Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Over the weekend, Nan HuaiLin spent two days reading the script of Star Country.
He had already read the script from beginning to end, twice, and felt that he had digested the role of Lu JinQin so thoroughly that he was confident that he could play him well in any scene he chose provided he had memorized the lines first. Since it was an ancient immortal drama, the lines were a little difficult to memorize, but Nan HuaiLin’s line memorization skills were top notch. As long as he was given ten minutes before shooting, he would be able to memorize a large section of lines skillfully.
On Monday morning, Nan HuaiLin woke up before 7 a.m.
Today was the day to attend the opening of Star Country, which also happened to be the first opening of his life.
He was so nervous last night that he had insomnia, tossing and turning until after 2 a.m. In total, he had slept for less than five hours.
When he went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, there were no dark circles under his eyes and no redness in them, which was amazing.
He took a quick shower, and halfway through, Fei Cheng suddenly pushed open the door. He said, “Good morning” in a listless manner, then stood in front of the toilet before pulling out something and starting to pee.
Nan HuaiLin felt like crying and laughing. Although they were both men and there was nothing to avoid, sharing the bathroom still felt very awkward. Maybe they were not yet familiar enough to see each other naked.
Fei Cheng did not go out after peeing. Instead, he washed his hands and then started to squeeze out toothpaste to brush his teeth.
Nan HuaiLin quickly finished showering, covered his waist with a bath towel, and then grabbed a towel to wipe hair. He inclined his head to look, and could not help but laugh.
Fei Cheng’s eyes were closed, his toothbrush was in his mouth, and his hands were not moving at all, as if he was asleep.
“Hey,” Nan HuaiLin poked his arm. “Wake up.”
“Hmm?” Fei Cheng opened his eyes, looked at him in confusion, and the hand holding the toothbrush started to move.
“Were you a thief in the night?” Nan HuaiLin said while squeezing toothpaste. “Sleepy like this.”
“A friend had a birthday party and we drank until 2 a.m,” Fei Cheng said vaguely.
Nan HuaiLin half-listened and half-guessed, but he understood anyway.
He originally did not notice, but Fei Cheng really smelled of alcohol, and suddenly he was a little sick to his stomach.
Nan HuaiLin moved to the side, brushing his teeth while asking, “Why don’t you take a nap? It’s still early.”
“Today is Monday, the company has an early morning meeting, at 8:30.” Fei Cheng’s face was indifferent. “Why are you so early?”
Nan HuaiLin smiled. “I have to attend the opening ceremony of Star Country today.”
“Really?” Fei Cheng smiled and said, “Then you have to look good.”
Nan HuaiLin wasn’t good at this, so he said, “Can you help me look good? I can’t even spray hairspray.”
“No problem,” said Fei Cheng. “I’m good at that.”
The two of them quickly finished washing up, and then Fei Cheng had Nan HuaiLin stand in front of him. He held a hair dryer to blow his hair until it was half dry, covering Nan HuaiLin’s face with one hand and spraying hairspray with the other, and then meticulously styling it.
After half a day’s work, Fei Cheng said, “Okay. See how it looks?”
Nan HuaiLin turned to the mirror, looked at the front and the side, and couldn’t help but marvel, “You’re too professional. You’ve studied in the West, right?”
“Practice makes perfect,” Fei Cheng said with a smile. “Go get changed.”
“Oh, right.” Nan HuaiLin rushed back to his room, grabbed the two sets of formal clothes he bought a few days ago, ran to the bathroom door and asked Fei Cheng, “Which one do you think I should wear?”
Fei Cheng looked at them then pointed to the left one and said, “This one. It looks brighter.”
“Okay.” Nan HuaiLin turned around and left. Fei Cheng raised his voice and asked, “What’s your shoe size?”
Nan HuaiLin went back to his room to change his clothes and tie his tie, when Fei Cheng came in with a pair of leather shoes in one hand and a watch in the other.
“What’s this thing you’re wearing?” Fei Cheng frowned and laughed. He reached out and untied his half-tied tie, then tied it himself, explaining the essentials as he did so.
After tying the tie, Fei Cheng sat him down on the bed, got down on one knee and put on the leather shoes he had just brought over.
“I’ll do it myself…” Nan HuaiLin couldn’t afford to have the director kneeling on the floor to put on his shoes.
