How to start something?
That was a good question.
There were really too many ways. Jiang Ying could talk about it all night, so he would have to think of a simple, condensed summary.
[Restless Boss Crab]: Actually, not to brag, but at my level… I can just go anywhere and stand there, without saying a word, and people will still think I'm trying to pick a fight.
The other party's 'mm' could have meant many things, but Jiang Ying wasn't just talking nonsense. That truly was what he experienced in life. Back when he was a member of the disciplinary committee at school, the whole classroom would fall silent and grow solemn, like they were facing a formidable enemy, whenever he entered the room.
And there was that show Qi Jun wanted to invest in, too. No one wanted to play the part of the critical judge, so Qi Jun had asked Jiang Ying to fill that role.
[Restless Boss Crab]: Of course, it must be said that this is because of the reputation I've spent many long, tireless years cultivating.
[Restless Boss Crab]: Anyway, let's move on. Here's some real advice.
[Restless Boss Crab]: A real fighter can nitpick anything their opponent says. They can even criticize their enemy's grammar, syntax, and inflections.
[Restless Boss Crab]: That's the lesson for today. Think about it. Soak it up.
[Restless Boss Crab]: How about you try it out first? You can 'comment' on your opponent's phrasing, body language, whatever. See how you do.
[Fighter3357868]: Mm. SlightSmile.jpg
The conversation seemed like it was coming to an end. Jiang Ying stared at those three disinterested hums for a while. He didn't know how much of this information his apprentice was actually absorbing. In the end, he picked out a saccharine 'good luck' reaction meme and sent it over.
That overly cutesy reaction meme wasn't Boss Crab's usual style at all, but whatever. It was fine, as long as his apprentice was happy. He only had his one precious apprentice, after all.
Jiang Ying had originally decided not to look at Weibo again, but a new Weibo alert suddenly popped up on his phone. It was already so late. Who was sending him a private message at this hour? Jiang Ying opened up his DMs and saw that it was a message from the netizen who went by Little Lemon on the 'Fight!' app.
All the top players in 'Fight!' followed one another on Weibo, but they rarely talked to one another there. When they had something to say, they said it in a fight.
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: Brother.
@Peace-Loving Boss Crab: ?
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: A new question dropped in subject fights. Wanna play a round?
@Peace-Loving Boss Crab: Depends. What's the question?
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: It involves two of my idols.
Jiang Ying had just finished reading the comments on CoconutTV's latest posts. He didn't even need to think about it to know who her two idols were.
@Peace-Loving Boss Crab: Pass. I'm busy. Also, Qi Zhu isn't an idol.
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: Ai, will no one stand up to me? Also, have you really given up on your evil ways and quit playing in the entertainment industry subject fights? It's a pity. You get bonus points in that category, you know. I can't believe you've lost your fighting spirit.
As the queen of bored A University students with too much free time, Little Lemon was not only picking fights so late at night but rambling on her main Weibo page as well.
Little Lemon's stickied post was—
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: A word of advice to all you netizens. Don't come looking for a fight here, I'll rip you to shreds. Just take a look at what team I captain. Be prepared if you come at me, or I'll knock your head off.
And the latest post from Little Lemon—
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: Just taking the obvious ship bait isn't good enough. You guys need to learn to dig for buried candy. Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu are at a point where all their sweet content is hidden. For example, they have such interesting nicknames for each other. That means they're close. Also, earlier, in the video from that cast dinner released by the screenwriter of their drama? They were serving each other foods they knew the other one hated. That means they understand each other super, super well. And then there's the recent interview from CoconutTV. No matter how you look at it, that's ship material. Now, I've already fed you all this delicious content. If you still don't believe in this ship, just wait for their variety show to air. I'll find lots more bait for you then.
Little Lemon, a student of one of the country's top universities, seemed to have dedicated all her brainpower to composing a rational and well-organized summary of the evidence that supported her ship. Underneath her post, several people had already commented to voice their agreement.
Were all those things ship bait?
