After spending too much time scrolling through #FoodForXunWei posts on Weibo, Gu Wei had wanted to escape the topic for a while by chatting with Jiang Xun. He never imagined Jiang Xun would have been shamelessly browsing the supertopic as well, and now he had to wonder exactly how much Jiang Xun had learned.
Gu Wei hesitated for a moment, then decided it would be best to simply ask.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: How much did you see?
[Husband]: They're the most precious boys!
[Husband]: Ah ah ahhhhhh the only question is when they're getting married!
[Husband]: I'll go file the marriage license for you guys, okay?!?!?!
Gu Wei stared at his cell phone screen.
If it wasn't for the still objectively untrue nickname attached to those messages, Gu Wei would have thought he was suddenly chatting with a bona fide shipper.
Just a few moments earlier, Gu Wei had been checking up on Jiang Xun's tournament results and watching highlight clips of Jiang Xun trash talking his opponents and fiercely barking orders during his match. He exuded a ruthless, handsome air in those clips, and his fans all swarmed online to rave about his epicness. But now—
Jiang Xun was on WeChat, teasing Gu Wei by acting like one of their shippers.
Gu Wei really couldn't tell what Jiang Xun was thinking or feeling based on the string of ridiculous messages he had just sent.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Ge.
[Husband]: So? Do I sound like one of them?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: You do, but…
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Don't forget you're an esports player. You don't need to learn so much about this entertainment industry stuff. Just ignore it.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: ……
[Husband]: After my tournament ends in a few days, I'll visit you.
Gu Wei's heart skipped a beat at that. He was elated by the thought of it, and he wanted to respond right away, but Jiang Xun started a video chat with him before he could start typing. Gu Wei accepted the call without even thinking about it.
Jiang Xun had just gotten out of a post-game interview. He was still wearing his team's uniform, all black and sleek with TMW's golden logo of a bow and arrow wrapped up in twisting, thorny vines on the front. Gu Wei didn't think much of the logo in the past, but now that he had started following TMW's competitions, he felt himself getting a little excited every time he saw that logo on Jiang Xun's uniform.
"Did you watch my game?" Jiang Xun asked from the other end of the line.
"I did." Gu Wei smiled. Just talking about the game lifted his spirits. "You were amazing out there. Everyone says you're a reliable player and a good commander."
"This little fake fan isn't making more reaction memes of me, is he?" Jiang Xun asked, only half-joking. Gu Wei had a long criminal record of such acts, after all.
"I'm not," Gu Wei said, straightening up. "Ge, I swear I'm not just a fan of your reaction memes anymore. I'm a fan of you."
His voice climbed higher, growing louder, as he made his earnest declaration. On the other end of the call, Jiang Xun couldn't help but laugh.
"Weiwei, let me ask you a question."
"What is it?" Gu Wei said.
"Do you still want to call off the engagement?"
Gu Wei fell silent.
He hadn't expected Jiang Xun to ask that question. It caught him off-guard and utterly unprepared.
But when he thought about it, their relationship had started with that messy discussion of tying the knot between them. This was a question he couldn't avoid. For various reasons, he had run away from the subject for a long while, but it was finally time to face the matter head-on.
After all, Jiang Xun had already clearly expressed his desires for Gu Wei, and Gu Wei certainly wasn't indifferent towards Jiang Xun. Gu Wei didn't want to escape any longer.
He wasn't stunning enough yet, but he wanted to become stunning enough to truly captivate Jiang Xun.
"I don't… want to call it off," Gu Wei said, shaking his head. "But…"
But if they were to really talk about tying the knot, Gu Wei had no idea how to handle that yet. He didn't know how to have that kind of relationship, and he didn't know how to explain that to Jiang Xun.
It seemed Jiang Xun had been more than prepared for him to answer that way. As though seeing through to the heart of Gu Wei's fears and doubts, Jiang Xun said, "Don't worry. I won't rush you into an engagement, and I won't rush you into bed, even if I really want to."
Gu Wei felt a flush of embarrassment wash over him when Jiang Xun deftly addressed all of his concerns. He glanced off to the side, unable to bring himself to look at the Jiang Xun on the screen for a moment.
"Weiwei, look at me," Jiang Xun said. "Let's start by being fans of each other."
"Fans of… each other?" Gu Wei blinked. That was the first he'd ever heard of an engagement starting from a place like that. "We already follow each other on Weibo."
"We'll be more than each other's Weibo fan," Jiang Xun explained patiently. "You become my fan, and I'll become yours. That way, we'll get to know each other's past and be a part of each other's present and future."
"Then what comes after that?" Gu Wei couldn't help but ask.
"After that, we'll become shippers," Jiang Xun said, suddenly spinning the topic back to where they'd started. "I'm already learning. One day, when you start to ship us, you can tell me."
From then on, until they ended their video chat, Jiang Xun's words, in Jiang Xun's alluring voice, continued to echo in Gu Wei's ears.
The idea of starting as each other's fan was really… unique.
