Thanks to Ko-fi Supporter for the Ko-fi!
Ding-ge stayed frozen with his head swiveled around and went into self-seclusion on the spot.
After Lu Boyuan revealed to him that he was dating last time, Ding-ge hadn’t discussed this subject with him again. Instead, he kept comforting himself deep inside—what if the situation wasn’t what he was imagining?
First of all, Lu Boyuan hadn’t clarified if he was dating someone in this circle or not. Second, he hadn’t said whether his partner was male or female… what if Ding-ge was just overthinking things?
What’s more, in all the years he had known Lu Boyuan, he had never heard anything about Lu Boyuan being gay before.
Jian Rong seemed even more like someone who was straighter than a damn telephone pole! Didn’t he get scared by the male fan who confessed to him some time ago?
They were busy with the playoffs lately, and Ding-ge didn’t want to face reality.
So he had decided to temporarily act as if he couldn’t see or hear anything until the spring season ended—as long as he didn’t get to the bottom of things, he could pretend like nothing was happening.
With the opening of that door, the wishful thinking that he had carefully nourished for so long suddenly shattered into pieces, clattering all over the ground.
Jian Rong hadn’t paid much attention to Lu Boyuan’s call, so he was also surprised when he saw Ding-ge. He subconsciously pressed his lips together and even straightened out his clothing—
Those little movements pushed Ding-ge even deeper into despair.
Despair aside, however, the experienced team manager’s brain had already started automatically analyzing the current situation—
Two guys, starting players for the same team, the star jungler with the most fans in the LPL and the newcomer mid laner with the most controversy in the LPL were dating.
What would be the consequences of someone finding out about this?
Would anyone dare to fucking think about that????
In the midst of his panic, Ding-ge felt like he could see the anti forums filling the sky, the countless long Weibo posts, and the eggs smashed onto their gate.
Just as Jian Rong was trying to come up with an explanation, Lu Boyuan spoke first. “Give me the mock-ups.”
Ding-ge let out an “oh” and handed the files over. Then, he glanced at Jian Rong with an incomparable calmness. “Why aren’t you asleep yet?”
Jian Rong thought that Ding-ge hadn’t noticed anything. “I’m about to.”
Ding-ge nodded. “Go to bed.”
A serene conversation, a serene ‘good night,’ a serene closing of the door.
Jian Rong only remembered that Lu Boyuan’s towel was still hanging on his head after he walked over to his bed.
Ding-ge was still there. Jian Rong hesitated briefly before he decided to return it the next day.
He laid down on his side, pillowing his head on one arm.
…even though they had kissed so many times, his heart was still beating extremely fast.
When they kissed, the tips of their noses would always brush against one another. In the middle, if he half-opened his eyes in a daze, he could see the shadows cast by Lu Boyuan’s eyelashes.
Jian Rong vaguely remembered something: the second before the phone rang, the hand that Lu Boyuan had placed on his waist had shifted.
It seemed to have tugged his shirt upwards a bit.
Jian Rong unlocked his iPad in an attempt to find a trashy movie that could divert his attention and simultaneously put him to sleep. He instead discovered that he had 99+ notifications on his Weibo, all from other people mentioning him.
As a result, he went to take a look at his and Lu Boyuan’s super topic… two looks, numerous looks.
Two minutes later, Jian Rong couldn’t stay in there any longer. With questions like “can this picture even be posted,” “who the hell can actually do this position,” and “did Weibo’s verification department shut down?” filling his head, he locked the iPad. Then he flipped over, buried his face in his pillow, and choked back a deep breath of air—
It was one thing to be with their teammates all day long, but the fact that someone could pop up even when they were in their own rooms at midnight, how the hell were they supposed to have fun like this…
Another person who shared the same opinion was currently standing on the balcony, being blown by the wind.
Struck with a sudden urge to smoke, Lu Boyuan’s throat bobbed. He half-heartedly skimmed over the files before handing them back. “Let’s just go with what’s written on here. Don’t make the prices too high, other than that, do as you want.”
