Chapter 18: A Passionate Embrace

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The crew of Escape Without a Trace were extremely on the ball. As soon as they had captured footage of all their celebrity guests arriving at the airport, they compiled the footage into a short video and sent it out on Weibo as a grand reveal of the previously undisclosed guest list for the show.

@EscapeWithoutATraceOfficial: @CocoaBeiKe @T.ATW-GuWei @T.ATW-ShiXinyan @TMW-Xun @QianYiningLovesSinging, our five esteemed guests have met up with Little Tao! The guests have already turned over their cell phones, and they still don't know who they'll meet or what they'll encounter during the program. Let's watch their reactions with Little Tao!

Be sure to follow Little Tao and share this post. Five lucky people will be chosen to win autographs from our guests!


As soon as the announcement was sent out on the show's official Weibo page, a substantial audience gathered to follow news of the program. The fans of each guest showed up in the comments section to report for duty and discuss the prospects of the show with one another.

Netizen 1: Superstar Bei Ke is involved? No need to say anything else. Everyone, you know who to support.

Netizen 2: I knew my boys would be here! If Weiwei and Yan-ge are both involved, I'm definitely watching this show.

Netizen 3: AHHHHHHHHH JIANG XUN AHHH, what is this? The gods of reality TV have heard my prayers? I'm not like the rest of you Jiang Xun fans, I don't understand esports, but I love his face. I really can't wait to see him on a variety show!

Netizen 4: Qian Yining's reality TV debut!

There was also a group of people staking out Weibo, eagerly waiting for a response from Jiang Xun or Gu Wei about the old, old, old status message that was still trending even now. No response came, but now there was this news of the two of them going on a reality show together.

Netizen 5: Was the Jiang Xun thing from last night just hype for this show?

Netizen 6: Fuck hype! Why should our God Xun have to make such a huge sacrifice to hype this shit? That was some dark ten-year-old history that was dug up. You dig up your own ten-year-old history and I'll show you some fucking hype, see if you think it's worth it.

Netizen 7: You esports fans are all so aggressive. Anyway, let's focus on the important thing here. Did you guys see, in the video, how Gu Wei turned on his phone after getting into the car? His face got suuuper weird right away, hahahahaha. Did he only just find out what he liked? Hahahahaha, it's all over, he's going to go crazy.

Netizen 8: That's probably what happened. I'm Gu Wei's fan, but even I have to admit our little brother's acting skills aren't that great. That was definitely a genuine reaction.

Netizen 9: This is the first time I've seen Gu Wei so excited to be on a reality show. Is he thinking he can avoid Jiang Xun's wrath while he's filming for this program? [dogeface]  I wonder if Gu Wei ever considered he could end up on the same show as Jiang Xun.

Netizen 10: Make sure to keep the cameras on Gu Wei and show us lots of his footage! I seriously can't wait to see these two come face to face!

Due to Gu Wei's slip of the finger last night, Escape Without a Trace received countless followers just moments after the official cast announcement trailer went out.


After Gu Wei turned in his cell phone, the car traveled only a bit farther before coming to a stop at an intersection. The director instructed Shi Xinyan to get out and board a separate car.

"Weiwei, come look for me when the game begins, okay?" Shi Xinyan called out, waving to Gu Wei on his way out.

"Got it, don't worry, I'll be sure to find you first." Even before Shi Xinyan said anything, Gu Wei had already decided he would find his bandmate first after arriving at their destination. Considering his supposed lack of charisma, teaming up with a familiar face would be way preferable to running into a stranger.

After Shi Xinyan switched cars, the car Gu Wei was in continued to drive onwards for a while. Gu Wei had meant to doze during the trip, but he was startled awake a few times and couldn't fall back asleep afterwards. His mind kept traveling back to the trending topic he had seen not long ago.

By now, Jiang Xun probably wasn't that hot of a trending topic anymore. But the memory of that ten-year-old post would be deeply ingrained in everyone's minds from now on.

The lonely Jiang Xun. Never to be forgotten.

What was the present day Jiang Xun doing now?

Was he training with his team, or was he still sleeping soundly?

When Jiang Xun sent him that 'see you tomorrow' message, he definitely couldn't have known that Gu Wei was about to take off to film a variety show.

Gu Wei was secretly a little pleased with himself for so deftly escaping the problem he had created.

It was five in the morning when the car Gu Wei was in rolled to a stop. Gu Wei peered out the window and saw the car's headlights illuminating the front doors of a middle school building.

