Chapter 84: You deserve it
“Let's go. Otherwise, Song Ni’s dorm room will have closed for the night when we arrive.”
Apple wiped off her tears and stood up. She forced a smile towards Xu Tingsheng before turning away and heading off on her own. Xu Tingsheng held up the umbrella, following beside her.
The umbrella was still tilted sideways.
Raising her head and looking at it, Apple asked, “You've always been like this, right?”
Xu Tingsheng asked uncomprehendingly, “Huh?”
Apple pointed to the umbrella above her head, “Whether it is for me or anyone else, in holding up your umbrella, you're actually always like this, right?”
Xu Tingsheng thought about it. It seemed that this really was the case. Whoever the other person beneath his umbrella was, he would habitually hold the umbrella the same way, with it tilted towards the other party such that one of his shoulders was left exposed to the mercy of the elements.
Apple took his silence as a tacit acknowledgement, saying, “It will be very exhausting for you like this, forever trying to take care of every single person...You don't actually have to do this; it's not like you're Superman. Also, what if people get used to it? What if people misunderstand?”
While saying this, Apple reached out and gently brushed away the snowflakes on Xu Tingsheng's hair and shoulder.
“I think that I might be one of those who misunderstood. I thought that I would always have an umbrella like this, be able to lean closer and closer beneath that umbrella...And lo and behold, I misunderstood. I got used to it, and now that I am being pushed away, how pitiful I am.”
Apple seldom spoke in such earnestness as this. Xu Tingsheng understood the meaning in her words. Sometimes, care should not be given, could not continue being given, or it would ultimately end up harming another.
He wanted to say: Actually, I can always hold up my umbrella for you like this, do so much for you.
Apple ran out from beneath his umbrella, signalling with her hands for him not to follow.
“I don't want it anymore. I don't want you to stand far away, next tilting the umbrella towards me. I really don't want it anymore! Xu Tingsheng, I’d rather stand beneath the snow...Actually, if two people are standing close enough, a single umbrella would already be enough, right? Neither would have to stand beneath the snow or the rain.”
Actually, if two people are standing close enough, a single umbrella would already be enough, right? Neither would have to stand beneath the snow or the rain. A cuddling couple passed by them. Sharing the same umbrella, leaning on each other, vibes of sweetness and warmth were emitted from them.
Xu Tingsheng understood Apple’s words, but he did not move. He could not lean over, tightly embracing this girl who stood beneath the descending snow, traversing the winds and the snow of a lifetime beneath the same umbrella. That place belonged to someone else.
At this moment, all seemed terribly disastrous.
Apple smiled bitterly, saying, “Xu Tingsheng, I've thought it through. Only when I have the ability to hold up an umbrella on my own will I truly be able to walk alongside you.”
“Rather than having you tilt your umbrella towards me from far away, why don't I hold up an umbrella of my own as well, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with you…”
“Like this, if you lose your umbrella one day and require one...you'll still have me; I'll have an umbrella.”
Xu Tingsheng escorted Apple to the front of Song Ni's dormitory building. After they had said their goodbyes, he turned to leave.
Apple shouted from behind him, “Xu Tingsheng!”
Turning back, Xu Tingsheng saw the hesitation in Apple's eyes, her look of wanting to say something yet having it stifled within.
“You have something you want to tell me?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Apple shook her head, but then nodded, “Yeah.”
“Is it very hard to voice out?”
Apple hesitated for a while before saying, “Fu Cheng gave me an administrator role for the Rebirth webpage, so it's been me who's been running it recently...Some time ago, a management company contacted us. Back then, thinking how you guys aren't willing to reveal your faces, I just rejected them…”
Xu Tingsheng could basically already guess at Apple's intentions. She wanted to lift up an umbrella of her own, despite all the difficulties and hardship that this might entail...she was choosing her own path.
Xu Tingsheng already knew what words would follow. He would be lying if he said that he did not feel lost regarding her unexpected decision...
Still, he was willing.
It was just like how when the programme host had asked Bobby Chen, ‘Do you love Rene Liu?’, the latter had answered very candidly, “Of course I love her. Otherwise, why would I have done so many things for her?’
It was sometimes like this for men. He was unable to be together with her, yet was willing to do so much more for her.
His heart ached over her. This was true for Bobby Chen, and this was true for Xu Tingsheng as well.
Xu Tingsheng smiled warmly, nodding in indication for Apple to continue.
Apple said, “I'd like to give it a try.”
“Okay,” Xu Tingsheng stroked her head, wiping off a few snowflakes, “Tell me after you’ve reached an agreement. I’ll get Fu Cheng to obtain a letter of authorisation for you, giving you permission to sing the songs and perform on stage with them. As for the full copyrights, because we’re currently still under a corporate contract, we may not be able to immediately transfer them to your management company...”
“Other than that, I’ll get Fu Cheng to put up a statement on the webpage tomorrow, saying that as one of Rebirth’s members, you will be entering the industry on our behalf in the near future...the anticipation will be higher this way, and it will be better for your negotiations with the management company as well.”
As Apple raised her head and looked at Xu Tingsheng, tears glistened visibly within her eyes. At this moment, she knew exactly how well this man before her treated her, how much his heart ached over her...Still, she could not shrink back. It was precisely because of him that she had to take this step forward, lifting up an umbrella of her own.
As Apple replied not, Xu Tingsheng continued, “I don’t know anything about the entertainment industry at all, but I hear that it’s pretty complicated. You’ve got to take good care of yourself...if you meet with any difficulties, no matter how serious they are, remember to tell them to me.”
“I will always be here, and my umbrella will grow bigger and bigger as well…”
“Don’t be afraid-behind you stands Xu Tingsheng. Actually, Xu Tingsheng really is Superman...however far and high you fly, I will still be able to cover you.”
Xu Tingsheng had said this final sentence in a joking tone, but Apple did not smile.
“Sorry,” Apple said.
After separating with Apple, Xu Tingsheng did not return to his dormitory room. He went to the riverside residence, turning off his handphone and lying on his bed alone.
Apple had said ‘sorry’ at the end.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng did not blame her, did not blame her at all. When they had first gotten close initially, Apple had approached him with a purpose in mind. This time...she wanted even more, yet Xu Tingsheng did not harbour any suspicions regarding this in the slightest.
He believed in Apple, believed that if she was able to choose, she would definitely choose Xu Tingsheng. Now that she had decided to fly solitarily, it was only in order to be able to lift up that umbrella of her own, walking shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Xu Tingsheng.
Yet, it was only inevitable that Xu Tingsheng would feel somewhat lost over this. He had never tried to think about how great a position Apple held within his heart before, but when she had made her choice, when she had turned to leave…
Xu Tingsheng had found an emptiness within his heart.
Awakening the next day, Xu Tingsheng turned on his phone.
Apple’s message read: I’m leaving, Xu Tingsheng, my darling.
Xu Tingsheng did not send a reply.
He had said a lot earlier, said that he would always be there, said that he would always have a big umbrella, but he actually knew that Apple having turned away now, the two of them might henceforth steadily drift further and further apart.
This seemed to be what he had originally wanted. Yet, he now felt pained and reluctant at their parting.
Seeing missed calls from Old Wai and Li Linlin, Xu Tingsheng called them back. It was all good news. The number of registered parents on the platform had risen to more than 400 overnight. Correspondingly, the number of home tutors was continually on the rise as well.
In order to verify the required information, the two had not slept the entire night.
While Xu Tingsheng should actually be very happy at this, he wasn’t able to get his spirits up at all.
At noon, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng came over to the riverside residence with lunch.
Xu Tingsheng told them about Apple’s matter as well as his current feelings.
They said, “You deserve it.”
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