Song Yucheng’s voice seemed heavy with sadness, like he was thinking of something sorrowful, but in the next second, his tone changed. “Just kidding. I’m an only child. If I really had a brother like Li Zhao, I’ll definitely beat him up ten times a day.”
Song Yucheng’s eyes were full of malicious mockery, clearly showing that he had deliberately put on a sad act to make fun of others. However the sight of his satisfied, bun-eating face made all the netizens watching him swallow the scoldings they had been about to unleash.
They saw that he was a little too focused on eating. He ate as though what he held in his hand was not a cooled and greasy bun, but some sort of luxurious meal prepared by a six-star Michelin chef. The gaze which fell upon Chu Rong and the others in the courtyard was also especially gentle. That indulgent smile needed no allusions for those watching to sense what he was thinking.
He really did like Chu Rong and the others very much. He liked them so much that he would smile when he watched him. He liked them so much that he did not fear becoming a “disgusting piece of trash” in the eyes of others.
But it had only flashed by in a second. Song Yucheng immediately wiped all expression from his face when he noticed the camera pointed at him, and resumed his proud, arrogant persona.
However, this disguise of his had been put on too late. The expression which had leaked through when he let his guard down had been completely captured and broadcast to the livestream screens.
The look in Song Yucheng’s eyes made the heart of every person watching ache for him.
Oh, you socially inept young man. But… his clumsiness was endearing. The proud words of his riddled with contradictions, and the mean words he did not mean melted the hearts of most of the viewers right away. It also made them feel a faint tenderness for him, and wish that they could hold him tight in their arms and tell him that he did not have to torture himself so to keep up the facade. The events of the day went through their minds once again.
“Sigh. Chu Rong and the others would definitely not have gotten any food today if it weren’t for Song Yucheng.”
“That’s right. Some of them wanted to throw in the towel at noon today but didn’t because of Song Yucheng’s mocking.”
“It was the same at night too. He asked the landlord to give the others food using the excuse of thanking them for watering the vegetables. Do you see how happy Li Zhao and the rest are now?”
“But Song Yucheng himself, his own meals are…” The person writing the comment couldn’t seem to find the right words, and chose to leave the sentence trailing with ellipses.
And yet more people’s hearts ached for Song Yucheng when they read that comment.
It was true. Li Zhao and the others had had a tiring day but they had had a hearty lunch, and a good dinner of stewed meat and mung bean soup. But Song Yucheng, who had been far more laborious than them, had only eaten simple dry food like the plain and stuffed buns.
They would have exploded for sure if they’d been in his shoes, but Song Yucheng looked at Chu Rong and the others eating with satisfaction, and was delighted that Li Zhao had given him a cold steamed bun.
Just how tender was Song Yucheng’s heart? What were the upper limits of his caring for others?
One netizen went and compiled all the scenes involving Song Yucheng from the start of the filming and did scene breakdowns, one by one. The pangs of tenderness which rose unbidden from their hearts made the rims of their eyes redden.
Song Yucheng’s clumsiness with others made their hearts ache, and his perseverance made them want to weep for him.
Who would have guessed that the seat Song Yucheng had occupied in the van on the way to the county town was the most bumpy, suffocating and uncomfortable one? He had refused to change seats with the two girls because he had been worried that their condition would worsen. What had he got in return for that? Countless insults, calling him the worst of the worst.
And his refusal to share a room with the other guys was because there were too many of them. Each room could only comfortably hold three people. If four big boys were to stay in a room, it was likely that none of them would be able to rest well. And so, Song Yucheng had chosen to remove himself from the room-sharing and land himself in a situation where he had no clue if he would be able to make money the next day, but he had been called uncooperative, petty and unreasonable for his consideration.
The lunch and extra food too, needed no further explanation. If Song Yucheng truly despised Li Zhao and the others and wanted to crush them, why would he buy the dishes they wanted to eat, right after he made money, and settle the problem of their rent?
