translator: baumkuchen editor: serefina
Ten minutes later, a man wearing a light grey suit appeared at the entrance to the office building.
His younger brother, Cheng Yuan, was huddled in a short down jacket. The tip of his nose and his exposed neck were pale, and his eyes were red. He looked very cold.
Cheng Jian frowned. Slightly irritable, he reached up with a hand to loosen the wool scarf wrapped around his neck.
Soon, Cheng Yuan was enveloped by a warmth that carried a light fragrance of men's cologne.
Cheng Yuan tugged at the scarf around his neck, a little discontent, "Itchy."
Cheng Jian gave him a dirty look, "If you dare take it off I'll beat you."
Cheng Yuan's legs shook, his reaction honest.
Cheng Jian really would beat people up.
At seven or eight years old, usually a time when kids are even disliked by dogs, Cheng Yuan was much more graceful than the other children his age. The reason was that when he was younger, the very moment he started acting up, he would be thoroughly "educated" by his older brother through various violent means, and, just like that, was trained to be obedient and soft.
With a tough father and older brother, and a soft mother, it was no wonder that when Cheng Yuan met the gentle and tender Yang Baihua, he quickly fell head-over-heels in love with him and never looked back.
Without giving him the chance to pull away, Cheng Jian grasped Cheng Yuan's hand in a stubborn grip. Feeling the ice-cold hand in his grasp, Cheng Jian's expression turned even darker.
He stripped off both his gloves and threw them into Cheng Yuan's arms, mocking, "Is he that poor? He can't even afford gloves?"
Cheng Yuan tucked the scarf down, exposing his mouth.
He replied defensively, "I just don't like wearing them."
This actually was the truth. Cheng Yuan didn't like wearing scarves or gloves, especially scarves. After wearing them for a while, his neck would get unbearably itchy.
Cheng Yuan wanted to say a little more, but after meeting Cheng Jian's fierce gaze, he momentarily fell silent.
"Talk, keep talking," Cheng Jian let out a cold laugh, "The moment I say even one sentence about him, you'll rebut me with ten more. It's exactly this that makes you so immature, you're picking up a…… rock and treating it like a treasure."
Chi Xiaochi, who was acting as Cheng Yuan, momentarily broke character to speak to the system, "I think what he actually wanted to say just now was "a piece of shit"."
The system very much agreed.
Cheng Jian managed to hold back his words, obviously not wanting to get into a fierce argument right off the bat.
He took in Cheng Yuan's red-rimmed eyes and his eyelashes which were still damp with tears, "……You and him quarrelled?"
Cheng Yuan was a lot smaller than Cheng Jian. He could fit both his hands into just one of Cheng Jian's gloves for warmth. "No, it's just my stomach doesn't feel well."
Cheng Jian asked, "You didn't have breakfast?"
Cheng Yuan smiled, "I'm trying to lose weight."
"Lose weight my ass," Cheng Jian pinched his waist, "You're practically a stick, is that even attractive?!"
Cheng Yuan jumped from the sudden pinch. He whined, "……Ge."
"Ge ge ge, being your brother is really the greatest misfortune of my eight lifetimes," Cheng Jian shoved his hands into his pockets, "You still don't drink soy milk right? Then we shouldn't go to Yonghe, let's go to that high-end porridge store over there."
As he spoke, he casually looked around and asked, "Where'd you park the car?"
Cheng Yuan responded naturally, "He took it to work. I came here by bus."
Cheng Jian was momentarily stunned, his eyes opening wide. Cheng Yuan was immediately on alert, preemptively shielding his head with his arms and retreating back five steps.
Cheng Jian really wanted to beat him up to help him remember a little better, but it was still working hours and they were right by the entrance to the company. President Cheng still needed face, so he hurried forward, grabbed Cheng Yuan by the neck, and trapped him in his arms, "What are you running for?"
Cheng Yuan thought he was about to be beaten up, and shrunk his neck back in fear, "Ge, there's people around, people."
Noticing the fear in his younger brother's eyes, Cheng Jian's heart softened and the hands on his shoulders relaxed their grip slightly.
His mercy was just like this. His mouth was still unforgivingly sharp, and a mouthful of mockery poured out without any hesitation, "Cheng Yuan, you really are capable. Aren't you quite skilled at keeping your boy toy? You should work harder to buy a house, so clothing, food, shelter and transport can all be provided by you. When that time comes, he'll take care of your home while you put food on the table, he'll embroider flowers while you're busy tending the fields. Like that you two can be happy and harmonious together for a long, long time, wouldn't that be great?"
Cheng Yuan lowered his head, "Ge, don't say that. He needs to travel to work everyday, while I just spend the whole day lazing around at home. He needs the car more."
Cheng Jian's insides twisted in anger, but after thinking about how Cheng Yuan had said his stomach didn't feel well, he still forced himself to calm down.
He dragged Cheng Yuan towards the porridge store, "……What kind of porridge do you want? Porridge with lean meat and century eggs? Plain porridge?"
"Porridge with lean meat and century eggs."
"Still so picky."
"Thank you, ge."
