"Ai, everyone slow down a bit, I can barely read what you're saying," Jiang Ying called out. He had the end of a ballpoint pen between his teeth. While entering a bill into the machine, he spared some time to tease the netizens in the bullet comments. "What time of day is it? Why are you all crowded in here, anyway?"
[Yeah, everyone calm down. I can't even see the comment I sent.]
[Me too, me too. Gege, look up! Look at me!]
[Obviously, it's the perfect time of day to watch my goddess work!]
[Ah, I turned off the bullet comments. Refreshing.]
By then, Jiang Ying's badge of honor should have been picked up by Little Qi-zong. Jiang Ying was already looking forward to going home to collect it, adding his fourth mascot figure to his collection. Having a friend to help pick up deliveries really was so, so nice.
Little Qi-zong was such a good person.
Someone lightly tugged on the pen between his teeth. Jiang Ying's wandering gaze refocused on the spot before him. At some point, without Jiang Ying's notice, Qi Zhu had approached.
"What's up?" Jiang Ying was still biting down on the pen; his words were a little muffled. "Work hard. Don't slack off."
"I came over to see how well you've been slacking," Qi Zhu said, with a hint of what sounded like disapproval in his tone. "Let go."
Qi Zhu reached out and pinched Jiang Ying's cheek, making him drop the ballpoint pen. He looked down at the bite marks left on the shaft of the pen, then lifted his hand and deftly tossed the pen into the nearby pen holder. "You won't even let a pen escape your sharp teeth and mouth, will you?"
"Then what should I bite?" A certain someone was completely unflustered. Jiang Ying only calmly started to demand recompense. "How about… you give me a replacement?"
Qi Zhu abruptly nudged a piece of milk candy past Jiang Ying's lips. The sweet flavor quickly spread across Jiang Ying's tongue; it was the exact brand he liked. Jiang Ying smiled happily, crinkling his eyes with delight. He stretched out one hand and said, "Secret snacks, huh? Got any more? Hand 'em all over."
[Psst, you two, restrain yourself a little. What's with the PDA?]
[Milk-flavored Jiang Ying… I want to have a taste of that. Sweet and fierce, sweet and fierce? What a good combo, I'm into it.]
[Why do I feel like Qi-laoshi just glared at us? Like he was warning us to not even think about that sort of thing? Hahahahaha!]
[I can't, I can't, hahaha. None of us would dare go there now. Qi-laoshi, don't glare at us anymore. I'm scared!]
[They've changed since following each other on Weibo. Although they still interact the way they used to, they just feel so much sweeter to me!]
Business at the shop was good that morning. They even managed to sell some of the beach activity packages. At lunchtime, the guests cooked for themselves and experienced the joy of making their own food. They decided there would be no harm in making themselves a seafood feast that night too.
Since the shop only had a limited selection of ingredients, the guests considered wandering out to the local seafood market to have a look around.
"We'll handle the shop. There should be fewer customers in the afternoon, so we should be able to handle it ourselves," Fang Yi said. "Qi-laoshi, you and Jiang Ying go to the seafood market and bring back some ingredients. Sound good?"
The seafood market was situated near the southern tip of the island. Many of the shops on the island got their ingredients from there.
"Little Ying, what else do you want to eat?" Qi Zhu asked after paying for their first batch of ingredients. When he turned around to get Jiang Ying's answer, he suddenly discovered that Jiang Ying had disappeared again.
When it came to finding Jiang Ying, Qi Zhu had a special tactic. He started to retrace his steps, and it wasn't long before he found the lost little Jiang Ying in a shop that sold crabs.
"This time of year, there aren't really any good crabs to eat. They're all cooked and frozen, not fresh," Jiang Ying mused to himself. He was leaning against a shelf in the crab shop, raptly watching two little crabs fighting in the water.
Qi Zhu stared.
In the livestream room, there were some netizens who'd been following the feed on them the whole time—
[Why do I feel like this scene is… eerily familiar?]
[Jiang Ying's legendary disappearing act. I can't believe I'm seeing it live. Did anyone notice when he disappeared?]
[Have you guys seen 'Travel Together'? That refreshing little variety show? Our Little Ying pulled a disappearing act there too. That time, he wandered down an alleyway to watch some people fight. And this time, he disappeared to watch some crabs fight.]
[LOLOLOLOL, that's so in line with his 'persona'. Not the hip young idol persona that his agency gave him, of course. Sisters, you know what I'm talking about.]
[Why do I get the feeling he really likes crab? Listen to the way he talks. He's so familiar with all the different types.]
[Didn't someone dig into this a while back? A certain controversial idol has two sets of alt accounts. The shadow series, and the crab series. The crab series is dedicated solely to helping him out in internet feuds.]
[Pfft, no wonder he doesn't hate that Boss Crab guy. It's like they're fated to meet.]
Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu took a lap around the southern district of the island. They walked along the southern beach before making their way back to the villa. From afar, they saw jet skis zipping along the water and parachutes descending from above. The sky was extraordinarily blue near the sea, and the parachutes that billowed through the air were bathed in the golden glow of the sun. As they descended, gulls and all sorts of seabirds took off through the air.
Jiang #2 stooped down on the beach, reluctant to leave.
