To borrow Qiao Qiao’s words, just who’s whose love rival here?
Chapter 3.3 — Please, as a Friend (3)
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Really, each of these phone calls that she was getting today was more ludicrous than the last.
Gripping her phone, Jia He paused for several seconds before saying, “Hello.”
Qiao Qiao used large, exaggerated gestures and facial expressions to silently ask her who it was. Jia He set her index finger on her lips, then got off the bed.
“You didn’t say anything the whole time; I thought I dialed the wrong number.” Tian Chu’s tone was relaxed as she told her, “This call is a little obtrusive. I should have let my agent contact you, but since you are A-Ze’s friend, I was thinking it would be better if I made the call myself.”
Her voice was very pleasant to listen to. Jia He had originally thought she was like some other singers and could never leave the recording studio. However, through this one phone call, she understood now that Tian Chu’s sudden upshot to popularity was not only because she had very intelligently made use of connections and the hype from rumours; she did, herself, have talent as an asset.
“I’m truly sorry.” Jia He went into the bathroom and quickly locked the door. “Teacher Yi might have told you already, my friend is trying to find a cosmetics spokesperson for her client and asked me to help. I didn’t expect that we would actually be able to contact such a big-name celebrity like you, and that’s why my mind wasn’t able to process and react for a moment.”
Actually, the most unexpected piece was that, after having breakfast with her idol, she would receive a phone call from his ex-wife.
Unlike the fuming rage through gritted teeth that she had shown when she was in front of Weibo, Jia He was actually extremely calm. It would seem that these several years as a screenwriter were not a waste. Apart from acting relatively abnormally in front of her own idol, all celebrities, no matter how big a name they were, were just random passersby to her.
Tian Chu pondered for a moment. “I’ll give your contact details to my agent. If we can, I hope we will have the opportunity to work together.” She suddenly said a “sorry” and then stopped. It appeared there was someone beside her speaking to her in a low voice, but as the phone was covered up, Jia He could not really hear what was being said.
Jia He waited patiently, looking into the large bathroom mirror, attempting to clear her mind.
The plot line that was playing out was just too absurdly cliché. Even she, a screenwriter who prided herself on writing absurd and melodramatically cliché plots, was unable to accept this…
It took some time before Tian Chu loosened her hand that covered the phone and carried on speaking. “Originally, Mai Jie was the one who came and asked me, but then, unexpectedly, A-Ze personally gave me a phone call, too.” She did not keep on going with this point, merely giving a little laugh instead and continuing to say, “I’ll be making a trip to Hengdian this week. Let’s have a meal together.”
Jia He answered, “Sure,” and also thanked her several times. There seemed to be some sort of urgent matter on the other end, so they did not talk anymore. When the call was hung up, she finally blew out a long breath. However, while she was pressing a hand to her chest to calm herself, she suddenly thought of a question: She was coming to Hengdian this week? Was it to see Idol? Could it be they were going to reconcile and get back together?
Question marks filled her brain, which was rather sluggish after this explosive type of conjecture. The person outside the door was already at the point where she would not wait anymore and began lazily rapping knock after knock on the door. “Open up, open up.”
Once Jia He opened the door, Qiao Qiao’s face immediately moved in close and, grinning, stared at her. “Who was that? You even purposely hid away in the bathroom to answer.”
“Tian Chu,” Jia He reported honestly.
Qiao Qiao blinked, then blinked some more. “She’s pursuing and attacking you over a thousand miles? With you two, just who’s whose love rival here?”
Jia He nearly vomited blood at that. “It’s for the endorsement thing. Also, she said she’ll be coming to Hengdian this week.”
“Hengdian?’ Qiao Qiao’s eyes narrowed. “For a film shoot? I’ll ask Xiao Ou this afternoon to look into it.”
