A barrage of 'LOLOLOL' and 'HAHAHAHAHA' comments filled the screen.
[I wanna ask the same question.]
[This question is godly. Major kudos to whoever asked.]
But Jiang Ying would never allow himself to be driven into a corner so easily. He immediately shed his interview persona and demanded, "Are you guys confused about something? I'm an idol. Why aren't you asking me questions about idol stuff?"
Something about all this was extremely fishy.
"This interview was just made up to put me in a bind." Jiang Ying flopped back against the couch and called it quits. "You really want me to believe some random netizen asked this question?"
"It's true," Xuan Huitong insisted. Her expression was calm and unchanging. "We're living in the second decade of the 21st century. Everyone's a netizen."
Yin Jiayu abruptly raised her hand. "I… I… I don't know anything!"
Qi Zhu said, "Mm."
"Don't give me that 'everyone's a netizen' crap, you know what I mean. Those two usernames earlier were way too familiar," Jiang Ying argued. Turning to Qi Zhu, he continued, "And now we have this third netizen who doesn't want to reveal their name? Are you really going to sit there and act like you don't know anything with that blank look on your face?"
Qi Zhu said, "Hm?"
The bullet comments ceased for a moment, then started barreling again—
[What does that mean? Did our gege ask that question?]
[What's that 'Hm?' supposed to mean? Mysterious!]
[Did I see Qi Zhu hide a smile earlier? I'm going to watch this part back later.]
[Oh, it's totally possible. These two have been feuding like crazy lately.]
[Don't slander our Qi Zhu-gege. He's a serious actor, he doesn't have any time to waste on this nonsense.]
[Ugh, you say that as if our Shadow wants to waste time on your crap.]
The war between these two fan bases had moved from Weibo to the comments of this live broadcast in the blink of an eye. They were relentless.
Xuan Huitong had a lot of experience in this industry, and she'd adopted a policy of keeping things to herself even if she noticed something suspect. But the netizens in the bullet comments certainly didn't share that policy. If they saw something, they said something.
Peacemakers were starting to speak up—
[Hey, can we all stop fighting for a minute? Don't you guys think their interactions are kind of interesting?]
[I was just about to say something, but it got drowned out by all your bickering. This is important, though. Did you guys hear Qi Zhu call him Little Ying?]
[Yeah, yeah, lololol! These fans were too busy fighting and spewing rainbow farts to notice. It's honestly like they're deaf and blind.]
[Wait, is that weird? Besides his dad and his brother, who sometimes call him Ogre Jiang, doesn't everyone at his agency call him Little Ying? What is Qi Zhu supposed to call him? Big Ying?]
[Pfft, Ogre Jiang…]
[His dad said it in an interview once. His words, I swear: 'Our family's little ogre.']
[MORE IMPORTANTLY! What did Jiang Ying say when he just woke up? I didn't really catch it, but he definitely didn't say 'Qi Zhu'. It didn't sound like 'Qi Zhu' at all.]
[He said 'class monitor'!!! I thought that was weird too! Why didn't anyone else mention it?!]
[So now the question is… why did Jiang Ying call Qi Zhu 'class monitor'?]
Although Xuan Huitong wasn't a television host, she was extremely good at controlling the tempo and direction of interviews and television programs. Seeing that their viewers were quickly getting off topic, she gently corralled them back to the subject at hand.
The commenters weren't all Jiang Ying fans and Qi Zhu fans. There were a good number of Xuan Huitong's fans in there as well. As soon as she started speaking, they started flailing about their Goddess Huihui and drowned out all the other off-topic musings and squabbles.
"Have you had enough time to think?" Xuan Huitong asked. "You and Boss Crab. Who do you think is fiercer?"
"Me," Jiang Ying blurted out.
Of course he was the fierce one. He'd even dissed himself. Who else would have been capable of such a thing?
"You really are quite fierce," Qi Zhu said, nodding in agreement.
Jiang Ying glanced at Qi Zhu. He didn't get the slightest bit of pleasure from that acknowledgement of his skills. He scooted closer to the camera and said, "Everyone, don't think so much. Just leave this sort of thing in your dreams."
[He's shameless! lolololol]
[Didn't he just say that he doesn't like fighting?]
[Jiang Ying: I played myself.]
The stream was due to end soon. Xuan Huitong deftly began to wrap things up: "Our broadcast will be ending here for today. We'll all be working hard on 'An Auspicious Snow' soon. I hope everyone will look forward to seeing us in this wonderful drama."
After ending the stream, Xuan Huitong said a quick goodbye to the others and got ready to head out to her next job.
