Chapter 36 — Congratulations, Eldest Master He, for attaining the 10/10 Boyfriend Achievement.
Jian Yan didn’t expect that He Xiu was that proficient at saying such sweet talk. She blinked and asked him, “Where did you plagiarize that from?”
“…Mn,from the bottom of my heart.”
Jian Yan laughed and removed herself from his embrace. “Let’s eat dinner. My stomach is hungry.”
Jian Yan returned to her room to put away the dress. Inevitably, He Xiu followed her as if it was only natural. Seeing the large armoire in Jian Yan’s cloakroom, even He Xiu was somewhat speechless. “Amazing. Amazing. It seems that Teacher Tang Zhi has earned a lot of money these past two years.”
Jian Yan didn’t avoid this topic at all. “After all, my most-loved hobby these past twenty or so years is precisely making money.”
He Xiu laughed lightly and remarked, “Teacher Tang Zhi has worked hard.”
Jian Yan put away the password-locked suitcase that held the dress folded inside and then admired her room full of clothes as well. “I worked very hard. I essentially didn’t rest for several years. But seeing so many clothes and the zeroes in my bank account, I still feel that it’s very worthwhile.”
He Xiu smiled silently, so Jian Yan continued to say, “When I attended school, I dressed very plainly and was frequently ridiculed by my classmates. At that time, I resolved that when I grow up, I must earn a lot, a lot, of money so I can become the most beautiful and most fashionable. Therefore, without the slightest hesitation, I chose a fashion design major at university.”
He Xiu lightly patted her head and warmly said, “From today onwards, you can rest. Concerning the matter of making money, hand it to me.”
“Then all the money you earn will be given to me?”
“Mhmm…” He Xiu thought for a moment. “You still have to leave a bit of money for living expenses each month for me, okay?”
“Is ¥500 enough?”
“…Nowadays, a university student’s living expenses exceeds ¥500 a month, right?”
“How can you be compared to a university student. Others still need to date, so naturally they need to spend money. Who else do you intend to date?”
“Ai, forget about it. Looking at how you’re so handsome, I’ll give you an extra ¥100.”
“Thank you, boss…”
In her heart, Jian Yan was absolutely delighted. The feeling of taking care of accounts really was too cool.
What they didn’t expect, however, was the paparazzi catching wind of this news the second day after they had gotten together.
Before, various paparazzi often wrote scoops on how Starlight General Merchandise’s Eldest Master He was so-and-so female star’s boyfriend, financial backer, or Mr. Wang from next door. This time, it was new wine in old bottles—— 【Yao Shou~!1 Exceedingly Popular Manhua Artist Tang Zhi’s Boyfriend is Eldest Master He Xiu of Starlight General Merchandise!】
When the news had just come out, everyone snorted disdainfully, thinking that this paparazzi wanted to make big news right before Lunar New Year so they could return home and happily celebrate the Lunar New Year. Yet after carefully looking at it for a moment, they realized that this time, rather than some suddenly rising female star, the female lead was, for some reason, the manhua artist Teacher Tang Zhi!
This big brother, your strategy is somewhat profoundly mysterious!
The reason why this news had just a large splash online was because not only was the female lead’s identity special, the paparazzi had even released dry goods!2 In past news, although they had roared with excitement, they had never released photos of the male and female leads in question being together and were thus disdained repeatedly. This time, however, they had released genuine photographs, and not just one either!
The photos were naturally taken without the couple’s permission or knowledge, so the clarity wasn’t very high. The gossip fans with good eyes, however, could still recognize that this was indeed Eldest Master He. As for that beautiful woman beside him, whether or not it was Tang Zhi, no one knew. After all, she had never given the public a photo of herself.
The photograph had been secretly taken outside Jian Yan’s apartment building. The paparazzi had an easy drive along a familiar path, choosing the headline to be—— 【Eldest Master He and Manhua Artist Tang Zhi Entering and Leaving Together, Going to the Woman’s Apartment!】
Although Jian Yan and He Xiu were not celebrities, in this recently-cold-period-with-no-sensational-news entertainment circle, the melon-eating crowds3 made this pairing a trending search.
