Gu Wei could feel his manager sinking into an eerily thoughtful silence.
Zhao Ya had, naturally, noticed Gu Wei was keeping an exceptionally low profile these days. The other members of T.ATW had all uniformly stated that they didn't know where Gu Wei had gone, so Zhao Ya assumed Gu Wei had simply gone home or something. She didn't give it much thought; when she asked where he was over the phone, it was only a formality.
She certainly hadn't expected to discover their popular boy band's lead dancer had been… taken home by someone else.
Zhao Ya had just finished watching the first episode of Escape Without a Trace, and she instantly recognized Jiang Xun's voice.
The popularity of their ship was still rising on Weibo with no end in sight. Zhao Ya had just been in the middle of worrying about how to control that rampant growth, and Gu Wei was out there delivering himself directly into Jiang Xun's hands.
No wonder the other four members of the group had kept their mouths shut about where Gu Wei had gone, adamantly insisting they didn't have a clue.
Originally, Zhao Ya had planned on praising Gu Wei for finally showing some natural charisma on a variety show. But it seemed that charm wasn't a sudden show of acting prowess at all, but rather… there really was something going on with these two.
Her first thought was that they absolutely could not allow the shippers to find out Jiang Xun and Gu Wei had met in private.
After taking a long, long moment to calm down, the manager said, "Jiang-zong, thank you for looking after our Weiwei. He must be inconveniencing you."
Taking Jiang Xun's status and family background into consideration, Zhao Ya had settled on a formal and respectful way of addressing him.
"There's no need for that, you can just call me Jiang Xun," Jiang Xun said from beside Gu Wei. "And it's not an inconvenience at all. Weiwei has been very well-behaved."
Gu Wei was still holding the phone, silent.
The manager gave this some more thought before she said, "It would still be best for the two of you to spend some time apart. I'm sure you've seen the trending topics on Weibo already. It won't be good for either of you if these things spread too fast."
"I don't have a problem with it. My achievements aren't affected by anything but my personal skill," Jiang Xun said. In the esports world, only his wins mattered, and he had complete confidence in his own ability to stay on top. "As for Gu Weiwei, the persona your agency set up for him isn't a heartthrob. He isn't playing the part of everyone's dream boyfriend. Why should this be any cause for concern?"
Zhao Ya was dumbstruck. Gu Wei was very reasonable and easy to talk to, but it seemed Jiang Xun had no intentions of being reasonable at all. After he had said his piece, Zhao Ya had half a mind to get an assistant to fetch Gu Wei that very night. Obviously he needed to be rescued from the TMW club before Jiang Xun devoured him whole.
"Don't worry," Jiang Xun continued. "The club building is very safe, and you don't want to worry about my people. No one will sneak photos of us, and no one will go around telling people Gu Wei is here."
Gu Wei couldn't listen anymore. He had to speak up to do his part to reassure his manager. "Zhao-jie, really, don't worry. I'll leave bright and early with Mu Yue tomorrow. I'm only here to do research for my script and my character, anyway. It's all for work. Don't worry, and go get some rest early today."
Zhao Ya was silent.
They were all telling her not to worry, but there was no way in hell she wouldn't worry.
The Jiang family controlled several film, television, and media companies in the entertainment industry. They could do just about anything they wanted, and they could have anything they desired. Jiang Xun, it seemed, had set his eye on T.ATW's precious lead dancer and snatched him up faster than anyone could so much as blink.
Did Gu Wei have any idea what he was getting himself into?
At least Gu Wei's drama would start filming the very next day. Zhao Ya had to believe that Jiang Xun would get bored and forget all about this with a few days apart. And she had to believe the shippers would take that time to calm down as well.
When Jiang Xun finished up his training and returned to his dorm room, he found that Gu Wei had yet to fall asleep.
Gu Wei had just gotten out of the shower. He was wearing Jiang Xun's pajamas, and his hair was still wet. He had been afraid of getting Jiang Xun's bed sheets wet, so he'd pulled a chair over to the center of the room, where he was now sitting and reviewing his script.
"Why haven't you gone to sleep?" Jiang Xun reached out and took the script from Gu Wei. It had obviously been read over and over again, and all sorts of notes were already scribbled inside.
"I was waiting for you," Gu Wei said.
