Chapter 42: Presence & Charisma

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Gu Wei snuck a glance at Jiang Xun. Not only was Jiang Xun watching the screen intently, the corners of his lips were even turned up in a faint smile.

Jiang Xun looked over at him when he saw Gu Wei turn towards him. "Embarrassed, kiddo?" he teased. "When you leapt at me that day, I was pretty happy. Surprised, but happy."

It was only after seeing the broadcast version of the reality show that Gu Wei realized the director and a veritable horde of crewmembers had all been piled up in the hall of the fifth floor of that school building while Gu Wei made his approach. They had waited with eager anticipation for witnessing Gu Wei's next epic fail. Gu Wei was the only one who was blissfully unaware of the fate that awaited him on the other side of the infirmary door, happily marching forward with every intention of greeting his new friend with an enthusiastic embrace.

The netizens watching the live broadcast clearly felt the same as the director did that day—

[Weiwei, you can still run away! It's not too late! Oh, god, I can't, I'm dying. I need a break. I laughed so hard my stomach is killing me.]

[Look at Gu Wei's face! Did he realize he's hugging someone he knows? Does that body feel super familiar to him? lolololol]

[Fuuuuuck, my mom just asked me why I was laughing so hard. Weiwei, run away! That's Jiang Xun in there!]

[It's over, it's over, he's delivering himself into the hands of the enemy. I want to know what Gu Wei is feeling if he's watching this right now!]

[This show is definitely unscripted lolololol! The guests come with their own drama, and I think Gu Wei really panicked for real? It looked painful when he fell just now!]

How could he not panic?

As Gu Wei read the scrolling comments, he thought back to the horrifyingly passionate embrace he had given Jiang Xun. Several days had passed since then, but the feelings from that time all rushed back at once.

After accidentally hitting like on Jiang Xun's ancient history, Gu Wei had thought the variety show would be his temporary sanctuary from the harshness of reality. He never imagined a big perverted degenerate would be lurking in that sanctuary, and now the whole world could watch the disastrous events of his epic fail unfold.

Back then, when Gu Wei had been trapped by Jiang Xun for a private chat, Gu Wei hadn't known what was going on outside. Now, he could see that the director and crew were all crowded around the door, laughing their asses off.

The show cut over to a scene with Qian Yining and Bei Ke after that, followed by a clip of Shi Xinyan being given his assignment to wash dishes in the cafeteria. Over ten minutes later, the focus returned to Gu Wei and Jiang Xun. They had exited the infirmary by then, after settling the score between themselves, and were walking along while discussing their next tasks.

The vast majority of viewers were not pleased—

[UM??? HELLO??? Is the director here? Can we pay extra to see what happened in that room?]

[Take my money! I need to see what happened in there!]

[How did these two resolve their problem? Why do I get the feeling Weiwei paid a price he can't tell anyone about…]

[Do you guys see it? Weiwei's face is so red right now, and he's walking slower, and… and… oh my godddddd please tell me I'm not the only one overthinking this.]

[Previous comment, you're definitely not the only one.]

"We obviously just had a conversation," Gu Wei mumbled into his hands. He had covered his face, not daring to look at the scrolling comments anymore. "How can they make such a big deal out of this?"

"We didn't just have a conversation," Jiang Xun pointed out emphatically. "You promised me something back then, and not only have you not paid up, you're looking for ways to weasel out of our deal."

Gu Wei did admittedly feel a little guilty about that. He hastily changed the subject. "Focus on the show. We have to post about this later."

But as soon as Gu Wei returned his attention to the monitor to follow his own advice and focus on the show, he saw a new comment—

[Does anyone else think these two are super shippable?]

Gu Wei stared.

How could they tell?!

On the bright side, ever since the start of the show, Gu Wei hadn't seen all that much trash talk about him. Almost all the comments were about the actual contents of the show.

No one accused him of having no charisma. No one accused him of being a waste of space.

This was a very different reaction to the ones he usually received when he participated in variety shows.

The scene on the monitor had changed again. Gu Wei and Jiang Xun were now on the ground floor of the school building. In order to win his way out, Gu Wei accepted the quiz task the director had prepared. From the very start, Gu Wei seemed unbothered by the quick-fire questions, like this challenge wasn't a challenge to him at all.

It was then that Gu Wei remembered something that gave him a foreboding feeling.