"Thanks my ass, your century eggs and lean meat is just wishful thinking. Since you don't feel well, you should just drink millet porridge."
After a few mouthfuls of hot porridge, Cheng Yuan regained some colour in his pale face. Other than his nose, which was still flushed, his cheeks had already regained their powdered lustre, looking incredibly pinchable.
Cheng Jian removed his coat, rolled up his shirt cuffs, and helped him pour out some vinegar into a small plate, "Why are you looking for me?"
Not waiting for Cheng Yuan to speak, Cheng Jian quickly added, "If he has any issues, then you help him deal with that yourself, don't bother speaking."
"It's not him…… or well, kind of," Cheng Yuan picked up a dumpling with crab filling. Hearing Cheng Jian say this, his expression was a little troubled, "……Ge, please don't tell mom and dad about this, okay?"
Cheng Jian was expressionless, "We'll see."
Cheng Yuan dipped the steamed bun into the vinegar and asked in a small voice, "Ge, do you have a spare house?"
Cheng Jian raised his eyebrows, "……What are you planning on doing?"
Cheng Yuan hurriedly waved his hand, "I don't mean that, ge, I want to borrow your house to stay in for a week. It'll just be me, and no one else."
Cheng Jian, "You two actually quarreled?"
Cheng Yuan looked a little lonely. He bit into his steamed bun, vaguely replying, "No, his parents are coming to visit, so he wants me to move out for a bit."
Cheng Jian slammed a fist on the table.
A loud bang sounded, causing half of the people in the store to look over at them.
Cheng Jian couldn't care less, "His parents still don't know about the two of you?!"
Cheng Yuan froze before immediately trying to defend Yang Baihua, "No, no. Old Yang's parents have been frugal for all their lives. They definitely won't be willing to stay in a hotel, so I'll be moving out so they can stay……"
"Did I ask about that? It's all motherfucking nonsense!" Cheng Jian didn't listen to Cheng Yuan's explanation, "Just tell me, has he let you meet his parents?"
Cheng Yuan poked the bottom of his bowl with his spoon.
"……He still hasn't come out?!"
"He's still not ready……"
"No, when is he going to ever be ready? Is he going to drag it out until he's married and has a child or until he dies of old age?"
Cheng Yuan didn't say a word, and for once, didn't defend the man like usual.
Seeing his younger brother's listless appearance, Cheng Jian's heart rapidly softened. He raised a hand, wanting to pat him on the head, but paused halfway, forming a fist and swatting the back of his head, not hard but not too soft, making him shrink his neck.
Cheng Yuan said, "If that's not possible, I could also live in your office."
Cheng Jian became impatient, "……Don't make groundless assumptions. Just eat your food."
Cheng Yuan looked up, "Don't let mom and dad know……"
"You rotten little thing, mom and dad will find out sooner or later," Cheng Jian said rather bluntly, "You should just try to find your happiness from within."
When he finished, he took out his phone and went to contact the people managing his residences to help Cheng Yuan.
Chi Xiaochi quietly lowered his head and took a bite of his steamed crab dumpling. The rich fragrance of the crab juices and the sourness of the aromatic, aged vinegar filled his mouth. It was piping hot and burnt his mouth a little.
In his previous life, Cheng Yuan hadn't sought help from Cheng Jian at all, just casually staying over at a friend's house for a week.
He often felt that his family was far too overprotective of him, but he didn't know what he lost was a fortress that was willing to shelter him from the wind and the rain forever.
When going over the original Cheng Yuan's memories, Chi Xiaochi had deliberately looked a little further in the timeline and saw that Cheng Jian went overseas to arrange Cheng Yuan's affairs after his death.
His older brother, who had been loathe to leave the house in anything less than a suit even to take out the trash, never forgot to slick back his hair, put on cologne, and meticulously groom himself, seemed to have aged ten years in a single evening. His chin was covered in messy, half-shorn stubble, as a slip of his razor left a long, bloody cut stretching across his lower jaw to his neck, terrifying to look at.
He had seen his younger brother's ice-cold corpse in the hospital.
Cheng Yuan had basically cut off half of his wrist.
……Such a deep cut, how could he have made it?
As he thought this, Cheng Jian silently got onto a taxi to head back to the Yang family's house, and halfway there, he got off the taxi and bought a kitchen knife.
Afterwards, he nearly hacked down the door to the Yang family's house with that kitchen knife. Yang Baihua and his parents had sensed something was off and hid in the house in time, not responding to his hysteria, and called the police.
Abroad, attacking and disturbing private houses was a very serious offense. The police quickly arrived to the scene, and rushed to subdue Cheng Jian.
When he was violently pressed down into the ground, half of Cheng Jian's face was covered with boiling hot gravel heated by the afternoon sun.
He'd already calmed down, yet could only mutter a sentence over and over, his voice wracked with grief.
"……My younger brother was only twenty-seven years old, he hadn't even made it to thirty."
Having finished his phone call, Cheng Jian walked back into the store, pulling out a stool, "You'll be moving in next week, right?"
Chi Xiaochi just looked at him.
Quickly, the afterimage of that unkempt, bearded face, messy with gravel and dark blood, disappeared when confronted with Cheng Jian's current high-spirited face.
