Thanks to Tty for the Ko-fi!
The air at the amusement park was filled with the sweet scent of cotton candy.
Children held their mothers’ hands, faces filled with happiness and candy clenched in their fists; people of the same age walked alongside one another, laughing cheerfully; couples snuggled intimately together, and some of them were even brazenly kissing and nipping at each other’s ears as if nobody was around them…
The entire world seemed to be having a grand time. Only Zhuang Yibai sat on the bench, spacing out, with both hands stuffed in the pockets of his thick down-filled parka.
He stared at the bright Ferris wheel glittering in the distance as Pine’s words from earlier that day kept drifting through his mind.
Why didn’t he want to play pretend anymore? Even if it was all just for show at the beginning, didn’t it become routine later on? Also, setting a photo of them with their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders as his lock screen wallpaper was also something that really close friends would do.
Ignore how Zhuang Yibai was currently firing back retort after retort in his mind—when he was standing in front of Jiang Yusong, he couldn’t say a damn thing.
He attempted to analyze whether Jiang Yusong was angry or not. He thought about it for a long time, but… Jiang Yusong seemed to have never gotten mad at him before. Sometimes when Xiao Bai annoyed him by pestering him too much, he would merely frown before quickly returning to normal.
What’s more… Jiang Yusong didn’t have a reason to be angry, did he?
Xiao Bai slumped against the bench with his head tilted back as he exhaled a mouthful of white mist towards the sky. Then he grabbed his phone and held it up in front of him before he opened up the StarTV app and entered Pine’s stream.
The screen was completely dark. Pine wasn’t online.
Since he wasn’t streaming anyway, why didn’t he come to the amusement park with Xiao Bai.
Xiao Bai slowly lifted his head. Still maintaining that same paralyzed salted fish posture, he peered at the two cute petite girls in front of him. “Done already? That was fast.”
“It’s because we didn’t need to line up.” The girl blinked. “We want to go on the pirate ship next, you…”
“I’m okay, you two go ahead.” Xiao Bai immediately said, “I’ll continue looking after your bags.”
A little disappointed, the girl let out an “ah.” “You really don’t want to come?”
Her close friend couldn’t take it any longer. “If you don’t want to do anything, then why did you even agree to come to the amusement park with Cangshu?”
Actually, Xiao Bai was intending to back out…
He originally wanted to call her and let her know, but then her message unexpectedly popped up saying that they had already left the school and were waiting for him at a milk tea shop nearby.
As a result, he had no choice but to go over with the mindset of being their chauffeur.
This was the same person who was just badgering Jiang Yusong to go bungee jumping together not too long ago. Now, he said without batting an eye, “Sorry, I’m afraid of heights.”
The two girls still had a relatively good time. Since they could skip the lines, they went on all the big famous rides in the amusement park. By the time they finished playing to their hearts’ content, it was already seven in the evening.
They randomly grabbed something to eat for dinner and rushed over to the castle before it was time for the park’s fireworks show.
As expected, it was very crowded in front of the castle. Xiao Bai stood behind the two girls and blocked them from the throngs of people in the back as he absent-mindedly listened to their conversation.
It was true that he was listening, but nothing they said sunk in.
Everyone around him lifted their phones high up in the air. Only he stuck out like a sore thumb.
There was a sudden tug on his clothing as the girl reminded him, “It’s about to start—”
Several fireworks streaked into the sky from various places in the castle and exploded in a riot of colors in Zhuang Yibai’s vision.
He stared up in a daze. A few seconds later, he also copied the crowd and tugged out his phone.
Zhuang Yibai hit the shutter button quite a few times in a row, snapping over a dozen photos.
After he was done, he opened WeChat and clicked on the chat that he used the most frequently. He carefully and meticulously selected five pictures out of a dozen or so nearly identical ones, only to pause the moment before he hit send.
His WeChat username was still the same as before, so if he sought out Jiang Yusong now, it seemed to be a little… humiliating.
It’s just because I haven’t come up with a cool, mind-blowing WeChat username yet. I’m definitely not shamelessly refusing to change it, he thought.
Xiao Bai exited the photo transfer screen, and a past conversation between him and Pine appeared in the chat. Whenever they texted, Xiao Bai was the one who tended to talk more, and he also sent longer messages; Pine’s replies were brief to the point that it made him seem like some high-level executive. However, every text that Xiao Bai sent would always receive a response.
