The next afternoon, the moment Jian Rong woke up, he received Ding-ge’s message telling him to go over.
Ding-ge stared at his face for a while. “You stayed up late last night?”
Jian Rong’s skin was pale, so the dark circles under his eyes were very obvious.
Thinking of how he had gone into seclusion for half of the night, clutching his phone, Jian Rong rubbed his eyes. “I had a nightmare and didn’t sleep well. Don’t worry, it won’t hinder my training.”
“Don’t destroy your body just because you’re still young. Giving you all ample time to sleep isn’t so that you can pull an all-nighter.” Ding-ge lectured him a little before he finally moved onto the main topic. “After coming back from Lunar New Year, your birthday will be coming up soon. Your eighteenth birthday is considered a milestone, do you have anything you want to do?”
“I don’t.” Jian Rong said, “Does that mean I can resume streaming?”
Not having expected Jian Rong to make that request himself, Ding-ge was momentarily startled.
He had been under the impression that kids only wanted to have fun, and that Jian Rong would ask to have a birthday party or something.
“Mn, I was planning to bring up the matter of resuming streaming with you.” Ding-ge coughed. “I took a look, your birthday falls on a Saturday. If you wanted to stream, it’d definitely have to be at night, since you have training during the day. I’m afraid that there won’t really be any time to celebrate for you…”
“There’s no need for that.” Jian Rong said indifferently, “I don’t celebrate my birthdays.”
Ding-ge lifted an eyebrow in surprise. “Alright. Also, we have to arrange some activities for the streaming day. After all, you’re resuming streaming, so you have to give your water friends some benefits. Do you have any opinions on that? We’ve come up with a few activities, you can pick and choose.”
What kind of benefits could there possibly be? He was just a video game streamer; at the most, he could carry water friends or draw some random water friends to come up and have an internal 5v5.
Jian Rong didn’t look at the program file that Ding-ge pulled out. “You guys can decide.”
Ding-ge: “Then how about this, the day before you resume streaming, we’ll open it up for the audience to vote on and they can decide which benefits?”
Jian Rong nodded: “That works.”
They chatted for another ten minutes before wrapping up.
Jian Rong had just pulled open the meeting room door when he heard Ding-ge sigh and say slowly, “Jian Rong, when you get to the practice room, could you help me call Xiao Lu over? I have something to discuss with him.”
Jian Rong’s footsteps paused, and he blurted out, “Can’t you get him yourself?”
“…” After a brief silence, Jian Rong said curtly, “Got it.”
The closer Jian Rong got to the practice room, the slower he walked.
He took a deep breath and told himself not to panic.
Professional players were constantly practicing, so how could they possibly have the energy and courage to surf Weibo using their main accounts.
As soon as that thought emerged, Jian Rong remembered that Xiao Bai, who sat right next to him, used his main account to intimately interact with his fans every single day.
And also, Lu Boyuan had replied to that dumbass fanclub underneath Jian Rong’s Weibo post last time…
No no no.
Even if Lu Boyuan looked at Weibo, he received hundreds and thousands of mentions daily. How could he possibly have seen that one dumbass comment?
Jian Rong comforted himself the entire way to the practice room, and he had already relaxed quite a bit. But when he saw Lu Boyuan through the glass of the door, sitting in his chair playing on his phone, Jian Rong’s first instinct was still to whip around and go back to his room to pack his luggage and beat it.
Jian Rong took a step back and pressed his forehead against the wall, thinking: If, by any chance… if Lu Boyuan really saw it, what should he say?
– I’m not gay.
– I apologize on behalf of those unfilial water friends of mine.
– I joined the team because I sincerely wanted to play competitively, not because I wanted to get together with you.
– I don’t have an unrequited love for you.
Jian Rong had dithered for too long outside the door, and finally, someone inside the room couldn’t bear to keep watching. The practice room door was half-closed, and Yuan Qian’s puzzled voice floated out from inside. “What are you doing, wandering out there for so long… did you eat too much for breakfast, so you’re walking around to help your digestion?”