“Sit still.” Fei Cheng held his ankle, and put his white jade-like feet into the shoes. “These shoes were given to me, but the size is too small and I can’t wear them, so I’ll give them to you. They match your clothes just right.”
“How much were they?” Nan HuaiLin said. “I’ll transfer it to you.”
“Why are you always ‘money, money, money?’” Fei Cheng glanced up at him. “I’ll be upset if you keep doing that. The last time you bribed me at that level. If you did it twice a week, that’s not too much to ask, right?”
Nan HuaiLin laughed and said, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll lose your eight-pack abs?”
Fei Cheng said in a poetic tone, “Whether you feed me or you don’t feed me, the abs will be there with no increase or decrease.”
Nan HuaiLin was so amused by him that he stopped asking.
After putting on his shoes, Fei Cheng put on the watch for him.
Nan HuaiLin didn’t know what brand it was, but it looked very expensive.
“How much was this watch?” he asked.
“More than a million,” Fei Cheng replied casually.
Nan HuaiLin was shocked, and hurriedly took the watch off, “Take it off. I can’t afford to pay for it if it’s lost.”
“I won’t let you pay if you lose it.” Fei Cheng stopped him and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Nan HuaiLin suddenly felt a heavy weight on his wrist, like a circle of gold bars was hanging there.
“Stand up and let me see,” Fei Cheng said.
Nan HuaiLin stood up, feeling like he was filled with the air of a thug.
“Turn around.” Fei Cheng twirled his finger.
Nan HuaiLin then spun a circle and asked with very little confidence. “Is it okay?”
Fei Cheng nodded, “Smile and let me see.”
Nan HuaiLin, “…Oh.”
Fei Cheng smiled and said, “It’s especially good. Really.”
“Phew-” Nan HuaiLin let out a long breath. “I’m getting nervous now. Can you tell my hands are shaking?”
Fei Cheng grabbed his hand and shook it hard. Then he looked him in the eyes and said, “Don’t be nervous. You’ll be fine, trust me.”
He didn’t know why, but Nan HuaiLin really felt his heart suddenly settle down. He nodded his head vigorously and said, “Yes, I can do it!”
The cell phone that had been thrown on the bed suddenly rang. It was Man Tianzhu calling.
Nan HuaiLin answered. “I’m ready, I’ll be right down. Okay, see you soon.”
After hanging up the phone, Nan HuaiLin scanned the time and looked up at Fei Cheng. “It’s 8:20 a.m!”
Fei Cheng, “Huh?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Didn’t you just say you had a morning meeting at 8:30 a.m?”
“Fuck!” Fei Cheng ran away. “I forgot!”
Nan HuaiLin felt both amused and sorry, so he just grabbed his phone and went out the door. He stood in the doorway and said, “I have to attend the opening ceremony in the morning, take final photos in the afternoon, and have the opening banquet in the evening, so I don’t have time to cook for you today.”
“I’m not a three-year-old. Don’t worry about me.” Fei Cheng quickly put on his clothes, grabbed his jacket and went outside. When he passed by Nan HuaiLin, he raised his hand to rub his head and then he remembered that he had just finished doing his hair. So, he pinched his white face instead and said with a smile, “Go for it, little Lin-zi.”
Fei Cheng took the lead and left.
Nan HuaiLin touched the place where he had just been pinched, smiled, and followed him out the door.
Man Tianzhu came by car.
Shan Mingen said that he would be assigned a car immediately, and the task of getting one was quite efficiently done.
Nan HuaiLin opened the door and sat in the passenger seat. Then he smiled and greeted her. “Good morning, Sister Zhu.”
“Good morning,” Man Tianzhu smiled at him. “You look so handsome today.”
Although he went to the trouble of primping, Nan HuaiLin knew that he wasn’t handsome. It was just an illusion created by his clothes.
Man Tianzhu drove onto the road and into the morning rush hour traffic jam.
In the turtle speed traffic, Man Tianzhu said methodically, “The conference starts at 10 o’clock. When we arrive, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the venue and the process. After the official start, you don’t need to be nervous, just keep smiling throughout. I’m guessing there won’t be reporters asking you questions, because the male and female protagonists are the focus. In order to hype up the drama, Shen Chong and Ma XiaoHuan started a scandal a week ago. They will probably be bombarded by reporters by then. Just listen and learn communication skills with the media, so you can use it in the future.”
