Thank you to Ko-fi Supporter and Anon for the Ko-fis~
Jian Rong had long since cleared through the entire top lane. He didn’t leave either after pushing all three of Kongkong’s towers, and Lu Boyuan would occasionally drop by. The only thing remaining in the top lane now was a naked inhibitor.
Kongkong stood next to his inhibitor and watched Jian Rong, who was currently beating up Kongkong’s minions not too far away. He was a little bit baffled.
[[All] Kongkong: Have I done something to offend TTC?]
[[All] Just Watch My Gameplay: Happy new year.]
In this game, neither side’s junglers took care of their mid or bot lanes. On Jian Rong’s team, although the mid lane was somewhat disadvantaged, the bot lane still progressed fairly smoothly. The top laner and jungler had even more so pierced through the enemy, causing their team fights later to be extremely relaxed.
Right after they wiped out the other team, Jian Rong heard the sound of chair legs scraping against the ground come from the other side of his headphones. Evelynn also stopped moving next to him.
Lu Boyuan gently pulled away the little teacup pig, which was gnawing on the shoulder strap of his equipment bag. He crooked his finger and knocked it against the pig’s head. “No biting.”
After putting the equipment bag in a higher place, Lu Boyuan sat back in his seat just as the enemy’s Nexus was destroyed. “Victory” jumped up on the screen.
Hearing Lu Boyuan return, Jian Rong closed the scoreboard and asked casually, “Is there someone next to you?”
Lu Boyuan also pulled up the scoreboard out of habit. “No, a pig.”
It took Jian Rong a few seconds to understand that sentence. “The pig from your profile picture?”
Lu Boyuan gave an “en.” “It was chewing on my equipment bag’s shoulder strap.”
Jian Rong had seen people keep pigs as house pets on the news. They raised and raised them until the pigs ended up weighing 250 kilograms; there were actually quite a few people who fell for such a trick.
Jian Rong hesitated briefly but still couldn’t resist asking, “It won’t become huge, right?”
Lu Boyuan chuckled. “It hasn’t really grown in the past two years… unless something unexpected occurs, that shouldn’t happen.”
After the game concluded, the players would enter a post-game lobby. The messages sent in the lobby were visible to all ten players.
Probably because they had ended up crashing cars with professional players and an LPL female host, not a single player left the lobby.
[Kongkong: God Lu, you and Soft can go ahead and queue first. I’ll wait until you two enter a game before matching, our ranks are too close together so it’s easy to crash cars. I don’t want to hand over any more points TAT.]
[Kongkong: Why are you two still not leaving yet…]
[Kongkong: Don’t tell me that you’ve targeted my points!]
[Just Watch My Gameplay: If you used the time you were spouting BS to queue up, you would already be choosing your champion by now.]
[Kongkong: . ]
Jian Rong didn’t type anything else in reply, nor did he exit the post-game lobby for now. He glanced at the time and asked, “Are you going to eat at three?”
“No.” Lu Boyuan checked his phone. His dad’s messages were already covering the entire screen. “I have to go downstairs and play some chess with my dad.”
Jian Rong said okay.
Lu Boyuan locked his phone. “Are you just planning to practice at the base today?”
Jian Rong shook his head. “No, I’m going out after I train for a little more.”
“Mn, eat something more luxurious tonight, no need to save Ding-ge’s money.” Lu Boyuan’s phone rang, and he cast his eyes downwards at the “Dad” flashing across the screen. “I’m going now, have fun.”
After realizing Lu Boyuan went offline, Kongkong promptly sent Jian Rong a private message asking him if he still wanted to experience Kongkong’s super-strong jungling.
Now that he had gone through over two months of practice, Jian Rong was already used to duo and team queueing. He didn’t really hesitate before joining Kongkong’s lobby.
While they were matching into a game, Kongkong temporarily turned off his stream mic and asked, “Soft, do you maybe have something against Tang Qin-jie ah.”
Jian Rong was currently holding his phone and looking at Lu Boyuan’s pet pig profile picture. When he heard that, he paused. “I don’t. Why do you think that?”
