The garage was on the basement level, and they could enter the house through the door on the right side as soon as they got out of the car.
Having heard the noise from the garage, Mama Lu was already waiting in the basement level’s entryway. When the door opened, she said, “Leaving the house even though it’s already so late, did something urgent happen… and this is?”
Jian Rong didn’t expect for Lu Boyuan’s family to still be awake at such a late hour. He was following behind Lu Boyuan, and when he heard her voice, his shoulders instantly grew tense. It had already been many years since he had last communicated or interacted with those of the older generations.
While Jian Rong was still pondering over what to say, Lu Boyuan helped answer for him.
“A teammate. The base was robbed, so I brought him back to stay with us for a few days.” Lu Boyuan opened the shoe cabinet and pulled out a pair of clean slippers before dropping them in front of Jian Rong.
“Robbed?” Mama Lu hastily peeked behind him. “He wasn’t hurt, right? Did you report it to the police?”
Meeting her gaze, Jian Rong straightened his back and nodded quite a few times. “I wasn’t injured, and I reported it… I’ve troubled you.”
Mama Lu saw his blue hair, and she slightly raised one elegant brow. “That’s good then. Your face is a little red, is it too chilly outside? Quickly close the door, don’t let the cold air in.”
Jian Rong obediently turned around and shut the door. There was heating in the car, so how could it possibly be cold? His face was merely red from the humiliation of having his lies exposed.
“How come you haven’t gone to bed yet?” Lu Boyuan walked further into the house.
“How could I possibly be able to sleep? Your dad isn’t asleep either, he said that he absolutely has to beat you in chess tonight.” Mama Lu looked at Jian Rong again. She opened her mouth to say something before suddenly pausing.
It took Jian Rong two seconds to react, and he hurriedly introduced himself. “Jian Rong, but you can call me however you would like.”
Mama Lu smiled. “Xiao Rong, you can sleep in the guest room on the third floor, right next to Xiao Lu. That room was just tidied up a few days ago.”
In the first floor living room, Papa Lu pinched his chin and frowned as he sat in front of the chessboard. When he heard the sound of them coming in, he said without raising his head, “Did you get cold feet and run away because you felt like you couldn’t beat me in chess?”
Lu Boyuan gave an “en.” “You can just consider it as that.”
“You—” Papa Lu abruptly looked up. His gaze stopped briefly on the teenager with dyed blue hair, who was standing next to the stairs, before traveling towards Lu Boyuan. “…hurry up and come over here!”
Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to sleep if he didn’t finish the game of chess, Lu Boyuan sighed and turned his head back. “You go up first, the room is the first on the left. Text me if anything comes up.”
Jian Rong replied with an ‘okay’ and politely refused Mama Lu’s kind offer to show him the way before climbing up the stairs two at a time.
The room was a bit smaller than the one at the base, but all the necessary furniture was present. There was a wardrobe, a desk, and a sofa, and everything appeared to be very clean.
After closing the door, Jian Rong put down his backpack and took off his jacket before he laid down onto the sofa, covering his eyes with the back of his hand.
He had woken up the moment the car door opened. Before he could open his eyes, Lu Boyuan’s hand had stretched into his hair, and then he had smelled the extremely faint scent of laundry detergent.
Perhaps because Lu Boyuan had been holding the steering wheel the entire time, his palm was slightly warm, and the heat had diffused into Jian Rong’s scalp before traveling through his entire body.
Restrain his emotions. Jian Rong held his breath and sensed his own heartbeat.
…had he been pulling too many all-nighters lately, causing his heart to have issues?
A long while later, he pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Halfway to Lu Boyuan’s house, he had put his phone on mute. There were many messages on the screen, the majority of which were red envelope notifications from group chats.
He wasn’t in many group chats. Besides TTC’s internal group chat, he was only also in a streamer group chat that had 99+ messages all year round, as well as the LPL pro player group chat, which happened to be extremely lively tonight—
[Fighting Tiger Da Niu changed the group name to “Rise of Fighting Tiger in the New Year”]
[WZWZ-Mini changed the group name to “Congrats Mini for Becoming S11’s Most Popular Player”]
[TTC Xiao Bai changed the group name to “Congrats TTC for Winning S11 Worlds Finals”]
Jian Rong propped up one hand underneath his chin and was about to search through the red envelopes sent earlier when—
[MFG Kongkong changed the group name to “LPL’s #1 Mid Laner Kongkong Gets Rich This Year”]
[R-ong changed the group name to “Who’s #1?”]