When Jian Rong turned his head, he had already regained his usual expression. He pushed the door open and entered. “Mn.”
Jian Rong slowly walked over to behind Lu Boyuan. Normally, he wasn’t interested in other people’s private business, but at that current moment, he wished he could glue his eyes onto Lu Boyuan’s phone; he wanted to know what exactly Lu Boyuan was looking at.
Lu Boyuan was wearing earbuds, and his phone was playing a video of a match between two unknown teams.
After seeing what was on the screen, Jian Rong wasn’t able to fully breathe out his sigh of relief before Lu Boyuan raised his head.
Right after Lu Boyuan woke up, his eyes would often turn into monolids, making him look colder than usual. “What’s up.”
Jian Rong pursed his lips. “Ding-ge is calling you over.”
Lu Boyuan hummed. As soon as he locked his phone, Xiao Bai, who was in the middle of a game, suddenly asked, “Ge, have you checked Weibo today?”
Jian Rong’s back went numb, and he froze on the spot.
Lu Boyuan stuffed his earbuds casually into the pencil holder. “No.”
“My flash and ult from last night’s final team fight got on the hot search! Hahaha!” Xiao Bai laughed and looked immensely pleased with himself.
Pine: “Ding-ge most likely bought it.”
Xiao Bai choked. “So what if he bought it! Even if he did, it’s only because I had some brilliant gameplay! Getting on the hot search means that I’m awesome!!”
Jian Rong suspected that the heavens had specially sent Zhuang Yibai over to mess with his mind.
He hadn’t even felt this on edge when playing his last match point game for his Diamond 1 promotion series.
In front of him came the sound of a chair rolling against the ground.
Lu Boyuan stood up, and there was less than half a person’s width of space between him and Jian Rong. The milky shower gel scent that had been enclosed by the blanket for an entire night still clung to Jian Rong’s body. There were a few drops of water on his chin, probably from rinsing his mouth after eating breakfast and not drying it completely afterwards.
Jian Rong snapped out of it, and he immediately backed up to make way for Lu Boyuan.
Lu Boyuan walked a few steps before he suddenly looked back. “Last night, that Wei—”
Jian Rong blurted out, “I’m not gay.”
In a split second, the practice room went quiet. Pine and Xiao Bai were in the middle of a critical moment for a team fight, but because of a mistake in their gameplay, their opponents seized the opportunity to successfully counter-kill them.
Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow and paused for a very long time before he finished his sentence: “Last night, that winter scarf1, tell Ding-ge to return it.”
“………” Jian Rong was dumbfounded for two seconds. “Winter scarf?”
“What else?” Lu Boyuan asked, amused. When Jian Rong didn’t respond, he spoke again. “It’s best not to accept gifts of this nature. Of course, if you like it, you can also keep it.”
Thinking back to what he had just said, Jian Rong resisted the urge to burrow underground and said with a stiff expression, “No, I don’t like it… I’ll tell Ding-ge to return it in a bit.”
After Lu Boyuan left, Jian Rong sat down in his seat and sullenly turned on his computer.
Xiao Bai scooted over and cleared his throat. “Jian Rong, so it turns out you were this straight ah. Does that mean I went too far with my jokes last night?”
“…I’ve always been very straight.” Jian Rong said listlessly, “You didn’t go too far, I don’t mind.”
Xiao Bai gave an “oh.” “That’s good then, I saw that you looked like you wanted to throttle me last night.”
You can even have this kind of enlightenment?
Jian Rong opened up the game client and didn’t say anything.
A few seconds later, Xiao Bai found his way over again. “In that case, you won’t look down on me and Pine, right?”
Jian Rong: “?”
Xiao Bai: “Don’t worry, the two of us are just selling rot on the surface. Our actual relationship is just like the one between you and my ge: unconditionally pure socialist teammate feelings… Pine, if you’re going to mid why didn’t you call me along!”
