Thank you to Kitty and VGCGumi for the Ko-fis~
When Jian Rong got in the car, Lu Boyuan was resting with his eyes closed.
Jian Rong braced a hand against the window and slowly shifted towards the inside seat. Right as he straddled one foot across, Lu Boyuan extended his legs, and their calves pressed together through their pants.
Lu Boyuan opened his eyes and looked at him.
A car divided up into three rows would still be crowded no matter how spacious it was; to top it off, they were two grown men.
Jian Rong cast his eyes down. “…did I wake you?”
Lu Boyuan swept a glance at Jian Rong’s hat. It was the one that came with TTC’s uniform, and it had the team’s crown logo printed on it. The only thing was, it didn’t have Lu Boyuan’s signature.
Lu Boyuan withdrew his legs. “I wasn’t asleep.”
Their match ended early today, so the auntie hadn’t started preparing dinner yet by the time they got back to the base. After they lost the previous match, Xiao Bai had restrained himself for a week; as a result, he instantly started streaming the moment he sat down in the practice room.
“I’ve missed you all so much!
“Did everyone watch the match today? Wasn’t my flash-hook-prediction awesome?
“Why didn’t I stream this past week—what do you think? It’s not like I have our mid laner’s big shot energy.”
Jian Rong was used to being cued and didn’t react at all. He lowered his head and turned on his own computer.
The evening after a match, everyone was relatively relaxed. Xiao Bai’s voice was lazy as he leisurely pulled up the game. “Right, right? I’ve lost weight from working too hard.
“Last week’s practice was truly… ruthless and brutal. I suppose that’s the price of losing a match.
“How come I’m now ranked in the top 400 on the domestic server? …damn, it’s because our mid laner has been acting crazy recently. He’s been constantly forcing me, P-baby, or Qian-ge to duo queue with him.
“He’s helping you climb, and you aren’t even happy… I am happy, of course I’m happy, but doesn’t there need to be a work-rest balance?! Do you know that I duo queued with him for a total of thirteen hours over two days! Thirteen hours!! Apart from when we were in our practice matches, we spent all our remaining time together! I feel sick from seeing his ID so much!!” Xiao Bai crumbled here. “He was basically grabbing my freaking hair and forcing me to climb with him!!
“What’s he like when he’s duo queueing with the others? It’s not too bad with Qian-ge, Qian-ge can strike up a conversation with anyone. When Jian Rong went to the top lane to provide assistance, not only did he get the kill, he also stole a bunch of minions without Qian-ge confronting him over it.
“With Pine… I’m not gonna say anything, it’s too frightening. The day the two of them duo queued together, I felt like the entire world was silent. Nobody spoke, it was like they were two strangers matched together on the same team, with no voice chat or the ability to type either. The scariest part is that they practiced from one in the afternoon to one in the morning, before they each wordlessly ate a cup of instant noodles and then continued queueing, as if the first one to sleep would become the loser—
“With my ge?” Xiao Bai paused. “Hm, it seems like he didn’t queue with my ge.”
It was as if Xiao Bai’s livestream room was TTC’s official livestream. When Xiao Bai was the only one streaming, the five members’ fans basically all gathered in his room.
From the corner of his vision, Jian Rong saw that Xiao Bai’s barrage was densely packed, and he also spotted his and Lu Boyuan’s IDs interspersed throughout.
Jian Rong’s in-game party interface was open for quite a while. He didn’t invite anyone, nor did he solo queue.
He hadn’t duo queued with Lu Boyuan for almost a week now.
Which was funny, if he thought about it. Before, Jian Rong used to think that duo queueing was very troublesome. After all, it wasn’t as if he needed someone else to carry him.
But recently, he really wanted to play games with Lu Boyuan. Even if he had to fill in as a support, Jian Rong felt like it wouldn’t be a big deal.
They were done with the match, and they had also won, so it was fine if they didn’t practice tonight.
Then, did that mean that he… could invite Lu Boyuan to play a few ranked games with him?
