After his exhibition, Jian Rong was pondering how to ask Xiao Bai about the “set time” when, out of the corner of his eyes, he glimpsed a slender hand picking up the stocking that he had thrown offhandedly onto the ground.
Lu Boyuan had just finished talking with Ding-ge, and his sleeves were casually rolled up to his elbows. His hand, which usually gripped a black mouse, was currently holding a singular white stocking with pink trim, appearing very out of place.
Jian Rong’s first instinct was to move his foot off of the coffee table.
“…what are you two doing?” Ding-ge followed Lu Boyuan in. “Comparing foot hair? Kudos to you both for even coming up with something like that, can’t you compare something better?”
A phone ringtone sounded. Lu Boyuan put the stocking down across the sofa armrest before he answered the call and walked outside.
Ding-ge quickly called out to him. “Where are you going?”
Lu Boyuan answered, “Express delivery.”
Only once the front door closed did Jian Rong shift over to the other side of the couch and snatch up the stocking. He lifted his foot and started to slip the stocking back on.
“What are you doing?” Ding-ge stopped him, startled. “You want to put it on again?”
The other three people looked over as well. Jian Rong froze in his stocking-wearing posture for a few seconds before he also took off the remaining stocking. “No.”
Ding-ge unlocked his phone and checked it. “The results of today’s stream were pretty good. Number one in both heat points and popularity, and you shot straight up to number five on this week’s platform-wide gift list.”
“Only number five?” Yuan Qian looked up from his phone. “He must’ve received almost a million yuan in terms of gifts today, right? That only got him to the top five?”
There was nowhere to put the stockings, so Jian Rong decided to just stuff it into the pockets of his jacket.
Hearing that comment, he swiftly looked up. “A million?”
“To be exact, it’s 1.17 million.” Ding-ge breezily calculated it. “Not including the free gifts, and taking out the platform’s cut and the taxes, there should be about five to six hundred thousand yuan remaining. The money is trivial, the key thing is the amount of attention you received. You gained more fans in one day than some other people do in an entire month… see, you didn’t lose out by crossdressing this time, did you?”
Seeing Jian Rong’s astonished expression, Yuan Qian said, amused, “What’s with that ‘I’ve never experienced this before’ look, you were a big streamer before.”
It was true that Jian Rong could be considered a big streamer.
But though there were many viewers in the LoL category, few were actually willing to smash gifts. If the monthly gift rankings weren’t full of outdoor streamers, then it would be taken over by beauty streamers; the only LoL streamers who received a lot of gifts were the female ones. Before, Jian Rong always had to rely on his base salary and his allotted cut from free gifts in order to make a living.
Xiao Bai picked up an orange from the table. “Forget it, haven’t you guys seen his streaming style? It only attracts trolls, not gifts.”
The front door opened and Lu Boyuan came back, a package wedged under one arm while he carried a cake box in his other hand.
Ding-ge looked behind him and lifted an eyebrow. “Hm? It was delivered? How come the delivery person didn’t call me?”
Jian Rong turned his head around too and blinked blankly when he saw the cake that Lu Boyuan was carrying in his left hand.
“I happened to run into them, so I just accepted it.” Lu Boyuan lifted his foot and pushed the door closed.
Ding-ge was bewildered. “How did you know that this cake was ours? I don’t think I filled in the exact address.”
Lu Boyuan set the cake box down on the coffee table. “The only thing you’re missing is the name on the cake.”
The little figurine on top of the cake had dyed blue hair and was wearing headphones. There was a medal hanging on the front of its chest as well, and it wore a sour expression.
“Oh shit! Cake! It’s been so long since I’ve eaten cake!!” Xiao Bai was excited for two seconds before he looked at Ding-ge in confusion. “How come I didn’t get any cake when it was my birthday?”
Yuan Qian said cheerily, “I didn’t get one either.”
“Never mind you all, even I didn’t get a cake.” Ding-ge picked up the box cutter and roughly cut through the bow on top of the cake box packaging. “Isn’t this his eighteenth birthday? So I thought that I should at least buy him a cake… none of you celebrated your eighteenth birthdays here at the base, what’s the point of making up for it with a cake in retrospect.”
Jian Rong propped his elbows up against his knees and leaned forward, staring at the little figurine on the cake for quite some time. “…what’s around my neck?”
Ding-ge let out an “oh.” “The medal for the S111 Worlds finals.”
It was a little hard to explain the expression in everyone’s eyes as they turned to look at him.