"We're recording at a school?" he asked.

The director had really somehow managed to find a middle school where they could film.

Gu Wei couldn't help but wonder what this show would actually be like.

He had barely finished asking his question before a man in black, who had sat next to him without uttering a word this whole time, abruptly covered Gu Wei's eyes with a blindfold and led him out of the car.

"Where are we going?" Gu Wei asked, a little flustered and confused with his vision so suddenly stripped away from him.

No one answered. The only sound around him was the careful steps of the camera crew that followed him.

The man in black pushed Gu Wei into a room, then turned around and left. Gu Wei took off his blindfold and blinked several times to let his eyes adjust to the bright light inside the room. It took him a moment to realize he was inside a school office. After looking around, he spotted a piece of paper on a table and picked it up.

It was a prompt regarding the program—

At dusk, the school will be flooded. Before that happens, you must find your four teammates, complete your assigned tasks, and find the key to escape from this school.

Your role: the Bully. Please put on the costume prepared for your role.

Here, you'll also find a bracelet. Put it on, and it will vibrate whenever you are close to a teammate. Please find your teammates as soon as possible and get started on your tasks.

Gu Wei was baffled.

The bully?

Were these roles assigned randomly?

He opened a chest by his feet and found the 'bully' costume. It was just a standard school uniform, nothing as outlandish as what he had been imagining. After putting it on and slipping on the special bracelet as well, he headed out of the room and started to explore.

The showrunners must have spent the bulk of their budget on hiring background actors. In the school, there were tons of people walking around, playing the parts of teachers and students. That definitely made it more of a challenge for the celebrity guests to find each other.

Of all the other guests, Gu Wei only knew his bandmate Shi Xinyan was one of them. The showrunners hadn't given him the slightest bit of a hint as to who the other three guests could be.

"Shi Xinyan!" Gu Wei shouted downwards from the top of a flight of stairs. Other 'students' filled up the halls, wandering around, but there was no sign of Shi Xinyan anywhere.

As Gu Wei passed a classroom, the bracelet around his wrist suddenly vibrated a little. He stopped abruptly and looked inside the room.

"The bully is here!"

"Who's the bully going to beat up today?!"

The classroom erupted in such a commotion that even Gu Wei started to buy their act.

He had to give credit where credit was due. The background actors the director had hired were really dedicated to their roles.

"Bring me who I'm looking for," Gu Wei demanded, trying to get into character as well. He strolled into the room and flashed the bracelet on his wrist.

"We don't have anyone like that here," one of the 'students' said.

The background cast gently suggested to him that he might want to check upstairs.

Gu Wei swept his gaze around the room and didn't see anyone that could have been one of the other guests. He decided he would check upstairs after all, figuring there would be no harm in taking the advice of these 'students'.

There were no classrooms on the fifth floor of the school, just the school infirmary and some other administrative rooms for teachers. When he reached the fifth floor, Gu Wei could feel the vibration of his bracelet getting stronger and stronger. A teammate must have been very close.

Gu Wei finally stopped in front of the infirmary. The anticipation was building. He couldn't wait to finally meet one of his destined companions.

The excitement was enough to make his heart race.

It was as good as falling in love.

Would this fateful meeting be sweet or sour?

Would his teammate be a singer with an angelic voice or a superstar actor?

No matter what, Gu Wei could already sense that this was about to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Maybe it was just the influence of the school setting, but Gu Wei already felt a strong sense of camaraderie with his soon-to-be teammate. As soon as he opened the door, their epic story would begin.

Gu Wei placed his hand on the door. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, overwhelming him with emotion. He had no doubt that the teammate on the other side of this door was feeling just as excited to meet him.

With the bracelet still vibrating around his wrist, Gu Wei prepared to enter the room.

He glanced at the cameras following him and flashed the lens a genuine smile.

Wait. No.

Gu Wei stopped moving for a moment. It was all thanks to this reality show that he was able to escape his own messy reality for a while. He had to pay back the huge favor this show was doing him. He had to give his all to putting on a good performance.

Who kept saying T.ATW's lead dancer had no charisma? Who said Gu Wei was bad at socializing with people? Today, Gu Wei was going to show all those naysayers his true abilities. He was going to show them the passion of Gu Wei—

Just saying 'hello' when he entered the room wouldn't be enough.

He decided he would give this destined companion of his a passionate embrace.

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