Jian Rong actually hadn’t really found anything in his search that night.
Lu Boyuan had made a name for himself too quickly. The first year he joined the team, he became the champion of the LSPL; the second year, he won Worlds, and he became the most legendary person in the entire professional league. At the time, the trainee system wasn’t developed yet, and TTC’s boss had unearthed Lu Boyuan and convinced him to join the team when he was still a solo queue king in the Korean server.
Xiao Bai and Yuan Qian both had pictures and even videos from back when they were trainees or playing in offline tournaments. Lu Boyuan didn’t have any of that.
But his search wasn’t completely fruitless either.
He managed to find a post on a certain Tieba from several years ago. Jian Rong had read the original poster’s message numerous times before he finally understood it—
[Happened 2 see Road @ an internet cafe, dat super strong Road from the Korean server, sooo handsome \\(^o^)/, secretly took 1 pic of his back!]
Last year, the original poster had rediscovered this post—[Fuck, I just realized that this person is actually the current Road ah??!]
The image quality was way too poor, and at first glance it looked like a mosaic was overlaid across it. The photo was indeed only of his back, and the background appeared to be an illegal internet cafe.
Lu Boyuan was wearing headphones, but probably because he felt like they were dirty, he had stuck tissues between the headphones and his ears. There was a cigarette between his fingers, and he was watching one of the earlier LPL matches on his computer.
Jian Rong had also found a photograph of everyone in TTC holding up the trophy during the LSPL finals.
In the picture, Xiao Bai was at least twelve kilograms lighter than he was now, and he looked delicate and silly; Yuan Qian’s figure was the same as ever, tall and robust, and he even had some acne on his face; Pine hadn’t joined the team yet, so he wasn’t in the photo.
Lu Boyuan was standing in the middle, his bangs so long that they pricked his eyes a little. He wore an indifferent expression, which appeared extremely out of place compared to the beaming smiles of the people next to him.
This picture was a little different from what Jian Rong remembered, but in the end, many years had passed since then. At the time, Jian Rong wasn’t even thirteen yet, so it’d be stranger if he could remember it all clearly.
Looking at it now, Lu Boyuan’s hairstyle was a bit outdated, but Jian Rong still felt like he was extremely handsome.
Both of the photos were extremely blurry, but Jian Rong still saved them down.
Before leaving the practice room, Lu Boyuan glanced at the short-sleeved shirt that Jian Rong was wearing, and then he glanced at the cracked open window.
Jian Rong had already matched into a game, and he was currently in the pick/ban phase. Lu Boyuan slipped off his jacket and put it across Jian Rong’s legs. “Go to sleep after this game.”
Jian Rong subconsciously hugged the jacket and responded with a low ‘okay.’
For a few minutes after Lu Boyuan left, Jian Rong continued to hug the jacket. He only picked it up and draped it around his shoulders after he entered the game.
Actually, he wasn’t cold. On the contrary, he felt a bit flushed, but he still wanted to drape the jacket around himself.
A moment later, Jian Rong stood up, coat hanging from his shoulders, and pushed open the window a little more.
Jian Rong went back to his room after he finished the last game, but he didn’t go right to sleep. After showering, he laid down on his bed and couldn’t resist taking out his phone so that he could zoom in and look at those pictures again.
He recalled Lu Boyuan’s “I’m not as good as you think I am.”
But even after Jian Rong stared at the ceiling and pondered over it for quite some time, all the way until he fell asleep, he still couldn’t think of any aspect of Lu Boyuan that wasn’t good.
The next day, Jian Rong woke up especially early—nine AM. At this hour, TTC’s base felt just like an empty building. Apart from the occasional snore that not even two doors could block, no other noises possibly existed.
Jian Rong couldn’t fall back asleep, so he decided to get up and play some ranked games.
After washing up, he glanced at the jacket hanging over the chair.
In any case, nobody was really up and about this early at the base… if he wore it while he played in the morning and then took it off at noon, it should be fine.
After all, it was bright and early, so it was still a bit cold where the computers were.
Once he persuaded himself, Jian Rong picked up two packages of bread and a canned coffee as his breakfast. He walked over to the practice room door, jacket draped around himself. Upon seeing the situation inside the practice room, he stood frozen on the spot—
The practice room was full of people. Besides Lu Boyuan, everyone else was present, and they were all playing games too.
