6:30PM. When He Xiu arrived at Jian Yan’s apartment building on time, Jian Yan was already there waiting for him downstairs. She quickly fled inside his car as soon as it came to a halt, laughing as she secured her seat belt. “You actually got here safely from Starlight General Merchandise? No fans blockaded you in?”
“Fortunately, they didn’t know which car was mine.”
Jian Yan burst out laughing again, barely able to choke out another question. “How does it feel to be unmasked?”
He Xiu stated, “Very exciting.”
“Hahaha.” Jian Yan couldn’t stop laughing.
He Xiu drove out of the residential area before saying to her, “Next time, let’s go eat at Boss Xiao’s String of Fragrances.”
Jian Yan started. “Are you talking about that Gambling God, CEO Xiao? He also manages String of Fragrances?”
“Yes; not only is the business doing very well, he’s also opening two other branches.”
“Wow. Then, do you want to also think about starting a side business?”
He Xiu chuckled and said, “Aren’t I singing?”
“…Right.” Jian Yan lowered her head to snigger.
The two of them were naturally very happy to go on a dinner date together, but unexpectedly, it turned into the leading story the next day. Unnoticed by them, the paparazzi had begun following them from Jian Yan’s apartment building to Tian Xia Restaurant and had taken pictures the entire time.
Although the two of them hadn’t acknowledged this situation last time, because of the photos taken this second time, the degree of credibility appeared to suddenly rise.
「The photos this time are clearer than last time. Teacher Tang Zhi really is gorgeous!」
「No, hubby is mine. I refuse to believe :)」
「So it’s now not limited to female stars; even manhua artists like living off a rich man?」
「You talk about living off a rich man, but you definitely don’t know how much money Teacher Tang Zhi makes off of one manuscript :)」
「Come come come, let me give everyone a pop culture lecture. First, not mentioning the hard copy publishing and internet serialization author’s remunerations as well as all kinds of copyright fees; last time when Teacher Tang Zhi and Bunny collaborated and drew that large poster, that had earned them nearly ¥200,000. Do you believe now? Furthermore, this is the price of friendship when considering their collaboration :)」 1
「Yes yes yes, Teacher Tang Zhi is the awesomest. I heard the manuscript already exceeded 100,000. Those several chibis she drew for Starlight General Merchandise last christmas also cost around ten thousand. So pro『smile』」
「No need to be so caustic. How about you draw a few chibis and see whether people are willing to spend more than ten thousand to buy them? Besides, have you even seen them? Although they were Q-version characters, the clothes they wore weren’t the common Santa Claus-type red jacket; instead, they were a blend of Christmas elements and fashion. Those two clothing designs, if casually sold, can net a hundred thousand or more. I still think using them for chibis is a waste of such good designs!」
「Even if you’re bitter about Teacher Tang Zhi, can’t you see how much Starlight General Merchandise gave her in author’s remuneration? Have you also calculated how many people bought products on Christmas Day in order to get her designs? The traffic she brought to Starlight General Merchandise only made profit, no deficits in sight. She can be considered more of an entrepreneur than you.」
「…This is moving towards a simply bewildering direction. Weren’t we talking about Tang Zhi and Eldest Master He’s sex scandal? How come we went to talking about Tang Zhi’s income『smile-cry』」
「Hahaha this is the first time I’ve seen gossip news become such a serious and earnest discussion. I’m dying of laughter.」
「Nothing important to say, can only wish in advance everyone a happy Lantern Festival!」
Watching the gathering on Weibo from a distance, Jian Yan also felt that its direction was very confusing. Although, with this matter being mentioned over and over again, she couldn’t always pretend to play dumb to distract them, right?
Just as she was about to call He Xiu to ask him about this, he called her.
“Jian Yan, have you seen Weibo recently?”
Jian Yan nodded subconsciously. “I saw.”
He Xiu elaborated, “It seems that this time it was a different paparazzi group to the ones who did the last scoop. Apparently only when I truly want to bring a lawsuit against them will they know to disappear.”
Jian Yan was slightly curious. “Didn’t you previously never care about the paparazzi writing gossip on you without basis?”
“I previously was too lazy to deal with it, but now…I’m afraid it would impact you.”
“I’m actually alright. I had said last time that I’m not a female star.”
He Xiu thought for a moment before saying, “I can have someone handle the news on Weibo, but this will never be the solution. If you’re not against it…” He trailed off for a while before carrying on, “I want to publicize our relationship. What do you think?”
Jian Yan took a moment to contemplate and answered, “I have no problem with that…I merely think it’s a bit funny. Neither one of us are stars, yet how is it that we still have to deal with this type of stuff. Haha.”
He Xiu also chuckled for a while. “Although we are not stars, we are still celebrities in the 2D world. Those paparazzi couldn’t dig up enough news, so it was only natural beggars can’t be choosers.”
Pfft. Jian Yan automatically visualized hungry wolves throwing themselves that the two of them.
“I intend to respond on my Weibo first. When the moment comes, you can straightforwardly reblog my post and add on your own message.”
“Okay…” Jian Yan’s heart unknowingly began throbbing. Peng—peng— “I don’t know why, but I actually feel somewhat excited…”
He Xiu’s deep yet sweet-sounding laughter coming through the phone so softly made Jian Yan’s face indescribably redden. “What are you laughing about. Quickly go and post on Weibo.”
