“You look as if you’re going to cry.” Unable to help himself, Lu Tian Chen frowned. Not only did Tang Feng look as if he were going to cry, the expression in the actor’s eyes pierced deep into Lu Tian Chen’s heart.
Gazing into those eyes, Lu Tian Chen felt as if he had fallen into a sea of shards. The water made of sharp glass lacerated his body in every which way, giving him countless wounds.
“Tang Feng, there’s no need to force yourself. Everybody has a weak point, but we also have the right to indulge in that weakness occasionally. Don’t overestimate your own strength. You aren’t as strong as you think.” Lu Tian Chen pulled Tang Feng into a hug. He repeated, “You are an ordinary human. An ordinary man.”
You’re not the hero of a sci-fi film. You also aren’t the protagonist of a story who must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders.
“I’m… I’m only…” Tang Feng stumbled over his words. He took a deep breath and leaned against Lu Tian Chen’s shoulders. Many years ago, he’d imagined about a day when he could nestle inside another person’s arms and cry out all his pent-up emotions.
Lu Tian Chen tightened his arms around the actor’s waist. Tang Feng felt his ribs protest against the other’s strong grip, but at the same time, he felt deeply touched by the gesture. It almost made him want to release the reins on his emotions. It almost made him want to relax and let himself loose in the waves of his own weakness and wild hopes.
In the end, he gave in.
He grabbed tightly onto the ironed collar of Lu Tian Chen’s suit. The fabric crumpled inside his fists, becoming a wrinkled mess.
Paying no mind to the state of his suit, Lu Tian Chen continued holding Tang Feng tightly. When he heard the broken sniffles coming from his shoulder, he pulled Tang Feng off the couch to rest inside his arms entirely.
No one would turn weak just from crying or displaying a weak side. Occasionally letting emotions run loose wouldn’t affect anyone detrimentally. Most of the time, people would feel better after a good cry. Being kind to others was good, but it was also a form of slow torment that forced one to restrain one’s own emotions. Being excessively mature or understanding only imprisoned oneself.
After crying, Tang Feng definitely felt better. It was a good feeling to have others rely on him, but it was even better for him to have someone to rely on. But only occasionally. He only needed it occasionally.
At first, he was a bit embarrassed to be crying on Lu Tian Chen’s shoulder. What was a forty-year-old man doing crying in front of someone half his age? But what does crying out of sadness have to do with age in the end? After removing the adjectives “successful” and “gentle” from his name, he was only a normal person.
Even the unparalleled heroes in comic books had their troubles and weaknesses. How could ordinary people like them be any different?
Tang Feng leaned quietly against Lu Tian Chen’s shoulder. His mind was entirely blank. He wasn’t thinking of anything, not of the past, not of the future. His thoughts had come to a complete standstill, trapped in the moment. Using two words to describe it, he was―spacing out.
He felt a soft touch on his cheek. When a series of warm touches fell on his cheeks and neck, Tang Feng realized Lu Tian Chen was kissing him. The kisses didn’t carry any sort of sexual desire or filthy lust in them. They were simply kisses. Gentle, tender kisses.
The kisses were careful, but he could feel the hint of adoration behind every touch that fell on his cheeks.
He finally understood how it felt to be cherished, to be held gingerly in someone’s hands like a treasure.
Tang Feng closed his eyes. When he had been abandoned on the streets, his parents had probably also given him such a kiss on his cheek or forehead.
Lu Tian Chen took the actor’s silence as tacit permission to continue. Supporting the other on his legs, he shifted their positions so that they were facing each other. Tang Feng still had his eyes closed, but Lu Tian Chen wasn’t in a hurry to do anything. He gazed calmly at the man in front of him, his eyes focused as if he wanted to see everything about Tang Feng, including the slight wrinkles in the corners of the actor’s eyes.
A smooth forehead. Eyes with slightly upturned corners and prominent eyelids. Thick eyelashes that trembled like a butterfly’s wings after a rainstorm. A nose that let out warm air with every exhaled breath. And a pair of lips that appeared especially soft when relaxed.
Lu Tian Chen’s cold expression suddenly melted anyway. While Tang Feng’s eyes were closed, he smiled gently. He leaned in bit by bit, only closing his eyes when the tips of their noses were almost touching. Finally, he kissed Tang Feng.
It was the first and real kiss between the two of them.
It was gentle and warm, a kiss that didn’t carry any desire, pure enough to make the heart hurt.
