Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After finishing the Star Country novel, Nan HuaiLin immediately started to study the script. Since the screenwriter was also the original author of the novel, the script was close to the original. The plot was basically unchanged, which is the most delightful thing for fans of the original.
Nan HuaiLin was completely immersed in it. Lu JinQin came to life from the words, living in his mind. It was almost as if he could hear Lu JinQin speak, see his expressions, his eyes, his movements, and to feel his love and hate. They seemed to become one.
At the same time, Nan HuaiLin was also preparing for the audition for Chasing New Dreams.
Although he was no longer under the threat of elimination from Ming Xi, he still had to try to grab any opportunity. He was not eligible for casting yet, and he was thanking God that he had a role to act.
Friday morning at 10:00 a.m, Nan HuaiLin arrived at the office on time.
Shan Mingen had called him yesterday and asked him to come to the audition for Chasing New Dreams today. Nan HuaiLin was thankful that the audition was scheduled before the filming of Star Country started next week, otherwise he might not have been able to attend.
On the elevator ride upstairs, he met Fei Cheng.
Although they had been living under the same roof for a while, it was still a little awkward to run into each other at the office.
“Here for the audition?” Fei Cheng asked.
“Yes.” Nan HuaiLin nodded.
“I’m one of the examiners,” Fei Cheng said with a smile. “Won’t you consider bribing me?”
Nan HuaiLin sternly refused. “No.”
Fei Cheng smiled and stroked his head. “Go for it.”
The audition took place in Ming Xi Media’s large conference room.
The conference hall, which was mainly used for regular company meetings, was a theater style hall with a podium and a dozen rows of audience seating.
Nan HuaiLin looked around the room and saw several familiar faces, but he could only remember the names of two or three of them.
Although they were all colleagues, right now they were competitors, so basically no one talked to each other. The large conference room was filled with an eerie silence, making people very nervous.
“Hi,” a boy sitting behind Nan HuaiLin suddenly leaned over the back of his chair, and greeted him in a whisper, “I’m He DuanYang.”
Nan HuaiLin turned back sideways and gave a polite smile, “I’m Nan HuaiLin.”
He DuanYang said, “I know you.”
“Huh?” Nan HuaiLin thought, Is it because of the Gao Tan incident again?
“We both acted in the same movie,” He DuanYang said in a low voice. “In The Poisoned Concubine, you played the imperial guard and I played the eunuch, remember?”
Nan HuaiLin remembered The Poisoned Concubine, but he had no memory of the boy in front of him, who was as ordinary as he was.
He DuanYang looked at his expression and knew that he didn’t remember him at all. But he wasn’t disappointed and said with a smile, “It’s okay if you don’t remember. Let’s consider this as the first day we met.”
“Okay,” Nan HuaiLin said with a smile. “It’s nice to meet you.”
The two shook hands symbolically and He DuanYang said, “You sound like you’re from the south, I’m from Jiangsu, how about you?”
Nan HuaiLin was surprised, “I’m also from Jiangsu.”
“Holy shit, what a coincidence!” He DuanYang said. “Where are you from in Jiangsu?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Suzhou, how about you?”
“I’m from Wuxi!” When He DuanYang got excited, he raised his voice and drew several stares.
Suzhou and Wuxi are right next to each other, and it took only fifteen minutes by high-speed train.
Although the two people did not have tears in their eyes, they were happy to see each other and chatted with each other in their native dialect.
Not long after, the door of the conference hall was pushed open, and Fei Cheng and Zhang Heng walked in. They were followed by several people, both men and women. They lined up behind the podium, with Fei Cheng and Zhang Heng sitting in the middle.
After a brief walk through the process, the “exam” to decide who stayed and who left, finally began.
Unlike his last audition for Star Country, the rules for this audition were quite random. The actors were free to choose their partners. They could choose either two or three or more, and of course, they could also play solo roles if they wanted to. As for the content of the performance, it was an independent choice from the fifteen classic film and television drama clips given by the company. Then, there was a half an hour of rehearsal time to restore the clips. The order of performance was not determined by lottery, but by whoever was ready.
Nan HuaiLin naturally paired up with his newfound hometown friend, He DuanYang, and both of them, coincidentally, chose to perform the clip from the film, Spring Breakers.
The clip given was a scene of the two male leads dancing the tango and kissing in the kitchen, without any lines. They were only using their eyes, expressions and body movements to show their feelings. It was quite the test of skill, and since they had no face value, they could only use this to show their acting skills.
The meeting room was a mess, so Nan HuaiLin and He DuanYang went outside to rehearse in the stairwell.
“Do you know how to dance the tango?” He DuanYang took out his phone and clicked on the countdown.
