Jiang Ying also thought that was just some little scene. No big deal. It was only the viewers who thought it was something significant.
After having known Jiang Ying for so many years, Qi Zhu naturally had seen many little scenes like that. He was used to it. But to these netizens who had been surprised by Jiang Ying for the very first time, it was a shocking spectacle.
That was part of the joy in watching one's own variety shows. Jiang Ying could see events from someone else's point of view. Without watching, he wouldn't have known what had happened after he raced off in pursuit of Miao Ye.
Upon seeing Miao Ye that day, Jiang Ying had sprinted away without even thinking about it. He'd had no idea that Qi Zhu, left behind, had given such an interesting reaction.
[As a shadow, I've never heard Jiang Ying say anything about this skill of his. He looks so cool! Why didn't our idol gege tell us about this sooner?]
[I forgot where I heard this, but I remember someone saying they were classmates. Not just classmates, but deskmates! So, fellow fans, I'm sure Qi Zhu knows a lot more than us. Just looking at Jiang Ying, I get the feeling he was the type to cause a lot of scenes in middle and high school. Qi Zhu has seen it all. He's definitely going to react more calmly than all of us.]
[I really can't imagine the two of them as deskmates. Please, please, please someone share some stories about their deskmate days.]
[Wahhhhh, even though Qi Zhu didn't say anything, I feel like he's radiating this aura of 'I know everything you don't know.']
[What are you all thinking? Our gege has a lot going on, okay? He just can't be bothered to react to this nonsense.]
Suddenly, a bright pink bullet comment popped up on screen:
[Your gege isn't calm because he 'can't be bothered' to react. If you don't believe me, just keep watching.]
In the show, one of the cameras zoomed in on Miao Ye's basket of eggs. While he fled and Jiang Ying gave chase, the eggs rattled around. Several broke. It was a pretty tragic sight.
Eventually, Jiang Ying cornered Miao Ye at the end of the road.
"Do you think I bite?" the Jiang Ying on screen asked. "Why are you running?"
The bullet comments—
[He bites. Definitely.]
[Eggs: What did I do to deserve this?!]
[I bet the director is losing his mind. His show has totally gone off the rails, but I'm happy. I love this. Why is Miao Ye so scared of Jiang Ying, anyway? Did something happen between them that we don't know about?]
[Everyone in the entertainment industry is scared of him. CryingLaughing.jpg I feel like Qi Zhu is the only person who doesn't hate him.]
[I'm sorry, I'm falling into this ship again.]
On screen, Qi Zhu restrained Jiang Ying from showing off any more. The trembling Miao Ye and the remaining eggs were saved. The scene changed again after that, cutting to footage of the guests gathered at the teahouse, working on a math problem. In order to reassert the relaxing, refreshing atmosphere of the show, a piece of soft, melodic music had been added in post-production.
At that point, the Jiang Ying watching the show said, "I'm suddenly starting to realize it isn't easy being a director."
The atmosphere of the show had been thrown into chaos, but the director still persevered and did his very best to drag them back on track.
"So you're aware," Qi Zhu mused. He hadn't left Jiang Ying's room; he was leaning against the door, watching the show with Jiang Ying.
"You're still here?" Jiang Ying was fascinated by the show. It was only when he heard that voice and turned around that he realized this guy hadn't left after dropping off a milk tea. Qi Zhu had been staring at him for quite a while.
"I'm leaving now. Take your time watching." Qi Zhu stepped out and shut the door.
Jiang Ying furrowed his brow. He felt like Qi Zhu had put a strange emphasis on the 'take your time' part.
The show continued, following the guests back to the farmhouse. Miao Ye gleefully took over the room Jiang Ying offered to him, and Jiang Ying hauled his own covers and pillow into Qi Zhu's room, stealing half his bed.
[Phew, I'm relieved. I was afraid our poor Meow Meow would have to share a room with Jiang Ying. That would've been too scary.]
[!! We're not relieved! Are these two really going to make it through the night without fighting?]
