The car carried Jiang Xun and Gu Wei straight into the underground parking garage of Jiang Xun's hotel. Gu Wei followed Jiang Xun into the elevator, bound for their floor.
"Weiwei, watch where you're going," Jiang Xun cautioned. He reached over and took Gu Wei's cell phone out of his hands. "Don't look at your phone while you're walking."
"I just got to the highlights, let me finish that part," Gu Wei protested, trying but failing to grab his phone back.
"You can watch when we get up to the room," Jiang Xun said. He was adamant about keeping Gu Wei's phone out of his reach. "Gu Weiwei, if you miss me that much, don't watch the recording. You're right next to the real me right now."
"It's not the same," Gu Wei argued.
Jiang Xun raised his eyebrows. "You're not still thinking that my reaction memes are better looking than me, are you?"
Gu Wei froze for a second, then: "…no, no, no. You're better. Definitely. Really."
God Xun was way too good at holding a grudge. How long ago had those words been exchanged between them? How could he still remember them?
The Jiang Xun that appeared during matches was much colder and harsher than the regular Jiang Xun. The more Gu Wei watched these games, the more he came to like that version of Jiang Xun.
And that was exactly what he told Jiang Xun.
"Got it," Jiang Xun said, nodding thoughtfully. "Weiwei likes it when I'm a little mean."
Jiang Xun opened the door to their hotel room and gave Gu Wei a light push, nudging him into the room before finally giving back his cell phone.
"Ge, I saw a gif of you from your match earlier," Gu Wei said. "From the finals. You looked out at the audience, then smiled and said something into your headset. I thought you were really cool and handsome there."
That gif had been saved by countless netizens, and all of them had taken to social media to rave about how gorgeous Jiang Xun was.
"Oh, that one," Jiang Xun said, recalling it now. "I remember. But what I said was, 'Fucking piece of shit noob.'"
Gu Wei was silent.
He probably shouldn't have mentioned it.
"By the way," Gu Wei said, changing the subject as he remembered a truly important matter. "Jiang Xun, did you tell Jiang Ying that we might be getting engaged?"
Ever since listening in on the call between Jiang Xun and Jiang Xun's mother earlier, Gu Wei had been thinking about his nemesis Jiang Ying.
"I planned on telling him, but he interrupted me every time," Jiang Xun said. "I'll tell him when I get home this time, no matter what. Are you two still rivals?"
That was exactly why Gu Wei hadn't known how to bring up a thing like this to Jiang Ying.
"I'll clear everything up with him tomorrow when I get home. No matter what, he has to accept reality," Jiang Xun said. "Have a seat, I'll massage your neck. You've been afraid of moving much this whole time, haven't you?"
Gu Wei's neck really did hurt, so he instantly sat down in front of Jiang Xun.
"Where does it hurt the most?" Jiang Xun asked.
Gu Wei pointed out the spot that bothered him the most. Soon, Jiang Xun's slightly cold hands came up to his neck, massaging lightly a few times.
It was perfect, Gu Wei thought. These were the hands of a world champion, and they were really, really, really nice hands.
"What are you thinking about?" Jiang Xun asked, noticing Gu Wei's expression. "You're smiling."
"Your matches are really great," Gu Wei deflected. "Really fun to watch."
Jiang Xun didn't pry. He continued to massage that spot on Gu Wei's neck, gradually adding more pressure bit by bit.
Eventually, Gu Wei hissed.
"Bear with it," Jiang Xun said. "How old are you already? You can still sprain your neck when you sleep?"
Gu Wei really didn't know how it had happened either. This sort of thing hadn't happened to him in a long while, and he had slept so deeply that he couldn't even begin to guess at the cause.
"Do I treat you well?" Jiang Xun teased. "A pro gamer is massaging you, you know."
"You do," Gu Wei answered instinctively. He was already distracted by his cell phone again. He'd loaded the video of the finals match back up, and the Jiang Xun on the screen was so handsome that Gu Wei answered without even thinking about it.
"Do you want to get engaged to me?" Jiang Xun continued.
"I do," Gu Wei answered, again without thinking. It was only a second later that he realized what he had said.
Jiang Xun flashed a triumphant smile and sat down next to Gu Wei. He waved his own cell phone and said, "Got it on record."
Gu Wei huffed.
This guy was too cunning!
"If you take it back…" Jiang Xun trailed off. A thought seemed to have occurred to him.
Gu Wei couldn't help but feel curious. "If I take it back, what?"
"If you take it back," Jiang Xun continued, reaching out and gently tugging on Gu Wei's earlobe, "I'll become your anti-fan."
"…you wouldn't dare," Gu Wei mumbled.
And he wouldn't dare take it back, either.
"Why is your face getting red?" Jiang Xun asked. He didn't miss a single little reaction from Gu Wei. "What are you thinking about?"
Gu Wei shook his head.
His face had indeed taken on some color just hearing Jiang Xun joke about becoming one of his anti-fans.
