[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: Question for you, Mr. Retired Pro Esports Player. Why are you so calm?
[100K Volts]: As the first person to date in school in our family, you're asking me? PikachuRage.jpg
[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: So, in your eyes, my situation was… a schoolyard romance?
When Qi Zhu left to study abroad, Jiang Ying really had been down for a while. He wasn't used to not having Qi Zhu around. But he hadn't thought of anything like dating.
[100K Volts]: Yeah.
[100K Volts]: You lost your appetite, and your language and literature grades, which were always great, started to tank. In your second year of high school, I had to go to a parent-teacher meeting for you. Your teacher said dating in school was bad, because breaking up would affect your academic performance.
[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: Fuck. The me in my eyes and the me in your eyes seem a bit different.
[100K Volts]: How was I supposed to know you would suddenly ask something like this? Aren't you busy gathering dirt on everyone and fighting with internet strangers? You even collected dirt on your Qi-gege. 50gbs on your hard drive.
Jiang Ying froze.
How did his ge know about that?!
[100K Volts]: When I was dating Weiwei, you just sat around like a gossip-loving, popcorn-eating netizen. LittleDinoEatsPopcorn.jpg
[100K Volts]: I've been thinking, my di just might have a few screws loose.
[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: Okay, okay, okay. Forget it. Ge, you're busy. Bye. Goodbye.jpg
Shock set in.
Had Jiang Ying, without realizing it, fallen in love so early?
Had he, without realizing it, fallen for Qi Zhu?
The two of them had grown up fighting. Had they fought and fought until they became the brightest points in each other's lives?
And now, sparked by Qi Jun's words, Jiang Ying couldn't help but wonder if their antagonistic relationship was teetering on the edge of the next level.
And if their friendship, built on fighting, rose to the next level… what would that be? What was the next level?
[100K Volts]: I actually thought you guys broke up. It would've been a pity. You grew up together, after all.
[100K Volts]: But didn't you say you wouldn't date anyone from the entertainment industry?
[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: Us?
[100K Volts]: Mom says she doesn't care if you want to date someone or if you want to just keep treading water through life. She won't interfere. But if you date your Qi-gege, you're not allowed to fight. Our families are old friends.
Jiang Ying, who found reasons to fight with Qi Zhu every single day, blanched.
[100K Volts]: Understood?
[Awakened Big-Clawed Crab]: Understood.
If everyone thought there was a 'situation' between him and Qi Zhu, then there must have been an actual 'situation'. It wasn't just Jiang Ying thinking about useless, random things—
"So?" Little Qi-zong asked over the phone.
"In a spectator's eyes, I have a… 'situation'," Jiang Ying said. "I'll… test the waters with Class Monitor."
"Alright, do as you please. You have too much energy, anyway." Little Qi-zong had been busy all day, and he was starting to get sleepy during their call. "What happens after you test the waters?"
"Take the high ground, get an advantage," Jiang Ying answered right away. He adjusted Qi Zhu's battle evaluation entry again. "Us fighters love nothing more than striking first."
"And then?" Little Qi-zong continued, pointedly prodding at the main point. "Do you desire his body?"
Jiang Ying was confused. "Do I have to, in order to escalate our friendship?"
Qi Jun was also confused. "Are you saying you want to test the waters and then… what, just hold his hand?"
After a second, Qi Jun clicked his tongue. "Now that I think about it, Class Monitor used to pack his schedule with movies and dramas. Recently, he put off a big production and he's only been taking dramas and variety shows. Definitely a situation."
Then, he whispered, "Must be hard, pursuing someone who loves to fight."
Jiang Ying's cell phone beeped with a notification; he had a new message on the 'Fight!' app.
"I have a message, I'll hang up first," Jiang Ying said to Qi Jun.
"Go ahead, make your own mess." Qi Jun offered all the support he could muster. "And, as a judge, don't forget to give my agency's pretty little meimei a like on Weibo."