Jian Rong silently ducked his head and unlocked his phone. Right as he located the little teacup pig profile picture on his contact list, someone pushed open the practice room door.
Jian Rong glanced behind him. Slightly startled by what he saw, he subconsciously blocked his phone screen with his hand.
Lu Boyuan had changed into a black sweatshirt, jeans, and athletic shoes. His hair was freshly washed but not dried; no matter how messy it was, it still looked stylish on Lu Boyuan.
Naturally, Lu Boyuan wasn’t interested in peeping at other people’s phone screens. He walked over to his own desk and unplugged his phone, which he had been charging for some time.
Though Lu Boyuan only appeared in the stream for a few short seconds, the barrage still exploded.
Xiao Bai turned off his mic and looked back to ask, “Going out, ge?”
Lu Boyuan said, “Mn.”
“Then should we order your portion of tonight’s midnight snacks?”
“No need, you guys go ahead.” Lu Boyuan skimmed his gaze over the party interface on Jian Rong’s monitor before quickly averting his eyes. “I’m leaving now.”
After Lu Boyuan left, Jian Rong lowered his head and closed the chat that he had just opened.
Xiao Bai unmuted himself. “Where’s my ge going? Is that something I can tell you all? How come he can go out during a competitive season… it’s a competitive season, not prison, why can’t he go out? We don’t have any practice matches tonight, what’s the problem with taking a break once you’ve met your daily practice quota.”
As Xiao Bai was speaking, someone suddenly patted his arm. He turned his head. “What is it?”
Jian Rong said expressionlessly, “I’ll carry you up to Challenger.”
Xiao Bai sucked in a deep breath. “Actually, I’m not too fixated on the idea of Challenger. If I get up there, then I’ll just have to worry endlessly about my points every single day out of the fear of being surpassed. Grandmaster is quite fun to play in, the competition is low, the atmosphere is light, I really like it…”
Jian Rong: “Get in the party.”
Xiao Bai: “Okay.”
In a KTV1 near the river, the sound of pleasant and melodious singing came from a medium-sized private room.
Several delicately and beautifully dressed women sat near the song station, chatting, while the men sat on the other side, smoking and drinking.
Lu Boyuan sat in the middle of the men, quietly listening to them talk big about themselves. There was an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
XIU frowned and regarded him with disdain. “Putting a cigarette in your mouth but not lighting it, isn’t that just a waste.”
Lu Boyuan said, “Weren’t you the one who made me take it? Constantly wanting to drag me into getting penalized, what are you trying to do.”
XIU said, “It’s not like Ding-ge will find out if you smoke here, all you have to do is remember to change out your jacket when you go back.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t reply. He remembered how Jian Rong had insisted on taking the blame for him last time while wearing his jacket.
Someone sitting on the side said, “Oh right, Lu-ge, we watched your match today together at a restaurant. Your team’s new mid laner isn’t bad! His mechanics are pretty awesome, it feels a bit similar to when you first started your career.”
“Don’t talk about him, last year that mid laner was still in the same industry as me.” Another person exhaled a mouthful of smoke. “I had a gift PK with him, and I even lost. What a waste of my four years playing in the LPL, the moment I retired, my fans abandoned me just like that.”
“No no no. Although that little bluenette is quite strong, he still falls a tad short of Lu-ge compared to back when he debuted…”
“Falls short how?” There was a cigarette between Lu Boyuan’s teeth, so his speech was a little indistinct. “If he were in the LSPL, he could also become the champion.”
That person sensed something from his words. “It seems like you have a fairly good relationship with that new mid laner?”
XIU breathed out smoke. “It’s far more than just ‘good’…”
Lu Boyuan lazily interrupted, “Talk about something else.”
“Sure.” Someone said, “I called it last year: at this year’s get-together, my God Lu is definitely still gonna be single.”
Lu Boyuan: “…”
“Isn’t that obvious? Let’s continue this discussion whenever he actually retires too. As for while he’s still playing, not a chance.”
