"It's nothing," Qi Zhu said, nodding a goodbye to the director before dragging Jiang Ying's massive suitcase away with him.
The director wandered off on his own, still musing to himself, "What's that all about? So mysterious."
"Use your brain. Our ships won't disappear if we don't talk in a day or two," Qi Zhu said after the director left. "Is it that important, anyway?"
"No, that's unacceptable," Jiang Ying insisted. He stole a bag of chips back from the director before catching up to Qi Zhu again. "You don't understand. The big ships aren't the most important part. If I don't fight with you at least once per day, I just feel antsy. Plus, I want the big flames1."
Qi Zhu laughed. "Can you even hear yourself talk?"
"I'm glad to see you guys actually get along so well," Chi Yunkai said. He glanced at Jiang Ying's suitcase, which was being tugged along by Qi Zhu. A knowing smile appeared on Chi Yunkai's face.
"No, no. We don't get along at all." Jiang Ying waved his hand to dispel that idea. "You must have seen it after that reality show of yours. Everyone knows. We're like fire and ice. Thoroughly incompatible."
"Oh, you're talking about that Boss Crab guy on that fighting app?" Chi Yunkai asked. "That kind of shameless troublemaker can't even be considered a person. He can't speak for everyone. The angry mob will teach him a lesson sooner or later. Don't worry, I'll be the first to vouch for you two. I can tell your friendship is indestructible."
Jiang Ying was silent.
Alright. Fair enough. He really had gained a reputation of 'can't even be considered a person' lately.
Chi Yunkai had really prodded at a sore spot, though. Jiang Ying was still itching to give that angry mob a stern talking to.
The guests had been traveling all day, and they all needed rest. After getting the footage they needed, the director and his team packed up and left the guests alone to get settled into their private rooms.
Some time after the crew departed, Jiang Ying gazed into the brightly lit living room. "You guys are… very health-conscious."
The two members of T.ATW were closing out their night by soaking their feet and brewing a couple cups of red date and goji berry tea while playing a game on their phones.
"We're a very healthy little losers club," Chi Yunkai agreed. After finishing a match, he looked up and asked Jiang Ying, "Wanna play a round?"
Jiang Ying did want to join them, but he'd recently had his account banned for picking fights on that game. He had nothing to play with.
If he wanted to borrow an account… Jiang Xun's was out of the question. Considering his reputation, Jiang Xun absolutely couldn't afford to have anyone catch his account losing. As for Qi Zhu, that was even more impossible. Qi Zhu didn't play games. He wouldn't have an account at all.
In the end, Jiang Ying decided he was better off playing the sort of game where he wouldn't be banned for fighting. He hadn't checked in on his 'Fight!' account all day.
"Little Ying, we start filming early tomorrow. Don't stay up too late," Qi Zhu said, blocking Jiang Ying's way as they headed to their rooms. "If you trend tomorrow because you don't wake up in time, I promise I'll be the first one to give that story a like."
Jiang Ying had been feeling pretty sleepy after traveling all day. But after hearing all that from Qi Zhu, he instantly felt more alert again. "Why do you have to keep such a close eye on whether I trend or not?"
"I don't keep a close eye on that sort of thing at all," Qi Zhu said, stopping in place for a moment. "You're just too visible. You always end up in the spotlight."
"As if you're any different," Jiang Ying shot back, unwilling to admit defeat. He lifted a hand and started to count on his fingers. "Qi Zhu throws a fit, Qi Zhu can't take a cue, Qi Zhu berates a new actor, Qi Zhu pisses off a screenwriter. Want me to continue?"
"I have a question." Qi Zhu swept a curious gaze over Jiang Ying. "These things you're talking about are old news. Like the screenwriter who quit because of me. That happened three years ago. Even tabloids have forgotten about that. Why do you remember all these things so clearly?"
Jiang Ying instantly felt a little like a deer caught in headlights. "That's… obviously because these things left a very deep impression on people."
Obviously, that was untrue. Jiang Ying remembered all these things because he'd painstakingly saved each story, and when he was bored, he flipped through those files to refresh his memory.
