SWFM 162

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Chapter 162: The two lives drawn closer by the moonlight

 

For the second main section of the song, Xu Tingsheng took over the role of the main singer while Fu Cheng assumed a supporting role.

“The brightest star in the night sky, do you know, where the figure that once walked alongside me is now? The brightest star in the night sky, do you care, are you waiting for the sun to rise or something unexpected to first befall?

I would rather bear all the pain within my heart; for never would I be willing to forget your eyes.”

Quite a number of people liked Rebirth because they had indeed sung some rather good songs, because they were mysterious and interesting, acting wilfully as they liked, because Apple who had entered showbiz as a member of Rebirth was so enchanting…

Yet, at this moment, virtually all Rebirth’s fans who were present had their knowledge of this band turned on its head by the slow singing of the two people up on stage. So they could actually still be this deep and intense, moving everyone’s hearts. So they actually still possessed such exceptional voices and feelings.

Some wished that Rebirth could hurry up and enter showbiz.

Others hoped that they could just continue singing like this, not being bothered by all those troubles and worries, not losing these purest feelings of theirs, their still transparent souls.

Those who held these opposing viewpoints consisted of the audience, and also the reporters.

Of course, more people were just feeling incomparably conflicted between these two choices.

Fu Cheng indisputably drew the most gazes, because many people had already remembered that story about him. That rumoured confession at Yanzhou University’s freshmen welcoming party, that rumoured incomparably difficult relationship that left him painfully weeping at the end of it all…it had already resurfaced countless times on Rebirth’s webpage and various forums.

Those who had personally experienced things then or actually hadn’t even been there at all had their own idea of events, these scenes, these stories, having developed into countless versions.

And right here, right now, looking at him, listening to him…without needing him to say it, they already knew how the tale had ended.

He used the warmth and solitude within his voice to convey to everyone here the happiness he would always remember this entire lifetime, also conveying that painful, unexpected ending.

Some were shedding tears for Fu Cheng, but the Fu Cheng of right now shed not a single tear.

He just wanted to tell her, “See, we once traversed all lies and embraced each other, possessing whilst temporary, yet happy times…see, after you’ve left, I’m willing to bear all the pain within my heart, for never would I be willing to forget your eyes, and that happiness.”

“He just said thank you to me. I really hope he can be happy,” Su Nannan told Xiang Ning.

It was obviously Fu Cheng whom she was talking about. Yet, in Xiang Ning’s eyes, there was only a single person, a single figure, a single voice, that of her Uncle Liar.

Xiang Ning had never seen this side of Xu Tingsheng before. She had seen his fierce side, seen his silly side, even seen his ugly side when he had strangely cried the first time they had met…She had seen him spoiling her, seen him selling her out…

She had never seen such a captivating Uncle before, strumming his guitar lightly with his eyes closed as he freely sang, “The brightest star in the night sky, please illuminate my way forth…”

“Who is the brightest star in his sky? It should be that Big Xiang Ning who looks a lot like me. He…really misses her.”

As compared to Fu Cheng, there were actually even more stories contained within Xu Tingsheng’s voice. What he narrated, could not bear to forget, pursued his memories of, encompassed love, kinship, friendship. Those partings…were already separated by lifetimes.

Yet, there was more hope than pain within his voice, because he could embrace those people yet once more, those people of the past. Also, there was that person. She was sitting there right now, looking at him…right, at this moment, there was solely him within her eyes.

Seeing Uncle sneak a glance in her direction, Xiang Ning dabbed at her eyes, “Like I’ll cry. I’ve got to think hard on when Uncle lied to me, sold me out, was fierce to me…”

The final chord landed on a fingertip, the final twang reverberating throughout the night.

Rebirth’s first ever public performance ended here.

Amidst the applause, there were yells for ‘another!’, yells for ‘again!’.

Originally having already taken a few steps back, Fu Cheng approached the microphone once more. Thus, everyone fell silent.

“Come back, okay? Let me take care of you.”

“Or, allow me to look for you…when I’ve found you, you’re not allowed to run again.”

Fu Cheng did not shed a tear or choke at all in saying those words as they were simple and calm. It felt just like a simple discussion between two intimate people on what they would be eating for breakfast the next morning.