Jiang Ying opened up the 'Fight!' app and checked his private messages. Just now, the system had notified him of a DM from #1 Fighter Little Lemon—
[Little Lemon]: Coward Crab, thank you for your hard work in yesterday's battle.
[Little Lemon]: Shadows love you.
[Little Lemon]: That bit of trouble, from before, will probably clear itself up.
[Little Lemon]: When you have time, check Weibo. I've cleared your name, and I'll lead you down the path to innocence.
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: ?
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: What did you do?
Jiang Ying got on Weibo.
As promised, Little Lemon really had gone out of her way to clear his name. Just as netizens almost forgot about Boss Crab, she dragged him back into the spotlight.
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain: [photo][photo] I'm here to clear Coward Crab's name. He really isn't an anti, and he wasn't trying to start a feud. He genuinely just wanted to win, no matter what it took. His fighting spirit is pure. #SorryBossCrab#
As a top student from A University, Little Lemon was pretty active on Weibo. She had followers from both on and off the 'Fight!' app. Before long, many people saw her new post.
[Boss Crab has been losing steam, and he's here to start shit again?]
[Why should we feel sorry for that troublemaker?]
[Little Lemon definitely wouldn't lie for him. If he was really guilty, Lemon-jiejie would bite his head off.]
[Looking at these screenshots, I do feel like Boss Crab is sincere. I've heard this 'Fight!' app randomly assigns you a stance during your battles. Even though he really pissed me off when he talked shit about Jiang Ying, if it was for the sake of winning, I guess I can understand.]
[No, I still can't accept him dissing our Little Jiang Ying. Our gege works so hard, you know? And his acting has been improving. Even if it was just for a game, those insults were crushing.]
[Okay, let's just do this. Let's all let it go. I won't attack him anymore. I just won't pay attention to him at all from now on.]
[Alright, sounds good. Man, I never thought I would see the day Boss Crab is cleared of a scandal.]
Regardless of the outcome, Jiang Ying figured he did have to thank Little Lemon for her attempt to clear his name, even if she only succeeded in dragging this alt account of his back into the spotlight.
But when Peace-Loving Boss Crab posted for the first time in a long time, he managed to reel in a whole new herd of fight-loving fans.
@Peace-Loving Boss Crab: Doge.jpg Thank you to everyone who didn't jump down my throat. I can finally step into the light of day again.
New Fan 1: Crab-ge, I really appreciate your professional attitude towards fighting. I love dealing with people like you.
New Fan 2: Boss, you're so freaking cool when you fight antis. Are you single, Boss?
New Fan 3: Let me just start a little crackship. Boss Crab x Jiang Ying, anyone?
@Peace-Loving Boss Crab: @New Fan 3 Get out, get out. Absolutely not. How are you going to ship that?
Little Lemon's attempt to clear his name did come with a benefit. Now that he had a reputation for wanting to win a fight at any cost, he could return to the entertainment category without fear.
In one day, Jiang Ying hit up every major category. His tournament rank soared.
All this painted Little Lemon in a more positive light in Jiang Ying's mind. When she sent over an invitation link to a freestyle fight, Jiang Ying accepted—
[Little Lemon]: ZFZY. Discuss?
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Why is it this again? Fine. Go ahead, you discuss.
[Little Lemon]: Wo~ow.
[Little Lemon]: Blahblahblahblah (Little Lemon Rant)...
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Mhm, mhm.
[System Notification]: We have detected two users chatting cordially in the freestyle zone. The atmosphere is overly harmonious and has nothing to do with fighting. In order to prevent unacceptably friendly behavior from taking place, we are issuing a red card. This is your warning. When you accumulate three warnings, your account will be permanently banned. You can remove the red cards on your account by participating in subject fights.
[System Notification]: Due to a violation of our system rules, this fight will be terminated.
[System Notification]: Do not use our app to make friends or meet people. Do not. Ever.
