Isn’t this chibi utterly adorable? It was drawn by an online Chinese artist as part of a Together Forever series. I actually forgot about these earlier and have gone back to include the ones I’ve missed in some previous chapters (1.3, 2.1, 2.2, and 3.2) so you can check them out.
Remember how it had said earlier that an emcee needs to be able to handle all sorts of bad things that tend to crop up?
Chapter 4.2 – Those Beautiful, Little Things (2)
The university’s Anniversary Gala was at six o’clock. By three o’clock, everyone was already beginning the preparations.
To allow the masters of ceremonies to have a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, the dressing room that she and Gu Pingsheng were to use was set-up inside the backstage waiting room. When she stepped out, Gu Pingsheng was leaning against the makeup table, reading a book. He had removed his silver-gray suit jacket and placed it on the empty chair beside him. Perhaps because he had seen Tong Yan out of the corner of his eye, he now raised his head to look at her. Tong Yan, however, hurriedly shifted her gaze away.
Since last Sunday on the metro, when she had discovered her little fancies and feelings, she was behaving more and more abnormally. The most obvious thing was, she had started to pay attention Teacher Gu’s every little movement and gesture.
She discovered that when he was driving, he liked to hold the steering wheel with his left hand while resting his right hand on top of it. Such a pleasant sight to look at. She discovered that every time he held his microphone, he was very relaxed about it and would hold it loosely, unlike her tight grip on her own microphone. She discovered that the tattoo on his arm truly was an English name, and furthermore, it was written in his own handwriting…
Several girls, all junior schoolmates, suddenly ran up to their doorway, prattling on together at the same time and grinning, “Senior sister, senior sister, when you graduate, will you leave this dress behind?”
“Senior sister, may we come in just to watch?”
Before Tong Yan could reply, Gu Pingsheng had leaned over so that he was precisely blocking their view of more than half of her body, and then noiselessly and without drawing any attention, he helped her cover up for a little error of hers — he pulled up the open zipper that was at the waist of her evening gown.
It only took the space of two seconds and then seven or eight junior, female schoolmates came charging in. Tong Yan gazed dazedly at Gu Pingsheng, but he had already leaned back again against the edge of the table, picked up the book on it that was written in the language of some country she could not determine, and carried on with his reading. His expression seemed as if he was deep in contemplation…
When the two of them were standing in the wings behind the stage curtain, waiting for the event’s start, Tong Yan at last looked at him and said, “Just now… thank you.”
Seeing that a slight red had risen up in her cheeks, Gu Pingsheng tapped her on her head with his rolled up script and deliberately used a lighter tone to reply, “Student Tong Yan, there are some things that you need not, and should not, say thank you for.”
Tong Yan had already been feeling embarrassed, and now, his little action caused her face to grow even hotter.
Fortunately, the opening music that by now they had listened to more than a dozen times was already echoing out. The auditorium that just a moment ago had still been bustling with boisterous activity, instantly quieted down. The quietness of 3500 people. Shutting her eyes, she allowed herself to set aside all other thoughts that might distract her.
“Tong Yan.” In her in-ear monitor, Zhou Qingchen’s voice sounded somewhat tight. “Go. Tonight, you’re the prettiest.”
In that moment when she opened her eyes again, the stage was already completely dark.
With one hand, she lifted up the skirt of her gown slightly and finally stepped out from behind the curtain. Under that dazzling spotlight, she could not see anything. Only the sound of Gu Pingsheng’s footsteps behind her were still very clear and very distinct.
A total of twelve steps, no more, no less. And then she saw the silver tag that had been taped down onto the stage floor.
She came to a standstill on that spot, smiled, and exchanged a look with Gu Pingsheng before eventually turning her eyes to the front…
“Distinguished guests, teachers, fellow students, as well as all alumni who are watching this live via the Internet, a good evening to you all…” After getting through saying all the cumbersome wording, she secretly breathed out in relief and proceeded into the main topic of the night. “I am Tong Yan and I’m from the Law Faculty’s class of students who were admitted in 2008. Standing here by my side is my teacher and also my co-host for the night.” Tilting her head to the side, she smiled and looked up at Gu Pingsheng. “Gu Pingsheng, our Teacher Gu.”
Before she had finished speaking the last word, the entire auditorium had already erupted in excitement.
Gu Pingsheng only spoke three words: “Good evening, everyone.” As his voice echoed out from the speakers, it unexpectedly contained a slight, understated elegance and sensuousness.
“Oh my god,” Zhou Qingchen’s voice sighed in her in-ear monitor, “that is the real voice of Teacher Gu…”
Tong Yan was also quite astounded. In comparison to their dress rehearsals, this truly was of a professional caliber.
It was fortunate that the lines that followed were all Gu Pingsheng’s task. She simply stood there beside Gu Pingsheng, listening in on the repeated sighs of admiration coming from the control booth. The final remnants of her tension all dissipated, and now, she was so annoyed she wanted to curse at someone.
“Give me a word to describe the voice of my future fellow senior schoolmate.”
“You must be studying physics, right? You don’t even know any adjectives.”
This continued until the spotlight dimmed and the control room was thrown into its next segment of turmoil and clamour as it began to conduct the change into the next program. Tong Yan and Gu Pingsheng could not return backstage and could only sit off the stage to the side and rest.
When Tong Yan turned to look at him, Gu Pingsheng had just taken a bottle of spring water from the assistant stage manager, nonchalantly opened it, and taken a drink. “What’s up?”
“Teacher Gu, have you actually practiced or maybe been trained in speech and broadcasting and hosting?”