Gu Wei wanted to be a little braver. For his own sake, and for Jiang Xun's sake.
Ever since he met Jiang Xun, Gu Wei had gradually started to think the shadows of his past weren't so indelible. Maybe, just maybe, he could walk away from them. Maybe he could free himself of the ghosts of his past and reshape his life.
Whether it was his childhood or his future.
Everything could change.
"Ge, your phone," Gu Wei called out.
Jiang Xun's phone was making pika-pika noises again.
Jiang Xun picked it up and saw that it was another call from his mother Song Jingxi.
"Is something wrong?" Jiang Xun asked. It wasn't common for him to receive two calls from his mother in less than half a day.
There still seemed to be a goose next to Song Jingxi. She shooed it away and said, "Open the door."
"Seriously?" Jiang Xun got up. "You know where I am?"
Jiang Xun glanced over at Gu Wei and used his eyes to tell Gu Wei to stay put. Then he walked over to the entrance of their hotel suite and opened the door.
Song Jingxi and Jiang Ying were standing outside, and Jiang Ying was holding two chicken feather dusters behind his back.
Jiang Xun cocked his head to the side. "Hm?"
"You worked hard during your tournament," Song Jingxi said mildly. "We're here to visit you."
"Is there anyone else in there?" Jiang Ying asked. He pushed his way past Jiang Xun and barged into the room without waiting for an answer.
Inside, Gu Wei had finished watching the recording of the match. He was watching the post-game interviews now, and he had just gotten to the part where the interviewer asked about the member of T&K who was crushed by the rookie Sunny after picking a fight with TMW—
"T&K's players say TMW players are too arrogant," the interviewer said. "What do you think of that?"
It was just then that Gu Wei heard a set of hurried footsteps approaching from behind him. He adjusted his grip on his phone and turned around to have a look.
"I knew it," Jiang Ying declared. He was still holding those two chicken feather dusters, and he shot Jiang Xun and Gu Wei each a disappointed look.
"Jiang Xun, what you're doing here isn't right." Jiang Ying whipped out one of the chicken feather dusters and brandished it at Jiang Xun. "You're already engaged. You're acting like a manwhore right now."
Gu Wei was silent.
But it just so happened that the video on his phone was still playing. Jiang Xun's voice, answering the interviewer's question, flowed out from the phone's speakers:
"That's true, but I don't need to worry about what other people think."
Jiang Xun fell silent as well.
He hadn't anticipated things coming to a head in this way.
"You…" Jiang Ying was so mortified that he barely knew what to say. "You!"
"Oh, it's Weiwei, isn't it?" Song Jingxi said, breaking the awkward silence that had descended upon the room. "You look even better in person than you do in your pictures. Has your father already told you? I'm Auntie Song."
"This is my mother," Jiang Xun said to Gu Wei. "She went to college with your dad, and they're both screenwriters now."
Gu Wei was startled. He hadn't been prepared to meet Jiang Xun's mother so suddenly, and he was worried Auntie Song wouldn't be satisfied with the look of him. But she smiled so warmly and even looked a little apologetic.
The one who had bought some chicken feather dusters just for this moment had had enough.
Jiang Ying made a baffled, indignant noise and demanded, "What do you mean, is this Weiwei? Weiwei is my nemesis."
"Weiwei is also my fiancé," Jiang Xun said. "I kept trying to tell you, but you always interrupted me before I could."
"You called me out here in such a rush, insisting your brother was having an affair." Song Jingxi sighed. She felt a headache coming on. "Jiang Ying, didn't I already tell you? Your brother's fiancé is around your age and about as popular as you. When I told you his name, you were already rushing out the door, so you must not have heard me."
Her younger son had such an impatient personality. She had no idea when he would be able to change.
When Jiang Ying had called her to snitch, he kept saying this and that about his 'nemesis'. Although Song Jingxi was in the entertainment industry, she didn't understand all these feuds that the younger generation had between them. She'd had no idea Jiang Ying's nemesis was Gu Wei.
They were indeed similar in age and popularity. But Jiang Ying never thought it would be Gu Wei who…
It was unexpected, and yet it somehow made a little sense.
Jiang Ying suddenly thought about Jiang Xun and Gu Wei recording a variety show together. He thought about Jiang Xun liking a photo of Gu Wei on Weibo. About Jiang Xun asking him for all the dirt he had on Gu Wei.
About Gu Wei asking him to give chocolates to Jiang Xun. About Gu Wei and Jiang Xun following each other on Weibo. About Gu Wei having Jiang Xun in his phone as 'Husband'.
It suddenly seemed to Jiang Ying like he was the only one in their whole family who hadn't known about this. And it wasn't even like anyone had tried to deliberately hide it from him.
After a long, long pause, Jiang Ying finally realized what the YellowPictures.zip file package had been all about.
"What the fuck?" Jiang Ying blurted out.
Feathers, flying loose from the dusters, scattered all over the floor.