“Okay,” Nan HuaiLin nodded, “I’ll remember.”
Shen Chong was a popular actor, and Ma XiaoHuan was a popular actress. Both were popular stars with their own traffic and topics. A while ago, when the scandal of the two came out, the Internet directly exploded, and the two sides of the fans made them even more popular. The second actress, Zheng JiaWen, was a newcomer who had just become popular. Her popularity wasn’t comparable to that of the male and female leads, but she has more than 3 million Weibo fans. Due to a sexual harassment incident by a well-known director a while ago, she had made a lot of waves online, and wasn’t lacking in conversation. Therefore, Star Country had a lot of heated discussions on the internet even before the shooting started. It was mainly fans tearing each other apart, but the more you tear, the hotter it gets was the usual way of the entertainment industry.
Compared to them, Nan HuaiLin, who only had a hundred Weibo followers, was a total ghost and could basically be ignored.
When he thought about it, he suddenly wasn’t nervous at all.
It was just after nine o’clock when he arrived at the Hotel Sofitel.
The lead actor and actress hadn’t arrived yet. Only the second actress, Zheng JiaWen, had arrived first and was in the lounge to fix her makeup.
Zheng JiaWen was also an artist of Ming Xi, and her previous manager was also He DingHong, so she and Nan HuaiLin could be considered as knowing each other.
After greeting each other, Zheng JiaWen smiled and said, “You’re finally making your mark. Your role is villainous, but your persona is especially good and will attract a lot of fans.”
Nan HuaiLin smiled. “That’s what everyone says.”
Zheng JiaWen suddenly looked serious. “I have to say, thank you.”
Nan HuaiLin was confused, “Thank me for what?”
“Thank you for getting rid of Red Crane.” Zheng Jiawen showed an expression of disgust. “I couldn’t stand him anymore. He’s so obscene, I got sick to my stomach when I saw him.”
Nan HuaiLin didn’t want to talk about it, so he didn’t answer, just casually asked, “Who’s your manager now?”
Zheng JiaWen said, “Zhu JianYin, the same agent as Shen Chong. And you?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Shan Mingen.”
Zheng JiaWen smiled. “Then you are quite unlucky.”
Nan HuaiLin reasonably guessed what she was referring to, and smiled bitterly. He didn’t say anything.
Not long after, Shen Chong and Ma XiaoHuan arrived one after another. Only when the launch was about to start did director Luo Ke arrive.
At ten o’clock, the director entered the stage with the four actors and they took their respective seats. Luo Ke in the middle, Shen Chong and Nan HuaiLin on his left, and Ma XiaoHuan and Zheng JiaWen on his right. There were dozens of reporters sitting at the bottom. The battle looked quite intimidating.
Nan HuaiLin was a little shaky, but more excited than nervous.
Shen Chong noticed and came over to whisper, “Don’t be afraid. Brother Chong will cover for you.”
Nan HuaiLin smiled, “Thank you.”
The first ten minutes of the conference were spent talking about Star Country, but for the rest of the hour, the reporters asked questions about topics that were unrelated to each other, such as Shen Chong and Ma XiaoHuan’s scandal, and Zheng JiaWen’s sexual harassment. Even Luo Ke’s peculiar affair with an actress was brought up. Only Nan HuaiLin was sitting there like an outsider. No one cared who he was, no one asked him questions. He just sat there quietly, keeping a smile on his face until it was a little stiff.
At the end of the press conference, Shen Chong suddenly put his arm around Nan HuaiLin’s shoulder and introduced him with a smile, “His name is Nan HuaiLin. He is also an actor of Ming Xi Media. He plays my brother in Star Country, and he is also my brother in real life. Please take care of him in the future.”
Shen Chong succeeded in drawing everyone’s attention to Nan HuaiLin, who suddenly tensed up and lost the smile on his face.
A female reporter stood up. “Director Luo, wasn’t Chen JingTian the original male lead in Star Country? Why is there a sudden change?”
Luo Ke said, “At the beginning of the preparation, we did intend to cast JingTian as the second male, but we couldn’t work out a partnership because of scheduling problems, and I regret that.”
Another reporter asked, “This actor seems to be a newcomer. He looks very new, has he acted in anything before?”
Nan HuaiLin was hesitant to answer when Shen Chong smiled and said, “He was in Unicorn in Love and had a hot passionate scene with me.”
