SWFM 187

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Chapter 187: Bye, Uncle

 

“Done.”

After Miss Xiang had finished acting her part, helping ‘Uncle Scholar’ to adjust his clothes, she waited for him to respond.

“What about the next two verses?” Uncle asked Miss Xiang.

“There’s none,” Miss Xiang said.

“Why?” Uncle asked.

“Because you’re a heartless man! The next two verses would be tragic. Like I would write them,” Miss Xiang said.

“It’s acting, and you were the one who forced me to act it,” Heartless Uncle protested.
……

“Done.”

Little Xiang Ning grabbed the bottom of Xu Tingsheng’s shirt, pulling on it slightly and tugging it straight. Because of the two buttons that had been left unbuttoned, the image of the Beatles that was printed on the collar of the shirt could indistinctly be seen somewhat, the entire shirt looking clean and simple whilst also special.

So Xiang Ning’s taste in choosing clothes had already been this good at the age of fifteen.

Xu Tingsheng lowered his head, while Little Xiang Ning raised hers. He could see the light that flickered in her jet-black eyes. She smiled, so beautifully, so adorably. She was really becoming more and more like the former Miss Xiang.

“Heartless man,” A Miss Xiang spoke up for Little Xiang Ning within his mind.

“No! With Apple’s current situation, I haven’t got a choice,” Xu Tingsheng protested helplessly.

“Then, do you dare to say that you don’t like her at all? Not one bit?”

“…”

“Heartless man.”

Wholly ignorant of all this, Little Xiang Ning still appeared very happy, now asking puzzledly as she saw him in a daze, “What? Uncle doesn’t like it?”

Xu Tingsheng tried hard to force out a smile, “That’s not it! I really like it. Look, isn’t Uncle handsome?”

Xu Tingsheng straightened his body, striking a pose with his hands stuffed into his pockets.

Little Xiang Ning took a few steps back and appraised him carefully before smiling, “Just a little bit handsome. Still, it’s only because of the clothes I chose.”

She was still only a child at the end of the day.

Therefore, perhaps she might not have feelings like that. She also wouldn’t feel that sad, right?

Xu Tingsheng tried hard to compose himself, joking as he would to a child, “Praise me more.”

“Like I would…oh, Big Sis Apple’s on!” Little Xiang Ning turned to face the stage, her attention being drawn away as well, “Look, Uncle! Big Sis Apple’s on.”

Apple was wearing a primarily white outfit that had been prepared specially for the performance, her smile radiant as she waved to the audience. Wave upon wave of people stood up, clapping, cheering, waving their placards and their lightsticks.

The crowds unconsciously surged forward. The security personnel blocked them from going any further.

“Apple, don’t leave! Continue singing!”

“Apple, we’ll be waiting for your return!”

“Apple…”

Apple definitely wasn’t one of the most popular or most well-received of the nine singers who were performing today. After all, she actually hadn’t even released an album of her own before. There were only a few single songs. However popular those were, they would still be insufficient to establish her position.

However, there were more who had come for her than any other today. She also received the most enthusiastic welcome, the crowds surging with their voices shooting through the roof as some people could even be heard crying amongst them.

The reporters frantically snapped their shutters at maximum speed.

Regarding Apple’s situation, there were actually already many analyses of it in newspaper reports and rumours about it on the internet. Before this performance, someone of the media had asked her agency to verify. Tianle had answered: Apple indeed needs to rest for some time.

Having heard this, those insiders in the industry who were in the know all understood that this was actually Tianle forcing Apple to bow her head, exerting pressure on Rebirth behind her. As long as their goals were achieved, they would then provide Apple with their support once more.

“Three-Faced Jin has really planned it out well. If this pressuring tactic works, Apple will only become more popular in the future, while Tianle virtually won’t have to give anything at all. This is what is known as limitless profits with minimal investment,” This was the insider information that Huang Yaming who had arrived at Tianyi had conveyed to Xu Tingsheng afterwards.

