Lu Tian Chen stared at Tang Feng. He wanted to obtain some sort of answer from the actor’s eyes, but he couldn’t find anything within the other’s beautiful irises.
It wasn’t the first time that Lu Tian Chen had tested Tang Feng, but it was a bit different this time around. Rather than staring at Tang Feng with an interrogating gaze, Lu Tian Chen was gazing at the actor with a sense of appreciation and obsession, transmitting across an emotion that even he didn’t suspect.
As an actor, Tang Feng believed that he understood the emotions behind different gazes. What could Lu Tian Chen mean by gazing at him that deeply?
The intensity of the president’s gaze made Tang Feng unable to look away. It was like a blaze trying to burn him alive. He wanted to escape from the reaches of the fire, but he felt as if he’d been glued to his spot.
Who didn’t desire the love of another?
Humans naturally paid more attention to individuals who were kind to them. People would remember who smiled at them that morning, who bought breakfast for them, and who helped them carry their bag. They would commit those faces to memory and recall them when they next came across the person.
As humans, it was natural to crave attention, to crave love, and to crave recognition.
When Tang Feng had walked onto the path of an actor, was it also to obtain the attention he couldn’t receive in his normal life? As an abandoned orphan, he’d already been denied the recognition he deserved as a human being. He needed to prove that he wasn’t worthless in the eyes of society. There was a meaning to his existence. He wasn’t born so that he could be abandoned.
People often said that Fiennes was a miracle. He’d turned from an abandoned orphan to an actor loved by millions. As Fiennes, he knew that his fans loved him, but he craved the love of the people around him much more than the love of the audience separated by the screen. Only the people close to him knew what he was like in real life, and not as the Fiennes that the media and his agency had created.
“Good night.” Lu Tian Chen leaned forward and kissed Tang Feng on the forehead. He got up from the bed and turned the light off.
Tang Feng stared at the ceiling in the darkened room. “Lu Tian Chen, what exactly is this supposed to be?”
“A warm up for your performance tomorrow,” Lu Tian Chen replied calmly, as if it were completely logical.
“You know what I mean, don’t change the topic. Explain clearly, we aren’t children here.” Tang Feng blinked forcefully and opened his eyes again. He turned his back to Lu Tian Chen and pulled the blanket up to his chin.
As the two of them were sleeping in the same bed, there were two sets of blankets. Tang Feng had the habit of hugging his blankets while sleeping. He didn’t like sharing them with another person; it meant that he had to hug something else in order to sleep.
“Then what kind of answer do you want from me?” Lu Tian Chen’s low voice sounded like a poet’s recitation in the dark. Every word was a story, a poem.
“You… Do you have feelings for me?” Tang Feng clicked his tongue lightly in annoyance.
After asking his question, Tang Feng found that he didn’t quite want to know the answer. Whether it was yes or no, he wasn’t happy with either.
“If you mean whether I want to sleep with you, then the answer is yes.” Lu Tian Chen’s blunt reply made Tang Feng smile. The man continued, “Do you remember what I’ve said? I may be a businessman, but I am also a man. If you’re so keen on seducing me, then I’m not against having an office love with one of my employees.”
Hearing those words come out of Lu Tian Chen’s mouth made Tang Feng feel as if he were watching a dry comedy.
Tang Feng burrowed his head into the blankets. He said with a voice slightly muffled, “I said I haven’t been seducing you. Why don’t you go back to your own room and sleep?”
Not two seconds later, Tang Feng felt a warmth slide up his back and spread toward his limbs. Lu Tian Chen was hugging him from behind. Even through the layers of blankets, the heat between them was enough to burn. “You’ve been really fragile lately.”
“Oh… I’ve been trying to get in touch with my character. Can you let go a bit? It’s too hot.”
“Hot? Since when did you wear pajamas to bed?” Lu Tian Chen chuckled. Tang Feng could feel the other’s hot breath on the back of his neck. “Are you afraid that I would attempt something? Did you know? A person is at their least appealing state when they are completely naked. It’s in bad taste and only makes them appear low.”
