Gu Wei had been subjected to this 'Oh?' from Jiang Xun so many times now that a chill ran down his spine. So—
"Oh?" Gu Wei echoed.
"Then you and…" Jiang Ying gave him a suspicious look, but soon spotted the cameras behind Gu Wei, and decided to swallow back what he had been about to ask.
"The egg and tomato soup is ready," Gu Wei said, also deciding it was a good time to change the subject. "Everyone can get ready to eat."
Jiang Ying gave up his line of questioning for the time being and fetched a few bowls to start ladling out the soup.
Dinner couldn't be called extravagant, but to the guests who had been starved for a whole day, it was more than good enough. As they ate, they all gave Gu Wei their thanks.
There wasn't much to do in that little village. After dinner, the popular singer Yan Wanjuan, who hadn't helped cook, volunteered to wash the dishes. The other guests stayed at the table, snacking on sunflower seeds and chatting about this and that.
The group dynamic on the first installment of Escape Without a Trace had been way too good. Everyone meshed well and got along. But here, on Wandering With You, Gu Wei felt like he just wouldn't be able to find much to talk about with these people.
Gu Wei hadn't forgotten what his manager said about getting along with the special guest, though.
He decided to try one more time.
"Jiang Ying, I…" He wanted to try to chat with Jiang Ying about Jiang Xun's tournament.
Jiang Ying was in the middle of cracking walnuts with a little hammer. He brought the hammer down, and a walnut shattered to pieces. He looked up and said, "What?"
Gu Wei stared at him for a moment, then answered, "It's nothing."
His nemesis was really way too fierce. Besides the village goose, no one could stand up to him.
The camera crew was still filming, and they couldn't have the guests sit around talking all night. The director suggested they put on a little show or something, each playing to their strengths.
One of the guests was a comedian who decided to perform a monologue for the other guests, and the others were all sent into a laughing fit by the show. The atmosphere in the room instantly grew lighter and brighter. Another guest told a few funny personal stories. Then Ye Xiaohan performed a song from her new album, with everyone else clapping along to provide a beat.
Gu Wei listened while she sang, but his attention fell on his nemesis, who sat to his right, still cracking walnuts one by one. Jiang Ying just kept going at it until he had cracked open a whole basket of walnuts.
"Want some?" Jiang Ying offered. He was finally realizing that he may have cracked open too many walnuts. He obviously couldn't finish them all on his own, so he extended the offer to Gu Wei, sitting to his left.
"I'll have some," said Jiang Enyuan, from Jiang Ying's other side. He was already extending a hand to help himself to some of the walnuts.
"People who didn't cook and didn't help with the dishes don't get any," Jiang Ying declared. He quickly moved the plate away and split some walnuts with Gu Wei and Yan Wanjuan. To Jiang Enyuan, he said, "If you want some, crack them yourself."
Jiang Ying's tone was clearly half-joking, but Jiang Enyuan's face had taken on an ugly expression. It passed after a moment. Jiang Ying was notorious for his bad personality; some people thought he was just putting on an act and some people thought it was his real personality, but everyone expected some nastiness from him. Jiang Enyuan, on the other hand, had to maintain his warm and pleasant persona, so in the end he could only laugh a little and act like he wasn't bothered.
Gu Wei looked down into his own plate of cracked walnuts and felt a little conflicted.
His manager had said to get along well with the special guest.
Moreover, this wasn't just his nemesis. This was Jiang Xun's little brother. If Gu Wei and Jiang Xun were really going to get engaged, then Gu Wei really, really, really needed to mend his relationship with Jiang Ying.
So Gu Wei gave him a few almonds as thanks.
Jiang Ying blinked at the almonds that made their way onto his plate. Most likely, what he wanted to say was: Oh?
But he swallowed it back down.
Gu Wei was still pretty sure Jiang Ying had something on his mind. Jiang Ying had been staring at him all night, practically never looking away for even a second. It was only when Jiang Enyuan called for Jiang Ying to put on a performance that he finally looked up.
"Gu Wei, why don't you do a dance, too? I've seen a bunch of popular new dances online lately," Jiang Enyuan added. "You're T.ATW's lead dancer, after all. I bet it's been a long time since anyone saw a solo dance from you, right?"