Conflicted, Zhuang Yibai stayed in the chat for some time before he finally ended up hitting the back button. He still had an intense urge to send the pictures to someone, so he decided to simply select a random person from his friends list before he sent all of the photos over at once.
The other person actually answered very quickly.
[R-ong: Did you send this to the wrong person?]
[P-Baby’s Little Support: No, I just wanted to share this beautiful scene with my good friend.]
[R-ong: I’m not interested, don’t do this again in the future.]
Xiao Bai: “…”
Did the fireworks fly into my head and blow it up? Why did I send such pretty photos to a guy like that?
After the fireworks show ended, the two girls said that they weren’t full from dinner—the food inside the amusement park was both expensive and unappetizing.
They found a random Haidilao to eat at.
The girls conversed enthusiastically with each other while Xiao Bai cooked his duck intestines, lost in thought until someone suddenly called his name—
“Bai-ge.” Cangshu’s friend scooted closer to the table and looked at him eagerly. “Could I ask you about something?”
Xiao Bai: “Mn? About what?”
“About the LoL transfer window, of course.” The girl’s eyes curved. “I’m actually a PUD fan… I wanted to ask, is XIU-ge going to retire this year? 98k should be renewing his contract with PUD, right? Is anything going to change with the bot lane?”
The LoL transfer window typically started in mid-November and lasted for a month. During the transfer period, professional esports players could move from one club to another, and the officials would also open up the system for handling related registration procedures.
But half a month had already passed without any change in the bigger clubs. The irrelevant substitute second teams had announced a few new members, but it didn’t cause too much of a stir. The major news that everyone wanted to know was still being suppressed by the clubs, who were all waiting to throw out their bombshells near the end of the transfer window.
“…I can’t really talk about it if their club hasn’t even made it public yet.” Xiao Bai paused. “But there is something I can tell you. XIU-ge isn’t going to retire, he wants to play for another year.”
“XIU, badass!” The girl happily took a gulp of her plum juice before she continued gossiping. “Road said that he wasn’t going to retire during the finals interview, so he should be staying in TTC; your contract with TTC isn’t up yet, and neither is Qian’s… What about Soft? He only signed with TTC for one season, right? I heard that a ton of clubs are all trying to negotiate with him!”
Xiao Bai raised an eyebrow and laughed.
That was certainly true. Apart from PUD, every single club that had a bit of money had ended up moseying over to their mid laner. As far as he was aware, the highest price offered was already up around thirty million yuan.
For a pro gamer that had just started his career a year ago, this was sky-high. Even though Fu-ge’s offer wasn’t low either, it still fell a little short of the highest bid… After all, many clubs were backed by large corporations who were all hoping that Jian Rong could give their teams attention, popularity, and achievements.
But it was useless.
So what if they had money? Their God Jian didn’t lack money; he only wanted a certain person.
The girl somewhat understood from his reaction. She nodded and murmured, “That means only TTC’s ADC will be changing next season.”
Zhuang Yibai, who had spent all that time cooking his duck intestines and was about to enjoy the fruits of his labor at last, lifted his head with his mouth open. “What change? Who’s changing? Our ADC……… Who said that our ADC is going to change?!”
Zhuang Yibai didn’t even think to put on his jacket before he grabbed his phone and hastily walked out of the restaurant.
This wasn’t the type of conversation that should be had in front of other people. He found a corner to make his call from as he shrugged his shoulders, trembling from the cold.
Ding-ge didn’t pick up, so he called Lu Boyuan, who only answered the phone right when the call was about to cut off.
“Ge, what’s going on?” A gust of cold wind scraped past, causing Xiao Bai to shiver as he spoke. “Why are there claims that Pine is gonna transfer to MFG? Have you heard about this? Is Ding-ge just going to allow these people to start rumors for the sake of drawing attention…”
Lu Boyuan said, “I’ve heard Pine mention it before.”
Xiao Bai paused, as if he was completely frozen stiff. “Pine… mentioned it to you before? What did he say…”
“That he was likely going to leave the team.” Lu Boyuan set a cup of coffee down next to his boyfriend’s hand; they were at a hotel room together, though Jian Rong was currently playing ranked on a laptop. Noticing Xiao Bai’s silence, he lifted an eyebrow. “He didn’t tell you?”
