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Saying this, Shen Yan sighed for the second time. “But I know that there’s nothing between you guys, it’s just me… I’m not generous enough as a boyfriend.”
Hearing this, Qi Jing came back to his senses after a moment of shock, finally realising what Shen Yan was so worked up about. His face suddenly turned hot, his heart speeding up.
—Turns out this guy really can get jealous.
This clearly wasn’t the place to smile, but the sweetness he could feel up his throat made him forget about keeping the corners of his lips in check, letting them curl up slightly. And it wasn’t only his lips, as his eyes narrowed into smiling crescents too, “Are you jealous?”
Shen Yan was probably feeling a bit uneasy, his hum in response almost inaudible before he also added an even softer “Only a bit.” Qi Jing could imagine how this man would look away from the screen at this moment—really, it was so… cute.
If someone put a mirror before him right now, Qi Jing would surely get embarra.s.sed with how he stared at the screen with the silliest of smiles. But he was incredibly happy, as well as didn’t at all mind admitting to that. “Honestly, you being ‘not generous’ like this makes me very happy.”
Shen Yan was probably taken aback, as he didn’t reply for a moment.
Qi Jing’s smile didn’t fade, and even his voice had a tint of laughter to it, “Meeting you made me feel so blessed, and your everything makes me feel… so incredibly blessed as well. Shen Yan, there is only you in my heart, so you can say as loud as you wish that this place is yours, and no one else can come or be allowed in.”
Sure enough, Shen Yan remained silent for a long while. Qi Jing was about to continue when the phone on the table suddenly started ringing. After he unlocked it, he saw a message sent quietly by the man he was talking with just now. The content of the message was just a short and simple “Mwah”.
Seems like he understood it earlier today…
This time Qi Jing chuckled loudly, then lowered his head to the phone screen, laying an actual kiss on it and letting the sound pa.s.s through the mic. There was no need to say anything anymore—with this tacit show of affection, he had already saved up enough sweetness for him to live off until he got back home.
“To be honest, I’m also jealous of Big Goose and Little Return Date, since they get to be hugged by you.” Meanwhile I still need to wait the full two days. Saying this, Qi Jing used a sulky tone on purpose, sounding particularly realistic.
“Haha.” He finally amused Shen Yan, who only laughed without any comment.
“You also need to try your best in a moment, I’m looking forward to listening to your first performance in the finals.” Qi Jing also laughed along with him, only later returning to the main point.
“Mhm.” It was still the same hum, yet there was no trace left of that dejection from just before, even leaving a trace of warmth, soft and clear like the December sunlight.
Shen Yan’s first group number was 29, not that far away from number 21, so with the two of them chatting, the time for audition was quick to arrive.
“Ah, the group number 28 has already finished, so let’s leave it at that for now, you quickly go and prepare yourself.” Afraid of missing the timing, Qi Jing would take a look at the channel window every now and then. Once he saw that the group before Shen Yan’s already entered the scoring stage, he quickly reminded him.
“Okay.” Shen Yan smiled slightly. There was nothing he particularly needed to prepare, he mainly only had to adjust his mind.
With his heart at peace, everything else was bound to go smooth as well.
At that time, the host Yang Chunqu already instructed the management to move the contestants up the mic sequence. Qi Jing only heard Shen Yan fiddling with his equipment before he said simple goodbye, “I’m going then, I’ll see you in a—…”
Then, his voice ceased suddenly.
Like when the tape of a ca.s.sette, which has been functioning just fine a moment before, begins to twist and tangle out of a sudden, making the pause in his voice seem especially abrupt.
It caught Qi Jing by surprise. He didn’t know why Shen Yan would stop mid-sentence like this—the person was still there, he didn’t end the call.
Could it be that his headphones broke?
Or perhaps… Was it Shen Yan’s mic that broke?
At least the former wasn’t the case, since at that moment, he clearly heard the apathetic rustling of some person snacking on something. Shocked, Qi Jing shot his head up, his gaze locking onto both of the contestants’ IDs.
The group No.29 was “Old Man Xiao Shan” with “Qin Tuo”.