"Waiting for me?" Jiang Xun echoed. Hearing such a sweet answer from Gu Wei's lips was still a fresh, new experience for Jiang Xun. "Don't you need to wake up early tomorrow morning?"
Gu Wei forgot all about his script, ignored the question, and said, "Jiang Xun, happy birthday!"
Jiang Xun had been so busy with training that he had completely forgotten his own birthday. He never imagined there would be someone staying up late in his dorm room, waiting to greet him with birthday wishes.
"You have trouble falling asleep, and you still stayed up?" Jiang Xun hardly knew what to do with Gu Wei. He shook his head and beckoned Gu Wei closer as he said, "Come here."
Gu Wei obediently sat at the edge of the bed and watched as Jiang Xun found a hair dryer, plugged it in, and got ready to blow dry his hair for him.
"It's fine if you don't blow it," Gu Wei said. "It'll dry on its own, anyway."
"Who told you that? It's chilly in the autumn. If you catch a cold, how are you going to film tomorrow?" Jiang Xun sat down next to Gu Wei and turned on the hair dryer. "If you don't properly dry your hair next time, I'll scold you."
The warm hair from the dryer gusted over Gu Wei's face. He instinctively turned his head towards Jiang Xun's touch, practically nuzzling into his handsome hands. Jiang Xun's hands moved through his hair, massaging his scalp from time to time, leaving Gu Wei with a warm and cozy feeling.
As far as Gu Wei could remember, no one had ever helped him blow dry his hair before. This was the first time he was experiencing such a sensation.
"All done," Jiang Xun announced. He turned off the hair dryer and set it aside before lifting a hand to wipe away the few water droplets still clinging to Gu Wei's lashes.
Gu Wei, sitting next to Jiang Xun, was starting to feel bad. It was Jiang Xun's birthday, and not only would Gu Wei be unable to spend his birthday with him, he had made Jiang Xun help him blow dry his hair so late at night.
Maybe he had been confused and led astray by those warm and cozy feelings. Jiang Xun's present wouldn't arrive until the morning, and Gu Wei felt that he wanted to make Jiang Xun happy right now.
"Jiang Xun, I'll dance for you." Gu Wei looked down and thought about it for a moment, then abruptly looked back up at Jiang Xun. He'd made up his mind. "I'll perform SOLO1 for you."
Jiang Xun had just been in the middle of taking off this TMW team jacket. He had just unzipped the jacket when Gu Wei spoke, and the words did give him a moment of genuine surprise.
"Okay," he said. The kid was making the offer all on his own. How could Jiang Xun refuse? He slung his jacket over his shoulder and moved to stand next to the door, leaving the room clear for Gu Wei.
This kind of girl group dance was something Gu Wei and the other guys in T.ATW did for fun sometimes, during practices. But it would be the very first time Gu Wei performed anything like it outside their training room.
Gu Wei had made the offer in the heat of the moment. Now that he was facing Jiang Xun, he couldn't help but feel embarrassed. But he truly loved to dance, and when the music began to play, he was able to shove all those feelings of hesitation to the back of his mind.
This was the first time Jiang Xun had seen Gu Wei dancing like this, up close and in private. It was a completely different experience to seeing videos of Gu Wei dancing on stage, underneath flashing lights and special effects. The little idol was wearing his pajamas, standing in his dorm room, and performing just for him to see.
When the music started, Gu Wei's expression instantly changed. A different, more intense light came into his eyes, like he could adopt his stage persona anywhere, anytime. It seemed he could give a stage-worthy performance even to his audience of one.
As he began to dance, Gu Wei imbued each move with a striking, alluring energy. He didn't miss a single step, moving perfectly in time with the music. Although the dance was originally choreographed for a girl group, Gu Wei executed the moves with no small amount of desirability.
When Gu Wei danced, he completely tuned out the rest of the world and focused only on his movements. He didn't notice as Jiang Xun's gaze became darker and more intense. As the music came to an end, he instinctively struck his customary pose—
He turned to face the spot where his audience normally would have been, flashing a coy smile with his lower lip caught between his teeth. Then he winked as he lifted one hand and beckoned his audience with the crook of a finger.