「Eldest Master He is indeed Tiger Balm,4 used by God knows who 『smile-cry』」
「I think that even if Eldest Master He doesn’t own a general merchandise department store in the future, he can still enter the entertainment circle. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to live up to the paparazzi’s hot adoration…」
「That woman really is Tang Zhi? Looks so beautiful??」
「I also doubt that it’s really Tang Zhi! Perhaps it’s some female model!」
「If it’s not Tang Zhi, why did the paparazzi write that it’s her? Writing that it’s a female model would obviously cause the impact to be greater 『sneer』」
「@Tang Zhi, @Nan Si, I also don’t know why I’m pinging Nan Si… 『smile-cry』」
「Eldest Master He indeed really has made many contributions for the entertainment circle.」
「I refuse to accept this! Didn’t we already agree that this time should be my family’s little beauty’s turn to be Eldest Master He’s girlfriend! How come she cut in line!」
「^^ that lively comment, very good…」
As soon as Jian Yan woke up from her sleep, her entire person was stunned stupid. She had merely gone on Weibo to deal with a message and ended up with terrifying messages that hid the sky and covered the earth.5 Lin Zhen had also called her, inquiring about this matter.
“I didn’t expect that I, as a manhua manager, would one day also have to control this kind of situation.”
Jian Yan: “…”
“So should I now have the studio’s official blog release a Weibo statement clarifying this matter, saying that you two are merely common friends?”
Jian Yan: “…”
“Ah, to be able to act as a celebrity’s manager for once is also a fun kind of feeling.”
Pa! Jian Yan hung up the phone call.
He Xiu had always spent little time scrolling Weibo. His various sex scandals had always been told to him by Tang Zheng. This time was no exception.
“Congratulations, Eldest Master He! 10/10 Boyfriend Achievement has finally been attained!”
He Xiu’s eyebrows jumped up. Last time, he had already warned that little paparazzi, so how could he still write news about him without basis? Did he really think that his temperament was that good?
“Who is it this time?”
His voice was ice-cold, contrarily making Tang Zheng more interested. “Previously when your ‘girlfriends’ were those celebrities, you have never cared about who it is.”
“Do you want me to blacklist you again?”
He Xiu’s voice became even colder, causing Tang Zheng to immediately answer like an obedient, well-behaved child. “Tang Zhi.”
He Xiu’s brows suddenly furrowed. Forcing them not to write nonsense, so they report facts immediately? Very good.
“They even released photos, but how come the person in all those photos Jian Yan? Why are they saying that’s Tang Zhi?” Tang Zheng had remained puzzled over this question after pondering over it a hundred times.
He Xiu said, “Because she precisely is Tang Zhi, of course.”
Tang Zheng: “…”
“Allow me to calm down…” Tang Zheng spent three seconds calming down, his mental state somewhat crumbled. “Jian Yan is Tang Zhi?”
“Then, then she and Lin Zhen…” Tang Zheng swallowed after he said this, “are not lesbian?”
“Apart from you, no one else thinks they are.”
Tang Zheng: “…”
But why didn’t you tell me earlier!?
Tang Zheng felt that the whole world had betrayed him.
His heart mourned, but very quickly, he realized an even graver problem. “So! You two!”
Tang Zheng: “…”
“I finally understand why you, at that time, didn’t allow me to give clothes to her! And even said that it’s not that you look down on the other person!” Tang Zheng angrily dropped the call.
This time, he wanted to blacklist He Xiu. After thinking of blacklisting him, however, Tang Zheng realized that He Xiu might not want to be added back, so he abandoned this idea.
When He Xiu’s call with Tang Zheng was terminated, he immediately contacted Jian Yan, who was in the middle of washing her face and rinsing her mouth. When she heard the phone, she thought for a moment before promptly spitting out a mouthful of bubbles and running off to accept the call.
Looking at the screen displaying the words 「Director He」, the corners of her lips unconsciously quirked up into a little smile. “What’s the matter?”
“That…” He Xiu deliberated on what he should tell Jian Yan. “Have you gone on Weibo today?”
“Gone on.” Jian Yan said with a smile, “We’re even on the trending search.”
He Xiu: “…”
“I’m sorry. I’ll deal with this matter.”
“Why are you apologizing? Don’t tell me that you had them report the news?”
“Of course not…”
“Then that’s right.” Jian Yan suddenly laughed after she said this. “Speaking of this, previously, I had frequently seen online that you had moved on to become who or who’s boyfriend. I didn’t expect that I would be the female lead one day as well.”
He Xiu: “…”
“How do you plan on handling it?” Jian Yan asked.
Referring to this, He Xiu’s tone became annoyed immediately. “I will have them take down the report. Perhaps, I’ll also send them a letter from my lawyers like CEO Song. They will be significantly more well-behaved.”
