For the sake of convenience, Gino had rented an apartment near the set as well. When Tang Feng went to visit, Gino had just finished taking a shower. His hair was still dripping wet when he went to open the door.
“Did you go for a swim in the ocean?” Tang Feng chuckled when he noticed. “Am I intruding?”
“No, of course not.” Gino pulled the other through the door and shut it firmly. To an onlooker who didn’t know any better, the speed at which he welcomed Tang Feng in made it seem as if he had some ulterior motives in mind.
“Find a seat. There’s juice and milk in the fridge. The coffee is over there. And that’s the bar. Help yourself,” Gino rattled off while walking off to another room.
Tang Feng grabbed a glass of juice and sat on the couch. He found the remote and turned on the TV. He didn’t know what Gino watched while he was at home, but maybe a bunch of horror movies?
Understandably, he was a bit surprised to see his own name come up on the screen. The movie playing was Life of Luxury, which he’d starred in as the lead actor. He’d never expected Gino to be watching his films, just like he hadn’t expected Gino to have liked him in the past.
After getting changed, Gino walked out of his room. Tang Feng was already several minutes into the movie. Staring at the TV screen, he asked, “Do you like Fiennes’ movies?”
The image of him on the screen was still young, barely into his thirties. It was an age when men were at their most charming. Tang Feng had to admit that he wasn’t as eye-catching in the past as he was now. Fiennes’ appearance could be described as cultured. Luckily, it was something he’d retained throughout his life.
“He’s an amazing actor.” It was rare for Gino to let go of the chance to make a joke. He sat down quietly beside Tang Feng, eyes drawn to the image of Fiennes on the screen.
Tang Feng took in everything.
Gino truly liked Fiennes. Gino truly liked the past him!
“When I first met him, to be honest, I didn’t like him all that much. You could even say that he irritated me.” Gino chuckled, and described the circumstances in which he’d met Fiennes. Tang Feng already knew what he was going to say, but it was different hearing Gino’s perspective on the events.
Gino first saw Fiennes at a film festival. At the time, both Gino and Fiennes had been nominated for Best Actor. Gino’s debut performance was very good, if not spectacular. He had chosen a challenging role in a horror movie for his first appearance. Film critics and the audience alike lauded his acting in the movie. He had practically become famous overnight.
Nevertheless, it was obvious that the festival committee liked Fiennes more. Fiennes had already won several awards abroad at international film festivals; it was inevitable that he would win Best Actor this time around as well. Gino could only watch as the trophy that he most certainly deserved sprouted wings and flew away.
“I firmly believed that the Best Actor should’ve gone to me and not to Fiennes. I hated him because of that. At the after party, I couldn’t help myself and said some nasty words to him.” Gino shook his head while recounting the night. He couldn’t stop a rueful smile from spreading on his face. “Just thinking about it makes me want to hit myself for how immature and laughable I was acting. I was young, so I believed that everything rightfully belonged to me. But looking at it now, I think my performance was child’s play compared to his.”
“No, I think you acted very well,” Tang Feng blurted out. He quickly added, “I’ve seen your debut movie. I think you did quite well for a newcomer. I could feel the tension in your acting. Most horror movies just go with the established method and rely on exaggerated expressions, but you expressed the inner fear perfectly. I think it was great.”
A film festival committee was made up of a group of different people, and unfortunately, different people had different tastes.
Gino was too young back then. It was difficult for young actors to win awards if their acting wasn’t downright stunning to the entire public. There were many reasons for that.
One, the judges probably felt that it wasn’t right for someone to win an award right after debuting. After all, there were plenty of actors and actresses who were waiting in line in front of them.
Two, if a newcomer were to win Best Actor or Best Actress, the road ahead of them would become too easy. Would they still struggle and pursue their dreams with as much passion as before?
Lastly, personal interests played a big part in the awards. As people, the judges couldn’t help but be biased. If they were to award someone such a big trophy, would they still be able to put forth acting of the same caliber next time? Suspicions like that ran through their minds all the time.
A good performance wasn’t enough to win Best Actor. Tang Feng experienced plenty of that in his past life.
“Exactly, I thought my acting was quite good as well. In any case, that was how I came across Fiennes. As an immature kid, I butted heads with him at every turn. At that time, Fiennes was pretty influential in Hollywood. He had his own resources and a place to exert his power. If he’d wanted to teach me a lesson, it would have been easy as cake for him. But he never did. He only argued with me occasionally.”