For that one split second, Jian Rong thought that his phone’s clock had probably broken.
“Xiao Rong.” Yuan Qian was the first to notice him, and he greeted him drowsily. “You’re up?”
The door to the practice room was half-shut. Jian Rong snapped out of his daze and entered the room. “Mn, why are you awake so early?”
“Why else…” Yuan Qian sighed. “It’s the end of the month, I’m trying to meet my streaming quota.”
Excluding Lu Boyuan, all the other team members had fixed streaming quotes every month, and money would be deducted if they couldn’t hit their quotas. Jian Rong had already reached his streaming quota ages ago, so he didn’t have to worry about that at all.
For the entire past month, Yuan Qian had been secretly practicing different champions on his side account, so he didn’t stream that often. Now that it was the end of the month, he was still seven hours short.
Jian Rong put his breakfast down on the computer desk and asked the person next to him, “You also haven’t met your streaming quota?”
“How is that possible! I can stream 800 hours1 in a month!” Xiao Bai covered his mouth with the back of his hand and gave an enormous yawn. “I’m just keeping P-baby company as he makes up his time. He’s too lazy, it’s already the 30th, yet he’s still missing sixteen hours… he’ll have to keep streaming tomorrow.”
Pine frowned. “I didn’t tell you to get up early and keep me company.”
“I’m already awake, at a time like this you can only say ‘thank you my little support,’ otherwise shut your mouth.” As he was recalling to base, Xiao Bai turned and shot a look at Jian Rong. “How come you’re also up so early, it’s not like you need to make up any hours…”
Xiao Bai paused halfway through his sentence and continued to stare at Jian Rong.
Jian Rong didn’t notice his gaze. He sat down, started his computer, and ate his bread while he responded indistinctly, “Practice.”
Since it felt uncomfortable wearing his headphones for too long, Xiao Bai temporarily tugged them off so that they hung around his neck. He asked, “How come you’re wearing my ge’s jacket again?”
“…” Jian Rong was still chewing on a mouthful of bread, which caused his cheeks to puff up. He glanced at Xiao Bai’s computer screen. “You’re dead.”
Xiao Bai felt shocked. “I was just asking a question, and you curse at me again??”
Jian Rong was speechless. “I meant, you’re dead in the game.”
Xiao Bai gave a start, and he turned back to see the special effects from getting injured appear on his screen. He howled, “Ahhh Kongkong this son of a bitch snuck up on me!!!”
Only then did Jian Rong realize that Kongkong was the person who caught Xiao Bai in the jungle. Not only that, when Xiao Bai pulled up the scoreboard—of the game’s ten players, seven of them were professional players.
The barrage was asking—
[Purely a passerby, just wanted to ask: is this the live broadcast from a regular spring season match?]
Xiao Bai responded leisurely, “Do you think that only people from our team need to meet their quotas? It’s the end of the month, nobody’s out here having a good time.”
Jian Rong: “…”
After breakfast, Jian Rong logged into the game and was about to enter the solo queue when the practice room door opened.
Ding-ge knew that the team members would all be getting up early these next few days, so he walked inside carrying two plastic bags. “Has everyone eaten breakfast yet? I brought some youtiao and soy milk, you guys…”
As he was speaking, he suddenly stopped walking. He sniffed exaggeratedly a few times before he slowly turned his head in disbelief and looked at their new mid laner with an extremely resentful expression.
When Lu Boyuan woke up, he had numerous messages on his phone.
They were all from XIU. Who knew if that guy let the alcohol get to his head last night, but after he went back to his base, he sent over countless bold, audacious texts—
[PUD, XIU: I’ve figured it out, I’m definitely going to block off this ‘next wave’ in the ocean.]
[PUD, XIU: Laozi is gonna show him and practice all night.]
[PUD, XIU: Never mind I fed two games, going to sleep]
[PUD, XIU: Apologies, bro, the champion of this spring season has already been decided by me.]
[PUD, XIU: Also I thought about it in my shower just now, if you and Soft really got together, wouldn’t the circle explode?]
[PUD, XIU: Wait a sec, then aren’t you gay?!]
Lu Boyuan couldn’t help but question just how much this person drank last night before Lu Boyuan arrived at the barbeque stand.
[R: Not a bad way of thinking, but the champion has nothing to do with you.]
After sending that text, Lu Boyuan slipped his phone into his pocket.