Shaking himself out of that mood, Chi Xiaochi successfully re-immersed himself in the role of Cheng Yuan. He nodded lovably, "En."
"I'll send you the address. Later, when you're finished eating, I'll call the chauffeur Xiao Yan to send you home. When you need to move over, give me a call. Xiao Yan knows how to keep his mouth shut so he won't leak it to dad," Cheng Jian said, "When you get back, don't tell Yang Baihua you came to visit me. Just say you'll be staying outside with a friend."
Cheng Jian had always been capable and straightforward when dealing with business-related matters, swift, decisive, and meticulous with forethought, but he rarely put himself in this state in his private life. To Cheng Yuan, he was only a poisonous-tongued, heavy-handed older brother who had a heart softer than his words.
In other words, his attitude proved that he realized the seriousness of the problem between Cheng Yuan and Yang Baihua and he took it to heart.
Before leaving, Cheng Jian left his scarf and gloves with Cheng Yuan.
Shortly after Chi Xiaochi left the company with Xiao Yan, he offered to get off the car.
"You should still have other things to do, so go work," Chi Xiaochi said, "I know the way back. Just tell my brother that I ate too much so I was a little restless and wanted to walk back to help digest."
After getting off the car, Chi Xiaochi barely needed to raise his head before catching sight of the headquarters of Yundu Entertainment.
This was the entertainment company supporting Tang Huan. After a serious round of marketing and branding, Tang Huan effortlessly became one of the new rising stars of the mainland music industry and one of Yundu Entertainment's trump cards in the music market, fully deserving of her title as "Number One Sister".
The system asked, "What did you come here for?"
Chi Xiaochi took a look around at his surroundings, "Just casually checking it out."
Now free of any audience to watch his performance, Chi Xiaochi became Chi Xiaochi once more.
He loosely wrapped his scarf around his neck and just stood there as he wanted. A heroic air entwined and conflicted with his indolent aura, making him incredibly eye-catching.
Regardless of whether one was a celebrity or an actor, they would all have gone through a long period of coaching on one's conduct and would stand out from ordinary people. Cheng Yuan, as a very clean and handsome youth, wasn't bad looking, and Chi Xiaochi's temperament undoubtedly injected some spirit into this slightly tender handsomeness.
Just standing by the side of the road, Chi Xiaochi attracted the occasional second glance from passersby. Seeing this, the system suddenly had a thought, "Mister Chi, I have an proposal: How about you try and become an actor?"
Just last night, the system had watched Chi Xiaochi's first movie,《The Horn Murder》.
At that time, Chi Xiaochi had only been 18 years old, but his performance as a simple teenager from a fishing village and his portrayal of the short life that ended in degradation and destruction left every viewer shocked and their heart racing.
He used the duration of one movie to show everyone the true meaning of talent.
One of the emotional climaxes of the movie was the scene where his one and only good friend died.
His friend died to protect him. As he died a slow, painful death, the teenager from the fishing village cradled his only friend in his arms and sung the song they would shout together when they went out to sea as a melodious tune for him.
He knew his friend's pain, so he smiled as he sent him off. His eyes and mouth were smiling, but a lone tear leaked out from his smiling eyes.
Chi Xiaochi didn't grab at him crazily or roar in sorrow, acting this scene out very quietly.
This sensitive understanding and meticulous portrayal of the character's emotions was something many actors had been pursuing for a lifetime, but when Chi Xiaochi first debuted he could already use it as he pleased.
He was a genius at acting. In this world, the entertainment industry was just as developed, so if he were to become an actor, he would have great potential.
After listening to the system's proposal, Chi Xiaochi's response was actually rather unenthusiastic, "Good idea."
Chi Xiaochi's indifferent attitude told the system that he probably had never had such plans.
Sure enough, Chi Xiaochi said, "To me, acting is to truly and thoroughly become that person, and only then would I be showing the greatest respect for that person."
He looked up at Yundu Entertainment's giant office building and continued lightly, "This is Cheng Yuan's life. I have to live the life Cheng Yuan would want to live."
The system's heart was slightly shaken.
……Chi Xiaochi didn't seem to be as capricious or as unaware as he previously thought.
The system asked, "So what do you plan on doing from now on?"
Without saying a word, Chi Xiaochi stepped forward, walking away from the Yundu Entertainment building.
Not far away, on a LED screen, Tang Huan's endorsement ad of Dafu Jewelry played over and over again on a loop.
The Tang Huan incident was a great turning point in Cheng Yuan's tragic life, yet because of this incident, Tang Huan's popularity soared, allowing her to successfully achieve her own transformation.
For Tang Huan and Cheng Yuan, one was the protagonist, and the other was a supporting character. The purpose of a supporting character was to exert all their effort to contrast their dim light against the protagonist's own light, allowing the protagonist's radiance to shine even brighter.
But in Chi Xiaochi's world, he was also someone used to being the protagonist.
Chi Xiaochi started speaking to himself, "……Then in this case, who the protagonist actually is will all depend on their ability."
…I almost forgot to post a chapter today lmao
By the time I realised, I’d already gone to bed