Thank you so much to Aimee for the Ko-fi!!
In the end, MFG didn’t get in the elevator.
Each with their own thoughts occupying their minds, everyone in the elevator glanced up at the surveillance camera before they silently returned to the car.
The instant the car door closed, the entire team turned to look at the backseat.
Xiao Bai currently looked just like one of those hardcore paparazzi fans. “Ge, you have a partner now? Since when? Who is it? Do I know her? Isn’t this way too sudden, I haven’t even mentally prepared myself yet—what kind of person is my sister-in-law, a host, a streamer, a female celebrity???”
He paused. “Or is she a super rich young lady from some wealthy family that your parents introduced you to?!”
Lu Boyuan’s arm was propped against the windowsill, supporting his face. Upon hearing that, he looked up from his phone and glanced at the person sitting next to him.
The others subconsciously followed his line of sight and also peered over.
Their mid laner was staring outside the window, one hand pressed down on the brim of his hat. Though he sensed the gazes, he didn’t bother lifting his head.
Lu Boyuan only cast a quick look at him before he averted his gaze. He said, “None of the above.”
Yuan Qian noticed something and asked, “Is it not convenient to say who?”
Xiao Bai received a flash of inspiration. “It can’t be that it’s be our team’s—”
Jian Rong and Ding-ge, who was sitting in the first row, simultaneously coughed a few times.
Xiao Bai finished his sentence. “Staff member, right?”
Jian Rong: “…”
“Enough with that, what’s the point of gossiping so much? We’re driving, hurry up and sit properly!” Ding-ge was also given quite a scare, and he turned his head to say, “The semifinals are in four days, use your energy for gossiping to figure out how to beat Fighting Tiger.”
Xiao Bai said innocently, “Aren’t I just concerned for my ge? Despite his age, my ge’s never dated anyone, so I’m worried about him being led on.”
Pine swept a look at him and asked, “You’ve been led on before?”
“Nope, I’ve been single since birth, it’s not like you don’t know that.” Xiao Bai heaved a sigh. “However, a few days ago, there was this female streamer who got involved with a scummy person. Her partner ended up exposing a bunch of her photos and chat records, how awful…”
“Your ge won’t be led on.” Ding-ge said irritably, “Shut up.”
Originally, they planned to have dinner while they were out, but Fu-ge ended up calling last minute to tell them about a privately-owned restaurant that his friend had just opened. He had asked his friend to pack up some dinner for them and had sent it to the base.
As a result, they changed destinations halfway and returned to the base.
Now that their opponent for the semifinals was determined, needless to say, tonight they were naturally going to review the recording from the earlier quarterfinals match.
“I genuinely don’t like competing against Fighting Tiger,” Xiao Bai complained as he watched the TV. “Every time, it feels like I’m punching cotton, or like I’m a frog being boiled alive. We’re fighting and fighting and then we’re suddenly losing for some reason.”
Lu Boyuan leaned back against the couch. “There’s no helping it, they’re already past the peak of their careers. If they could gain an advantage while laning, nobody would want to drag it out to the late game.”
Yuan Qian took a sip of his soup and lamented, “I still miss the way they used to play more.”
Jian Rong was listening to their conversation absent-mindedly for a while. Upon hearing that, he asked, “How did they used to play?”
“It was just like their team name.” Lu Boyuan said, “Before in the LPL, if there wasn’t a kill in the first five minutes of the game, the barrage would flame the teams for being trash.”
That reminded Xiao Bai of something, and he said to Jian Rong, “That’s why I said you joined the industry late. With your playstyle, if this were five years earlier… no, maybe three years earlier, you would’ve definitely been a star pro gamer. Back then, the LPL wasn’t copying things from the Korean league yet, so the fights were totally dependent on your on-the-spot performance.”
Yuan Qian’s head was lowered as he replied to a text. Since they were eating, he didn’t feel like putting in earphones, so when he received a voice message, he decided to just directly play it out loud—
“Qian-ge, it’s Shiliu. I wanted to ask, is Xiao Rong with you right now? I sent him quite a few texts, but he didn’t answer. Nothing happened to him, right?”
From the beginning of Fighting Tiger’s match until now, Jian Rong hadn’t checked his phone once. When he pulled it out, he found that he had indeed received many voice messages from Shiliu. He converted all the voice messages into written text, and while he was waiting for the conversion process to finish, he replied with an “I’m here.”
Shiliu immediately called him via WeChat.
Not wanting to disturb the others as they watched the recording, Jian Rong went out onto the balcony with his phone.
“I was gonna ask if you wanted to duo queue together, and I also wanted to see if you were free anytime soon. I’m planning to visit Shanghai for a few days in the near future… but you’re about to play in the semifinals, right? This crappy brain of mine.” Shiliu chuckled, his voice sounding a little distant. “I just feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve talked to you.”
Jian Rong stood in the night breeze. “Last time when I invited you to duo queue, you didn’t accept.”
