Qi Zui’s fans lurked in Yu Yang’s stream for the rest of the night. Even though they did not actually see Qi Zui, listening to him speak every now and then was already more than enough.
Especially because Qi Zui was acting different from normal today—he was not being too cool or savage or making crass jokes, but was only giving Yu Yang pointers. He didn’t have much to say, but was very gentle nonetheless.
Whether the fans were here for his boyfriend energy, or for shipping, or just for his skills, all of them were satisfied listening to him for an evening.
Unfortunately, Qi Zui was only playing the part really well.
In front of the fans, Qi Zui was the perfect gentleman—civil and caring, giving pro-level pointers—but without the fans watching, Qi Zui did not have any morals to speak of.
“Go download some gay porn onto He Xiaoxu’s laptop, like those Western kinds, get some wild ones…”
In Qi Zui’s dorm room, on the other side of the video call, Yu Yang blushed: “Nah…”
“Good thing I knew you were at the base, but what if you were out?” Qi Zui frowned, “What is wrong with that guy? What was he doing using your outlet?”
This made Yu Yang think of the things that He Xiaoxu told him earlier, and he paused, not giving an explanation.
“When are you going in for surgery?” Yu Yang looked at the furniture and decor behind Qi Zui carefully, “Are you at the hotel? You haven’t been to the hospital yet?”
Qi Zui nodded: “I’m at the hotel. You need an appointment for the hospital, I’m going in tomorrow for more tests. As for the actual surgery…not sure which day. It’s not a huge surgery, it’ll only take a few hours and I won’t need to stay at the hospital overnight. This hospital is pretty close to here too, so I’ll be at the hotel for now. After the surgery, I’ll need to go to their rehab center, and after that…depends on how things go. Maybe I’ll switch hotels, there’s no Chinese food near this one.”
Yu Yang’s heart panged whenever he thought of Qi Zui being there alone for the surgery. He calculated the time difference, “When you’re in for the surgery…I might be in a training match.”
Qi Zui nodded easily: “Probably. Train hard.”
Yu Yang furrowed his brows: “You…”
“It’s really nothing big.” Qi Zui smiled, “My parents had a chat with the doctors already, if it was actually serious then they’d come with me.”
Yu Yang’s heart panged hard.
Qi Zui changed the topic on purpose: “You still haven’t said, so what was He Xiaoxu doing, using your outlet?”
“He…” Yu Yang hesitated, “He was chatting with me, and then out of convenience…”
Qi Zui squinted: “Did he talk shit about me while I wasn’t there?”
Yu Yang paused.
Qi Zui laughed: “So he really did talk shit about me? What did he make up this time?”
Yu Yang did not respond for a moment, then said quietly: “Do…do you want to see me wear your pajamas?”
Yu Yang held the phone with his left hand, and started to unbutton his shirt buttons with his right hand; three were unbuttoned as he spoke.
Qi Zui was surprised for a second, and for some reason, his own ears started blushing first.
“We were just talking…” Qi Zui suddenly felt that the laptop on his lap was getting too hot, “What’s going on, baby? Did you talk shit about me too? Are you that ready to make up for it…”
Yu Yang looked down, “I didn’t.”
“Then why are you so forward today?” Qi Zui looked at the pale skin on Yu Yang’s neck, unable to look away. He took a deep breath, and did not know what he was saying himself, “Baby, the thing is…let me tell you a secret. It’s just about noon right now over here, the sun is shining, it’s broad daylight…I even called room service, they’re going to deliver lunch later, then they’re going to see me blasting off over here…wouldn’t that be inappropriate?”
Qi Zui turned so that his back was to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The camera catches into view the skyscrapers of New York, shining under the daylight, with the sound of traffic below.
Yu Yang blanked, then immediately started blushing furiously.
“You…” Yu Yang buttoned his shirt again shamefully and said softly, “You, you don’t want to see…”
Qi Zui cursed at himself silently, then scoffed, “It’s not that I don’t want to see…I just feel that you’re a little off, and I’m so far away. Don’t make me worry about you, hm? What did He Xiaoxu tell you?”
Yu Yang adjusted his shirt, hesitating again, then told him quietly.
Qi Zui frowned: “This idiot…what a big mouth.”
Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang’s expression closely, “And where are your principles? That’s all you heard, and you’re rushing to make it up for me?”
Yu Yang lowered his head, “Yeah…”
“Isn’t that pretty normal?” Qi Zui laughed, “Broken up, relationship ended, isn’t it normal that I wasn’t in the best mood?”
Normal, yes, but it did not stop Yu Yang from feeling bad.
“In the end, you just don’t believe that I liked you at the time.” Qi Zui raised a brow, “Captain Yu, won’t you have mercy? I think I liked you, only you, with my whole heart, won’t you say? And it was my damn first love, too, and it wasn’t even a month before we split, so all things considered…and you were also suspected of playing with my feelings, so no matter how good-tempered I am, isn’t it still reasonable that I was a little angry?”
He was angry, but he did not take it out on Yu Yang.
The poor Brazilian player just happened to hit it straight on and naturally became cannon fodder.
Yu Yang really could not fathom, how could someone this good actually like him?
Qi Zui watched Yu Yang agonize over old news and wanted to laugh, but also could not bear to see it.
For someone who was used to the bitterness of life, a sudden taste of sweetness was actually what made them all the more scared and wary.
There was no antidote to this issue, the only treatment was to put the frog in warm water…to be good to him, more and more, enough so that he was used to it.
“Okay, and here I was thinking that something happened.” Qi Zui raised a brow, “So now that we’ve cleared things up, let’s not bring up the past now, okay?”
Yu Yang nodded, still dejected.
The button at the collar of Yu Yang’s shirt was not completely fastened, so the skin at his chest was barely visible. Qi Zui took a deep breath and said distractedly, “Also…didn’t you say you were going to change into pajamas?”
Yu Yang paused for a moment, then asked quietly despite his embarrassment, “You want to see now? Just now…didn’t you say you didn’t want to see…”
Qi Zui was ready to book a flight back to the base just so he could swallow Yu Yang whole.
He was worried earlier that something had happened with Yu Yang, but now that he knew it was nothing, then of course he wanted to see what was originally his to see.
Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang’s blush that had spread down his neck, and said cruelly: “You really don’t have any sense of online safety? I could screen record, or screenshot…”
Yu Yang paused, then discussed with him very patiently: “Then don’t post it…don’t let other people see.”
Qi Zui clenched his teeth. It would be fine if he didn’t get surgery on his hand, actually…would it be too late if he went back home now?
That night, still blushing furiously, Yu Yang messaged Qi Zui from under his covers, reminding him to save the photos properly so that no one else could see.
Qi Zui did not actually screenshot. He had gone and taken a cold shower, and pressed down the voice message button after he saw the messages to reassure Yu Yang so that he could relax.
Yu Yang looped the short, 15-second voice message over and over again before bed, for who knew how many times.
He Xiaoxu did not know about the things that happened on stream until the next day, but this time, he did not get mad…because he did not have the energy to.
Now that Qi Zui was not here, He Xiaoxu could only discuss things with Yu Yang and Lai Hua. He called the two of them out alone, then said, exasperated, “We lost another sponsor.”
Lai Hua frowned, and Yu Yang massaged his sore neck, his thin lips pressed into one line.
He Xiaoxu was seething to himself. He did not lose his temper at the sponsor this time, and even was playing nice and buttering them up, faking his niceties for a bit before saying that they could work together if there was a chance in the future.
But inside, he was already losing it.
“The Worlds haven’t started yet, so how do they know that we’ve lost it?” He Xiaoxu was so angry that he could eat someone, “Is TGC unstoppable now? They’re all saying that they are the actual e-sport royalty now, fuck off, do they even have any results? No trophy, no achievements, and they get to be gods? We were beating them up easily last time at the Asia Invitationals, okay?”
Yu Yang said quietly: “Nothing to do with them, it’s because we are not good enough…”
“Nonsense, you’re already so much better than last month.” Lai Hua said lowly, “Especially your solo, these few training matches were all ranked number one, and everything is improving solidly…”
Yu Yang stayed reasonable, “But everyone usually cares more about the team match, in terms of the prize money and the main event of the tournaments.”