They didn’t linger too long in the kiss and soon parted.
“You should rest. Even if you don’t want to sleep, closing your eyes for a while is fine.” Lu Tian Chen pushed Tang Feng back onto the couch. When the actor opened his eyes, he leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. He sat down right against Tang Feng. Ignoring Tang Feng’s gaze, he pulled the actor over to lay on his leg.
Tang Feng could feel the warmth of Lu Tian Chen’s body through his pants. Although the president always carried a cold expression that seemed to say “You owe me thirty-million dollars,” his body was actually very warm.
Since Tang Feng had decided to relax, he wasn’t going to be shy with Lu Tian Chen. He shifted into a more comfortable position and closed his eyes. But as the lessons of etiquette were imprinted into his soul, he didn’t forget to express his appreciation.
“You’re my employee.”
A reason that didn’t sound like a reason. Tang Feng smiled with his eyes closed.
Lu Tian Chen ran his fingers through Tang Feng’s soft black hair. Around ten minutes later, he lay down on the couch as well. He wrapped his arms around Tang Feng and pulled the actor back into his chest, fingers tangled together.
When Tang Feng made his reappearance at one-thirty in the afternoon, the rest of the film crew was shocked. As he had cried over the lunch break, his eyes were slightly red and swollen. Even though the makeup artist had tried to cover up the traces, a feeling of fragility still shone through his eyes. A sheet of ice seemed to be covering them. It was difficult to discern who was hiding behind the ice, and whether he was suffering or not.
Tang Feng’s state made others worry for him. When that sheet of ice shattered, would the shards cut open his eyes? Would he suddenly burst into tears?
“Same scene, tenth take!” The script supervisor readied the clapperboard. At the sharp clap, Tang Feng began to act.
In contrast to his previous tries, he didn’t start walking toward the camera immediately. Holding the urn of ashes, Tang Feng stood stock-still in his spot. He lifted his head and blinked at his surroundings. The moment he turned his head up, his small figure clearly contrasted against the vastness of the street.
A thick wave of loss and bewilderment rolled off the set like a whirlwind. Even though they had yet to do any color correction or add any background music, just by closing in on Tang Feng’s face, everyone could feel the grief crash down on them like the darkness of the night.
Tang Feng didn’t need to say anything. Just the light tremble of his eyelashes was enough to make people ache for him. One couldn’t help but wonder what he had experienced to appear so lost and shattered. Why was he alone? Where did he come from? Where was he going? Even if he overcame setbacks and continued on his path, would he ever reach the place he desired to be?
Perhaps he was doomed to walk till the end of time. From the beginning of the path to the end, from the end to the beginning, forever caught in the throes of fate.
Rather than acting, it was better to say that Tang Feng wasn’t acting at all. He didn’t bother thinking too much about his role or how he should carry the scene. He was Tang, and Tang was him. Both of them existed in the world, simply divided by different planes and time era. But they both had the same birth, the same awful childhood, and the same feelings of loss.
Under the camera, those feelings were magnified.
Tang Feng’s face was almost expressionless, but it was more hurtful to look upon than a crying face.
At the end of the scene, Tang Feng lifted his head to stare straight into the camera. Sitting behind the monitors, the director and several other members of the film crew were gifted with the opportunity to view the entire change. At that moment, Tang Feng’s face was deeply etched upon their hearts.
They could feel the blow against their own hearts, as if someone had taken a sledgehammer and bashed them harshly with it, their ears ringing with the beating.
“Director, I finally believe what you told me earlier. Tang Feng definitely has the qualifications to take Fiennes’ place.” The secondary director exhaled a long breath. He fixed his eyes on the picture of Tang Feng staring straight into the camera. The sight was stunning enough that they could take a screenshot of it and make it into a poster for advertisement.
Li Wei didn’t respond to him. He was too shocked at the turn of events.
Tang Feng’s performance just now was outstanding. How could he be an actor who had just debuted? Why didn’t he have any films or other works to his name before this?
He’d imagined that Tang Feng would need at least two or three days to finalize the scene. But it had only been a lunch break. Only a lunch break!
Staring at the results on the monitors, Li Wei was thrilled beyond words. He chuckled and covered his face with his hands. He couldn’t believe what a treasure he had unearthed.
He finally understood Leroy’s words. At first sight, the sharp-eyed old man knew that Tang Feng possessed the trait that had captivated directors throughout the ages―unlimited potential.