Thanks to nymmiah and Kitty for the Ko-fis!
After finishing a ranked game, Jian Rong opened the scoreboard and hit the report button for the player with the KDA of 1/7/8. He vented all of the suppressed insults that he couldn’t let out in the game onto his keyboard, and an impressive, flowing 300-word mini essay appeared in the blink of an eye.
Then he whipped his head around, at the end of his patience. “If you have something to say, spit it out.”
From the moment Jian Rong got back to the base until now, Zhuang Yibai had kept his eyes trained unwaveringly on him. Xiao Bai blinked and said, “There isn’t really anything I wanna say…”
“In that case, you turn your head right back around for me.”
“—Actually, I do have a question for you.”
“Am I really allowed to ask it?”
Under Jian Rong’s “do you want to die” glare, Xiao Bai rolled his gaming chair over to his side. In a very small voice, he asked bashfully, “It’s just… you know, you and my ge… erm, ss—I don’t really know how to phrase this… anyway, just… um… does your butt hurt?”
TTC’s mid laner and support had a falling-out.
It went something like this: Jian Rong changed his stream profile picture to a super ugly photo of Xiao Bai captured during a match some years ago, back when he was in his shamate1 dark past phase. Not to be outdone, Xiao Bai changed his profile picture to a photo of Lu Boyuan taken a few years ago, but it ended up attracting a bunch of comments that kept shouting “my husband was so handsome before too” under his Weibo.
During streams, neither of them interacted with each other. When they happened to be matched onto opposing sides during a ranked game, Jian Rong treated the bot lane like it was the mid lane, while Xiao Bai refused to admit defeat and kept visiting the mid lane with the jungler… and so on. They were all some childish, harmless ways to target each other.
“He came to the bot lane four times in ten minutes, I’ve never met someone so ridiculous before! He was just relying on the fact that you weren’t there to furiously screw me over. Thankfully my ge went in for a checkup; if my ge was also duo queuing with him, I might as well have just AFKed that match.” Xiao Bai complained, hand braced against the armrest of Pine’s gaming chair. Then he lowered his head and took a sip from the milk tea that Pine had brought back for him.
Pine had just returned from renewing his contract at the club headquarters, and he was currently in the middle of solo queuing to fulfill his stream quota. As he skillfully scored last hits on minions, he asked, “So what exactly did you ask him.”
Xiao Bai glanced at the webcam, which was lit up, and averted his eyes unnaturally. A long moment later, he finally muttered, “…Nothing really, it was just something tiny and irrelevant.”
He was a frequent guest in Pine’s stream by now, so when the fans heard that, they immediately started teasing him—
[Zhuang Yibai, you’ve changed. You have a little secret that you can’t tell Pine.]
[They’re so close to each other… Are they really not together?]
[This hardcore fan can pat my chest and tell you: definitely not, these two straight guys usually interact like this.]
Pine rarely checked the barrage when he was gaming, and he only kept the barrage helper open to give a little face to the spectators. When he sensed the weight leaning against him vanish, he turned his head and asked, “Where are you going?”
“To change my clothes.” Xiao Bai said, “Aren’t we going out for a team dinner soon?”
Pine watched him absent-mindedly leave the practice room. He only withdrew his gaze after he could no longer see Xiao Bai’s figure anymore.
His teammates had already destroyed the enemy Nexus, and the game returned to the post-game lobby once it ended. Pine sat back in his chair and stretched his neck from side to side. Right as the team’s support sent him an invite to duo queue together, he exited the lobby.
Zhuang Yibai was acting a little strange these days.
It wasn’t very obvious—he just tended to zone out a lot and was often lost in thought, eyelashes drooping downwards.
Zhuang Yibai was someone who couldn’t hide things, but his current state had already persisted for almost an entire week, and he looked like he was about to burst from keeping whatever it was to himself.
Pine lit a cigarette and looked at the barrage helper for once, just in time to see the following comment: [Are there still people who are unaware that Bye constantly plasters himself to Pine solely for the sake of selling rot and getting free popularity? I feel sorry for Pine, he can’t say anything since he’s his junior. He couldn’t even escape during this transfer window.]
Cigarette dangling from his mouth, he kicked and blocked that person for 999 years. Then he said indifferently, “Mods, pay a little more attention, don’t make me do it myself.”
