Gu Wei was lying on the couch in his dormitory building. He had spent all night scrolling through his phone, but still hadn't found a suitable gift for Jiang Xun.
"What's got you so stressed out?" their group's captain Fu Zhi asked as he passed Gu Wei. "You're pulling out all the fur on that hugging pillow and getting it all over the floor."
"Choosing a gift for someone," Gu Wei answered honestly.
Fu Zhi instantly understood. "The same someone you wanted to hire a male prostitute for?"
"So, why'd you decide against the prostitute?" asked Luo Chenxuan. He had come out of his room for his nightly routine of getting some water before bed, and naturally he invited himself to join in on the conversation when he overhead his two bandmates speaking.
"Because… he didn't seem very happy about it," Gu Wei mumbled. One again, he thought of being pulled into Jiang Xun's lap and being spanked. With those memories flooding into his mind, he couldn't stop his face from turning red.
"Weiwei." Luo Chenxuan studied their youngest member with a feeling of not knowing whether he wanted to laugh or cry. "Think about it. If you reversed it and someone wanted to give you that same 'present', would you be happy about it?"
Gu Wei froze. If he reversed it, that would mean Jiang Xun finding someone for Gu Wei to hire for a… 'subscription package'.
There was nothing Gu Wei could say to that.
Just thinking about it made him feel kind of depressed, and even a little angry. It would have felt like Jiang Xun was just dismissing him and not truly caring about him.
But why should that matter to him, anyway? Why did it matter to Gu Wei whether or not Jiang Xun cared about him?
Why did the idea of that reversal make him feel this way?
"Do you get it now?" Both of the other guys from his group now looked like they were caught between laughter and tears. "Didi, your brain really works in mysterious ways."
"Are you choosing a gift for that someone as an apology?" Luo Chenxuan asked.
Gu Wei nodded.
"Then you should ask the people who are close to the person you're giving a gift to," Luo Chenxuan suggested. "That might make it easier to choose something."
Gu Wei racked his brain for anyone he knew that was close to Jiang Xun. In the end, it was his rival Jiang Ying who floated to the surface of his mind.
Jiang Ying, then.
Gu Wei was on set at Riverside Studios. He faced the camera and delivered the last lines on his script, completing the shooting of his latest product endorsement.
"Gu Wei-didi, thanks for your hard work," said the spokesperson from the brand, offering Gu Wei two packs of the chocolate he had just endorsed.
"Thank you," Gu Wei said politely, before making his rounds to thank the crew as well.
"Weiwei," Mu Yue called out. "Can you wait in the lounge for a little while? Zhao-jie asked me to review the contract details with the client one more time."
"Sure, I'll wait for you here."
The lounge was a little stuffy. Gu Wei leaned against the railing outside the room and waited for Mu Yue to hurry back.
Since he had some downtime, his mind drifted to thoughts of the gift again.
He pulled up his chat log with that 'Filthy Adult', and originally planned on typing something, but quickly changed his mind. Instead, when he remembered the way Jiang Xun had answered him last time, he gave up on typing and sent a voice message.
"Ge," he whispered into the phone.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Good afternoon. You must be training hard today.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: PoursTea.jpg
[Filthy Adult]: Why are you so sweet and well-behaved today?
Even though Gu Wei had been the one to change Jiang Xun's nickname, it still took him by surprise to see it. He couldn't help but laugh at the sight of that new name on his phone.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Ge, have you thought about what you actually need?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: And you're not allowed to say 'a fiancé'.
[Filthy Adult]: Then, my family needs a daughter-in-law who can call me 'husband' in bed.
[Filthy Adult]: Want to try calling it out?
Gu Wei stared at his phone.
"What are you staring at the railing and giggling about?"
The familiar voice came from behind him.
Gu Wei jumped, scared half to death, and instinctively used his fingers to cover his WeChat messages.
His rival had suddenly appeared at his back.
"What are you doing here?" Gu Wei asked.
"Recording a program," Jiang Ying said, spreading his hands like it should have been obvious. "The kind of on-stage variety show you can't get booked on."