He Xiaoxu was really spooked at this point. He looked at Yu Yang and could not help but ask, “Okay give me a lowball, this year’s World Invitationals…what’s the best case scenario, what place can we come in?”
Lai Hua and Yu Yang did not say anything for a moment.
He Xiaoxu was getting antsy, and lowered his voice more, “I won’t tell anyone else anyway! What are you scared of?”
It was as if someone had shut Lai Hua’s mouth altogether. He turned around and went back downstairs without saying a word, which made He Xiaoxu even more panicked, then glanced at Yu Yang.
“We’ve had training matches with the North American teams lately, and with the Japanese and Korean teams. Their level of playing is mostly clear to us now.” Yu Yang paused for a second. “But this isn’t the main thing now. The main thing is…there are only three spots for the Invitationals domestically, so the best case scenario right now is…”
He Xiaoxu stared at Yu Yang, breath held.
Yu Yang said: “Is that we can first secure the spot to go to the Invitationals.”
He Xiaoxu felt a headache coming in: “What you’re saying is, we might not even be able to qualify…”
“TGC is out of the question, as long as they don’t make big mistakes, then they definitely will be first.” Yu Yang analyzed one by one, “The Knights are not as strong as TGC, but they make up for it by being very consistent. Between us, it’s a 40/60 chance, we are 40.”
“FIRE is also very strong, it’s a 50/50 between us. As for the Lions…as long as we don’t make mistakes, we aren’t worried about them.” Yu Yang looked at He Xiaoxu, “We’re going to the qualifiers in two weeks, so our goal is to first secure the spot to the World Invitationals.”
“Let me be honest with you.” He Xiaoxu said weakly, “The sponsors for our streaming platforms…they keep on contacting me these days, asking this and that, I was worried that they would go too, so I’ve been bragging to them every day, about how you guys will definitely get this and that on the Worlds. If you guys can’t even beat them out domestically…”
Yu Yang knew that He Xiaoxu was stressed, so he hesitated and said, “I’ll do my best.”
He Xiaoxu looked back at him pitifully.
Yu Yang bit the bullet and gave his command to the troops, “We will definitely get the spot, so keep bragging.”
He Xiaoxu was getting more and more worried, suspecting that Yu Yang had spent too much time with Qi Zui and was now overconfident. He nervously confirmed again, “So I’ll just…brag out of nothing?”
“Brag.” Yu Yang closed his eyes, “Tell them I’m first in solo, tell them Simba can take on three people on his own, and that we can dominate over the foreign teams, we can win over the international power teams with our eyes closed, easy.”
He Xiaoxu was on pins and needles by now, “Did you catch something from Qi Zui? We’re in serious trouble, and you’re kinda making me believe what you’re saying…”
Yu Yang was blushing slightly, stuttering: “Don’t…don’t tell Captain that I told you to say that.”
He Xiaoxu was somewhere between laughing and crying, and got a hold of himself: “Okay, I’ll keep bragging to them.”
He Xiaoxu left after that, and Yu Yang went to continue training.
Qi Zui was their boss now, so they could not keep things about the sponsors from him. He had a sense of what happened by evening.
It was to be expected, so Qi Zui did not actually say anything, but in turn comforted He Xiaoxu a little.
He Xiaoxu had a big mouth, and did not have a sense of principles. He had just agreed to Yu Yang during the day that he would not tell Qi Zui, and in the evening, he repeated everything word for word to Qi Zui. After listening to Yu Yang’s series of big statements, Qi Zui was speechless: “Dream big, win big…”
“Shut up!” He Xiaoxu said, “Did you think that Yu Yang was just bragging? He was even more intent on training today!”
Qi Zui said noncommittally, “Don’t put too much stress on him, if he ends up getting health issues from overwork…”
“Knock on wood.” He Xiaoxu said angrily, “His health checkup came back just fine! No issues at all!”
Qi Zui said coldly: “Mental issues are also issues. Stop yapping at him all the time, if the sponsor’s gone, they’re gone. What’s the use in telling him?”
He Xiaoxu felt guilty himself, “I…I was just looking for someone to discuss things with.”
Qi Zui did not respond and hung up.
That night, Yu Yang started streaming early.
If Yu Yang started streaming, it meant that the training matches were over, and he was starting his own personal practice session.