That incident involving the screenwriter was one of Qi Zhu's most interesting scandals. When Qi Zhu signed on to that drama adaptation, the contract had included a clause which stated the drama team would respect the original author's work. But when Qi Zhu received the script, he saw that the team had made a ludicrous amount of inexplicable changes to the original novel.
Qi Zhu immediately offered his feedback on the issue when he noticed the discrepancies, but the screenwriter stubbornly insisted he hadn't made any significant changes. Qi Zhu sat down with the entire cast and crew, took the script in one hand and a pen in the other, and marked out the glaringly obvious changes one by one. He ran through every line of the script until the screenwriter was rendered completely speechless.
The screenwriter, obviously the guilty party in this situation, had been the one to play the part of the victim first. He found some media outlet to complain to, and netizens instantly rallied against Qi Zhu without knowing the full story. When the truth about the script came out, people quickly lost interest in the matter.
Jiang Ying had seen way too many internet squabbles over things like that. Most of the people involved just wanted to fight for the sake of fighting. They didn't care about the facts. Even after the truth came out, many people were unwilling to apologize to the person they'd wrongly accused.
These mobs always swiftly dispersed after flinging their first round of vicious attacks.
Netizens only had an attention span of three seconds, and Qi Zhu only cared about work. This matter was quickly forgotten by everyone, except Jiang Ying.
Jiang Ying had dug up and saved the video of the incident, because he thought Qi Zhu was more interesting than ever when he criticized people in that sharp, cold, and relentless way of his.
Of course, Jiang Ying couldn't tell anyone about his hobby of collecting dirt on other celebrities. He especially couldn't tell Qi Zhu.
"I'm sleepy. Gonna crash." Jiang Ying avoided Qi Zhu's scrutinizing gaze and slipped away.
After closing the door to his room, Jiang Ying lingered by the door and started to eavesdrop on what was going on in the living room.
Qi Zhu turned around after Jiang Ying escaped into his room, only to find the two people in the living room looking his way.
Qi Zhu made an inquisitive noise.
"I think I understand," Fu Zhi said.
Chi Yunkai nodded. "Me too. I get why everyone thinks he's the perfect idol when he doesn't speak."
"Where's this coming from?" Qi Zhu asked. "This doesn't sound like an ordinary conversation at all."
He looked over at Jiang Ying's door again before adding, "Variety shows don't suit him."
"Then what does suit him?" Chi Yunkai asked.
"Feuding 101. He would take center stage on a show like that for sure."
Fu Zhi and Chi Yunkai both fell silent.
The door to Jiang Ying's room was suddenly cracked open by a sliver. A packet of potato chips flew out from inside. Qi Zhu caught it in one hand.
"Didn't you say you were going to sleep?" Qi Zhu asked.
"I'm super asleep. But I can't stand a certain someone spewing nonsense outside my room." With that, Jiang Ying closed the door again.
This time, the living room remained quiet. Jiang Ying contentedly crawled under the covers and wrapped himself up before opening the 'Fight!' app. After signing in, he checked his friends list.
Coincidentally, his new apprentice Fighter3357868 had just signed in as well.
[Boss Crab]: Good evening!
[Boss Crab]: Did you have a fight today?
[Fighter3357868]: No time.
Jiang Ying shook his head. The other party was still as cold and aloof as ever. Fighter3357868 had obviously yet to gain the spirit of a fighter. He was doing even worse than Qi Zhu.
[Fighter3357868]: Didn't you say you were busy with work today?
[Boss Crab]: I'm free now, but just for a bit.
[Fighter3357868]: Then you should go take care of whatever you're busy with.
[Boss Crab]: Nah, come on. Let's take advantage of every second we have. I still have a lot to pass on to you.
[Fighter3357868]: ? Not interested. Go to sleep.
[Boss Crab]: Tsk, look at this question mark of yours. I can tell you weren't paying attention in class.
[Boss Crab]: YouGetWhatIMean.jpg
[Boss Crab]: Anyway, let's forget about that for now. I want to take this time to teach you a new lesson—
[Boss Crab]: In this day and age, there's an etiquette to addressing your opponents online. I'm going to teach you all about the formal 'sir'.
[Boss Crab]: I recommend pairing it with your very own reaction memes. The more bizarre the better.
1. Big flames (the fire emoji) indicate a chat streak on QQ.