“What?” Ding-ge was bold in his conviction. “Can’t I seek out a good omen? Hurry up and eat so you guys can sleep, there’s still a practice match tomorrow… Xiao Lu, do you want me to help open your package while we’re at it?”
Lu Boyuan put down the package next to the couch. “No need.”
Ding-ge stuck the “18” birthday candles into the cake. “What are you supposed to do when celebrating a birthday again? Sing Happy Birthday?”
Jian Rong rejected it without even thinking about it. “Doesn’t need to be that troublesome.”
Ding-ge thought about it. A few grown men huddled together singing Happy Birthday was indeed a bit foolish. “Then you should at least blow out the candles and make a wish, right.”
Jian Rong hesitated briefly before he reluctantly nodded and agreed.
“Lighter… where’s my lighter?” Ding-ge felt around his pockets for a while. Perplexed, he was about to go back to the other room to search for it when a black lighter with gold edges was suddenly proffered to him.
Ding-ge took it and flicked open the lid before pressing down on the sparkwheel. He was about to light the candles when he suddenly stopped moving.
Lu Boyuan’s extended hand was still frozen in midair, and he let out a rare curse in his mind. He imperceptibly leaned to the right, lengthening the distance between himself and the person in front of him.
Sure enough, Ding-ge’s head whipped around as he sputtered, “Lu Boyuan you’re smoking again?! Just what did the doctor say during the checkup last time? Is it so hard for you all to quit smoking for two months? Are you all internet addicted young men or tobacco addicted young men, ah? Oh—I get it now, you went outside earlier so you could smoke, right? Amazing, you even learned how to use getting a delivery as a coverup…”
Lu Boyuan sat down on the sofa’s armrest and said helplessly, “I didn’t smoke, that thing was just in my pocket the entire time.”
“What’s the point of carrying it around if you’re not smoking? For lighting?” Ding-ge maintained his stooped posture and randomly picked out the person who was sitting the closest to Lu Boyuan. “Jian Rong, sniff his hand, see if there’s any hint of smoke!”
Jian Rong: “…”
Jian Rong was about to say that people needed to have faith in each other when Lu Boyuan suddenly stretched his hand towards him.
Lu Boyuan was sitting on the armrest near Jian Rong, so his hand just happened to stop next to Jian Rong’s head, neither too close nor too far.
Lu Boyuan’s palm faced upwards, his fingers curled inwards lazily; a vein bulged outwards slightly near his wrist.
A few seconds later, Jian Rong leaned a bit closer and sniffed his hand.
There was a faint fragrance, most likely because Lu Boyuan had washed his hands with soap after he was done gaming.
Jian Rong sniffed twice, his exhales brushing lightly against Lu Boyuan’s index finger.
The rabbit ears followed its master’s head back to their original position. Jian Rong said flatly, “No smell of smoke.”
For a very brief moment, Lu Boyuan lost his train of thought, and he only withdrew his hand after the “18” candles had been ignited. “Satisfied?”
“Just because you didn’t smoke today doesn’t mean you didn’t smoke at all.” After lighting the candles, Ding-ge slipped the lighter into his own pocket. “I’m confiscating the lighter for now, I’ll give it back to you once the smoking ban is over.”
Lu Boyuan put his right hand into his pocket and rubbed the patch of skin that had just been blown on using his thumb. “No need to confiscate it, you can have it.”
Ding-ge laughed out of anger. “Damn you… I’m laying down a new rule. From now on, if you see anyone smoking, report them straight to me. For each successful report, I’ll give you two thousand yuan of my own money as a prize.”
“Wow… how could you bring a harmful practice like reporting others into the team?” After Xiao Bai finished his exaggerated act, he raised his hand. “I’m reporting P-baby for smoking on the way to the base, two sticks, does that mean I get four thousand?”
Pine lifted his hand and rapped him twice on the head.
“If it happened already, it doesn’t count. In the future, immediately take a picture if you see someone smoking, you’ll get the money based on photo evidence.” Done messing around, Ding-ge said, “Come on, make a wish and blow out the candles. How about you just wish to win the World Championship…”
Jian Rong lowered his head and blew out the candles right right away.
Jian Rong said, “Don’t need to wish for that, I can win the championship all on my own.”
Lu Boyuan laughed when he heard that.
This fierce energy… it had been a very long time since he last saw something like it.
Even though the other people in the team also wanted to win, after playing competitively for a few seasons, nobody dared to say “I’m going to become the champion” so easily anymore.