Everyone knew Jiang Enyuan and Gu Wei had been rookie idols at the same time and the same agency, and everyone knew their fans had feuded over the plagiarism scandal that still remained somewhat unresolved.
Gu Wei being attacked for that piece of choreography that he was accused of plagiarizing…
Jiang Enyuan, when asked about it, answering noncommittally: "I don't know, I guess it's pretty similar."
And Jiang Enyuan giving a like to a post by a tabloid accusing Gu Wei of plagiarism.
These were things that everyone in that room knew very well.
Whenever Jiang Enyuan and Gu Wei appeared in the public eye together, tabloids inevitably brought up that old story. Now, with Jiang Enyuan bringing up the matter of dancing, there was simply no way to act like he didn't have malicious intentions.
"Aren't you tired of this shit?" Jiang Ying, who had been quiet for a while, suddenly blurted out.
Jiang Enyuan looked a little taken aback. "We used to dance together when we were rookies, I just thought I'd ask…"
"You know exactly what you're trying to imply," Jiang Ying shot back. After spitting out that accusation, he turned away from Jiang Enyuan.
Everyone was looking at Gu Wei now, waiting to see how he would react. Gu Wei, however, was a little distracted. Because Jiang Enyuan had just asked if it had been a long time since someone saw a solo dance from him.
Gu Wei knew it was bizarre, but he was unbothered by Jiang Enyuan's obvious attempts to provoke him. The one thing he did want to rebuke was that line—
He had given someone a solo dance, after all. Not that long ago, in a little dorm room. That had been a stage for him and him alone. He might have been embarrassed and shy at the time, but the feeling that rose in him when he thought of that moment… was joy.
Gu Wei suddenly didn't want to be filming a variety show anymore. He wanted to see Jiang Xun. For the past half a month, they had both been so busy that they only got to talk to each other on WeChat once in a while. It had been a long while since they last saw each other.
He hadn't been able to stay with Jiang Xun to celebrate his birthday. He wasn't able to attend Jiang Xun's tournament matches in person. He couldn't be the first one to find out whether they won or lost.
At that time, the finals should have been over already—
"Director," Gu Wei called out, turning around to look at the crew. "Did TMW win?"
"I wanna know too!" Jiang Ying exclaimed. He was suddenly full of energy and excitement as well, leaping out of his seat and getting to his feet. "Director, can you get on Weibo and check what's trending? See if my brother scored another win?"
Two of the other guests were also avid esports fans, closely following the results of the national tournament. They also perked up and turned to the director.
"TMW?" The director didn't follow esports at all, but he had at least heard the name TMW before. With so much pressure and attention suddenly focused on him, he quickly took out his phone and checked. "Yeah, they won. It says they were stable the whole way. Pretty much no contest. They won by a wide margin."
The guests in the room instantly broke out in a round of cheers.
"TMW is awesome!"
"TMW is the best!" Jiang Ying declared.
"Jiang Xun is the best!" Gu Wei said at the same time.
Jiang Ying swiveled around and looked at him. "Oh?"
Gu Wei echoed, "Oh?"
Their eyes met for a split second before they quickly averted their gazes again, apparently deciding to each mind their own business for now.
No one cared about the subject of Gu Wei, Jiang Enyuan, and dancing anymore. They were all pleading with the director to let them get on their phones for a while.
"I'll sing the main theme from the 'Shou Ze' world tournament for you guys," Gu Wei offered. "That counts as a timely performance, right?"
"I know it too!" Jiang Ying chimed in. He started to tap out a rhythm on the table with his little walnut-crushing hammer.
The main theme for that year's world tournament was an English song, and it was a pretty complicated one. Gu Wei and Jiang Ying tapped out the rhythm, one of them drumming on a table and the other one knocking on a bowl. Even though neither of them were great at singing, they managed to deliver an almost perfect rendition.
It was an uplifting and inspiring song. As Gu Wei and Jiang Ying started singing, several of the other guests joined in. Near the end, the singer Yan Wanjuan piped up to deliver the final high note. Everyone gave her a rousing round of applause.