Ding-ge had arranged the outing this time, and he had also booked a private karaoke room for them later that night. Their vacation was about to end; practice was going to resume in two days so that they could prepare for the League of Legends Demacia Cup tournament.
Because it was the last party before practice began, Ding-ge made an exception and actively ordered alcohol for them. Originally, he just wanted them to have a few drinks to satisfy their cravings, but—
“In celebration of us getting a grand slam this year!”
“In celebration of Captain successfully coming out of the closet!”
“In celebration of every team member renewing their contract!”
“Congratulations to us in advance for successfully winning the Demacia Cup!”
Yuan Qian, the de facto drinking leader, kept standing up and coming up with new toasts. Everyone else also felt happy when they heard the things he had to say, so they kept pouring drink after drink into their mouths.
Yuan Qian was fine in every other aspect, but he had one shortcoming: he liked to urge other people to drink.
When Jian Rong heard “successfully coming out of the closet,” he blinked and silently finished off the remaining liquid in his cup.
He was about to pour himself some more alcohol when the person next to him took the cup from him.
Lu Boyuan picked up the freshly purchased bottled water and secretly poured it into Jian Rong’s cup underneath the table. After giving it back to him, Lu Boyuan raised his own glass and said to Yuan Qian nonchalantly, “Best wishes for a successful marriage proposal.”
Yuan Qian scratched his head and blushed. “Ai okay, thank you Captain.”
Jian Rong: “…”
Yuan Qian downed his drink before raising his cup again. “Another advance congratulations…”
“Enough with your freaking advance congratulations.” Ding-ge reached out and tugged his arm back down. “Who’s going to take responsibility if everyone gets drunk later?!”
Yuan Qian immediately said, “If Xiao Rong gets drunk, he has Captain. If Xiao Bai gets drunk, he has Pine. Don’t worry.”
Ding-ge: “Then what happens if you get drunk? I’m gonna say this now, I won’t be able to lift you up.”
Yuan Qian thought about it and ended up setting his cup down.
But it was rather late to stop now. A certain extremely supportive professional fun-seeker had lifted his glass with almost every toast and was already red in the face from drinking.
Pine shifted Xiao Bai’s cup away from him and watched as he swirled his chopsticks around the hot pot for quite a while without managing to pick up what he wanted to eat. Finally, Pine decided to just do it for him.
Xiao Bai glanced at the beef tripe in his bowl before he turned to look at Pine.
Pine said, “Feeling sick?”
Xiao Bai shook his head and gave a tiny drunken burp. Then he leaned towards Pine and called, “P-baby.”
Xiao Bai lowered his gaze and stared at the strings hanging down the front of Pine’s hoodie for a moment before he asked, “Are we dating?”
After they all ate and drank their fill, Ding-ge tracked down the server and paid the bill. Then he stood up and said, “Let’s go, it’s almost time for our reservation at the private karaoke room.”
“We won’t be going.” Pine got up, half-supporting Zhuang Yibai. “There’s something we have to go back and take care of.”
At the base, Pine brought Xiao Bai straight back to his room.
Pine set him down on the sofa before he went to make a cup of honey water.
Thanks to the car ride over, Xiao Bai had sobered up somewhat. He opened his mouth and said, “P-baby.”
“Mn.” Pine held the cup next to Xiao Bai’s mouth. “Drink this.”
Xiao Bai took a tiny sip.
Pine: “Drink it with the same attitude you were using to drink alcohol earlier.”
Xiao Bai: “…”
He drained the entire cup in one gulp.
Satisfied, Pine put the cup down on the table and finally asked, “What’s the matter.”
Xiao Bai tilted his head back to look up at him. “Hm?”
“We are dating.” Using the pad of his finger, Pine wiped away the wet sheen at the corner of Xiao Bai’s lips. “So what’s the matter.”
Xiao Bai blinked and contemplated for a while before he flashed a smile at him. “Actually, it’s nothing much.
“It’s just… I keep feeling like we’re the same as we were before.
“Living together, eating together, playing games together.” Xiao Bai paused. “Even the fans don’t notice anything diff…”
He wasn’t able to finish that sentence.
Pine stroked Xiao Bai’s bangs back before he bent over and lowered his head to kiss him.