Not taking this seriously, Jia He pulled out her mobile phone and called Xiao Yu. On that end, when the news was heard, a performance of a Mainland-China version of an astonished, ear-piercing scream was instantly given, and along with it came a relentless interrogation of Jia He, demanding to know whether she really did have a thing going with her idol. Without even waiting for Jia He to finish speaking, though, Xiao Yu straightaway came to her own conclusion, telling Jia He to make use of her beauty to help her get a stack of signed photographs and mail them to her. That way, she could save those, and in the future, if she lost her job, she could auction them off for huge amounts of money…
Not knowing whether she should find this funny or annoying, Jia He cut her off and told her to wait for further news. Then, decisively hanging up the phone, she collapsed onto the bed. The comforter still carried warmth in it. With her head buried, she listened as Qiao Qiao fired question after question at her. All the while, Jia He tried to maintain her state of pretending to be dead to the world.
“Fine!” Qiao Qiao glowered hatefully at her. “You’re not going to say anything, right? Well, then, I won’t tell you what I saw last night either.” Pulling on her clothes as she spoke, she picked up today’s schedule from the crack beneath the door and looked it over carefully. “Don’t come begging me.”
Jia He pulled in a deep breath and carried on the pretense of being dead.
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Qiao Qiao soon told her, Tian Chu was indeed coming here for a film shoot. Finally, after rapidly soaring to popularity, Tian Chu was beginning to cross over to another field. Jia He only needed to think about this particular matter and then she would be unable to restrain the urge to search Yi Wenze’s face for traces of anything. In the end, though, she could do nothing but sigh with feeling that, sure enough, her idol was an idol, so composed it was extraordinary.
Due to having taken three days to return to Hong Kong, in the several days that followed, Yi Wenze’s schedule was basically packed full, from morning to night.
Inside the hotel, Jia Ye took advantage of this idle time in which there were no changes to be made to the script and began chatting with Director Jiang about the next screenplay. Sometimes, once the conversation started, it would last for four to five hours, and then only when she had tired would she go along in the vehicle to where the cast and crew were filming and rove around there. She would always stand behind a crowd of people and watch Yi Wenze in his acting, or she would listen to the director explain a scene. At times, they would give their greetings to one another, but because work was so busy, there was not much interaction.
Yi Wenze would occasionally post some filming pictures on his Weibo, but most had no accompanying text.
There was only one particular instance that was relatively special. He took a photograph of one of the food items of a boxed, takeout meal, then sighed over how the chicken drumstick was the best dish of the day. As Jia He riveted her eyes on that chicken drumstick, there was constantly a feeling in her that it looked awfully familiar. She had to think for a long while before she finally remembered. That day, everyone had sat around the table together to eat that meal… And she, this fan of his, had had an advantageous position. At the time, she had been sitting in a spot 45 degrees east of that box of food and had also been munching on a chicken drumstick.
While she was thinking this, she began to right click with the mouse to save. Feeling a little elated, she saved the photo into a folder and even solemnly named it, “The chicken drumsticks that me and Idol gnawed on together.”
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Jia He’s star-chasing journey thus gradually returned to what it had been during the initial period, where she would spend more time on his Weibo than seeing him in person.
One night, she and Director Jiang discussed the script until seven, eight o’clock, when Director Jiang all of a sudden took a glance out the window. “It’s snowing again.”
Holding a cup, Jia He also twisted her head around to look outside. Indeed, it was snowing again. The weather this year really was bizarre. It was the end of February already, but it was still exceptionally cold and there was even snow falling.
“Today’s shooting is at an outdoor location.” Director Jiang lifted his wrist and looked at his watch. “They didn’t start today until two in the afternoon, so filming shouldn’t be done yet at this time. Let’s go. We’ll go have a look.”
Not daring to delay, Jia He speedily wrapped herself in her clothing and rode Director Jiang’s car to the filming location.
The snow was not coming down hard, but it was extremely cold. When she arrived at the filming location, there were quite a few people gathered together, drinking hot water. Since she had come out from the hotel and the car had also had heat, when she got out of the vehicle, she merely felt that it was cold. Stepping closer, however, she discovered that the props were all covered in a thin layer of frost, and only then did she have some grasp of what the temperature actually was. As she began to search repeatedly through her memory for what was being filmed in this particular scene, wondering whether it might be so cold that it would not be good for her idol, a pair of black boots had already appeared in front of her eyes.
“You still came on location even though it’s so cold?” Yi Wenze asked.
With this one sentence from her idol, her brain was successfully reformatted, and she could not remember a thing.