“She called out to you earlier in the chat, but you never answered her…”
“I didn’t see it.” Jian Rong asked, “What did she say?”
“She wanted to know if you could make some room on your friends list for her.” Kongkong coughed. “And then you left the lobby.”
Jian Rong opened his friend requests and took a look; sure enough, Tang Qin was there.
He hesitated for two seconds before accepting the request.
[Xiao Tang Also Wants To Carry: Thank goodness, I was thinking that you didn’t want to add me because you thought I was too trash.]
[Just Watch My Gameplay: …not at all]
[Xiao Tang Also Wants To Carry: Why aren’t you Q’ing with God Lu anymore, did he leave after only playing one game?]
[Just Watch My Gameplay: En]
[Xiao Tang Also Wants To Carry: I see… I thought that he was just lying to me about having to do something QAQ… oh right, when we were selecting champions before, I didn’t notice that this ID was yours, which is why I didn’t let you have the mid laner position, don’t take it personally.]
[Just Watch My Gameplay: I won’t]
Whatever role you got assigned was the role you played; that was the rule. Of course it was nice if someone else was willing to switch roles with you, but it wasn’t a problem if they didn’t want to either. Jian Rong actually really didn’t mind all that much.
Except for some reason, whenever he thought about how Tang Qin had specifically switched to a couple skin whose other half belonged to Lu Boyuan’s champion, he kept feeling… somewhat uncomfortable.
Tang Qin’s adoration of Lu Boyuan was way too obvious. It was clear that she didn’t really intend to hide it, as she acted openly and conspicuously.
Jian Rong picked his champion expressionlessly, thinking that maybe Xiao Bai really had hit the nail on the head… because he possessed some of that so-called fan mentality, he had comparatively higher standards for Lu Boyuan’s partner?
[Xiao Tang Also Wants To Carry: Are you already Q’ing with Kongkong?]
Jian Rong gathered his thoughts and replied with an “en.”
[Xiao Tang Also Wants To Carry: Okay, could I add you on WeChat? If anything work-related comes up in the future, we’ll also be able to communicate right away~]
Jian Rong dithered briefly before he sent over his WeChat ID.
At four, another game ended. Jian Rong pulled off his headphones and let Kongkong know he was getting off before he powered down his computer.
He went back to his room and changed into a parka. Before leaving, he remembered that Ding-ge told him to remain as low-key as possible in public spaces, so he went back and put on his mask.
Recently Shanghai had been cooling down sharply. Currently it was almost evening, so the temperature was even lower.
The second he opened the front door of the base, Jian Rong cast his mind back and confirmed that he was wearing the thickest jacket that he owned at the moment, before he tugged his mask upwards and left.
He had called a ride in advance. On Lunar New Year’s Eve, when scheduling an app-based taxi he had to wait ten minutes before someone finally accepted the request.
The driver had a dialect when he spoke. Most likely because it was a special occasion, he had been talking nonstop ever since Jian Rong got in the car. “Young man, why’d you come out on Lunar New Year’s Eve? Not celebrating with your family ah? And you’re going somewhere so far too.”
The driver’s laughter was clear and bright, and white mist constantly puffed out from his mouth as he talked.
Normally when Jian Rong took a taxi, he entered mute mode. He stared at the little couplet keychain hanging from the rearview mirror and finally got a whiff of some New Year atmosphere on that day.
The driver had picked up many clients before, and he knew that customers who were dressed as securely as Jian Rong typically didn’t like to chat, so he reached out and turned up the radio volume. A jubilant song floated out, intermingling with the voice of the teenager sitting in the backseat.
“I have some business to take care of. I’ll be going back once I’m done.”
The driver was startled, but he smiled even more enthusiastically. “Okay, then ge will kick it into high gear.”
The car drove for half an hour before Jian Rong returned to the neighborhood that he had been living in before.
The apartment in the little district was left behind by his parents. His computer setup at home was average, and it was also troublesome to pack and return home, so back then Jian Rong had only considered it for half a minute before deciding to stay at the base for the break.
