The New Year's holidays were just around the corner. Zhou Xiang noticed that Yan Mingxiu's mood was worsening these days. He would often shut himself in the study and not come out. Sometimes he would sit in front of the TV and silently daze out.
One day, Zhou Xiang finally couldn't take it anymore and asked Yan Mingxiu what was wrong with him. Was his company not going very smoothly? After all, things were relatively busier at the end of the year.
Even now, Zhou Xiang still didn't have any concrete idea of what Yan Mingxiu did. It seemed to have something to do with finance and investing of that sort, but Zhou Xiang didn't understand that stuff, and was always too lazy to ask. He just knew that Yan Mingxiu had a pretty good salary. He always bought the best when he was shopping. They didn't split their living expenses; both of them just paid whenever something needed to be paid, and never haggled over it. Thanks to Yan Mingxiu, Zhou Xiang had also gotten to use a lot of good stuff. Generally, companies needed to focus on and settle with backlogged work at the end of the year, so being busy was a given. Even Zhou Xiang who usually didn't need to go to the company office was dragged away to prepare for the company's annual party these past few days. Seeing Yan Mingxiu's state, Zhou Xiang guessed that he was suffering from exhaustion.
Yan Mingxiu shook his head. "It's nothing." He said and entered the room with a gloomy face.
Zhou Xiang wanted to help him but was helpless to do so.
Zhou Xiang went to the company again at first light. Cai Wei had made him an assistant, helping to plan and prepare the annual party. It was difficult to book hotels at this time of the year. Zhou Xiang went around to quite a few hotels with Xiao Zhang from the Planning Department, and still hadn't been able to book a suitable one.
He had just stepped into the building when Cai Wei saw him from far away, pulled him over, and said to him with a cautious face, "A'Xiang, I never expected that you were so capable."
Zhou Xiang was utterly confused.
"Did you know? Director Wang nominated you to be in his new movie. He said that he wants to give you a supporting role."
Zhou Xiang responded with shock, "Really?"
"Really, how did you subdue that old lunatic?"
"I have no idea. Maybe it's because I'm relatively good at taking a scolding."
Cai Wei snorted with laughter, "That's possible. At any rate, you definitely can't pass off this opportunity. So many people are scrambling for the chance to show their face in his movie. If you accept this character, you might not need to be a body double anymore."
Zhou Xiang was already thirty. For a few years when he first started, he had also dreamed of bumping into a good role and shooting to fame. After being in the circle for a long time, he had seen a lot and learnt that even if someone was equipped with everything, they would probably never, in their entire lifetime, be able to borrow the east wind and become famous, say nothing of someone ordinary like him. He never imagined that this sort of opportunity would really arrive.
Zhou Xiang actually didn't have a strong desire to be a celebrity, but he liked earning more money. Improving one's lifestyle was a man's natural instinct. Although Zhou Xiang wasn’t materialistic, he didn't want to give up the opportunity to earn money.
"But Wang Yudong..."
"Hey, why are you worrying about him? You're not going to be his body double this time. It's Director Wang who invited you. You two aren't acting the same character, it's not worth his notice. You also have Chief Wang’s strong support. He's planning to invite the screenwriter out for meal, and to get them to add more screentime for you and Lan Xirong. Cai Wei happily patted his arm. "A'Xiang, Wei'ge has always hoped that he'd be able to take you to better places, you’re alone and have no family, you must save up a lot of money when you're young."
Zhou Xiang laughed, "Thank you, Wei'ge. Then, then do I need to contact Director Wang's assistant?"
"Hm, go now, they're all in the conference room"
"Chief Wang, Director Wang and Wang Yudong's people. Oh, also two other investors. They're holding a meeting today, but Lan Xirong was busy and didn't come."
"That’s not good. They’re holding a meeting with so many people, what am I going up there for?"
"What are you scared of? You're part of the cast, aren't you? Go, go." Cai Wei dragged him to the conference room.
Chief Wang nodded at him. Zhou Xiang greeted the people one after the other and lastly gave Director Wang an ingratiating smile. This big director was extremely hard to please. Zhou Xiang was a bit flattered that Director Wang nominated him.
Director Wang was as cold and unfriendly as usual, "Sit."
Wang Yudong uninterestedly cast him a glance. His eyes were extremely cold.
Zhou Xiang's heart trembled. From the looks of it, Wang Yudong's opinion of him had already dropped to the point he didn't even bother to act polite on the surface. This was understandable. Yan Mingxiu was his future little brother-in-law after all. Who would want their own brother-in-law to be homosexual, and also to have hooked up with one of the people around him. It was awkward to even think about it.