[MFG Kongkong changed the group name to “I’m Sorry”]
“Hahaha” flooded the group chat, and Jian Rong also chuckled. He scrolled upwards on the screen, freeloading off of quite a few red envelopes.
This group chat was full of the starting players for various teams, and no one was lacking money. Each energetically sent red envelope contained 200 yuan, allowing Jian Rong to pick up over 500 yuan in a short period.
After confirming that he hadn’t missed out on any, Jian Rong tossed his phone onto the sofa and pulled out some clothes from his backpack before going to shower.
Meanwhile. The game of chess quickly finished, and Papa Lu demanded another round out of discontentment.
Lu Boyuan had just shaken his head in refusal when his phone, placed next to the table, chimed again. He picked it up to check the notification and saw that the group chat had been mentioning him the entire time.
[Fighting Tiger Da Niu: Why isn’t Soft saying anything anymore? @R want to duo Q?]
[WZWZ-Mini: It seemed like he was grabbing the red envelopes sent earlier. I kept getting notifications of someone grabbing them [facepalm smile]]
[TTC Yuan Qian: You can only get ten to twenty yuan1 from each one, is it really worth it]
[TTC Yuan Qian: …hold on, he also grabbed the ones that I sent half an hour ago.]
[TTC Xiao Bai: The ones I sent 1.5 hours ago were also grabbed, how long would you even have to scroll up for that? Are you a money grubber? @R-ong]
[TTC Xiao Bai: You there? Did you run away right after picking up the red envelopes???]
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but laugh, and he slipped his phone into his pocket.
After showering, Jian Rong laid down on the bed and checked his unread messages.
[Shiliu: These words contain my deepest thoughts. Just now, I told the clouds to deliver my wholehearted blessings to you, and I only hope that they may adorn your sweet dreams. Friend, you are someone that I care deeply about. I pray that you, my dear, will be happy every day in this new year.]
[R-ong: Did you receive the words that I told the clouds to deliver to you?]
[Shiliu: What’d you deliver]
[R-ong: If you send this kind of corny crap again I’ll blacklist you]
His phone vibrated, and Jian Rong exited the chat to take a look.
[R: I’ve entrusted the wind to be my postman, so that it may bind my warm greetings into a package, stamped with my sincerity as its postmark. It crosses the atmosphere in an express delivery to its recipient: you. I wish you a delightful New Year.]
Jian Rong: “………”
Jian Rong gripped his phone and stared at it for a long time before he sat up straight to reply.
A thankful emoticon – too half-hearted.
“Thank you.” – too cold, deleted.
“Thank you, have a delightful New Year as well.” – it seemed to lack genuineness, deleted.
Five minutes later.
[R-ong: Thank you. I’ve already received your warm greetings. I also wish you a delightful New Year, full of daily happiness.]
He had just hit send when someone knocked on his room door.
Jian Rong flew off the bed and opened the door.
The light in his room wasn’t on, and there was only one small dim lamp lit up in the corridor near the stairs, causing Lu Boyuan’s phone to become the brightest source of light. On the screen was the message that Jian Rong had just sent.
When Lu Boyuan lifted his head, he hadn’t completely restrained his smile yet. A few seconds later, he explained, “That text was one I received earlier… when I was changing clothes, I accidentally forwarded it.”
Jian Rong fell into a lengthy silence. “I was also just casually responding.”
“Mn.” Lu Boyuan locked his phone. “My study room is the room across from yours. There’s a computer inside, no password, feel free to use it.”
After saying that, he took out a bright red object from his pocket and held it in front of Jian Rong.
For once, it took Jian Rong some time to react. He looked down at Lu Boyuan’s hand and didn’t make a move to take it.
Lu Boyuan said, “New Year’s money.”