“This is youth.” Ding-ge sighed, deeply moved, before he handed the knife to Jian Rong. “Here, the first slice. After we eat this cake, we’ll instantly win the championship.”
It sounded like he was teasing a child. Jian Rong sneered before he took the knife and cut the cake.
The preordered cake was very small, and it was just the right size for each person to get one slice.
Because he was the birthday boy, Jian Rong received the largest slice. The person who usually didn’t touch any kind of dessert after dinner sat obediently on the couch today and ate his cake.
All of a sudden, Xiao Bai scooted over with an enormous chunk of cream stuck on his finger.
“Don’t touch me.” Jian Rong’s voice was chilly. “If you get it on my jacket, I’ll log into your account tomorrow to AFK and flame other people.”
Xiao Bai froze. “It’s not like you know my password!”
Jian Rong: “The pinyin for ‘P-baby’s little support.’”
Xiao Bai whirled around and smeared the cream onto Pine’s face.
“Ding-ge.” Yuan Qian raised his head. “Could you get me an admission ticket for our next match?”
Ding-ge didn’t bother looking up. “What for? Your girlfriend’s coming to watch?”
“Yeah.” Yuan Qian chuckled good-naturedly. “She wanted to come when she heard that it was going to be held at our home stadium.”
“No problem, I’ll tell someone to get you a ticket tomorrow.” Only then did Ding-ge remember something, and he looked towards Jian Rong. “They give us admission tickets for every match, but none of these people ever want them, so I always forgot to tell you… if you need any, just ask me.”
Jian Rong shook his head. “I don’t need any either.”
Xiao Bai heaved a sigh while he ate his cake. “Back when I first started playing competitively, I still remember how I really liked giving out admission tickets. I would give them to anyone who asked, all the way up until this one time a dumbass went and resold the ticket I gave him. After that, I never gave a ticket to anyone again… hey, ge, didn’t you also experience something like that before?”
Lu Boyuan broke off a chunk of cake using his fork. “Really? I don’t remember anymore.”
“I do, it was when we were playing in the secondary league.” Yuan Qian interjected, “At that time, both my parents wanted to come watch too, so I asked you if you still had your ticket. But you said… you gave your ticket to a little scalper.”
Jian Rong paused mid-chew, and his head shot up.
Lu Boyuan contemplated for a while before he nodded. “I remember now.”
For once, Pine spoke. “How come I don’t remember that.”
“You hadn’t joined the team yet.” Lu Boyuan scraped off the cream on top of the cake. “The boss of an internet cafe chased out a kid who was looking for work. After that, he sat in the doorway and kept wiping away his tears… I didn’t have any money on me, so I just gave the ticket to him.”
Jian Rong’s entire body went rigid.
Yuan Qian said, puzzled, “Then why call him a little scalper?”
Lu Boyuan said mildly, “I forgot my ID in the internet cafe, so I went back to get it. That kid was in the middle of negotiating the ticket price with someone, and from the get go he doubled it.”
“Cough—cough cough…” Jian Rong choked on his cake, and he covered his mouth, coughing continuously.
His disruption attracted the other people’s attention. Jian Rong bent his arm to cover his face, and he waved his hand while coughing, indicating that he was fine.
“Scalping the ticket at such a young age, people today are truly becoming degenerates!” Xiao Bai said resentfully, “Ge, at that time why didn’t you go and seize that damn little brat?!”
Originally, Lu Boyuan was going to seize him.
But he had been short on time, and when he saw the kid’s face, reddened from the heat, the tip of his nose dripping with sweat… he just let it pass.
Jian Rong was still coughing. When Lu Boyuan looked over again, Jian Rong’s entire face had turned red because of his coughing.
Lu Boyuan put down his cake, picked up a bottle of unopened spring water, and handed it over.
The moment Lu Boyuan extended his hand, he seemed to recall something, and his eyebrow lifted upwards very slightly.
Jian Rong didn’t notice his expression, and he reached out a hand to accept the water, but he momentarily wasn’t able to take it.
Lu Boyuan was holding onto the bottle a little tightly.
That kind of strength seemed to last for only a split second. Before Jian Rong could grow suspicious, Lu Boyuan had already let go.
Jian Rong twisted open the cap and had to take three consecutive gulps before he could calm down.
Yuan Qian laughed. “That kid was even able to sell a secondary league ticket at twice its price… how to put it, he actually had quite some potential.”
