Screen Partner Chapter 26
Xu Zheyi understood very well that he was now in a terrible state.
He was trapped in an infinite cycle that went roughly like this: he realizes that Ruka is good to him → has a guilty conscience about it → looks for an opportunity to make clear his true feelings → decides that he will properly explain it next time, because he cannot bring himself to speak → and then, again, realizes that Ruka is good to him.
If the number of times he went through the cycle was engraved on the wall, he would need to find a building the size of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to contain it all.
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. In case you were curious. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek_Memorial_Hall
For many reasons, he has been unable to stop the cycle.
Xu Zheyi fully admitted to himself that he was a fucking coward. While he was in the midst of this period of burying his head in the sand like an ostrich, he received a phone call from Ah Li.
The other party was quite straightforward when he said he was dumped and needed to drink. Xu Zheyi thought for a moment and felt that he also needed alcohol induced numbness, so the two whose thoughts were together from the first beat immediately met at the bar.
“Ah-Yi1, over here.”
When he walked into the bar, Xu Zheyi did not look around carefully since he immediately saw the man waving him over.
He did not know if it was due to the dim lighting in the bar, but Ah Li’s face appeared a bit wan and sallow, even though in general he looked okay. He did not sound too bad when they spoke on the phone, but at that time he was still a little listless.
“Cheer up,” Xu Zheyi encouraged as he patted him on the shoulder from across the table.
Ah Li only showed a reluctant smile and did not say anything more.
The waiter showed up at this moment with the happy hour drink list, but the two men did not even take a look. With getting wasted as their aim, they ordered every cocktail from beginning to end and began to binge.
After waiting until the two people were each three to four points intoxicated, Ah Li finally asked, “Did you receive a copy of the film?”
When Xu Zheyi thought about it, he knew that Ah Li must be referring to the DVD copy of their GV that was sent as a keepsake for their role. He had only glanced at it when he received it, barely registering the cover, before he stuffed it into the cupboard.
“Well, what’s wrong?”
“My girlfriend saw the film,” he answered with a wry smile, “Actually, I should call her my ex-girlfriend, I guess. She broke up with me immediately and shared the film with all of my friends. I don’t dare to contact my friends now.”
Xu Zheyi did not know how to comfort Ah Li, so he chose to remain silent.
He had also suffered the loss of his friends, and he could not completely handle it. He suspected that perhaps it was because of the lack of a friend’s relationship that he had grown dependent on Ruka—like he was grasping at straws.
They continued to down their drinks, one after another. Xu Zheyi listened quietly to Ah Li pour out his bitter sufferings, allowing him to vent his feelings. He listened to him curse his ex-girlfriend for being cruel and unscrupulous2, and his friends for being selfish and uncaring.
“Cheer up, it’s not your fault,” Xu Zheyi said in an attempt to comfort Ah Li.
Ah Li poured himself another drink, and then said quietly, “That’s right, I have not thanked you.”
Xu Zheyi was unsure what Ah Li was referring to, so he continued to listen as Ah Li spoke up quickly, “After the shoot, I learned that the pills were a Group B medication. At that time, if you hadn’t lied and played that trick on me, I would never have been able to complete the scene.”
…Group B? Xu Zheyi frowned. Before he could decipher the meaning behind those words, Ah Li continued and asked, “Isn’t it better with a man than a woman?”
This sentence frightened Xu Zheyi so much that his tipsy feeling disappeared completely. He tried to remain calm and asked, “Why are you asking me this question?”
“Haven’t you been dating Ruka for a while now?” Ah Li answered thoughtlessly, then continued, “At the wind-up party after we finished the first film, I hear someone say that you seemed to be a couple. It was my understanding that your relationship was what made the film so good.”
…Where did this terrible rumour originate? The veins on Xu Zheyi’s forehead were bulging out to the point of exploding. He wanted to explain the truth, but after a quick drink Ah Li, completely unaware of the other man’s mood, turned back to him and continued, “Ah, I heard that Ming Ban is back.”