Pine didn’t bother looking over. “You’re too noisy.”
Jian Rong didn’t feel like bothering with him anymore, and he created a custom game before he pulled out the Azir that Lu Boyuan had wanted him to practice more last night.
On his way to the meeting room, Lu Boyuan was closing the apps running in the background on his phone.
The last background app was Weibo. The screen was still frozen on a certain Weibo’s comment section, and on it was written—
[Everyone wait, let me ask @TTC ་ Road.]
[Why do you have to @TTC ་ Road? You should know not to @TTC ་ Road, @TTC ་ Road is so busy, how does he have the time to look at Weibo?]
[I went to be a spy for a few minutes among @TTC ་ Road’s girlfriend fans. It turns out that @TTC ་ Road hasn’t dated before either.]
[@TTC ་ Soft dumbass you here? Come out and confess.]
After closing the app, Lu Boyuan slipped his phone into his pocket and opened the meeting room door.
Seeing him, Ding-ge lifted an eyebrow. “Why are you laughing?”
Lu Boyuan pulled out a random chair and sat down in it. “It’s nothing. You were looking for me?”
Ding-ge told him about Jian Rong resuming streaming on his birthday and finished with, “…even though he was already popular before this, I still feel like we need to come up with some gimmicks. I want to arrange it so that you two will stream and duo queue together that night.”
“I won’t stream,” Lu Boyuan said.
Hearing the rejection, Ding-ge was a little surprised. He was startled momentarily before he said, “Alright then…”
“It’s fine if he just streams. If I stream too, the site traffic will be split.” Lu Boyuan said, “I can duo queue with him.”
Ding-ge nodded and checked something off in his notebook. He then said, “I’ve realized that you’re very good to Jian Rong.”
Lu Boyuan asked in reply, “Am I not good to you?”
“Can that even compare? We’ve known each other for so many years.” Ding-ge paused. “But in contrast to the way you acted when we just met, the way you’re treating Soft now is practically like the way you would treat your own son. I remember back when you first got to know Xiao Bai and the rest, you weren’t even willing to say an extra word to them when you guys sat together, never mind duo queueing.”
Ding-ge mulled it over. “Could it be fate at first sight? From the moment you saw him in the livestream room, you just felt like he was especially to your liking?”
“His playstyle is to my liking.” Lu Boyuan glanced at the time. “Is there anything else? If not, I’m going back.”
“Nope… oh, one more thing.” Ding-ge hesitated for a while before he finally said, “Earlier, Jian Rong told me that he was going to stay at the base for Lunar New Year.”
Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow. “Is that not allowed?”
“Well, it is allowed, didn’t Hezi spend the holiday here at the base last year?” Ding-ge said, “But since Jian Rong is young, and his family lives in Shanghai too, I spoke out of turn and asked him… why he wasn’t going back to see his family.”
Noticing that something was off about Ding-ge’s expression, Lu Boyuan looked up and waited for him to finish speaking.
“He said that he didn’t have a family.” After Ding-ge said that, he slapped a hand against his forehead. “I’m really something, if I have nothing better to do, why ask so many questions… do you think his situation is that he fought with someone in his family and left home, or… he really doesn’t have anyone?”
Lu Boyuan was silent for a long time. “I don’t know.”
He recalled Jian Rong’s expression from just then when he came looking for him… it hadn’t been any different from usual.
The look on Lu Boyuan’s face didn’t change, but the laughter that had been present in his eyes when he entered the room was already completely gone. A beat later, he asked, “When you recruited him into the team, did you not clarify what his family situation was?”
“He had to fill out a form. When I questioned him about that earlier, he said that he filled it out randomly!” Ding-ge was filled with fury when he thought about that. “How could I have expected… this is my first time encountering someone who would dare to fake filling out a form. Fortunately, this form is only for internal use and doesn’t need to be handed over to the LPL.
