Jiang Xun furrowed his brows. "A yellow avatar?"
Jiang Ying nodded. "Right."
"'Filthy Adult'?" Jiang Xun asked.
"Right," Jiang Ying repeated. "And the conversation was obviously super NSFW. I could tell from just a glance that he wasn't up to anything good."
Jiang Xun frowned.
Something didn't add up.
There was still the better part of a week left before filming commenced on Like the Moon. On Thursday, Gu Wei picked out some clothes for himself and got a ride from one of his agency's assistants. He was dropped off in front of Team TMW's club building. As he stepped out of the car, wearing a cap and face mask, he saw Jiang Xun waiting for him outside.
"Ge!" Gu Wei called out, waving at Jiang Xun.
That day, Gu Wei wore a wooly white sweater that was perfect for early autumn, emanating a sense of warmth under the cool autumn sun.
"God Xun," Mu Yue said. "We'll leave our Weiwei in your care." The two of them had filmed a variety show together, so they could probably more or less be considered acquaintances by now. Mu Yue wasn't too worried about leaving Gu Wei there.
"Don't worry too much and take a break for a few days," Gu Wei said. "I can take care of myself."
"I'll keep an eye on him," Jiang Xun promised. "If there's anything you need, just say the word."
"Then, God Xun, if it's not too much trouble, please keep an eye on what Weiwei eats," Mu Yue said. She passed a copy of Gu Wei's nutrition plan to Jiang Xun. "Don't let him eat whatever he wants."
"Don't worry," Jiang Xun said. He glanced over at Gu Wei, who was so covered up that only his eyes were showing. "I'll treat him well and send him back healthy."
After the assistant left, Gu Wei followed Jiang Xun into his team's club. He peered around, looking here and there as they made their way through the building, absolutely fascinated by everything he saw.
"If there's anything you don't understand, you can ask me anytime," Jiang Xun said.
Gu Wei followed Jiang Xun all the way up to the top floor of the building, where Team TMW's training room was located. Even before they entered the room, Gu Wei could hear the aggressive sound of keyboards clacking from inside.
However, as soon as he and Jiang Xun entered the training room together, all those noises instantly stopped.
There were three people sitting in the training room. One was streaming, one was doing finger-agility exercises, and one was chowing down on a corn on the cob. As soon as they realized someone had entered, they turned around and stared at Gu Wei for a moment.
Then all three of them silently thought, Holy shit!
"Isn't that the famous kid who liked our captain's dark history?" Kumachan shot his teammates a wild and frantic look.
"Fuck, I think it really is." SK returned the look with an equally wide-eyed one of his own. "This little celeb is the little fiancé?"
Kumachan blinked several times, rapidly. "Do you think that piece of our captain's dark past was some sort of engagement present?"
SK glared. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Jiang Xun swept his gaze across the training room, and his three teammates instantly shut their mouths.
"Hi, Captain's Wife," said West. Even though he was the one in the middle of a livestream, his reaction was the quickest. He turned around and waved at Gu Wei before saying to the others, "You two shut up, don't scare him away!"
Gu Wei stared into the room, silent.
West was still broadcasting. He had just finished up a round of his game, and he hadn't ended the stream yet. As soon as he greeted Gu Wei in such a fashion, the chat in his stream practically exploded.
[Captain's WIFE? When did our God Xun get a partner?]
[Xi-ge, Xi-ge, can you move your camera just a little bit? We want to see the captain's wife, too. If you move the camera, I'll owe you my life.]
[Jiang Xun found someone??? Welp, it's all over, us fangirls no longer have a reason to live.]
[West, get the captain's wife in front of the camera, we'll give you some more subs.]
[Is Jiang Xun streaming tonight? Tell him to bring his wife and let us have a look.]
"Oh, fuck off," West said, laughing. "You think that's something you're allowed to see?"
West obviously had to take Gu Wei's status as an idol into consideration, so he wouldn't dare use Gu Wei's identity as Jiang Xun's fiancé to stir up more interest in his stream. He left his horde of viewers clamoring with curiosity, ending the stream after dismissing them with that playful refusal.
Receiving no satisfactory answer, his viewers all swarmed into Jiang Xun's streaming room, even though his livestream wouldn't be live until much later that night.
"Hello, it's nice to meet you," Gu Wei said, greeting each of Jiang Xun's teammates in turn.
