XIU was still singing the song that Jian Rong couldn’t understand a single word of.
In order to respond to Ding-ge’s messages, Jian Rong had been holding his phone the entire time. If his grip was any stronger, his phone would probably explode from how hard he was squeezing it.
—I’ve been found out.
When that thought popped up, Jian Rong gave himself a scare.
XIU let out another “slam dunking on your head,” which was so loud the neighboring room could probably hear it and was about to come over waving a knife, dragging Jian Rong out of his thoughts.
Jian Rong questioned, “…why are you asking that.”
His guilty conscience reached its peak, and he unconsciously kept blinking as he spoke.
Lu Boyuan didn’t hear him. He tilted his head a bit towards Jian Rong, indicating for him to say it again.
Jian Rong could smell the scent of alcohol on Lu Boyuan. Together with the tobacco, it combined into a different sort of heart-throbbing fragrance.
Jian Rong froze completely and didn’t move at all. “I said… why are you asking that, does Ding-ge need – need to record it? Afraid that I’m going to start dating early?”
Then, he heard Lu Boyuan let out a muffled laugh, heavy and low, suppressing XIU’s incongruous rapping.
Maintaining that same distance, Lu Boyuan lifted his chin and said in Jian Rong’s ear, “I’m the one who wants to know.”
A second later, he spoke again. “You’re eighteen, it doesn’t count as dating early.”
Simultaneously as Jian Rong’s brain crashed, he didn’t forget to curse out his stream’s water friends in his mind. They were constantly brainwashing him with ‘don’t date early, it’ll affect your career,’ making it so that at a freaking critical moment like this, he was still preoccupied with BS about dating early or not.
Because of Jian Rong’s appearance, he frequently received comments calling him effeminate or gay while he was streaming. Each time, he would unhesitatingly toss out an “I’m your dad.”
But right now, not only was he unable to say a single word denying it, he also freaked out. The feeling of being caught peeking at Lu Boyuan back at the base when they were watching whatever butterflies-inducing video returned with a vengeance.
At the time, he had indeed been caught peeking.
Then what about this time? This time, he hadn’t done anything at all, so how come he still had this misperception that Lu Boyuan had him seized by the collar………
Lu Boyuan set down his glass. It was an extremely mundane gesture, but in Jian Rong’s guilty eyes, it seemed like a prompt for him to hurry up.
As a result, Jian Rong’s mind spun as he grew flustered, and he said, completely irrelevantly, “What’s the reason for asking this? Do you discriminate against gay people?”
Two seconds later, Jian Rong thought, What kind of nonsense question did I just ask, I might as well slap myself three times in punishment.
Seeing Lu Boyuan’s slightly startled expression, Jian Rong then felt like three slaps wouldn’t be enough to settle this matter.
Lu Boyuan was indeed momentarily taken aback, but he quickly recovered.
He said, “I discriminate against myself?”
Jian Rong: “……………………”
I think I couldn’t quite hear him.
I definitely misheard him, or I missed something.
Jian Rong mumbled, “…what’d you say?”
XIU overpowered Jian Rong’s muttering, and Lu Boyuan furrowed his brows.
Consequently, Jian Rong increased the volume of his voice and asked again, “What did you say—”
The moment before he spoke, the music cut off, and a woman sitting not too far from Jian Rong just happened to pick up and turn on a microphone—
“Did you say—
Jian Rong’s voice echoed around the private room for a long time.
Everyone in the room turned to look at him. Jian Rong stared at Lu Boyuan’s profile and decided that after he left this KTV, he was going to immediately take a taxi over to Huangpu River.
UU, who had turned off the song without permission, was the first to pull himself together. He swore at the person next to the microphone stand, “Can you freaking sing something that other people can understand?”
XIU gripped his microphone. “…what do you know, this is called hip hop!!”
“What’re you so damn hyped about. When other people rap, it’s hip hop, but when you do it, you’re just a reader—your pronunciation isn’t even accurate.”
XIU grumbled as he put down the microphone. A song with a soothing, light intro started playing soon after, and everyone abruptly discovered that their ears felt much more comfortable now.
Except for Jian Rong.
At that current moment, if someone were to place an unlit cigarette on his ear, perhaps it would be able to instantly ignite.
XIU walked straight towards them and also dragged over UU when he passed him. He kept grousing to himself, “I’ve noticed that when I’m with you, bastard, I just can’t have a good chat or sing a song, tonight if I don’t drink you under the table I won’t be able to focus on my upcoming match.”
Right before XIU and UU reached them, Lu Boyuan repeated his words from earlier in greater detail.
“I said, I like guys.” He said, “Right now.”
