The director had really done his best to throw them a curveball. When the fourth phrase appeared on screen, Gu Wei could swear he saw a smug smirk spreading across the director's face.
Tying the knot?
Gu Wei's first thought was that, coincidentally, he and Jiang Xun did have a relationship that could have, at some point, easily ended up heading in that direction if things took a wrong turn somewhere. But that was a secret that he couldn't just blurt out on a reality show.
So how was he supposed to describe this?
They were being filmed, and his father had already called off the engagement. Even Jiang Xun might not have been able to guess his meaning if Gu Wei made a reference to the two of them.
The timer ticked down to its last ten seconds. The director gleefully prepared a gong, getting ready to give it a resounding bang to celebrate the contestants' miserable failure.
However, it was in that moment that Jiang Xun, with his back to the screen, noticed an evasive expression come over Gu Wei's face. Just a second ago, Gu Wei had been brimming over with excitement and enthusiasm. And now he seemed all shy and cautious again, only quickly sneaking a glance at Jiang Xun before just as quickly looking away again.
This kind of expression… Jiang Xun had seen it once before. It was when he had trapped Gu Wei in that little dressing room with him, where he had teased Gu Wei a little by calling him a 'young bride'.
What could the phrase be? What phrase would elicit a reaction like that from Gu Wei?
Taking recent events into consideration, it could be… no, it couldn't. Could it?
"Tying the knot?" Jiang Xun ventured.
Gu Wei said nothing.
A huge clang sounded out as the director dropped the mallet in his hand. The director clasped the host's hands in his own and cried out, "Was that too easy? How could they guess just by looking at each other?"
"No, no," the host reassured, patting the director on the shoulder. Clearly, these two contestants were just too weird and mystifying. If they had been able to communicate solely through eye contact all along, then there was simply no way Director Zhang could have stumped them.
The thrill of victory consumed Gu Wei, and he instantly forgot about the unsettling feeling that this fourth phrase had given him. Without another thought, he leapt forward and flew into the arms of the reliable partner standing in front of him, once again wrapping Jiang Xun up in a tight embrace.
"Ge, you're way too good," he enthused. In that position, he had his face pressed to the crook of Jiang Xun's neck as he heaped praise upon the man.
Jiang Xun seized the opportunity to sweep Gu Wei off his feet and spin him around in a circle.
When he lifted his head, Gu Wei noticed the director and host were whispering to each other. Hastily, before any other weird twists could be thrown their way, he ushered Jiang Xun towards the exit. "Ge, let's go!"
"As you wish," Jiang Xun said, taking off with Gu Wei still in his arms, like a young bride indeed.
They didn't forget to collect their reward, a key for completing a task, along the way.
Their cameramen quickly gave chase, determined not to lose sight of them. Thus, the director and the host were left behind, still dumbstruck by this baffling game of charades.
What the hell just happened here? How had Jiang Xun just made off with one of their esteemed guests, like some ruffian kidnapping a bride on her wedding day?
Director Zhang stared at the list of carefully plotted challenges in his hands. He suddenly remembered that, not long ago, he seemed to have heard something from his dear friend Song Jingxi about… arranging a marriage for her son Jiang Xun.
But there was no way. Such a coincidence couldn't happen… could it?
Jiang Xun and Gu Wei, finally freed from the school building, raced off towards the athletic fields. Two of the other participants had already cleared their tasks and were waiting outside, waving at Jiang Xun and Gu Wei from the running track.
When he answered the first set of questions, Gu Wei had already guessed that the other two contestants would be Bei Ke and Qian Yining. He wasn't at all surprised to see the two of them waving at him and Jiang Xun from the track. The only part that he found notable was the uniforms they'd been forced to wear.
The striking actor Bei Ke had apparently drawn the role of a janitor. He wore a cap with the word 'CLEANER' printed on the front and carried a mop over one shoulder, which completely ruined his usual suave and handsome look.
The pop star Qian Yining was even more unfortunate. She had been given the role of 'school beauty', and the show had chosen an outrageously short miniskirt for her to wear, along with a headband of plastic flowers.
It seemed the show had really put the two of them through the wringer already, because they were absolutely elated to lay eyes on their fellow contestants.
But Gu Wei didn't feel like giving out any more loving embraces, and—
"Ge, you can put me down now," Gu Wei whispered.
The two of them had only been focusing on their gleeful escape from the school building. No one had pointed out, until then, that Jiang Xun was still carrying Gu Wei in his arms.
Gu Wei cast an anxious look at the cameras surrounding him and quickly urged Jiang Xun to set him down.
"God Xun!" Qian Yining exclaimed. She seemed particularly excited to see Jiang Xun as the four contestants met up. "When I was answering those trivia questions, I couldn't believe you were one of the subjects! I never thought a trashy reality show could book you as a guest."
"I've seen your work," Bei Ke added, referring to the TV dramas that Jiang Xun had acted in as a small child.
"Let's not talk about that," Jiang Xun deflected with a laugh. "My mom uses those old things to mock me all the time."
Due to the torment they had been put through by the director, the four guests instantly felt a sense of camaraderie with one another despite not having worked together before.
Qian Yining sidled up to Gu Wei and chattered incessantly. "I can't believe I finally get to meet you in person! I've been a fan of T.ATW for such a long time. When your group came up in one of the questions we got earlier, I couldn't stop wondering which one of you would be appearing on the show!"
She was close to Gu Wei in age, and once they got to chatting, there was no end to their conversation in sight.
Without saying a word, Jiang Xun reached out and pulled Gu Wei a little bit closer to him, simultaneously putting a little more distance between Gu Wei and the girl who also wore a school uniform.
Gu Wei hardly seemed to notice the subtle pull, and he even instinctively shifted a bit closer to Jiang Xun of his own volition while he continued to chat with Qian Yining.
"Actually," Gu Wei said, "I'm not the only one who came from my group. There's one more, but I haven't found him yet."
In the cafeteria, Shi Xinyan of T.ATW, who had been forced by the no-good showrunners to dress up as a lunch lady, was frantically scrubbing pots and pans.
"Can I go now?" he pleaded.
Gu Wei was still waiting for him, after all. Shi Xinyan had promised to look after their lead dancer.
"The director says we're adding fifty plates to your task," said the ruthless host watching over him.
"But why?!" Shi Xinyan despaired.
"Because your bandmate just 'gave me such a shock it knocked my mother's socks off'. Those were the director's exact words."
Shi Xinyan made a baffled, helpless sound. What did Weiwei knocking off somebody's mother's socks have to do with him?
Besides, such a thing simply wouldn't happen. Weiwei was such a good kid, so nice, so well-behaved. He would never stir up trouble for anyone.