“I know, I was eating at the time, so I didn’t see it.” Shiliu paused. “And after that, it wasn’t really appropriate if I invited you again either.”
Back when Jian Rong was still a popular streamer, Shiliu was often the target of ridicule claiming that he was hugging Jian Rong’s thigh and mooching off of his popularity. Now that Jian Rong was a pro gamer, if Shiliu invited him to play together again, he would probably be flamed even worse.
“There isn’t anything appropriate or inappropriate about it. I’ve been playing on the Korean server recently, so if you want to duo queue together, then just message me on WeChat. I’ll create a side account and play with you on the Chinese server.”
“Thanks, bro.” Shiliu said, “I checked the ticket prices, I can come cheer you on in person for the semifinals, how’s that sound?”
Jian Rong said, “Anything’s fine. If you really want to come, you don’t need to buy an admission ticket, I should have some free ones here…”
Sensing something, Jian Rong turned his head, still holding his phone.
Lu Boyuan was leaning lazily against the wall next to the door, arms crossed over his chest and a smile on his lips. Jian Rong didn’t know how long he had been standing there for.
The little scalper had turned the tables and become the ticket provider; now, he could even give other people tickets for free.
Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow, indicating for him to continue.
Shiliu didn’t hold back. “OK, then I’ll contact you once I’m in Shanghai.”
“Alright.” Jian Rong said, “I’m gonna hang up now, I have… to take care of something here.”
“Also.” Shiliu checked the date. “Your parents’ death anniversary is coming up soon, right? Aren’t your spring season finals in Chongqing? Will you make it back in time? I could go visit them for you instead.”
“It’s fine, I’ll be back.” Jian Rong lowered his eyes. “I’ll go visit them myself.”
After he hung up, Lu Boyuan walked over to him. “Was that the streamer who went to watch the Worlds finals with you last year?”
“Mn.” Jian Rong paused for a second. “A friend from my streaming days.”
When he didn’t receive a response, Jian Rong turned to look at Lu Boyuan. “Why are you smiling?”
Lu Boyuan said, “No reason, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk about a friend before.”
Jian Rong went briefly quiet before he withdrew his gaze and stared out towards the sea of lights in the distance. “I don’t really have any friends.”
The balcony light was off. Lu Boyuan cast his eyes down, looking at Jian Rong’s thick, delicate eyelashes. “Aren’t there often livestream events, so that streamers can do things like form teams and PK each other over voice chat? You didn’t get to know some fellow streamers?”
“Back when I wasn’t popular yet, I would go to generate some popularity and cheat out gifts. After I got an audience, I stopped going.” Jian Rong remembered something and furrowed his brows unhappily. “Some streamers had super disgusting PK punishments…”
Before he could finish his sentence, someone ruffled his hair. Lu Boyuan said leisurely, “Like dyeing your hair?”
Jian Rong shook his head lightly. “That’s not too bad. Some of them would make the losers bark like dogs or eat an entire jar of chili peppers… once, I encountered a dumbass who proposed a rule that the loser had to find a female accompanying gamer to play with. They would have to stream themselves tricking her contact info out of her, and then they would have to go see what she really looked like on her QQ profile.”
This was unfamiliar territory for Lu Boyuan. He frowned. “Then what happened.”
“Then I flamed him for half an hour.” Jian Rong recalled, “At the time, if you started a PK, you would be punished for backing out, so he couldn’t leave.”
Lu Boyuan burst into laughter.
Jian Rong should’ve only been fifteen or sixteen years old back when he still hadn’t gained popularity yet as a streamer, and already, he was able to trap someone in their livestream room and insult them for half an hour…
“I’ve added a lot of streamers on WeChat, but I don’t talk to any of them, so they can’t be considered friends.” Jian Rong listed out, “Also… I wasn’t friends with any of my classmates, and I wasn’t very close to my neighbors either.”
Lu Boyuan nodded. “Then who were you just talking about visiting?”
Jian Rong said calmly, “My parents.”
“Are they in Shanghai?” Lu Boyuan said. “I’ll drive you there.”
Jian Rong shook his head. “No need, I can go by myself.”
Lu Boyuan thought that Jian Rong was worried about their relationship being discovered by his parents. “I can park my car a bit further away.”
“That’s not it.” Jian Rong pressed his lips together. “Soon, it’ll be the anniversary of their death.”
A momentary silence descended over the balcony. Faintly, Xiao Bai’s voice could still be heard from within the base.
Lu Boyuan was slightly stunned. A long pause later, he finally said, “When did it happen?”
Lu Boyuan waited quietly for a while, but he still ended up feeling like he had asked too early. He said, “It’s fine if you don’t want to say it…”
“It’s not that I don’t want to say it.” Jian Rong licked his lips and ducked his head to stare at the plants in the garden below. Another few seconds passed before he said, “When I was ten.”
His voice was somewhat low, and it smashed gently into Lu Boyuan’s heart.
