Thank you to Su Yi for the Ko-fi!!!
As the break approached, they started to have more and more practice matches, but the atmosphere in the base was abnormally relaxed.
The day before the break, they finished playing a practice match with WZWZ. The moment they left the room, they smelled the strong scent of hot pot.
“Did that practice match make me lose my mind? How come I smell a faint trace of happiness?” Xiao Bai inhaled through his nose and asked.
Ding-ge knocked gently against his head. “I told Auntie to make hot pot. You guys have worked hard these past few days, eat some hot pot and relax. You all have early flights tomorrow, so there’s no more practice for tonight.”
Plates of meat and veggies covered the table, and the scent of hot pot filled the entire base.
The second team’s members were also leaving the next day, so Ding-ge decided to just send a WeChat to call them all over to eat together. He set up a sizable folding table to the side and let the others sit there.
Even though they lived near each other, Jian Rong hadn’t really interacted with the second team before. He originally didn’t talk a lot when eating anyway, so now as the others all engaged in lively conversation, he simply shut his mouth and ate.
“How are you guys doing in the LDL1?” Yuan Qian raised his voice and asked the people sitting at the neighboring table.
Although they were members of TTC’s second team, strictly speaking they were considered a small branch team; their full name was TTC-K, and they were currently participating in the LDL. The teams that advanced to the finals and got first place in the LDL could apply to enter the LPL.
However, the outstanding trainees in big teams were often promoted to the first team’s substitute positions, or they directly joined the first team. As a result, it was very difficult for the second team to be as good as those new teams who were created solely for the purpose of breaking into the LPL’s quota.
Immediately, someone answered: “It’s not going too well, we just lost a match a few days ago.”
“It’s fine, there always wins and losses in competitions,” Xiao Bai said as he scooped up a shrimp ball.
When Xiao Bai was putting down the ladle, he used too much force and accidentally splashed some spicy soup onto Lu Boyuan’s hand as he was scooping up his own food.
Hearing Xiao Bai’s rushed “ah,” Jian Rong finally looked up from his bowl.
The soup had been boiling, and the chili oil was very conspicuous as it trickled down the back of Lu Boyuan’s hand.
Jian Rong stared blankly for a few seconds before he swiftly picked up some napkins from beside him, wanting to give it to Lu Boyuan. His hand had already stretched halfway over when—
“Ge, are you okay?” The team’s substitute jungler, Moon, quickly walked over from the other table holding a napkin box, which he handed over to Lu Boyuan. “Wipe it off quickly. I have some ointment over there, I can go get it for you.”
“No need, it’s just a tiny bit of soup, that’s all.” Lu Boyuan took some napkins from him and smoothly passed them off to Xiao Bai. “Wipe your mouth, the soup has already run off to your chin.”
Jian Rong glanced at Moon’s hands, which were holding the napkin box, before he silently withdrew his gaze and carelessly wiped at his own mouth using the napkins that he had just picked up. Afterwards, he crumpled the napkin up into a ball and gripped it in his fist.
Moon didn’t leave either after delivering the napkins. He asked, “Captain, have you been playing with the new champion Lillia lately?”
Lu Boyuan said, “Played a few games.”
“I’ve also been practicing with her, and it actually feels pretty natural…” Lu Boyuan didn’t look back, and Moon continued to stand behind him, lowering his head to watch Lu Boyuan. “Do you think she can be used competitively?”
Lu Boyuan didn’t stop moving his chopsticks. He said indifferently, “You should be asking that question to the coach instead.”
Jian Rong was currently eavesdropping, and when he heard that, he was startled.
He thought that Lu Boyuan would give Moon an extremely patient explanation, the way Lu Boyuan did when the two of them duo queued together—telling Jian Rong when he should be pressuring the lane and when he should be pulling back.
“Didn’t I already say something about that before?” Ding-ge took over conversation. “The new champion is too weak to 1v1 in the jungle. Even though she has an advantage entering small team fights, in all other aspects she still can’t compare to those top tier popular junglers. Before we’ve come up with a practical strategy, we won’t consider letting her go on stage.”
After Moon sat back down in his own seat, Yuan Qian lowered his voice and said, “Ai… a few days ago, Moon asked me to ask you if you had any time to duo queue together. I was busy at the time, so I forgot about it and only remembered just now when I saw him again. I’ll have to apologize to him later.”
Jian Rong swallowed the food in his mouth. “Why didn’t he go and ask himself?”