Suddenly, at just that time, a caption appeared on screen—
That night, something happened…
What 'happened' was that Jiang Ying caught a cold and burned up with fever. Qi Zhu found the director and a local doctor. The camera crew caught it all, and the footage clearly showed Qi Zhu moving more hurriedly than usual.
[I'm pretty surprised. Qi Zhu usually doesn't seem like he cares about anything, but I'm starting to see that isn't always the case.]
[Regardless of anything else, they were classmates. Of course our gege would be worried when he sees someone come down with a fever so suddenly.]
[I'm thinking… does he only care about Jiang Ying?]
[It's an act, right? He's a legendary film star after all. They're both actors, and lately they've been working together a lot. Maybe they're trying to stir up a ship.]
[Come off it, who would want to stir up a ship with Jiang Ying? Also, I've said this a million times already. Our gege isn't trying to be 'legendary' or anything, okay? Thanks.]
[Let's keep it civil and think about this rationally. With their family backgrounds, neither of them needs to scatter ship bait to get popular…]
[They're just normal classmates. This is just a normal, platonic sort of concern, alright? I really don't understand you people. You'll ship anything that moves.]
[Exactly. These two just seem like they're just good friends. They haven't done anything notable, and Jiang Ying seems like he really likes provoking Qi Zhu.]
"Exactly," Jiang Ying echoed, nodding his approval at that last comment. "We've always been like this."
The dispute in the bullet comments continued, growing fiercer by the minute. At the same time, a new trending topic appeared on Weibo.
Earlier in the show, before the guests checked into the farmhouse, the camera crew had caught Jiang Ying pulling Qi Zhu aside and saying something to him. Some observant viewers had cranked up the volume and heard exactly what he said.
"Awesome," that Jiang Ying had said. "I was worried we would lose our big ships."
Netizens: ??? Big ships? I didn't hear that wrong, did I? I'll listen again. I'll listen a billion times.
Netizens: Are they talking about QQ's big ships?
Netizens: OOOOOOMFG, these two have big ships?!
"Is it that strange?" Jiang Ying mused to himself. He didn't get the significance. They'd had their big ships for years already, and they carefully maintained the flames of their streak every day. There just hadn't been an opportunity to tell anyone until now.
Qi Zhu had already left, or else Jiang Ying would have asked him what he thought about all this.
Little Qi-zong, who'd spent all night surfing the net, saw that trending topic and shivered with fear. He didn't even click on the tag before hastily pulling up WeChat and contacting Jiang Ying.
[Qi Jun]: I'm realizing that netizens are getting better and better at messing around.
[Qi Jun]: I just saw someone say you and Qi Zhu are secretly married, hahahahahaha. They really know how to make shit up, huh?
[Qi Jun]: If these people have to ship you and Class Monitor, fine. But do they have to make up a story about you having big ships on QQ too?
[Qi Jun]: Their imaginations are way too wild. I don't even have a big ship with my agency's pretty little meimei yet. She's busy cultivating her career right now, and she always forgets to text me back.
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: It's true.
Qi Jun didn't respond for about five minutes.
[Qi Jun]: wtf?
[Qi Jun]: Speak clearly. Which part is true?
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: The big ships.
In order to prove it, Jiang Ying opened up QQ, took a screenshot, and sent it to Qi Jun.
[Qi Jun]: When???
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: Since middle school.
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: BlankStare.jpg
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: Is there a problem?
[Qi Jun]: What the hell do you two talk about every day?
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: Just, y'know. We fight. We just can't get used to each other. So we fight and fight, and it popped up one day.
[Qi Jun]: And it's been there all these years? You didn't lose your ship even when he went abroad?
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: ? Distance doesn't make a difference.
[Qi Jun]: Alright. Let's say you got a big ship because you fought all the time. Why the hell are you still keeping it?
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: Just, y'know, habit. I got used to it.
[Qi Jun]: Fuck.
[Qi Jun]: I'm going to go wash my face. I need to clear my head.
While Qi Jun was away, Jiang Ying skimmed through the trending topic on Weibo. Everyone, whether they were his fan or his anti-fan, was expressing their shock in unison.