As the song trailed off into silence, Gu Wei panted slightly to catch his breath. Before he could even get a chance to ask Jiang Xun what he thought, Jiang Xun tossed his jacket onto the bed and approached Gu Wei.
In one smooth motion, Jiang Xun wrapped his arms around Gu Wei and pulled Gu Wei down onto the bed with him.
Gu Wei froze.
His heart was already beating faster than usual, and he couldn't immediately tell if that was from dancing or from his sudden proximity to Jiang Xun.
Jiang Xun didn't move or get up. He hovered above Gu Wei, unwaveringly looking down at him.
Gu Wei felt completely out of his depth. He didn't dare look back at Jiang Xun as he quietly asked, "Are you… happy?"
Jiang Xun didn't answer him right away. He was holding himself up on both arms, which he gradually relaxed, allowing some of his weight to bear down on Gu Wei.
"Weiwei, why are you so easy to trick?" Jiang Xun murmured, his voice a touch deeper than usual. "Someone shows you a little bit of kindness, and you'll agree to anything?"
They were too close. They were far, far too close. Gu Wei had to protest, weakly, "I wouldn't agree to anything. Can you…"
Before he could get the words out, he felt Jiang Xun shift slightly, causing an… object to firmly nudge up against his waist.
"Then, you only agree to what I ask of you?"
Gu Wei tensed instantly, every muscle in his body locking up.
There was no way he didn't know what that was.
He really had been tricked. Deceived. Bamboozled. When Jiang Xun had asked him to dance, he definitely didn't have any pure intentions at all.
But, this time, Gu Wei had to admit he had been the one to offer himself up on a platter.
"It's pretty happy," Jiang Xun whispered, his lips almost brushing Gu Wei's ear. "Can you feel it?"
Gu Wei was petrified. He couldn't move, much less answer.
He had just danced a bit. And now the reaction meme was revealing his… true shape.
"Is this your birthday present to me?" Jiang Xun asked, finally straightening and lifting himself up a bit, giving Gu Wei room to breathe.
"No, not really…" Gu Wei had been scared half to death by the degenerate's perverted actions. His eyes darted this way to that, refusing to settle on Jiang Xun. "The present I ordered won't get here until the morning, so this was… your birthday wishes."
"But I liked it a lot," Jiang Xun said. "My little friend is becoming braver and braver. Dancing for me in the middle of the night, in my room, wearing my pajamas. And it was a sexy, erotic dance, too."
"You're the one who wanted to see it," Gu Wei mumbled. "So the real pervert is you."
"Mhm, it's me," Jiang Xun shamelessly agreed. "I've been afraid of scaring you off, so I haven't said anything obscene to you for a very, very long time. I've been restraining myself all this time, so you can't blame this on me."
Gu Wei couldn't pull himself together enough to argue. He could only nitpick at the finer details. "I'm not 'your' little friend."
"Okay, then. Not a little friend," Jiang Xun agreed, nodding. "You're my little sweetheart, my little bride, and my little partner."
There was nothing else Gu Wei could say.
Jiang Xun knew he had already scared Gu Wei enough for now. If he really scared Gu Wei off for good, that wouldn't be worth the temporary joy of teasing him at all. He got up from the bed and reached out, gently stroking the backs of his fingers over Gu Wei's fiercely red cheeks.
"You tease me, but you never take responsibility. I'm going to grab a shower, you can get some sleep first."
Gu Wei breathed a sigh of relief. Jiang Xun was obviously letting him off. That was something Gu Wei could be grateful for, at least. He turned onto his side on the soft covers, catching sight of the jacket Jiang Xun had thrown onto the bed earlier.
"That was pretty good, for my birthday wishes," Jiang Xun said. "But I want to see you dance the other one, too."
"Don't even think about it," Gu Wei huffed. He had learned his lesson.
"Alright," Jiang Xun relented, though not without some reluctance. "Ah, that's right. One more thing."
Gu Wei, guileless, looked up and asked, "What?"
Jiang Xun suppressed his voice to a low whisper and brought his lips to Gu Wei's ear again. "Your butt is pretty nice."
As quick as lightning, Jiang Xun reached out and gave Gu Wei's… 'lower back' a firm squeeze. Then he grabbed the jacket from the bed and headed into the bathroom, closing the door before Gu Wei could really react. Within seconds, the sound of the running shower came on.
