[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Wanna go see what's trending?
[The Sky At Dawn]: Maybe this is a good thing. Now that you've received personal instruction from God Xun, maybe you won't suck so much the next time you play a game with us.
[stone]: Weiwei, do you feel like you've improved?
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: I'm pretty sure he'll always suck.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: In your dreams…
His first order of business was to check the trending topics.
He gave up on chatting with his groupmates and opened up Weibo.
And what he saw rendered him speechless.
As it turned out, the unfortunate soul who had been shot and killed by him in that earlier match was Jiang Xun's teammate Kumachan. The same Kumachan who had been munching on a corn on the cob in the training room yesterday.
To make matters worse, Kumachan had streamed the whole thing.
After checking out Jiang Xun's new Weibo post and the comments underneath, Gu Wei understood perfectly—
Even though it had been a practice account, normally no one would let someone else borrow it so freely.
Gu Wei really was a trend magnet. He wouldn't ever be able to argue against a nickname like that. It was a good thing Jiang Xun hadn't explicitly named Gu Wei in his post, or Gu Wei's manager would definitely be scolding him again.
Gu Wei looked over at Jiang Xun, who was deeply engrossed in his daily practice. Although Gu Wei didn't dare to speak up, he couldn't help but think about the comments he had seen. Those comments said even practice accounts were very important to professional players, so if Jiang Xun allowed Gu Wei to use his, did that mean…
Gu Wei didn't allow himself to think any deeper on the matter.
Ever since that rainy day in northern Europe, without Gu Wei's notice, the distance between him and Jiang Xun had been growing smaller and smaller.
The sound of a cell phone ringing pierced the air. Gu Wei saw that it was Jiang Xun's phone. The screen had lit up, displaying Jiang Ying's name. Jiang Xun was so focused on his training that he didn't hear or notice it.
"Ge, your phone." Gu Wei stood up and lightly took Jiang Xun's headphones off for him. "I'm going to the restroom real quick."
Jiang Xun nodded and answered the phone.
A loud stream of belligerent, unintelligible curses came from Jiang Ying on the other end.
"Tsk… who pissed you off?" Jiang Xun pulled the phone away from his ear a bit. "You're really mad."
"My fucking garbage director! Said I would get the day off!" Jiang Ying hollered, fuming. "I was almost at H City when he called me back for some reshoots. I was so close to seeing that fiancé of yours, and now, not only do I have to go back for reshoots, they're fight scenes!"
"It's fine," Jiang Xun said. "It doesn't matter if you don't come. You guys have actually already met."
Jiang Ying's mood seemed to brighten at that. "Whoa! Really? I remember Mom said your fiancé was someone in my industry, and she said his age and popularity were both pretty similar to mine. I hear he's a real sweet kid. You'd better not bully him, I'm watching you."
"Definitely from your industry," Jiang Xun said. "A little younger than you."
"I'll come next time, I'll definitely come next time. I'll throw down with anyone who tries to stop me next time," Jiang Ying declared, remembering how annoyed he had been just a moment ago. "What's his name? Maybe we're not just in the same industry, maybe I've met him. We might even have worked together. I'm telling you, I know lots of people. I'll definitely put in a good word for you if I know him."
It suddenly occurred to Jiang Xun that he needed to make some things very clear to Jing Ying.
Jiang Ying needed to know it was impossible for him to put in a 'good' word on Jiang Xun's behalf. If he could just not lower Gu Wei's impression of Jiang Xun, that would already be considered a good thing.
"Forget it," Jiang Ying said suddenly. "If I know him, I'll know when I meet him. No need to ask for his name. So don't tell me, just leave me hanging in suspense."
Jiang Xun thought about it for a moment.
While he was in the restroom, Gu Wei received a phone call from the delivery service for the present he'd ordered.
"You put down TMW's club building as the address," the caller said. "Will I be able to get in to deliver the package tomorrow?"
"Yes, for sure," Gu Wei confirmed. "I'll let them know you're coming, thank you."
Gu Wei hung up. He was already looking forward to the birthday present Jiang Xun would receive the next morning.