Before Jian Rong could free himself from his stupefied state, XIU sat down on the stool next to Lu Boyuan.
XIU poured himself a glass of alcohol. “Holy shit, when I glanced over just now, I thought that you two were kissing.”
Jian Rong: “………………”
Lu Boyuan retreated back to his original position.
Even so, Jian Rong still felt like they were too close to each other. He tugged his disheveled coat over his chest, afraid that Lu Boyuan could hear the sound of his heartbeat.
UU joked, “Are you crazy, why would two men be kissing?”
Realizing that he had accidentally let something slip out, XIU cleared his throat. “Why can’t two men kiss? Are you some old-fashioned elder? How come that cake still isn’t here yet, we’ve been waiting forever.”
“It’s the weekend, there’s a lot of guests, it even takes a long time for an attendant to come over. Wait a little longer, what’s the rush?” UU smiled at the person behind Lu Boyuan. “Soft, don’t hold back. If you can’t drink, you can still sing. Go pick a song, you can queue it straight to the top.”
Jian Rong was glad that the lighting in the room was dim.
He ducked his head and hid his face as he said vaguely, “No need, I can’t sing.”
UU lifted an eyebrow. “Weren’t you a streamer before? You don’t know how to sing?”
“It’s not like he was relying on singing to get more fans.” XIU topped up UU’s glass. “Stop messing around, drink up.”
More alcohol was poured into Lu Boyuan’s glass as well. He didn’t say anything as he picked it up and bumped it against XIU’s cup.
With his head lowered, Jian Rong swiftly calmed down.
If Lu Boyuan liked guys, which… guy did he like.
At first, Jian Rong thought that it was himself.
But after Lu Boyuan leaned back and tacitly bumped glasses with XIU… he felt like he was taking it too much for granted.
Nearly everyone in their industry was male. Newcomers, trainees, even their team’s substitute jungler, they were all Lu Boyuan’s fanboys. The LPL’s famous and renowned players were acquainted with Lu Boyuan too, and there were also quite a few male celebrities who wanted to team up with him.
Lu Boyuan could have possibly taken a liking to any one of them.
What’s more, Lu Boyuan had consumed alcohol and appeared to be a little drunk, so it wasn’t weird for him to suddenly come out of the closet to Jian Rong either.
Jian Rong’s pulse was still going fast, but his expression had already settled down entirely. Taking advantage of when Lu Boyuan was talking to XIU, he reached up and forcefully rubbed his face.
XIU changed the subject. “Oh right. After we finished playing against you guys last week, Savior kept talking about your mid laner.”
His voice wasn’t loud, but because the music was currently relaxed, Jian Rong could still hear him.
Jian Rong was in a state of deep contemplation and wasn’t listening too closely, so he didn’t notice that XIU had worded it as “your mid laner.”
Lu Boyuan took a sip from his drink. “Talking about what?”
“He said that he’s definitely gonna win the lane next time.”
XIU was already fully prepared to receive Jian Rong’s ridicule, but he didn’t expect the person in question to stare blankly off into the distance, zoning out, without even giving a sneer in reply.
“He’s imagining things.”
XIU was dumbfounded, and he looked at Lu Boyuan. “What?”
The door opened. A KTV employee entered, pushing a cake on a cart that had two balloons attached to it.
“Just wait for the playoffs.” Lu Boyuan patted his shoulder. “Go blow out your candles.”
Fucking hell, Lu Boyuan’s pat gave him a type of “finish this last meal so I can send you on your way” feeling.
After the candles were blown out, Jian Rong was handed a slice of cake. He ate the cherry that was on top of the cream but didn’t really touch the cake itself.
He listened to Lu Boyuan chat with UU and the rest about things that had happened in the past, slowly absorbing new information—
The private room was filled with the LPL’s early pro players; apart from Lu Boyuan and XIU, the rest had retired already. They all knew each other from way back when, and they used to game together every day in an illegal internet cafe. At the time, Lu Boyuan was fighting with his father, so he had basically lived at the internet cafe…
Stunned, Jian Rong instantly snapped out of his thoughts.
UU was in the middle of a rousing retelling. “Every day, when I went back home to sleep, he was playing ranked in the internet cafe. When I woke up, he was still playing ranked at the internet cafe. What’s the difference between you and those top students who study on the sly?”
Lu Boyuan scoffed. “If I wanted to practice in secret, as if you’d be able to find out?”
“Speaking of which, back when his dad rushed over to the internet cafe, he also brought a few people in suits with him. That display of force really gave me a scare.”
“Damn, I remember that, there was a whole row of luxury cars parked outside that little rundown illegal internet cafe. Everyone on the street stopped to look!”