Jia He’s hands were stuffed in her pockets, and her scarf swathed her such that only her eyes were showing, deep-black and staring at Yi Wenze for half a minute before she at last answered, “Director Jiang saw that it’s snowing and said to come see how the progress is.”
“Would you like to drink some hot water?” he inquired, his voice warm and gentle. He still wore his period costume, a heavy brocade gown, and looked so ridiculously suave and elegant.
Jia He hurriedly shook her head. “No thanks. I drank a lot just earlier in the hotel. Here, hurry and come in to take some shelter from the wind.” After saying this, she took two backward steps to make room for Yi Wenze and, in the process, nearly kicked over a chair and did successfully kick a lantern, sending it flying…
She let out an anguished wail in her heart. She had humiliated herself—again. In reality, the place where she stood was not warm, but at least the wind was blocked out.
When Yi Wenze stepped in closer to her, Qiao Qiao by chance caught sight of Jia He as well. Right as she was about to come over to say hi, though, she noticed Yi Wenze, and immediately her steps stopped. Taking advantage of this moment when his back was towards her, she made a “Go for it, girl!” motion at Jia He. Jia He gave a tearless sob, but she still needed to keep her face under tight control, not daring to let her idol see Qiao Qiao behind him.
Of course, since the world had the astute Qiao Qiao in it, it also definitely had to have the obtuse A-Qing.
Yi Wenze had only just stood still in one spot before A-Qing came running over, carrying a thermal flask. As if it was only right to do, she pulled out two paper cups and gave one to each of them. Jia He wanted to tell her there was no need, but it was already too late. She could only take that cup of Idol-brand malva-nut water, so nice and warm, that was handed to her and, looking silly, stand there with him. The snow was coming down harder and harder, truly seeming as if it was trying to hold on to this tail end of winter and completely and extravagantly expend itself.
“I never got the chance to ask you, how did it go with your friend’s matter?” Yi Wenze was a full head taller than her and was standing in a spot that could perfectly block out the wind, so he isolated Jia He from the bitingly frigid streams of air.
“I’ve already connected her with the agent. Next will just be how the discussions go.” Jia He brimmed with gratitude, but still she carefully avoided the name “Tian Chu.” She said, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. It’s all for the agency’s business anyway. If I can help out a friend in the process, naturally that’s even better.”
Once Yi Wenze finished saying this, he gave a few words of instruction to A-Qing, telling her to pour some hot water and give it to the fans who had come to visit the set. Only now, after he said that, did Jia He notice that, because today was a hard-to-come-by outside-location shooting, there were a dozen or so fans off in the distance. Of course, Yi Wenze’s fans made up more than half of them. As shooting was about to carry on again, he did not go over to say hi, unlike a male support actor who even went over and made a few funny faces at the fans, but just from this action alone of giving them water, you could tell that he still cherished his fans dearly.
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By this time, the director had called out that filming was to continue. Handing his cup to A-Qing, he strode over into the centre of the lighting and, quietly rehearsing the scene with Liao Jing, began to warm-up and get into the mood. While Jia He was watching with close attention, beside her, A-Qing reached over and refilled her water for her. However, halfway through pouring, she suddenly let out a light “Ah!” and hissed, “Holy smokes, why is she here?”
Startled at this, Jia He, out of reflex, turned her gaze in the same direction as A-Qing’s, towards the other side.
A woman wearing a long, down coat had just come to a standstill. Behind her followed a female assistant, who was talking incessantly on the phone. Because the woman wore a surgical-style mask and a scarf around her neck and was also standing in an inconspicuous corner, for a moment, no one took notice of her. But Jia He recognized her in one glance.
After all, she had sung her songs for so long, so that figure and those eyes were still very easy for her to recognize.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only
Since the names, when written in English, are so similar, I thought I would make a special note: Xiao Ou [Little Ou] is not the same person as Xiao Yu [surnamed Xiao, given name Yu].
Xiao Ou is the production team assistant, the one whom Qiao Qiao calls to confirm that Tian Chu is coming to Hengdian.
Xiao Yu is the friend of Jia He and Qiao Qiao and the one who is trying to sign someone for an endorsement contract.
If you skim too fast, you might mix them up. 😉
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