Although Sui Qingchi had promised to not embarrass Zhong Dao, Fu Cuo still wasn’t completely reassured. His commitment generally depended on his mood, and this specific one was mostly because he made him swim in the freezing winter that day. He guessed it was his way of apologizing.
Perhaps after he left that day, Sui Qingchi would go back on his word. He might not deliberately target Zhong Dao, but he probably wouldn’t give him face either.
Fu Cuo grew despondent after pondering about it. Why did Sui Qingchi’s existence felt so much like a ticking time bomb to him, never letting him settle down and trust him?
A week later, it was time for Sui Qingchi to record his first episode of The Golden Voice. Fu Cuo didn’t receive any news from Zhong Dao and AK until the day this episode was aired.
It was Friday, and the band was also going to sing. Yao Ke left the bar early to go back to watch the program.
Before leaving, Fu Cuo called her, “Yao Ke.”
“Yeah?” Yao Ke turned her head back.
He hesitated for a while, but in the end he only said, “Drive safely.”
Yao Ke looked at him, eyes full of curiosity. If Fu Cuo hadn’t turned around to greet the guests, she would have thought more.
Fu Cuo looked back and saw Yao Ke stumbling at the door. She quickly pretended that nothing happened and left with a smile.
Forget it, he thought. It’ll be too strange to ask her to text him about the show after she watched it.
Yao Ke left in a hurry that day, though she would probably regret it later. Zhong Dao actually came over that night.
When the uninvited guest walked backstage, Fu Cuo was still tuning his guitar. He thought the person who came in was Xiaoman, and so he said, “You’re here?”
“Did you know I was coming?”
Fu Cuo was stunned at the sound. He looked up and saw a young man wearing a white baseball cap. He looked so much like Sui Qingchi, it was a bit jarring.
Zhong Dao came over, pulled the chair behind the table and sat down. He then watched him play the guitar on the sofa without saying a word.
Fu Cuo found that Zhong Dao was quite forbearing. His sullenness index was similar to Sui Qingchi’s. He really couldn’t see whether it was a good or bad thing for the boy to come to him this time. He couldn’t help asking, “How’s the competition?”
Zhong Dao sat up straight as if he just remembered something, “Ah,” he softly mumbled.
He took off his hat and put it on the table. He said, “It’ll be broadcast in the evening. You can watch it yourself.”
After observing Zhong Dao’s expression, Fu Cuo lowered his head and continued to tune his guitar. He asked, “So why’d you come here? Need anything?”
“I wasn’t looking for you,” said Zhong Dao. “I came to sing.”
Fu Cuo raised his eyebrows and looked at him, “Aren’t you afraid of people calling you a rip-off Sui Qingchi or something?”
Zhong Dao shook his head. “I’ve figured it out. My parents created me like this, I still have to overcome this psychological barrier of mine.” He stood up, glanced at Sui Qingchi’s album on the table, and continued, “After all, he was born earlier than me, he also became popular earlier than me.”
It’s true that his strength is far greater than mine.
When Fu Cuo got home, the episode had already finished airing. He could only watch the playback.
Sui Qingchi was worthy of being called the King of entertainment traffic. His first episode of The Golden Voice, which was prefaced by Tang Du, wasn’t only the first in ratings on every station, but also the first in ratings in the entire program. And that includes the past two seasons as well.
Online comments and barrages became lively overnight,
—— As soon as Sui Qingchi joined, the scope became so big~
—— Yo? Is this the power of a Chuunibyou?
—— Hahahahahaha, is it time for the second in the class?
—— Although he played NP, you can’t help but admit his appearance is still really pleasing to the eye
—— Ah, now that Sui Qingchi’s here, Zhong Dao seems more and more like a knock-off ┓(?′?`?)┏
It turned out that there was no competition in this episode. It was close to the new year, and Sui Qingchi had just taken over, so the program team planned a small New Year Concert.
After the contestants sang, the instructors would comment on their performance. The host deliberately asked Sui Qingchi to comment on Zhong Dao.
Fu Cuo suddenly couldn’t see the scene anymore – the whole screen was full of comments,
—— Come on, come on!
—— Famous scene reservation, let’s go!!
—— The Chuunibyou King VS The Junior Chuunibyou! Fight!
—— Sui Qingchi can’t win with this. If he says good things, he’d be scolded for being a narcissist, and if he says bad things, he’d be scolded for being a vulture!
—— Sui Qingchi should look at the pit under his feet and figure out what posture to jump in, LOL
It took him a long time to find where to turn off the barrage. Everyone, both the on-site audience and online viewers, were clearly very interested in seeing how Sui Qingchi would evaluate this mini version of himself. But as Sui Qingchi was about to speak, the scene suddenly turned noisy. He opened his mouth, but immediately frowned before letting out a word.
The host quieted the crowd. Fu Cuo sat close to the screen, feeling more nervous than Zhong Dao, who was standing on the stage waiting to be evaluated by Sui Qingchi, because he didn’t dare to go. Guessing, thinking about what Sui Qingchi would say.
In the shot, Sui Qingchi gently turned the head-mounted microphone to his lips. All he said was two short words, “It’s alright.”
The host asked him, “That’s it?”
Sui Qingchi thought for a while, and then said, “I envy him a lot.”
The scene was much quieter than before, they were all listening intently to what he had to say. An Jie, who was sitting next to him, said with a smile, “Why do you envy him? He should envy you.”
“Envy him…” Sui Qingchi looked at the boy who was trying to hide his nervousness under his own gaze, but couldn’t, “…He’s young.” He said in a tone that he didn’t know whether it was sarcasm or bitterness, “Nothing is set in stone yet for him.”
Maybe it was meant to be ironic, but in the end it really sounded spiteful.
As the host went on to say something, Sui Qingchi’s eyes were still on Zhong Dao, but his mind was completely empty. When the music played, he slowly felt a little regretful.
He regretted that he betrayed himself so easily with such words. Such a sentence would probably be spread infinitely by those who have been involved in his past, who think they know him, and who are watching him every minute and every second. Old things will be repeated, old mistakes would be brought up.
On the way back from recording the show that day, Liu Mei looked at Sui Qingchi. He was leaning on the seat tiredly, but he wasn’t asleep, unlike Wang Xiaoou, who was out cold. As the car got into a tunnel, Liu Mei lowered her voice and asked, “Why did you take over for Tan Du?”
The tunnel lights swept across the dimly lit car, Sui Qingchi twitched the corner of his mouth, and asked without opening his eyes, “Are you curious?”
Both me and Wang Xiaoou are curious. Countless people on the internet are so curious they’re about to die, Liu Mei thought. If you don’t give an explanation, there might even be people making you and Tang Du a CP.
But Sui Qingchi didn’t answer. He pulled the camel-colored coat that was covering him to his shoulders. Liu Mei looked at the coat on Sui Qingchi’s shoulders. It was about to fall, barely hanging on, just like everyone’s curiosity.
A week later Fu Cuo met AK, who he hadn’t heard from in a long time, in the bar. Well, not exactly at the bar, but backstage. As soon as he opened the door with his guitar in hand, he saw a familiar back. AK was holding the signed CD that Sui Qingchi had given him that day with Yao Ke. He subconsciously wanted to explain, “This is…”
AK turned his head down and flipped through the lyrics book, “I’ve heard about this online, it’s not bad. It’s clear he’s serious about doing it, but of course,” the spike-headed youth turned back and grinned at him, “it’s still worse than his fourth album. By a long shot.”
Fu Cuo looked at AK’s smiling face that seemed to be relieved, and was also infected with a smile.
“Do you have time after the session?” AK said, “Come with me for a walk.”
“It’ll be early morning.”
