After a chaotic evening, Gu Wei was prepared to start filming in earnest for the television adaptation of the popular novel series Like the Moon. He focused all his energy and attention on delivering his lines, and every so often he sought advice from the acting coaches on set to better hone his portrayal of Miao Zihan.
One weekend evening, after finishing his work for the day, Gu Wei lingered near the set to watch the male and female leads shoot a scene. He was still dressed in Miao Zihan's high school uniform, and he had a thick coat, given to him by Mu Yue, draped over his shoulders.
Xuan Huitong wasn't known as a popular beauty for nothing. Her acting left nothing to be desired. With her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she ran into a classroom set and slammed a book down in front of He Cheng with an audible bam.
After landing this role, Gu Wei had read the original novel that the drama was based on. He knew this scene was when the male lead would first develop feelings for the female lead. In that moment, Xuan Huitong perfectly captured the strong-willed spirit of the character Qiao Xi.
Gu Wei and Ning Yao both knew the next lines. Acting as the character Shi Yuhe, He Cheng was supposed to stand up and reach into Qiao Xi's pocket, taking out a love letter she had just received.
And so, Gu Wei watched as He Cheng stood up, reached into Xuan Huitong's pocket, and withdrew the envelope. The look in He Cheng's eyes could be considered pretty on point for the intensity of the scene.
Then he turned to face the camera and said, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven."
Mu Yue, spectating along with the others, was silent.
Gu Wei was also speechless.
He Cheng's next line wasn't especially long, and yet he couldn't seem to remember it.
Across from him, Xuan Huitong didn't react to his filler speech at all. Her expression remained unchanged, and she didn't slip out of character for even a second as she continued on, delivering her own lines. After she finished, the director yelled 'cut', and that was that.
"How can he do this?" Ning Yao asked, thoroughly puzzled and hurt. She had attended countless auditions before she landed this supporting role, and yet He Cheng was treating his leading role so carelessly.
"He plans on dubbing it in later, I guess," Gu Wei said, realizing He Cheng's intent.
"But there's no way that would sound as natural as lines spoken in the moment! 'Like the Moon' is such a good book. It deserves a good adaptation, with every character portrayed well." Ning Yao shook her head. She just didn't understand. "I heard a rumor that he bought his way…"
Gu Wei shushed her as quickly as he could, but it was already too late.
Ning Yao hadn't been in the industry for long. After getting to know Gu Wei over the past few days, she had grown comfortable enough around him to say whatever was on her mind.
He Cheng, unfortunately, had just finished his scene. He passed Ning Yao and Gu Wei right as Ning Yao spoke, and he stopped next to Gu Wei with an arrogant look on his face. He'd obviously heard what Ning Yao had just said.
"What a coincidence," he sneered. "I was just thinking I don't really want to be shooting scenes with someone who's a known plagiarist. I wonder what the director is thinking? Maybe he's looking to entice some viewers with a controversial little influencer."
As soon as Mu Yue heard that, from where she was standing next to Gu Wei, she knew this was a person who had come to pick a fight.
Ning Yao was also drowning in guilt over speaking so carelessly.
Before Mu Yue could speak, Gu Wei stepped in and retorted, "Do you have a problem with influencers? What's so shameful about being an influencer? Why is that something you feel the need to mock?"
"Well said," Xuan Huitong chimed in as she joined them on her way off the set. "Take me for example. I'm a good actor and I'm popular. Why shouldn't the director use all my assets?"
He Cheng huffed through his nose, then turned and walked away.
"I'm so sorry," Ning Yao hurriedly apologized. "It was all my fault for talking nonsense."
Xuan Huitong shook her head at Ning Yao before taking her leave as well.
"Didi, do you have some history with that guy?" Mu Yue asked. She was getting a little worried. "Why is he always rolling his eyes at you? The way he speaks to you is strange as well."
"Who cares?" Gu Wei shrugged. "I'm controversial, he's right about that. I don't need everyone to like me."
Mu Yue nodded, somewhat hesitantly. Gu Wei was right. This was just work, and there was no need for everyone to be merry friends on set. Their private lives were meant to stay private. But… Miao Zihan would play an increasingly important role in the series as the drama went on.
Soon enough, the leading male character and the supporting male character would have more than just a few scenes together.
When Gu Wei made his way back to the hotel after a long day of shooting, it was already nearly nine at night. Gu Wei washed his face and brushed his teeth quickly, then hurried onto Weibo to check the results of the currently ongoing national playoffs.