And on the line-up of contestants, two IDs were listed clearly for this group: 【Kitty の Papa】vs.【Gimme a proper dub, dumba.s.s】
His latter a.s.sumption was also wrong, because at that time, Shen Yan made a quiet noise, and only this single noise, his voice hoa.r.s.e, “—Ah…”
This choked sound made him immediately think of the signs of the incoming muteness flare-ups from the videos he watched.
Qi Jing shook suddenly.
But the other person seemed to have not realised who “Kitty の Papa” was, still snacking on his potato chips, even snorting at the unconventional ID of the contestant he got paired with, “Heh, ‘Kitty noPapa’? What’s up with that, did you come up with this name for the girls to squeal about?”
—Seems like this guy didn’t listen to Shen Yan’s auditions, that’s why he doesn’t show any unusual reaction. Qi Jing thought. Yet he didn’t know if it was good or bad news.
Qi Jing had only once mentioned “Two” to Shen Yan before, and it wasn’t even directly, as he used a pretext of listening to his audition to rope Shen Yan into listening to the recording from it, secretly taking a close look at the changes in his face.
When “Two” appeared in the recording, Shen Yan’s expression changed slightly, sinking as he listened to his performance, even all the way to the end of the feedback section.
Qi Jing still remembered as when “Two” brought up the past matters, when he said that “To this day, some of the pack went their way, some of them got busy, some got lazy, and now I’m also just like everyone else, only looking at the script while playing a one-man-show”… Shen Yan lowered his head, his furrowed expression lined with a certain sense of guilt, gaze pained.
Of course, other people wouldn’t possibly know about that. Seeing the two of the most praised IDs appear together, the listeners’ feelings right now could only be described as k2018;crazy with joy’.
Audience 1: Holy!! Holy!! Both of my most admired contestants actually got grouped together!!k3010;Cries while rus.h.i.+ng to spread the newsk3011;
Audience 2: ┭┮﹏┭┮ Aaaah! What am I seeing! Kitty’s Papa and Two! 【grabs heart】
Audience 3: ┭┮﹏┭┮ Aaaah, I can die happy now! 【grabs heart +1】
Qi Jing remained silent, his nerves stretched taut as he watched the seconds pa.s.s on the system clock. Between two people, there had to be someone who would have to start the conversation first.
Finally, he heard Shen Yan take a deep breath. No one could hear in his voice how much he had struggled to find it back, leaving it a bit hoa.r.s.e still, “It’s been a long time, Two.”
“Crunch.” Before the abrupt stop, that last bite on a crisp was especially loud, probably because that guy bit too hard into it because of the shock.
A long while pa.s.sed, and he still had to extricate himself from that state. It took him quite a moment before, in a half-denial, but already sure, he said “…Six?”
Shen Yan had no intention to conceal it, as he replied honestly, “Yes.”
After another long while, “Two” suddenly snickered coldly, only for the next thing he heard to be that guy vexedly tossing the stuff in his hand on the table, shocking everyone with his words, “Boring… This audition really is so boring, you guys actually grouped me with this type of guy to act? Haha, whatever, I’m not going along with it—I’m forfeiting, you guys play your games however the heck you want.”
Saying this, he seemed to be about to take off his headphones and mic.
The host was completely shocked.
The audience was completely shocked too.
The whole scene fell into chaos in an instant.
Even though he already made mental preparations for that, “Two’s” reaction went way beyond what Qi Jing had expected. It made him feel a chill wash over him, as if he got drenched from head to toe in cold water on winter day, proving his mental preparation way too insufficient.
At that time, Shen Yan suddenly spoke up, calling out in a stifled voice, “I’m sorry—”
Qi Jing held his breath, not even daring to blink.
He felt like if he blinked for even the smallest of moments, that ID would immediately disappear from the list, vanish completely from this world. But when he couldn’t help it and had to blink once, then second time, third, that ID… it was still there, on the list.
Seeing this, Qi Jing breathed a sigh of relief.
Still, it was impossible for him to feel completely relieved, as he could only stare fixedly at the still grey mic icons by both of their IDs.
In the end, it was still Shen Yan’s icon that first turned green. “I’m sorry.”
Between, there was a long silence that separated them.