Jian Yan thought for a moment and stated, “I think it’s enough to ignore them. We’re both not celebrities, so this kind of matter naturally has no influence on us. Furthermore, I presume that very quickly, no one will pay attention to this matter.”
“It doesn’t bother you? Many fans on your Weibo are questioning this closely.” He stared at the computer before him, lightly wrinkling his brows.
“It doesn’t bother me. I only draw manhuas; I’m not a female star.” Although, she still had to think about how to respond to her readers. “Actually, there’s a more pressing dilemma at the moment. My work colleagues will definitely all recognize me. Do I still have to work today…”
He Xiu sighed lightly. “It seems that I can only let you quit earlier than expected. I will have Zhou Wen Wen help you deal with the formalities.”
“Then…will I still get the holiday bonus?”
He Xiu chuckled softly. “Yes, I will get the finance department to give it to you.”
“Okay, thank you, Director He!”
After Jian Yan hung up, she returned to the bathroom to wash her face and rinse her mouth. Although it had been determined that she must quit, she still felt that she should personally go to Fantasy Wardrobe one more time, as she couldn’t leave like this without saying goodbye.
After changing clothes, she headed to a nearby breakfast diner in the neighborhood to eat a simple breakfast before catching a taxi to go to work. She was leaving according to her morning shift hours, so the department store was currently not open for business. When the security guard at the doorway saw her, his gaze was different from usual, but the two of them still exchanged greetings like normal.
Clocking in for the last time, a trace of reluctance to part lingered in her heart. This experience she had at Starlight General Merchandise were very valuable memories to her.
When He Xiu went to work today, he didn’t head directly to his office, instead heading to Fantasy Wardrobe first. Almost all the staff were already present, so he gathered everyone together and gave a brief explanation. “Starting from today, Jian Yan will no longer be working here. Perhaps some employees already know, but she is actually the manhua artist Tang Zhi and primarily came here to our store to collect material for her new project.”
Once these words fell from his lips, all the staff immediately began talking. He Xiu clapped his hands, indicating for them to quiet down. “Human Resources will arrange for a new employee in the near future to come here, so it won’t have any influence on work.”
On his side, he had finished speaking, but his staff clearly still had more questions they wanted to ask. Therefore, the site manager acted as representative. “Director He, Jian Yan——is she really Tang Zhi?”
Another employee couldn’t help but voice, “Then you and she…”
An employee beside her suddenly hit her, causing her to fall silent immediately.
“Ah, Jian Yan is here.”
Hearing someone said this, He Xiu turned his head and caught sight of Jian Yan walking over from the side.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
Jian Yan replied, “I thought that I should still personally come and explain to everyone.” After she said this, she bowed to everyone. “I apologize for hiding my identity from everyone for so long. Because I wanted my next work to have a department store as a background, I specifically came here to collect material. Although I haven’t been here for long, spending time with everyone has been very delightful, and I have learned a lot as well. Gratefully thanking everyone.”
After she said this, the room was calm for a moment before everyone suddenly began saying sentences with ‘you’ and ‘I.’
“Aaahhh! You really are Teacher Tang Zhi herself!? I am a reader of yours! Can you give me your autograph!”
“You said that your next work uses a department store as a background. Then are you using Starlight General Merchandise as a model? Then will we appear in the manhua?”
“Right, right, right, will we have a part!?”
Seeing that they didn’t blame her, Jian Yan let out a relieved laugh. “Rest assured; you will all definitely have a scene. When the books are published, I will give all of you a copy.”
“Okay, okay! Thank you in advance, Teacher Tang Zhi! I also want to ask, will Director He have a part?”
All the staff ambiguously smiled as Jian Yan glanced at He Xiu, who was standing next to her. He also happened to be gazing at her just then.
Unable to prevent the corners of her lips from curling up, Jian Yan smiled and said, “Of course he will. He’ll be the male lead.”
- (夭寿) Untranslatable Chinese exclamation of shock-negative surprise-cursing that I can find no proper English translation for. Literally, it’s a curse to “die young” and is used (in Hokkien) to describe a person’s vicious behavior but is now used in modern day to indicate dissatisfaction, surprise, or regret. ↩
- Dry goods = evidence ↩
- Melon-eating crowds = internet slang typically referring to throngs of netizens silently (and probably) gleefully onlooking while some poor soul is getting publically flamed online ↩
- Tiger Balm is medicine, slang for “jack of all trades, master of none” or something along the lines of “one size fits all” ↩
- “Hiding the sky and covering the earth” (idiom) = earth-shattering ↩