As most people saw it, Tianle’s reply was equivalent to them admitting that they had officially given up on Apple. No, it wasn’t having given up. Tianle still grasped a five-year contract that they were unwilling to terminate. It was impossible for Apple to sign on with other companies and start over. Therefore, this was burying her beneath the snow, sealing her and killing her.

Outrage erupted on the internet, first scolding Tianle, next scolding Rebirth.

There were many people present who had come just to watch Apple’s final performance. She had soared to prominence in just a few short months before swiftly falling from glory now. She was so captivating…many people had just been captivated by her, yet were going to lose her now. Too many people felt sorrowful, reluctant to see her leave.

As the opening sequence sounded, Apple began singing her first song.

The first song was <We Are All Good Kids>. Unlike what everyone had thought, Apple did not look desolate and sorrowful in this final performance. Her smile was radiant, her singing warm…

It was just-why was it that she was always walking about that same segment of the stage?

Only Xu Tingsheng knew that she was looking for someone, looking for someone who had agreed to take her away today, bringing her someplace bright and warm forevermore. Xu Tingsheng was his name, and she was waiting for those hands to be raised into the air.

Her smile and her warmth, her composure and her fear-all of it came from this person, and his promise.

Where Xu Tingsheng was currently standing, Apple couldn’t see him, but he could see her.

He saw her growing anxious and uncertain as time gradually passed, her expression beginning to change as well. She even accidentally sang a line wrong. No one there blamed her. They just thought that she was finally unable to conceal the sorrow and helplessness within her heart.

“Uncle, let’s hurry back,” Said Xiang Ning beside him, “Right, where are you sitting?”

“Over there,” Xu Tingsheng pointed out his seat to Xiang Ning.

Xiang Ning retracted her gaze that had been hovering on Apple, looking where Xu Tingsheng was pointing as she now exclaimed enviously, “Wow, Uncle’s seat is great! It’s so close to the stage. Did Big Sis Apple give you the ticket?”

“I bought it myself,” Xu Tingsheng replied.

“Well, let’s hurry then!”

Little Xiang Ning suddenly smiled craftily before pulling Xu Tingsheng forward as she ran. The both of them passed Xiang Ning’s original seat, but she showed no intention of stopping at all.

“Aren’t you going back to sit?” Xu Tingsheng asked as they ran.

“Sneak me over with you. I’ll come back after Big Sis Apple’s done performing.”

Xu Tingsheng stopped in his tracks. Xiang Ning who was pulling him stopped as well.

“What is it?” Xiang Ning looked back at him.

“I don’t think it’s okay?” Xu Tingsheng said.

“It’s just for a while, we won’t be discovered. Don’t be afraid, Uncle,” Little Xiang Ning consoled.

Xu Tingsheng had no way of telling her that what Uncle was afraid of…actually wasn’t this. What Uncle is afraid of is raising his hands for someone else in front of you.

Perhaps the current Xiang Ning of fifteen years wouldn’t feel too sad over this, because she had still yet to know love. It was even more impossible that she might already have fallen in love with Uncle Liar. What she currently felt towards Xu Tingsheng might just be an instinctual reliance…

It was just that-Xu Tingsheng still couldn’t do it.

“Is it really not okay?” Xiang Ning asked.

Apple reached the boundary of the stage, her gaze unceasingly sweeping through the crowds…

“Sorry. You should go back,” Xu Tingsheng said.

“Huh, I just won’t go then. I can still see from over here anyway. Hmph, I hate you.”

Little Xiang Ning turned and left. Xu Tingsheng watched her retreating figure all the way till she had sat down beside her cousin. Then, he turned and ran, really ran. He stumbled a few times amidst the dark, yet he still ran…if he didn’t get over there quickly, he would no longer have the strength to make it there.

Apple finally saw Xu Tingsheng.

She missed out a line in that instant before she turned radiant and warm once more.

The first song ended.

Apple clutched the microphone, smiling, “I know that many people are worried about me. Still, I’m fine. I want to tell you that I indeed feel regret, loss. There was also a period of time when I was struggling and in great pain. However, the current me of today is actually very happy.”

