For the next consecutive days, Xie Ning no longer went to watch the filming on set.
Not that he didn't want to, it’s just because the art team was busy, and there's quite a distance between the hotel and the set too. As such, he really didn't have the time to go and watch.
With Xie Ning getting busy, Zhuang Yan would only be busier than he was.
That early conclusion of work in the first day seemed like a fraud now. The next few days of shooting arrangements were fully packed to the brim, all scheduled straight into the evening
The shooting had just started, thus many of the cast hadn’t had the feel for their characters yet. Zhuang Yan’s way was to simply polish them over and over again, retaking the scene without the slightest hesitation over any minor flaws.
There’s a night where they even had to shoot almost into the wee hours. Even the lighting staffs on the side couldn’t hold back their yawns, their eyelids as heavy as two magnet opposites on the brink of sticking shut.
The only one still in good spirits was Zhuang Yan, who was in front of the director’s screen. He frowned while stating coldly, “This won't do. The feeling is off. The emotional expression didn't reach where I want them to be. Do it again.“
That day, only after he got back to the hotel that the weariness swept over his whole body. So tired he wished no more than to lie down on the spot and sleep.
Yet the lights were still on by the time he entered the door.
Zhuang Yan was stunned as he saw Xie Ning half leaning on the sofa, eyes closed and seemed to have fallen asleep.
He went over in lightened steps.
Xie Ning was sleeping rather deeply, probably from exhaustion. His phone had fallen from his hands to the end of the sofa, still letting out some sound from time to time
Zhuang Yan picked up the phone. It was playing one of his film, and a very early one on that. How Xie Ning managed to find this was beyond him.
He may had only watched half of the film before accidentally falling asleep.
Zhuang Yan closed the player, prepared to hug Xie Ning back into the room.
The fast asleep Xie Ning could still feel the sudden lifting of his body, and was woken up halfway.
He finally was clear on how Zhuang Yan would bring him back into the room.
But his consciousness was still a bit hazy, and only thoroughly cleared up after he was put down on the bed.
“Were you waiting for me?” asked Zhuang Yan in a low voice.
Xie Ning was embarrassed to admit, but the current situation made him unable to lie. So he could only hummed affirmatively, “...hmm.”
Zhuang Yan’s eyes brightened. The corner of his lips couldn't stop from rising.
He put his arms around Xie Ning, and rested his head on his shoulder.
A day worth of fatigue seemed to be wiped clean just because that single hum of his.
Zhuang Yan said, “Don’t wait again next time.”
“Why is that?” said Xie Ning while yawning. He still felt all drowsy because of the sudden interruption from the sleep.
Zhuang Yan smiled, and said, “I can’t bear seeing you be so tired like this.”
This guy, clearly he wasn’t a player or anything, but oh-so-capable was he in spouting such romantic words with the ease of one.
Xie Ning, as expected, blushed again. He mumbled a “not tiring” before pushing him off to wash up.
Zhuang Yan finished washing up in lightning speed, then hugged Xie Ning while they laid shoulder to shoulder on the bed. Now that they were listening to each other’s faint breathing, the two suddenly lost their sleepiness.
Zhuang Yan held him in his arms and rained kiss after kiss, but that was all. Neither the crammed-to-the-brim shooting plans nor the time of the hour allowed the two to do anything more.
Xie Ning closed his eyes, savoring the fire-like warmth that was Zhuang Yan. He silently smiled when Zhuang Yan’s kisses reached his forehead.
Zhuan Yan seemed somewhat helpless, “Now I’m a bit regretful of not having lived apart from you.”
Xie Ning appeared stunned for a moment. He opened his eyes to look at him, and asked, “Why?”
“I’m bothering you,” said Zhuang Yan, “The works ended very late recently. I’m bothering you from sleeping even until this late.”
Even if he went to sleep first, when Zhuang Yan came back, the small movement he’d inevitably make would also wake him up.
The lights had been turned off. Xie Ning watched Zhuang Yan’s face in the darkness for some time. He suddenly smiled, “It’s no problem.”
He reached out to feel Zhuang Yan’s face, finding where his lips where located. A kiss was then landed under Zhuang Yan’s suprised gaze.
“I want to wait for you,” he was smiling as he said this, “How can I sleep when you’re not here.”
Zhuang Yan’s breath turned sluggish. He flipped over soon after to trap Xie Ning in his embarace, deepening the kiss.