Zhou Xiang decided to simply not look at him and steer clear of him as much as he could. Even if Wang Yudong wasn't giving him any face, Wang Yudong still needed to look at Chief Wang and Director Wang's faces.
The atmosphere in the conference room was very strange. Several investors were trying all sorts of ways to reconcile Director Wang and Wang Yudong's relationship. Director Wang was sixty this year; coaxing him wasn't humiliating for anyone. However, Zhou Xiang could clearly tell that Wang Yudong wasn't sincere at all. He had a feeling that this movie would definitely meet with trouble, and when that happened, he definitely needed to hide as far away as possible.
After the meeting ended, Director Wang left first with someone. The company staff also left one after the other. Chief Wang wanted to say a few words to Zhou Xiang but then saw that Wang Yudong was waiting nearby looking at Zhou Xiang.
Zhou Xiang knew that Wang Yudong wanted to talk to him. He really didn't want to.
Chief Wang looked between them. "Yudong, you want to talk to Zhou Xiang?"
Wang Yudong nooded.
"I'll recommend another body double for you, I know someone who is really suitable."
Wang Yudong smiled politely, "Thank you Chief Wang, I'll have a look when I have time."
Chief Wang raised a brow. "Then you guys discuss your thing. Zhou Xiang, come to my office afterwards."
After Chief Wang finished speaking, he grabbed Cai Wei and left.
After there was only the two of them left in the conference room, Zhou Xiang politely smiled, "Dong'ge, what did you want to talk to me about?"
"I heard that you don't want to be my body double this time?"
Zhou Xiang nodded, "I accepted too many jobs lately, I'm too busy..."
"Zhou Xiang, don't try to fool me, that supporting role has more screentime than my martial double, how do you have time for that?"
Zhou Xiang smiled awkwardly, "Dong'ge, it wasn't easy for me to fish up a role, you can understand, right?"
"How can I not? But we've collaborated many times, you're now suddenly making me change body doubles, I really can't get used to it. If by any chance the new body double isn't as skilled as you, and brings down my performance in the movie, then I don’t want to use someone else." Wang Yudong said with a surface smile.
Zhou Xiang broke out into cold sweat. "Dong'ge, look..."
"No more excuses, you want to avoid me because of Mingxiu, right? The entertainment world is only this big, can you hide from me forever?"
Zhou Xiang didn't speak.
"Mingxiu's matter, reasonably speaking, I don't have the right to interfere, but more importantly, I can't risk letting his sister find out. Mingxiu has a great future ahead of him, he can’t keep mingling with you forever."
Zhou Xiang secretly clenched his fists and remained silent.
"Zhou Xiang." Wang Yudong said well-meaningly, "Let's get this all out of the open. I know what you're scheming, if you can make connections with the Yan Family, you won't have to worry about anything for the rest of your life. But, why hasn't a smart person like you realised? You two are both men. Can you give birth to his children? Can you marry him? If you offend his family, no one will be able to protect you. We've known each other for three, four years already. I'm warning you out of kindness. It’s already really good that you were able to fish up this character. Stop while you're ahead."
Wang Yudong's words were already considerably impolite. Zhou Xiang was so angry his body was trembling. Rather than beating around the bush like this to insult him, why doesn't he just point at his nose and give him a full chewing out that he wants to live off Yan Mingxiu.
The problem was he f***ing didn't know what the hell Yan Mingxiu's family did.
Wang Yudong looked at Zhou Xiang's ashen expression and smiled with contempt, "Zhou Xiang, Mingxiu's sister and I are getting engaged on New Year's Day. At that time, our relationship will be made public and I'll be considered be tied with the Yan Family. If people dig out that my brother-in-law is involved with my body double, that scoop will be enough to amuse the masses for half a year, don't you think? I don't want to deal with that kind of aftermath, and I trust that you don't either."
Zhou Xiang said grimly, "We never planned to make our relationship public, you're thinking too much."
Wang Yudong sneered, "In this circle, how many secrets are there in which the parties implicated don't want to be revealed, but have still been forced to let the world know?"
Zhou Xiang tightly clenched his fists, scared that he'd lose control and give him a piece of his mind. He wasn't a wet behind the ears youngster with no brains. He knew which people he couldn't afford to offend.
Wang Yudong looked at him and said, "As for my body double, you’d better do it. I don’t feel safe using someone else. There's a lot invested in this movie, and is crucial for me in order to enter the Asian market. I don't want my image to be affected when the time comes because the martial arts scenes aren't perfect enough. I still trust you more than the rest. I'll pay an amount that will satisfy you. I've already spoken this much, don't tell me that you’re not even going to give me this face?"