“I learned a little bit of it in my form class in college,” Nan HuaiLin said. “But I’m not a good dancer.”
“Me either,” He Duan Yang looked at him and said. “But it doesn’t matter how well you dance, the key is to have the right expression and eyes. Also, I think we can add some drama.”
“How?” Nan HuaiLin asked.
“We are auditioning for a swimming drama, and swimming must show flesh, so a good body definitely adds points.” He DuanYang truly looked a bit serious, and the tone of voice also became very different, it had a bit of a rebuke. “The clip only has dancing and a kiss, we can extend a bit further down, take off the top, show the muscles, what do you think?”
Nan HuaiLin thought this was a good idea. Although, it was a bit embarrassing to take off your clothes and show your flesh in front of so many people.
He DuanYang looked him up and down twice and showed a bad smile. “First of all, do you have any muscles to show?”
Without saying a word, Nan HuaiLin directly lifted up his T-shirt, revealing his well-defined abs.
He Duan Yang whistled and also showed his own, Nan HuaiLin nodded while smiling, “Oh, not bad.”
“I also have a little input,” Nan HuaiLin seriously said. “The two people in the film are a long-time couple, showing more intense feelings, but we are auditioning for a youthful inspirational drama. I think it is important to perform with a sense of youth, so we can not be as intense as they are, we need to add a little shyness. What do you think?”
He DuanYang said, “I think what you said is very right.”
The two of them agreed on a few more small details and then started rehearsing.
He DuanYang was a head taller than Nan HuaiLin, so he danced the male step while Nan HuaiLin danced the female step.
Both of them were very quick to enter the scene, and it only took a few glances to know that the strength of the other was not to be underestimated.
As they had just met less than half an hour ago, there was no need to act that shyness during the kissing scene since it would naturally flow out.
“I just had a moment where I was teased by you.” He DuanYang looked frank, “I feel like you acted like a completely different person. How can I say this…? From the original personality to the free transformation of the acting personality, it’s pretty cool.”
Nan HuaiLin was a little embarrassed by the compliment and said sincerely, “Whether a performance can stand up or not depends a lot on the person you’re acting with. It’s like when they’re weak, you’re weak and when they’re strong, you’re strong, so you’re great too, really.”
He DuanYang smiled and said, “I think we’ll both make the cut.”
“Yeah,” Nan HuaiLin nodded. “For sure.”
After two more rehearsals, He DuanYang’s cell phone rang and the countdown ended.
The two hurried back to the meeting room, where everyone was already seated.
“Who wants to be the first to perform?” Zhang Heng asked, sweeping the audience.
It was like a high school classroom teacher asking who wanted to take the initiative to answer a question, and the room, which was still full of noise, suddenly fell silent.
He DuanYang and Nan HuaiLin looked at each other, and the two of them nodded tacitly, and He DuanYang raised his hand and answered loudly, “Me!
“Good, quite courageous,” Zhang Heng nodded. “Come on up.”
He DuanYang and Nan HuaiLin took off their jackets and threw them on the seats, wearing their T-shirts, and went to the open space between the podium and the audience.
Seeing Nan HuaiLin, Zhang Heng gave a “Huh? Nan?”
Nan HuaiLin smiled and said, “Hello, Director Zhang.”
Zhang Heng looked at Fei Cheng next to him and then turned to Nan HuaiLin, “Which scene do you want to act in?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Spring Breakers”
Nan HuaiLin didn’t look at Fei Cheng, so he didn’t notice the subtle change in his expression when he heard the answer.
Zhang Heng said, “Let’s begin.”
Nan HuaiLin and He DuanYang stood facing each other, holding hands, putting their arms around each other’s shoulders and waists, and posing for a tango.
Their dance steps were very rusty, and they would step on their feet if they weren’t careful. Still, this rustiness was the best way to show that the two youthful boys wanted to get close but were shy and embarrassed, so they quickly got into the scene.
Their bodies, as they danced, became more and more close. Their eyes, which had already crossed several times, finally, recklessly entwined together. He DuanYang lowered his head and lightly pecked Nan HuaiLin’s lips. Nan HuaiLin lowered his head and smiled, his white cheeks glowing red at a speed visible to the naked eye. He quickly raised his head, as if to gather enough courage, and craned his neck to kiss He DuanYang’s lips. From the initial timidness, he gradually gained courage. The two people looked at each other with a smile after they were exposed to each other, and He DuanYang lowered his head and gently kissed Nan HuaiLin’s face, and then buried his head into his neck. He placed a small kiss on his skin when he heard a loud –
“CUT!” shouted Fei Cheng.
