he didn’t count as an actual student. But with Ji Qingshan’s connections, Ji Zhinong was able to audit the class. Audit student Ji Zhinong had never gotten a single passing grade, and not feeling the pressure to graduate made him fall behind a lot in class. And there wasn’t really any teacher forcing him to attend class.
Li Shaoyao’s questions were extremely distressing to a bad student.
“I-I… I did study!”
“Then I’ll test you.”
“Do it!” Wen Che thought, ‘I’m not the real Ji Zhinong, so it’s not as if I would fail!!’
Li Shaoyao started testing him. “What was Wen Che’s first work?”
“The short movie Sunset.”
“Wrong! That’s his first movie. His first work was actually his drama performance during his sophomore year, Camellia and Water.”
“…” Wen Che thought back to it and remembered that he only started shining after that performance—one could still find the full version online. But this performance didn’t stand out among his famous works, and many didn’t know about him. Even Wen Che hadn’t remembered it immediately, but Li Shaoyao knew about it.
“Second question. What was the first award that Wen Che won?”
“It’s the Weiks Best Rookie Award!”
“Right, that one.” It had been six years, after all, and he’d won a lot of awards. He didn’t even remember what year he’d won which award.
“Third question. What cartoon was Wen Che the voice actor of, and for which characters?”
“I know! He was the voice actor for a dinosaur in Dream Dragon!”
“He wasn’t the voice actor for just the dinosaur, but also the rabbit and fox!” Li Shaoyao had everything down and smirked. “You never studied!”
“…” Wen Che really did want to look through the textbooks now and see how detailed they were about him.
“It’s my fault for not studying, but how do you know it so well?!”
Now it was Li Shaoyao who was being hard pressed.
“Did you…” Worried that he was about to be exposed, Li Shaoyao was ready to literally run away from the question when he heard Zhinong get off-track smugly. “…secretly read my textbooks?!”
“…” A certain someone relaxed and sat back on the sofa, becoming calm again. “I read it openly, not secretly.”
“There’s no point talking about this. So will you help me or not?”
“If you’re going to use money to solve Pei Song’s problems, don’t be too hopeful.” Li Shaoyao reminded Zhinong meaningfully. “What Pei Song needs isn’t money. The contract isn’t the only thing with a hold over him. There’s something else.”
“…You can’t figure it out?”
“How am I supposed to figure it out?!”
Li Shaoyao furrowed his eyebrows. After a moment of hesitation, he smiled and said, “It’s good that you can’t figure it out. That isn’t something you should know anyways.”
“What are you talking about now?”
Li Shaoyao stood up. “I can send you some reliable assistants to help you with opening a studio. But as for Pei Song, don’t force it. I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”
Ji Zhinong didn’t understand the meaning behind Li Shoyao’s words. He didn’t remember there being any other conditions aside from the contract violation fee in the original contract that would tie Pei Song down.
A few days later, Li Shaoyao sent an elite business team to assist Zhinong with the early arrangements. They were all Li Shaoyao’s trusted aides and were extremely efficient. After transferring twenty million to the finance department, there wasn’t anything else he had to worry about.
With Li Shaoyao’s help, everything went very smoothly.
Zhinong wanted to get into contact with Pei Song right away to convince him to end his contract. But he wasn’t Wen Che anymore and Pei Song had a huge change in temperament, which made Pei Song reject any social interactions outside of work. Zhinong didn’t know what to do and went to Yang Yi for help.
Yang Yi was once Wen Che’s employee and had maintained her friendship with Pei Song. Ji Zhinong wanted to have her act as the middleman, but while she understood his good intentions, she was curious about Zhinong’s motives like Li Shaoyao.
After all, Ji Zhinong and Pei Song didn’t have anything between them nor did they have any interactions due to work. Even if he was just suddenly being kind, there wasn’t any reason for him to choose Pei Song specifically!
“Just take it as out of empathy for someone in the same miserable situation.” Ji Zhinong intentionally put it lightly. “Since we’re both nameless celebrities.”
“You’re at least a B-lister now.” Yang Yi corrected. Thinking that Zhinong was just naive and kind, and since Li Shaoyao wasn’t opposed to it, she agreed to have a chat with Pei Song in Zhinong’s place.
Yang Yi was very fast. She relayed the response to Ji Zhinong just two days after agreeing to it.
“Pei Song rejected the offer, saying that he owes WenJian Studio.”
“What does he mean he owes WenJian?” Ji Zhinong said urgently, “The one he owes is Wen Che, and Wen Che has passed. WenJian has nothing to do with Wen Che now.”
“I combed through all of the pros and cons with him, but Pei Song wouldn’t listen.” Yang Yi felt helpless, but even more so understanding. “Mr. Ji, everyone has their own desires. There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to help him out of a sense of justice, but there’s also nothing wrong with him refusing your help. Everyone has their own comfort zone, and he’s probably gotten used to his situation in the past several years.”