Qi Zui sent a few messages to Yu Yang.
Drunk: No resting at all? You just finished, and now you’re streaming.
Youth: Just there for the hours, and…also to earn some money from gifts.
Drunk: Even if the sponsor has left, we are not struggling to this point, are we?
Youth: You know?
Youth: Can’t hurt to save a bit more.
Youth: I’ll work hard earning money and playing tournaments, so don’t feel pressured.
Qi Zui’s heart melted.
Qi Zui did not say much else. He opened his laptop and gave Yu Yang a call, which was quickly picked up.
Qi Zui watched him solo queue quietly, barely speaking unless Yu Yang was really having trouble—he would pipe up and give Yu Yang some pointers then.
Every time this happened, the stream chat would explode for a few minutes.
Yu Yang took training very seriously, so would not talk much, and Qi Zui naturally did not disturb him too much.
Until someone unwelcome appeared in the stream.
[System Announcement: Mod Knight-Flower has entered the stream.]
Qi Zui squinted…it was Sunday, so Hua Luo was probably here to schedule the practice matches for next week.
Just as he thought, a VIP chat message appeared—
[Knight-Flower: Youth, let’s schedule some practice matches for next week?]
Yu Yang did not see the message while in-game, and Qi Zui pretended he did not see either and did not tell him. Yu Yang finally saw it after a while, and he exited the game window and said: “Not free on Thursday and Saturday, but any other time should be okay.”
[Knight-Flower: What about solo queue? Is it cool if we queue in together?]
Before Yu Yang could politely decline, Qi Zui said coldly: “No.”
Hua Luo was startled.
[Knight-Flower: Whose voice is this?! Qi Zui?]
[Knight-Flower: What’s going on? Aren’t you out doing something? What’s wrong with you?]
[Knight-Flower: Youth hasn’t even said no yet, what are you yapping for? I am talking to the current Captain, so can retired players stay out of it?]
Qi Zui closed his eyes, then took a deep breath…he did not mean to start things; this was all Hua Luo’s fault.
Qi Zui adjusted his headset, then said suddenly: “Thank you to Knight-Flower for gifting ten Meteor Showers, Hua-ge is so cool, so generous. Come, everyone, let’s all put our thanks into the chat.”
The fans were confused, but whatever Qi Zui says goes, so they all started spamming: “Thank you Hua-ge, Hua-ge is so generous, Hua-ge is the best.”
Hua Luo: “…”
There weren’t any gifts to begin with, and now he had been thanked.
The thank you messages covered the entire screen, and with everyone watching, Hua Luo could not let himself get embarrassed like that…
Hua Luo gritted his teeth and gifted ten Meteor Showers even though it pained him. They were 1000 yuan each, and after the tenth one, Hua Luo was starting to feel the pain in his body. Before Qi Zui could thank him again for something else, Hua Luo cursed and left the stream once he was done.
Yu Yang was focused on the game and did not realize what was going on. After coming out to see the chat, he was dumbfounded. He had been worried about money to his wit’s end these days, so was of course happy once he saw the gifts, but was still rather confused: “It’s just scheduling some practice matches…what are the gifts for?”
“Who knows.” Qi Zui did not have a conscience, and followed suit with a fake sigh, “My Hua-ge loves his fanfare…he couldn’t come empty handed and had to give some gifts.”
In the first-tier PUBG team chat, Hua Luo went and told each captain separately, still fuming, to be careful and message Youth privately if they wanted to schedule practice matches with HOG—do not, for the love of god, go to Youth’s stream.
Hua Luo did so out of the goodness of his heart, but it could not be helped that these people had been ripping each other off for a long time, so they had no trust to speak of between each other. No one would think to go to Yu Yang’s stream if Hua Luo didn’t say anything, but now that he said—
Three minutes later, Ye Huo gifted 3000 yuan’s worth of presents in Yu Yang’s stream while holding back tears.
Five minutes later, the Lions’ Captain was swindled out of 1000 yuan’s worth of presents.
Ten minutes later, Zhou Feng wordlessly threw 10,000 yuan’s worth of presents in Yu Yang’s stream, then left the stream without a word…
Curiosity killed the cats. In one evening, Yu Yang, dazed and confused, came into some money.