Many thanks to Somebody for the Ko-fi!
After getting used to plush gaming chairs, it was impossible to get comfortable on the hard, narrow hospital bench.
The mask was too stuffy, so Lu Boyuan slowly opened his eyes and tugged down the edge of the mask lightly. He stared up at the ceiling as he took in a few breaths of fresh air.
Abruptly, he sensed that there was someone watching him. Maintaining that same position, he tilted his head over.
The teenager had thrown on a random coat, and its collar was crooked since he was in too much of a rush putting it on. Two tufts of blue hair were also sticking straight up into the air from being crushed too thoroughly in his sleep. Even though his face had already fallen, he was still tightly holding onto the jacket in his arms as he stood there, looking silently at Lu Boyuan.
Lu Boyuan let out a curse in his mind before he straightened his head up. He was about to stand up when Jian Rong walked towards him first.
After only getting three hours of sleep, Jian Rong had been in a complete daze upon waking up, and he had felt like he was floating when he picked up the clothes hanger and opened his door. The assistant coach had prattled away incessantly on the drive over, trying to persuade him to go back and sleep, which ended up making his head ache.
It was only at this moment, when Jian Rong saw the bandages wrapped around Lu Boyuan’s wrist, that he finally, truly woke up.
“Put on the jacket.” His voice was raspy, and he also spoke very stiffly.
Lu Boyuan took the jacket and lifted his hand to put it on.
“Hang on.” Jian Rong frowned and asked, “Are you allowed to raise your right hand?”
Lu Boyuan said, “I am.”
Jian Rong watched him slip on the jacket, his gaze unconsciously glued to Lu Boyuan’s right hand. “Does it hurt?”
Lu Boyuan said softly, “There’s anesthesia, so it doesn’t.”
Jian Rong clenched his teeth, distressed, and didn’t say anything.
He could faintly guess that Lu Boyuan had a hand injury, and he had also searched online about it before, but he wasn’t able to find out what kind of injury it was. In order to get clicks, those marketing account articles were full of words like “suspected to be” and “guess,” and he didn’t believe any of them.
He consoled himself that as long as Lu Boyuan hadn’t retired, it meant that it wasn’t a very serious injury.
Lu Boyuan lifted his left hand and kneaded Jian Rong’s fingers. “Did you eat breakfast?”
Expressionless, Jian Rong allowed Lu Boyuan to hold his hand. “No.”
Lu Boyuan asked lazily, “I’ll take you to eat something?”
Jian Rong glanced at the empty bread packaging lying on the chair next to him and said, “No, I’m not hungry.”
Lu Boyuan gave an “en.” “Sit down and talk? It’s a bit tiring to look up like this.”
After Jian Rong sat down, he pulled out his phone and opened up the LoL assistant app.
Lu Boyuan slanted a look at him. “What are you checking?”
Jian Rong clicked on Lu Boyuan’s match history and slid all the way to the bottom before saying, “You have a hand injury and you still played for five hours yesterday?!”
Lu Boyuan said, “It wasn’t five hours, I rested for a while in the middle.”
Jian Rong confirmed, “Are you talking about that twenty minute break you took to eat?”
Lu Boyuan went quiet for a few seconds. Then he asked, “The semifinals are tomorrow, if it were you, would you rest?”
Jian Rong instantly fell silent.
Their feel for the game was extremely important; resting during the days immediately prior to a competitive match was equivalent to seeking out trouble.
Jian Rong pursed his lips. “You could’ve practiced a little less.”
“A pro gamer only trains for five hours a day, and you want him to practice even less…” Lu Boyuan laughed. “Aren’t you opening the backdoor a bit too wide for your boyfriend?”
Jian Rong’s mood was still very poor, but his expression wasn’t so icy anymore.
“What did the doctor say? How long do you have to rest?” He paused before lowering his voice some more. “…can it be cured?”
Lu Boyuan’s injury had to do with muscle strain and tendon inflammation, so he had undergone a minimally invasive surgery.
During the treatment, the doctor said many things that weren’t very optimistic, but Lu Boyuan didn’t tell Jian Rong that. He only said simply, “Three days.”