“They passed away in a car crash, and the driver responsible for the accident also died. Their family was extremely poor, so they couldn’t pay much in compensation.”
It had been too long since he last talked about this with someone, so Jian Rong was a little all over the place. “After that… I went to live with my grandpa. Grandpa already wasn’t in good health, and it worsened after my parents’ accident. A few years later, he got kidney disease, and in the end, he had to get dialysis treatments every week. He hung on for a little over two years.”
He omitted all the details and finished describing his childhood in a few succinct sentences.
Lu Boyuan drew in a deep breath of air almost imperceptibly.
He knew that Jian Rong had a difficult family situation in the past, but he hadn’t expected for it to be this bad.
He said hoarsely, “Then back when I saw you at the internet cafe…”
“My grandpa was just diagnosed with kidney disease.” Jian Rong felt like he had made the atmosphere too heavy, and he tugged up the corners of his lips. “I wasn’t trying to voluntarily become a scalper.”
After he said that, he didn’t receive a response for a long time, and Jian Rong tousled his hair. Just as he was thinking that maybe he had said a bit too much, Lu Boyuan embraced him.
Lu Boyuan was much taller and broader than he was, and the fabric across his shoulders gave off the faint scent of laundry detergent.
Jian Rong was dumbfounded for quite a while before he finally reached out and grabbed onto Lu Boyuan’s shirt. “I’m fine, really. It was a long time ago.”
“Mn.” Lu Boyuan’s voice was low, and it blended into the night. “Let me hold you for a bit.”
Jian Rong could sense Lu Boyuan’s chest vibrating when he spoke. His heartbeat was somewhat fast.
Jian Rong didn’t like being too close to other people; it made him feel uncomfortable and uneasy.
But it felt very good to be hugged by Lu Boyuan.
A long time later, Lu Boyuan suddenly asked, “Wasn’t I being quite stingy back then?”
Jian Rong: “What?”
“I only bought you one carton of milk.”
Jian Rong always thought that he had already overcome all that.
His family passing away, being chased out of businesses for being underage, rejecting the offer for an esports club tryout in order to save money for his grandpa’s dialysis treatments, attracting perverts instead of viewers at the beginning of his streaming career… during the past two years, he had already reached the point where he could remember those things without it affecting him whatsoever.
But with one simple comment from Lu Boyuan, an indescribable feeling of being wronged surged straight to the surface.
Jian Rong slowly lowered his head and buried it against Lu Boyuan’s shoulder. He said in a muffled voice, “You didn’t have much money then either.
“When you were leaving the internet cafe, your money wasn’t completely stuffed away. I saw it all, you had one five and two ones.”
Lu Boyuan: “…”
“It’s true that I didn’t have much money at the time. I was only given 5,000 yuan from the total LSPL prize pool.”
Jian Rong frowned. “Fu-ge is so rich and he still deducted from your prize money?”
“The team was in a rough spot back then, it had to resolve the issues of rent and fast internet. Our dorm internet was too terrible, and we frequently disconnected during practice matches.” Lu Boyuan paused. “All the other teams kept thinking that we were super trash, until the LSPL kicked off…”
Jian Rong was very fond of listening to stories from Lu Boyuan’s earlier competition days.
He asked, “What champion were you playing in that account-sealing competition that you ended up losing?”
“…Jarvan.” Lu Boyuan mussed up his hair. “You still can’t get over that?”
Both of their phones chimed at the same time.
Lu Boyuan released Jian Rong and pulled out his phone. It was a message from Ding-ge in their group chat, urging them to go upstairs and practice.
At the end of the message were three huge exclamation marks, like a warning or a roar that could hold itself back no longer.
“Ding-ge’s calling us.” Jian Rong’s heart was still beating somewhat fast as he thought of something. “Oh right, why did you suddenly tell them… that you have a partner.”
“If I didn’t say it then, my partner was going to crack the glass of the elevator with his glare.”
“Just joking.” Lu Boyuan smiled. “I personally wanted to let other people know.”
Jian Rong’s face went red when he heard that.
The sound of someone walking downstairs came from inside the base. It was most likely Ding-ge coming to find them.
Jian Rong rubbed his face. “Are you going to practice?”
Lu Boyuan hummed.
Just as Jian Rong walked over to the balcony door, someone tugged on his shirt.
He stopped in place and started to look back as an arm wrapped itself around his neck and a hand tilted his chin upwards.
Lu Boyuan ducked his head and pressed a brief kiss against the corner of Jian Rong’s mouth before he relinquished his grip. “Let’s go.”
Yan: Happy 100 chapters to ICDI! ^0^ hard to believe we’ve come so far :’) I don’t think I’ve ever broken the hundred chapter mark for anything I’ve translated before loll
Wei: Yay 100 chapters!! Also Jian Rong, poor baby, it must’ve been hard ;-; You will definitely find more than enough happiness with Lu Boyuan from now on!!