T.ATW's official Weibo account released the surveillance footage at nine in the evening. That just so happened to be a time when Weibo saw relatively heavy traffic each day.
At 9:45 that same evening, Jiang Xun shared the post.
At 10:00 that night, Gu Wei liked Jiang Xun's post.
Shortly after ten on the same night, the little hedgehogs finished deliberating over their response to the news. They began to share the posts made by Jiang Xun and the official T.ATW blog, adding their own feelings and opinions.
[I want to cry. I just knew Gu Wei, with his dancing skills, wouldn't copy anyone's choreography.]
[Thank you, Jiang Xun. Thank you, everyone in T.ATW. Thank you, nemesis. We've really been attacked for this for far too long.]
[@ everyone who attacked Gu Wei over this, you owe Gu Wei an apology.]
[Little Weilai, please be sure to enjoy a bright future.]
At that point, there were three days of voting left in the season. Jiang Enyuan's numbers began to stagnate. Meanwhile, Gu Wei's votes climbed faster than ever.
The official T.ATW account's surveillance footage post received more than a hundred thousand shares and comments.
That surveillance footage and the clip released by Xuan Huitong finally gave a definitive answer to the ambiguous choreography plagiarism scandal that had already persisted for two years—
The plagiarist was Jiang Enyuan. The choreographer was Gu Wei.
And because Jiang Enyuan performed the dance in public first, because the surveillance footage from the rehearsal room was never released, Gu Wei was attacked for two whole years.
Jiang Enyuan had no way to wash his hands clean of this.
The phones at Jiang Enyuan's agency were ringing off the hook. Several celebrities who had been on relatively good terms with him hurriedly cut their ties, posting statements to say they didn't know Jiang Enyuan that well and had no idea about the choreography scandal.
The other members of T.ATW were among the first to address the matter—
@T.ATW-FuZhi: #JiangEnyuanApologize, as the captain of T.ATW, I've witnessed all of Weiwei's hard work. He truly loves dancing, from the bottom of his heart. How could you use this to attack him? @JiangEnyuan
@T.ATW-ChiYunkai: #JiangEnyuanApologize, some people really just don't have any decency.
Plus, Jiang Ying was still on the attack.
@JiangYingKANI: #JiangEnyuanApologize, since some of you netizens have bad memories, let me do a good deed and remind everyone of everything that's happened. 1 - Jiang Enyuan plagiarized Gu Wei's choreography and framed Gu Wei as the plagiarist. 2 - Jiang Enyuan obviously knew about Gu Wei's fear of sharp objects and intentionally handed Gu Wei a needle while filming a variety show with him. He hasn't apologized for this. 3 - Jiang Enyuan repeatedly brought up Gu Wei during variety shows, interviews, and so on. He deliberately stirred the pot.
By midnight, public opinion was starting to turn against several big verified accounts that had attacked Gu Wei over the choreography scandal. Those accounts hastily rushed out long letters of apology to Gu Wei, admitting they shouldn't have been so quick to believe Jiang Enyuan's hazy claims.
More and more people began to call for Jiang Enyuan to apologize on Weibo. The tag never stopped trending. At nearly two in the morning, someone posted a photo of the office building of Jiang Enyuan's agency. All the lights were on.
"Wasn't the surveillance footage deleted?!" Jiang Enyuan demanded. He and his manager were having a mighty row in one of the offices of the agency building. "They said they would protect me! Haven't I given them enough?"
For too long, his manager had been caught up in the tumultuous storm of scandals plaguing Jiang Enyuan. The manager was starting to get sick of it. "To be perfectly honest with you, you never should have taken his choreography."
"How could I not take his choreography?" Jiang Enyuan snapped. "Could I get popular with the paltry resources they dedicated to me? If I didn't push him down and pull myself up, if I didn't make people sympathize with me, could my popularity have grown this much?"
"What about Gu Wei?" His manager's expression was gradually turning cold. "You turned him into a controversial idol, but he still worked hard and became popular. And he can choreograph a dance. What can you do?"
Jiang Enyuan suddenly deflated, as though losing the will to fight. He collapsed on the couch. "But… he has T.ATW, and he has Jiang Xun. Even that guy Jiang Ying is helping him out. I… I have nothing."
"It's good that you know you have nothing," his manager said. "No one will protect you now. Things have changed. Just apologize and come back to the industry in a few years. Maybe, by then, people will have forgotten about this."
"But I'm only an internet celebrity," Jiang Enyuan said defeatedly. "I haven't succeeded in becoming a proper actor yet. If I come back in a few years, no one will remember me."
"You're not the only artist I'm in charge of. I have other business to attend to. Once you've thought things through, go talk to the PR department by yourself."
The manager had been in charge of many celebrities before, and he had many others to work with. He was in no mood to listen to Jiang Enyuan complain any longer. He turned and left the room.
"It's not as serious as you people think," Jiang Enyuan mumbled. "My fans would never abandon me. They obviously love me too much."
The next morning, several of Jiang Enyuan's biggest fans formally stated they would no longer follow him. One of them even issued a long statement.
@Inactive Ex-Fan Account: An idol should be a beacon of hope for their fans. A shining light. We spend our time and energy supporting them because we hope to see them grow and become outstanding people in their field. That way, we know it was worth spending all that time supporting them. I spent three years following Jiang Enyuan, and now I think it wasn't worth it at all. I feel disgusted. Plagiarising someone else's choreography is an awful thing, and framing the original choreographer as the plagiarist is even worse. I want to formally apologize to @T.ATW-GuWei, and I'll be supporting you in the rankings. Good luck.
This was one of the more level-headed fans who'd left Jiang Enyuan's family. Many others were nowhere near as civil.
By now, the whole entertainment industry was aware of the truth behind the plagiarism scandal. The name Jiang Enyuan was inexorably tied to the matter, and it became a shameful thing to even be his fan.
"I heard the fans who bought his album are all demanding refunds. And tons of people are returning products from the cosmetics brand he endorsed a while back. All his business partners are talking shit about him," Chi Yunkai reported. It was early in the morning, and he was in a spectacularly good mood. "This really sucks for 'From Whence You Came'. The script wasn't bad, and the director was pretty good. It was just that their lead actor got caught up in scandal after scandal after scandal.
"Everyone is review bombing the show now. What director is ever going to want to work with him again?"
"His agency definitely won't give him any more support at this point, and no one wants to collaborate with him. They all fear he'll drag them down," Fu Zhi said. "Besides, he doesn't really have any talents except selling his sob story. His fans aren't overly attached to him. He's ruined."
"Weiwei, hurry up and eat breakfast." Shi Xinyan tossed Gu Wei a bread roll. "How are you gonna practice your flips if you don't eat?"
"The theme for our April concerts has been decided," Fu Zhi said as he entered the rehearsal room. "The manager told me the tour will be called, 'The Clouds Part'."
"'The Clouds Part'?" Luo Chenxuan echoed from where he was leaning against the wall. "Good name."
The members of T.ATW were focused solely on preparing for their upcoming concert. Their manager had cleared their schedules, denying all requests for interviews in order to let them rehearse in peace. Xueqing Entertainment made no statement on the issue of the plagiarism scandal.
T.ATW could no longer be affected by the turbulent drama unfolding in the world outside their rehearsal room. There was no need for them to address anything. The case was closed. There was no question of whether or not Jiang Enyuan was the plagiarist.
Around noon, Jiang Enyuan's agency finally released Jiang Enyuan's statement of apology. The words were full of emotion. Jiang Enyuan wrote that he had been plagued by anxiety every day since he took Gu Wei's choreography. He deeply regretted doing such a thing.
At the same time, he stated the incident with the needle on their variety show hadn't been intentional.
Finally, at the end of his statement, Jiang Enyuan apologized to Gu Wei and wrote that he had been so viciously attacked these past few days that he was on the verge of an emotional breakdown.
Netizens soon emerged, all expressing the same sentiment:
Apology not accepted.
[This isn't an apology. This is an attempt to turn himself into the victim.]
[He didn't even write this himself, did he? I can't detect any trace of sincerity. He needs to face this properly. This is an extremely serious matter.]
[Forget it, it's no use waiting for him to apologize. I wish him a very happy fuck off.]
[He's about to have an emotional breakdown? What about Gu Wei, then? Gu Wei has been attacked by netizens for two years, and he didn't even do anything wrong. How can you even compare what you're experiencing to what he endured for so long?]