"My pitch is better than yours," Jiang Ying whispered to Gu Wei after the song was over.
"Alright, alright," Gu Wei conceded. They would be family sooner or later; he figured it would be best to be nice.
The director seemed to be pleased with this segment, and soon hinted that the guests could tackle the last challenge of the night—splitting up the bedrooms.
There were only four bedrooms in the farmhouse where they were lodging. The most famous guest would have a private room, and the others would all have to share in pairs of two.
The two female guests split off together, naturally, and picked one of the loft bedrooms. That left Gu Wei, Jiang Ying, Jiang Enyuan, and the comedian Shang Hongchen. The issue of the four of them splitting into pairs became a difficult problem to solve.
Gu Wei was pretty sure the showrunners deliberately set things up so that they would reach this conundrum. This truly was a daunting task.
"I'm not sleeping with you," Jiang Ying said, shooting Jiang Enyuan a look of unveiled disgust.
Then he turned to Gu Wei and said. "I'm not sleeping with you either."
That meant Jiang Ying would end up sharing a room with Shang Hongchen. Shang Hongchen had no problem with that.
But Gu Wei did.
Gu Wei would never in a million years share a room with Jiang Enyuan. If they shared a room, Weibo would definitely be flooded with rumors and speculation of the two of them brawling in the middle of the night.
"I never thought I'd be this popular," Shang Hongchen joked, laughing.
Since the two of them refused to share a room with Jiang Enyuan, the final outcome was inevitable. After washing up, they marched into one of the rooms. Gu Wei carried the pillows, and Jiang Ying dragged the comforters along. The two of them filed into their designated room like they were about to attend their own funeral.
The cameramen followed them, diligently recording every second.
Jiang Ying and Gu Wei stopped in the doorway to their room, dumbstruck—
The showrunners hadn't arranged for a bed to be set up in the room. There was just a tatami mat spread out on the floor, which meant the two who saw each other as fierce rivals would have to share.
"I'll take the left side?" Gu Wei offered.
"Fine." Jiang Ying nodded. "I'll take the right."
Once the two of them settled in, the cameramen checked with the director and got permission to give up on catching any more exciting footage for the evening. They set up some recording equipment to leave overnight, then slipped out of the room to let the two guests to sleep in peace.
"Lights off?" Gu Wei asked.
"Sure," Jiang Ying said.
The lights went off, and the room grew quiet. Outside, the little village was calm. Soft streaks of moonlight and the faint sounds of insects drifted in.
Simultaneously, two people in the room each flipped open the cell phone they had hidden earlier and unlocked the screen.
Jiang Xun had just gotten back to his hotel and taken a shower after his match. It was just then that he received a message from Gu Wei.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Jiang Xun, you were amazing!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: It's too bad I didn't get to watch the livestream, or I would have sent you hundreds of bullet comments!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: CuteBlush.jpg
[Husband]: You're done filming?
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Not yet, but we're done for today. We just need to do a little more tomorrow morning.
[Husband]: Then I'll have someone pick you up tomorrow afternoon.
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Okay!
[If You Love Me Please Send Me Money]: Oh, by the way, for this installment of the show, a
Gu Wei was trying to type out that there was a special guest, and that the special guest was Jiang Ying. But before he could finish typing and send the message, he felt Jiang Ying shifting restlessly behind him.
A beam of light swept over him, and Gu Wei turned around, curious.
"I'm… going to the bathroom." Jiang Ying tucked away his cell phone and slipped out of the room.
Before Jiang Xun received any other messages from Gu Wei, he got a message from his little brother.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Good game tonight.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Keep up the good work.
[100K Volts]: Why do you sound like an old balding manager checking up on my work?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Jiang Xun, let me ask you a question.
[100K Volts]: Go ahead.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Who are you talking to? Besides me.
[100K Volts]: My fiancé. I haven't seen him in a long time, so I'm spoiling him a bit.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Oh?
Big-Clawed Crab recalled a message.
Back in H City, Song Jingxi received a message from her younger son just as she was getting ready to go to bed.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Mom.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: I'm conflicted.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: I've been conflicted all day.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: But I have a conscience. So there's a serious problem I need to report to you.