“Does it matter?” AK said with a smile. “Didn’t the four of us always used to walk along the bridge together around that time?”
The blurry and distant picture stirred in the bottom of his heart once more. Fu Cuo nodded, “Okay.”
It was three o’clock in the morning by the end of the performance. The two of them walked on the deserted bridge. AK jokingly held his shoulders and asked, “It’s cold, isn’t it?”
AK rubbed his nose, “Really…” He looked at him again, “Aren’t you cold?”
I’m someone who’d jump into a freezing pool in the early winter, after all.
“It didn’t seem to be cold at all before.” AK looked ahead and said, “This bridge hasn’t changed much.”
Fu Cuo silently nodded. It’s normal for things to change. People are the most fickle beings. They like to stick a long-term label on themselves, but the truth is that a table, a chair, and even a pen could stand the test of time better than a person.
“Why did we even walk across this bridge in the middle of the night before?” AK asked.
Fu Cuo recalled, “The subway closed, and we couldn’t get a cab… Tan Si said it’d be better to walk back.”
“Really? I thought it was me who said I wanted to lose weight, and you were with me!”
“That’s the second time.”
AK laughed a little, “Yeah, we passed this bridge a lot, didn’t we?”
Fu Cuo looked forward. He couldn’t see the end, but walking on it made people feel so at ease. Even then, he would still have a trace of regret in his heart, thinking of why he couldn’t keep doing this forever. Walk on, talking, laughing, never reaching the end of the road to part ways.
“I remembered something about Sui Qingchi,” AK said suddenly, “Would you be mad if I talk about him?”
“…If you want to say it, just say it.”
“At that time we were walking over the bridge, do you remember how he liked to hang in the back? Every time I talk to him, I’d have to look back!”
Fu Cuo smiled, “Because you walked too fast.”
“Really? But I don’t need to look back when I talk to Tan Si.”
Fu Cuo was silent for a few seconds. He then nodded and said, “Well, you’re both fast walkers.”
AK said while recalling, “Not even! Tan Si and I could walk through this bridge in less than an hour, but you and Sui Qingchi would have to walk for two!”
“Hey, we’re not that bad.”
AK stopped, looked at the distance between the two, and said, “Look, you’ll always be at least one meter behind me.”
Fu Cuo took a step to catch up with the distance, “Force of habit.”
“But my mentality is different now,” AK said. “When I first got on this bridge, I kind of hoped that it would never end.”
Fu Cuo raised the collar of his jacket in the cold wind and said with a smile, “You’re not confessing to me now, are you?”
AK stopped again and looked at him seriously, “Just… I really don’t want to say goodbye to you.”
Fu Cuo suddenly had a bad premonition. With a slight frown he said, “Then don’t.”
“…Fu Cuo, I’m leaving.”
Such a sudden sentence was almost carried away by the howling winds. Fu Cuo was simply taken aback.
“You also know that my sister lives in Australia. She took over for my parents a long time ago, and they all wanted me to go too,” AK explained. “I pushed it back for so many years, but now I feel like I can’t push it back anymore. My parents are getting older, my sister is busy with work and her children. This time… I really have to,” he looked at Fu Cuo, his eyes gradually turning red in the breeze, “I’m not the carefree rock kid used to be.”
Fu Cuo didn’t know what to say. They weren’t the rock kids from before. The end of the road laid ahead. All journeys must come to an end. This time, it was AK’s turn.
I don’t want you to go, but what can I say to make you stay?
Near the end of the bridge, before the final steps of their journey, Fu Cuo rushed forward and hugged AK.
He could feel AK’s hand tightly hugging his back, his voice was choked, “Now you’re the only one left… You have to be good, Fu Cuo, be good…”
You too, Brother.
My best, best Brother.
Thank you for your company all this time. Do forgive me, for I have nothing to give you except for this hug.