Zhang Heng, who was concentrating on the performance, was startled by the shout. He swallowed the expletive in his mouth, before saying to the two people who were putting on their T-shirts, “Good performance, you can go back and wait for the notice. Who will be the next group?”
Nan HuaiLin and He DuanYang went back to their seats to get their coats and quickly left the meeting room.
The two gave a silent high five and He DuanYang smiled and said, “That was a great performance!”
Nan HuaiLin agreed, but he was much more subtle than He Duan Yang, and just smiled.
“I think we’re too good together…What’s the word? The heart has a connection! That’s right, it’s the same! It’s a perfect match!”
Nan HuaiLin thought so too. He and He DuanYang really did have a good understanding, and they worked so well together, he could even feel the chemistry between them. He said with a smile, “If we both get selected for this audition, won’t we be able to work together?”
“There’s no if, it’s a must,” He DuanYang looked confident. “I’m so looking forward to acting with you.”
Nan HuaiLin was a little bit infected by his enthusiastic mood and said with a smile, “I’m looking forward to it too.”
“Shall we have dinner together?” He DuanYang said, “I got up early in the morning to work out to show off my muscles, and I didn’t even bother to eat breakfast, so I’m starving.”
“Come on,” Nan HuaiLin said. “I’m a little hungry too.”
The two went to the buffet, and as they ate and talked, they got to know each other better. They were completely free from the awkwardness and familiarity of just meeting each other.
The two of them actually had similar experiences. He DuanYang’s parents were also strongly opposed to him studying acting, but he still decided to come to Beijing and work part-time to pay for his tuition, and studied acting at an unknown third-rate art college. Even though he was lucky enough to get signed to the famous Ming Xi Media, he could only do the same as Nan HuaiLin, running in various dramas and taking some small roles without even a few lines. In fact, he was already discouraged, but this audition gave him hope. If he succeeded, he would stay in Beijing and continue acting, if not, he would go back to Wuxi, inherit his father’s company, and never mention the word acting again in his life.
“So you are the second generation of rich people, huh?” Nan HuaiLin was a little surprised, “I didn’t know that.”
“What second generation, ah,” He Duan Yang said with a smile. “My father has long disowned me as a son. I haven’t returned home to see my parents for five years.”
“Although my relationship with my parents is also very stiff, I still can go home for a few days every New Year’s reunion.” Nan HuaiLin couldn’t hold back and advised He DuanYang. “Your parents must be looking forward to your coming home. In fact, as long as you bow your head and give your parents a soft voice, and they have a step to take, they will definitely forgive you.”
He DuanYang was silent for a while and said with a smile, “Let’s each bring a partner when we go home this New Year, old folk.”
Nan HuaiLin then smiled and said, “Sure, old-timer.”
After eating, the two people went back to their respective homes.
Nan HuaiLin stopped by the supermarket and bought ribs, prawns, steak and pasta, intending to bribe Fei Cheng by cooking him a sumptuous dinner combining Chinese and Western flavors.
After reading the script all afternoon, Nan HuaiLin called Fei Cheng at five o’clock and asked him what time he would get off work.
Fei Cheng said, “I don’t know.”
Nan HuaiLin heard that his tone was a bit off, and asked hesitantly, “Are you angry?”
Fei Cheng said, “No.”
Except it was clear that he sounded angry. Nan HuaiLin said, “Oh,” and said, “Come back early if you’re done with work. I’ll cook you a big meal.”
Fei Cheng said, “Got it.”
Then the phone was hung up.
Nan HuaiLin read the script for a while and then started cooking dinner at six.
He searched the Internet for tutorials, and marinated the steak first, then started picking up the ribs and prawns, and went through each of the steps.
With the preparations done, the rest was easy.
Nan HuaiLin wanted Fei Cheng to have a hot meal, so he called him again, and when Fei Cheng said he would be home in ten minutes, Nan HuaiLin started stir-frying immediately.
When the spicy prawns came out, Fei Cheng came back.
Nan HuaiLin poked his head out of the kitchen and said with a smile, “Wash your hands and eat, I’ve used all my skills today.”
Usually, when Fei Cheng came home, he would take a shower and change his clothes first, so when he heard him say that, he came straight over. “You have successfully aroused my curiosity and appetite.”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Eat while it’s hot, I have to make some more dishes.”
So, Fei Cheng sat in the dining room and ate while Nan HuaiLin worked in the kitchen.
Sweet and sour pork ribs and red wine steak were served, followed by spaghetti with tomato and meat sauce, and finally two bowls of simple hibiscus and vegetable noodle soup.
“We have both Chinese and Western food,” Nan HuaiLin said, satisfied with his performance. “Is it very generous?”