Song Yucheng was caring for Chu Rong and his group just like how an elder brother would take care of his younger brother. No, not just like brothers — even brothers might not measure up to the degree of care that Song Yucheng had shown.
So this meant that they had misunderstood him from the beginning.
Song Yucheng was not a piece of trash. He was, like Li Zhao and the others, a child of just 17 or 18. It was only because he was not used to expressing himself, and because of his contradictory behaviour that all of his hard work was seen as “evil” by them, the self-proclaimed “Social Justice Warriors”. They, the keyboard warriors, had cursed him, insulted him, and even did personal attacks on him, telling him to die and to get lost from the programme.
Now that they thought about it, the indignation and stirred up emotions from back then must have blinded their reason, and their hearts. How else had it come to be that they would unscrupulously bully a gentle young man who had endured so much? How had their actions been different from slandering Song Yucheng, and forcing him to bow his head and admit to a crime which he did not commit?
They had been so bastardly bad that they could find no words to describe themselves.
The netizens watching the livestream fell silent immediately. This silence was not because they had been dumbstruck by Song Yucheng’s actions, but because their hearts were just hurting too terribly, and they were just feeling too guilty to know what to say about it.
“I suddenly feel like crying. I cursed Song Yucheng so many times… Now I want to go back in time and swallow all those words.”
“I’ve been slapped with clarity. I must have been blind to say so many hurtful things.”
“I was the one who made the first image macro. Now I feel like chopping my hands off. No, I am going to make and edit a video right away and post it up on Weibo later to apologise and explain things. I feel all suffocated just knowing that there are still so many people curing him.”
“Quick, go splice that video and all of us will help spread it. Siiiiiigh. This was a real slap in the face, but even so… I want to say sorry too.”
The first apology on the bullet screen opened the floodgates and more apologies swiftly followed. The Weibo gossip bloggers who had only been spectating and waiting to edit scenes for hot gossip up till that point, were unable to bear this soul-condemning sin any longer. They gathered to discuss how they could vindicate Song Yucheng.
Let’s be reasonable — our darling Song Yucheng has the looks, the skills, and his character is beyond question. How could we allow him to be mocked and called scum by the brainless sheep of society?
They were definitely going to make the best video, and slap those people silly with it!
The atmosphere in the livestream chat had a complete turnaround by the time Song Yucheng turned his attention to the courtyard once more. Song Yucheng was all haughty as always, but in the eyes of the netizens watching, he was so endearing and lovable that they wished they could snatch him up and take him home to cherish him. At the same time, they also looked forward to what would come next and wondered what delights he would bring.
Meanwhile, Li Zhao, Chu Rong and the others in the courtyard had eaten their fill and were discussing what to do to make money. They thought and they thought, but they could not think of any good solutions.
“It’ll be great if we can make something to sell.” Li Zhao scratched his head anxiously; he was tired. He could think of too few solutions, and every single one had its limits.
In fact, seriously speaking, Li Zhao was not a little prince who did no work on his own. He was young, but he had a discerning eye and had made investments along with his elder brother several times. Li Zhao had had a hand in a portion of the works which Chu Rong had won awards for. However, a real man doesn’t boast about his past achievements. His influence in the entertainment circles was useless in a place like this little county town. Securing meals was tough enough here, much less getting investments.
He was apprehensive, and the other youngsters were too. The money they had was so little that survival was a problem.
Just then, one of the girls suddenly discovered the straw hats under the grapevine trellis, and she let out a cry of surprise.
“Wow! This is beautiful. Does it belong to the landlord?” She picked one up and put it on her head, and the eyes of the others lit up immediately.
These straw hats were truly exquisite!
They were different from the farming straw hats they usually saw on TV. These straw hats were more delicate in handiwork and the patterns were especially pretty. The hats spoke of rare elegance in craftwork, and were fresh and unique in style.
The other girl also picked a straw hat up and tried it on, and she immediately fell in love with it.
“It’s beautiful! I wonder where they sell these.”
This careless remark made the others think of the word ‘sell’ right away.
“Say, do you think we can take these and sell them?” Chu Rong was the first to react. He picked up a straw hat and took a close look at it, turning it over in his hands. He felt that this idea could work, but he had to first find out who the owner of these straw hats was.
“I’ll go ask Auntie Landlord.” Li Zhao was quick to respond, and he ran off to look for her. The answer he got was that the production crew had specially prepared those for them, and Chu Rong and his group grew excited upon hearing it.
“I was just saying that we could try to sell something, and we have the ‘something’ now. Look at this hat! If we can sell one for 20 yuan, then these ten hats here would earn us 200 yuan.”
“Is 20 yuan too expensive, though? Will people really buy them?”
“They will, for sure.” Chu Rong thought for a bit, then spoke of his plan. “I saw lots of wildflowers by the roadside on my way back. We can pick some flowers and add them to the hats to make them prettier. The two girls can be models for the hats. We will definitely be able to sell the hats quickly.”
“That makes sense!” The others quickly agreed, and they began a lively discussion on what they would do to sell the hats the next day.
They knew it. The production crew would not just abandon them. If the production crew really didn’t give them anything, they would not be capable of making living expenses appear out of thin air even if they were divine beings. They were not that stupid.
In his room, Song Yucheng let out a sigh of relief. He had watched them circle the bait he had laid out for them for ages, and they had finally taken it.
And right then, the cameraman seized the opportunity to ask him, “You spent all afternoon weaving those. Aren’t you going to get them back from them?”
“Who wants a pile of green hats?” Song Yucheng threw the cameraman a scornful look, like he was an utter fool, then closed the bamboo blinds over his window. He turned away and made preparations to go out.
However, the blunt, dismissive words he had thrown at the cameraman and the livestream viewers made them hover between laughter and tears.
“Awesome! This is a live example of a complete ‘tsundere’!”
“That line about the green hats was smooth too. I couldn’t find the words to respond.”
“I was going to say that those straw hats were designed very nicely, but now I feel like I regret all the praise I had for them in the afternoon.”
The bullet screen was lively again, but this time, it was not verbal abuse or insults. The screen filled with kindly teasing.
On the other end of the enthusiastic bullet screen comments, Song Yucheng did not stay idle. He avoided Chu Rong and his group, and went out the back door of the pension lodging. He found the only shop in the town and bought a small basket of rags, then circled around and returned through the back door.
It was nine in the evening by the time he was done with his coming and going, and it was the scheduled end-time for livestream filming for the day. The cameraman left too, so that he would not disturb Song Yucheng’s rest. Li Zhao and the others too, after wasting some time, went back to their rooms in ones and twos to get ready for bed.
Song Yucheng, on the other hand, had no intention of sleeping. He sat at the table and worked on the rags he had bought earlier that night.
The young man’s practised fingers danced around the strips of colour in small quick steps under the dim lamplight. Time ticked by, and the ordinary rags were swiftly transformed into beautiful cloth flowers as if by magic.
Song Yucheng was tired after making a few flowers, and he stood to stretch. Just then, his attention was caught by the sound of water splashing. It was coming from the courtyard.
Who could it be at this hour?
Song Yucheng pushed the door open and was surprised to see Chu Rong by the well drawing water.
Chu Rong had come out to have a drink of water. Perhaps it was because of the exertions of the day, but he had woken up after only a short while feeling like his body was especially weak. It had been easy for him to draw water from the well in the daytime, but it had now become extraordinarily heavy. Chu Rong held his breath — the hand pulling the rope of the bucket was trembling.
“Need help?” Song Yucheng hurried over when he saw the situation.
Chu Rong did not even imagine that Song Yucheng would come over, and he subconsciously moved to avoid him. The bucket, which was almost out of the well, fell back into the well with a splash.
Well, this was embarrassing.
Chu Rong forced himself to look calm and gave Song Yucheng a stoic nod in greeting. However, what happened next was even more embarrassing.
A very clear and audible growl of an empty stomach broke the silence between the two young men.
Chu Rong’s face flushed red immediately.