Jiang Xun was afraid he would be overly shy around strangers, and quickly gave Gu Wei a cursory introduction of the other three players: "That chubby one with the corncob is Kumachan, the one who was just streaming is West, and the one over in the corner is SK."
Gu Wei had seen a few photos of these three while scrolling through Jiang Xun's Weibo page, so he couldn't say they were complete strangers to him. But to the three of them, Gu Wei was like a fascinating new species. They simply couldn't stop staring at him.
"My… new role has to do with esports," Gu Wei explained. "I'm hoping to look for some inspiration here today."
Jiang Xun's three teammates all instantly seemed to understand.
"Sure, great, look as much as you want."
"Don't mind them," Jiang Xun said. He found a chair for Gu Wei and had Gu Wei sit next to him. "Go ahead and sit here. If you feel cooped up, you can go wander around on your own."
"Ge, you just do your thing. I won't bother you," Gu Wei promised. "I'll just watch."
"I'm actually hoping you will bother me," Jiang Xun said as he took a seat in his own chair and loaded up his game on his desktop. "Little Gu, there's no harm in thinking about what you can do to bother me."
The big pervert's definition of 'bother' clearly had some… other implications to it. Gu Wei pretended not to hear him, but the tips of his ears still turned red.
"We're playing a practice match today, then doing a livestream afterwards," Jiang Xun explained, going over the evening's plans with Gu Wei. "It's been a while since I've streamed, so I'll let these other guys leech some popularity from me."
The other three shared a look with each other and came to the mutual agreement that they would help Jiang Xun talk himself up.
"Our captain is so diligent," Kumachan enthused. "He even bought half the club, and he never misses a livestream on Thursday."
"Our captain is so hard-working," West added. "As soon as he got back from filming that reality show, he came back and scheduled a bunch of practice matches for us."
"Our captain…" SK faltered. He wasn't the greatest speaker, and he felt like all the good things about Jiang Xun had already been said. He frantically racked his brain for something close to 'diligent' and 'hard-working' that hadn't already been claimed, and in the end blurted out, "…has great stamina."
Jiang Xun, coincidentally, had just put on his headphones and didn't hear this last part.
West raised a hand and smacked SK over the back of the head. Then he turned to Gu Wei and made a shushing motion, indicating that Gu Wei should definitely not repeat that last bit to Jiang Xun.
Gu Wei stared at their antics.
This whole room was full of filthy adults.
He was starting to figure out how the Jiang Xun of ten years ago, before the fame and success, had slowly turned into the pervert he was today.
Gu Wei sat beside Jiang Xun with a pack of potato chips that Jiang Xun had just brought over. He leaned in close as he watched Jiang Xun load up his game and type in his login credentials.
The guys in this room all seemed a little ill-mannered while just chatting, but as soon as they donned their headsets, they began to show their serious side.
Once the game had loaded, Jiang Xun started issuing his orders: "C-District. 19, 39. Report your coords."
The four members of Team TMW had played countless matches together. It was no surprise that their teamwork was seamless. Gu Wei couldn't understand all the gaming jargon that Jiang Xun spouted, but he could see Jiang Xun's handsome hands deftly flying across the keyboard.
Gu Wei had never seen Jiang Xun so intently focused before. He felt as though he had stepped into Jiang Xun's world, where he was seeing a completely different Jiang Xun. He was utterly captivated by the practice game and barely noticed time flying by.
It was almost as though he had become a member of the team, eagerly chasing after the taste of victory.
Now that he had witnessed a genuine training session in person, Gu Wei realized that his understanding of the character Miao Zihan had been extremely superficial. When he went home to study his script again, he would surely be able to flesh out the basic character sketch much more.
By the time the practice match concluded, with Team TMW claiming a victory over their opponents, it was nearly ten in the evening already.
Jiang Xun took off his headphones and leaned back in his chair. "Weiwei, have we been boring you?"
Gu Wei shook his head.
Not only was it not boring, it was actually really interesting.
Before coming here, Gu Wei had never known esports could be so enthralling. He never imagined they could make people lose their sense of time.
"Want me to go take a walk with you?" Jiang Xun offered, patting Gu Wei's head.
"No, that's alright." Gu Wei grabbed onto Jiang Xun's sleeve and tugged him back into his chair before he could get up. "You guys still need to review the game you just played, right?"