The light wasn’t at all bright, but Zhuang Yan could guess. Xie Ning’s face at the moment must be slightly red, yet his clear, limpid eyes were fixed on him, and filled in those were his trust and attachment to himself.
Hence, immeasurable happiness and joy started to well up in his heart.
He thought, All of those were meaningful.
He had waited for so long, invested both his feeling and his hope. At last, he had managed to wait for the response.
The next few days, the cast and crew abruptly discovered that Zhuang Yan’s mood had inexplicably improved, and he was also much easier to talk to than before.
An example would be today’s dusk scene. Zhuang Yan had high requirement for the lighting and the use of natural light was a must in his shooting. So this shoot was shot straight into the evening.
They barely had the time to eat dinner before there’s another scene to shoot that very evening.
Not to mention the actors, even the staff members felt this intensity somewhat hard to bear.
Shen Shisong’s assistant complained in whisper when he delivered his meal, “Isn’t this going too far on ‘making things difficult for others’? They didn’t even give us time to eat. From the look of it, tonight’s gonna be another all-nighter.”
The said-to-be dinner was but some fast food bought nearby, those finished in two bites and just barely enough to pad the stomach.
Shen Shisong glanced at his assistant, shaking his head, “The other person might also be complaining, complaining why we have to take such a long time to shoot every single scenes, causing the time to be dragged into the evening.”
The assistant was still dissatisfied, “Could this be blamed on you? You’ve already acted well enough.”
“Well enough, but not yet perfect,” said Shen Shisong calmly, “This was Director Zhuang polishing us.”
Originally, they thought this polishing would last at least until the early morning. Who knew that the night hadn’t fallen for long before Zhuang Yan waved his hand to set them free. He let them go back and think over the script carefully, and said that the shooting would be resumed tomorrow.
The few actors had established a sense of camaraderie after these few days of being exploited. They looked at each other in dismay, feeling shocked instead.
“Director Zhuang is being so kind today(?)”
“Where is he kind? That scene of yours doesn’t get his pass even until the end.”
“Aih, what I was saying was, why is the work ended so early today? I’m already so well-prepared for an all-nighter. Look, I even had my assistant bring over a small blanket.”
A joke was randomly spoke, “Who knows, maybe there’s somebody is waiting at home ne.”
Everybody laughed. They packed their own things and went back to the hotel. No one really took this joke seriously.
Zhuang Yan came back early today, thus Xie Ning blinked when he saw him. He thought he was hallucinating.
“This early?” He had just came out from the bathroom. His hair hadn’t been blow-dried yet. Drips of water followed the strands, slidding all the way from his neck into his collar.
Zhuang Yan’s gaze darkened. He leaned aside to take a dry towel, wrapped it around his hair, then gave it a few good rubs.
Xie Ning’s hair was neither long nor short, and now it was messed up because of Zhuan Yan.
He leaned back on a chair, making it more convenient for Zhuang Yan to fiddle with his hair. He asked, “Have you eaten dinner?”
Zhuan Yan didn’t reply. He was burying his fingers into Xie Ning’s hair, stirring them up for a little while.
From the look of it, he haven’t.
Xie Ning was about to get up when Zhuang Yan held him down, asking in reply, “Have you eaten?”
Xie Ning nodded, “I’ve eaten together with the art team. Wang-ge said we had worked hard these past two days, just the right time to treat everybody to a meal.”
This Wang-ge was referring to Wang Jianjian. After so many days, Xie Ning had also became familiar with the people in the art team.
Wang Jianjian said to treat them, when in fact, it was but a meal at a nearby restaurant, not some high-end places. Yet those home-cooked food had nonetheless brought closer the relationship between them collegues.
Xie Ning’s temper was relatively cold. At the start, everyone somewhat feared this superior of theirs. Yet after being in contact this long, they discovered that he was simply not too fond of talking.
He had a solid foundation, highly-skilled in drawing, and often unstingily gave them pointers. The art team also gradually and sincerely regarded him as their Laoda (Boss).
Zhuang Yan tilted his head to look over.
When Xie Ning was talking, his eyes were bright, and he was smiling.
Zhuang Yan recalled what both Ji Wenbin and Yan Xi had told him before, they hoped Xie Ning would go out more and interact more with other people.
He should not continue to shut himself in like this forever.
Like now, he have a lover, he have some friends, he have a group of collegues, he socialize like normal people, and hang out for dinner and karaoke.