[Little Lemon]: ……
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: ……
[Little Lemon]: Seeya~
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Seeya~
In any case, Jiang Ying learned a lot about ZFZY from Little Lemon. And the more Jiang Ying learned, the more he couldn't stop himself from thinking about it.
As filming for 'An Auspicious Snow' entered its second half, the light-hearted plot became dark and heavy. After the death of Yin Jiayu's character, others were gradually killed off as well.
Jiang Ying, as the main antagonist, would live to the second-to-last episode. For the time being, he could only bid others farewell.
Near the end of the show, the conflict between Luo Nanke and Xuan Mo'ling came to a head. They fought day and night, and their scenes were extremely taxing for their actors.
"Imbue some sorrow into your rage. Catch that feeling, and adjust it as you see fit," the director said to Jiang Ying. "Just being angry won't cut it."
Jiang Ying had already found a good way of capturing that state of mind—
He just had to think about their big ships and their streak.
"How do you feel?" Qi Zhu asked after one scene. He always asked. "Are you still being influenced by your character?"
"Yeah," Jiang Ying said shamelessly. "Aren't you going to comfort me?"
Qi Zhu had comforted him several times already. He'd done everything from buying Jiang Ying milk tea to chatting about the script with him to petting his head.
Jiang Ying walked off humming. He still didn't think his acting could please an audience, and it definitely wasn't worthy of Qi Zhu.
"They…" From a distance, Miao Ye watched on in shock. "What kind of drama are they acting out?"
"Even if you see something, say nothing," Xuan Huitong advised. She smoothed out a lock of her hair that had been blown out of place by the wind. As calm as ever, she continued, "It may be just what they need."
As a former classmate of the two persons involved in this brewing 'situation, Little Qi-zong was exceptionally invested. Every night, he dutifully checked in to ask how things were progressing.
"So?" Qi Jun greeted.
"What? 'So' what?" Jiang Ying retorted snippily, ready to pick a fight.
"Your big ships, your streak," Qi Jun continued, undeterred. He wanted details. "How's it going?"
"Don't be so impatient. You were right, we're too familiar. I need to proceed with caution," Jiang Ying said.
"Pfft, I'm just afraid your big claws aren't capable of being cautious," Qi Jun snarked. "A few days ago, you said you wanted to seize this opportunity."
"Just you wait, son. Your daddy will test the waters for a few more days, then send you a message of triumph." Jiang Ying laughed. "You don't get it. You need to boil a frog in warm water."
Under his breath, Qi Jun muttered, "You need to understand who the 'frog' is…"
"Anyway, that's all for now." Jiang Ying had other things to do. "I'm busy with work. Farewell."
Filming was going well, and work was rewarding. Peace-Loving Boss Crab had been exonerated, and Jiang Ying had learned he'd once been suspected of having an illicit romance in school. All that put Jiang Ying in a pretty good mood, so he wanted to impart even more wisdom to his apprentice.
[Fighter3357868]: Changed your name?
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Yea~
[Fighter3357868]: You… why are you battle-ready?
That was a good question. Jiang Ying changed his name whenever he felt like it. He hadn't given it that much thought at the time.
This readiness obviously stemmed from the discovery of his schoolyard crush.
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Apprentice-didi, let me teach you something new.
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: I'll tell you a trick we fighters use when we speak in real life.
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: Okay. So today's lesson will be on how to interrupt someone.
[Fighter3357868]: How do I interrupt someone?
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: You seize the opportunity to speak first. And after getting used to that, you can apply the same skill to interrupting your enemy.
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: But you have to be careful. You can't use this skill on your parents, and you can't use it on your ge (if you have a ge).
[Fighter3357868]: …mm, how can you be sure you won't miss some important information when you interrupt?
[Battle-Ready Boss Crab]: No way. ScratchesHead.jpg My opponent can continue talking after I finish. Anyway, if you have time, find someone and try it out
[Fighter3357868]: Okay. Lesson learned.