He spent the entire day watching Jiang Xun practice in the training room. His gaze was fixed on Jiang Xun's long and elegant fingers the whole time, and he was surprised to find he didn't feel like time was dragging on at all.
It was only in the evening, when his assistant Mu Yue sent him a message to remind him, that Gu Wei remembered he hadn't done any social media work on Weibo in a while.
"Take a selfie and post it," Mu Yue urged in a text message. "Our little hedgehogs have been asking for a reward for hitting 1.2 million followers for ages."
"What's up?" Jiang Xun asked, leaning back in his chair. He noticed that Little Gu suddenly seemed a little anxious.
Gu Wei told him what his assistant had requested. Then he asked, "Can you help me take a picture?"
"Weibo needs your attention, huh?" Jiang Xun knew how it was. In his family, he was the only one who wasn't in the entertainment industry. There was no way he wouldn't know about the demands of a celebrity's life.
As soon as Gu Wei mentioned taking a picture, Jiang Xun thought of the photo his mother Song Jingxi had sent him when she first mentioned Gu Wei to him.
Gu Wei was pretty and photogenic from any angle. Taking advantage of the sunset, he posed in front of a window and turned to Jiang Xun with a smile.
@T.ATW-GuWei: Always with you.
Almost as soon as he sent out the post, comments started coming in, and the first one caught his eye—
@Little Hedgehog's Jackfruit: Escape Without a Trace aired early! Sisters, let's go! Our Weiwei's new reality show is here!
The show had already aired?
Gu Wei looked over at Jiang Xun, and noticed Jiang Xun seemed to have received the news as well.
"It's dinnertime, anyway. Want to watch it together?" Jiang Xun suggested. He exited the game on his computer and loaded up a video player, entering the name of the variety show they'd filmed together.
Gu Wei scooted over and sat right next to Jiang Xun. He was admittedly a little worried.
Every time he appeared on a variety show, he was attacked on social media right afterwards. When he had just debuted and first came under fire of such harsh criticisms, he had felt like the world was ending. Now… he couldn't say he was completely immune to being flamed online, but he could at least grit his teeth and not look.
But, suddenly, Gu Wei didn't want Jiang Xun to see all the nasty things people would inevitably say about him. He didn't want Jiang Xun to see the version of him that existed in all the callout posts his anti-fans put together and circulated every time he so much as breathed in public. For the first time ever, he was desperate to present only the best sides of himself to the person sitting next to him.
Jiang Xun noticed something was wrong. "What's the matter? You don't want to watch this with me?"
Gu Wei quickly shook his head. "It's definitely not like that."
"Then it seems like you really want to watch this with me," Jiang Xun teased. The smile in his eyes grew warmer.
Gu Wei didn't deny it. He just bowed his head to avoid Jiang Xun's gaze.
Jiang Xun thought of the 'dirt' he'd seen on Gu Wei in the files Jiang Ying had sent him. Those documents were full of anti-fans expressing their anger and dissatisfaction with their real lives by heaping their rage on someone they had never even met, shielded by the anonymity of the internet.
The face Gu Wei presented to the world when he was on stage was so dazzling. Why did he have to endure such hostility online?
"Don't worry," Jiang Xun said, grazing his fingers over his keyboard's wrist rest. "If people start talking shit about you, we'll talk shit right back at them."
"Huh?" Gu Wei blinked. He had never expected Jiang Xun to say something like that, and in that first instant he had no idea how to respond.
Jiang Xun lightly tapped his keyboard. "You've called me 'ge' so many times. I won't let that go to waste. I'll be your knight in shining armor this time."
Gu Wei stared at Jiang Xun, still speechless. The tension that had filled him up started to dissipate, replaced by a comfortable warmth in his chest.
"But…" Gu Wei hesitated. "My manager says we can't feud with people like that."
"My little brother has something like twenty alt accounts," Jiang Xun said. "All numbered like Shadow Warrior 1, Shadow Warrior 2. If anyone tries to spread bad press about him, he takes the battle to them."
Gu Wei was speechless again.
