Yuan Ye, with a cigarette in his mouth, squatted on the emergency lane of the highway, his eyes slightly squinted from the smoke as he looked at his phone. On the phone was a young director from a production team, sending him a bunch of program schedules and details that had been confirmed.
Yuan Ye typed out a message and sent it, interrupting the constant stream of messages from the other side: "Wait a minute."
The young director on the other end asked, "What's wrong, Yuan-laoshi?"
Yuan Ye replied, "Why did you contact me? Didn't Geng Jinwei terminate the contract with you guys?"
The young director was confused, "...I'm not sure I understand what you mean, Yuan-laoshi."
Yuan Ye asked, "Is this program still featuring Fang Shaoyi? Have you confirmed with him?"
The young director was suddenly at a loss for words and didn't dare to reply. He probably went to ask his boss right away.
With his phone tightly gripped in his hand, Yuan Ye furrowed his brows. Some cigarette ash fell onto his pants, and he bent down to blow it off before casually brushing away the remaining traces.
Over a year ago, he and Fang Shaoyi signed up for a love travel program as a CP package deal. He had completely forgotten about it since then, and Fang Shaoyi wasn't fond of participating in variety shows either. Yuan Ye thought he must have declined the offer long ago. Suddenly receiving a message from the director, he was a bit caught off guard.
After a while, the director replied, confirming that everything was settled and there were no issues on Fang Shaoyi's side.
Standing up, Yuan Ye's legs were a bit numb from squatting for too long. He lightly shook his legs and dialed Fang Shaoyi's assistant Little Tao's number.
The phone was answered quickly on the other end, and a voice called out, "Brother Ye?"
Yuan Ye responded and asked directly, "You guys didn't reject that program?"
"What program?" Little Tao realized what he meant and asked, "You mean <In Time>?"
Yuan Ye made a sound of agreement.
"We didn't reject it. Did they contact you? I was just about to talk to you about it these past few days, Brother Ye." Little Tao said over the phone.
Yuan Ye asked again, "Is Fang Shaoyi going? His schedule is so tight this year, isn't he always filming?"
Little Tao said, "We coordinated with the production team, and the timing works. What's wrong, Brother Ye? Do you have something going on over there? If you don't want to go, we can discuss it again and see if Brother Geng can decline it."
After a moment of hesitation, Yuan Ye inserted his hand into his pocket and lowered his head in silence for a while before saying, "Since it's already signed, then I'll go."
Originally, he had planned to visit some friends in the neighboring city today. However, halfway through the highway, he felt the car getting heavier and heavier. He pulled over to the side and found that both front tires were completely flat.
He was either extremely unlucky or someone had intentionally punctured his tires. After hanging up the phone, Yuan Ye sat on the railing by the highway, waiting for someone to bring him new tires.
The wind was a bit strong that day, and after being blown for a while, his face started to feel dry.
When he arrived, the private room was already filled with people who had already had two rounds of drinks. As he pushed the door open, Ning Lu, who was closest to the door, walked over and grabbed his shoulder, teasing him, "Hey, we're not done yet. Did you come too early?"
Yuan Ye raised his eyebrows and turned to leave, "Then what? Should I go out and come back later?"
The people in the room laughed and scolded him. Ning Lu dragged him over and made him sit down. It was impossible for him to escape the few drinks as punishment for coming so late.
These people were all long-time friends, and a few of them were Yuan Ye's high school classmates, with whom he had a good relationship. Although these people often gathered in groups, Yuan Ye rarely came out to see them. With his stubborn personality, it took a lot of effort to get him to come out and meet them once.
Yuan Ye smoked and watched his friends chat away. These were all well-known figures, even a popular TV host was among them. Yuan Ye had known him the longest, they were childhood friends.
The TV host's name was Guan Zhou, usually behaving a gentleman in public, but behind closed doors, he was a boisterous drunk. When they drank, there were no limits to their conversations, and they quickly turned to vulgar topics.
Someone asked, "Hey Zhou, I heard that the famous actress who just won an award is after you. She's been trying to get with you, have you given in yet? I heard they even went to your house to ask for you."
Guan Zhou cursed, "Get lost."
"Come on, tell us about it!"
Guan Zhou shook his head and said sternly, "Don't be shameless, it's just a groundless rumor."
When men drink, they can be quite sleazy. Chattering away, they pestered Guan Zhou for the latest gossip in the entertainment industry. As a TV host, Guan Zhou had a wide social circle and knew everything that was going on.
However, he rarely talked about it and never divulged any secrets or gossip at the dinner table. This made him very popular in the industry.
Yuan Ye leaned back in his chair and pointed at the group of people, saying, "You guys are really idle, aren't you?"
Guan Zhou met his gaze and laughed, saying, "Yeah, who wouldn't be? But I've got Brother Yuan to back me up."