XIU chuckled. “How does he not have a chance? With one lift of my God Lu’s hand, so many fans would love to rush up.”
“I’m not talking about that.” Their friend waved his hand. “It’s a problem with himself. He’s more like an old monk than a professional gamer, no emotions or desires, who knows if he can return to this mundane world once he retires.”
Lu Boyuan had no desire to be a monk.
He asked, “Can we stop talking about me? What do I have to do to block your mouths?”
“That’s simple.” The friend lifted his glass. “Play some dice, drink some alcohol. Don’t worry, it’s beer, with your tolerance you won’t get drunk.”
Never mind beer, even if he were to mix red and white wine, Lu Boyuan could still hang in there for quite a while.
After downing a few glasses, the group of people promptly went to hug their girlfriends and sing with them.
XIU sat down next to him. “Why didn’t you bring Soft with you?”
Lu Boyuan didn’t look at him. “Did you bring Savior?”
“That’s not the same thing, Savior and I are teammates, you and Soft…”
“Are also teammates.”
XIU glanced at him in astonishment. “Whaddya mean? Don’t you like him? Did I misunderstand?”
Lu Boyuan went silent for two seconds before he bent over, picked up a cigarette from the table, and lit it.
At first, it had been very vague.
For some inexplicable reason, he had simply wanted to treat him well, play games with him, buy shoes and skins for him, and bring him home to celebrate the Lunar New Year together.
Lu Boyuan had considered before whether it was merely because Jian Rong was young—but in reality, there were plenty of trainees who were even younger than him. Fifteen- and sixteen-year-old kids were all over the place in the trainee team.
Up until that night, when he realized that there was absolutely no way he could sleep together with Jian Rong.
Lu Boyuan sucked in a mouthful of smoke. “Just because I like someone, they have to like me back?”
XIU said, “Well, certainly not.”
Seeing his speechlessness, XIU coughed. “But even if he doesn’t like you, you can still pursue him.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t respond.
It was hardly that easy.
First of all, disregarding the fact that they were on the same team and could be considered colleagues of some sort, and also ignoring that Jian Rong had just come of age and probably hadn’t given any of this a second thought…
He hadn’t even figured out if Jian Rong was straight or not.
Every time he looked at Lu Boyuan, his eyes burned brighter than anyone else’s.
And yet, he had also played with female accompanying gamers before, and when a female fan had given him a finger heart, he had smiled at her and laughed happily.
Thinking of that, Lu Boyuan shook the ashes off his cigarette expressionlessly.
After Jian Rong and Xiao Bai duo queued together for three hours straight, Ding-ge came back with midnight snacks.
They always received very luxurious midnight snacks following every match they won, but Jian Rong ate his share somewhat absent-mindedly.
It was twelve, and Lu Boyuan still hadn’t returned yet.
Even if he came back later, Jian Rong would feel bad making Lu Boyuan queue with him at this hour.
“It’s this late already, my ge still isn’t back?”
As someone else voiced his own thoughts exactly, Jian Rong wordlessly pricked up his ears.
Ding-ge glanced at the time. “Let me call and ask.”
Ding-ge’s call only lasted two minutes. After he hung up, he said, “He’s out drinking. It’s fine, you guys eat, I’ll wash my hands and then head over to pick him up.”
Pine asked, “How are you going to get him?”
Ding-ge was startled. “By driving, how else? Should I walk over and carry him back?”
Pine apathetically pointed at the Tsingtao beer that Ding-ge had just opened to accompany the crayfish.
Ding-ge went quiet for a moment. “I’ll give someone a call and ask them to pick him up…”
Ding-ge stared blankly at Jian Rong and repeated, “You’re gonna walk over and carry him back?”
“I’ll take a taxi.” Jian Rong said, “The base is really stuffy, I can use the chance to go out for a walk.”
Ding-ge didn’t feel too reassured. “From his voice, he sounded a bit drunk, are you able to support him?”
Jian Rong peeled off his plastic gloves and went upstairs to grab his coat. His words traveled back to the living room. “—I can, I’m very strong.”
