Qi Cong’s first reaction was to turn around, take out the hat that was originally prepared for Shen Jia from his backpack and directly put it on Gu Xun’s head before frowning.
“There are so many people in the open parking lot, how can you even—huh.”
Gu Xun delivered ice cream into Qi Cong’s mouth again before glancing at the brim of his hat and smiling as he slightly bent down to look at Qi Cong.
“Thank you.” With that, he raised his head to look at Zhao Zhenxun and gestured to the black car not far away. ‘‘Can I borrow your little staff member for a while? Just five minutes.”
This morning the light sunshine that splayed on Gu Xun, who was wearing a clean white T with light-colored jeans. It illuminated his smiling eyes; his snow-white skin; his entire facial features and the perfect line of his cheeks; and his tall, sturdy figure of the tantalizing adult man brimming with provocative hormones.
“. . . Hiss.”
He didn’t know who secretly held his breath, but at last, all the people in the area came to their senses.
Shen Jia looked back and forth at Gu Xun and Qi Cong, observing their postures, which indicated a relationship that obviously exceeded the bounds of ordinary friendship. He was stunned; the impact of his realization had left him speechless.
The other assistants were also stunned as they looked back and forth at Gu Xun and Qi Cong, their eyes shining crazily at this bit of gossip.
Only Zhao Zhenxun remained rational. After confirming that there should be no paparazzi squatting around, he looked to his side and at Gu Xun’s car, which was parked nearby, before looking at Qi Cong and asking him while frowning, “Do you want to be borrowed by Gu Xun?”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Qi Cong again.
Gu Xun also looked at Qi Cong, who had already regained his awareness, spit out the spoon of ice cream, and shook the ice cream box with a smile.
“Come with me to have ice cream.”
Qi Cong stiffened. He didn’t understand why Gu Xun appeared here and behaved like this. He took a deep breath to suppress the emotions stirred by Gu Xun’s unusual behavior, trying to calm down before looking back at Zhao Zhenxun.
“Agent Zhao, can I leave for five minutes?”
Gu Xun chuckled happily.
Qi Cong clenched his fist and didn’t dare to look at the other person’s expression. He just added, “Mr. Gu likes to joke.”
Everyone: “. . .” What a fart! Gu Xun’s nickname was “the young master who lives on an iceberg” was not from nothing.
Zhao Zhenxun couldn’t watch it anymore, so he said to Gu Xun, “Return my staff on time.”
With that, he looked at Qi Cong and opened his mouth, but he didn’t say anything. He just waved his hand signalling Qi Cong to return quickly.
Qi Cong said a thank you, returned the makeup box to Jiang Meng, handed the accessory box to Xiao Han’s other assistant, and finally looked at Shen Jia.
Shen Jia was trying to conceal his disbelief and the confusion at being abandoned from showing on his face. He was slightly aggrieved as he held his face and looked at Gu Xun and Qi Cong.
“You . . . You . . .”
“I’ll explain it to you when I get back.” Qi Cong patted Shen Jia placatingly and then turned to Gu Xun and said, “Let’s go.”
With that, he stepped toward Gu Xun’s car.
Gu Xun glanced sideways at Shen Jia, his gaze stopping at the place where Shen Jia was photographed, then followed after Qi Cong.
After approaching Gu Xun’s car, Qi Cong saw there was still an assistant standing beside the vehicle. When he saw them coming, the assistant immediately went to the back door and bent down to help him open the door, making a gesture of invitation to him.
Qi Cong: “ . . . Thank you.”
He glanced back at Gu Xun and slid into the car
Gu Xun also got in the car, when the door closed. Qi Cong did not wait for Gu Xun to speak.
“My family is bankrupt.”
Gu Xun was about to face Qi Cong but stopped.
“I really need this job as Shen Jia’s assistant.” Qi Cong felt a little embarrassed, but some things needed to be said clearly. He looked sideways at Gu Xun and said seriously, “Gu Xun, I don’t understand why you showed up here, nor do I understand what you just . . . However, JiaJia kindly offered me a job when I have no real experience. I can’t rely on being friends with him to always deal with my personal affairs and interfere with his work during his working hours. That wouldn’t be right.”