“Okay, Teacher Tang Zhi.”
He Xiu hung up the call and directly opened Nan Si’s Weibo. This time was different from last time’s audio recording. This time, he only posted a brief message.
Nan Si 【V】: Thank you everyone for your concern. I am indeed together with Teacher Tang Zhi『shy』」
His comment section exploded right after posting his Weibo update, as if they had already known there would be this outcome earlier. He Xiu exited at top speed and resolved not to go on Weibo for half a month.
Jian Yan was even lazier than him and just reblogged his post, copying him by adding a 『shy』 emoticon as well.
This matter kept getting reblogged until it reached the very top. On the second day when they became the top trending search, another heavyweight bomb was tossed onto Weibo.
Currently popular female celebrity Pei Ying posted her marriage certificate on Weibo.
Her partner was naturally the one who she had continuously been in the news with this past recent year, Song Nan Chuan—CEO Song.
After this matter exploded, the top trending search very quickly shifted. In regards to Tang Zhi and Eldest Master He’s CP, it once again gradually faded from public limelight.
He Xiu felt that CEO Song indeed was a good cooperative partner talented at understanding others. This friend wasn’t made in vain.
After this unmasking event and sex scandal gradually died down, He Xiu finally found the time to meet with Tang Zheng and carefully explained to him the matter of Zhao Ying Fang not being his biological mother.
Tang Zheng was completely dumbstruck for half a minute when he finished listening. His eyes widened slightly. “You…really aren’t helping Jian Yan test out a twist in her new project?”
“If I was, I would find a more astute person.”
Tang Zheng: “…”
It was only after he picked up his coffee from the table and drained it in one gulp that finally felt as if his lips were no longer chapped. “I…I’m a bit confused right now. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for you first or to curse Zhao Ying Fang first.” There was of course that asshole father as well, but he had called him Uncle He for so many years that curses refused to leave his mouth.
He Xiu also picked up his coffee from the tabletop, thinning his lips as he did so. “No need for either. It’s enough as long as you don’t get drunk and make irresponsible remarks everywhere.”
“…Be reassured. I will not commit the same mistake twice!”
“If only it were so. Apart from Jian Yan, you’re the only one I’ve told.”
Tang Zheng immediately felt strangely honored, but this feeling was also accompanied by a sense of loss. They really were the best brothers. This kind of important secret could only be shared with him. This feeling had yet to pass when he heard He Xiu indifferently continue to say, “Because the others guessed most of it without needing me to tell them.”
Tang Zheng: “……”
What fucking brothers! Should break off relations!
He angrily had the waiter give him another glass of water before turning back to look at He Xiu. “Today is the Lantern Festival yet you met up with me; don’t you need to accompany your Teacher Tang Zhi?”
Speaking of this, He Xiu’s face flashed with a hint of loneliness. Tang Zheng wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating or not. “Their studio is having a group dinner today, supposedly to make up for the annual meeting.”
“Ha? Annual meeting with the end of the year? Chief Lin has quite a way of thinking.”
“Because it’s supposedly a make-up.”
Lin Zhen actually didn’t want to hold an annual meeting at this time, but during the time before the year ended, Teacher Tang Zhi led numerous manhua artists through busy and troubled times. Basically, no one had the time to join in an annual meeting. After all, she couldn’t perform by herself in front of an audience, right
Thus the studio didn’t hold any events before the end of the year. Taking advantage of the fact that today was the Lantern Festival and that it was also a good day, she finally assembled every last one of them together.
“Today is my treat. Everyone, don’t be polite and eat as you wish.” Lin Zhen was rather like a boss calling out to the many trusted lieutenants under her command. Those few manhua artists who had been with the studio for a long time were very calm and collected, but the few newcomers actually seemed very excited.
Did you hear? Today they’re giving out red pockets!
What had Lin Zhen worried about for quite a while was what to gift everyone. She asked Jian Yan for her opinion and got the following answer:
Lin Zhen: “…”
Since Teacher Tang Zhi was so coarse, this boss would have no worries either. As a result, the reward prize all became brilliant red money.
There weren’t many people in the studio, so the activity wasn’t as grand as a large company. Lin Zhen, however, still bothered to make a lottery with the prizes being different denominations of money.
Although inelegant, everyone liked it.
The game rules were that everyone only had one chance to draw a prize. Before they could draw a prize, however, they must perform a program for everyone. The studio members sang, danced, drew, performed skits, did comedy acts, etc. Jia Yan went up and casually howled twice, winning the first prize—ten thousand yuan.
“Fuck, you lucky bastard!” Lin Zhen angrily slapped the table and stood up.
Jian Yan laughed into a flower. “Hahahaha new year’s good luck being put to use. Profits pouring in from all sides, thanks, Chief Lin!”
Lin Zhen: “…”
Having received a pile of money, Jian Yan’s mood was very ecstatic. She picked up her phone to send a message to He Xiu upon returning to her seat. 「I just drew a lottery and won ten thousand yuan! Plus Lin Zhen is giving me the annual MVP award. I earned several tens of thousands tonight! Hahaha! What do you want? Jiejie will buy it for you 『cool』」
He Xiu saw her message and laughed before replying with one word. 「You.」
Expressing thanks to sponsors
- Price of Friendship = discount price because of friendship ↩