Qian Meng flipped through the magazine in front of her. She didn't read the contents of it and simply continued the action on a bored basis. Her eyes flickered to Mo Qingchen, who was sitting in front of the camera, a makeup artist looming over him, trying to get him to look appropriate for the bright lights.
She smirked at Mo Qingchen's knowledgeable posture. Years of being married and struggling to raise three toddlers had given him a new appreciation for relaxation while doing skincare.
"Mr. Mo, let me know if you feel uncomfortable or you want to change something," the artist said after moving away from him. He looked at his face through the mirror and appraised her work.
Qian Meng also looked at his backside and was a little curious as to how he looked. He looked at her through the reflection and smirked. "What do you think?" he asked directly.
The artist, having forgotten about Qian Meng, looked around in surprise.
"You almost look like you are thirty-one again, old man," she teased. "Last time I saw you in this news studio, you walked in without makeup."
He smirked. "I aged all thanks to you," he quipped back without remorse. She faked a gasp and then leaned away, mock-glaring at him.
The artist slowly smiled, finally connecting the dots. This one hadn't looked at the popular searches on the internet, it seemed. She seemed surprised by the romantic tone between the two.
"Mr. Mo still has excellent skin. You don't look as old as you are," she said politely.
Qian Meng guffawed.
Mo Qingchen shot her a look. "It's all thanks to the old woman who is obsessed with looking twenty even though she is nearing forty," he retorted.
Qian Meng stood up and walked to him. She smacked his shoulder and then took a closer look at his face.
"I still have nine years to be forty. Can't say the same about you," she smiled. After staring at his reflection for a while, she turned him in the chair to face her. She looked up at the makeup artist and spoke slowly. "His lips look a little bright with the tint. Can you lighten the shade a little?" she asked casually, her voice hinting at slight guilt at making a demand.
The artist nodded enthusiastically.
She started her work as Qian Meng started to tease from behind. "I can't have him looking better than me on live television."
Mo Qingchen tried his best to hold back the smile. The whole process was done within seconds.
"Done!" the other chirped.
Mo Qingchen thanked the other and then stood up slowly and patted down his suit.
"We will be on wait for ten more minutes and then we can settle into the panel," Qian Meng said, only relaying the words of the staff member who had come to tell them the same.
Mo Qingchen nodded and settled down on the couch. He dragged her down alongside him and they nestled together, giving the makeup artist, who was clearing up her things a grand display of affection. Her poor single heart raced at the sight but she shook it off.
"The last time we were here, we met for the first time in adulthood," Mo Qingchen said slowly. "We were on the opposite side of the podium and people could still see the spark between us," he announced.
Qian Meng chuckled at the memory. "People have an uncanny eye for these things," she admitted. "They knew before us that we would hit it off." She drew lazy circled on the back of his hand.
"Are you still pissed off at Su Jin for her conduct?" he asked.
"I find her pushy and she doesn't stick to the markup sent to her. Now that she is in a public relationship, I don't have to worry about her flirting with you, at least."
Qingchen threw his head back in laughter. The short bark that escaped was reigned in immediately. "You still said yes to coming to the show and dragged me along with you," he accused.
"You can spare a couple of hours from work," she said with the roll of her eyes. "This is an issue that we have introduced reforms about in our company. It's an opportunity for good PR and to attract talented people who are tired of the work conditions proposed by most companies."
He stared at her with those eyes that she was used to. Like she was just a little more precious than the moment before like he could see a goddess right in front of his eyes and he couldn't believe it. The years hadn't changed that simple fact.
"This is the Qian Meng I love. Righteous and fierce and standing against the world to prove her point."
Before she could respond, the same staff member peered in.
"Everyone is being called in. If you are done getting your makeup done, please follow me," he said.
The couple stood up wordlessly and walked hand-in-hand into the set. They sat on their assigned seats and looked around. The panelists were as had been mentioned in the briefing. A professor in a public research institute. Two members from the working population. A high-ranking manager from a well-established company and a start-up CEO in the technology industry. Other than these, Qian Meng and Mo Qingchen were also present.
Su Jin took her place at the center and spoke briefly to each member. This time, thankfully, she didn't linger on Mo Qingchen for too long, or Qian Meng might have really had it out for her.
As the show started, a grim image was painted about entrepreneurs and employers.
"We call it the 9-9-6. It's the routine of working from nine in the morning to nine at night, six days a week. In reality, most of us are working longer hours and are always on call. It's the stress of just working seven days a week," The person who spoke used to be an employee of a big company. She had worked for five years in the same before quitting. The trauma was such that she left the industry altogether and was now working in a field unrelated to her university major.
"Yes, this kind of work schedule is predominant in our country, especially in the technology industry. Mr. Mo, you have been in the tech sphere for more than fifteen years now. Why do you think that the name of your industry is associated with such working conditions?" Su Jin asked carefully.
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