They had both consumed alcohol, so this kiss was flavored with a dry, clear bitterness. In the first place, Xiao Bai had drunk a bit too much, so his head instantly started spinning because of the kiss. He felt like he was floating.
When he was released, he could tell that Pine was tousling his hair a little forcefully, which sent tingles down the back of his neck.
Pine gazed down at him and said, “Did we do this before?”
Xiao Bai remembered the first time he ever met Pine: Pine was still shorter than him and looked just like a wimpy brat who wasn’t maturing well.
But now, with a single fleeting glance from Pine, Xiao Bai was pinned in place while his heartbeat went out of control.
He subconsciously swallowed. A few seconds passed before he realized what exactly he had just swallowed, and his face burned bright red. Then he raised his head and said, “Well, no…
“But didn’t you say that you do more than just kiss when you’re dating someone?”
Pine paused, and his fingers twitched slightly at his side.
“Don’t you want to give it a try?” The alcohol made Zhuang Yibai’s gaze even more bold and straightforward than usual. “I’ve already learned how to do it all.”
Pine looked at him. “Learned?”
Xiao Bai: “Okay, I didn’t learn anything, I just searched it up.”
And later that very night after he conducted the search, he had an extremely damn excessive dream.
Upon remembering the details from that dream, Zhuang Yibai couldn’t help but rub his face as his head cleared up a tiny bit.
Post-dream, he felt somewhat restless every time they kissed—but he seemed to be the only one who felt that way. After each kiss, Pine would wipe his mouth for him, and then they would return to how they normally interacted with each other as if nothing had happened.
Noticing Pine’s silence, Zhuang Yibai understood now: apparently it was only his mind that was filled with those embarrassing, unspeakable thoughts.
A notification chimed from the phone lying on the desk, piercing through Zhuang Yibai’s retrospective mortification. He instantly shot to his feet and mumbled to himself, “My phone…”
Someone grabbed his arm.
Pine’s palm was scalding, so hot that it felt like the place he was gripping was about to catch on fire.
“What did you learn.” Pine said, “Show me.”
Half-reclined at the head of the bed, knees bent, Zhuang Yibai covered his eyes with one hand and braced his other hand against Pine’s shoulder.
His cheeks and the outer corners of his eyes were all red, and sweat beaded on his forehead. He wanted to look, yet he didn’t dare to.
While Pine’s hand moved lower, he leaned over and kissed the back of Zhuang Yibai’s hand. “Is this how you do it.”
Zhuang Yibai randomly nodded a few times.
Pine: “If you don’t open your eyes, how do you know whether I’m doing it right or not.”
Even Zhuang Yibai’s neck was flushed. “…You can just do whatever, I think I don’t actually know that much all of a sudden.”
He heard Pine huff out a laugh before abruptly letting go of him.
Startled, Xiao Bai immediately opened his eyes—only to see the other man scoop up his jacket from the floor and pull out a few items from its pocket.
After discerning what those items were, Xiao Bai said, “When did you…”
“Before dinner, when I was buying cigarettes.”
Xiao Bai stared at him, stunned. His eyes were still tinged red. “So you did want to have sex with me after all.”
“…” For a second, Pine was rendered speechless. “No kidding.”
“Oh.” Xiao Bai blinked. “I thought that I was the only one thinking about that.”
No matter what he was doing, Zhuang Yibai always had a lot to say.
Pine had endured it for several years, but he finally found a way to put that to a stop today.
“What exactly did you search online?” Pine kneaded his toes.
“N-nothing much…” Xiao Bai’s voice was a little hoarse, and he replied to him in disjointed gasps. “It was all—really terrifying…”
“And you still wanted to do it with me?”
“…When I thought about… doing those things with you—I felt like… it wasn’t too bad.” Xiao Bai buried his face into the pillow. “You… don’t talk to me.”
By the time he woke up, the sky was already very bright outside.
Xiao Bai swept a look around him, eyes half-narrowed. The bed next to him was empty, and the sound of running water came from the bathroom.
Sensing his physical discomfort, he frowned and licked his lips before he picked up his phone to check his messages.
Messages from their group chat were at the very top of his notifications.
[Ding-ge: Auntie made some congee, everyone come down to eat breakfast. After that, let’s have a meeting.]
[Ding-ge: @All everyone awake?]
Everyone else responded quickly.
