Gu Wei looked at the string of 'IT'S NOT REAL' comments on his phone and couldn't help but laugh out loud.
"What's so funny?" the makeup artist asked. "Didi, you look so nice when you smile. No wonder there are so many fans of your face."
"I'm watching my new variety show," Gu Wei said. "There are some… surprising parts."
The sixth installment of Wandering with You did indeed give Gu Wei a surprise. Besides that one… alarming train of thought that had come out after the episode, the comments could all be considered pretty nice and civil. It was the first time Gu Wei had appeared in the same frame as Jiang Enyuan without being viciously attacked online.
Netizen 1: I'm a Jiang Ying fan, but I'm starting to think Gu Wei isn't that bad. He even helped our gege chase away that evil goose. Maybe there was some misunderstanding about the dance plagiarism stuff? It's not like Jiang Enyuan ever came out with any evidence. He just said something super vague like 'oh it sort of looks similar' or whatever. If he's just trying to make Gu Wei look bad, that's going too far.
Netizen 2: Just a passerby, but I'm a Gu Wei fan now! I don't know what Jiang Ying asked him in the kitchen, but he suddenly smiled, and that was just way too cute. I've seen some of T.ATW's performances on Weibo before, and I feel like Gu Wei almost never smiles?
Netizen 3: Their agency requires the lead dancer to be sweet and sultry on stage, but us little hedgehogs know Gu Wei is really the nicest person ever! He spoils us fans so much. He's always telling us not to spend too much money or stay up all night. It's not so easy to find such a caring idol, you know.
Netizen 4: I was in such a bad mood today, and now I'm feeling way better. Seeing my favorite idol always makes me feel like life is worth struggling through. The part in the kitchen was too funny! What was Jiang Ying 'oh'-ing about? Ahhh, I really laughed my ass off there, hahahahaha, was he confused about something that he just couldn't figure out?
Netizen 5: I got so excited when all the guests started singing together! For one thing, getting to see Gu Wei and Jiang Ying sing together is like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But more importantly! Did you guys notice how when everyone else said 'TMW is awesome', Gu Wei said 'Jiang Xun is the best'? My fellow 'FoodForXunWei' shippers, I feel like their relationship has just evolved!
The fans had even picked up on details that Gu Wei himself didn't notice—
Netizen 6: 'Wandering' fans, do you guys remember the fifth part in northern Europe, where Jiang Enyuan said Gu Wei's English wasn't any good? After that part came out, so many people were dissing Gu Wei for being poorly educated. But listen to him! When he sang that English song in this part, his pronunciation was perfect. I have to admit, even as a top-ranking university student, my English pronunciation isn't as good as his.
Netizen 7: Yeah! I noticed that too, and I was thinking about the exact same thing when I saw that bit. Jiang Enyuan's fans talk trash about Gu Wei being 'uneducated' all the time, but what do they have to say about it now, hmmm? Honestly, I feel like there must have been a good reason for Gu Wei dropping out of school.
Netizen 8: I'm a little hedgehog, but this just turned me into a Jiang Ying fan too! His bad temper is the real deal, he butted heads with Jiang Enyuan a bunch of times, in plain sight! I really have to admire that.
Netizen 9: I was just about to say the same thing. Jiang Ying is so fierce, and Jiang Enyuan isn't brave enough to fire back at him. I'm seriously so sick of hearing about that whole dance plagiarism thing. I see antis talking about it every time I search for Gu Wei's name, and I really think it's weird that Jiang Enyuan keeps steering their conversations in that direction. Jiang Ying said exactly what I was thinking!
"You're still on Weibo?"
The voice came from above Gu Wei. Jiang Xun had stopped next to him; he reached out to nudge Gu Wei's hands down a little. "You're holding your phone too close to your face. You should be careful to protect your eyes, kiddo."
It was only then that Gu Wei realized the makeup artist had already left. When he heard Jiang Xun's voice, his first instinct was to hide his phone, but Jiang Xun caught his hand before he could.
"Is it something to do with the variety show?" Jiang Xun asked. "You don't have to hide that. I already know. Jiang Ying sent me a little essay about it just now."
"An essay?" Gu Wei asked.
"You can see for yourself." Jiang Xun passed his own phone over to Gu Wei. "It's pretty interesting."
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Jiang Xun? Hello? Jiang Xun? Are you there? Are you there?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Please find my formal confession of guilt and apology statement below—
[Big-Clawed Crab]: 1. I shouldn't have gotten too close to Gu Wei while filming our variety show, I shouldn't have asked him if he'd fallen in love lately when we were in the kitchen, I shouldn't have cracked all those walnuts, and I shouldn't have shared some of those walnuts with Gu Wei, but I also didn't want any of those other idiots to have any walnuts (just so you know how I feel).