"But we've always been like that," Jiang Ying mumbled to himself, lowering his gaze. "It's just that none of you had seen it before."
This was all part of their everyday routine. Jiang Ying had had over ten years to grow accustomed to it.
It was already midnight. After talking to his apprentice about provoking others, and after hearing Little Lemon bring up Qi Zhu, Jiang Ying wanted nothing more than to provoke the person who was currently staying in the room next to his. Judging by Qi Zhu's usual work and rest schedule, he would definitely be asleep by now.
Jiang Ying would just treat this as a one-sided effort to maintain their streak—
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: [poke poke]
[Class Monitor]: ?
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: You're still awake?
[Class Monitor]: You… woke me up. Rage.jpg
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: Who told you to sleep without turning your phone off? Not my problem. Shrug.jpg
[Class Monitor]: Go to sleep. Rage.jpg
That was it. That was the familiar, cozy way they had of talking to each other. It never failed to help Jiang Ying relax. He managed to shed all his worries and fall soundly asleep.
Five hours later, Jiang Ying got to taste the consequences of disturbing someone in the middle of the night. He was unearthed from his covers by Qi Zhu, who deftly ducked a pillow that Jiang Ying flung at him. The pillow sailed past his head and hit the door.
"It is currently 5:00 AM, Beijing time," Gossip Buddy reported, triggered by the noise in the room. "You can snooze for two hours before your alarm, or you can wake up with some refreshing entertainment industry news."
Without a pause, Gossip Buddy continued, "In yesterday's CoconutTV interview, popular actor Qi Zhu read several interesting netizen comments…"
Qi Zhu patted Gossip Buddy twice and interrupted the smart speaker's morning announcements.
"It's five in the morning, gege," Jiang Ying complained. He hadn't even managed to open his eyes yet, and he sounded like he was about to cry. "You're way too vindictive. Did you have to wake me up this early just because I messaged you last night?"
Jiang Ying was grumbling with his eyes closed, so he didn't see the smile that touched Qi Zhu's eyes at the 'gege' that fell from his lips.
"I didn't," Qi Zhu answered sincerely. "I told you last night, about the character songs. You just forgot."
"It's today?" Jiang Ying was starting to wake up a bit more. "So you're not using work as an excuse to get revenge?"
"Mm, it's today," Qi Zhu confirmed. He picked up the clothes by the bed and handed them to Jiang Ying, then helped Jiang Ying button up his shirt.
Jiang Ying followed Qi Zhu all the way to the recording studio. It was only there that he learned he had been deceived.
They weren't filming that day, and a recording session really had been scheduled. But only Qi Zhu was recording his character song that day. It didn't have a damn thing to do with Jiang Ying. But since he was already there, Jiang Ying was dragged off to the side by the vocal coach to learn his song as well.
Jiang Ying wound up spending most of his time slumped over a table in the control room, listening to Qi Zhu sing.
"Where are you?" Assistant Chen asked. He called Jiang Ying at around eight, in a panic, after he found his celebrity charge missing. "Did you sleepwalk somewhere?"
"More or less," Jiang Ying said. "I was still dreaming when an evil goblin abducted me."
Assistant Chen had no idea what that was supposed to mean.
What was Jiang Ying saying? Was this… a sign of their generation gap?
After a moment, Jiang Ying got that Assistant Chen didn't understand him. He amended, "What I mean is, Class Monitor tricked me into coming to the recording studio bright and early in the morning. I haven't been able to escape."
"Oh, Qi-laoshi? Then that's fine. You're off today anyway. You don't have anything on the schedule, so have fun." Assistant Chen had complete faith in Qi Zhu. That young man was several times more reliable than Assistant Chen's own charge.
Since Jiang Ying had been packed up and carried off by someone so reliable, Assistant Chen found himself with a rare day off. His excitement was obvious in his tone.
"The only other person here is Qi Zhu. How am I supposed to have fun with him?" Jiang Ying propped his chin up on one hand and glanced into the live room through the glass window. Qi Zhu, wearing headphones, glanced back at Jiang Ying at just that moment and acknowledged him with a nod.