His rival was really fierce!
As they chatted, the first episode of Escape Without a Trace started to play. The opening shot was of Gu Wei waving to his fans at the airport.
"Look at what's trending!!!"
The screams of his fans on the monitor brought back the not-too-distant memory of that day, shortly after he had dug deep into Jiang Xun's Weibo history and inadvertently unearthed a Jiang Xun from ten years ago.
If filming had started on that day, then did that mean all the staff and crew of the show had been eagerly awaiting the moment Gu Wei and Jiang Xun would inevitably come face-to-face?
"They're mean," Gu Wei mumbled as he realized their meeting must have been specially orchestrated.
"No one expected you would be so naturally gifted as to get me trending before we even started filming," Jiang Xun said. "The director should really be thanking you for bringing so much attention to the show."
The live broadcast had the viewers' comments flowing across the screen, and the program was edited very well. After quickly showing each of the guests arriving, the school where their tasks had been set came into view. A clip of each guest entering the playing field was shown after that.
The barrage of comments scrolling across the screen started to pick up speed.
[Weiwei, your little hedgehogs are here. Go, Weiei!]
[I heard Jiang Xun is in this? Where is he? I'm here for Jiang Xun.]
[T.ATW I love you guys, I'm a fan of your whole group ahhhhhh!]
[Qian Yining, welcome to variety shows! Everyone go stream the new song!]
As the show continued, each of the guests were shown being blindfolded and led to their starting points. The camera lingered on the office where Gu Wei had been taken.
The editing on the show was beyond comprehensive. As the shot focused on Gu Wei, a small caption appeared in the corner:
If you want to understand this part, go on Weibo and search #LonelyJiangXun for context!
Trust us, you'll come back and have a big laugh!
Gu Wei and Jiang Xun were both silent and unamused.
The program had gone so far as to include a backstory.
After that little 'reminder' popped up on screen, the focus stayed on Gu Wei.
The barrage of comments continued to flood across the screen—
[I just got back from Weibo, hahahahaha, Jiang Xun's cool gaming god persona is about to break. Is Gu Wei going to be taught a lesson when they meet?]
[Pffft, the showrunners definitely did this on purpose. Gu Wei's uniform has 'BAD' written across the back in such big letters.]
[Hahahaha, I saw that, of course he's 'bad' for liking God Xun's dark past in the middle of the night. The showrunners are right on the money with this.]
[I'm here, I'm here! Shi Xinyan just told Gu Wei to find him first, but it's impossible for them. One of them is in the school building and one of them is in the cafeteria, how are they going to meet up?]
"You said 'see you tomorrow' back then," Gu Wei said, suddenly remembering the WeChat message Jiang Xun had sent him just before they started recording. "Did you know I was going to be on this show?"
"Of course I knew," Jiang Xun said, as though it should have been obvious. "How do you think Director Zhang got me to agree to participate?"
The Gu Wei on screen happily bought the hints the background actors gave him and practically skipped up the stairs to meet his 'fated partner', completely unaware of who was waiting for him.
The camera flashed over to Director Zhang, who was laughing so hard that he'd started snorting like a pig.
"Quick, quick, quick," Director Zhang said. "Get two more cameras on them. We have to capture the heart-pounding thrills that are coming next. This wasn't a waste of our budget at all, I hired a treasure!"
The frenzied scrolling comments were covering up nearly half the screen by now—
[Weiwei, don't go upstairs!!! You're the only one who doesn't know Jiang Xun is up there!!!]
[OMG, why am I getting so worked up over this? Weiwei, don't open the door!]
[I'm a fan of the cold ice prince Weiwei we see on stage, but the reality show Weiwei is too cute, I want to give him headpats!]
[Weiwei, you're celebrating too early! Behind the door is a big perverted reaction meme!!!]
[Open the door, open the door! Holy shit, he's so excited, I can kind of already imagine what's going to happen next. I can't look, I'm scared, hahahaha.]
Gu Wei was also scared to look. Not only was he going to have to see the disastrous 'passionate embrace' from back then, he was going to have to see it with Jiang Xun!