The wind poured into Xiao Bai’s shirt collar and sleeves as the chill seeped into him from head to toe, but it was like he couldn’t sense it at all. His fists clenched and unclenched, over and over.
“No.” He said hoarsely, “Is it confirmed? Then – then, our ADC next season…”
“Ding-ge’s discussing the options. For now, the expectation is that it’ll be the second team’s ADC, Xiao Yu, but there are some decent choices from the trainee team as well. As for the other LPL teams, Ding-ge is favoring Doufu.”
Xiao Bai didn’t even feel like imagining what would happen if Doufu joined the team—if he and Jian Rong would march straight to the police station together, arms hooked around each other’s shoulders.
No wonder Pine didn’t want to sell rot with him anymore, and even wanted him to change his lock screen and cover photo.
Lu Boyuan listened to the sound of the wind coming from the other end of the call. As if sensing something, he lowered his eyes and said, “It isn’t certain yet, but if I’m remembering correctly, Pine should be going to MFG’s base tonight to have a detailed discussion with their manager. A conclusion will probably be reached in the next few days.”
Xiao Bai’s eyes ached from the wind.
He took a deep breath before he reached up and rubbed at his eyes. “…Ge, why didn’t the team try to get him to stay? Didn’t we just win the championship, why does he want to leave so badly…”
“MFG’s offer is pretty high, and their team is also willing to revolve their playstyle around the bot lane. Pine is still young and very ambitious, it’s not strange if he wants to transfer.”
Detecting Xiao Bai’s emotional state, Lu Boyuan cast his gaze down and comforted him calmly, “The times are different now, and it’s common for players to transfer in and out of teams. You’ll still be friends after a transfer, you just won’t be practicing and competing together anymore, so don’t be too sad.”
By the time Pine left MFG’s base, it was already one in the morning.
After he got in the car, he pulled out his phone, wanting to take another look at the Weibo post that he happened to come across two hours ago. The content of the post was “I ran into Bye and his girlfriend at the amusement park, Bye was even carrying his girlfriend’s bag for her, how sweet”—but when he tapped on the screen, he discovered that his phone had run out of battery at some point and had turned off.
He stared out the window at the constantly retreating streetlights and inhaled deeply. The frigid air seemed to rush from his nose to his throat and down to his heart, leaving a cutting pain in its winding wake.
He knew this would happen: once he let the other person go during the day, he probably wouldn’t be able to get him back again.
After he returned to the base, he didn’t go inside immediately. Instead, he leaned against the wall, took out his cigarettes, and started to smoke quietly.
Zhuang Yibai didn’t like the smell of cigarette smoke. Even though he had never made any complaints in front of Pine, he would always maintain a tiny bit more distance between the two of them whenever Pine smoked.
Another half an hour had passed by the time he finished his pack of cigarettes. Pine turned around and opened the front door of the base before he took off his shoes and went inside.
It was dark in the base; only a few lights were turned on in the hallway.
So when he saw an indistinct, round shadow in front of the door to his room, he stopped in place for a second before he continued walking forward.
The person that he had secretly thought about for an entire night—for a day, for a very long time—sat in front of his door like a debt collector. He was only wearing a thin shirt, and he stared down at the phone in his hands as he called someone over and over. An announcement that “the other party has already turned off the phone” continuously rang out through the speakers.
Pine nudged the person’s knee with his leg.
Zhuang Yibai, who was focused on his phone, raised his head. His eyes were still filled with agitation and anxiousness from his calls not going through, but the moment their gazes met, Xiao Bai’s tightly knitted brows slowly relaxed. Then they furrowed closely together again…
Right as Pine was about to speak, he heard a thunk.
Zhuang Yibai discarded his phone and threw himself straight at Pine, arms wrapped firmly around his leg.
Pine reached out with the intention of pulling him away, but when he looked down, he saw that Zhuang Yibai had buried his entire face against his leg and was clinging on for dear life.
“Jiang Yusong, you’re not human.”
He instantly froze on the spot, hand suspended in the air above Xiao Bai’s hair. A rare flustered and helpless expression appeared on his face.
Zhuang Yibai was crying.