Since the topic was jumping around too fast, Xu Zheyi could only manage,”Ming Ban?”
“Yes, I heard that he was dumped by his boyfriend after being cheated out of a lot of money. Not long after that, he got kicked out of Canada and had to come back to Taiwan. Anyway, it sounded pretty miserable,” Ah Li spoke quickly and then after a brief pause to think he continued, “Oh yes, I heard he is your ex-boyfriend?”
Xu Zheyi could no longer suppress the urge to kill someone. Fuming with rage, he narrowed his eyes at Ah Li and demanded, “You’d better tell me who told you all of that.”
As a result, Ah Li, who was intoxicated, not only failed to name the informant, he even vomited on Xu Zheyi. That meant that Xu Zheyi was not only helpless to do anything, but he could only let go of his burning rage. Like any good guy would do, he ensured that the drunk was sent home properly before heading back to his own home.
Perhaps it was owing to the formerly good relationship the two men had, Xu Zheyi did not need to seek out Ming Ban—he contacted Xu Zheyi on his own. The two men calmly decided to meet in a coffee shop over the phone like friends who were somewhat unfamiliar. Only Xu Zheyi knew how much he wanted to punch the other person.
He had not seen Ming Ban for nearly three years, and his appearance had changed a great deal. In his memory, Ming Ban looked soft and lovely, and his smiles were very gentle and sweet. However, the Ming Ban that currently sat in front of him was just an ordinary man, thin and pale.
Xu Zheyi did not know if he had exaggerated the Ming Ban in his memory, or if time had actually worn him down so heavily during that time.
“You don’t seem to have changed,” commented Ming Ban as he watched Xu Zheyi take a seat. He smiled and passed him a menu, but Xu Zheyi deliberately avoided it.
“I can just order boiled water,” said Xu Zheyi, “We have little to say to one another anyway.”
His actions caused Ming Ban to pause, and then he let out a desolate laugh, “Makes sense.”
Xu Zheyi watched as he pulled out a thick paper bag from his handbag and placed it on the table in front of him.
“There is 200,000 here. It’s what I can pay back you at the moment. After that, I will think of ways to return the rest to you in installments.”
Xu Zheyi was stunned. He picked up the paper bag suspiciously and looked inside. It was indeed a large bundle of bills. He could not help sneering sarcastically, “Since you have this money, why didn’t you just send to me directly?”
“…Because I wanted to see you,” answered Ming Ban serenely.
Xu Zheyi was disgusted with him and spoke coldly, “You want to see how miserable I am now? You should have heard that, thanks to you, I have no money and friends. Do you realize what kind of film I had to make? My dick was hanging out for all to see—I basically sold my ass! Are you satisfied with that?”
The more Xu Zheyi said, the more he could not hold his voice back. He knew that everyone around them was staring, but he simply could not control himself. At that moment, he really wanted to punch Ming Ban.
Ming Ban just sat with a white face and kept saying sorry, over and over.
Xu Zheyi did not understand why he was so blind three years ago. Why did he believe the man in front of him? Why did he bear no suspicions towards him?
“I’m sorry I used you,” Ming Ban lowered his head as he choked out the words, sobbing.
His bowed posture suddenly made Xu Zheyi recall the past. When Ming Ban was embarrassed or guilty, he would hang his head down just like that.
In the past, Xu Zheyi especially liked that action of his, because you could easily see his flushed ears. It was Xu Zheyi’s weak point and always caused his heart to feel tender and soft. In those moments, it felt like no one could compare with Ming Ban.
It was not until this moment that Xu Zheyi finally understood that, despite his stubborn denial, he really did love Ming Ban during that time. However, he did not have the courage to admit it.
Ming Ban was probably more aware of those feelings than Xu Zheyi, and he also used those feelings to get what he wanted.
Just like Xu Zheyi was doing to Ruka now.
Another tough chapter. This one was a bit longer, but the next one is really short so I shouldn’t take too long to get it out. Maybe.
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