[Big-Clawed Crab]: 2. I shouldn't have stolen Gu Wei's pillow when he was sleeping and caused him to wake up with a stiff neck, and I shouldn't have acted like I didn't know anything about it the next morning. That was really, truly… my bad.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: 3. I completely support my big brother's major life changes and decisions, I completely support your engagement, my big brother is not a manwhore, and I'm not a bad person either, but when it comes to fighting for the necessary industry connections and rankings, I won't back down.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: FriendsForever.jpg
And 100K Volts had left him on read.
Gu Wei stared at that massive wall of text.
His rival's desire to survive this whole ordeal without being scolded half to death was really fierce.
"Take a look at this one, too." Jiang Xun loaded up a different chat log on his phone for Gu Wei. "From that rookie, Sunny. It's also pretty interesting."
[sunny]: RED ALERT. An evil cult is rising on Weibo.
[sunny]: I will always, ALWAYS support you and Weiwei.
[sunny]: Captain, don't hold back. Advance! Get your man! I can't wait!
[sunny]: You can take any of the merch you find in my dorm room, and if you miss him too much and can't stand it, just bring Gu Wei back to our dorm for a few days.
Gu Wei stared at those messages for a long while too.
That was a shipper alright. Identification complete.
There was seriously a shipper embedded inside Team TMW.
That explained why Yi Qing had been so deeply affected when she saw Gu Wei coming out of Jiang Xun's dorm room.
That also explained why Yi Qing had gotten so worked up when that one guy from T&K dissed Jiang Xun and Gu Wei on Weibo.
"You did a great job on the variety show this time," Jiang Xun said. "You don't need to worry about your charisma or anything like that. You got lots of screentime. The director clearly knows you're a star."
Jiang Xun seemed to be right about that. Soon after the sixth installment of 'Wandering With You' was released for VIP viewers, a video compilation featuring clips of Gu Wei circulated wildly through social media. The compilation had been made by one of his little hedgehogs, and they'd titled it 'The Heartwarming Smiles of Gu Weiwei'.
@Little Hedgehog's Arare: Look at our little Weiwei, he's really not haughty or cold at all! He's not rude, either. Really take a good look at Weiwei's heartwarming moments, everyone!
"I'm done for," Jiang Xun suddenly said. "This is going to make me squee."
"What school are you learning all this cursed vocab from?" Gu Wei asked, unable to stop himself from laughing. All the moroseness he had felt after shooting that last scene for his drama disappeared from his mind.
The compilation was very well-made. In the car, on the way back to his hotel, Gu Wei kept watching the clip over and over again.
The little hedgehog who'd made the compilation seemed to be Gu Wei's long-time fan. It included recent clips as well as ones from back when he'd first debuted. There were some moments that even Gu Wei had forgotten about.
Moments like, the small smiles he had flashed to his fans when he was still a rookie.
The winks and hearts he would throw to the crowd from the stage.
The way he smiled secretively, to himself, while hunting for clues with Jiang Xun on Escape Without a Trace.
Gu Wei never realized that he had such a warm smile.
"Look, Weiwei," Jiang Xun said. "Your fans adore you because you give them strength. Your fans do, and I do. You're needed and you're loved."
Those words clearly weren't ones of empty praise. They were full of meaning, of warmth.
Gu Wei suddenly realized Jiang Xun was trying to reassure him after what had just happened.
"I'm fine," Gu Wei said. "If I can be useful and needed, then I'll smile for you every day from now on."
"Not good enough." Jiang Xun noticed Gu Wei was in a better mood now, and instantly started up his teasing again. "If your fiancé said he would smile for you every day, would you be satisfied with just that?"
"Then…" Gu Wei couldn't help but think that Jiang Xun had a good point, but when he really thought about it, he felt like something wasn't quite right. "Then what else should I do? Should I give you a wink every day too?"
But Gu Wei already had his reservations about that when he remembered what had happened the last time he winked at Jiang Xun. Would he be pushed down in bed and bullied again?
So, while Jiang Xun was distracted, Gu Wei decided on a compromise all on his own. He scooted over and kissed Jiang Xun on the cheek again. Exactly the same spot as last time. And, just like last time, Gu Wei got ready to run as soon as his lips brushed Jiang Xun's cheek.
But the space inside the car was too small. This time, Gu Wei was captured by Jiang Xun right away. Jiang Xun pressed him down on the back seat, looming over him. His hands traveled from Gu Wei's waist to the base of his spine, then moved even lower, giving his backside a firm squeeze.
"Wh…" Gu Wei was shocked to the point of trembling all over, unable to form any words or sounds except that soft exhale. He cast a wide-eyed look at Jiang Xun, silently pleading for mercy.