Zhou Xiang endured and endured. He endured to the point that his heart and lungs were about explode. He told himself, this is society, this is life.
He nodded, and forced out a smile, "You're already said so much, Dong'ge, how can I dare not comply?"
Wang Yudong nodded approvingly. Seeing Zhou Xiang's expression, he knew that he had achieved his two objectives today. He walked over and patted Zhou Xiang's shoulder. "Go back and thoroughly think through what I said to you today. I'm not opposed to you fishing up more things, but I advise that you end things with Mingxiu early. Perhaps it's not something you like to hear, but I really am saying this for your own good."
After Wang Yudong left, Zhou Xiang couldn't muster back any energy. He stood in the conference room for a long time, until his legs and abdomen became numb.
He laughed mockingly at himself, turned and headed straight for Chief Wang's office.
Chief Wang was reading a book with his legs crossed. Zhou Xiang sat down on the sofa on the side. Chief Wang said, "It’s nothing big, I just want to warn you about some things. One, if anything happens between Director Wang and Wang Yudong, tell me right away. Two, I’m fighting for more screen time for you, you must properly make use of this opportunity. You actually have a really unique appearance, if you grasp the opportunity, it's possible that you can make a name for yourself."
Zhou Xiang nodded. His heart pounded extremely fast. After thinking it over and over, he finally couldn't stop himself from asking, "Chief Wang, can I talk about some gossip?"
"Huh? What gossip?"
"Concerning Wang Yudong's girlfriend. He told me that he's going to get engaged."
"Oh, you know too now. Yes, on New Year's day, I'm also invited."
"What... What exactly is his girlfriend’s family background? I heard, I heard that it's really incredible?"
Chief Wang laughed, shaking his head. "You’re really behind with the news. It's not a specially big secret, perhaps it was in the past, but now that they have fixed a day, Wang Yudong is absolutely eager for the entire world to know."
Zhou Xiang felt an uprush of nervousness and agitation. "Chief Wang, stop with the guessing game, please tell me directly."
Chief Wang narrowed his eyes and said with embarrassment, "Is it really that hard to guess? That surname is really rare. How many rich families in Beijing have the surname Yan? Isn't there only just one?"
Zhou Xiang blinked, and suddenly he had a revelation, "Yan, Yan Dejiang?"
"Yup, what other family would be able to make Wang Yudong so cocky? Hmph." Chief Wang twitched his mouth, and sneered, "This pretty boy sure is popular. He must really feel proud and elated this time."
Zhou Xiang's entire body was drenched in cold sweat.
If he didn't even know who Yan Dejiang, a person who was broadcasted in the news from time to time, was, then he really was living in the information age in vain.
Even though, even before he had felt that the surname Yan was really unusual, even if he used ten of his brains, he still wouldn't be able to work out that Yan Mingxiu was that Yan Dejiang's grandson. How could such a powerful person, who could make the capital quake with the stomp of his foot, possibly live in the same world as him?
It was practically nonsensical, too nonsensical.
Chief Wang noticed that Zhou Xiang was deathly pale, and asked in confusion, "What's wrong? Is there any need to be so shocked? Even an immortal has to get married."
Zhou Xiang shook his head with difficulty, "I just never expected..."
"Who would have expected this? That year, when Wang Yudong's father wanted to find him to send gifts he couldn't even touch the right connections. You can say that they've endured and come out top. He truly has brought up a good son." Chief Wang's tone was somewhat disdainful. He himself was a third generation descendant of government leader, but was not on the same level as the Yan Family. In the past, people like Wang Yudong needed to butter up to him but now Wang Yudong was relying on that sort of relationship to intimidate him, so he was more or less a bit unhappy inside.
The two chatted a little more. Chief Wang revealed quite a bit about how Wang Yudong was intoxicated by success after he made connections with the Yan Family's daughter. Zhou Xiang wasn't in any mood to listen. From beginning to end, he kept thinking about Yan Mingxiu.
He finally understood how Yan Mingxiu cultivated that sort of domineering and egoistic personality. Zhou Xiang felt that it was more and more unreal that Yan Mingxiu was willing to squeeze into a seventy square metre old apartment with him, and even stay there for almost a year now.
On the way back home, because Zhou Xiang was so in such a trance, he almost crashed into the back of someone's car. He thought it over the whole journey home, and in the end decided that he'd treat it as if he didn't know anything. Zhou Xiang didn't seek anything besides Yan Mingxiu himself. Since Yan Mingxiu didn't tell him, then it also wasn’t necessary for him to ask. Letting this matter pass was also a really good plan.