Then, he repeated for the third time, “I’m sorry…”
At that time, Qi Jing heard him adjusting the mic slightly—it was Shen Yan’s habit to do so whenever he was nervous or uneasy. His voice now was much more stifled and low than usual as well, closer to the past him, who struggled inside his own memories.
Qi Jing’s heart couldn’t take it, but the receiver of the apology himself was unmoved, even smiling with contempt, “What’s the use of apologising now, when the things already came to this point? You didn’t even say goodbye when abandoning us, you traitor—”
Audience 1: QAQ!! That’s too much!!
Audience 2: QAQ!! Although during the semi-finals this contestant Two’s snarkiness was cute, but, but… It’s just too much when it’s directed at Kitty’s Papa!!
Audience 3: QAQ What kind of bizarre development is it? So they actually know each other? (But calling people “traitors” is really too much!)
Audience 4: 〒▽〒 Don’t… I really like both of those two contestants, so when I first saw them being grouped together I almost went crazy from joy… But now…
Audience 5: 〒▽〒 The one above! You have to be that other me in this world! (hugs while crying)
Audience 6: Hugging everyone above to cry!! Just now I seem to have heard our fellow Two call Kitty’s Papa “Six”?? So I think it makes them past buddies?! And it seems like they haven’t contacted each other for a long time, but can you guys not make the atmosphere so stifling right away aaahhh… _(：з」∠)_
Shen Yan’s icon once again returned to grey, not even flickering.
“Huh,” Perhaps thinking that Shen Yan had no way to refute words, “Two” became more animated, sneering tartly, “Did I say something wrong? It was you who left without a single word. We agreed to all voice act together, yet it was you who abandoned us first, so what else would it make you if not a traitor?”
Ah—Qi Jing suddenly remembered what “Two” had said during “Qin Tuo” audition: “people who just leave at the drop of a hat also make me fume”. Could it be that… This was the reason behind this group breaking apart?
Two’s activity icon continued to flicker menacingly, the disparity between it and Shen Yan’s unchangingly grey icon incomparable.
Qi Jing’s heart squeezed as he listened, so he quickly sent Shen Yan a message in QQ chat:【You’re not this kind of person, I know it for sure. So tell him all that you wish to say, he will listen to you.】
The things “Two” had said before in the semi-finals… It wasn’t something an unreasonable person would say. His heart wasn’t bad too, so there had to be some misunderstanding there.
After he sent the message, Shen Yan didn’t reply for a long time. Panicked, Qi Jing was already considering whether he should call him at home, but at that very moment, he heard his stifled and heavy voice.
“At that time, my grandpa had pa.s.sed away.”
Qi Jing didn’t expect that.
This… even for him, it was the first time to hear about it. And because he knew Shen Yan’s family situation and so connected the dots, he couldn’t help but feel a dull pain in his chest, as he hurted for this person.
And it seemed like “Two” also didn’t expect that. His activity icon suddenly no longer flickered after he heard this, returning back to grey.
The public chat momentarily turned quietly as well, as if to grieve silently for that elder. The air became heavy, like a long since stagnant mud, slowly stirring in the shades of grey. Shen Yan’s voice also sank along with it, almost mechanical as he narrated this part of the past.
“I lived with my grandpa since I was a kid. After he pa.s.sed away so suddenly… I couldn’t take the blow. My old condition relapsed, so, I couldn’t continue with voice acting.” The more he spoke, the more his voice began to break, as he had a hard time continuing speaking.
Qi Jing suddenly really wanted to go over and give him a big hug—unfortunately, he wasn’t there for him.
Audience 1: QAQ
Audience 2: QAQ …Kitty’s Papa…
Audience 3: QAQ …I just remembered, I think that he had said before during the “Old Man Xiaoshan” semi-finals that it was to commemorate his grandpa or something…【sobs, I’m about to cry】
Shen Yan’s activity icon once again returned to the grey state, the pa.s.sed time not in the least short. At the same time, Two couldn’t sit still while waiting—perhaps because of his conscience, his voice was a bit stiff. “Your old condition relapsed… What do you mean?”