There was a beat of silence before Lu Boyuan gave an “en.” He said slowly, “It was too long ago, so I don’t remember it clearly anymore.What actually happened might be different, can’t say for sure.”
Right after he said that, Lu Boyuan saw a pair of rabbit ears give a large bob up and down, as if its owner had let out a long breath.
After the party disbanded, Jian Rong went back to his room, took off the jacket, and checked it all over three times.
Once he confirmed that there weren’t any stains on it, he went to knock on Lu Boyuan’s door, carrying the jacket in his arms.
The door opened after his first knock.
Jian Rong said, “I’m here to return the jacket…”
Lu Boyuan pulled open the door. “I was about to look for you, come in.”
After Jian Rong entered the room, Lu Boyuan closed the door, turned around, and saw the length of Jian Rong’s waist exposed underneath the sailor outfit.
Jian Rong was thin, so naturally his waist was also more slender than that of an average teenager boy’s. Lu Boyuan only glanced at it for a second before he averted his gaze.
The instant Jian Rong came in, he saw the opened package lying on the ground with a shoebox inside.
“Open it and take a look.” Lu Boyuan’s voice came from behind him.
Jian Rong was startled, and he didn’t move.
“Your birthday gift.” Lu Boyuan said, “See if it fits or not.”
Jian Rong’s intention was to say “no need.”
But Lu Boyuan’s gift… at the same time, he really did want it.
If he accepted this present and gave Lu Boyuan one equal in value once his birthday rolled around, then it should be fine.
In the end, Jian Rong followed his heart. He put the jacket down on the chair before he knelt down to open the shoebox.
Inside was a pair of sneakers2, with milky white and light gray sections joined together. A little pendant hung from the shoes, and the logo on the side of the sneakers was made of woven jacquard.
Jian Rong didn’t really know much about sneakers. He only recognized that the brand was Nike, and that these shoes were very nice.
Lu Boyuan crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “Try it on.”
Jian Rong’s shoe size was 403, and the sneakers fit perfectly on him; the only problem was that it didn’t really match the sailor outfit he was wearing.
Jian Rong sat on Lu Boyuan’s chair and bent over, looking at the shoes from every which way and liking its appearance from each angle.
He was about to thank Lu Boyuan when a sentence suddenly floated down from above him—
“So you didn’t end up becoming a little scalper.”
Jian Rong’s heart skipped a beat.
A long pause later, Jian Rong shut his eyes briefly before he lifted his head in resignation.
Lu Boyuan was still leaning against the wall. He wore a faint smile, and he cast his eyes downward as he asked, “Why didn’t you sell the ticket?”
Knowing that Lu Boyuan had recognized him, Jian Rong swallowed and only answered slowly after quite some time had passed. “Really wanted to watch… so I didn’t sell it.”
Lu Boyuan laughed and gave an “en.”
They were very close to each other, one standing and one sitting. Just by reaching out his hand, Lu Boyuan could touch Jian Rong’s hair.
It seemed like Lu Boyuan had just washed his hands, as his palm was somewhat cool. The force behind his ruffling was a bit heavier than it had been any time before.
He said: “You’re all grown up now.”
Jian Rong came carrying a jacket, and he left carrying a shoebox.
After returning to his room, Jian Rong leaned against the bathroom door and breathed deeply, his heart beating so fast that it felt like it was about to explode.
Before he could fully recover, his phone suddenly vibrated on the nearby table.
[Ding-ge: Do you still want that sailor outfit?]
[Ding-ge: Then you can change out of it and give it back to me, I’ll go store it away.]
He had to find something to do to divert his attention. Jian Rong rubbed his face and took off his shirt.
Next was the skirt, then the bow tie, the rabbit ears, the stockings… the stockings…
Where were the stockings?!
- In case you forgot, season 10 just ended in ICDI (and in reality!) ^
- hot damn these shoes are Expensive – I believe they’re from the 2020 Dior x Air Jordan 1 collection?? But idk anything about sneakers so ^
- Google says size 40 in China is apparently anywhere from 6.5-8.5 US (men’s??) size and won’t give me a consistent answer sooo here’s the ballpark range ^
Yan: hhhhh the Soft (heh) Moment when LBY figures out JR’s past always gets me ;;; I genuinely don’t think english does it justice. I’ll share the Chinese in case anyone is curious, but LBY says: 长这么大了, which to me personally gives off this kind of wistful, nostalgic, warm feeling >< and of course, Jiang Zi Bei is the master of comedy – I wonder where those stockings are…? :thinking face: