The room suddenly felt silent, and the air seemed to grow colder.
On the other side of the table, Xuan Huitong choked on a mouthful of orange juice and couldn't stop coughing.
Miao Ye bit his tongue while chomping down on some pig's trotters. It hurt so bad he could barely breathe.
"Me? You're asking about me?" Jiang Ying's smile had frozen on his face. He could hear the question beneath Qi Zhu's question. The implication. Scooting closer, he brought his lips to Qi Zhu's ear and whispered, low enough that only the two of them could hear, "What do you think?"
Obviously, Jiang Xun had his video games, and Jiang Ying had his fights. After not loading up the 'Fight!' app in several days, Jiang Ying felt downright miserable.
"I got it," Qi Zhu said. "Sit down, you little keyboard imp."
Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu had grown up feuding. They were used to having this sort of exchange, and they didn't think they'd done anything out of the ordinary. But to the other celebrities gathered at the table, it was a rather inconceivable sight.
Miao Ye, for example, opened up Weibo several times during dinner to confirm with his own eyes that Jiang Ying's fans and Qi Zhu's fans were still fighting.
Qi Zhu's Fan: You still don't get it? Your little idol is just a whiny baby. Our gege is so much more mature, so much more charming.
Jiang Ying's Fan: Pah! You'll simp over anyone who's hot and mature, is that it? Our Shadow actually has some substance to him. You know, you're the ones who keep starting shit with us. We wouldn't bother with you if you'd just settle down.
Qi Zhu's Fan: We'll knock that empty head off your shoulders.
Jiang Ying's Fan: Come at me. You're dead meat.
The fierce battle raged on. Meanwhile, the owner of the 'Boss Crab' account that had started the war was nowhere to be found. It seemed he was hiding from the storm.
Across the table, Jiang Ying wasn't finished with Qi Zhu yet. He was just getting ready to add a few snide remarks when he suddenly looked down and saw that the food he'd dished out to Qi Zhu had disappeared. His own soup bowl, however, had been filled with a scoop of vegetable soup. A few bok choy leaves were even floating on the surface.
Jiang Ying's number one most hated food: vegetable soup with bok choy.
Furthermore, two little mushrooms had appeared on his plate without his notice. He didn't really like mushrooms either.
Jiang Ying furrowed his brow.
Qi Zhu was listening intently to a conversation the screenwriter was having. He even politely offered his own opinion every now and then. He was completely oblivious to Jiang Ying's perplexity; he either didn't notice or didn't care.
"Huihui-jie," Miao Ye whispered to Xuan Huitong, who belonged to the same agency as Jiang Ying. "If you had a bad relationship with someone, would you memorize every single thing they didn't like to eat?"
"If you've noticed something, keep it to yourself," Xuan Huitong advised calmly, unperturbed by the scene unfolding on the other side of the table. "Let them do their thing."
"This is Yu Yunzhi, the original author of 'An Auspicious Snow'," Qi Zhu said to Jiang Ying, gesturing to someone sitting not far from them. "If there's anything you don't understand, you can ask him."
It just so happened that Jiang Ying didn't care much for small talk over the dinner table, so he made his way over to chat with the author of 'An Auspicious Snow'. Yu Yunzhi seemed to be the quiet type. He exuded a calm, distant sort of aura, but when Jiang Ying approached, the author lifted a hand and waved.
Jiang Ying was pretty surprised. He'd assumed the author of a novel like 'An Auspicious Snow' would have seen and experienced a lot in life. But it seemed Yu Yunzhi was pretty close to Jiang Ying in age.
"Hiya," Jiang Ying greeted. "I just wanna get this out of the way first. My acting sucks. I might not be able to do your character justice."
"Oh, that won't be a problem," Yu Yunzhi said. "Do you remember what you once said on Weibo? About how you'd rather live a happier, freer life than those celebrities who always wear a mask for the public? Ever since then, I've only imagined you for this role."
Jiang Ying did remember. Back then, some anti-fan was berating him for not keeping up a respectable public persona. Jiang Ying had shot back that these personas were all just masks constructed by each celebrity's agency. Since he'd already shattered his own agency-assigned persona beyond recognition, he figured he may as well live freely.
"Compared to Luo Nanke, I like Xuan Moling more," Yu Yunzhi said, smiling. "I don't know much about acting, but you just be yourself."
"Why do I get the feeling you aren't very happy?" Jiang Ying suddenly blurted out.
"Let's go. I'll take you home," Qi Zhu interrupted. He'd come up behind Jiang Ying at some point, and the rest of the dinner guests were already on their way out.
To Yu Yunzhi, Qi Zhu added, "Are you fine on your own? Do you need to wait for someone to come for you?"
"I'll be fine getting back on my own." Yu Yunzhi waved them off. "You guys go ahead."
"I feel like he isn't happy," Jiang Ying said as he and Qi Zhu made their way back to the underground parking lot. "He can't live freely, so he wants the characters in his books to live unbridled lives on his behalf."
"A very unique theory." Qi Zhu nodded. "Your acting will decide whether that message comes through in the drama."
"Too bad I can't act." Jiang Ying sighed.
"I actually look forward to it," Qi Zhu said.
"To what? You look forward to me ruining the whole show with my crappy acting?"
Qi Zhu didn't say anything else.
The elevator reached the first underground level. Upon stepping out, Jiang Ying spotted that flashy car in the distance and was once again reminded of how ludicrously elegant Qi Zhu had looked when he'd picked Jiang Ying up earlier that evening.
As a man, as a human being, Jiang Ying couldn't take a loss like that. Next time, he would show off a bit too.
Jiang Xun, who was very busy with work, suddenly received a WeChat text from his little brother.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: CuteBlush.jpg
[100K Volts]: You're in a good mood after dinner?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Ge! I want a supercar.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Please make sure it's a bright and flashy color.
[100K Volts]: ???
[100K Volts]: PikachuRage.jpg
The filming schedule for the drama had been set, and the cast and crew were due to report in soon. Not long after Jiang Ying got home, 'An Auspicious Snow' released its official cast announcement.
@AnAuspiciousSnowTVOfficial: Baobei, we've kept you waiting. The official cast announcement is finally here. Luo Nanke, Qi Zhu. Hang Xiaoxiao, Xuan Huitong. Si Meng, Yi Jiayu. And everyone's favorite antagonist, Xuan Moling will be played by JiangYingKANI. Production will begin soon, and the drama is expected to air this fall. Little Xue is looking forward to viewing it with you all!
Five minutes later, two warring factions dropped their weapons and their jaws.
Qi Zhu Fans: ???
The hell? Say that again?
Jiang Ying Fans: ???
WTF? This is official news?!