Twenty minutes later, the KTV employee led Jian Rong to the private room that Ding-ge had told him the number of.
Under Ding-ge’s orders, Jian Rong had covered himself up tightly with a mask and a hat, making him look like someone here to cause trouble as he stood in the doorway of the room.
The men and women in the private room looked at him in confusion, and Jian Rong also looked back at them. A few of the men seemed familiar; as for the women… he didn’t know any of them.
But they were all extremely beautiful.
XIU was the first one to snap out of it. He used his elbow to nudge Lu Boyuan, who was sitting next to him with his head lowered, drinking alcohol. “…the kid’s here.”
Lu Boyuan sat in the center of the group, leisurely slouched back against the sofa with his legs sprawled open very carelessly.
He lifted his eyes and calmly met Jian Rong’s gaze for a few seconds before he said to the person beside him, “Make some room.”
The instant Jian Rong took off his mask and hat, he was recognized.
“Huh, little bluenette.”
XIU corrected, “He’s got a name, it’s not little bluenette.”
The person flapped his hand. “The name’s not important, I remember his LeBlanc.”
Although Jian Rong felt like some of these people looked very familiar, he momentarily couldn’t recall who they were.
“UU, Shanyang, Yumijuan2.” Lu Boyuan’s voice was a little husky as he introduced them to Jian Rong. “All retired pro players.”
XIU added, “They all used to be in PUD, we knew each other from before we even started playing competitively. Later on, only your captain went over to TTC by himself.”
“I’ve been retired for too long, and I’ve also become a lot more handsome, so it’s normal for you not to recognize me.” UU glanced at Lu Boyuan. “Not gonna formally introduce him to us?”
Jian Rong was about to introduce himself when someone suddenly gripped his shoulder very gently.
Lu Boyuan had just been holding a bottle of beer, so his palm was slightly chilly.
“Soft, Jian Rong, my team’s new mid laner.”
“Jian Rong, sounds nice.” UU placed a glass down in front of Jian Rong. “Come on, let’s drink together.”
Lu Boyuan said, “He’s not drinking.”
Jian Rong instantly said, “I’m of age.”
“His alcohol tolerance isn’t good, he’s not allowed to drink.” Lu Boyuan checked the time. “How long do we have the room for?”
“We still have two hours, there’s no rush. Stay for another ten minutes, you can leave after we eat XIU’s birthday cake.”
Lu Boyuan murmured, “Alright.”
XIU cursed good-naturedly, “You bastards, it’s already been a week since my birthday.”
Jian Rong sat next to Lu Boyuan, the “his alcohol tolerance isn’t good” line still floating through his mind.
Lu Boyuan’s hands were braced against his thighs as he leaned forward a bit to play dice with them. The music was too loud in the room, forcing the others to shout out numbers to the point that their faces turned red; only Lu Boyuan never spoke and used his fingers to casually represent the number he was calling.
Once again, Jian Rong remembered the stupid things he had done the last time he got drunk, and he leaned back against the sofa to ruffle his hair.
UU lost another round, and he swore as he handed Lu Boyuan a cigarette, which was declined.
“Now that the team’s newcomer is here, you pretend to be well-behaved?”
Lu Boyuan didn’t answer as he placed the cup back over the dice. “Last round.”
Lu Boyuan was the one who had to drink in the last round. After drinking, he tossed the dice cup to the side and said he wasn’t going to play anymore.
As a result, these grown men went to steal the microphones from the girls.
Men’s voices always seemed louder than women’s. UU turned up the song volume and instantly started performing a rap with XIU that nobody could understand.
The lighting in the private room was dim. Enduring the ravaging of his ears, Lu Boyuan glanced to his side.
Jian Rong had on a very thin coat, with the same casual clothing he was wearing earlier at the base underneath it. He had stuck both hands in his pockets and was sitting quite obediently.
Right as Lu Boyuan was about to ask how Jian Rong had persuaded Ding-ge to let him come out and get Lu Boyuan, he saw Jian Rong suddenly peek to the left and right. After ensuring that nobody was looking in their direction, he furtively pulled out something from his pocket.