Yuan Ye beckoned Guan Zhou over and said, "Come on, sit here with me. Let's see who can be even more shameless."
With a grin on his face, Guan Zhou walked over with his own cup, pushing Ning Lu aside and squeezing in next to Yuan Ye. He clinked his cup against Yuan Ye's and they both took a sip of their drinks.
The table was filled with friends and brothers, but there were still varying degrees of closeness. In this room, there were a few people who were closer to Yuan Ye, including Guan Zhou.
Guan Zhou's family and Yuan Ye's family had been close since they were young, and Yuan Ye was always a mischievous troublemaker. Guan Zhou had always looked out for him. As they grew older, their statuses and positions changed, but their friendship remained the same.
Guan Zhou would often joke, "Yuan Ye's got my back," a phrase that he had been saying since they were young. That year, at the grand wedding of Yuan Ye and Fang Shaoyi, Guan Zhou was the host.
Everyone thought Guan Zhou was there for Fang Shaoyi, after all, half of the industry was there for him, and also for Fang Shaoyi's father who had great status and influence in the industry. But Guan Zhou was not there for them, he was there for his good brother, who was Yuan Ye.
Yuan Ye is now thirty-three years old, no longer the mischievous boy he once was. But as soon as he sits down, his short hair is almost shaved to his scalp, he holds a cigarette and lifts his chin, looking at people from under his thin eyelids.
His cool and handsome face still bears the scars of his mischievous childhood, clearly still the same as he was back then.
After a few more rounds of drinks, everyone was a little tipsy.
Guan Zhou broke his usual habit and lit a cigarette. He usually avoided smoking and drinking to protect his throat, but he occasionally indulged when he was with friends.
He took a puff and turned his head to look at Yuan Ye, calling out, "Brother."
"Hmm?" Yuan Ye looked over, raising an eyebrow and waiting for him to speak.
Guan Zhou looked at him and said, "I heard...you're going to be on our TV show?"
Yuan Ye didn't react much, just replied, "Ah." Then he casually asked, "Is it your station's?"
Guan Zhou frowned and said, "It doesn't matter which station, have you thought about it properly?"
Yuan Ye turned his gaze back to the group of people drinking and making noise. Everyone was doing their own thing, and no one could hear their whispered conversation. It was like they were separated by a barrier, which was quite interesting.
Yuan Ye laughed and said, "What's the big deal? It's just a show."
"Bullshit," Guan Zhou took another drag of his cigarette, his expression not looking too good. "You should focus on writing your own stuff. Why are you getting involved in this circle? Once you're on the show, you'll have one foot in the circle. With your personality, you're just asking to be criticized."
Yuan Ye drank some more and his eyes became slightly red. He chuckled, "It doesn't matter. I don't care what they say."
"What's wrong with you?" Guan Zhou was a bit frustrated. "You literary people always look down on these things. Didn't you also curse them before? Why bother to attract so much trouble and make a fool of yourself?"
Yuan Ye has always been stubborn and difficult, like a stubborn donkey, with a bad temper. That day, no matter how Guan Zhou spoke, he still had a nonchalant attitude, with a faint smile on his face, and he didn't change his mind.
Later, Guan Zhou had another drink with him. After taking a big gulp of alcohol, his eyes turned red, maybe because of the alcohol.
He lowered his voice and pointed at Yuan Ye, saying, "...you're still pretending to me!"
Yuan Ye looked over.
Guan Zhou rubbed his face hard and stared out at Yuan Ye. "I knew it all along, don't think I didn't know just because I didn't ask you. You and Fang Shaoyi separated a long time ago!"
The smile on Yuan Ye's face slowly disappeared. He looked straight at Guan Zhou and asked calmly, "Where did you hear this from?"
Guan Zhou sneered and looked at Yuan Ye as if he were a fool. "There are no secrets in this circle. Who could you possibly hide it from? You're so brainless that you're even going on that stupid show with him, pretending to be a couple. Saying 'I love you' and 'you love me'? When it's all said and done, if I don't strip you down to your underwear, I'm too naive!"
Yuan Ye didn't say a word for a long time. He just turned his head and lit a cigarette in silence. He had recently picked up smoking again after quitting, and his addiction was even worse than before.
"Brother Ye," Guan Zhou called out to him.
Yuan Ye responded.
Guan Zhou was direct this time, throwing a question right at Yuan Ye: "Did you really get divorced? When did it happen?"
Yuan Ye put down his lighter, the metal object tapping against the glass table with a crisp sound. He nodded and said, "Yeah, we got divorced."
He lifted his hand to remove the cigarette from his mouth, smoke swirling in front of his eyes.
Yuan Ye didn't show much emotion, simply stating, "It's been over a year."