“Relax, I’m not pretending to be strong. I really am happy, and so peaceful as well. It’s because there’s a Superman beside me. He has a great big umbrella, and in the days ahead, he will be taking care of me, shielding me from the winds and the rains.”

“To me, this is actually the most important thing, the thing that makes me happiest.”

The fans had varying reactions, but the reporters were incomparably excited. Was Apple saying that she was getting married? But she hadn’t even graduated from university yet? Then…if they could get an interview now, there would be no end to the questions they would ask-that was just how worked up they were feeling.

Still, this was the scene of a live concert.

“So, relax! I’ll sing <Fairy Tale> for you guys,” Apple said with a lovable voice and smile, “Everything that has happened to me today since this morning till now is, to me, a fairy tale.”

Apple finished singing <Fairy Tale> in her happiest voice. Due to it having been changed to feel sadder by Xu Tingsheng for Fu Cheng’s confession, Apple had sung it in a fundamentally sad tone. Because it was full of emotion, this was the single she sang that had been most well received by the industry.

Yet, as she sang this song now, no sorrow could be heard from it at all as it just brimmed with happiness.

Next up would be the third song.

During the previous interval, she had spoken to her fans who had come for her.

During this interval, she smiled radiantly, saying to that person, “Superman, we’ve agreed on this, but I don’t know how to ask it. But I want to see you raise your hands.”

However emotional and full of anticipation she was, this being the scene of a live concert, it was impossible for Apple to say Xu Tingsheng’s name. He had concealed even his identity as part of Rebirth. Therefore, she had said ‘Superman’.

She didn’t know how she should ask: Do you like me?

She had said: I want to see you raise your hands.

Waves upon waves of people raised their hands.

Xu Tingsheng unconsciously looked behind him. He couldn’t actually see Xiang Ning. It was just that he could not stop himself from looking in her direction. Thus, he forget to raise his hands, or perhaps it should be said that he suddenly lacked the strength to raise them.

“What’s wrong?”

Apple’s sudden question left the audience mystified.

Apple no longer spoke, pursing her lips with her teeth biting down on them.

She was waiting. As more time gradually passed, her expression slowly began changing. Her severe depression made her sensitive and fragile, easily feeling anxious and panicked…

The crowds beside her raised their hands even more energetically. The guys shouted, “Apple, I am your Superman!”

Finally, Xu Tingsheng looked back and slowly raised his hands…forming a heart above his head.

“Bro, this…is pretty unique! Maybe Apple really will like it.” A guy beside Xu Tingsheng joked after discovering that Xu Tingsheng’s movements were rather special.

Next, he imitated him in raising up a heart. Then, more people followed suit, hearts all arisen.

No one would notice anything special about Xu Tingsheng…other than Apple.

Looking at Xu Tingsheng, looking at the group of people around him performing the exact same action, Apple burst out laughing.

“For the third song, I’ve changed the song that was previously on the list. I hope that everyone won’t mind. I want to sing Cyndi Chaw’s <The Most Romantic Thing>, is that okay?”

A deafening noise resounded around Xu Tingsheng as everyone roared in unison, “Yes!”

“Back to back, sitting on the carpet
Listening to music, talking about our dreams
You hope for me to become gentler
I hope that you will have me on your mind
You say you want to give me a romantic dream
Thanking me for leading you to find heaven
Even if an entire lifetime is needed for completion
As long as I say it just remember and never forget
The most romantic thing that I can think of
Is slowly growing old together with you
……”

Apple finished singing this <The Most Romantic Thing> with the most blissful smile and the sweetest voice. Then, she lightly waved and left the stage amidst multiple cries for her not to go.

Xu Tingsheng didn’t continue watching. He turned and left, quietly walking past Xiang Ning.

“Uncle, you’re not watching anymore?”

“I’ve still got something on. I have to leave first. Stay close to your Big Sis later! Stay safe.”

“Right. Then, bye, Uncle.”

Little Xiang Ning waved.


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