"We'll hit our sales target early. Our job will probably be done by tomorrow afternoon," Qi Zhu said, leaning down to reach for Jiang Ying's right wrist. He started to pull Jiang Ying back up to his feet. "The islanders will treat us to a complimentary beach activity package after that. We can come back then, it won't be too late."
Jiang Ying did let Qi Zhu lead him away, but he practically looked back three times for every step he took.
The afternoon of the next day, he really did get a chance to experience all those beach activities. He went parasailing, attached to a multi-colored parachute and tugged along by a racing speedboat. The salty spray of the sea was slightly warmed by the sun. Jiang Ying rose higher and higher on the wind. From afar, he could see Qi Zhu waiting for him on the beach.
He lifted a hand and waved, but he couldn't tell if Qi Zhu could see him. The guests didn't have a ton of time to play on the beach. Soon enough, the speedboat started to head towards the shallows. Jiang Ying gradually descended, drifting down towards the surface of the water.
Qi Zhu stood in the shallow water, lifting his head and looking up in Jiang Ying's direction.
The place where Jiang Ying landed just so happened to be the place where Qi Zhu was standing. Jiang Ying reached out as he neared the surface of the water, wrapping his arms around Qi Zhu's shoulders just as Qi Zhu lifted his own arms to catch him in his embrace.
Jiang Ying's brightly colored parachute drifted down after him, falling over them and obscuring them from all the cameras around them.
"Boyfriend, aren't you going to ask me if it hurt? When I fell from heaven?" Jiang Ying asked, waggling his eyebrows. Before he even finished speaking, he was pulled closer by Qi Zhu and given a lasting kiss at the crook of his neck.
Jiang Ying took the opportunity to press his face to Qi Zhu's collar, breathing in the scent of Qi Zhu's cologne that had nearly been completely dispersed by the ocean wind.
Why didn't he know, until then, that Class Monitor smelled so nice? His preoccupation with fighting really had made him miss out on a lot of things. Without even thinking about it, he blurted out, "From now on, for better or worse, sink or swim, we'll be in the same boat."
Jiang Ying fell silent after that.
He really wasn't good at saying nice, mushy things. That day when he'd tried to confess, only to be cut off, was probably the sweetest he was capable of being.
But that wasn't a problem. Qi Zhu would always understand what Jiang Ying meant to convey.
They were connected now. Their good days would be theirs to share, and their bad days would be theirs as well.
"I'll treat you right," Qi Zhu whispered in his ear.
Through the cameras on the beach, netizens could only see Jiang Ying fall into Qi Zhu's arms. They couldn't see anything that happened after the parachute descended upon them—
[WOW, look at that. He fell right into Qi Zhu's arms.]
[Who wants to go rip that damned parachute away? I feel like there's a lot more to see here.]
[I'm dying, I'm dead. ZFZY is real. Let's get this supertopic trending.]
[Before the parachute completely covered them up, I took a screenshot. It's just way, way, way too beautiful. The sunset behind them. Our Little Ying landing in Qi Zhu's arms, in the sea. It looks like he leapt into Qi Zhu's arms, and like Qi Zhu was reaching out to him, all at the same time. Wahhhhhh, my ship is sailing!]
[Is the reality show almost over? I wish I could go see them, wahhhh!]
The two-and-a-half day reality show was coming to a close. After the footage was edited, the show would be broadcast again. The livestream would stay on air for a while, focusing on the island shop that hosted the show's guests, in order to bring the shop some more popularity.
In order to give the guests some privacy, 'Livestream in Progress' was still written on the signboard outside the shop. Most of the fans of the celebrity guests had already left the livestream room, but some netizens with nothing better to do still lingered, hoping to catch sight of their favorite stars doing something entertaining before their departure.
Since they had to get back to the set of their drama the next day, Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu left first. The other guests would also be departing on their own a little later.
"Class Monitor, you really know how to pick a good show," Jiang Ying said, sitting in the car. He felt exceptionally good now that he had been reunited with his cell phone, after two days away from the internet. "This was pretty good, for a honeymoon."
"I originally planned on telling you on the island," Qi Zhu said. He'd been looking out the window, but he returned his gaze to Jiang Ying now.
"Telling me what?" Jiang Ying asked, before realizing a second later. "You planned on confessing to me on the island?"
The time and place would have been perfect. It seemed Class Monitor had been concerned about those things too.
"Who could have guessed you would suddenly figure it out?" Qi Zhu laughed softly. "I was thinking about finding an opportunity to slip away with you. You're easy to trick."
"I'm only easily tricked by you," Jiang Ying corrected, glancing over at Qi Zhu out of the corner of his eye. "If anyone else wants to try to trick me, well, let's just let them try. I'll always fight back.
"But, speaking of which, Little Qi-zong—that's Qi Jun—he knew a lot. He gave me a ton of advice. When I get a chance, I should thank him." As of late, Jiang Ying had started thinking his old classmate really was a pretty good guy. "I even asked him to help me pick up a package earlier. That guy who sat in front of us is really kinda great.
"It's already pretty late today, and he doesn't know we've come back early, so I won't bother him. Some other time, when I get the chance, I'll be sure to thank him."