His life was over. This show was about to turn into his public execution.

Jiang Xun must have remembered what was coming, too. He turned to watch Gu Wei as Gu Wei watched the screen.

Finally, the staff member in the recording asked that fateful question: "In the recent world championship tournament of the FPS game 'Shou Ze', the MVP Jiang Xun's total elimination count was…?"

And, like a car crash in slow motion, the Gu Wei on screen answered, "…seven. Seven?"

Just like that, Gu Wei's status as a fake fan was revealed and the Gu Wei in the video was dragged aside by Jiang Xun.

[LMFAO Weiwei is a fake fan! So even God Xun can be tricked, huh? Then the real question is… what was a fake fan doing digging through Jiang Xun's Weibo? What was he actually trying to do?]

[lololololololol I get the feeling this whole show was made to expose our cute little leader dancer's secrets. Ever since he came on the show, Weiwei hasn't been able to hide anything! I feel bad for him, but honestly… I can't stop laughing! Thank you, director! Keep going! Expose everything!]

[Look at Jiang Xun's eyes lolololol did you all see that? When he heard the question, he lit up like he was so happy! And then when he heard Gu Wei say his elimination count was SEVEN lolololol he looked liked he could wring Gu Wei's neck lololol!]

[Gotta hand it to Gu Wei, he's got guts, making a blind guess about that right in front of Jiang Xun.]

[What if Gu Wei escaped Jiang Xun's wrath earlier by pretending to be his fan? Oh nooooo, he was exposed way too fast.]

[SISTERS, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. Timestamp 45:30, left side of the screen. Look very, very carefully. Gu Wei has already been spanked by God Xun lololololololol!]

[Fuck! That was too fast! Cameraman, come onnnnnn, get on the action!]

[Jiang Xun was too gentle. If it was me… hehehe.]

[I can't take it anymore. I'm shipping. Starting right now, this is my ship.]

The more Gu Wei saw of these comments, the faster his heart raced.

"Look," Jiang Xun said, pointing to the screen. "No one is talking shit about you."

Gu Wei nodded. That was certainly true, but he was starting to get an ominous feeling about the direction these comments were heading in.

While recording the show, Gu Wei had only thought of how he would escape whatever punishment the big pervert had in store for him. It was only now, watching their footage back, that he realized the two of them had really spent far, far too much time interacting on the show.

And it had only been fifty minutes. The scrolling comments were already chock-full of his and Jiang Xun's names.

The video continued to play. Gu Wei, failing the quiz, accepted the director's next challenge. The one that was supposed to have been much more challenging.

At that point in the video, Gu Wei realized the director had never planned on him successfully leaving the building on his own. The real plan was to get some funny footage of Gu Wei and Jiang Xun frantically trying to guess some extremely hard-to-mime idioms before leaving them to stew in their failure until the other guests could come rescue them from the school building.

That sequence of events would have made more sense for the structure of the show.

But the director couldn't have known he would encounter these two bugs in his carefully-crafted program.

A mysterious, fleeting moment of eye contact bewitched and bewildered all the spectators.

While filming, Gu Wei had only thought of how lucky it was that he and Jiang Xun made such a good team. Each time Jiang Xun guessed one of those difficult idioms, Gu Wei had cheered inwardly and heaped praise on the awesome and formidable Jiang Xun in his mind.

Now, as a spectator watching the game of charades play out, Gu Wei suddenly felt uneasy.

Just as he feared and expected, this segment sparked an intense wave of discussion among the spectators. The number of scrolling comments shot up to a new peak.

Netizen 1: This is too hard! The director totally wants them to fail. There's not enough time on the clock, they definitely won't be able to clear the challenge. This show is really way too good at messing with its guests.

Netizen 2: Holy shit! They got it? A chicken-and-duck conversation? How'd they get that???

Netizen 3: How does 'you added me on WeChat' translate to a chicken-and-duck conversation? I don't get it? Do these two have some secret history we don't know about?

Netizen 4: You're onto something, there's definitely something going on with these two. Added on WeChat? When? Can the crew please dig a little deeper? We want to know their backstory!

Netizen 5: Liking the old Weibo post is all about borrowing trouble, I can see that. But what's this 'I showed you my WeChat status' part about?