He did not deny this. “More or less. I studied it a bit.”
As she took a sip of water, a voice was already speaking in her in-ear monitor. “ ‘Without You’ is up. Zhao Jianan get ready.”
The current program that was performing was the school’s symphony orchestra. It was therefore not required for them to introduce “Without You” as the next act because once the orchestra’s performance came to an end, it would simply continue directly into providing the accompaniment for Zhao Jianan. And so, she needed only to listen and continue to rest.
“Sh*t!” Zhou Qingchen suddenly burst out a swear. “We’re screwed. Tong Yan, we’ve got a big problem. You need to fill in.”
Her heart gave a thump, but her monitor only allowed her to listen so she could not even ask what had happened. Out on the stage, the curtain was slowly being lowered, signaling that this particular program had reached its conclusion. When the view of the orchestra was completely hidden by the curtain, it would be the beginning of the next performance…
“Tong Yan, the next two performances aren’t ready yet and it’s too late to let the orchestra know. You sang this song in last time’s singing competition, so you’re subbing in.”
She was utterly stunned. The curtain had already come down and the musical introduction on the piano quietly rang out. The musical notes seemed to skip forth, each one landing on the deepest reaches of her heart.
“Come on, go.”
When she had finally steeled herself and risen to her feet, she had already missed the first line of the song. On the other side of the stage, Shen Yao seemed to have detected that no one was singing, and she immediately improvised and added another few bars to the introduction. Then, she imperceptibly transitioned back into that soothing rhythmic chording she had played at the very beginning—-
“No I can’t forget this evening…”
With her microphone raised, Tong Yan did not have enough time to even to step onto the stage before she had sung this first line. Stillness instantly fell over the backstage. Nobody knew what exactly had happened, and everyone was in a state of shock.
“Or your face as you were leaving,
But I guess that’s just the way…”
In the darkness, Tong Yan seemed to see Gu Pingsheng’s eyes. It was only for a brief instant, though, for then, she had already stepped up onto the stage. In that moment, as a single, silvery spotlight shone down, the hall also grew quiet.
Half a second later, the entire auditorium was flooded with a deafening roar of screams, surprised shouts, and applause that nearly drowned out the musical accompaniment.
The event program had been released very early on. No one had expected that, in the end, the gala’s host and master of ceremonies would personally perform this piece.
“I can’t live…”
But, right as she sang out the first half of this line of the chorus, a clear and melodious male voice echoed through the whole auditorium.
“I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore…”
In disbelief, Tong Yan turned around and watched as Gu Pingsheng walked out from the other side of the stage. At some point in time, he had taken off his suit jacket, looking now just as he had that first day he strode into the classroom, and even his tie was removed. His microphone was held relaxedly in his hand.
He merely smiled as very, very slowly, he walked out from the shadows and towards her.
Those deep black eyes were fixed unblinkingly on her… He made a subtle gesture, and instantly she understood.
Lowering her own microphone, she quietly stood in that brilliant circle of the spotlight and gazed at him there, partially illuminated and partially still veiled in darkness. As the chorus came to its end, all the accompanying instruments faded out, leaving Shen Yao alone to continue playing, perfectly blending with Gu Pingsheng’s voice.
“No I can’t forget this evening…”
Smoothly, he had transitioned in to take the lead vocal line.
With another gesture from him, she raised her microphone and quietly harmonized with his singing. After each line was sung, she would echo it again in response.
What did it mean to “go crazy”? The students who had long since erupted in exhilaration and those ceaseless squeals and screams, that’s what. She finally could personally experience the meaning.
The entire time, he stood outside the illumination of the spotlight, gazing at her, until the very last chorus when he at last extended his hand to her.
She could not remember how she had stretched out her hand.
As if she had been bewitched, just like that, he was tightly holding onto her hand.
“I’m crazy, I’m going crazy!” After Tong Yan stepped off the stage with her hand still enclosed in Gu Pingsheng’s, Zhou Qingchen finally managed to exclaim this out in a voice that was quivering terribly. “Did you see that? Those two are what you call professional emcees. Did you all see that?…” In her in-ear monitor, there were peals of lively and excited laughter that filled her ears. But as for her own voice, she seemed to have lost it somewhere…
“Tong Yan Wuji!” Ai Mi suddenly threw her arm around her. “Was I good or not? I mouthed the words to lead your Great Beauty Gu to keep with the beat. Totally flawless and unnoticeable! So perfect!
When the jokers who made up the Sunshine Theatre Society saw the two emcees coming down, they immediately headed up onstage and smoothly announced their own performance.
Successfully, they transitioned the program into the next act.
Onstage, the resounding sounds of impassioned theatrical voices had started up by now, but backstage, pandemonium had broken out.
Everyone was elated, as if they had personally been the ones to save the production by filling in for the act. Standing beside her, Gu Pingsheng handed Tong Yan a bottle of water. “Good thing the song was an oldie. Otherwise, I would only be able to watch and do nothing.”
One of the most recognized covers of “Without You” is probably the one by Mariah Carey (which I personally love), but I needed to search for a male-female duet. There’s only one I could find. While it doesn’t quite follow the author’s described arrangement of the song, hopefully, it’ll still help you imagine.
(Actually, I can’t imagine how this is possible. Gu Pingsheng can’t hear, and even if we assume he has perfect pitch, how can he know what key to come in on? Maybe Ai Mi told him the key it was being sung in and then, because he has perfect pitch, he could come in right on key? … Aaaah! … I’ll just ignore that detail. 😜)
1 of 1 Prologue
11 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments