Gu Wei thought he had reacted pretty quickly, but he didn't know how much Jiang Ying had heard.
Jiang Ying froze for a split second, then glanced at Gu Wei's cell phone. Then, as though he hadn't paid Gu Wei any attention at all, he turned away and fixed his gaze to the roof of the car instead.
Gu Wei quickly turned to his assistant and had a frantic conversation with her, using only the panicked looks in their eyes.
How much do you think he heard? Gu Wei's eyes said.
I don't know, Mu Yue's expression answered. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
Then, Mu Yue added, "I have a question."
"Go ahead," Gu Wei said.
"Does your rival know about what's going on between you and Jiang Xun?" Mu Yue was starting to feel like the entertainment industry was even more chaotic than she knew.
"I don't know if he knows," Gu Wei said, "but… I don't think he does."
Gu Wei looked back over at his rival. He had to admit this was an impressive twist for the show. Jiang Ying obviously knew Gu Wei was a regular guest on the show, but Gu Wei didn't know in advance that Jiang Ying would be the special guest. And it really felt like Jiang Ying had come here today for the express purpose of starting some shit.
"Manager Zhao told me to get along well with the special guest," Gu Wei whispered back to his assistant.
Mu Yue looked over at Jiang Ying and gave him a thorough onceover. "That plan's down the toilet. Look at him. He's here to stir up some drama. He even dyed his hair and chose an outfit to look like you."
Her assessment was absolutely correct. Jiang Ying had indeed come for the sole purpose of starting some shit.
Gu Wei was pretty sure this show had it out for him. First, they invited Jiang Enyuan, with whom Gu Wei had some bad blood. That was bad enough by itself, and now the show had gone and outright invited Gu Wei's nemesis.
The showrunners of Wandering With You used hot topics to drive up the show's popularity, without a care in the world for how those topics affected their guests. Gu Wei's history with Jiang Enyuan, Gu Wei's hapless mistakes on previous episodes, and Gu Wei's encounter with Jiang Xun in northern Europe—the showrunners used it all to their advantage, as long as it brought in more viewers.
And this was surely something they intended to use as well. Lately, Gu Wei's little hedgehogs and Jiang Ying's shadow soldiers had been feuding more than usual online. The Wandering With You showrunners probably counted on them butting heads during the recording, which would cause their fans to clash again when the episode aired, ultimately sending the show straight up the trending topics list.
A few days ago, the magazine Gu Wei had done a cover shoot for had finally been released. Since Jiang Ying had done a cover for that same magazine, some tabloid put their two covers together. It was as good as pouring gasoline on a raging fire. Instantly, the hedgehogs and the shadows were at one another's throats on Weibo, raising hell on earth—
@Forever Shadowing Gege: It's the same style, but Jiang Ying's whole vibe is just way more on point. His expression, his pose. Sisters, does anyone have a high-def unwatermarked copy of this cover? I want to use it as my cover, ahhhhhhhhh~
@Little Hedgehog's Lemon: WOW!!! Gu Wei looks amazing, I can't believe we didn't know this was coming! He's gorgeous! Someone send me the link to this magazine, I want to buy a dozen copies!
@CathyKANI: Compared to Jiang Ying, Gu Wei really can't pull off this look. Plus! Jiang Xun's exclusive interview was published in Jiang Ying's issue, and that interview confirmed they're the legendary actor Jiang Zheng's sons! This family is seriously way too awesome.
@Little Hedgehog's Sunny Doll: Is there any point to arguing about this at all? We little hedgehogs just want to support our gege, we're not interested in these petty catfights. I'm taking this beautiful cover of Weiwei and going off to enjoy it by myself. It's everything I ever wanted!
These first few comments were relatively civil compared to the ones that followed. Many of the other comments were far more aggressive as the two fan bases devolved into a heated feud again. Gu Wei had seen so many of their arguments that he practically had the script memorized.
Gu Wei hadn't forgotten his manager's orders for him to get along well with the special guest, but this special guest… really wasn't going to be easy to get along with.
Plus, his nemesis seemed to be a bit distracted.
Gu Wei decided to try to strike up a conversation. Jiang Ying may have been his nemesis, but work was work, and work always came first.
"Congratulations," Gu Wei said.
"For what?" Jiang Ying asked.
"The cologne endorsement." Gu Wei only remembered it when Jiang Ying brought it up just a moment ago. "I really like that brand of cologne too."
"Oh, thanks…" Jiang Ying was so lost in thought that he didn't even seem to realize he'd just thanked Gu Wei, like a civilized person.
Gu Wei figured his nemesis must have been tired. Jiang Ying's eyes looked a little unfocused and distant. Deciding not to try to talk to him anymore for the time being, Gu Wei put in his earphones and started to listen to some music.
At a hotel in C City, Jiang Xun waited ages for a response from Gu Wei, but didn't receive anything. Just as he was getting ready to put away his cell phone, he got a message from his own little brother—
[Big-Clawed Crab]: What are you doing?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Jiang Xun?
[100K Volts]: Preparing for tomorrow's game.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
[100K Volts]: You're filming your drama?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Right, I'm filming my drama. [slightsmile.jpg]
[Big-Clawed Crab]: So… what were you doing earlier, then?
[100K Volts]: Training.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: And what do you plan on doing after your tournament?
[100K Volts]: I'm going home afterwards. I've been so busy lately that I haven't been home in ages.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
[100K Volts]: Why are you acting so weird today?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
Big-Clawed Crab recalled a message.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Then, good luck with your tournament, ge!
[100K Volts]: Sure, thanks. You focus on filming. Don't cause trouble for the crew, you hear?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: I won't, promise. [slightsmile.jpg]
Jiang Xun wrapped up his conversation with Jiang Ying, put his cell phone into a drawer, and headed out to call a meeting with his teammates.
The car came to a stop in a small village on the outskirts of C City. It was only then that Gu Wei discovered the show had already started filming from the moment he and Jiang Ying got into the car. He and Jiang Ying climbed out of the car on opposite sides, one from the left and one from the right, and really did look like two people who didn't get along at all.
Gu Wei glanced over at the director who sat beside the cameraman. The director's eyes were already filled with glee.
One by one, the other guests started to arrive. Jiang Enyuan got out of his own car and, as usual, greeted Gu Wei with a friendly wave first. In an effort to keep up appearances on the show, Gu Wei responded with a shallow nod, but his expression remained distant and emotionless.
"So you're the special guest this time!" Jiang Enyuan exclaimed. He looked back and forth between Jiang Ying and Gu Wei a few times before coming up to try to give Jiang Ying a hug.
Jiang Ying, however, took a step back.
That plastic smile remained firmly affixed to Jiang Enyuan's face, but a flash of displeasure shot through his eyes.
"Enyuan-ge!" The popular actress Ye Xiaohan arrived just then as well, greeting each and every person in turn, but leaving out Jiang Ying.
Ye Xiaohan was an actress who had only recently become popular. She had hovered around the fringes of the entertainment industry for a long while before that. Gu Wei stared at her for a moment and suddenly realized the real reason the showrunners had invited Jiang Ying.
Gu Wei frowned.
These showrunners were truly ruthless. Gu Wei and Jiang Ying were both controversial stars, and the showrunners had assembled all the other parties involved in their biggest scandals.
Back when Ye Xiaohan wasn't very well-known, her team set their sights on Jiang Ying and decided to concoct rumors of some affair between him and Ye Xiaohan. Her people put out all sorts of outrageous rumors, but they were shot back down by Jiang Ying and his little army of alts. The alleged scandal never really took off, and Ye Xiaohan was even mocked for the attempt.
Afterwards, Ye Xiaohan managed to get popular by cozying up to some other celebrities. She probably hated Jiang Ying from the bottom of her heart.
Gu Wei glanced at the director who lurked behind the cameras and felt the man looked more and more like a demon. Compared to the cheerful energy of the crew on Escape Without a Trace, the showrunners here were obviously far more obsessed with chasing after their shot at the spotlight. These days, Wandering With You didn't feel much like a light and refreshing travel show anymore.
This installment of Wandering With You was going to be filmed in a little village on the outskirts of C City. The guests were dropped in without any money, and they would have to complete the tasks assigned to them by the director to earn food for supplies and lodgings for the night.
Gu Wei quite liked the setting of this installment, and his assigned task wasn't too difficult either. After helping the village aunties harvest some flower seeds, he and another female guest, Yan Wanjuan, started to head back to their meeting spot with a basket of fresh vegetables.
On the way, Gu Wei heard an alarming howl.
He looked in that direction and saw his nemesis being chased by a goose.
Jiang Ying's bad temper was famous throughout the entertainment industry, and now he was being chased by a riled up goose.
Jiang Ying was fierce. But the village's wild goose was even more fierce.
The cameraman assigned to Jiang Ying followed him as closely as possible, all while laughing his ass off.
"Move!" Jiang Ying shouted, running in Gu Wei's direction. "It hurts like hell!"
Jiang Ying, and a gust of wind, blew past Gu Wei.
Gu Wei reached out and grabbed the goose by the neck.
"Look, it can't bite you now," Gu Wei said. He held the goose up by the neck with one hand, and pinched the goose's beak with his other hand.
"Get it the fuck away from me!" Jiang Ying reeled back several steps. "Quick!"
Jiang Ying knew geese were pretty tasty, but he never knew they could be so aggressive.
The female guest next to them watched the spectacle in silence.
Gu Wei carried the goose off and sealed it back up in the yard from whence it came. It was only then that Jiang Ying finally calmed down enough to take a deep breath.
"You're not scared of it?" Jiang Ying asked, still a little shaken up.
"I lived in a village for a while when I was little, and some families had a goose as a guard," Gu Wei said. "I was pretty scared of geese back then, but then I got used to them."
Gu Wei had almost forgotten about that period of his past, but being in this little village brought back many of those memories. Back then, before he debuted, he thought he would spend his whole life in that village. It wasn't until Gu Cai moved them out to the big city that things changed.
"Huh…" Jiang Ying thought for a moment, then said, "Everyone on the internet says you never experienced any hardships or did any real work when you were a kid."
The last time Gu Wei had been flamed after an episode of Wandering With You, there were indeed many people who said that exact thing.
"Why do you know so much about what my anti-fans say about me?" Gu Wei asked. He couldn't help but think it was a little weird that Jiang Ying would remember all these little details.
"I just see that stuff sometimes," Jiang Ying answered dismissively. He quickly changed the subject. "Let's go, it's almost dark. We can head back and cook now."
The afternoon tasks were completed more or less uneventfully, except for Jiang Ying being chased halfway across the village by a goose. But when it came to making dinner, there really weren't many people who could help.
The seven guests stood in a room and stared at the raw ingredients piled up on the table.
"How about we order takeout?" Ye Xiaohan suggested.
"No takeout," the director said. His refusal was swift and merciless.
"I can try to cook," Gu Wei said. "I'm not really good, though. I can only make a few simple dishes."
"Then I'll help you," Jiang Ying offered, moving to stand next to him.
Gu Wei tried his hand at making a soup while Jiang Ying 'helped' by standing near him and staring at him the whole time.
"Is there something you want to say to me?" Gu Wei asked. He could feel someone's eyes on him constantly. Wherever he moved, Jiang Ying's gaze would follow.
"Gu Wei, lately… you've been in a pretty good mood, haven't you? Jiang Ying started. "What have you been up to lately?"
Faced with this surprising bout of concern from his nemesis, Gu Wei decided to plainly speak the truth: "I've been filming for 'Like the Moon'."
"Oh?" Jiang Ying said.
Gu Wei looked over his shoulder and gave Jiang Ying an inquisitive look.
Jiang Ying continued, "What do you plan on doing after you finish filming this show?"
"I'm going back to keep working on the drama," Gu Wei said.
Gu Wei looked back at him again, still curious, still confused.
He had no idea what to make of this 'Oh?' sound that kept falling out of Jiang Ying's mouth. Before he got a chance to ask, he saw Jiang Ying glance over at the cameras. Then Jiang Ying scooted closer until he was right at Gu Wei's side.
"Gu Wei," Jiang Ying started. "Have you fallen in love lately?"
Gu Wei froze.
When Jiang Ying asked that question, his first thought was naturally of Jiang Xun. After Gu Wei finished filming this show, Jiang Xun would also have finished playing in his tournament, and the two of them could meet up in C City.
Gu Wei couldn't stop a tiny smile from curving his lips.
But the kitchen was full of cameras. Even if Gu Wei had something to say, he couldn't say it there. It would have to wait until after they finished filming the show. So, Gu Wei turned, aware of where all the cameras were, and confidently shook his head.
His nemesis furrowed his brows even more deeply and fixed him with a scrutinizing look.