Zhong Dao sent a WeChat message to AK before the elimination round. The sixteen players in the round were all very strong. He had a hunch that this would be his last performance. In the backstage dressing room, listening to the busy voices outside, he suddenly felt a little sad. Maybe writing something on his phone right now, the words that should have been said that person long ago, would relieve some of his tension before the competition.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually called you brother before, but really, I’ve always called you that in my heart. I’m not a good person, I barely listen or talk to you. I thought it’d be less embarrassing to send you a message, so here I am. I’m recording for the 16-to-8 elimination round right now. This will probably be my last match. All of the other contestants are so strong, and I’m not someone who pleases the audience nor media. I’m ready to go home, but I still wanted to thank you. I have no regrets about participating in this competition. It showed me that even if a mountain is still a mountain high, the process, even if it means being beaten in the face, is not impossible to try to climb. I enjoyed it, truly.
The final results may disappoint you, I’m sorry, but I won’t stop.”
After sending the message, he put down his phone, leaned his head on the back of the chair, and stared at the bright ceiling of the dressing room. The rest of the contestants were already at the set to standby. He was the only one there. He just remembered that the program had been recording for the whole night. It was now past three in the morning, that old man AK should have already slept.
During the two days of pre-match preparation and rehearsal, Sui Qingchi had other work arrangements. He didn’t show up to personally instruct his four students, but the offline music tutors arranged by the program team did.
To be fair, the offline music tutors did most of the work anyways. They would guide the contestants according to their schedules, while the four star instructors would only check-in and briefly guide them before the competition.
But Sui Qingchi didn’t even show up, and no one made a fuss about it. After all, the other three stars definitely did not hold the same weight. Though previously, Tang Du was quite willing to guide the students, this God of Singing was absolutely dedicated to his work. As for Sui Qingchi, no one had expectations to begin with.
Zhong Dao’s communication with the offline music tutor wasn’t too good. He also sees that the tutor disliked him quite a bit. It was probably because he was just bad at speaking. Although he had fulfilled his duties and obligations while guiding him, he didn’t do anything he wasn’t forced to.. .
He could only rely on himself.
Sui Qingchi didn’t get the competition’s repertoire until before the recording. He found that Zhong Dao chose one of his songs.
《Falling》was a song from his fourth album. It was also the song he personally enjoyed singing the most live. If Fu Cuo didn’t give him any pointers behind his back, it meant that this kid still had some vision.
There were very few changes to the arrangement, it was basically the original accompaniment. It could be seen that he didn’t pay much attention to it. Fortunately, Zhong Dao sang it quite well. Sui Qingchi guessed that it may have been related to his current state of mind. He sang this song with the thought that this was his end, so it had a lot more appeal and emotion than his previous performances.
After the two contestants finished singing, the host asked them to assess themselves first. Zhong Dao listened to his opponent’s sincere words. When it was his turn, he forgot all the words he had prepared in advance, and finally uttered, “Uh, I think I did great.” The host choked.
Sui Qingchi had no expression on his face. He knew that the camera would absolutely not let go of his every subtle expression. He had suffered a lot because he couldn’t manage his expressions in the past. For some reason, he’d gotten into a lot more drama than other artists due to this. The scale was still large, but now he was used to controlling his face on camera. This time he even managed to hold back writing the words ‘scornful’ on his face.
Before voting, the host asked the instructors to evaluate the contestants. He cued to Sui Qingchi, “King Sui?”
Sui Qingchi frowned, feeling that something was wrong, “…Just call me instructor.”
“Instructor Sui Qingchi.” He said in a slow and clear tone.
The host was dumbstruck, “Isn’t it good to be called King?”
An Jie, who was next to him, also joked, “You’re the Heavenly King! You’re quite a distance higher than us, you know.”
Sui Qingchi knew that An Jie had no ill intentions, but he truly hated the title, “Heavenly King”. He thought to himself, when Tan Du sat here, did you call him “God of Singing”? Isn’t everyone else called “Instructors”? Why did they change it when it came to him?