Starting as fans. Learning about each other's past and future that way. To Gu Wei, this really was a suitable plan for opening up his world to Jiang Xun, bit by bit.
Gu Wei was a little excited about the prospect, but a little worried as well. He was a controversial star, after all. There was plenty of dirt about him on the internet, and he feared Jiang Xun would soon see it all.
But, even before Jiang Xun made that suggestion, Gu Wei knew he had already shifted from a fake Jiang Xun fan into a genuine, diehard Jiang Xun fan. And he knew, deep in his heart, that his feelings for Jiang Xun weren't exactly the same as the feelings a fan had for their idol.
To Team TMW, a national tournament was no big deal. They were unflustered by the little scuffle with Team T&K, and they continued to build up their lead until they were the clear tournament leaders by a wide margin.
For the next few days, Gu Wei did nothing except film his drama and follow Jiang Xun's tournament results. Along with the others in T.ATW, he had become an esports junkie.
A couple days before TMW was set to compete in the finals of the national tournament, Gu Wei received a call from his manager. If she didn't remind him, he would have completely forgotten about the variety show Wandering With You that featured him as a regular guest.
"Just to remind you, 'Wandering With You' will be filming its next installment the day after tomorrow," Manager Zhao said. "We've already cleared your schedule for it, and Mu Yue will make the travel arrangements for you.
"I know you don't want to do this show, but there's no way around it. Just don't start any trouble with Jiang Enyuan. Regarding the 'scandal' from before, our best course of action is simply to ignore it."
"Right… I know." Gu Wei hadn't been the subject of any large-scale online attacks in quite a while. Even when someone dissed him, Jiang Xun was always there to protect him. Gu Wei had almost forgotten what it felt like to be bombarded with hate mail.
But there really was no way around this. He'd already signed on as a regular guest on Wandering With You, so he was duty bound to record the next installment.
After the first few episodes of Wandering With You, Gu Wei was thoroughly berated by his anti-fans for this or that. It was only after the episode where he ran into a vacationing Jiang Xun in northern Europe that things changed.
In the next installment, there would be no Jiang Xun. There was no telling how the recording would turn out.
"Oh, right," Manager Zhao added, suddenly remembering something else. "As per tradition, the variety show will be inviting a special guest to join you regulars on the next episode. We won't know who the special guest is until you start filming, but if you can't get along with the other regulars, try to get friendly with the special guest. Use their presence to put on a good show."
Gu Wei understood everything his manager said. He knew he couldn't film a variety show with a bad attitude, so he promised her that, regardless of who the special guest was, he would get along super well with them.
"And one more thing," Manager Zhao added, with a helpless sigh. "To be perfectly honest, I don't really want to tell you this. But… the next episode's filming location will be C City."
Gu Wei's eyes went wide. That was exactly where Jiang Xun would soon play his next match.
"Okay, Zhao-jie. I promise I'll do my job properly, and I won't do anything scandalous that gets me trending," Gu Wei swore. His tone was suddenly a bit brighter and happier, in a way that escaped his own notice.
On the other end of the line, Manager Zhao massaged the spot between her eyebrows. "Yes, focus on work, and get along well with the special guest. Don't go off on your own to visit irrelevant people, do you understand? I'll be asking your assistant to keep a close eye on you."
"I got it, I got it," Gu Wei promised hastily.
After that, time seemed to stretch on endlessly. The days crawled by. Gu Wei wasn't even sure what he was looking forward to, but each day of filming now felt dreadfully long.
The supporting male character Miao Zihan's life was nothing like the fairy-tale life of the leading male. Gu Wei, like many new actors, was slow to get into character and slow to get out of character. Sometimes, after filming, his mood would be greatly affected by the events of the story, and he would trudge back to the hotel to nudge Jiang Xun on WeChat.
One day, after work, he had a chat with Ning Yao on their way back to the hotel.
"I always get the feeling that you're kind and warm to everyone," Ning Yao said. "But at the same time, you feel… a bit distant."
"Really?" Gu Wei smiled.
"I don't know how to explain it," Ning Yao continued. "Even when you're standing right in front of us, I can't help but feel like you're far away. It makes me wonder, if you're so distant from everyone… who will be the one to really capture you and your attention?"
Who would capture him?
In Gu Wei's heart, a hazy answer emerged.
Gu Wei had always drifted aimlessly, without a proper direction in life, like a feather on the wind. But, as of late, he was starting to wish for a place to land.
He was just about to sink deep into thought about the matter when he noticed two figures loitering outside their hotel building.
Gu Wei signaled for security to come over before he addressed the strangers. "What are you two doing here?"
"We're staying here," a young woman answered snippily. She was holding a camera with a telephoto lens, and her attitude was downright awful. "None of your business. Let us through."
Ning Yao furrowed her brows. "The cast and crew booked this whole hotel, there's no way you're staying here right now. How did you find this place?"
"You guys are stalkers," Gu Wei realized right away. "Sorry, but we can't let you in."
Letting these two get so close to the hotel was an error on the security detail's part. The guards apologized to the members of the cast that were present and started to usher the fans out. The fans quickly grew belligerent, spitting a few vile curses at Gu Wei and Ning Yao on their way.
"You're completely nameless, what are you getting all high-and-mighty for? Do you even have fans?" the girl with the camera snapped. Once she was done with Ning Yao, she turned to Gu Wei and continued, "And you. You've barely done anything! You can't sing, you can't act. All you do is leech fame off people who are popular for real. Jiang Enyuan forgave you for plagiarising his dance, but you still act like you're the victim. Why the hell should you be allowed to star in a drama with our Chengcheng?"
The comments were already getting too aggressive to bear. Gu Wei's and Ning Yao's assistants quickly signaled for the guards to hurry up and get rid of the intruders.
"What's going on here?" He Cheng asked as he arrived, stepping out of a car.
"Chengcheng, we love you!" the two stalkers cheers in unison, immediately turning their attention to He Cheng. "We came here just to see you, and we asked around a lot before we found this place, and now they're trying to get rid of us."
As they spoke, the girls pointed their camera right at He Cheng's face and started to snap pictures. At the same time, they even reached out to touch him, grabbing his hands and even his clothes.
"Gu Wei, why are you trying to get rid of my fans?" He Cheng demanded, turning around to interrogate Gu Wei while signing autographs for the girls.
"Is he touched in the head?" Ning Yao whispered in Gu Wei's ear. "Those are obviously stalkers."
Gu Wei shook his head and shushed her. To He Cheng, he said, "Stalkers aren't fans."
"Our gege cherishes his fans," one of the girls said as they turned around to glare at Gu Wei. "Not like some people who can only plagiarise dances and only have anti-fans."
He Cheng spared them a glance, then turned and walked away.
"If he keeps spoiling stalkers like this, he's going to have an incident sooner or later," Ning Yao fumed.
Gu Wei shook his head again. At the end of the day, if this was how He Cheng wanted to treat his stalkers, there was nothing anyone else could do about it. Gu Wei had already done everything he was supposed to do.
Xuan Huitong, who had been with them but silent the whole time, bid them goodbye with a smile and took her leave with her own team.
There were all sorts of people in the entertainment industry. He Cheng's behavior and attitude were at most a little surprising to Gu Wei, but they weren't anything that Gu Wei would spend much time thinking about. He was busy preparing to film the next installment of Wandering With You. Ever since his agent let it slip that they would be filming in C City, Gu Wei's distaste for the series disappeared completely. Instead, he felt a vague sense of excitement and anticipation.
The next day, Gu Wei landed in C City. Of course, the car sent by the show was already waiting outside. Gu Wei greeted the fans who had gathered at the airport to welcome him, then took off his sunglasses and face mask and climbed into the car.
"We're waiting on one more guest," the driver hastily explained, clearly afraid that Gu Wei would throw a tantrum over the wait. There were many celebrities, after all, who were known for their bad tempers. "It shouldn't be long."
"No problem," Gu Wei said.
"It's probably that special guest for this installment," Mu Yue said. "That's good. You can greet each other first and make sure you get along well during the recording."
Gu Wei nodded. He had been thinking the same thing. As he waited, he opened up WeChat and sent his location to Jiang Xun.
[If You Love me Please Send Me Money]: Ge, look!
[If You Love me Please Send Me Money]: [location]
Instead of typing, Jiang Xun sent him a voice message.
[Husband]: What are you doing in C City? Filming a show?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Yep, the next part of 'Wandering With You'.
[Husband]: Then, after my last match tomorrow, I can meet up with you.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Okay!
His manager had said to focus on filming the program and not meet up with any irrelevant people.
But Jiang Xun wasn't an irrelevant person.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: I'll work hard today. My manager told me to get along well with our special guest. I'll do my best to put on a good show!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: CuteBlush.jpg
Then, the car door was opened from the outside. Gu Wei figured the special guest for the next episode must have arrived. He peeked out and saw a person wearing a hat, sunglasses, and face mask—wrapped up tight, barely even showing a sliver of their face.
That person was being escorted towards their car by a security detail, surrounded by quite a few fans who had gathered along the way.
Jiang Xun sent another voice message at just that moment, and Gu Wei reflexively hit play—
The special guest climbed into the car and took off his hat and face mask.
Gu Wei stared for a moment.
Then he shrank back in horror.
The special guest!
How could it be him?!
"Hey, we meet again. I gotta say, sorry for nabbing that cologne endorsement deal out from under you last time," Jiang Ying said as he leaned back in his seat, sounding completely unapologetic. "I bet you never thought I'd be the special guest on this episode, huh?"
Gu Wei's first reaction was shock, and his immediate second reaction was to furiously press the volume keys on the side of his phone as quickly as possible, trying to silence the audio.
But the audio message he had just tapped on still began to play. As the phone's volume grew smaller and smaller, Jiang Xun's voice flowed out—
"Since we're both in C City, after my competition, let's…"