Zhuang Yan sometimes worried he wouldn’t fit in, but it seemed it was all very good now.
—at least he smiled more than he did before.
“The art team members are not bad, “ Zhuang Yan laughed, “Wang Jianjian... he’s just a bit playful. Extroverted, but always cordial to others.”
Xie Ning genuinely agreed, but he still wouldn’t let pass the previous topic, so he asked again, “So...you still haven’t eaten, right?”
Zhuang Yan put the towel aside. He hugged Xie Ning’s shoulder from behind, softly laughed as he asked, “Why? Are you planning to feed me?”
Xie Ning’s face heated up again.
Zhuang Yan also felt it was magical sometimes. This Xie Ning looked cold, yet his face was so thin. Just a little while bit of teasing and his face got all burned up.
Sometimes he’d even stealthily glare at you, not with much anger in it. His glaring was no different than stretching out a claw to have a scratch at your heart.
Not painful, but made one’s heart itches more instead.
Xie Ning blushingly diverted his gaze, not delving deeper into the meaning of his words. He just said, “Then...I’ll cook something for you to eat?”
“Don’t bother.” Zhuang Yan enjoyed his expression for a while before fetching a hair dryer. He reached out to grab some strands of his hair. “I’ve eaten already. I let someone buy me bread. Now, I’m not hungry.”
The sound of the hairdryer was loud, Xie Ning had to increased the volume of his voice, “Bread... can bread fill the stomach, though?”
After Zhuang Yan helped him blow his hair dry, he lowered his head over. Starting from the earlobe, he slowly kissed his way down. “You could use another way to feed me.”
The light pouring from above their heads wasn’t all that bright, yet it stung Xie Ning’s into closing his eyes.
Zhuang Yan move around him. His kisses reached his neck, his fingers nimbly undoed the collar, before again exploring downward.
Xie Ning shrank back, but he made no move to resist.
He never seemed to be able to refuse Zhuang Yan. The few times he did refuse him was also so light it seemed more of an invite.
Xie Ning sometimes absent-mindedly thought, even if Zhuang Yan wanted to do the deed ‘till the very end, he, for the most part, would probably be willing.
But Zhuang Yan had always stopped when it come to that point.
This person was just like this. Looking like a mighty hoodlum, but beneath that was a true gentleman. Every action wouldn’t overstep the bottom line in your heart.
Xie Ning quickly didn’t have the mind to think east nor west anymore. Every places that Zhuang Yan had kissed was terrifyingly burning. As lust soared up, his brain had also muddled into a paste.
He opened his eyes dazedly and looked into Zhuang Yan’s eyes.
In those bright black pupils, he saw—filled in them, was his own reflection.
Like there was nothing else apart from that.
As it turns out, I’m being loved this dearly by him.
When he thought of this, Xie Ning couldn’t stop the reddening of his eyes.
I’m not alone anymore.
I’m loved by someone.
I’m also someone who could love another.
The feeling at this moment was so beautiful that Xie Ning became reluctant to close his eyes, reluctant not to watch Zhuang Yan.
He hugged Zhuang Yan. Zhuang Yan was only startled for a bit before he also hugged him back.
While they held each other, Xie Ning’s felt the shackles in the bottom his heart had unknowingly, tracelessly disappeared.
He felt his heart was vast and clear, as if their future was no longer bound by anything.
It was bright, it was something to look forward for.
Zhuang Yan’s kisses fell again.
In his muddle-headedness, Xie Ning reached to touch Zhuang Yan’s hair, his fingers rubbed down into them before they got caught by Zhuang Yan.
Zhuang Yan pulled at his hand, lifting his head to give him a deep gaze.
Then, he again lowered his head.
His lips moved closer to his wrist, rubbing it affectionately several times. He stuck out the tip of his tongue and, before Xie Ning could react, gave him gentle licks.
Somewhat itchy, and also moist.
Xie Ning’s hand trembled in reflex.
Zhuang Yan didn't say anything, his kiss both serious and loving.
It was taking Xie Ning sluggishly long to start gathering his thought back.
He gazed at the hair on top of Zhuang Yan’s head in a trance.
A long time had passed before he finally reacted. The wrist that had been kissed was so scaringly hot, it seemed to have been scalded.
And on that scalding spot wasn’t only the tatoo of the bird with its spreading wings,
below those lines were also the scars deeply etched inside his heart.
Zhuang Yan, at this very moment, had had them all soothed.