As he was saying that, the door to the consulting room nearby opened and Ding-ge walked out from inside. Right away, he knew what they were talking about. “What three days? The doctor told you to recuperate for a week!”
Only then did Ding-ge realize who was sitting next to Lu Boyuan.
He froze in the middle of closing the door, eyes wide. A beat later, he said, “How come you’re here? This… eight AM? And you’re awake??”
“I was too loud opening the door and I woke him up.” The slow-to-arrive assistant coach scratched the back of his head. “Then when he heard about Xiao Lu’s injury, he insisted on coming with me. I didn’t agree at first, so he took out his phone to try and call a taxi on his own…”
Ding-ge thought, You already mentioned his boyfriend’s name, it would be weirder if he didn’t come.
“Enough, let’s go downstairs to get the medicine so we can return to the base.” Ding-ge beckoned towards them. “It’s still early right now, there’s time for you to get some more sleep once we get back.”
Jian Rong wasn’t sleepy in the slightest. After getting into the car, he would stare out the window for a while before switching to staring at Lu Boyuan’s hand.
“I already let someone from the LPL know. I told them that we’re sending our substitute out tomorrow for the semifinals.” Ding-ge typed away on his phone. “Give Moon a call at eleven AM today and tell him to come over for practice. I scheduled two practice matches for this afternoon.”
The assistant coach let out an “ah.” “It’s confirmed that Boyuan won’t be able to play?”
Ding-ge said, “BS, he can’t even move his hand right now, it’s useless for the rest of this week.”
Sensing Jian Rong’s gaze, Lu Boyuan furrowed his brows. “It’s not that bad.”
Ding-ge: “That was what the doctor himself said, okay?”
“Is Moon really going to play in the semifinals?” The assistant coach was somewhat hesitant. “He doesn’t have a lot of competition experience, and last year’s semifinals nearly destroyed his mentality.”
“What? After losing a semifinals match once, he won’t play in any semifinals ever again?”
The assistant coach sighed. “…well, no, but I’m just worried about us losing again.”
Lu Boyuan: “We won’t lose.”
Jian Rong: “Who’s gonna lose?”
Both of them spoke at the same time, startling the assistant coach.
“I believe in my teammates.” Lu Boyuan flashed a smile and said evenly, “They can win.”
The doorbell rang as soon as they returned to the base. Ding-ge tapped on the digital peephole, and upon seeing the takeout delivery driver standing outside the door, he said in a puzzled voice, “Who ordered takeout?”
Lu Boyuan said, “Me.”
“Didn’t you already eat breakfast?”
Lu Boyuan looked at Jian Rong. “I ordered it for him.”
Jian Rong was originally planning to go upstairs to practice and had already started ascending the staircase. When he heard that, he turned around again and silently walked towards the door, calling out to the assistant coach who was going to help him get the takeout. “I won’t trouble you… I’ll pick it up myself.”
After the others woke up and saw Moon in the practice room, they were all quite stunned. Upon hearing the entire story, they were even more shocked.
Once the surprise wore off, they threw themselves entirely into the practice matches.
Moon was different from Lu Boyuan. Lu Boyuan could play either carry jungler or provide support, but in comparison, Moon’s carry jungler was fairly weak.
However, his ability to assist had improved significantly, and he was decent at engaging too, which was more than enough when facing off against some middle-tier teams. At level 3, Xiao Bai and Pine directly tower dove and forcefully killed their opponents, securing the bot lane’s advantage by exchanging one life for two. Meanwhile, Yuan Qian was suppressing the other team’s top laner so much that he didn’t even dare to leave the tower.
The person with the most remarkable performance was still Jian Rong.
His playstyle was already fierce in the first place, but that was even more so the case today.
“Damn.” Xiao Bai, who switched his camera to the mid lane for a few seconds, couldn’t help but say, “The other guy just auto attacked the minion, he wasn’t gonna kill it, what’s the meaning of you slapping an Ignite over his head…”
Before he could finish, Jian Rong turned slightly to the side and dodged Neeko’s binding skill. Then, controlling Talon, he immediately unleashed a proficient combo, causing the enemy’s health to plummet at once. The opposing mid laner instantly used his flash to try and escape, but Jian Rong followed up with his own flash astonishingly quickly. With one final auto attack, he scored the kill.