That afternoon, Manager Zhao received a call about the movie she'd chosen for Gu Wei. But when she went to T.ATW's dormitory to look for him, she didn't find him anywhere.
"Where'd he go?" she asked.
"Rehearsal room," said Chi Yunkai.
"Kitchen," said Shi Xinyan at the exact same time.
"Bedroom," said Luo Chenxuan, also at the exact same time.
Manager Zhao heaved a sigh. "…alright. I get it."
Gu Wei had taken advantage of their lunch break and gone out to see Jiang Xun.
A certain recently-retired person with too much free time on his hands was currently wandering around TMW's training room. He turned around just in time to see Gu Wei appear in the doorway.
"You guys talk," Yi Qing encouraged. She was wearing one of TMW's team uniforms. Seeing Gu Wei, she formed a shape of a heart with both hands, then returned her full concentration to her training.
Jiang Xun led Gu Wei down a long corridor, then pushed Gu Wei into his own dorm room and closed the door.
"You snuck out?" Jiang Xun asked. He closed the curtains, obscuring the asparagus fern on the windowsill.
"Yep, for lunch." Gu Wei thought back a little to the gesture Yi Qing had made earlier. He copied the same heart shape with his own hands, forming a big heart for Jiang Xun while swaying lightly. "Why aren't you surprised?"
"Actually," Jiang Xun admitted, somewhat begrudgingly, "your manager just called me."
"Huh?" Gu Wei hadn't expected to be busted for sneaking out so quickly.
"She said T.ATW will be going on tour very, very soon and I'm not allowed to touch you." Jiang Xun sighed helplessly. "At least, what's roughly what she meant."
"It's okay," Gu Wei reassured. "I only planned on coming over to look at you, anyway."
That wasn't especially reassuring to Jiang Xun. He fixed Gu Wei with a stern look and said, "Little Weilai, do you still remember what I said when I dropped you off at your agency a while ago?"
Gu Wei said nothing.
"Although it isn't much, I did buy some stock in your agency," Jiang Xun said. "One of our artists, slipping out in the middle of the day… professionally speaking, shouldn't he be punished?"
"What about privately speaking?" Gu Wei asked hopefully.
"Privately speaking, you delivered yourself to my doorstep and told me you're only here to look, not touch. That makes me want to punish you even more."
Gu Wei couldn't win an argument against him. He'd slipped out at lunch because he was worried Jiang Xun had been working too hard these past few days. But he hadn't expected Jiang Xun to catch him and bully him with a string of nonsense again.
"After your tour, let's go public," Jiang Xun said. He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled Gu Wei close. "We don't have to rush to get married, that's up to you. But we need to let people know you're mine. If anyone wants you to film a kiss scene in the future, they'll have to think of me first."
"Okay. Then I'll be sure to make lots of money for you in the future." Gu Wei ducked his head and snuck a peek at the ring on his own finger. Somewhat hesitantly, he asked, "So… I'll go back now?"
"No way," Jiang Xun said. "I can't 'touch' you, but I can get a little closer."
"Closer?" Gu Wei started to think about what that meant. Would a kiss…
Before he could finish thinking, Jiang Xun forcefully tugged him down to sit in his lap.
"Your manager said I'm not allowed to leave hickeys and I'm not allowed to completely tire you out. You have to be in your best condition for your concert," Jiang Xun said, listing out all of Manager Zhao's demands. "Then, what can I do? How should I make you like me even more?"
Jiang Xun tugged the zipper of Gu Wei's sweater down and snuck his hands under the hem. He laid his palms flat against Gu Wei's back, through the fabric of his shirt. The pressure drew a fleeting shudder from Gu Wei.
"My little Weilai, you will definitely have a promising future," Jiang Xun murmured. He couldn't possibly be deterred now. Without another word, he ducked his head and pressed a fierce kiss to Gu Wei's neck.
Gu Wei wasn't thinking clearly, and he couldn't focus on this promise of a promising future at all. The only thought running through his head—
Hadn't they promised no hickeys?
In the last three days of the voting season, the vast majority of Jiang Enyuan's fans gave up. He quickly fell out of the Top 10. Meanwhile, Gu Wei's votes continued to climb.
On the final day of the season, Gu Wei surged into first place.