Jiang Ying snuck at glance at Gu Wei's cell phone screen. He couldn't see the avatar of the person Gu Wei had been chatting with, but he could see the name—
He also caught a glimpse of some decidedly not-safe-for-children content.
Jiang Ying gave Gu Wei a subtle onceover.
His rival was pretty young. Even a year younger than Jiang Ying himself. But it seemed he had some real balls when it came to talking to people on WeChat.
"Tsk." Jiang Ying only clicked his tongue before deciding he had spent enough time greeting his nemesis.
But as he got ready to go, Gu Wei reached out and tugged on the drawstring of his hoodie. "Hey, wait a sec."
Jiang Ying had started to leave in a hurry, and with that little tug, he was nearly choked to death by his nemesis.
"You're pretty rough, huh?" Jiang Ying hastily loosened the string around his throat while coughing a few times. "We haven't been feuding lately, have we?"
This couldn't be revenge for sharing his rival's dark past with his brother, could it?
"Sorry, sorry, sorry!" Gu Wei apologized hastily. Before Jiang Ying could start to leave again, he quickly blurted out the question he had wanted to ask. "Your big brother, Jiang Xun—is there anything he needs in his life or anything he says he wants?"
Jiang Ying froze in place.
"Why are you so concerned with my brother?" Jiang Ying frowned, then muttered to himself, "That's weird, lately my bro also…"
"Your brother what?" Gu Wei asked, feeling a little anxious for no apparent reason.
"Nothing," Jiang Ying said, quickly brushing it off. He had almost let it slip that he'd passed along a ton of dirt on Gu Wei to his brother. "My brother asked nothing and saw nothing."
Gu Wei cocked his head to the side curiously.
"Then, what is your brother missing?" he asked, persistent.
"My brother…" Jiang Ying gave it some thought. "I don't really think he's missing anything. He's always had a clear idea of his goals, and he's always known how to achieve them. If I had to say there was one thing he lacked, it'd be a love life, but it seems like he's already found someone now."
Jiang Ying flashed Gu Wei a cryptic smile. "Men, you know. You get it."
Gu Wei absolutely did not get it. He got absolutely no useful information out of that, and decided he would have to find the right present all by himself after all.
"Here, take this," Gu Wei said. He had been given two bags of chocolate after shooting his commercial, and now he handed one to Jiang Ying.
"Trying to bribe your rival?" Jiang Ying asked, though he did accept the chocolate. "You want me to get fat, don't you?"
"It's not for you," Gu Wei said. "Give it to Jiang Xun for me."
Jiang Ying walked away with the chocolate.
Later that night, back at Team TMW's training room, Jiang Ying flopped over the back of Jiang Xun's gaming chair and tossed the bag of chocolate onto the desk.
"You've started eating sweets?" Jiang Xun asked.
"I ran into my nemesis at Riverside today. It's from him," Jiang Ying said. Then he quickly flapped a hand and added, "He made it clear it wasn't for me, but for you."
Jiang Xun took the chocolate. The corners of his lips quirked up into a grin.
The little sweetheart had started giving Jiang Xun chocolates that Gu Wei himself had endorsed. How much longer would it be before Gu Wei gave himself over?
Jiang Ying caught sight of the smile on his brother's face. He shook his head disapprovingly and rapped his knuckles on the table twice. "Ge, even though you two filmed a reality show together and created some nice memories and feelings or whatever, I really still think you should stay far, far away from that nemesis of mine."
"Because?" Jiang Xun prompted.
"He's on WeChat talking about you-know-what with people," Jiang Ying whispered.
Jiang Xun frowned. "What's 'you-know-what'?"
"Just today," Jiang Ying said, "I saw him chatting with someone whose username was 'Filthy Adult'.
"This username, you can tell it doesn't belong to a proper adult.
"And I even saw this person telling Gu Wei to call him 'husband'.
"I only caught a glimpse and didn't see the avatar, but it was something yellow1. See? The avatar really is a reflection of the soul."
1. In Chinese, someone or something who is said to be 'yellow' is perverted/lewd/etc. For example, 'yellow humor' means sexual jokes.