“Yes, it’s very generous, but why so generous? It’s not like it’s a holiday.” Fei Cheng narrowed his eyes at him. “Someone who is unaccountably solicitous is hiding evil intentions.”
Nan HuaiLin said frankly, “I’m trying to bribe you.”
Fei Cheng hooked his lips and smiled, “You didn’t bribe me when you were told to bribe me, why bribe me now?”
“Eat it while it’s hot,” Nan HuaiLin said. “I’ll talk to you when it’s done.”
Fei Cheng started to bury his head in the food, and only stopped when he was a little full. He took two sips of soup to moisten his mouth, and said, “You can talk now that we’ve finished eating.”
Nan HuaiLin folded his arms on the dining table, slightly leaning his upper body to gaze at Fei Cheng, “My partner in the audition this morning, do you still remember him?”
Fei Cheng tried to control himself, so as not to show his displeased expression, and said lightly, “You and him were so intensely affectionate, it’s hard for me not to remember.”
Nan HuaiLin was a little embarrassed, but still asked, “What do you think of him?”
Fei Cheng asked in return, “What do you think?”
“Just…” Nan HuaiLin paused. “Whether he’s good at acting, whether he can pass the audition, and so on.”
“I don’t know if the acting is good or not, I didn’t bother to look at him at that time, but at you,” Fei Cheng said honestly. “As for whether he can pass the audition, it’s not up to me alone, it depends on the director, screenwriter and other people’s overall evaluation.”
“Mn,” Nan HuaiLin nodded. “I don’t mean anything else, I just want to say a few good words for him. His acting skills are really very good and he is very enthusiastic about acting. If we can give him a chance, he will not let the company down.”
Fei Cheng looked at him for a moment and asked, “Do you know him well?”
Nan HuaiLin shook his head, “I just met him today.”
Fei Cheng said, “You seem to like him a lot.”
“What are you thinking?” Nan HuaiLin cried and laughed. “He’s from Wuxi, so we’re from the same hometown, and he has almost the same experience as me. With a passion for acting but no role to play. I know the pain all too well, but I’m a little luckier than him. I got the first major role in my life, so I wanted to help him and bring him closer to his dream.”
Fei Cheng had lived for more than 200 years, but he had only lived. He had never had a dream and hadn’t experienced the passionate feeling of working hard for his dream. Even so, at this moment, the gentle and determined light in Nan HuaiLin’s eyes when he said the word “dream” slightly touched Fei Cheng’s heartstrings and made him suddenly want to have a dream too.
“If he performs well enough today,” Fei Cheng said. “He will pass the audition, I promise.”
Nan HuaiLin nodded, “I have faith in him.”
“What about yourself?” Fei Cheng asked.
“Of course I have confidence in myself too,” Nan HuaiLin raised his eyebrows. “I’m so good.”
Fei Cheng smiled and said, “Do you want me to bring an orange tree over to you?”
“Sure,” Nan HuaiLin nodded fervently. “I like oranges the most.”
The two of them finished the nice dinner with some jokes, and then went swimming together.
When they returned from the swim, they each took one end of the sofa. Nan HuaiLin read his script and Fei Cheng watched a film on his iPad with headphones on, so they weren’t disturbing each other.
The film that Fei Cheng watched was Spring Breakers, the same film that the clip that Nan HuaiLin and He Duan Yang had acted out today, was from. For Fei Cheng, who was used to watching Hollywood films, this film was too literary and slow, but he actually watched it and was a bit sad afterwards.
Fei Cheng wanted to talk to Nan HuaiLin about his afterthoughts, but when he looked up, he found Nan HuaiLin leaning on the sofa and falling asleep.
Fei Cheng put the iPad aside and sat on the sofa facing Nan HuaiLin, leaning in close to him and staring at his face with rapt attention.
The more Fei Cheng looked at it, the more amazed he felt.
It was obviously a bland face, but why did it make him think, He’s so good looking, I want to fuck him?
Also, Nan HuaiLin’s face had indeed changed slightly from the first time they met. He had fairer and more delicate skin, rosier and plumper lips, and slightly fleshier cheeks, which were unlike the previous thin and sunken ones.
The first time he saw him, he was able to smell a faint body odor. Not any other smell, just pure body odor. It was especially good, and also a bit tantalizing. He wanted to do something to him.
Fei Cheng smiled silently and reached out to pick up the script spread out on Nan HuaiLin’s lap and put it on the table. Then he got off the sofa, bent down, and carefully picked the person up. He walked into the bedroom, and carefully put him on the bed and covered him with the quilt.
Fei Cheng stood, staring at Nan HuaiLin’s peaceful sleeping face for a while. He resisted the desire to lower his head and kiss those delicious-looking lips, and quietly walked out before turning the lights off.