[MFG-Kongkong: Ge, have I done something to offend you?]
[MFG-Kongkong: If I’m guilty of something, the law will punish me, you don’t have to pick Talon to torture me.]
[MFG-Kongkong: Speaking of which, how come God Lu isn’t here today?]
Pine glanced at the chat box and said to Xiao Bai, “I found someone who’s even worse than you at talking.”
“Nonsense.” Xiao Bai alleviated the atmosphere, “No matter in what regard, I’m always the absolute best!”
After that practice match concluded, Kongkong, who had just lost the last round of his quarterfinals match and was facing the risk of losing his starting position, went even further into self-seclusion.
During practice that night, Xiao Bai patted Jian Rong’s shoulder during the champion selection phase. With an elder’s tone of voice, he said, “Don’t worry, let’s play well tomorrow. Our chances of winning are still quite high, we have a lot of experience with BO5…”
Jian Rong turned his head and repeated, “Our chances of winning are quite high?”
“Yeah, we’ve never lost to Fighting Tiger before in a BO5 match…”
Jian Rong said, “We won’t lose tomorrow either.”
Xiao Bai was startled.
“We can definitely win!” Yuan Qian, who was playing ranked behind them, spared a moment to pump his fist in the air. “We’ll take care of them fast, 3:0!”
Moon pressed his lips together repeatedly. “I… I’ll play well tomorrow for sure, I’ll give it my all.”
“If we lose as long as Captain isn’t here, then we might as well just disband on the spot,” Pine said indifferently. “Zhuang Yibai, stop idling, go put down some wards.”
“…got it got it, don’t you have wards on you right now? You really have to make me do it? Only I indulge you like this…” Xiao Bai mumbled to himself before he said, “That’s right, we’ll definitely win, I gotta go to MSI to pummel HT’s dog heads!!!”
The next day, Lu Boyuan still put on his team uniform and headed to the stadium with them.
Earlier at noon, the team’s official account had posted on Weibo, notifying the fans that Lu Boyuan needed to recuperate for a week due to an injury and that the substitute, Moon, would be playing during the semifinals instead.
On that post, the number of comments skyrocketed. Before the match even began, #Road injured and absent from the semifinals# started trending on the hot search first.
Out of the several thousand comments, not a single one was optimistic. The fans were worried about the antis taking delight in the bad news; while they were at it, the antis mocked all of the other TTC members too.
The one ridiculed the most was Moon. Second was Jian Rong.
Moon didn’t have many fans, so even when he was insulted, there was no one to really help him counterattack. Those comments would have a couple thousand likes, but almost zero replies.
But the comment insulting Jian Rong was different.
It was the weekend, so all the dad fans were either done with school or work and were lazing around at home, waiting for the match. Their combat strength was truly astounding as they traded insults back and forth with the antis for quite some time. Presently, the most recent few comments in that thread were—
[He’s here to compete, so what if he’s insulted a bit, considering how much he’s making in a year? Isn’t it normal to be flamed if you don’t play well??]
[Okokok even though my son got MVP six times during the regular season he still doesn’t play well, does he need to split your head open in order to prove that he can fight well?]
[The club is the one giving him that money, what does it have to do with you dumbass? Why’re you trying to make yourself seem so important?]
[I just checked out your Weibo, oh man, you feel the need to post a screenshot and show off when you only got a triple kill in Gold 3? With your shitty skill level, can you even tell if someone else is playing well or not? Judging from your recent match history, you also found a booster, huh? After being beaten up to the point of tears in the game, you found a booster to take care of things for you, while in reality, you viciously attack a pro player? Just wait dumbass, your account is definitely going to be banned tonight.]
[…it was wrong of me to say that. It wasn’t a booster, my friend helped play for me. Don’t report me ah. I’m deleting my comment, isn’t that enough? Stop replying to me…]
Jian Rong was totally unaware of the online disputes. Ding-ge was prepared long in advance this time, and he had stared at them as they deleted those mobile apps one by one off their phones.