“Instructor,” he repeated with a nod.
This head nod might have seemed polite, but it’s not. The host had to continue with an awkward laugh, “Okay, Instructor Sui, come on, help your students with a vote!”
Sui Qingchi looked at Zhong Dao. He didn’t speak for more than ten seconds, making the scene silent and full of suspense. Zhong Dao noticed that Sui Qingchi’s brows weren’t relaxed, which definitely wasn’t a friendly signal, but he never expected Sui Qingchi to really draw his vote for him anyways.
“I vote for him,” Sui Qingchi said. “He has a dream. For some people, their dreams might be within easy reach, but for others, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
There were numerous gasps at the scene, no one could believe those words came out of Sui Qingchi’s mouth. Zhong Dao himself was a little stunned. The vote that Sui Qingchi gave him felt more heartfelt than ever.
An Jie applauded him, and Zhong Dao bowed to Sui Qingchi with mixed feelings.
Sui Qingchi looked blankly at the boy who bowed himself 90 degrees towards him, thinking, If you can see it, don’t ignore it.
The recording didn’t end until 5 o’clock, and Zhong Dao stayed backstage the entire time. He wasn’t the favored party in this elimination round, but because of Sui Qingchi’s words, he almost won the votes of every Heavenly King fans at the scene. He was so used to having great prejudice against Sui Qingchi, now he felt ashamed even thinking about it. He was a poor, young boy who was not even a fledgling fart. What qualifications did he have to evaluate a superstar like Sui Qingchi?
If he couldn’t say “Thank you” in person, he might actually be suffocated by the lump in his heart. After waiting backstage for a while, he finally saw Sui Qingchi and his chubby assistant coming out of the hallway.
Wang Xiaoou heard a shy, slightly stuttered voice as she walked, “Instructor,” the voiced called. When she looked back to see it was Zhong Dao, she hurriedly said to Sui Qingchi, “Boss…” Sui Qingchi frowned, and continued ahead, Wang Xiaoou knew very well what it meant. Among Sui Qingchi’s various expressions, this one meant that he had heard it but didn’t care about it.
Sui Qingchi walked into the elevator with Wang Xiaoou behind him. She hesitated on whether to wait for Zhong Dao by covertly not pressing the elevator button, but Sui Qingchi directly passed her and slammed the close button twice. After the door was closed, he took off his coat, and threw it into the girl’s hands, along with his phone and sunglasses. She barely managed to catch them all.
Ah, he’s mad, the chubby assistant thought bitterly to herself as she held Sui Qingchi’s coat.
After AK left, Fu Cuo still went to the bar as usual. The sun rose as usual, life went on as usual, but there was a clear missing piece in his heart. Like a person who had just had one of their kidneys cut off, everything looked fine on the outside, but only he knew that were something missing.
That night after performing, Xiaoman left, while he stayed at the bar alone, and poured himself a drink. He played some music on his phone, and sat at the counter to drink.
The playlist was automatically recommended by the app. It had everything from Tang Du’s songs to Sui Qingchi’s. Sad songs tend to be a lot more depressing when you accompany it with a drink of alcohol to drown your sorrows. But the saddest thing was when Sui Qingchi’s voice was heard, the heartache would turn into a tear-jerking force, which made him rather endure the torment than cut it off.
The AI always thinks that it knows its every user well, it would recommend Sui Qingchi’s songs to him the most. “Recommended Artist: Sui Qingchi,” at that point, he couldn’t even listen to different artists anymore.
But now… especially now, it was undeniable that only Sui Qingchi’s voice could accurately hit the wounded spot in his heart.
He didn’t know how long he’d been drinking, but he suddenly heard a knock on the door. He squinted and turned around. There was a tall figure standing outside. He was wearing a slim straight coat that perfectly complemented his figure, but it was dark under the light, so he couldn’t see his face clearly. He couldn’t remember anyone he knew who had this height and appearance. As he got up and walked over, he suddenly remembered that there was such a person.