Gu Wei eyed the light spilling out from the bathroom for a moment before turning around and burying his face in the bedding. It was a long time before he came back to his senses.
Jiang Xun… how could he…
It was all over. There was nothing Gu Wei could do. It seemed the connections between them were getting harder and harder to untangle.
The more Gu Wei tried to escape, the easier it seemed to be for Jiang Xun to find ways to break into Gu Wei's little world.
So… what did that mean? He would spend the rest of his life with Jiang Xun?
While their shippers celebrated like there was no tomorrow, Gu Wei lay in Jiang Xun's bed and gave some serious thought to the matter of tying the knot.
By the time Jiang Xun emerged from the bathroom, Gu Wei was fast asleep. Gu Wei had stolen most of the blankets, bundling himself up tight. His breathing was slow and even. Jiang Xun peeled some of the blankets away and took the hand that Gu Wi had left outside the nest of covers. He tucked Gu Wei in properly, then turned off the lights and went to sleep.
Mu Yue received a message from T.ATW's manager bright and early in the morning, urging her to hurry up and take Gu Wei to meet up with the cast and crew of his upcoming drama.
"Zhao-jie really worries too much. I rushed over here as soon as I got her message," Mu Yue said to Gu Wei. They had gotten to know each other a little better lately, to the point that Mu Yue felt comfortable complaining to him a little. "But you're fine! And God Xun is a perfectly good person, isn't he? I don't know what Zhao-jie is so worried about."
Gu Wei had pulled on a mask and cap. He was covered up from head to toe as he waited outside the TMW club building.
"Ge, I'm leaving," Gu Wei called out, waving to Jiang Xun. "Don't forget about your present. You'll definitely think it suits you."
"Got it." Jiang Xun reached out and helped Gu Wei adjust the cap that sat a little askew on his head. "Are you brave enough to come visit again?"
Gu Wei didn't answer.
If Jiang Xun hadn't brought it up, Gu Wei almost could have forgotten about what happened last night before they fell asleep. But he couldn't allow himself to forget that TMW's club was Jiang Xun's territory.
Whether or not he dared to return was something Gu Wei would have to really think about.
"Go to work, then," Jiang Xun urged, giving Gu Wei's back a gentle push. He didn't intend to force an answer out of Gu Wei yet. "If I get a chance, I'll come visit you on set. And if you have any technical questions about your role, message me on WeChat anytime."
"Then… happy birthday," Gu Wei said, looking back with a smile in his eyes.
His car raced off into the distance and soon disappeared. Before long, a different car pulled up in front of the building and a package was dropped off at the front desk.
"I'm really curious what your little celebrity got you for your birthday," West said. It was still early in the morning, but he had roused himself and wandered over to hover near the door to the training room, watching Jiang Xun open his present. "A name-brand watch? Or clothes? Or… should we be aiming our guesses in a more erotic direction?"
"I wanna know, too." Kumachan had also gotten up early to come check things out. "I think it'll be food. If it's food, you'll share with me, right?"
Jiang Xun was also looking forward to finding out what was inside the package, but he was cautious to manage his expectations. Gu Wei had a long criminal record about these sorts of things. It seemed Gu Wei's idea of a 'nice surprise' and Jiang Xun's idea of a 'nice surprise' were completely different.
But Gu Wei had clearly spent a lot of time choosing this gift. Whatever was in the box, it would definitely reflect Gu Wei's true feelings.
Under the watchful gazes of his curious teammates, Jiang Xun sliced open the box. At the very top was a personalized greeting card.
Ge, happy birthday. You train so hard every day, I hope your days will be a little more refreshing with this.
Underneath the card, there were hundreds of cans piled up neatly inside the box.
"What is it?" SK asked, looking and sounding utterly bewildered as Jiang Xun took out one of the cans and opened the lid.
The can was empty.
West took the can and peeked inside. It really was completely empty. Jiang Xun opened a second one, and that was empty as well.
The whole team was baffled.
On each of the cans, the labels depicted a rolling green field. On top of the grassy greens, an eye-catching slogan was printed—
High-Quality Hulunbeier Air
Jiang Xun stared.
Gu Wei had sent him an entire box of air.