"God Xun," Mu Yue called out from the front seat, finally unable to sit back and watch any longer. "We're almost at the hotel. Please stop for a while and play once you arrive. I promise no one will disturb you today."
Gu Wei took that opportunity to slip away and scamper over to the other side of the car, sticking to the door and staying far, far away from the big pervert next to him.
Security had been tightened around the hotel, and they'd done a good job of ensuring no stalkers or stragglers hung around. Gu Wei didn't realize how weak his legs were until he went to climb out of the car and staggered, only to be caught by Jiang Xun.
"Do your legs hurt?" Jiang Xun asked.
It was only then that Gu Wei remembered the countless takes he'd done of the balcony jump earlier that afternoon. The pain in his legs didn't register until now.
He held onto Jiang Xun's sleeve as they quickly made their way inside the hotel, both wearing sunglasses and face masks. On their way, they brushed past He Cheng, who had also just gotten out of a car. He Cheng's gaze lingered on Jiang Xun for a long moment, his eyes filling with a deep, thoughtful look.
Jiang Xun, however, didn't seem to notice him at all. He pulled Gu Wei closer to his side, and the two of them disappeared into the hotel.
"Let me see your legs," Jiang Xun said once they were inside Gu Wei's room, with the door closed behind them.
"I should be fine…" Gu Wei was an optimist, and he really didn't think it was anything to worry about until Jiang Xun rolled up the legs of his pants, revealing big, splotchy bruises that had spread all over his knees.
Gu Wei stared.
In truth, his waist also hurt pretty bad. While filming that scene, he'd knocked over a table in his frantic escape. The director had praised him for his good acting, saying it looked very natural, but that was because it had been natural. It hadn't been a stunt; Gu Wei really had run into the table, hard enough to hurt himself.
"What kind of filming is this?" Jiang Xun chided. "You look like you've been through hell."
After gently scolding Gu Wei a little, Jiang Xun called Mu Yue and asked her to bring up some medicine.
"Your mood was in a bad state earlier this afternoon, too," Jiang Xun remarked. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"This afternoon…" There was still an obstruction in Gu Wei's heart, keeping him from freely discussing the matter. "I actually… struggled with that scene. But once I really got into character, I just… couldn't figure out how to walk back out of Miao Zihan's life."
Jiang Xun had read the screenplay. He knew all about Miao Zihan's character, and he knew exactly what that scene had been about.
Miao Zihan's parents were divorced, and Jiang Xun had never once heard Gu Wei talk about his own mother. Even the matter of their engagement had been arranged by that air-headed father of his, without consulting Gu Wei at all.
Jiang Xun really didn't think much of Gu Wei's father. A reliable parent wouldn't have come up with some frivolous idea like sending their child into the entertainment industry as soon as their child showed symptoms of clinical depression.
"Let's not talk about me anymore," Gu Wei said. After being stared at by Jiang Xun for so long, he'd started to feel embarrassed. "What are you doing here today?"
"I came to teach you a lesson," Jiang Xun said, still a little irritated. "I should spank you for being a bad boy. Not only did you spark up a demented new ship, you even hurt yourself while filming."
Gu Wei was silent.
That answer was way too fierce for him to cope with.
"Ge, my legs hurt right now, so how about you forgive me this once?" Gu Wei suggested. He felt pretty secure in haggling over his punishment right now, because he was confident Jiang Xun wouldn't actually bully him in his current condition.
Jiang Xun, in the end, told Gu Wei his real reason for visiting that day: "My mom got pretty pissed about the stalker incident, where He Cheng's fans tried to make you look like the bad guy. Then she heard from somewhere that He Cheng bought his way into this show, and that he wasn't focusing on his work either. That pissed her off even more. She even changed her avatar to a blowfish."
Gu Wei was a little stunned. "Auntie…"
"That auntie said if He Cheng is paying his way, then we can do the same thing and sponsor this production. In the future, if he doesn't do his job properly, we'll tell him to fuck off." Jiang Xun studied Gu Wei's reaction for a moment before he added, "That's why my mom sent me here, anyway."
Gu Wei had always thought Song Jingxi was a warm and gentle person. He'd never imagined she could be so fierce when holding a grudge.
"Is that what you talked to the director about?" Gu Wei asked, finally starting to understand the reason for Jiang Xun's visit.
"Yeah, pretty much." Jiang Xun nodded. "But he did also make one little request of me."
"What?" Gu Wei asked, perking up with curiosity.
"You're about to shoot the part where Miao Zihan goes to the rookie selection camp for an esports team, right?" Jiang Xun said. "Your director is hoping I can make a few cameos in those scenes."
Gu Wei's eyes went wide.