Assistant Chen instinctively tuned out Jiang Ying's words and reminded him, "The variety show you two recorded is coming out soon. If you're bored, give it a watch."
Qi Zhu's character song was pretty catchy and memorable. After listening to it just twice, Jiang Ying could sing along. He hummed under his breath while he pulled out the tablet that he brought everywhere with him. After connecting a keyboard, he loaded up the 'Fight!' app.
The same forum post that Jiang Ying had seen before was still hanging out on the front page.
Let's guess the IRL jobs of the Top 10 fighters.
3001: We don't need to guess when it comes to Little Lemon. She has it written right on her Weibo page that she's in the debate club at A University. As expected, a bookworm is really impressive at anything and everything.
3002: What rank is Boss Crab at right now?
3003: 7th. He and sunny are pretty much tied.
3004: Sorry, this is off topic, but I just want to point out the person in 20th right now. They just surged in the ranks recently. Looks like they're a foreigner. Apparently their friend recommended this game to them as a language learning app……
3006 (Boss Crab): Nothing wrong with that, lolol. That friend did a beautiful job.
The forums were anonymous. Jiang Ying's hands flew across the keyboard as he butted in on various forum threads, leaving muddying comments here and there.
Qi Zhu finished recording his song. He idled in the live room for a while before glancing through the observation window, spotting a seemingly elated Jiang Ying in the control room.
At that moment, on Jiang Ying's tablet—
[Little Lemon]: Wanna fight?
[Little Lemon]: It's a weekday, everyone is busy. I'm your only option.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Alright.
[Little Lemon]: Let's make it quick. I'm getting out of class soon.
[Big-Clawed Crab]: No entertainment industry. I always get in trouble there. I don't want people gawking at me anymore.
[Little Lemon]: Coward.
Jiang Ying started up a freestyle match and invited Little Lemon to join. Any topic was fair game in freestyle fights, and soon enough, Little Lemon somehow managed to steer them onto the question of whether or not her ship was shippable.
[Boss Crab]: ??? Not shippable. What you consider ship bait might just be their ordinary routines. It's just how they're used to acting with each other.
[Little Lemon]: ??? If that's really true, then my ship would be even more shippable! If this is what their daily lives are like, then we'll all overdose on sugar.
[Boss Crab]: Spits.jpg Preposterous.
[Little Lemon]: SpitsInTheOtherDirection.jpg You're talking out of your ass.
"What are you doing?"
Jiang Ying was still in the middle of his fight with Little Lemon when he heard Qi Zhu call out his name, from right next to him.
Jiang Ying snatched his hands off the keyboard.
Coincidentally, Little Lemon disappeared at just that moment too.
It was a good thing Jiang Ying had his font set to a large size. At that moment, only their two most recent reaction memes were visible on the screen.
"I'm here to see if you've been focusing on learning your song," Qi Zhu said. He swept his gaze over Jiang Ying's tablet. "Guess not."
"I've already learned it," Jiang Ying said. "I'm… just familiarizing myself with what this app can do."
Jiang Ying turned back to his tablet, wanting to turn off the screen. But, unexpectedly, Qi Zhu reached out and caught hold of his chin. He gripped Jiang Ying's chin between his thumb and index finger, and splayed out his other fingers, as he turned Jiang Ying's face back to him.
"Since you've learned it," Qi Zhu said, "sing it for me?"
Jiang Ying fell silent for a moment.
Then he raised his eyebrows. "What are you doing?"
"You can't tell?" Qi Zhu asked mildly. "You seem bored. So I'm here to start something."
This was absolutely not the way!
At just that moment, Little Lemon suddenly came back to life. The 'Fight!' app emitted an explosive sound to alert Jiang Ying of two new attacks that showed up on his screen—
[Little Lemon]: I'm back. My professor suddenly called on me to answer a question. Anyway, let's continue.
[Little Lemon]: ZFZY. Isn't it delicious?