When Lu Boyuan walked downstairs, he saw two people standing outside the practice room door. Ding-ge was lifting up Jian Rong’s arm as he sniffed at his sleeve.
Jian Rong didn’t resist. He was facing away from the stairs, and he had stuck his other hand into his pocket; from the back, he didn’t seem to be particularly energetic.
“Be honest,” Ding-ge let go of his hand, “did you smoke?”
Lu Boyuan paused slightly as he descended the stairs, and he clicked his tongue very softly.
An entire night had passed, not even a dog’s nose was this good…
The practice room door was still a tiny bit ajar. Xiao Bai’s anguished wail after being killed by the enemy was too loud, so Jian Rong didn’t hear the movement behind him.
“Mn,” he said.
Ding-ge spotted the person who had just come downstairs from the corner of his eye, but he didn’t have time to greet him. He put a hand on his hip and was somewhat puzzled. “How come you started smoking this crap out of nowhere? Didn’t you not know how to smoke?”
Jian Rong lied blatantly, “I’m feeling a lot of pressure.”
“What pressure do you have?” Ding-ge frowned. “You’re not lacking money, you haven’t lost any matches, and those water friends in your stream can’t out-flame you.”
“I,” Jian Rong paused for two seconds, “I was almost stabbed by someone, so I just wanted to smoke a bit to take the edge off the shock.”
“There’s a fine for smoking, right?” Jian Rong pulled out his phone from his pocket. “What’s your Alipay?”
Sometimes, Ding-ge truly had his doubts: did Jian Rong really only start playing competitively because of the money?
How come this guy never even batted an eyelash every time he was penalized? He transferred money over more directly than anyone else, and he acted as if he was even willing to sponsor a money-recharging event that gave out 113,000 yuan for every 100,000.
But rules were rules, and Jian Rong had to be penalized even if this was his first time smoking. In addition, Ding-ge truly didn’t want Jian Rong to pick up this habit; it was bad for the lungs. It was fine if this could just be considered a lesson too.
“Transfer it to my WeChat,” Ding-ge said. “Once it’s sent over, I’ll use it to treat everyone to a midnight snack. This was how all the fines they paid before were settled as well, you don’t mind, right?”
Jian Rong shook his head.
He had just opened WeChat when someone tugged away his phone.
“Are you addicted to penalizing him now?” Lu Boyuan locked Jian Rong’s phone.
Jian Rong was startled, and he remained frozen in his phone-holding posture.
Ding-ge also stared blankly. “Do you think I want to penalize him? I’d rather give him an allowance so that he’ll be a bit better behaved.”
Lu Boyuan said, “Still, he’s not the one you should be penalizing.”
Ding-ge blinked. “What do you mean?”
Lu Boyuan lifted his hand and pinched the collar of Jian Rong’s jacket. His movements caused the back of his fingers to slide across Jian Rong’s neck, leaving a faint tickling sensation in its wake.
There was an “R” underneath the collar of Jian Rong’s jacket.
“The jacket is mine.” Lu Boyuan’s voice was a bit husky from just waking up, and he explained lazily, “I was the one who left the smell of smoke on it.”
Ding-ge was dumbfounded, and he carefully examined the jacket that Jian Rong was wearing. It really was Lu Boyuan’s.
“You were smoking again—you smoked with XIU last night, didn’t you? Great, I’ll send a text to PUD’s coach in a bit.” After Ding-ge said that, he looked at Jian Rong in bewilderment. “Since you weren’t the one smoking, why’d you insist on taking the fall for it? Couldn’t you have just said so?”
Lu Boyuan noticed something: every time Jian Rong grew nervous or didn’t know what to do, he liked to mess with his hair.
Sensing Lu Boyuan’s gaze, Jian Rong clenched his teeth and went quiet for a long moment before he finally forced out—
“I have a lot of money.”
Jian Rong said, “I just like to pay fines.”
Ding-ge was rendered utterly speechless.
A second later, Lu Boyuan patted Jian Rong’s back. There was a trace of laughter in his voice. “You’re rich, we got it… go in first, I need to talk to Ding-ge about something.”
Jian Rong stiffly pushed open the practice room door before he suddenly remembered something and turned around again. “Let me give the jacket back to you…”
“No need.” Lu Boyuan glanced at him and said, “If you like it, just keep wearing it.”
- There are only 730 hours in a month lmao Xiao Bai ^