Gu Xun slowly put the ice cream spoon into the box before smiling and asking, “Your family is bankrupt? When did it happen?”
Qi Cong turned around and replied, “At the beginning of the year.”
At the beginning of the year, Heaven Asked was in the key period of promotion at an international film festival abroad.
Gu Xun didn’t speak; the brim of his hat cast a shadow over his eyebrows, making his eyes appear somewhat darker. Gu Xun who was silent and expressionless, immediately emanated a strong sense of oppression from his bones. This pressure spread out like ice, quickly covering the narrow space in the car. A feeling of strangeness was everywhere.
Qi Cong continued, “Gu Xun, you and JiaJia are both public figures. I am JiaJia’s assistant and coming to me like this without hesitation might bring JiaJia—”
“You mean you want to keep your distance from me because of Shen Jia?”
Qi Cong shut up and looked at his fingers for two seconds before once again turning his face away from Gu Xun’s line of sight.
“I’m not doing it for Shen Jia. I’m asking for myself. I’m afraid that Zhao Zhenxun will fire me because of my bad influence on JiaJia. My memories are stuck in my junior year with no professional knowledge or social experience. It would be hard to find a secure job quickly. Also . . . I’m short on money. Gu Xun, I really, really need this job.”
Gu Xun gritted his teeth though no sign of it was visible. He sidled closer and then lowered the hand holding the ice cream before leaning back into the car seat.
“I’m affecting your life.”
Qi Cong also withdrew his eyes from Gu Xun. “Not yet.”
There was silence in the car. After a while, Gu Xun moved. He reached out to put the ice cream on the armrest of the front seat before facing Qi Cong. His shoulder was slightly pressed, crossed arms on top of his knees, and gave a low hum.
The “Hmm” drew Qi Cong’s attention, then Gu Xun smiled slightly in apology at Qi Cong.
“Sorry. It was my thoughtlessness. When this ice cream melts, I won’t give it to you, and I’ll treat you to something better next time.”
The invisible pressure in the air quickly dissipated with the relaxation of Gu Xun’s expression and the gentling of his tone.
Qi Cong shook his head. “Don’t apologize . . . I know you didn’t mean to . . . Thank you for the ice cream.”
Gu Xun looked at Qi Cong and then paused for two seconds before leaning back against the seat. This time he said a little more slowly in a more relaxed tone, “Qi Cong, I’m going to the airport soon. I will be very busy in the next period of time due to the publicity of Heaven Asked and the shooting of Above the Dynasty. I came to you so rashly today because I needed to talk with you before I will be too busy.”
Being able to communicate was a good thing. Qi Cong slowed down and asked, “Talk about what?”
“I only told you yesterday that I regretted that I lied to you in the past. But I didn’t have time to thank you. I’m grateful that you didn’t completely ignore or hate me for my past deception.”
“. . . No need.” Qi Cong averted his gaze and said, “No need.”
As for what was not needed, he didn’t know. In fact, he didn’t know if he hated Gu Xun because of his past deception. Saying it was hate, it seemed it was not. He could feel that Gu Xun’s deception was not out of malice, and he was very grateful toward Gu Xun for helping him out in the event of Water without a Trace. Moreover, when he lost his memories, he very likely hurt Gu Xun and owed him something.
He said he didn’t hate him, but he couldn’t act familiarly with Gu Xun, who was now a complete stranger to him. Before Gu Xun, his mood would turn chaotic. No, it was not hate, but it would be hard to say that it was still love.
“I also want to ask. We . . . Can we be friends again?”
Qi Cong was stunned and moved. As soon as he wanted to answer, Gu Xun continued to say, “I want to get to know you again in a true way, all right? Give us a chance to start from the beginning.”
Start from the beginning. These words were too tempting. Can those hazy emotions that began with deception really start from the beginning? Maybe it was that Gu Xun’s expression when he spoke was too much like the old days, maybe he wanted to get rid of the chaos in his mind, maybe . . . maybe he just didn’t want to know what Gu Xun was really like, to know the real person under this deception. After a few seconds of silence, Qi Cong nodded his agreement.
Before the five minutes were up, Qi Cong got out of the car. Before leaving, Qi Cong bent close to Gu Xun and said, “I saw the Weibo you shared. Can you . . . not mention me in public again in the future?”