“It’s my oversight. Also, recently I became aware of something… actually, a few years ago, he submitted a trainee application form to our team, but unexpectedly on the day of the tryouts, he canceled on us and went to be a streamer. The examiner staff still remembered him, and they mentioned it to me a few days ago when we ran into each other.”
When Lu Boyuan didn’t speak, Ding-ge asked uncertainly, “Do you think I should ask the team’s therapist to talk with him?”
Lu Boyuan collected his thoughts and shook his head a moment later. “For now, there’s no need.”
Back at the practice room, Jian Rong was wearing headphones and chatting with someone.
Lu Boyuan glanced at his screen; “Shiliu” was written at the top of the chat.
“Duo queue? Right now? …no, I’m not shunning you.” Sensing someone next to him, Jian Rong tilted his head to look before instantly tugging off his headphones to ask, “Captain, want to duo queue? I’ll practice my Azir.”
Lu Boyuan lowered his eyes and met Jian Rong’s gaze briefly. “Not today, practice by yourself.”
Jian Rong let out an “oh” and subconsciously wanted to ask Lu Boyuan if his hand was feeling uncomfortable again, but he was already walking towards his own seat.
Lu Boyuan didn’t touch his computer. After sitting down, he replugged in his earbuds and opened a certain video app from his phone home screen.
Even though StarTV was highly profitable and had a lot of capital, it wouldn’t save every single livestream replay for every single streamer, so you could only go to a video platform to try your luck.
Lu Boyuan searched “Soft livestream video” and started to flip through the results towards the earliest time possible. After a long while, he finally found a video from two years ago.
He turned up the volume and clicked on it.
At this time, Jian Rong hadn’t been chased into the Beauty category yet. His hair was black, and his face was younger and softer than it was now. He looked just like a little youth who was still wet behind the ears. The only difference was that he was much cuter than other teenagers his age.
It was unclear what he had just gone through, but at that moment, his eyes were a bit red, and he pressed his lips tightly together while playing the game.
Around that time, Jian Rong didn’t have much of an audience for his streams yet, and Lu Boyuan watched several minutes of the video before some comments finally appeared in the barrage—they were all from the same person.
[Little friend, why are you crying? Tell Uncle, Uncle will comfort you.]
[Or where is your home? What do you want to eat? Uncle can take you there? Add me on QQ and we can chat about it?]
[Uncle thinks that you play very well, your neck is also very pretty.]
Fifteen-year-old Jian Rong obviously also saw these comments. He frowned, and it seemed like he didn’t really understand what this pervert was saying.
When this “Uncle” sent out his fourth harassing comment, little Jian Rong lifted his arm and wiped away his tears.
“…the way you speak is too disgusting.” When he spoke, it was a bit nasally from crying. Because he was still at the age when his voice was changing, his voice in the video was a bit more delicate than it was now. After he said that, he rubbed his nose. “Scram.”
Once he finished talking, little Jian Rong twitched his finger, found that pervert’s ID from his audience of only thirty people, and kicked him out.
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh.
A moment later, he dragged the video progress bar back half a minute. And he watched again as Jian Rong wiped away his tears and rubbed his nose with a dark expression.
- Sooo some wordplay going on here. I left the ‘Wei’ part of ‘Weibo’ intentionally, because the author uses two different characters (Weibo vs (winter) scarf). Both are pronounced ‘wei,’ but Weibo’s wei is first tone, while scarf’s wei is second tone. It’s not really obvious whether LBY was going to say Weibo the first time or if it was just JR’s paranoia, so I’ll just leave it up for interpretation. I translated it as winter scarf because it sounds similar enough to Weibo if you say it fast. ^
Yan: Haha so many things happened in this chapter. (Rongrong: big gay panic) But most importantly, protect little Jian Rong at all costs!!!
Wei: Omg poor baby Rongrong :(( Don’t cry bb LBY is here!!