Team TMW was trending again.
In the semi-finals match that had been played that night, TMW crushed the competition by a huge margin. As Gu Wei watched a highlights reel, the announcers excitedly narrated the action in terms that Gu Wei was starting to understand. The game played out on the top half of the screen while the bottom half showed Jiang Xun, wearing headphones, giving sharp orders to his team.
Jiang Xun had been extremely busy with his competitions these past few days. But every night, like clockwork, he sent Gu Wei a message reminding him not to stay up too late.
Every time TMW had a match, Manager Zhao had a headache. A big one. The four diehard Jiang Xun fans in T.ATW were all useless on those days. They became restless and distracted, thinking only about the game and failing to focus on work.
Chi Yunkai Neglects Fans at Meet-and-Greet to Check His Phone
Luo Chenxuan Cracking Up Under Pressure From His Agency?
Shi Xinyan Spaces Out at Solo Concert
These were the sorts of headlines and trending topics that surfaced every time TMW had a match.
Gu Wei suddenly remembered that Manager Zhao had even complained to the agency once, demanding to know how they had assembled such a single-minded group of esports fanatics. She had said Gu Wei was the only one who gave her some peace of mind during TMW's tournaments.
Now, that peace of mind was probably gone. Gu Wei didn't turn into Jiang Xun's diehard fan like his bandmates. Gu Wei had skipped over that and gone straight to becoming Jiang Xun's fiancé.
Manager Zhao had just complained to Mu Yue a few days earlier about these recent developments. She said, in the past, when Gu Wei trended, she would simply furrow her eyebrows. Now, whenever Gu Wei climbed onto the trending topics list, she broke out in a cold sweat.
As soon as Team TMW started to trend, T.ATW's group chat became active again.
[Fu Zhi]: TMW is sick! They're leading the pack in the rankings right now!
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: I'd expect nothing less of Jiang Xun. He's a killing machine.
[The Sun At Dawn]: I feel great. I feel so refreshed, like I have the will to live and work again.
[stone]: Weiwei, your husband's team was awesome tonight!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Not my husband yet.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: But he really is awesome!
Gu Wei saw a new close-up of Jiang Xun on Weibo and saved it to his phone without even thinking about it.
He had slowly started to realize that nothing and no one could ever burden Jiang Xun to the point of negatively impacting his performance in the game. All those long, arduous years of hard work had led Jiang Xun to secure his position at the apex of the esports world.
[Fu Zhi]: Whoa, Weibo is pretty lively right now.
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Seems like someone's feuding, I'll go check it out.
Five minutes later, the brave T.ATW soldiers that marched out to get the scoop on the brewing drama returned—
[Yunkai Sees Mooncakes]: Yeah, it's a fight. One of the TMW rookies and someone from Team T&K's main squad are brawling.
[stone]: T&K are shameless. They get eliminated, so they get on Weibo to attack Jiang Xun? Loads of people are ranked above them, why do they have to attack Jiang Xun?
[The Sun At Dawn]: What the hell, these people are awful. Why are they even attacking our Weiwei?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: ?
Gu Wei switched back to Weibo. It was only then that he discovered one of the members of a team that had been eliminated in the semi-finals that night had posted a scathing Weibo update.
T&K-Wind: TMW is gonna lose in the finals for sure. Jiang Xun's wasting all his time fooling around with that nameless tabloid star Gu Wei.
By the time Gu Wei saw that post, the comments section below it had already descended into chaos. And in that chaos, Gu Wei even saw a few familiar names.
@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: Are you out of your mind? Or were you not hugged enough as a child? Did you forget to throw yourself out with the trash? You weren't good enough. You lost. And you're taking it out on Jiang Xun? And what did our Weiwei ever do to you? Why do you have to drag him into this? Ah, I can't take it anymore. I'm pissed as hell. You just wait.
@Little Hedgehog's Arare: I'm seriously speechless. Don't you have any shame?
@JiangYingKANI: You're tired of being alive, aren't you?
@T.ATW-ChiYunkai: Tsk, sorry to tell you this, but our 'nameless' little star has enough influence to crush you like a bug.
And, at the very top of all these comments, Gu Wei saw the one that initiated the 'brawl' that Chi Yunkai had mentioned—
@TMW-Sunny: Hey noob, log in. Let's have a match, you and me. Higher elimination count wins. When you lose, get on your knees and apologize to Gu Wei.