Qi Jun, after clearing his head, returned and sent Jiang Ying a screenshot of a WeChat conversation. That conversation just so happened to be between Qi Jun and Qi Zhu's rarely used WeChat account.
[Qi Zhu]: ???
[Qi Zhu]: SlightSmile.jpg
Those messages had been sent earlier that day, right after Jiang Ying and Qi Jun kept dropping their phones on the conference table during an important meeting.
Qi Jun began writing to Jiang Ying again.
[Qi Jun]: Are you seeing this? Do you get why I stopped messing around with you this afternoon?
[Qi Jun]: This guy doesn't even have a WeChat avatar, and he suddenly uses his WeChat account to threaten me? Ah, he's just too fierce. Scared me to death, honestly. Ai, he must have spent too much time with you. Just look at how he threatens people. He really takes after you.
[Qi Jun]: At that time, I thought he was trying to get us to shut up because we were disrupting the meeting.
[Qi Jun]: But now I'm thinking… maybe it was deeper than that.
[Confused Big-Clawed Crab]: ???
Qi Jun ran off. No matter how Jiang Ying poked and nagged at him, he wouldn't utter another peep. Jiang Ying had no choice but to shift his attention to Qi Zhu. Coincidentally, the two of them had yet to stoke their streak that day.
On QQ, Jiang Ying had changed his name to 'Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab'. It didn't quite give the same vibe as his WeChat display name.
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: [poke poke]
[Class Monitor]: [poke poke]
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: What're you doing?
[Class Monitor]: Looking at what's trending.
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: Ai, I feel like netizens are getting too good at blowing things out of proportion. What's the big deal about a big ship, anyway?
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: It's not like we just got a big ship that day. Nothing strange about it.
[Class Monitor]: Mm, right. They're overreacting.
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: You've finally become a reasonable person, Class Monitor.
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: What should I do? You look very agreeable to me today. It's rare for us to be on the same page.
[Class Monitor]: Then why don't you look some more? SlightSmile.jpg
[Enlightened Big-Clawed Crab]: No thanks. Goodbye.jpg
Jiang Ying decided to have another look at the Qi Zhu from the reality show. After coming down with a fever, he hadn't seen how Qi Zhu ran around for him. And it was only after watching the edited show that Jiang Ying realized he'd missed a segment.
The director of this show was pretty laid-back. He went with the flow and even often changed the guests on his show. Per tradition, all his guests would leave their autographs as a souvenir. The show's official Weibo had even showed off those autographs a few days ago.
And in that official post, the showrunners had told everyone to look very, very carefully.
At that time, everyone who saw the post simply thought the show was hinting at their two replacement guests. No one realized the deeper meaning hidden in those words.
Jiang Ying had seen photos of those autograph cards on Weibo. All five guests had signed, including him. Jiang Ying gave it a lot of thought, but he just couldn't remember when he'd scribbled out his signature. He chalked it up to the fever muddling his memory; he must have signed and forgotten.
Now, he understood. Because of his fever, these people had left him out. Someone had signed for him.
In the living room, the camera caught the other guests giving their autographs that afternoon.
"Is Jiang-ge alright? Should I go wake him up?" Miao Ye asked, shooting a worried look at the bedroom door. "Did his fever break?"
"He isn't awake yet. Let him sleep," Qi Zhu said. "Is it okay for him to sign tomorrow?"
"The showrunners are in a rush to show off the autographs," Fu Zhi said. "How about we just go with the four of us for now?"
"I'll do it," Qi Zhu said. He picked up the pen.
Miao Ye stared.
Fu Zhi stared.
Chi Yunkai also stared and wondered, Is this really okay?
"We'll just use this for now. He'll make up for it later," Qi Zhu explained curtly. "I've written his homework for him before, so I can probably imitate his handwriting. More or less."
Then, next to his own signature, Qi Zhu scrawled out Jiang Ying's name in someone else's handwriting.
It was such a practiced forgery that it could have easily been mistaken for the real deal.
It was almost identical to Jiang Ying's signature. Even Jiang Ying couldn't detect any problems.
Was that what Qi Zhu called 'more or less'?