At that moment, Ding-ge was already no longer thinking about the merch. His brain was full of—
There’s still a month till Lu Boyuan’s birthday, why was laozi in such a rush to get all of this crap arranged in advance??
If he hadn’t come upstairs tonight, he wouldn’t have witnessed that scene, and he could’ve continued to pretend like he didn’t know anything. He could’ve buried his head in the sand and gotten through this spring season…
Ding-ge nodded. “Sure… they’ve made a new batch of team merch recently too, and we’re planning on selling them after the playoffs start. I told them to bring over the samples tomorrow, so you should find some time to market them on stream.”
Lu Boyuan made a noise of assent.
Ding-ge rolled up the files in his hand and thought, Some questions have to be asked. “Last time when you said you got into a relationship, who is it with?”
Lu Boyuan leaned against the railing. “Jian Rong.”
Before it was confirmed, he was in a frenzy, but now that it was solidified, he ended up calming down instead.
This was most likely the rumored feeling of ‘resigning yourself to fate.’
Ding-ge sucked in a deep breath of air before he pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one of them up.
Lu Boyuan raised an eyebrow. “You said that you were going to set an example and quit smoking first, yet you have a box stashed in your pocket?”
Ding-ge stared into the distance. “Someone gave it to me earlier, it wasn’t polite to refuse.”
“Give me one.”
“Get lost, get lost.” Ding-ge exhaled a mouthful of smoke. “Laozi’s only smoking because I’m annoyed.”
“I’m also annoyed.”
“What are you annoyed about?!”
Lu Boyuan said breezily, “Should I try knocking on your door at midnight?”
Ding-ge choked and grew even more pissed. He didn’t say anything for quite a while.
A long time later, he asked, “What do you guys plan to do?”
Lu Boyuan replied with a question. “Regarding what?”
“BS, of course I’m talking about if you’re planning on making it public or not?” Ding-ge took a drag on his cigarette. “I have to be honest with you. I thought about it just now, and if you two make it public… it would create a huge earthquake in the esports circle.
“First of all, the last three generations of your and Jian Rong’s ancestors will be busy for some time. And also, you were the one who originally spoke up and recruited Jian Rong in for the team tryouts…”
Lu Boyuan interrupted him. “I didn’t have any ulterior motives.”
“I’m aware, you think I don’t know you? The important thing is how other people perceive it.” Ding-ge paused. “In any case, this is all pretty crazy. I have to know what you’re planning first.”
Lu Boyuan said, “Not making it public for now.”
Everything Ding-ge could imagine, as if Lu Boyuan couldn’t?
He personally didn’t care, but it wasn’t the same for Jian Rong.
A newcomer who had just joined the team, lacking a performance record and qualifications. Before a season even ended, that newcomer started dating the captain of the team… he could easily guess how horrendously Jian Rong would be flamed.
Perhaps with his disposition, Jian Rong wouldn’t take any of it to heart, but Lu Boyuan couldn’t bear to put him through that.
He needed a bit of time to consider how to minimize the aftermath as much as possible.
Although Lu Boyuan had said “for now,” Ding-ge’s worries were still put to rest. “Okay. I thought of something, maybe in the future you two should avoid arousing suspicion in public spaces and interact a little less…”
Lu Boyuan said, “I’m teammates with him, it’d be more strange if we didn’t interact.”
Ding-ge felt like that was also a fair point—like hell it was.
Lu Boyuan was basically implying that even if they didn’t make it public, he wasn’t about to change anything because he was afraid of being discovered.
“…forget it, do whatever you want.” Ding-ge bit down on his cigarette and said, defeated, “You two are constantly streaming and duo queueing together anyway, and the fans haven’t reacted poorly yet.”
Lu Boyuan said, “Mn.”
After they finished their discussion, Ding-ge smoked a few more cigarettes before he prompted Lu Boyuan, “Enough, you should go in and sleep. There’s still practice tomorrow.”
Lu Boyuan cast a look down at him. “You’re not going back?”