Gino started laughing, but abruptly ended it with a sigh. He rested his chin on his hand and said, “I know he didn’t like me, because I was an impolite and stupid idiot.”
“The reason you argued with him… Was it because you wanted to catch his attention?” Tang Feng asked tentatively.
Gino nodded, but he’d come to that realization too late. When he’d finally understood his feelings for Fiennes, the man had passed away.
It had happened in the blink of an eye. A star that had burned the brightest in the sky fell down to earth in mere seconds. He was still reeling from the aftereffects even now. He’d been in love with Fiennes for seven years. How stupid was he to have just discovered it now?
“It’s already too late now. I didn’t even have time to apologize to him. I didn’t even have time to…to tell him that I’ve collected all his movies and every poster imaginable of him. I’ve gone to many of his movie premieres. I’ve even secretly asked after him from other people.” Gino’s eyes glazed over with a layer of tears as he stared at the man on the TV, a man who had left the world forever. Despite the smile on his face, he was choking up over his words.
“I didn’t even have time to tell him that I love him. Do you know? The more I learn about him, the more I fall in love with him. But I’m an idiot. I didn’t even have the chance to confess.” Giving in to the tears, Gino covered his face with his hands.
Tang Feng wrapped an arm around his shoulders. He comforted, “He’ll know. He’s listening to every word you’re saying.” He ended it there and sighed.
He wouldn’t tell Gino about his secret. Even if he did, he wasn’t sure Gino would believe him.
It wasn’t the first time that someone had confessed to him, but Gino’s confession made him feel both warm and remorseful. In the heat of passion, one person might confess to another on the spur of the moment, or maybe it was simply love at first sight. Often, these kinds of impulsive love left as quickly as they came. A strong and passionate start often led to a gloomy and tired end that eventually petered out.
For seven years, Gino’s one-sided love for him continued to trickle like a sluggish stream. The people who had once loved him had become distant due to his continuous hospitalization. Others had left him due to societal pressure. And others still, had buried their feelings for him at the news of his death.
In the half-year since his death, how many people truly missed him?
He didn’t know that Gino had loved, and still loves, him. He also didn’t know why Gino had fallen in love with him, but that was the reality he was faced with right now.
Fiennes Tang had already died. Someone who had departed the world shouldn’t bring harm to the living.
“Gino, do you love Lilith?” Tang Feng asked.
“I can’t face her. After Fiennes passed away, I tried dating a girl instead. Lilith is a great girl. It’s just…I can’t forget about Fiennes,” Gino replied, his emotions gradually calming down. Tang Feng exited out of the movie and switched to a random channel on the TV.
“I know I’m not in a position to say anything, but Fiennes isn’t coming back anymore. If he knows that you’re suffering because of his death, I’m sure he would be racked with guilt. Gino, let him live on in your memories. You need to look ahead of you. Pull yourself together. I don’t want to spend another morning just filming a bed scene with you.” Tang Feng tried to cheer Gino up in his own way.
“Sometimes, you act a lot like him. You’re kind to everyone you meet, but that also means you’re distancing yourself from everyone. Because of that, I really liked picking on Fiennes and angering him. He would glare at me and tell me off, but those were the only moments when I felt that he was truly living and breathing.”
Gino glanced at Tang Feng. With a rare serious expression, he said, “You’re still young. Don’t suppress yourself so much.”
“Now it’s your turn to lecture me, is it?” Tang Feng chuckled. “Then don’t fall in love with me like you did with Fiennes. I don’t want to be a substitute.”
Would he be a substitute? Or would he be the true Fiennes?”
It wasn’t important in any case. Tang Feng wanted Gino to step out of Fiennes’ shadow. He wanted Gino to cry because he was reminiscing the past, and not because he was suffering. How long would it take for Gino to be himself again?
“I forgot to ask, did something happen recently?” Tang Feng asked. Gino wouldn’t start acting strange for no reason. Lilith’s words couldn’t have affected him to this point.
“It’s almost his birthday.”
Tang Feng blinked. He’d completely forgotten about his own birthday.
“Then why don’t we go visit him?” Tang Feng suggested. He rather wanted to see his own grave.