After arriving at his apartment, Jian Rong opened the express deliveries that he had retrieved from the property management. He then rummaged through the closet and found the blanket that he had used last winter, along with some clothes he didn’t wear, before he hurriedly left.
He carried the bedding and waited for a while on the first floor. Two minutes after five, a familiar orange tabby cat strode gracefully into Jian Rong’s line of sight.
While the way it walked was fairly regal, the only issue was it was much skinnier than it had been the last time Jian Rong saw it. Its kitty face looked worn down and not energetic at all.
Jian Rong immediately stepped forward and picked it up before stuffing it into the blanket in his arms.
The orange tabby cat was filthy. Maybe because it still remembered Jian Rong, or maybe because it was just too cold, but it didn’t resist him. It tossed its head before it let out a lengthy meow at him.
“Don’t make noise.” Jian Rong’s tone of voice wasn’t amiable in the slightest. He used the blanket to wipe off the dirty things stuck to the cat’s tail before he brought it into the stairwell of the first building in the district. He wrapped it up in a blanket before putting it to the side; he then crouched down, ripped open the cat food that he had just ordered over, and poured out a full bowl.
The orange tabby cat meowed at him again before it lowered its head and wolfed down the food.
It ate very rapidly, and it was unclear how many days the cat had gone hungry for. Jian Rong watched it for a while before he mumbled to himself, “…I thought someone would feed you.”
A long moment later, Jian Rong sat down on the steps and poured water for it.
“Stupid cat.” He braced his hands against his knees as he sat. “You’re already a veteran stray, how did you end up in this state this year?”
He patted the orange cat’s head. “Didn’t you act pretty proud of yourself before? You thought that the food I bought you was too cheap and you weren’t even willing to eat it.
“Is it because you grew fat and turned ugly, so nobody fed you anymore.
“How many times have I told you this before? If a person… if a cat wants to survive, no matter how bad the terms are, you still have to master some techniques. That Dragon Li cat from back then was so good at acting spoiled, rubbing against everyone it saw. You don’t know how to learn a little from it?
The orange tabby cat swiftly finished the entire bowl of cat food. While Jian Rong asked, “Are you a pig or are you a cat,” he replenished the food.
But the orange cat didn’t go to eat again. Instead, it approached Jian Rong and inclined its head, butting it against his calf.
“…there’s no use acting spoiled with me.” Jian Rong said, “I can’t raise you.”
The orange cat continued to bump its head against him.
Jian Rong furrowed his brows and reached out to rub its head a long while later.
They sat in the stairwell until the sky went dark. Only then did the orange tabby cat finally turn around and walk away.
Jian Rong followed it for a little and found where it was currently dwelling—in the neighboring district’s basement corridor.
Jian Rong spread out the blanket for it, topped up the food and water, and turned to leave.
“Meow.” The orange cat gave a cry and went forward to rub against Jian Rong’s shoes.
Jian Rong looked down at it for a few seconds before he used the side of his shoe to stroke it in return.
“I’ll come again tomorrow.” Jian Rong’s voice was flat. “You stay here obediently… don’t die.”
Lu Boyuan sat casually, making him appear starkly different from the middle-aged man sitting upright and properly across from him.
“Enough.” A middle-aged woman with her long hair coiled up walked into the room holding fruit. She shot a glance at the chessboard and smiled. “If you can’t outplay your son in chess, you should just admit defeat. Come over and eat some fruit.”
Papa Lu frowned. “What do you mean by ‘can’t outplay’? Am I not merely thinking about my next move right now? Don’t disturb me.”
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh. “Then take your time and think, I’m going to go eat fruit.”
The phone that he had placed on the table was continuously chiming. Mama Lu asked, “Are you not going to check your messages?”
Lu Boyuan sucked on a tangerine slice and replied simply, “Some group chats are sending red envelopes.”
Mama Lu nodded. “If you accept other people’s red envelopes, then you also have to send some out yourself. It doesn’t matter how much, but the intent should be there.”
Lu Boyuan said okay.