@T&K-Wind: Sure, let's go. You rookies are crazy.
Gu Wei blinked.
The T.ATW chat group had already been quiet for a while now. It seemed the other guys had all tuned in to watch 'Sunny' stream their grudge match.
Gu Wei found a link to the stream on TMW-Sunny's Weibo page. When he loaded it up, the match was already underway.
But Gu Wei couldn't focus on the game. His attention went straight to TMW-Sunny's live video feed, and he realized he had seen this girl before.
The girl on the screen was close to him in age. She had her hair styled up in twin buns. The left bun was already in disarray, some locks falling loose, and she had a careless and relaxed attitude about her, with a lollipop dangling from her lips. Behind her, Gu Wei could see the main training lounge of the TMW building.
This was the slightly… unhinged girl Gu Wei had run into when he was staying at Jiang Xun's place. Her name… her name… wasn't it Yi Qing?
At first, Wind didn't think much of the TMW rookies. He had accepted Yi Qing's challenge just to thrash her and vent some of his anger. But, soon enough, he gradually came to realize that this young rookie was no joke.
"Hey, noob, it's your loss." Yi Qing leaned back in her gaming chair and crushed the lollipop between her teeth, flashing the camera a lazy grin. "Apologize to my captain and Gu Wei, and quit talking shit about my most precious boys."
Wind slunk away with his tail tucked between his legs. Ten minutes later, he deleted his original Weibo post and put up a new one—
T&K-Wind: For my inappropriate comments, I'd like to apologize to TMW's Jiang Xun and Gu Wei.
Soon after that, Yi Qing shared that post. Jiang Ying followed suit, and even the other guys from T.ATW shared it to their own pages.
Right before Gu Wei's eyes, that apology note spread across Weibo like wildfire. Even Jiang Xun, fresh out of his last match of the day, shared it.
@TMW-Xun: Even if you're mad about your loss, why bring my little friend into this?
Due to that late-night beef, and Yi Qing's way of saying 'my most precious boys', the 'FoodForXunWei' topic began to trend once more.
@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: #FoodForXunWei, you can diss me all you want, but I definitely won't let anyone diss my ship!
@Brown Sugar Bun: That TMW rookie is way way way too cool! Ahhhhhh, and Jiang Xun is so caring, he even spoke up in Weiwei's defense. I really want them to be real, I really really really like them so much.
@Willow in the Wind: #FoodForXunWei, don't you guys feel like Jiang Xun is protecting Gu Wei? He didn't have to say anything, but he still spoke up. Ahhhh, I don't care, these two are just the best! They haven't seen each other in a long time, have they? When are they filming the next part of their variety show? I command them to see each other again right now!
@Qiqi: Weiwei liked God Xun's post! Ahhhh, I've been slacking off, I haven't been making any content for us. I never thought they would give us so much food so quickly. I really need to get on the ball.
@I'll Teach You How to Meow: #FoodForXunWei, FFXW IS REAL! I want someone to call me their 'little friend' too, waaaaahhhhhhh.
Gu Wei rubbed his eyes. He had been scrolling through Weibo for too long, and now even if he closed his eyes, he felt like he could still see 'FoodForXunWei' printed on the backs of his eyelids. To distract himself, he decided to see if Jiang Xun had time to chat.
He pulled up his conversation with Jiang Xun and started to ask what Jiang Xun was doing.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Ge, congratulations on your semi-finals win! You were so cool when you were giving your team their marching orders.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Good luck in the finals!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: CuteBlush.jpg
Usually, Jiang Xun would respond within seconds of receiving one of Gu Wei's messages. But this time, no response was forthcoming even after a long wait. Gu Wei furrowed his brows, a little concerned, and sent another nudge.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Ge, did you go to sleep already?
WeChat finally alerted him that the other party was typing. Gu Wei smiled to himself.
[Husband]: I'm here, I'm still awake.
[Husband]: I was just looking through Weibo.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: What were you looking at?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: The stream where your team's Sunny crushed that Wind guy?
[Husband]: I'm learning all about how to be a shipper.
Gu Wei froze. All of Weibo was focused on Jiang Xun's tournament results, and Jiang Xun was focused on… learning how to be a shipper.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: …so, did you learn how?
[Husband]: Weiwei, why don't you tell me?
[Husband]: FFXW IS REAL!