Shen Yan didn’t reply immediately. It took him a long time to finally say quietly, “I have never told all of you before, but ever since I was a child, I had a speech disorder called ‘selective mutism’. Although as I grew up, it slowly got better, but if there was some severe external stimulus, it would still…”
He once again stopped at this point. As if it was difficult for him to piece together words, it took him a long while before he heaved a long, shaky sigh. “At that time, not to mention voice acting, I-, I couldn’t even speak.”
Didn’t want to say a single thing.
Didn’t want to see a single person.
Just like this, he wanted to disappear quietly, to leave nothing behind—
“…Then wouldn’t it be fine if you just told us the reason?” Two was still unwilling to give in, feeling guilty yet still refusing to admit it, even turning to blaming to question Shen Yan back.
“…I’m sorry, I couldn’t say it.”
“What was there that you couldn’t say,” Two seemed to have not yet realised Shen Yan’s plight, getting extremely vexed with this secretive way of talking, “If you told us that you were leaving because your grandpa pa.s.sed away, not because you were abandoning us, I wouldn’t misunderstand you all the way until now! Or is there something else you can’t talk about?”
Shen Yan went even more silent.
Just at this moment, an angry comment popped out in the chat, probably because someone really couldn’t bear listening to him anymore.
Doing good things in pa.s.sing: Two… You dumb, insensitive nutjob, shut your trap right now. = =
A mult.i.tude of big red-lettered comments washed over the chat, making it hard to ignore. Even the person being lectured had no way of ignoring it.
Two cried in surprise with no prior thought, “Ah? And who the h.e.l.l are you?” Then again, he asked angrily, “And who the h.e.l.l are you calling a dumb insensitive nutjob?”
Audience 1: Σ( °△ °|||)︴Ah!! They’re back!! The black vest!!
Audience 1: Σ( °△ °|||)︴The black vest is calling our buddy Two “dumb”!【Even using that stare to look down on him!!】
Audience 3: Pfft… I was so hurt listening to it… And suddenly I got so amused by that “dumb insensitive nutjob Two” above, now I can neither cry nor laugh… (flops to the ground)
With all of this happening, the previously almost frozen atmosphere relaxed by quite a bit. The listeners calmed down, even starting to join the group mediating for peace.
Audience 4: o(〃‘▽’〃)o Aaa… Since everything already got straightened out, may we beg both of you sirs to reconcile~
Audience 5: o(〃‘▽’〃)o Right, right! Both of you can now sit down and talk it out, right? No matter what, to restore this sort of old friends.h.i.+p really is worth celebrating!
Audience 6: o(〃‘▽’〃)o If you reconciled already, then continue acting together!! Two, you just look at how even Six (that’s what he’s called, right?) got back to voice acting, and even does so well at it. I’m really looking forward to both of you working together on something!! 【In my opinion, both of you are really good at what you do, so just thinking of it makes me excited】
“Heihei.” It seemed like this time, Yuan Zhengming was plenty satisfied with just being a background sound this time.
Although both of them had long since pa.s.sed the time limit for the introduction, almost everyone got captivated by their conversation and there wasn’t a single voice of objection, so he generously listened along with them. But listening to this point, he laughed playfully—the most interesting point of the finals wasn’t individual skill, but “cooperation”.
There was no denying to both of those two’s individual skills. But for whether they would be able to cooperate… He was quite curious how that would go.
On one hand, Two’s performance during the semi-finals showed clearly that he was of the type that didn’t do well getting along with other people, that’s why he decided that there was no way for him to get into the professional circle, where he would have to cooperate with other people.
On the other hand, the past experience with speech disorder “Kitty の Papa” himself had just described even more caught him by surprise. And isn’t a speech disorder a form of communication disorder as well?
Then, how would it turn out if they got put together? It really made him want to see how it would go—
“How about it, do you still want to forfeit?” Yuan Zhengming reminded Two with a cheeky laugh, even going out of his way to poke fun at the stuff he said in anger at that time, scaring everyone so much that people in the chat started crying in protest.
Two didn’t say anything, as if pondering something in silence.
But then, a low, hurried and choked voice could be heard, the grief in it palatable, grabbing everyone’s attention in an unbelievable speed, “All of this… it’s all my fault.”