After he had finished, Fu Cheng gave a deep bow to the audience before carrying his guitar and returning backstage, moving past everyone and covertly sneaking back into the storage shed.

Fang Yuqing, Huang Yaming and Tan Yao were still there…they would have to continue waiting here till the crowds dispersed, till all those reporters and fans preparing to mob Rebirth had left.

They knew that there were already people waiting outside in ambush now.

Huang Yaming threw Fu Cheng a cigarette, flicking on the lighter to illuminate his face before putting a hand around his shoulder, “Woah. You didn’t cry?”

Fu Cheng shook his head.

“Tingsheng’s still outside?”

Fu Cheng nodded.

“I really want to go and take a look at who that Xiang Ning is!” Huang Yaming said before hurriedly continuing, “Relax, I’m just saying. A woman who can let Xu Tingsheng do things to this extent-it would instead be weird if we weren’t curious…Still, since Tingsheng’s decided to do this, I know that I can’t bother her.”

Outside, on the stage.

The audience saw that of those two Rebirth members, one had left while the other still remained. There had been five people at the start. Then, three of them had left, the remaining two having sung another song. Now that there was still one guy left, could it be another song?

The audience and the reporters all felt excited.

There was indeed still one more song. Xu Tingsheng approached the microphone, beginning to sing totally out of the blue, “Happy Birthday to you, 祝你生日快乐, happy Birthday to you…”

“Goodbye,” After finishing the birthday song, a smiling Xu Tingsheng gave a deep bow and took his leave, leaving behind a dazed, uncomprehending crowd of audience and reporters.

This…was Rebirth’s randomness acting up again? Just like when they had sung that <You Knit A Woolen Sweater For A Freaking Fool>, just like when they had admitted to being very ugly.

“Birthday song…wait, actually, it makes sense! The tenth anniversary of the school, that’s the school’s birthday!”

Someone found a logical explanation for Xu Tingsheng which received the approval of many.

Reminded by the birthday song, Su Nannan tugged at Xiang Ning’s arm, exclaiming, “Woops, Xiang Ning, now I remember! It’s your birthday today! See, we were all just so busy that we forgot about it. Sorry, Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you, Nannan,” Xiang Ning said.

“Still, you’re actually really lucky, aren’t you? We can take it like Rebirth’s performance and the birthday song were all specially prepared to celebrate your birthday for you,” Su Nannan said.

“Yeah. I’m glad,” Xiang Ning said.

She knew that Su Nannan was actually spot on in her words. Everything that Rebirth had done today was due to her birthday. Because of that, they had sung <You Are My Flower>, dancing a stiff, infantile dance in order to make her laugh happily…he had even sung the birthday song for her in front of so many people.

“I’ll go get something,” Xiang Ning suddenly stood up and dashed for the backstage on her own.

Xu Tingsheng had just left backstage, turning a corner as he arrived by the wall to the side of the storage shed.

“Uncle,” A voice said from behind him.

Thus, Xu Tingsheng stopped, turning as he watched Xiang Ning coming over towards him. She walked over, came beside him, and tiptoed…her fingertips touching the mask on his face.

“Want me to take it off?” Xu Tingsheng asked as he pointed at the mask he was wearing.

Xiang Ning nodded yet shook her head immediately afterwards as she gestured towards Xu Tingsheng, “You bend down. I’ll do it.”

Xu Tingsheng bent down.

Xiang Ning carefully removed the mask for him with both hands, next rising upwards. And now the young girl’s soft, fragrant lips landed a tender, inexperienced kiss on Xu Tingsheng’s face.

Xu Tingsheng was stunned, overwhelmed by countless emotions. It was blissful, a hundred times more blissful than he would have thought. He felt emotional, emotional as could not be expressed in words. But…she’s only fifteen…I’m a beast.

“Thank you for coming to celebrate my birthday for me, Uncle. I’m so happy.”

Despite Xu Tingsheng’s conflicted feelings, Xiang Ning wasn’t feeling shy or embarrassed at all as she said in a clear voice, “I’m kissing you for Big Xiang Ning…I know that Uncle celebrating for me today and everything before this is because I look like Big Xiang Ning. When Uncle was singing, I could hear it. You’re thinking about her, thinking about Big Xiang Ning…you think about her very badly.”