Mama Lu pushed the plate a fruit a little closer to him. “I watched you play a few days ago. There’s a new boy in your team, isn’t there? With dyed blue hair.”
“From what I can tell, he seems to be quite young.”
Lu Boyuan chuckled. “Seventeen.”
Papa Lu snorted coldly. “So young, and already not engaging in proper work.”
A few beats later, he added, “Just like you!”
After so many years, Lu Boyuan didn’t feel like bickering with him over this any longer.
“Hey hey hey!” Papa Lu suddenly cried out. “I got it, hurry up and come here!”
Lu Boyuan was about to look over when his phone on the table suddenly rang; the caller was Ding-ge.
The moment the call went through, the other side asked urgently, “Where are you? Is it convenient for you to make a trip back right now?? Something’s happened at the base!”
A few minutes passed. Papa Lu grew annoyed from waiting and turned his head. “Why are you still not coming over yet… where are you going?!”
Lu Boyuan had already put on his jacket. He pulled open the front door and didn’t bother looking back. “There’s a bit of an emergency at the base, I’m going to make a trip back.”
On Lunar New Year’s Eve, the roads were clear.
Lu Boyuan drove for an hour and a half before he finally arrived at the base at 11 PM.
The villa district was brightly lit, and only two buildings in the middle were dark and gloomy.
Lu Boyuan hurriedly got out of the car without even turning off the engine. He quickly pushed open the large iron gates in front of the villa.
He instantly spotted Jian Rong, who was squatting with his back to Lu Boyuan, head lowered as he played on his phone.
The sky was too dark, and a thick layer of black covered Jian Rong’s blue hair. He wasn’t wearing a scarf, so a section of his slender and pale neck was revealed when he bent his head forward. His shoulders couldn’t be considered very broad either, as he was curled in on himself, and he looked like a little hooligan who was blocking the path outside of a high school but hadn’t developed fully yet.
An indescribable feeling of deja vu surged through Lu Boyuan. He furrowed his eyebrows very slightly as Jian Rong’s appearance with black hair flashed unconsciously through his mind, and Jian Rong’s figure from behind overlapped with a little figure pulled from somewhere in Lu Boyuan’s memories.
Jian Rong was wearing earbuds and listening to music. An app with a red background popped up on Jian Rong’s screen, and he smiled with satisfaction after seeing the sum of money written on it. He was about to send a “thanks boss” emoticon when he felt the light in front of him get eclipsed.
He jolted before he instinctively raised his head.
The streetlight illuminated the man from behind, and his shadow nearly engulfed Jian Rong entirely. Lu Boyuan looked down on him from above. His eyes looked like someone had placed a scattering of snow in them, and white mist gradually floated out between his breaths.
Jian Rong froze completely. A very, very long time later, he finally slowly called out a, “…Captain.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t respond. He asked, “What are you doing crouching here?”
Jian Rong said, extremely honestly, “Grabbing red envelopes.”
Lu Boyuan: “.”
Jian Rong snapped out of it and instantly stood up, patting off the nonexistent dust on his body. “The base’s lock is broken, it won’t open. As far as I can tell… it seemed like something had pried it open, so I gave Ding-ge a call.”
Ding-ge said that he would send someone over right away, and he told Jian Rong that he must not go into the house no matter what.
Jian Rong hadn’t expected Ding-ge to actually send over Lu Boyuan.
Seeing Lu Boyuan frown and remain silent, Jian Rong said, “I already reported it to the police. I just called them, so they should be here soon.”
A long moment passed before Lu Boyuan let out an “en.” “Go wait in the car.”
Lu Boyuan’s car was an SUV. The interior was spacious, and the heater was on.
Jian Rong extended his hands in front of the air vent, wanting to warm them up.
“Jian Rong.” Lu Boyuan called his name.
Jian Rong subconsciously withdrew his hands and turned to look at him. “Hm?”
Lu Boyuan was in the middle of replying to Ding-ge’s message. Without lifting his head, he asked, “Have we met before?”
Yan: More on their past is being revealed~ And also, how I imagine Jian Rong sitting with his back to LBY-