"You did your homework," Jiang Xun said. The words were full of praise. "That was very good of you, Little Gu."
Gu Wei ducked his head and hid a happy little grin.
He didn't know why, but being praised by Jiang Xun felt like sneaking into the kitchens late at night to have some sweets.
"When do you start filming your new drama?" Jiang Xun asked.
"Next week," Gu Wei said.
"I'll find time to visit you on set," Jiang Xun said. "Do a good job, and don't learn from Jiang Ying's bad habits. He wastes so much time at work."
The team would still have to review the game along with their coach, and the talk would surely be dull for a non-professional like Gu Wei. Those talks usually ran long as well, going late into the night. That wasn't a problem for the night owls on the team, but Jiang Xun didn't have the heart to make Gu Wei stay up so late.
"Gu Weiwei, do you want to go to sleep first?" Jiang Xun asked.
"No," Gu Wei answered right away, with a firm shake of his head. "You go do your review, I'll wait for you."
"If you get sleepy, tell me right away, alright?"
After leaving Gu Wei with those stern instructions to not hold back if he needed anything, Jiang Xun headed into a side room with his team.
Gu Wei cradled the cup of milk tea Jiang Xun had bought for him and slipped over one seat, sliding into Jiang Xun's gaming chair.
Jiang Xun had just been sitting there moments earlier, his fingers pounding on the keyboard as he gave sharp orders to his team and led them to a victory in the practice match.
When Gu Wei sat there, he felt some warm yet indefinable feeling being born in his chest.
An hour later, when it was nearly eleven at night, T.ATW's WeChat group became active. It was only then that Gu Wei remembered he had forgotten to tell his groupmates where he would be going.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Where's Gu Wei?
[The Sun At Dawn]: Dunno, he was here this afternoon.
[stone]: I haven't seen him since we filmed our variety show. I've been trying to find him to scold him for getting along so well with Jiang Xun and not even asking for an autograph for me.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Alright, let's send a Moment. A missing person report. We lost our lead dancer.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Ahhhhhhhhh, I'm so sorry! I forgot to tell you guys, I won't be back for a few days.
[Fu Zhi]: You're working?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: No, personal trip.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: CuteBlush.jpg
[stone]: Abandoning your family?
[The Sun At Dawn]: Staying out all night?
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Eloping?
[Fu Zhi]: Probably at his boyfriend's house.
Gu Wei frowned and refused to dignify those baseless accusations with an answer.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Didi, take good care of yourself and let us meet your boyfriend sometime. Whoever your dad arranged for you must be real impressive to have stolen our lead dancer out from under us.
[The Sun At Dawn]: Okay, enough talk. TMW's Jiang Xun is streaming later.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Bye, Weiwei. Take care of yourself.
[Fu Zhi]: I'm on a job, I can't watch.
[stone]: I'll watch it for you.
With that, the T.ATW group chat became quiet again. Only Gu Wei was left, still staring at the chat log on his cell phone screen. Specifically, at the word 'boyfriend' written so clearly on the screen.
He fell into a daze that he just couldn't snap out of.
"What are you spacing out for?" Jiang Xun's voice came from behind him as Jiang Xun returned, holding a tablet, after concluding their game review. "Sleepy yet? Or are you going to be a disobedient child who stays up with me all night?"
"Not sleepy," Gu Wei answered, hastily spreading his fingers to cover up the word 'boyfriend' on his cell phone screen. "I'll wait, we can go to sleep together."
"Okay." Jiang Xun seized upon those innocuous little words and, smiling, ducked down to echo back to Gu Wei, "Then, we'll sleep together."
"I… didn't mean it like that!" Gu Wei hurriedly explained.
"I still have to do a livestream. We'll sleep together after that," Jiang Xun said. He stopped behind Gu Wei and tapped around on the tablet a bit. "Here, I'll share a song with you. It'll wake you up."
"Okay," Gu Wei said, nodding. He was genuinely pretty curious to learn what kind of music the meme usually listened to.
In just a moment, Gu Wei's cell phone screen lit up with a new notification—
[Filthy Adult]: [song]
Gu Wei jolted in his seat.
Mistake. Big mistake. He had forgotten to change the nickname back.
"What nickname did you give me?"
Jiang Xun's voice came from directly behind him.