“If my family’s financial situation was like that, like hell I’d play games…”
Jian Rong grew more and more startled as he listened.
He knew that Lu Boyuan’s family was well-off. From one glance, it was clear that Papa and Mama Lu were both highly accomplished intellectuals, but… Lu Boyuan had fallen out with his family before?
As he listened with his head lowered, a cherry stained with cream was placed onto his cake plate.
Lu Boyuan continued to chat with his close friends. After giving away his cherry, he put down his cake. “That’s enough, is there nothing else to talk about?”
Once they finished eating their cake, Lu Boyuan ignored UU’s pleas to stay and left with Jian Rong.
There were many taxis outside of the KTV, and they randomly got in one. Fortunately, they encountered a driver who didn’t want to speak.
Jian Rong stared out the window, the same question as before still spinning in circles around his mind.
Who exactly did Lu Boyuan like.
Lu Boyuan cracked open the window a bit. When the night wind blew inside, the scent of alcohol clinging to him floated over to Jian Rong’s side.
Lu Boyuan was on a call with Ding-ge, who didn’t understand how he had gradually heard less and less from Jian Rong after letting him go pick up Lu Boyuan. His texts remained unread, his calls were ignored, he was almost about to call the fucking police.
Lu Boyuan swept a glance at Jian Rong, who was sitting next to him, lost in thought. He started to wonder: of what he had said in the private room, just how much did this person actually hear.
“Why would I not be fine.
“I didn’t drink that much, I’m not drunk, we’re on our way back now.”
At the base, he scanned his QR code and paid the driver.
Right as Lu Boyuan placed one foot out of the car.
“Who is it that you like…”
Jian Rong couldn’t help himself.
He wanted to know much too badly. Since leaving the KTV, he had restrained himself until now, but he truly couldn’t hold back any longer.
He kept getting the feeling that if he didn’t get to the bottom of this matter in one go, then he wouldn’t be able to freaking sleep tonight, tomorrow night, or any night from now on.
Jian Rong held the door open for Lu Boyuan with one hand, while he raised his other hand in a pledge. “I definitely won’t tell anyone. If I do, I’ll lose all my games, I won’t be able to out-flame the water friends, I’ll be slaughtered when laning…”
Lu Boyuan got out of the car, closed the door, and then grabbed Jian Rong’s wrist.
He pulled Jian Rong over to a shadow to the right of a street lamp.
Jian Rong thought that Lu Boyuan felt he was being too nosy. “Of course, it’s also fine if you don’t want to tell me.”
Lu Boyuan laughed when he heard that, and he let go of Jian Rong’s hand.
“It seems like I’m the one who asked you this question first, it’s only fair that I give an answer for an answer.”
Jian Rong: “…”
After a very long time, he abruptly replied, “I… didn’t like anyone in kindergarten, or in primary school, or in junior high, or in senior high.”
At this point, Jian Rong reached up and tousled his hair, sinking into a silence.
Lu Boyuan quietly waited for him to finish.
Jian Rong discovered that even if Lu Boyuan didn’t do anything except stand in front of him and gaze down at him, he still felt like he was about to fucking explode from nervousness.
“Right now…” Jian Rong shut his eyes. “Right now, it… seems that, there’s someone that I like…”
Lu Boyuan asked, “Who.”
It was difficult for Jian Rong to even breathe, but he was never one to put himself at a disadvantage. “It’s only fair that I give an answer for an answer—”
From behind them, there was an ear-piercing creak—
“Damn! I was drying my underwear on the balcony, and when I glanced down from up there, I thought I saw you two!” Xiao Bai poked his head out from the base’s gate and asked with concern, “Why aren’t you guys coming in? It’s so cold out here.”
Jian Rong: “………………”
I’m going to murder a support.
Why did I have to flash and save this dumbass in our second to last ranked game tonight???
If you’re gonna dry your underwear, then dry your underwear, what the hell are you looking all over the place for????
You’re already done with practice at this hour? Do you think you performed extremely well during today’s match?????????
The lighting was too dim, so Xiao Bai couldn’t clearly see the fury and anguish in their mid laner’s eyes. Receiving no response from either person, Xiao Bai pulled open the gate and asked, “Are you not coming inside? Ding-ge’s been waiting for you two for a long time.”
Jian Rong’s fists clenched and then unclenched, unclenched and then clenched.
Until his hand was held by someone.
At an angle where Xiao Bai couldn’t see, Lu Boyuan extended his hand, and their fingers tangled together for a few brief seconds.
Lu Boyuan’s voice was very soft, and it contained a huskiness that came from drinking. “I like you.”