As expected, it was Sui Qingchi outside the door. Seeing him coming, he knocked on the glass once more. He offhandedly said, “Open the door.”
Through the thick glass door, Sui Qingchi’s voice sounded like he was underwater, it was as if he was just an illusion.
Fu Cuo put away his surprise and stepped forward to open the door. Fully knowing that if he didn’t, Sui Qingchi would get mad and wouldn’t leave until he did.
“What are you doing here?” Sui Qingchi’s appearance sobered him up a bit, “What time is it?”
He didn’t open the door too wide, so Sui Qingchi had to walk in sideways as he said, “I just passed by and saw that the lights were still on. I wanted to come and have a drink.”
“Can’t you see that we’re closed?”
“Then why’d you open the door for me?”
“Would you have left if I didn’t?” Fu Cuo fetched him a glass and asked, “What to drink?”
Sui Qingchi glanced at the wine glass on the counter, “Same as you.”
Fu Cuo went to pour him the wine, but he was still a little drunk. When he tilted the bottle, it slightly missed. Sui Qingchi glanced at him and pushed the wine glass over a little. Only then did Fu Cuo hear the sound of the liquid filling into the glass. .
Sui Qingchi picked up the glass, shook it, and said with a smile, “You didn’t drive me away, were you looking for a drinking buddy?”
Fu Cuo silently drank his wine. A random thought popped up in his head, if he and Sui Qingchi were the only ones left in this world, would he want to get along with him?
Sui Qingchi picked up the phone on the counter and saw the automatically playing playlist on it. He was a little surprised when he found his name in it. He was dazed for a while, but he soon realized that it was just the app’s recommended playlist.
He put down the phone and said to Fu Cuo who was drinking by himself, “I just finished recording the show.”
Fu Cuo was in no mood to care about him.
“Do you have anything to ask me?”
Fu Cuo shook his head and put the wine glass down with a rough clatter. He didn’t look at Sui Qingchi as he said coldly, “Can’t you drink quietly?”
Sui Qingchi sneered, “You’re still playing music.”
“Music doesn’t talk nonsense.” Fu Cuo said.
Sui Qingchi nodded and said nothing. He picked up his glass and raised his head to take a sip.
The songs were played one after another, the two sitting side by side, drinking one cup after another. Sui Qingchi’s fingers would sometimes tap lightly on the glass along with the rhythm. Fu Cuo glanced at his actions, feeling annoyed. Though the most annoying thing was that Sui Qingchi was so familiar with him that he didn’t even change these little habits.
LOTUS’ 《Black Desert》suddenly stopped in the middle of the song. Fu Cuo turned his head and asked him, “What’s wrong?”
Sui Qingchi picked up the phone, looked at it, and threw it in front of him, “It’s out of power.”
Fu Cuo picked up the phone, found that the battery was indeed dead, and sighed.
“Do you want to use mine?” Sui Qingchi laid his phone on the counter as he asked,
Fu Cuo shook his head.
Sui Qingchi put away his phone and looked back at the small stage in the bar, “You didn’t want to hear me talk nonsense, so what if I sing instead?”
Fu Cuo frowned, but Sui Qingchi had already stood up. He went straight backstage, and brought out an acoustic guitar.
Fu Cuo looked at the person on the center of the stage. Sitting on the high chair he sat on an hour ago, holding his guitar and bowing his head to test it. He found that it was tuned, so he asked him, “What do you want to hear?”
Fu Cuo didn’t speak, nor did he look at him.
Sui Qingchi looked up at him, his face dimmed, and he no longer bothered to ask. He bowed his head and started by himself.
You can sing.
Fu Cuo lowered his eyes to stare at the empty glass,
Don’t talk nonsense, just sing.