Before Lu Boyuan could see what it was, Jian Rong tugged lightly at his hand, which was resting against the sofa, and placed the object onto his palm amidst the darkness.
It was a carton of boxed milk.
Lu Boyuan was slightly startled. Jian Rong leaned a little closer to him and said softly, “I didn’t know there were this many people here, I only bought one.”
Lu Boyuan held the boxed milk and raised an eyebrow. “So you even know this.”
“Ding-ge told me before I left, he said it’s good for your stomach to drink this after having alcohol.” When Lu Boyuan didn’t budge, Jian Rong urged quietly, “Take a few sips.”
Lu Boyuan cast his eyes down and felt too lazy to move. “It’s dark in here, I’ll do it outside.”
Jian Rong took back the milk, ripped open the straw, and accurately poked it into the carton before returning the milk to Lu Boyuan. “Okay, you should drink some.”
Lu Boyuan stared at the straw for several seconds before he picked up the milk and took a big sip.
Jian Rong was satisfied.
They sat there for a while longer before he suddenly recalled something else. “Oh right, about Little Orange…”
XIU stood next to the microphone stand, shaking his head as he lifted one hand high in the air and waved it about wildly. “AYO everybody slam dunking on your head3!!”
Lu Boyuan: “Mn?”
Jian Rong: “Little Orange…”
XIU’s head bobbed up and down. “No fly! I’m simply not an idol!!”
Jian Rong: “…”
He resisted the urge to smash the microphone and subconsciously leaned closer to Lu Boyuan.
There was the scent of tobacco on Lu Boyuan’s body. Jian Rong didn’t like secondhand smoke, nor did he like the smell of cigarette smoke, but the scent on Lu Boyuan always seemed different compared to that of other people who smoked.
It was very light, and it also smelled very nice.
Jian Rong composed himself. “—I said, the money that you spent on Little Orange, I transferred it back to you.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t say anything.
Jian Rong thought that he still wasn’t able to hear him, so he shifted forward a bit more. “You put too much money in for Little Orange, he…”
Lu Boyuan turned his head, and Jian Rong’s voice came to an abrupt halt.
Lu Boyuan was in a mildly tipsy state. His eyelashes drooped down, and his eyes looked as deep as a lake.
Only then did Jian Rong realize that they were too close to each other.
Close to the point that so long as either one of them moved forward, their noses would brush together.
XIU was still wailing and howling.
Lu Boyuan’s voice was low. “What about him?”
There was a warmth in Lu Boyuan’s exhale. Jian Rong blinked a few times and said, “He’s just a little mixed-breed cat, he doesn’t need that much money.”
Lu Boyuan didn’t speak.
Jian Rong felt as if he was on the verge of drowning in the lake. He truly couldn’t bear Lu Boyuan looking at him like this.
Jian Rong averted his eyes and said as naturally as possible, “Also, if he eats canned food for every meal, it really is easy for him to get fat, and then he won’t be able to win against the stray cats outside…”
“Jian Rong.” Lu Boyuan suddenly called his name.
Lu Boyuan spoke very slowly. “You’re eighteen now, have you ever liked a girl before?”
Jian Rong was briefly surprised, but he replied swiftly, “I haven’t.”
“Not a single one?” Lu Boyuan paused for a moment. “In senior high, junior high, primary school, kindergarten…”
“No, not a single one.”
Lu Boyuan nodded.
“Then what about guys.”
For an instant, Jian Rong’s mind went blank, and he looked at Lu Boyuan with panicked and guilty eyes.
Lu Boyuan continued to watch him. His voice was deep, and it slammed into Jian Rong’s ears, clearer than any other sound in the room. “Kindergarten, primary school, junior high, senior high, right now… do you have a guy that you like?”
- Karaoke bar ^
- Again with the noun names – Shanyang = mountain goat, Yumijuan = taco ^
- He’s singing this rap song, just imagine this in this background lmao… ^