Jiang Xun tapped on the video Jiang Ying sent him. The video featured T.ATW from back when they first debuted. It showed them performing at some event, with bright red scrolling captions added to say that something exciting was coming up.
Soon, the camera panned over to Gu Wei.
The Gu Wei in the video was even younger than he looked now. He must have been pretty nervous when he started singing, and he was heinously off-key from the very first line.
"Pfft," Jiang Xun laughed.
What was Jiang Ying doing, sending over embarrassing videos of his nemesis?
As he continued watching, Jiang Xun saw that Gu Wei quickly noticed he was out of tune. When Gu Wei realized, he slapped a hand over his mouth while his beautiful eyes darted left and right, as though to see if the cameras and spectators had noticed. Then, though embarrassed, he swiftly recovered and joined in on the dance routine. It really was an adorable moment…
And he really didn't seem like the sort of person who could 'entertain' a hundred and eighty customers.
But Gu Wei had made that claim himself. Jiang Xun had no choice but to believe him.
He still couldn't figure out why Jiang Ying had sent him that video out of the blue, though. Exiting out of WeChat, he opened up Weibo and instantly saw the Wandering With You preview that sat at the top of the trending topics list.
Jiang Xun was used to hurling obscenities back and forth with his teammates when they were in the middle of a heated competition, but on the day he ran into Gu Wei, he hadn't meant to do any lasting damage with his words. He'd just gotten the urge to tease Gu Wei a little, seeing as this was the kid who was so boldly and recklessly soliciting… 'clients' on WeChat.
But he hadn't considered that Gu Wei might not have been able to take a little teasing.
In the trailer, while Gu Wei apologized with his head bowed, he could clearly be seen sneaking a glance at Jiang Xun out of the corner of his eye. Like a fan, happy to catch a glimpse of their idol.
But it seemed like Jiang Xun had accidentally, in a moment of carelessness, scared Gu Wei away.
The trending tag was full of people speculating wildly about Jiang Xun's identity, but Jiang Xun didn't care about that. He ignored those comments and peeked into the blog of one of Gu Wei's fans.
@gwbbsavemeee: Our precious bean is so so so cute. He's been working hard this whole time. He's really amazing, please don't slander him and please enjoy his work.
On their Weibo page, this user had also posted a short video clip of Gu Wei. The video was centered on Gu Wei, showing him made-up and dressed in a flashy outfit. His alluring, peach-petal eyes were highlighted with a glittery eyeshadow that made them even more attractive. The choreography of the dance he was performing seemed complicated, but he had no trouble keeping up with the beat.
Due to his family's background, Jiang Xun was no stranger to the entertainment world. Although he had escaped that world himself, he still knew what kind of person could become popular and famous. He more or less had an instinct for it.
Gu Wei had a good figure, and his height was also suitable for dancing. He didn't look like he struggled with anything. His movements when dancing hinted at innate talent and hard work.
It went without saying that the Gu Wei who danced on stage and the Gu Wei going about his everyday life were like two different people entirely. On stage, Gu Wei seemed to transform into the type of person his fans all said he was—
On stage, he was undeniably very alluring.
In the video, as the electrifying music played on, Gu Wei spun and flipped up the hem of his shirt. His stud earring flashed under the spotlight as he ran up to the audience, throwing the front row a wink and sending a wave of excited screams rippling through the crowd.
This was a completely different Gu Wei from the one Jiang Xun had encountered in northern Europe. This Gu Wei was dazzling and captivating. He had completely given himself over to the music. Gu Wei's intense focus and concentration even reminded Jiang Xun of the way he himself became completely engrossed in his own fierce battles during tournaments.
Unexpectedly, this short clip of Gu Wei's performance resonated with something inside Jiang Xun.
Setting aside his questionable singing ability for the time being, there was no doubt that Gu Wei truly did have the ability to fulfill the role of lead dancer in the popular boy band T.ATW.
Jiang Xun's cell phone vibrated again. It seemed his irritable little brother was, predictably, getting irritated again.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Ge, did you finish watching it?
[100K Volts]: Yeah.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Good. Now tell me what that made you feel.
[100K Volts]: Awe and admiration, I think.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: ???
The admiration came from the dazzling Gu Wei who danced on stage.
And the awe was because of those one hundred and eighty people Gu Wei had openly bragged about… entertaining.
Jiang Ying was called away by his director to get back on set at that point, so Jiang Xun returned to Weibo and continued scrolling through posts about Gu Wei.
And as he scrolled, he did start to encounter far less flattering comments and articles.
Gu Wei was sitting on the couch in the company dorm, swiping through hot topics on Weibo with the other guys in his group.
T.ATW had five members, and four of them were rabid fans of Jiang Xun. Even when they were overwhelmingly busy, they found scraps of time between performances to watch Jiang Xun's tournaments.
They currently had some time to kill before they were due to perform on an evening show at eight that night. Chi Yunkai was working, leaving the other four behind to skim through Weibo to see what was trending.