When they arrived at the stadium, the competition livestream hadn’t started yet. The TV in the break room was replaying Fighting Tiger’s post-match interview from the previous quarterfinals match.
The pro player being interviewed was their mid laner, Da Niu. When the host asked Da Niu if he thought his team could win or not next week against TTC, Da Niu chuckled confidently.
“Last time, if Road wasn’t there, we would’ve won.” Da Niu shrugged. “To tell the truth, besides Road, everyone else in that team is really easy to deal with.”
Jian Rong had already watched this interview before, so he wasn’t really affected upon seeing it again. He leaned back against the sofa, listening attentively to Ding-ge’s analysis.
“We have to ban Da Niu’s Twisted Fate today, or else our bot lane won’t be able to play.” Ding-ge looked at Moon. “Make sure to pay attention to the drakes. Their jungler is very good at stealing them, and they’re too good at team fighting. The moment they get their hands on the Dragon Soul and group together, it’s almost impossible for us to make a comeback from that…”
After chattering away for a while, Ding-ge finally stopped to take a break and drink water.
“How come Da Niu-ge also knows how to trash talk now?” Xiao Bai said, crossing both hands behind his head.
Pine said, “Inflated ego.”
“It’s not too bad, as if you guys don’t say the same things?” Yuan Qian laughed before he looked towards Lu Boyuan. “Captain, how’s your hand? Does it still hurt.”
Lu Boyuan shook his head. “I’ll be able to take off the bandages once we get back.”
“No you can’t.” Ding-ge instantly said, “The doctor said that you have to keep it on for three days at the minimum.”
“Just keep it wrapped,” Pine said, “so it can recover a bit more. There’s still the finals after this.”
Xiao Bai shot upright. “Exactly! Ge, recuperate well, then take me to Korea. I have to insult that piece of shit Rish to his face!”
Lu Boyuan smiled. “Alright. Then I’ll be lying here, waiting for you all to carry me into the finals.”
Jian Rong’s lips parted, but in the end, he still didn’t end up speaking.
Anything he said now was meaningless. Once he won the match, he would have all the time in the world to say the things he wanted to say.
Upon seeing the members act so relaxed, Ding-ge let out a sigh of relief, until he spotted Moon, who was sitting on the far right.
The air conditioning was on in the room, but Moon was sweating. He gripped his hands together over his knees, looking extremely tense and panicked.
Ding-ge frowned. He was about to approach him and console him a little when a staff member suddenly pushed open the door and entered, instructing them to get ready to go on stage.
Moon repeatedly drew in a few deep breaths before he reached up and wiped off the sweat on his forehead—
“Don’t be nervous.” A low and deep voice sounded from behind him.
Moon whipped his head around and stared at Lu Boyuan blankly.
“Their jungler doesn’t know how to play carry, so your jungle won’t be under any pressure. If the team needs it, you can attempt an invade when the other side is playing a weak jungler, no need to be afraid.” Lu Boyuan said mildly, “This won’t be your last semifinals match. Relax, play well.”
Moon looked at him for a long time before he nodded heavily. “…okay!”
Jian Rong took a big gulp of water.
He hadn’t even reacted to Da Niu’s taunting earlier, but at that current moment, his expression had already grown somewhat colder.
He told himself in his head, As the captain, it’s normal for Lu Boyuan to reassure the substitute a little when he’s about to play in such an important match…
But it was obvious that this Moon thought of Lu Boyuan a bit differently.
With only a few words from Lu Boyuan, Moon acted as if he had been revived completely. His face wasn’t stiff anymore, and his legs stopped shaking too…
While Jian Rong ate vinegar, he also felt like he was overthinking things.
“Let’s go.” Ding-ge adjusted his suit. “It’s time to go on stage.”
Jian Rong grabbed his water bottle and was about to stand up when someone next to him suddenly gripped his arm.
A faint medicinal scent clung to Lu Boyuan, originating from his bandages.
Lu Boyuan tilted his head downwards and said quietly, “…boyfriend, if you carry me to victory this match, I’ll give you a reward once we get back. Deal?”