Ding-ge leaned against the banister, painting a miserable picture from behind. “I’ll leave after I get rid of the smell. With the scent of this smoke on me, if I’m not screwed over by you guys first, then I’ll be hammered to death by your sister-in-law…”
The team’s new merch was quickly sent over to the base.
Merchandise for esports teams always consisted of the same old items: things like keycaps, mouse pads, T-shirts, and hats.
This was Jian Rong’s first time seeing his own ID printed on something; there was even a mini avatar with blue hair on the mouse pad. Though Jian Rong’s face was mostly expressionless, he still picked each item up and inspected it.
There were two sets of each merch item. They could keep the other set as a collection for themselves, or they could give it away to a friend or relative.
As a mature middle-aged man, Ding-ge had already recovered after going home and lying motionless like a corpse for a night.
Over the phone, he spoke as he usually did to Jian Rong. “Do you see the shirt? During the next few days, you should wear that when you stream, give it a lot of marketing. If it sells well, you’ll get a bigger share too.”
Jian Rong didn’t understand. “What’s that mean?”
Ding-ge explained, “Every time someone buys one of your individual merch items, you’ll receive a bonus… when you signed your contract, did you even read it?!”
Jian Rong looked at the pile of assorted items on the table and said, “Got it.”
At noon, when the fans entered Soft’s livestream room, they saw the streamer wearing deep blue from head to toe. He was dressed much more formally than he normally was while streaming, and he was even wearing a hat.
[Wearing a hat while streaming? And it’s pulled so low too? What, you think you’re so cool???]
[WTF why’s your ID on this shirt?]
[What exactly are you trying to achieve by dressing in this dumbass way.]
As he was recalling to base, Jian Rong glanced at the barrage. Then he tilted his head to the side and revealed the ID on the right of his hat.
“Your dad’s merch.” Jian Rong drawled, “You can’t tell?”
All the water friends typed out a “?”.
“They’re gonna be up for sale in a few days on the team’s official website. There’s also a shirt.” Jian Rong suddenly stood up and lifted his leg, introducing each item, “Pants, shoelaces, socks…”
Next to him, Xiao Bai was shocked by this simple, honest, no frills marketing tactic, and he peered over with amazement written across his face.
[Who wants to see your stinky socks???]
[What the hell do shoelaces look like as merch? A money scam?]
[Who the fuck would dare to buy that, gonna go out on the streets while flaunting your ID and wait to be beaten up?]
[If you remove your ID, Dad will think about buying it hah.]
Jian Rong ignored their sarcastic comments and continued promoting the merch. “There’s also this keycap—if you put it on your keyboard, you’ll become as strong as your dad, and you can kill whoever you want.”
[What if you can’t kill someone?]
“If you can’t kill them, then surrender, what else can you do?” Jian Rong shifted the camera. “And then there’s this mouse pad. If you place it under your mouse, you’ll never miss a single minion. Buying it means winning, it’s your loss if you don’t buy it.”
[Are there any height-raising insoles? I’ll buy them all.]
[Call me Dad, and Dad will buy ten keycaps.]
[Stop talking stop talking, Dad has no interest in children’s clothing.]
[I remember that pro players all get bonuses from selling merch, right? Working so hard to promote it, what, did you go bankrupt?]
[What happened to your signing bonus? And your savings from the last two years? And the gift money that Daddy sent you?]
Jian Rong killed minions. “I didn’t go bankrupt, I want to save some more money.
“Why do I want to save money…” Jian Rong used his ult and oneshotted the enemy mid laner before he said very casually, “I’m saving it so the person I like can spend it.”
As he was speaking, the door to the practice room was pushed open.
Jian Rong subconsciously glanced behind him. Then, he was given a slight shock.
Lu Boyuan walked into the room, carrying breakfast in one hand and a merch hat in the other.
The hat was the same one Jian Rong was currently wearing. It was a deep blue color, with “Soft” written in white along the right side.
The author has something to say:
R-ong: Hello? Want to buy merch?