Netizen 6: There's definitely a story here!!! Do they talk on WeChat all the time? They show each other their WeChat moments? Director, please!!! I'm begging you, show us their backstory!

Netizen 7: Totally agree with everything being said here! Either this show is scripted, or there's something going on with these two!

Netizen 8: There's no script, look! The director is about to tear all his hair out. Let's have a moment of silence for the poor director. All his evil plans are ruined just because these two have something going on off-screen!

Gu Wei watched as the camera cut to a shot of the director, who was indeed scratching frantically at his face like he was about to melt from stress. When he saw that, Gu Wei couldn't help but let out a laugh.

The streak of right answers he and Jiang Xun delivered really had put the director in a tough spot.

"Director Zhang was really having a meltdown," Jiang Xun remarked, pointing at the frantic director in the video. "He was probably planning to keep us trapped in the school building and have the background actors play out some of the story for us."

Ah, so that was the plan. Gu Wei understood.

On screen, Director Zhang flashed a cunning and crafty smile and ordered, "Quick, change the last idiom. Switch it to something they definitely won't be able to guess."

The staff member nodded and swiftly swapped out the next phrase for a new one:

Tying the knot.

However, not even the most challenging prompt could stump the two contestants.

The video clearly showed Gu Wei and Jiang Xun exchanging a look—just a look, no words—before Jiang Xun gave the correct answer.

The director let out a curse: "What the actual fuck."

Netizen 9: ?

Netizen 999: ??

Netizen 9999: ???

The screen was instantly flooded by countless question marks. Without turning off the barrage of comments that scrolled across the screen, it was impossible to make out what was actually happening in the video.

[??? WTF??? How did they get that? Does the pretty boy have psychic powers?]

[Sisters, this isn't a supernatural ability. This is proof that these two have a history!]

[I've officially been converted. The offstage Gu Wei is just cute and likeable, I'm a fan now! He can be sweet, he can be hot. He's the perfect lead dancer, how could anyone dislike him?]

[Tell the director he's not alone! The whole nation is thinking WHAT THE FUCK!!!]

[I don't get it, how can they communicate something like 'tying the knot' with just a glance? Gu Wei was obviously trying to find a way to avoid this prompt, right?]

[I don't care what anyone says, I'm declaring it right now. This ship has sailed! Jiang Xun and Gu Wei definitely have some deep connection between them!]

[I'm so scared of getting my hopes up, but I really want these two to actually tie the knot. Let me dream!]

[Jiang Xun smiles so warmly at him! He's been so encouraging to Gu Wei this whole time! Why is an idol fan like me obsessing over an esports player right now?!]

[Sisters! See you on Weibo!!!]

Gu Wei stared at the screen.

That ominous feeling he'd gotten earlier hadn't been for nothing. He'd known something like this was coming.

Less than half an hour after the show was broadcast, Gu Wei and Jiang Xun shot right back up to the top of the trending topics list on Weibo. They took up several spots; as soon as Gu Wei opened Weibo, he saw his own name on three separate trending tags.



And the steadily rising:


@xxfunny: Just a passerby, I'd heard of T.ATW before now, but never paid much attention. My little sister made me watch this variety show with her tonight, and it's seriously too good! Those tabloid articles saying Gu Wei has no charisma and no presence are full of shit, right? His screen presence is great, I just about laughed myself to death!

@can't think of a name choosing a name is so hard: Ah, I'm dead. I'm dead! Why did I have to watch 'Escape Without a Trace'? These two are just way too sweet. Esports God x Boyband Lead Dancer, I'm into it!

@Shameless Rabbit: @EscapeWithoutATraceOfficial, please start filming the next part, fast!!!

@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: #FoodForXunWei, come join our group, new best friends! Don't wait, hurry and check in now~

@Dingdong Wants to Live Happily With Weiwei: This just turned me into a shipper, Jiang Xun is so good at pampering Weiwei! I need content! Someone send me some delicious food of these two, I'm already getting impatient.

Due to the variety show's broadcast, the membership count of the #FoodForXunWei group grew exponentially in the next few hours. Gu Wei and Jiang Xun saw their own follower counts climb steadily as well.

@Little Hedgehog's Pear: Antis begone, Gu Wei never had a problem with charisma. He just hadn't met the right person yet! My lovely #FoodForXunWei sisters, RISE UP!!!

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