“Is he really comfortable in that zone? Qin Xiaohuo told me yesterday that the doctor Pei Song frequents is a specialist in psychotherapy.” Zhinong felt more guilty the more he said. “He’s sick. I can’t just leave him to die. It’s all my… Wen Che’s fault that he’s like that.”
Yang Yi immediately warned him, “Don’t say this in front of Mr. Li.”
“Just like you, he also thinks that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.” The worry went to Zhinong’s head, making him think that Yang Yi was talking about the entire situation and not notice the emphasis on “Wen Che”.
“I have to make Pei Song end his contract with JianWen. Tell him that if he leaves JianWen, he will always be welcome in my studio.” Zhinong thought for a bit. Afraid that Pei Song didn’t just need an opportunity, he upped the stakes. “I’ll buy out WenJian for 50 million. Even if he doesn’t end his contract now, I’ll end his ten-year contract after buying the company.”
“Are you sure? I’m afraid it won’t be so easy.”
Zhinong said with certainty, “I understand Wen Yi well. Money is his weakness, and as long as you give him enough, he’ll submit.”
Yang Yi passed this information to Pei Song.
Two days later, Zhinong heard the good news while eating.
“Pei Song agreed to end his contract.”
Seeing Zhinong so relieved, Li Shaoyao said sourly, “Why do you care so much about him? If it weren’t for the fact that you two have never met, I’d think that you were having an emotional affair.”
Zhinong put down his spoon guiltily. Not because of Pei Song, but because he did have an emotional affair for a short while.
“I was just thinking that he’s only 25 and that it isn’t too late, so I wanted to help him and experience how it feels to be a boss supporting someone else while I’m at it.”
Li Shaoyao laughed. “You haven’t even learned how to walk properly yet, and you’re trying to help someone else?”
Zhinong: “Don’t look down on me. I’ll bet that Pei Song will definitely become popular in three years under my wing.”
Right then. Li Shaoyao turned over a vegetable leaf in his plate with his chopsticks.
Zhinong suspected that he was hinting at Pei Song and found evidence.
“I’m having dinner with Pei Song tonight, so don’t wait up for me.”
“I’ll go with you.” Li Shaoyao said matter-of-factly. “Don’t forget that I have 10 percent stocks in your studio, so I’m technically one of the bosses. If we’re interviewing an employee, I obviously have to be present.”
His words were very logical, and Zhinong couldn’t come up with a counterargument.
Li Shaoyao had work at his company, so after he got dressed, he left through the living room. But just as he was about to step out, he heard the financial channel broadcasting the major news of the day.
“In the early morning of yesterday, Li Yichang, the vice chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the city, was criminally detained by the police on suspicion of corruption.”
Li Shaoyao stopped for a whole two minutes because of this news. When Zhinong came downstairs and saw that Li Shaoyao hadn’t left, he pressed Li Shaoyao to hurry up, afraid that Li Shaoyao would be late.
The news was very long and kept broadcasting even as Zhinong went back to his room. The news was too complicated and involved too many people. As someone who had been cut off from society for six years, he didn’t understand all the details, so he didn’t take it to heart.
The time for the dinner came in the blink of an eye. Li Shaoyao drove back home and picked up Zhinong with Yang Yi sitting in the back, and the three went to the set restaurant.
Mid-drive, Yang Yi got a call from Pei Song about suddenly changing the meeting place and that he hoped they could meet him at the address he forwarded.
So Li Shaoyao turned around and drove to that address.
It was a high-end residential area with the highest floor being the thirtieth. The greenery on the outskirts of the area was well-done. As it was the summer, several trees were flourishing with life.
“He lives in a nice place.” Zhinong said in relief. Pei Song probably hadn’t been lacking money in the past few years.
When they got to the fifth building, Zhinong suddenly felt like someone had tapped his shoulder from behind. He turned his head, but he didn’t see anyone to his left, and Li Shaoyao who was to his right had his hands full holding gifts for Pei Song while Yang Yi was walking in front of them. His sudden stop made them stop as well, and just as Yang Yi turned her head to ask what was wrong when she suddenly felt a blast of wind on her face. Immediately afterwards, the sound of branches snapping mixed with a muffled thump.
When Yang Yi returned to her senses, she saw a fallen person one meter away, the blood rapidly pooling into a puddle.
Yang Yi screamed hoarsely, recognizing that the one who fell was Pei Song.
Ji Zhinong hadn’t gotten a clear view of everything by the time Li Shaoyao covered his eyes with one hand and pulled him into his embrace, distancing Ji Zhinong from the bloody scene. Then he pulled out his phone and called the police immediately.