“My ge probably didn’t add him on WeChat.” Xiao Bai’s cheeks were bulging with food, and his voice was unclear. “I bet he felt too embarrassed to ask in the team group chat too.”
Didn’t add him on WeChat?
Seeing Jian Rong’s surprise, Xiao Bai explained, “Back when the second team was just formed, quite a few players secretly sold my ge’s WeChat ID. Afterwards, my ge cleared up his WeChat and deleted all the people he didn’t know from it… but ge, for better or worse, he’s your substitute right now, so you should at least friend him.”
“Too many requests, I likely accidentally missed it.” Lu Boyuan tilted his head. “Jian Rong, a napkin.”
Jian Rong froze for two seconds before he went to pick up some more napkins.
Lu Boyuan accepted the napkins and leisurely wiped off the chili oil on the knuckles of his hand.
Yuan Qian picked up some veggies and said, “I’ve realized something. Young teenagers all write their thoughts on their faces. When Moon was talking to you earlier, his face was covered by the words ‘want to duo queue with Captain’.”
Lu Boyuan’s voice was the same as usual. “We’re both junglers, there’s no point in queueing together.”
Xiao Bai propped up his chin and stared at Jian Rong, full of interest. “Let me see what’s written on Jian Rong’s face.”
Upon suddenly being cued, Jian Rong lifted his head only to see everyone else’s gazes swivel towards him.
Xiao Bai announced, “It says—‘Road can only queue with me, idle onlookers quickly get lost’.”
Spotting Lu Boyuan’s smile from the corner of his vision, Jian Rong set his chopsticks down. “Look again.”
Xiao Bai: “What?”
Jian Rong pointed at his own face, and while he moved his finger, he recited, “Zhuang. Yi. Bai. Quickly. Die.”
Xiao Bai: “.”
After eating and drinking his fill, Jian Rong was about to go upstairs back to his room when the second team’s members, who were getting ready to leave, called out to him. “Soft…”
Jian Rong subconsciously thought that some more people who weren’t convinced by him had come along, and he looked back with a rigid expression.
At the head of the group was the second team’s captain. When he saw Jian Rong’s expression, he hesitated briefly. “Er, although you’re in the first team, you’re younger than me, so I don’t know how to address you either. I can only call you by that name.”
Jian Rong: “Need something?”
“Well, not really… we just wanted to add you on WeChat.”
“Is that okay?” That person paused. “We definitely won’t do anything like selling your WeChat. We were just thinking that if you were free, we could queue together sometime. Our team’s mid laner… yes, him, he’s already watched your Zed match eighty to a hundred times now!”
Jian Rong looked at the slightly bashful little fatty who was pushed forward by the others. He was silent for almost ten seconds before he pulled out his phone from his pocket. “…sure, whatever.”
In a rare display, the curtains at TTC’s base were pulled open bright and early the day before Lunar New Year.
Everyone wanted to go home earlier, so Ding-ge decided to just book morning flights for all of them.
Xiao Bai, dragging his three large suitcases behind him, walked out of his room and came face to face with Pine.
Pine was only carrying a backpack, and the expression in his eyes when he looked at Xiao Bai was hard to explain. “Did you break the law? Are you escaping the country?”
“What the hell do you know, these are all things I asked people to buy for my family. This suitcase is for health products, this suitcase is for massage tools and skincare products, this suitcase is for my clothes…” Reaching Lu Boyuan’s room, the door of which was wide open, Xiao Bai asked, “Ge, are you ready?”
Lu Boyuan’s suitcase was already completely packed, and it was currently sitting next to his door, ready to depart.
His home was on the way to the airport, and Ding-ge insisted that he be sent back with them in their car.
Lu Boyuan was on the phone, and when he heard Xiao Bai’s voice, he looked back. “You guys go down first. Try not to make so much noise, someone is still resting.”
“Okay.” Xiao Bai glanced at the suitcase on the ground and remembered that his ge’s hand was unwell. “Ge, is your suitcase packed? How about I help you bring it down, or else it’ll injure your hand again in a bit…”
Right as he said that, the door to the room directly across from Lu Boyuan’s opened with a click.
Jian Rong had randomly tossed on a jacket, and he was still wearing his pajamas. It looked like he had just crawled out of bed without even washing his face.
Xiao Bai was startled, and he subconsciously looked at the time. “…why’re you up at eight in the morning?”
“I was woken up by you.” Jian Rong’s voice was hoarse, and he replied irritably.