[Ding-ge: @P-Baby’s Little Support @Bye’s Cat Tower what about you two?]
Upon seeing that, Xiao Bai and Ding-ge were both equally confused—
[Ding-ge: @Bye’s Cat Tower who the fuck is this???]
Xiao Bai threw off the blanket and got out of bed. After taking a single step, he sucked in a breath through his teeth due to the pain.
He walked over to the bathroom door with some difficulty and locked eyes with Pine, who had just finished washing up.
Xiao Bai leaned against the door frame and spaced out for a few seconds. Then he lifted his phone and said, “Your WeChat username… you changed it?”
“Mn.” Pine tugged down his towel and swiped it carelessly across his face. “Can you tell now?”
“That we’re dating.”
Since nobody replied to his message, Ding-ge decided to just go upstairs to find them.
He reached the door to Pine’s room. Right as he was about to raise his hand and knock, the door opened with a creak.
He came face-to-face with Zhuang Yibai.
Ding-ge was already very used to seeing this guy stay overnight in Pine’s room. If this was any other time, perhaps he would’ve teased him with something like “could you give your ADC a little freedom,” but today…
People probably wouldn’t believe him if he said this out loud, but ever since their team’s mid laner and jungler started dating, he seemed to have gained a new skill—visual gaydar.
Ding-ge looked Zhuang Yibai up and down. He was wearing Pine’s shirt, so the collar gaped a little, revealing the countless spots dotting his neck…
Coincidentally, Pine exited the bathroom at that moment, his top half bare. The young man glanced coolly at both of them before he turned around and walked further into the room, exposing the merciless scratch marks lining the backs of his shoulders.
On that day, TTC wasn’t able to hold their team meeting; it turned into a three-person discussion instead.
As for what kind of conversation was had during that meeting, nobody knew.
However, after the meeting concluded, Ding-ge smoked two packs of cigarettes on the balcony. Then, with trembling hands, he posted something on his Moments—
[Ding-ge: Someone else come be TTC’s manager, laozi quits.]
The author has something to say:
—P-Bai Little Theater (mini extra)—
The day before the All-Star event kicked off, Pine got a fever.
Holding his bedding, Xiao Bai snuck into Pine’s room and spread another layer over Pine while prattling on nonstop:
“Aren’t you a bit too bad at resisting the cold? You young people really have such weak constitutions.
“Let me go ask Ding-ge if you can miss the All-Star event tomorrow.
“I even pulled in votes for you for two weeks straight on Weibo, what a pity.
“Forget it, we can go next year too.
“How is it? Do you still feel cold? Has your fever gone down a little yet?”
Xiao Bai finished spreading the blanket over him. As he spoke, he leaned in towards Pine—who had remained silent this entire time, eyes half-closed—and pressed their foreheads together.
Xiao Bai: “I think…”
Before he could finish, Pine freed his arm from the blankets and cupped the back of Zhuang Yibai’s head. Caught fully off guard, Zhuang Yibai tilted downwards—
Though Pine’s lips were mostly colorless, they felt somewhat hot. Xiao Bai froze for a moment before he tried to straighten up, but he was held firmly in place by the hand on the back of his head. The temperature on his tongue and lips grew even more heated and wet.
After the kiss, Zhuang Yibai’s face was even redder than the sick person’s.
Pine’s voice was husky, and he licked his lips. “You’re very warm.”
Xiao Bai was briefly startled. “…Should I get under the blankets and warm you up?”
Without a word, Pine pulled back his blankets.
By the next day, Jiang Yusong had recovered.
But Zhuang Yibai got a fever instead.
- Shamate (杀马特): a loan word for “smart,” describing a style in the 2000’s that was a mix of glam rock + visual kei. The history and subculture of shamate is actually very interesting (this article goes more in depth). ^
Yan: And that is a full wrap on ICDI! A little over a year to finish :’) not too bad. I’ll be going back and editing/cleaning up chapters eventually – I probably screwed up a lot of gaming terms tbh but hopefully not too badly. I will be buying the physical books for ICDI, so maybe one day I’ll pop out a surprise update if there are any new extras. Other than that, thank you for reading!!! And join our discord for updates on future projects 😉
Wei: Ahhh can’t believe we’re completely done! Thanks again for following along with on ICDI’s journey ❤ We hope to see you in any future projects as well!