“I could also hear that Uncle’s very pitiful. So, I’m kissing you on Big Xiang Ning’s behalf.”

“I’m not angry. I know that she’s definitely very good. That’s why you think about her so much; that’s why you treat me so well…also, Uncle’s very good as well. Uncle, you’ll definitely find her back. Go for it!”

Xu Tingsheng was left feeling rather at a loss for words. Regarding Big Xiang Ning and Little Xiang Ning…they were both this same little girl in front of him. It was truly like she’d said, two Xiang Nings existing. One was the past Xiang Ning whom he missed dearly yet would never be able to find back, while the other was the young girl before him who looked exactly like her.

She was her, whilst also not yet her.

She had said that ‘you’ll definitely find her back’.

“So, it’s Big Xiang Ning who kissed you, not me,” Little Xiang Ning finally realised her embarrassment as she explained earnestly.

“Yeah,” Xu Tingsheng nodded earnestly as well.

The young girl suddenly felt a little empty at his response as she thought for a moment before asking, “Then…Uncle, if you’ve found her back, or if you forget her and like someone else…will you still remember me?”

“I will. Definitely,” Xu Tingsheng said.

Little Xiang Ning shook her head, pursing her lips like she wanted to cry as she said, “I, I don’t believe you. You’re too good at lying.”

Xu Tingsheng was indeed very good at lying. He had lied to her countless times in the past. Even their final breakup had been in a lie…This time, however, he wasn’t going to lie to her, coax her. He had actually thought about it. Having been reborn, the most difficult things to grasp were feelings. Thus, would he fall in love with someone else? Or, was Xiang Ning still that same Xiang Ning?

“I’ll teach you a method, okay? If I treat you badly one day, find me, and sing me a song,” Xu Tingsheng said smilingly.

“The one that you sang just now?” Little Xiang Ning asked in puzzlement.

“No,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, pretending to joke, “The one you sang on the phone that day.”

Little Xiang Ning thought about it before beginning to sing in her tender voice, “You said you’d come see me in a couple of days, but as soon as I waited it was more than a year, three hundred and sixty five days of badness. Within your heart…”

She had actually learnt just these lines from listening to her mother as she now looked up after having sung them, “Is it this one? My classmates all say it’s old-fashioned and cheesy…you’re lying again.”

“I’m not lying,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Still, you’re not allowed to sing this now.”

He was afraid that he might cry, afraid that she would sing ‘but as soon as I waited it was more than a year’…It had actually been three years, more than a thousand long days and nights.

“Then, sing…oh…you are my flower…” Little Xiang Ning sang.

“Even if there are many small pebbles beside you…” Xu Tingsheng followed.

“Right, Uncle, your dancing is ugly to death. Here, I’ll teach you…our teacher taught it before. Oh…you are my flower…” Xiang Ning said as she began dancing, urging Xu Tingsheng as she saw that he wasn’t moving, “Quickly, dance!”

“Oh, okay…oh…you are my flower…” Xu Tingsheng began dancing along with her.

“That’s still so ugly. Again.”

The final folk dancing programme was still ongoing outside on the stage for Xinyan Junior High’s anniversary performance. Outside the school, the reporters and the fans were in the midst of looking everywhere for the figures of the Rebirth members. Yet, they discovered nothing.

Thus, they began searching even further out.

What no one discovered was that behind the school’s stage, in the tight corner between the outer wall and the storage shed, the moonlight had extended the shadows of two people, one of them leaping lightly, the other moving clumsily. Someone giggled, someone sung in a low tone…

Gazing at Xiang Ning’s shadow that was extended tall and thin on the ground by the moonlight as well as that laughter, that tolerance and that blissfulness. Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt a sense of release. Even though she and she on the two sides of rebirth were two people, beneath this moonlight at this very moment, amidst the laughter, they were slowly recombining.

In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, he had never seen the fifteen-year-old Xiang Ning. Yet at this current moment, he believed that the fifteen-year-old Xiang Ning should have been naught but this way.


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