“Wait a second…” Tang Feng frowned. “Are you trying to make me take my clothes off?”
Lu Tian Chen farfetched reasoning wasn’t convincing at all.
“You can take it that way.”
Heavens, he didn’t know that a serious man like Lu Tian Chen also had a thick-skinned and perverted side to him. Truly, one shouldn’t judge another by their appearance. Tang Feng covered his face with both hands. Exactly what was happening? “No, I feel like you’re trying to drag me into a trap. From this moment on, I’m not answering any of your questions. Why don’t we just sleep, all right?”
MOVIE: SATAN’S ALLEY
INT. INSIDE THE CHURCH—NIGHT
The days passed by one by one. With night’s fall, the monks of the church had already returned to their own rooms. All that remained behind in the church were brightly burning candles that danced in the salty sea breeze, and one solitary monk.
Tang had been at the church for three months already. He believed that news of his crime would never cross the sea and reach where he was. He had to believe that was the case. Wearing the simple black robe, Tang knelt in front of the figure of God and prayed. He prayed that God would forgive his lies, for he had lied to everyone at the church here.
The fake letter he had given them, none of them knew the truth.
Occasionally, he’d wake up during the night, ears ringing with the accusations of his past companions. They accused him of being dirty. The foul words and glaring eyes threatened to swallow him like the sea outside. He was drowning in the waters, sinking deeper and deeper. He couldn’t breathe and the light in front of his eyes dimmed bit by bit. Finally, he sank into a cold and painful world filled with darkness.
Tang continued to pray and memorize the scriptures.
The sea breeze outside crashed against the windows, making the old, wooden frames creak in protest. Some of the candles went out with a whoosh.
After half an hour of praying, Tang felt much better. He could feel his heart calming down with every word of prayer. He opened his eyes and looked around; he was the only person left in the church.
It was about time for him to return to his room. He had to wake up early and water the garden tomorrow morning. The monks at the church lived a self-sufficient life. As a foreigner and a newcomer, he was responsible for a large amount of work around the church. Tang didn’t complain, he knew it was God’s way of punishing him.
Tang walked toward the candlesticks. He picked one up and blew on it, the dancing flame quickly extinguished itself, leaving behind a smoldering wick.
He turned and blew out the remaining candles one by one.
Soon, Tang heard footsteps behind him. They were clear and steady, like the approach of a sudden breeze.
Tang turned and looked in the direction of the footsteps. The person he saw was concealed from head to toe by his black robe. Their monk robes all came with a large hood. With the hood pulled up, all that could be seen from the outside was the person’s chin.
The person walked through the door and stopped three steps away from Tang. He reached up with pale hands and pulled off the hood of his robe. Tang knew the man; it was the first person he’d seen after waking up: Chris.
Aside from the first few days, Chris hadn’t spoken to him again. Tang understood, no one liked talking to someone who couldn’t respond. But he could often find Chris standing in different places observing him with a deep gaze.
Chris’ attention made Tang tense and uncomfortable. He could feel his heart racing, trying to jump out from his chest.
Chris walked toward him. Tang stared at the other monk, not knowing what to do. A burning candle remained gripped in his hand, forgotten. The molten wax streamed down the body of the candle and dripped onto his hand. Tang jolted at the pain and instinctively dropped the candle.
The white candle landed on the ground and cracked into two. The wax flowed like tears down its body and collected into a pool on the cold, hard ground.
Tang stared at the broken candle. He bent down to pick up the pieces, but Chris grabbed his wrist. The voice that was as enticing as the devil’s sounded beside his ear.
“I know…I know you have your own secret. You might have fooled the others with that letter, but you can’t fool my eyes, Tang.”
Tang raised his head and looked at Chris. There was a battle in his eyes, patience fighting with fear and fragility. At the same time, Chris cradled Tang’s face and kissed him on the lips. Tang struggled in the other’s hold, sweeping more candles onto the ground in the process.
The candles rolled across the ground and threw light all over the dark church. The wind outside crashed against the walls with a frenzy, while the broken moonlight reflected their intertwined shadows onto the figure of God.
At that moment, a streak of lightning flashed across the sky.