"We're going to be filming soon, and Huihui-jie is still so busy," Jiang Ying mumbled. He was still a bit drowsy.
"As busy as I am, I seem to be no match for you. Why are you this tired? What were you doing last night?" Xuan Huitong asked. Her agency-assigned persona was that of a sweet and gentle goddess, but the sweet and gentle Xuan Huitong only existed in front of the cameras. As soon as they stopped streaming, she became cooler and more aloof. "You really can fall asleep anywhere you go. If I hadn't covered up the camera lens for you earlier, you would have been attacked even more harshly."
Despite her efforts, someone would definitely take a screenshot of Jiang Ying's sleeping face, and his anti-fans would definitely use that image and footage from this broadcast to spin some scandal around him.
"Huihui-jie is so beautiful and kind, thank you Huihui-jie," Jiang Ying intoned, sweetly smiling and waving goodbye to her. He'd been controversial for years. This sort of thing didn't bother him anymore.
Xuan Huitong sighed. Jiang Ying was beyond help. She glanced at Qi Zhu, who sat on the armrest of the couch, then glanced back over at Jiang Ying.
The two of them were both wearing dark colors that day, but Xuan Huitong got the inexplicable feeling that she was looking at something piercingly bright when she studied those two walking fashion shows.
But if she noticed something, she would keep it to herself. That was her policy.
"Just be a little more mindful," Xuan Huitong suggested, throwing down that one line of advice before taking off with her own manager.
"Don't worry," Jiang Ying called out after her. He was in a pretty good mood now, despite everything. "If anyone disses me, I'll diss them right back. No one has the guts to bully me."
After the livestream, Assistant Chen chatted with some people from the platform before coming back for Jiang Ying. It was time to take him home.
"Give me a ride," Qi Zhu said, stopping Jiang Ying before he left. "My two assistants are both busy. They left first."
"Who just called me fierce? Now you wanna bum a ride off me?" Jiang Ying demanded. "Our shitty little car can't compete with a flashy red supercar. I don't know if the esteemed Qi-laoshi can get used to it."
"How about we send…" The head of the streaming platform overheard their exchange and felt like he had to speak up. He'd heard that these two had a bad relationship, and he didn't want things to get out of hand.
"No need," Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu replied in unison, before turning to leave. Together.
"Since we were deskmates, I'll give you a ride just this once," Jiang Ying said.
And so, Assistant Chen was tasked with playing driver for two of the most notorious young men in the entire entertainment industry. Luckily, these two seemed to have gotten up to something last night. They were both a little less energetic than usual.
In the back seat, Qi Zhu leaned against the window and closed his eyes to rest for a while.
"So you're sleepy too," Jiang Ying accused, rubbing his eyes. "And here I was, thinking Qi-gege was so great and indomitable that he could work twenty-four hours a day without rest."
"I'm no match for a certain someone who decided to become passionate about work in the middle of the night," Qi Zhu droned.
The two people who had been addicted to bickering with each other since middle school fell into a somewhat peaceful silence for once. Qi Zhu kept his eyes closed, but Jiang Ying was feeling a little less sleepy after having snuck in a nap before the stream.
He glanced at Qi Zhu, who had his eyes closed and his ears plugged with a pair of earbuds. Then he scooted over to the other side of the car, huddling up against the window as well.
Upon hearing the name 'Boss Crab' earlier, Jiang Ying had started to miss the account he'd worked so hard to raise up. He wanted to load up the app and sneak a peek at his treasured account.
Qi Zhu was sleeping, anyway. No one would know what Jiang Ying was doing. And he was just going to take a look at his account, nothing more. There was no reason to plug in his headphones or mute his phone.
Overnight, the 'Fight!' app had changed. The loading screen no longer showed just the name of the app in a black calligraphy font. It had gotten a bit fancier.
It seemed 'Fight!' had experienced a major surge in downloads recently, and they now had a lot of cash to burn. They were pushing out update after update in quick succession. Jiang Ying's phone had been connected to his home wifi last night, and the app must have automatically updated itself while he slept.
When the app loaded, it showed the same calligraphy font logo as before. But a colorful sphere popped up on the screen. That was something Jiang Ying had never seen before.
What was it?
Jiang Ying curiously gave the colorful ball a tap. The ball burst open, and the app began to blare a festive tune. At the same time, an extremely loud welcome message began to play—
"Hello, hotshot! Welcome back!
"Your current win rate is 90%! Your 'Fight!' skills are ranked in the top 0.01% of all national players! Keep up the good work!"