Gu Xun paused faintly before smiling and nodding. “Of course. I will wait until we become true . . . friends again before introducing our relationship.”
Qi Cong sighed in relief, said thank you, and turned to leave.
Immediately after Qi Cong left, the mixed-race little brother assistant returned to the car. He fastened his seat belt and started the car, his voice anxious. “Brother Gu, we are going to miss the plane.”
The assistant looked at Gu Xun through the rearview mirror in confusion. “What is too skinny?”
“Him.” Gu Xun raised his hand and touched the car window, tracing the distant outline of Qi Cong on the glass. “Why didn’t I notice it before? He was so thin. What’s the average salary for an artist assistant now?”
The assistant couldn’t keep up with Gu Xun’s thought process, so he turned the steering wheel while saying, “Three thousand to more than ten thousand. It depends on what kind of assistant they are. Some big bosses will send another big bonus at the end of the year. Brother Gu, not all bosses are as generous as you are.”
Three thousand to ten thousand. Qi Cong’s pocket money for a month when he went to school was more than that.
Gu Xun’s nails scratched against the car window, producing an unpleasant sound. It was only when Qi Cong passed a flowerbed and disappeared from sight, did he withdraw his gaze. No longer deliberately concealing it, the slightly overbearing aura of oppression on his body leaked out again. His tone was also slightly anxious.
“Even if his family went bankrupt. As a senior executive of a medium-sized company, he should not be short of money now. There must be something that I don’t know happened. Someone must be bullying—Right.”
He pulled out his phone and opened to his statement on Weibo that had been reposted and abused in comments. His voice was low and cold. “There is indeed trash bullying him right under my nose.”
. . .
After entering the studio, Qi Cong found Zhao Zhenxun and took the initiative to promise that there will be no such thing as leaving the post during working hours because of personal affairs again.
Zhao Zhenxun looked at Qi Cong for two seconds and nodded. ‘‘It’s good that you understand.’’
After chatting with Zhao Zhenxun, Qi Cong found Shen Jia again and said that he would talk about Gu Xun with him in detail in the evening.
Shen Jia was, right then, pressed by Jiang Meng, who was doing his eyebrows. So after hearing this, he couldn’t express his objection and could only express his agreement.
The publicity photo shoot went pretty fast with the photo shoots covering several sets of clothes a day. Everyone was very busy. Qi Cong, who was not familiar with the assistant work, could only look at it for a moment. Seeing that other assistants were also busy, he took the initiative to help them.
It was just after 7:00 p.m. when the shoot finished. Everyone was so tired that, after they got in the car, they all collapsed and no one spoke. Qi Cong glanced at Shen Jia, who immediately leaned back against the back seat and fell asleep. He took out a spare jacket to cover Shen Jia’s stomach and then took out his mobile phone to open his WeChat, which had accumulated several unread messages.
Most of the messages were from Qi Yin, and a few were from . . . Qi Cong looked at Gu Xun’s cat avatar, moved his finger, and still tapped on Qi Yin’s WeChat first.
Mom: Found the hard drive and your notes. It looks like the hard drive is fine and there is nothing missing from your notes. They have been sent to you already and should arrive tomorrow.
Mom: CongCong, do you want to pick up your studies again?
Mom: That would not be so bad. Didn’t you want to go to grad school? I think that even if you lose a few years, if you review well, you will definitely be able to enter the school you want to go to.
Mom: Anyway, no matter what you want to do, Mom will support you.
Mom: Are you busy?
Mom: Baby, send me a message when you’re finished.
Qi Cong touched the word baby on the screen and smiled lightly before replying to Qi Yin’s several messages, then he closed the chatbox and clicked open Gu Xun’s account.
Gu Xun: got on the plane
Gu Xun: got off the plane.
Gu Xun: Take care of me
The distance caused by the Internet and Gu Xun’s familiar avatar and tone blurred the sense of unfamiliarity. Qi Cong fell into a trance for a moment. His mind flashed back to the honest and shy Gu Xun from three years ago. However, he soon regained his awareness and recalled the strange conversation between Gu Xun and their recent “start from the beginning” one in the car. He tapped on the input box, found the ice cream icon in the system’s expression pack and sent it.
Edited by: Faro