The reporter then followed his words and asked, “Has Unicorn in Love been finished yet? When will it be released?”
The topic was thus opened up, and Nan HuaiLin did not even open his mouth from the beginning to the end.
After the press conference, Nan HuaiLin said a sincere, thank you, to Shen Chong.
“You don’t have to be so polite with me. Isn’t it right for a brother to take care of his younger brother?” Shen Chong smiled and said, “Shall we eat together? After eating, we have to go to the photo shoot.”
Nan HuaiLin hesitated, then said, “Okay.”
Shen Chong took him straight to a restaurant on the sixth floor of the hotel.
“This, Le Pré Lenôtre, is the best French restaurant in Beijing,” Shen Chong said while looking at the menu. “You won’t be disappointed with any of their dishes.”
Nan HuaiLin said, “I don’t know much about French food, so you can help me order.”
Shen Chong finished his order, looked at Nan HuaiLin and said, “I heard from Fei Cheng that you two are living together?”
Nan HuaiLin choked. “Not living together. Sharing an apartment.”
“It means the same thing.” Shen Chong said in disbelief. “I don’t understand. I met you together with Fei Cheng. You guard me like a thief, how come you are not at all wary of Fei Cheng?”
Nan HuaiLin laughed. “He is different from you.”
Shen Chong asked, “What’s different?”
Nan HuaiLin thought for a moment. “I can’t say, but it’s different.”
“Okay.” Shen Chong was frustrated.
“Shen…” Nan HuaiLin paused, and changed his tone stiffly, “Brother Chong, I want to ask you a question too.”
Shen Chong said, “You ask.”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Regarding the fact that I got the number two role in Star Country. Did you help me in any way?”
Shen Chong was silent for two seconds. “I don’t know if I can tell you about this…”
He was right, there was something fishy about it.
Nan HuaiLin stared at him, waiting for the rest.
“But there’s nothing I can’t tell you.” Shen Chong broke the pre-dinner bread into small pieces, smeared it with butter and ate it. “Actually, the person who helped you wasn’t me. It was Ruan Xin.”
“Assistant Ruan?!” Nan HuaiLin was surprised.
“Ruan Xin graduated from Beijing Film Academy with a degree in directing, and was in the same class as Luo Ke. Luo Ke is now doing very well, and Ruan Xin helped him a lot. So Ruan Xin speaks very well with Luo Ke. ” Shen Chong said while eating, “The day of the audition, when you told me that you got the second male lead, I was quite surprised. So I called Luo Ke to ask what happened. Luo Ke said Ruan Xin introduced you to him, and he sent you to the audition through me. He did want you to play the third male, but your performance at the audition moved him, so he gave you the second male. He truly thought you were more suitable than Chen JingTian.”
“But…” Nan HuaiLin was a bit confused. “Why? Why would Assistant Ruan do me such a big favor?”
Shen Chong shrugged. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. But I suggest you don’t ask anything. Ruan Xin obviously doesn’t want you to know that he helped you, so it’s not good for you to run around asking again.”
Nan HuaiLin nodded. “Yes, I know.”
Shen Chong suddenly laughed. “Ruan Xin doesn’t have a crush on you, does he?”
“No way!” Nan HuaiLin felt that Shen Chong’s comment was a stain on Ruan Xin, who was so perfect. How could he possibly look at someone like him?
“I’m just kidding. Why are you so excited?” Shen Chong looked at him with a smile. “Or are you saying you have a crush on Ruan Xin?”
“No!” Nan HuaiLin was getting angry. “Don’t talk nonsense!”
The appetizer soup came up. The plate was quite big, but there was only a little soup.
“Boston lobster soup,” Shen Chong explained. “Creamy.”
Nan HuaiLin tasted it. It was delicious, though slightly greasy on the second sip.
Then came the Alaskan cod and French foie gras, and for dessert, Valrhona’s chocolate hazelnut cake.
But after the meal, it was as if nothing had been eaten. Nan HuaiLin still felt like his stomach was empty, but he wasn’t too hungry.
When the check came, Nan HuaiLin was a little shocked that the meal cost more than 2,000. He wanted to pay the bill, but he didn’t have that much money, so he watched silently as Shen Chong handed his card to the waiter.
“I don’t have money now,” Nan HuaiLin said truthfully. “I’ll pay you back, when I get paid for the movie.”
