Xiao Ming and Qian Huang got into the car that was waiting not far from the door.
Qian Huang leaned back in his seat after fastening the belt and sighed. “Gosh, I didn’t even work but I feel beat. Taking part in a cooking show is much more work than just doing a live stream.”
Li Shui raised his brows at him while steering the car back onto the street. “You’re tired? What is Xiao Ming supposed to say?” He glanced at their cook but Xiao Ming was staring at his phone, not even listening to them. Li Shui shook his head and sighed before focusing on the road again.
Anyway, it was a few hours until they’d get home. They should probably give him some time to recover from the press conference. After all, while the two of them had worried, Xiao Ming was the one who had needed to sit up there and deal with his idol, the producer, and the host, as well as the media that would love to make some drama out of this. He was probably the one who was stressed most.
Qian Huang also glanced over and figured the same. Thus, he also leaned back and looked out of the window, watching the cityscape outside pass by. When the show started, they’d have to come here more often. It’d likely be even more stressful. They had to make sure that Xiao Ming got enough rest.
While these two were worried, Xiao Ming was actually working again. He had started to skim through the rest of the messages that had been sent in the chat of his channel when he was in the press conference. Even though he couldn’t read every single one, he at least wanted to try to keep on top of what was currently happening.
It really wasn’t easy though. After sending just one message to all of them, everybody seemed as if injected with chicken blood. They were was rushing to ask questions about the cooking show and his thoughts on it, as well as how he was doing and where Qian Huang and Li Shui had been while the press conference was held, making it impossible to keep up.
Xiao Ming smiled wryly and then could only default to writing another message for everybody: [I know everybody is curious about the show and our thoughts on it. Right now, we’re still on our way back home but we will be doing a stream tonight at 9 pm as usual and tell you all about it ೭੧(❛▿❛✿)੭೨]
In a villa in another city, Si Jin picked up his phone that had rang with the special tone of a notification that was posted by Xiao Ming. He stared at the screen, finally taking a screenshot of the message as he always did. Then, he looked at the clock. Only 5 pm. Still four more hours to go before he would be able to see Xiao Ming …
He sighed and then answered in the chat: [3 hours and 59 minutes, I can hardly wait for the clock to strike 9.]
Back in the car, Xiao Ming laughed out loud, raising his hand to stifle it so as to not bother Li Shui while driving in a foreign city. Ah, Nin Sha … This message was really typical for him but he was still surprised every single time he saw these types of words.
Qian Huang was startled out of his thoughts regarding the period of filming the show. He leaned over and then laughed as well when he saw the latest message. “That guy is so corny. It’s unbelievable.”
“Isn’t it kind of cute though?” Xiao Ming really wanted to text back but he felt that it wouldn’t be a good look if he didn’t take the time to respond to a few others as well.
Nin Sha had already been dubbed his number one certified fan on the channel because he never missed a stream, always gave gifts, and always responded to anything he wrote or said while ignoring both Qian Huang and Li Shui, as well as the other viewers. Right now, that was just a joke and nobody had a problem with it but if he started to treat Nin Sha differently from others, their other loyal fans would get angry. Even though their channel had grown over time, that was something they couldn’t risk. Their livelihood depended on this, after all.
Seeing Xiao Ming stare at the message like this and even calling it ‘cute’, Qian Huang gave him a doubtful look. “Eh, you wouldn’t be falling for him, would you?”
Xiao Ming looked up at him with twinkling eyes. “Why? Can’t I think somebody is cute without loving them?”
“Well … yes, but not if you’re single! Anyway, even if you do, it’s alright. Just make sure you don’t say that in front of the wrong people. You can bet that someone’s going to be jealous you’ve been invited for that TV show. If they can get any handle on you, they’ll make use of that.”
Xiao Ming laughed and shook his head. “What are you talking about? It’s not like we’re celebrities. We’re just streamers. Nobody will care whether we’re single or who we date if we aren’t.”
Qian Huang shook his head, a bit dissatisfied. “You’re looking at this too simply. It didn’t matter before but it will now. Our channel has grown much bigger and you just took part in the press conference of a show that’ll be shown on national TV. Even people abroad will be able to watch it when it gets shown online. After this, you likely will be a celebrity.”
Xiao Ming slowly lowered his phone, feeling that Qian Huang had a point. Yes, maybe he had been looking at this too simply. He still thought of himself as that small-time streamer that had to pray before each live stream that the gifts would be enough to at least cover the bill for their groceries and then try to sell some of the dishes to the neighbors to get the money for their rent. He still hadn’t adjusted his state of mind. He just couldn’t see himself as a famous person. But that was really stupid, wasn’t it?
Looking at his phone and the message on there again, he smiled to himself with a bit of nostalgia. He remembered that Nin Sha had been there from the very beginning. He had clicked in while they did their very first live stream with an average audience size of just three people and it hadn’t even been the same three for all of that time. But Nin Sha had stayed until the end after finding the stream and he had also been back when they did their second stream a few days later. Each and every time, he would be there, and after a while, he started to leave his thoughts.