Xiao Bai mimed zipping his mouth. “You can go back to sleep, I’ll be quieter.”
But Jian Rong didn’t go back inside his room.
He zipped up his jacket before he took a step forward and picked up Lu Boyuan’s suitcase.
Xiao Bai: “?”
Jian Rong ignored the dumbfounded Xiao Bai and asked the person in the other room, who was still on the phone, “Are you going to bring your laptop back with you too?”
Lu Boyuan, holding his phone, locked eyes with Jian Rong briefly. “I’m not.”
Jian Rong said okay before he picked up Lu Boyuan’s suitcase with one hand and went downstairs under Xiao Bai’s confused, doubtful gaze.
The car was already on standby outside the base, and Ding-ge was waiting for them at the entrance. When he saw Jian Rong, he gave a start. “Why are you awake so early… whose suitcase is this, Xiao Lu’s?”
Jian Rong gave an “en.” “Where should I put it?”
“You can just set it down here, when I go out I’ll take it with me.” After learning of Jian Rong’s family circumstances, Ding-ge couldn’t help but want to nag at him whenever he saw him. “During these next three days, be good at the base. I’ll reimburse any takeout costs, so order whatever you want. Auntie made some dumplings and put them in the freezer, if you want to eat them you can boil them yourself. If you don’t know how, then Baidu it. Since you’re alone at the base, don’t open the door for strangers, and if you go out you should also be more careful. Bad people always show up during Lunar New Year…”
“I’m seventeen.” Jian Rong frowned and interrupted him. “Not seven.”
By the time Lu Boyuan came downstairs, everyone else was already in the car. Only Jian Rong was still there, leaning against the wall and playing on his phone.
Hearing noise, Jian Rong instantly stuffed his phone back into his pocket and straightened up.
Lu Boyuan was wearing all black, and he also had on his mask and hat. When he was putting on his shoes, his eyelids drooped downwards, making him seem very difficult to talk to.
After putting on his shoes, Lu Boyuan tugged down his mask and lifted his head. That cold and detached aura suddenly vanished. “Being a door god?”
Jian Rong stuffed both hands in his pockets. When he heard that, he blinked. “No, once you leave… I’ll lock the door and then go back to sleep.”
Lu Boyuan asked, “Previously, you also celebrated Lunar New Year alone?”
Jian Rong paused. “For the past two years, yes.”
Lu Boyuan let out an “en” before he opened the door, and a gust of cold wind blew into the room.
“I’ll be in Shanghai during these next few days.” Right before leaving, Lu Boyuan suddenly spoke.
Jian Rong was startled. “Mn?”
“If something comes up, just give me a call.”
TTC’s team car left the base and drove towards the airport.
Halfway there, Ding-ge let out a long sigh. “How come I have this sort of misperception that I’ve left behind a kid at home while I’ve personally gone out to travel? Should I have found a temporary housekeeper auntie to look after him at the base for a few days? In the recent New Years, public security hasn’t been good either… last Lunar New Year, a house was robbed near us. It would be one thing if something was just stolen, but someone ended up being injured as well.”
Lu Boyuan’s eyes were closed as he caught up on sleep, and he didn’t say anything.
Yuan Qian couldn’t help but laugh. “It can’t be that bad, in a few more days Xiao Rong will even be an adult.”
“If a thief really came knocking, what you should be worried about is how much medical fees you’ll have to compensate them with.” Xiao Bai teased.
Ding-ge propped a hand up against his forehead. “Forget it… shut up and go catch up on your sleep.”
Too worried to fall asleep, Ding-ge took out his phone to browse Weibo.
Because Ding-ge was still immersed in his compassionate father persona, when the new Weibo that Jian Rong had posted ten minutes prior popped up on his feed, Ding-ge momentarily didn’t know how to react—
[TTC ་ Soft: I’ve tolerated you all for a very long time now. For once, the coach isn’t at the base. Come on, let’s chat a little.]
- LDL = China’s LoL Development League (previously translated this as LSPL but since I realized that’s outdated, I’ll go back and fix it.) It’s the secondary league for academy teams (trainees) ^
Yan: Ding-ge: *mother hens real hard*. Jian Rong: I don’t need a dad. I am the dad.
Wei: Let’s all just pretend like it’s still Friday and this chapter was posted on time hahaha… ha.. Ahem, anyway, some exciting news: Cat Naps drew a beautiful piece of fanart of Rong Rong!! See it here and show them some love~