Shen Chong looked at him. “No money and you can wear a million and a half dollar watch?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “Fei Cheng lent it to me.”
Shen Chong said, “He’s so nice to you?”
Nan HuaiLin suddenly remembered the scene that morning when Fei Cheng knelt down to put on his shoes. He lowered his head, smiled and said, “He is indeed very good to me.”
Shen Chong smiled ambiguously. “He’s so nice to you and so handsome. Haven’t you ever had any thoughts about him?”
Even knowing that Shen Chong was joking, Nan HuaiLin still said with a serious face, “I have absolutely no feelings for Fei Cheng, not now and not ever. I promise.”
Shen Chong raised his eyebrows and smiled, not saying anything else.
Nan HuaiLin was suddenly a little stunned.
The words he just said were for Shen Chong, but also for himself.
He was warning himself that he must not have unrealistic illusions.
What’s more, he also did something like that with Fei Zheng.
He and Fei Cheng…It was absolutely impossible.
When they were going downstairs, Shen Chong suddenly asked, “Did you get a cosmetic makeover?”
Nan HuaiLin said, “I’m dying of poverty. Where can I get the money to get plastic surgery?”
Shen Chong stared at his face. “Then why can I see that you look different from before?”
Fei Cheng had said the same thing.
Nan HuaiLin turned to the mirror in the elevator and surveyed his face.
It seems…It seems like… It’s really not the same anymore.
But he couldn’t say exactly what had changed, except that his skin had obviously improved.
“I think you look a little better now.” Shen Chong said.
Nan HuaiLin glanced at him in the mirror.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Shen Chong sighed. “I’m not interested in you at all anymore.”
Nan HuaiLin was half-hearted.
After leaving the hotel, they went straight to the studio where the final photos were taken.
Man Tianzhu asked, “Nan, do you know Shen Chong very well?”
Nan HuaiLin shook his head. “Not really. Not even friends, just acquaintances.”
“Mn,” Man Tianzhu said, “Shen Chong is not only bi, but also has a notoriously messy personal life, so you better not get too close to him.”
Nan HuaiLin, “hmm.” He heard his phone ringing and took it out to see that Fei Cheng sent a WeChat.
Mr. Rabbit, [What are you doing?]
The corners of Nan HuaiLin’s mouth unconsciously curved and he moved his fingers to reply, [On the way to the studio.]
Mr. Rabbit, [The audition results for Chasing New Dreams are out. You and your hometown have passed.
Nan HuaiLin “Oh!” Nan HuaiLin screamed and startled Man Tianzhu, who asked, “What’s wrong?”
Nan HuaiLin said cheerfully, “Sister Zhu, I passed the audition for Chasing New Dreams! I have a role to play again!”
Man Tianzhu smiled and said, “Great. If I wasn’t driving I’d give you a hug.”
“I have to make a phone call.” Nan HuaiLin first sent a roaring frog emoji back to Fei Cheng, then opened his address book, found He DuanYang, and called him directly.
The caller answered quickly, “Hello Lin-zi.”
“Did you get the notification?” Nan HuaiLin asked directly.
“What notice?” He DuanYang asked rhetorically.
“I passed the audition for Chasing New Dreams, and so did you!”
There was silence for ten seconds, and then a series of “Damn!” came out. After that, he asked, “Really? Where did you hear that? Is it reliable?”
“Absolutely. It’s true,” Nan HuaiLin said with a smile. “You really passed. You can continue acting, you don’t have to give up your dream!”
“Crap, dude I’m crying with joy.” He DuanYang’s voice had a distinct crying tone in it.
He made Nan HuaiLin also have an impulse to cry. He understood He DuanYang’s feelings at this moment. It was like walking alone in the darkness for a long time and finally seeing the light. That kind of intense feeling was very difficult to express in words.
“We will get better and better in the future.” Nan HuaiLin said in a soft but firm voice.
“Yes,” He DuanYang said. “We will.”
After hanging up the phone, Nan HuaiLin looked out the window at the receding street scene, his heart was overflowing with a mixture of joy, emotion and fervent hope. He felt his heart beating strongly and his blood rushing.
Some people say that dreams are made and destroyed.
But Nan HuaiLin never thought so.
A dream was a shimmering light in the darkness that brought endless strength and sustained you through the hard years. Therefore, people must have a dream to live for which they can work hard to achieve.
Otherwise, weren’t you just a salted fish?