Right in front of Assistant Chen's eyes, Miao Ye groused and lamented over the abuse he had just suffered.
"He's too fierce. If he had to be all aggro with me out in the hall, fine. But he was still hella aggressive in the audition! I feel like I get why he's infamous now." As soon as Miao Ye finished saying this, he hastily looked around himself as though to make sure he was alone.
Not seeing Jiang Ying, he continued, "We agreed on an amount for this job, but you and Jiang-zong need to compensate me for psychological and spiritual damage. I'm not just trying to squeeze more cash out of you. He was honestly too rough! My soul is literally trying to flee my body! He hit me in all my weak spots. I legit need to go see a psychiatrist right now."
After hanging up, Miao Ye leaned back against the wall to take a breather. It was just then that he spotted Assistant Chen.
"It's not easy making money," Assistant Chen said sympathetically, moving closer and patting Miao Ye on the shoulder. "And making money off this Jiang family… that's the biggest challenge of them all."
"It's too hard," Miao Ye sighed, shaking his head. "I thought this would be a nice gig to make a quick buck, but I'm seriously close to walking away with major PTSD."
The two men who worked for the Jiang family in various capacities shared a knowing look. They could understand each other's woes perfectly, without ever exchanging a word.
Because Jiang Ying was still preoccupied with other matters, he arrived at his middle school reunion long before it was due to start. Only a few others had arrived earlier and started chatting in little clusters of twos and threes.
Qi Jun was already there, but Zheng Yinyin and the others had yet to arrive. Jiang Ying took off his hat and face mask when he entered, then found a place to sit.
As soon as he made his appearance, the already-lively room got even livelier.
"Jiang Ying! I see you trending every other day, I feel like I haven't missed you at all!"
"Come here, Jiang #2. Let me get your autograph. My nine-year-old little sister wants it."
"Nine-year-olds shouldn't be neglecting their homework to chase idols," Jiang Ying admonished as he took the autograph board from his old classmate and scrawled out his name.
"Is Qi Zhu not coming?" Qi Jun asked. "I sat in front of you two back in middle school. You fought like cats and dogs every day."
"I don't think he's coming," Jiang Ying said, shaking his head. "I called him the other day, and he seems pretty busy with work."
Qi Jun sighed. "Even big celebrities can get busy, huh?"
"I'm not like him," Jiang Ying stated plainly. "I'm on the road to ruin, and I'm totally at peace with that."
Though he had known Jiang Ying for many years, Qi Jun still couldn't wrap his head around how 'at peace' Jiang Ying could be with these things. "I don't get you. You don't like singing, you don't like acting. Why did you enter the entertainment industry anyway?"
"Because I like the entertainment industry," Jiang Ying declared, like that should have been obvious. "It's interesting."
He'd never had a knack for acting, and he'd never banked on becoming a successful actor. But he knew all the juiciest scandals of the entertainment industry like the back of his own hand. Whenever there was a fight, he was there. Glowing like a beacon, ready to get in on the action.
It was a good thing Qi Zhu wouldn't be coming to the reunion. Jiang Ying decided that, before the party really got started, he would take some time to finally clear Boss Crab's name.
"You're still playing this game?" Qi Jun asked when he glanced over at Jiang Ying's cell phone screen. "I deleted this app, like, three years ago. It wasn't helping me vent anger, it was just making me angrier. I'm telling you, you'll add years to your lifespan if you get rid of it."
"Why would I get rid of it? It's super interesting. Keeping your thoughts bottled up is no good. You'll live to be a hundred if you properly vent your anger," Jiang Ying said as he logged in. "Come, check out my wicked skills."
Jiang Ying had been using Boss Crab as his 'Fight!' account for three years. And in those three years, he had fought his way to the top of the leaderboard.
On the overall rankings, Jiang Ying was ninth. But in terms of activity, he was in the Top 3. The player who held tenth place in the overall rankings, sunny, was also one of the three most active players.
Qi Jun was almost at a loss for words when he saw Jiang Ying's stats. "Why hasn't anyone in the entertainment industry put out a variety show about arguing?"
"Hey, good idea." Jiang Ying stared unblinkingly at his cell phone screen, falling deep into thought. "How about you invest in one? I would definitely participate."
Qi Jun shook his head. "Weren't you going to show me your wicked skills?"
Jiang Ying hummed his acknowledgement and once more chose 'Subject Fight' from the app's homepage. Then he selected 'Entertainment Industry' as his category and said, "I'll show you the appeal of this app. Just watch."
This would just be a fun match before the reunion really got going. Jiang Ying wasn't expecting to get a question relating to Qi Zhu again. After the app matched him with an opponent, it started shuffling through its database of questions.
"I'll just let the game choose a random topic. If it's related the entertainment industry, there's nothing I can't fight about," Jiang Ying explained to Qi Jun. "Most of the questions in here are like free wins for me."
The match commenced, and the randomly chosen question appeared on Jiang Ying's cell phone screen—
Does Jiang Ying's acting suck?
Qi Jun fell silent.
Jiang Ying slowly typed a question mark into the chat box.