Jian Rong shook his head. “No need…”
“There’s not much in it, it’s just symbolic.” Lu Boyuan paused before he made up some nonsense. “It’s my family’s tradition for everyone who hasn’t come of age yet.”
Before Jian Rong could collect his thoughts, Lu Boyuan suddenly reached out his hand and hooked open the pocket on the front of Jian Rong’s shirt with his index finger. He then put the red envelope inside.
Seeing Jian Rong’s bulging pocket, Lu Boyuan said, satisfied, “That’s all. Go to sleep earlier, Happy New Year.”
After closing the door, Jian Rong sat back down on his bed and opened the red envelope.
It had been a very, very long time since he last received New Year’s money, and even the texture of the red envelope felt foreign.
There was a thick stack of cash inside, and just from a visual estimate, it seemed to be quite a few times greater than the total amount that he had worked arduously to snatch that entire night.
A long while later, Jian Rong resealed the red envelope and carefully placed it underneath his pillow.
On Lunar New Year’s Day, it was snowing outside the window when Jian Rong woke up. He stared at the vast whiteness of the sky for a while before he picked up his phone to check the time.
That was the usual time he got up. Since it was the first day of the new year, he could even lay there for ten more minutes… no wait.
Jian Rong swiftly sat up and picked up his phone to confirm the time again.
Lu Boyuan was currently in the living room calling Ding-ge when he heard a series of footsteps come from the stairs.
Ding-ge: “…this won’t do, I still don’t feel reassured. I’ll change my flight and come back tomorrow.”
“Up to you.”
After hanging up the call, Lu Boyuan looked at a frantic Jian Rong. “You’re up?”
“Mn… I overslept.” Jian Rong flattened his hair, which was messy from sleep. As he came closer, a whiff of peppermint scent leftover from washing up traveled over from his body.
“You can sleep as much as you want, there’s no requirement to wake up early in my family.” Lu Boyuan turned off the TV. “Hungry? I’ll take you out to eat.”
Jian Rong was startled before he immediately peered around himself.
“They went out.” Lu Boyuan stood up. “What do you want to eat?”
Jian Rong was about to say that anything was fine, but then he abruptly recalled a skinny little yellow figure.
Seeing him remain silent, Lu Boyuan lifted an eyebrow. “What’s wrong.”
Jian Rong pursed his lips. “I have something to do today, so I’ll probably have to make a trip out.”
“On Lunar New Year’s Day?”
Jian Rong gave an “en” and rubbed his nose. “I already made a promise yesterday.”
Lu Boyuan nodded. “Is it very urgent?”
Jian Rong thought a bit. “Probably around five o’clock.”
The little orange cat always started roaming around at five PM or earlier, but never later.
“It’s 2:30 right now.” Lu Boyuan glanced at the time. “I’ll take you to eat something and then I’ll send you over. There should be enough time.”
They went to eat a western-style meal, and after coming out of the restaurant, Jian Rong connected his phone to the navigation system in Lu Boyuan’s car.
It actually only took twenty minutes to go from the restaurant to his apartment.
After arriving at the little district, it took some time to find a place to park the car.
Lu Boyuan stood next to the entrance of the building and watched the human and the cat on the stairs. He couldn’t help but laugh. “The cat… was the one you made a promise with?”
“Mn.” Jian Rong didn’t notice the amusement in Lu Boyuan’s voice as he lowered his head and poured the cat food into the dish.
Lu Boyuan leaned against the door frame. “What’s it called?”
Jian Rong shook his head. “It doesn’t have a name.”
“How come you didn’t give it one.” Lu Boyuan cast his eyes downward and asked, “Then what do you normally call it?”
Jian Rong said, “Stupid cat, little orange.”
When he was in a good mood, he called it little orange; when he was in a bad mood, he called it dumb cat.
Lu Boyuan watched the orange tabby cat chow down a huge bowl of cat food and asked, “Since you worry about it so much, why didn’t you take it in and raise it?”
Jian Rong was quiet for a few seconds. “I did take it in for a few days before. But it’s used to being a stray, so it kept calling out when it was stuck in an apartment, and the neighbors would complain. If I let it out, then I couldn’t find it. I could only wait for it to come out by itself at five PM, so I gave up.”
Lu Boyuan nodded.
It was true that there were some stray cats who didn’t enjoy living indoors.
After refilling the food and water for the cat, Jian Rong knelt in front of the little orange cat before they left and said, “I’ll come back to see you again tomorrow, don’t die.”
All the way until they got in the car, that sentence continued to float through Lu Boyuan’s mind.
Jian Rong’s voice was dry, mostly emotionless, and contained a peculiar sort of comicality.
Worried that the dumb cat would follow them out, Jian Rong kept glancing in the rearview mirror after getting in the car.
Lu Boyuan only drove for ten or so seconds before he suddenly flicked on his turn signal, pulled over to the side of the road, and parked.
Jian Rong turned his head to look at him, puzzled.
Only to see Lu Boyuan pull out his phone and search up something on it before making a call.
“Hello, is this Love Pets Animal Clinic… it’s like this, I want to ask your clinic to look after a stray cat. Every day at five PM, it appears at…” Lu Boyuan glanced at Jian Rong.
Jian Rong subconsciously said, “Feicui Community.”
“The entrance of Building 1 in Feicui Community, or in the basement corridor of Building 2. It’s an orange cat with a dash of white at the tip of its tail, I have a picture here. If you don’t mind, could you send him some food and water every two days? I’ll pay for the dry and wet food.” Lu Boyuan’s elbow was propped up against the car window, and he looked like he was discussing some business deal. “I’ll compensate the clinic accordingly, but in return you have to periodically send me videos… okay, let’s continue the conversation on WeChat then.”
After hanging up, Lu Boyuan handed his phone to Jian Rong and started the car. “Check if a friend request came through.”
Jian Rong gripped his phone, and it took him quite a while to snap out of it.
…something like this was possible??
The animal clinic’s boss was very easy to talk to. Since the cat was a stray, the other party didn’t actually charge that high of a fee.
[Love Pets Animal Clinic: Alright, what’s the little kitty’s name?]
Jian Rong clasped the phone in his hands and thought about it briefly.
[R: Little Orange]
Once Jian Rong reached an agreement with the animal clinic, he locked the phone and placed it down. “Thank you… I can just pay the fee for taking care of it.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t argue with him. “Okay.”
After settling one of his worries, Jian Rong let out a sigh of relief before he tilted his head to look at the snowflakes outside the window.
He had never really thought outside of the box concerning this matter. If Lu Boyuan wasn’t here, Jian Rong probably would have had to make a trip over to see the cat every break. Whenever he had some down time normally, he would also always end up worrying over this old stray…
Fortunately, Lu Boyuan was here.
A ringtone interrupted Jian Rong’s train of thought, and he fumbled to pull out his phone from his jacket.
Ding-ge said from the other side of the call, “Xiao Rong, I just told the official Weibo account to post the poll for your resuming streaming benefits. When you have time, log in and repost the poll, that way I won’t have to get on your account.”
Jian Rong agreed perfunctorily.
When he opened Weibo, the second post on his homepage was the poll from the official Weibo account. Jian Rong looked over the first few options.
[1. Randomly draw water friends for a civil war.
2. Play ranked with designated champions.
3. Pick a lucky water friend to take flying in duo queue.
4. Pick a water friend to send a gift to.]
As expected, these were the choices.
The same old benefit options – they were all activities that Jian Rong had done before.
He absent-mindedly scrolled downwards, only to discover that there were still more choices below.
[5. Sing a song.]
Jian Rong lifted an eyebrow.
Alright, that was still acceptable. He could borrow Xiao Bai’s sound card and casually sing something.
Jian Rong suddenly sat up straight.
[7. Stream while acting spoiled.]
When Jian Rong saw that there was still an option left underneath #7, an extremely awful premonition rushed straight into his head.
His thumb froze in midair for a very, very long time, so long that his phone screen dimmed. Only then did he press on the screen again and scroll down both carefully and slowly—
Like he was venting his anger, Jian Rong threw his phone underneath his seat, and it let out a muffled, heavy thump.
In case you’re also confused like I was, the total amount in a red envelope is split randomly among the people in the group chat. So even if someone sends a 200 yuan envelope, the amount you get varies based on luck and the number of people in the chat ^