There was a huge supply of nuts and sunflower seeds on the coffee table. Most of the guys were cracking seeds and tossing the shells into a big, gaudy tea tin from the eighties that their group's leader Fu Zhi had brought from home. In that room, where no one could see them, the cool and striking personas the company cultivated for them were completely obliterated and replaced by a casual atmosphere.
Plenty of tabloids liked to gossip that there was inner strife within the group, and that they would disband sooner or later. But in reality, the guys in T.ATW were pretty tight.
"So?" asked Fu Zhi, the group's leader. "What was Jiang Xun like in person?"
"He… wasn't all that," Gu Wei said. He knew he was sitting in a room full of Jiang Xun fanboys. He didn't dare say anything more scathing than that.
"You're so lucky," Luo Chenxuan, their lead vocalist, said with an obvious note of envy in his tone. "What a coincidence, to meet God Xun while recording your program."
"Why didn't you get his autograph?" Shi Xinyan asked mournfully. "That would be the autograph of a world champion, you know."
"Jiang Xun is so amazing."
"Jiang Xun was way too cool at his last tournament."
"Jiang Xun is just too fierce."
All these blasphemous lies flooded into Gu Wei's ears, and he couldn't help but think back to what actually happened the day he met Jiang Xun.
It does hurt pretty bad.
You could… blow it for me.
It was like he could still hear Jiang Xun's voice right beside his ear.
Really, it was just no good. The man behind the memes was nowhere near as nice as the memes themselves.
Gu Wei shook his head and ignored the roomful of idiots who all farted rainbows whenever they talked about Jiang Xun. He pulled up that trending search on Weibo and scrolled through the various comments. Naturally, he saw the one from Jiang Ying as well.
His nemesis was really imploding.
Underneath the trailer on the official Wandering With You page, Gu Wei's anti-fans had already rallied a veritable army—
How is Gu Wei still relevant? He's uneducated, he has bad manners, and he can't socialize to save his life. And now he's trying to leech fame from esports guys, too?
Don't drag our God Xun into your weird entertainment world drama. We don't stand for any of that shit in the gaming world.
The fiercer antis had even started up a chant:
Gu Wei, get out! Leave the industry!
Before Gu Wei had even said anything about the incident, these people were already jumping down his throat.
His supporters were working hard to combat the negative posts, diligently debunking each and every false or exaggerated rumor about him.
It was just then, with the comments section still blowing up, that Gu Wei glanced up to see their leader Fu Zhi shaking his head and giving him a meaningful look.
"Hm?" Gu Wei asked.
On the trending topics page, something had just popped up.
Gu Wei stared at those words.
The 'TMW-Xun' part was no mystery. Gu Wei had been to a few of his tournaments, so he knew this was Jiang Xun's Weibo username.
So that meant…
The real culprit behind this mess had given the Wandering With You trailer a like.
What was that guy thinking? Was his indecent behavior in Europe not indecent enough for him?
Instantly, all those people that had been noisily accusing Gu Wei of trying to leech off of Jiang Xun's fame went silent and disappeared with their tails tucked between their legs.
"The other party isn't worried about this stuff at all," Fu Zhi said. "What are you getting so worked up for?"
Following his lead, the others in the group all logged into their side accounts to downvote the negative posts like a car full of gingerbread men1.
All the while, they continued to gush about what a great, saintly guy their beloved Jiang Xun was.
Was that meme really a good person?
Gu Wei really wanted to tell his groupmates about the perverted things Jiang Xun had dared to say to him, and how Jiang Xun had trapped him against a wall before even saying anything.
Before he could open his mouth, his cell phone vibrated several times in quick succession. Three new notifications appeared on the screen all at once.
The first was from his own father—
[Gu Cai]: My darling son, remember the marriage candidate I mentioned to you a few days ago? Something Xun? Did he add you? Have you had a nice chat yet?
The second was from that little kid who was supposed to be some big customer—
[100K Volts]: How much will it cost for a year?
[100K Volts]: I'll take you, so don't accept any other clients from now on.
The third and final message came from Chi Yunkai, who had been busy with work until that moment—
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Didi, the big customer was poached by someone else. You can stop waiting for him to contact you.
Gu Wei blinked.
Then he blinked again.
And, for good measure, again.
1. I decided to go with a mostly literal translation here, because it's quite amusing but needs some background info. The original text uses the phrase '一车的面包人' which literally means 'a car of bread people'. This phrase originated from an incident where, after an esports match, a fan of the losing team tried to say they would send '一面包车的人' to whale on the other team. A '车' is a car and a '面包车' is a van, so the intention was to say 'send a van of people'. But the words '面包' (which by themselves mean 'bread') were misplaced and the phrase accidentally became 'a car of bread people', and then that jumbled up phrase became a meme. (Sorry, this probably isn't actually amusing to anyone but me!)