To be honest, seeing this type of fan that had stayed with them from the very first hour had motivated him a lot over the years. Whenever he felt down, he would look at these messages and tell himself to get his act together even if it was just to not disappoint viewers like Nin Sha.
He believed that this type of person really wouldn’t care about his relationship status and what Nin Sha wrote in the chat might even be true. He might really be looking forward to their stream and feel that it was still an eternity until then. That was how he himself felt after all. If you loved something, you couldn’t wait to get to it.
But that was Nin Sha and their old viewers. Maybe the newer ones were different. Maybe the audience that would be attracted by the cooking show would diverge even more from what he was used to.
Thinking of that, Xiao Ming sighed. “I’m afraid you might be right. I’ll really have to be more careful in the future. Otherwise, it might put our livelihood at risk.” And after working so hard for so long, he really couldn’t do that. “Ah, I guess I’ll never get a date like this.”
Qian Huang reached over and put an arm around his shoulder, trying to console him. “Eh, at least you’re able to do your dream job. Isn’t that worth something?”
“Sure it is. Let’s make sure we make the best of this competition. That may be our chance to make sure this is going to be a viable job for the three of us even when we’re old and gray.”
“Mn.” Qian Huang nodded and Li Shui flashed them a smile through the rearview mirror.
“I don’t doubt we’ll be able to do that. As long as you can cook, we’ll be able to make this work.”
Qian Huang nodded again. “True. And even if something comes up in the future and we were losing viewers because either of us got into a relationship or something, we’ll be able to figure it out. We’re a team, after all. There is nothing we won’t be able to solve together.”
Xiao Ming nodded along. Right, they were a team. If there were troubles, they would solve them together. If something good happened, they would benefit together. This cooking show was an opportunity for the three of them if they went about it the right way. They just had to make sure that they used it to the full extent of their capabilities. Then regardless of what came later, it wouldn’t shake them too much.
Xiao Ming took a deep breath. From this moment on, they had to work even harder to make this possible. He turned to Qian Huang, his expression a little worried. “You have finished preparing all the promotional posts for these days, right?”
Qian Huang waved. “Yeah, don’t worry. I already did that last week. Just focus on the streams as usual and don’t forget to remind your viewers of the show. If we do a good job with this, we might not only gain more viewers for our own channel, there’s even a chance of getting more invitations for collaborations in the future. After all, who wouldn’t like a hard-working person that promotes you to their fans? It’s definitely an excellent opportunity.”
Xiao Ming smiled. “You’re right. Don’t worry, guys, I’m definitely going to do a good job! I won’t let you down.”
Qian Huang reached out and patted his shoulder. “Don’t you worry. You know me. If I had any doubts, I would have said so already.”
Just then, the car stopped in front of a slightly rundown-looking building.
The three men opened the doors and then got out, walking up the small staircase at the side. Qian Huang took out the key and let them in, and then walked up to the third story.
Going into the apartment, Li Shui stretched and then rubbed his belly. “Man, I’m hungry. Is there enough time to make something small before the stream?”
Xiao Ming raised his arm and glanced at his watch, shaking his head. “I’m afraid not. We’ll have to prepare immediately if we want to start at the usual time as promised. I’m sorry. I’ll make something extra for you.”
Li Shui sighed. While he did understand, it really was a pity. He should have thought of this yesterday and asked Xiao Ming to prepare some snacks they could just quickly reheat or something. “What are you doing tonight?”
“Four types of dim sum, both sweet and savory.”
Li Shui pumped his fist and then rushed to set up the camera and lighting.
Qian Huang harrumphed. “As if you’d have reacted any differently if he said anything else.”
Xiao Ming just laughed at the two of them and went to grab his apron. He tied it and then brushed over the fabric to make sure there weren’t any creases obscuring their logo with the three saffron yellow waves. After that, he went to gather the ingredients for today’s dishes.
As usual, he felt a little nervous when he came back to his spot behind the counter. He knew it was stupid since he knew how to cook and had interacted with their audience hundreds of times already but he still always got nervous when he saw the camera on the other side being directed at him. He just couldn’t help but think about what would happen if he got something wrong. He would be so embarrassed!
Qian Huang glanced over and waved at him. “Calm down. It’s the same as usual, nothing new. You know what recipes you’re going to do, you know what you have to say about the show today and if you forget, I’ll help out.”
Xiao Ming nodded and then brushed over his apron again before straightening up and patting his cheeks in the hopes that it would calm him down a bit. Taking another deep breath, he started to smile at the camera.
Qian Huang looked over to Li Shui and raised his brows. “Are we ready to go?”
Li Shui nodded and Qian Huang started the live stream.
Xiao Ming’s smile instantly lit up when he thought of the people that were watching him. “Hello everyone and welcome back to Bright Yellow Water. I’m Xiao Ming and behind the camera are Li Shui end Qian Huang. Today, we’re going to make four dishes: carrot puffs, radish cake, Singapore rice noodles, and mango pudding.”