HOG just barely managed to get their hands on the Worlds spot, and He Xiaoxu can finally relax…and reassure the sponsors confidently.
The fans were well aware of the things that are going on with HOG these days, so it is already a feat for them to qualify. The fans stayed very positive, happily liking and commenting on the four team members’ Weibo posts. The die-hard fans could finally book their tickets to the Worlds without worry; everything was peaceful, on Weibo and in the major fan group chats.
In comparison, some of the posts and comments on the forums were not as peaceful.
[I just don’t understand, what’s the point in barely managing to qualify? Might as well let FIRE qualify, they’d definitely be better than HOG at Worlds.]
[HOG qualified out of pure luck, right? The last safety circle was a good one for them, otherwise how would they be able to catch up in scores?]
[I’m impressed truly, so is that Simba from HOG going to embarrass himself internationally now? He makes me the most speechless, it’s always him that dies first.]
[It’s us who are impressed with you haters, okay? Do you really not know why Simba always dies first, or are you just blinding hating at this point? Youth arranged so that Simba is in the front to scout, who’s going to die if not him?]
[Is this really something to fight about? Qi Zui had this strategy before too, y’all were hating on Lao Kai before, and now it’s Simba. So there is always someone for you to make fun of, right?]
[But at least God Qi didn’t let his team fall to the point of fighting to qualify. They almost lost the qualifying spot, too, and the brain-dead fans are still being happy for them. What’s there to be happy for?]
On the way back to the base, Simba lowered his head while scrolling through the forums, saying not a word.
Lao Kai was worried that he would be having a hard time and was just about to share some of his own tips and tricks on being the scapegoat when Simba let out a relieved sigh on his own.
“Good, good, they’re only hating on me this time, no one’s attacking my parents and my little brother.” Simba put his phone away, scratching his head and smiling ruefully, “I told my little brother already to not tell people at school that I’m his big brother, but he won’t listen and keep telling his friends…”
Bu Nana had a little sister, so hearing this, he also sighed, reaching out to pet at Simba’s head.
Lao Kai was the go-to scapegoat for the time so has experience from being hated on now. He could not stop himself from sharing his tips and tricks, but Lai Hua had had enough and gave them both a whack on the head, scolding: “Is it too much to ask for some fighting spirit?”
Simba was uneasy: “You mean, training hard so that I’m not the scapegoat anymore? But I’m already doin gmy best, I…”
“No, not that.” He Xiaoxu said scathingly, “Having a fighting spirit means that you have to curse back at them! What’s the use in just letting them curse you out? I’ll send a few side accounts into the chat, if you’re not doing well mentally then log in there and fight it out in the forums, curse them out with the worst!”
Bu Nana’s eyes lit up, “Let’s go, let’s go, this is what I’m talking about…”
Lai Hua had completely ran out of the energy to get mad and did not try reining them in anymore. He looked at Yu Yang, “What’s up? You’re looking at the forums too?”
“No.” Yu Yang looked down at his phone, “I’m sending messages to Captain…”
“He called me when you guys were playing.” Lai Hua reassured, “He said that he won’t be able to use his phone until around eleven, why don’t you wait another hour before contacting him?”
“Mmhm, I know.”
Yu Yang did not even look up from his phone and kept typing out messages to Qi Zui.
Qi Zui would see them eventually, anyway.
“We said already before the competition that it’s done once the competition finishes. No feeling conflicted, no matter what other people say, the truth is that we qualified. All we have to do is train hard from now on.” He Xiaoxu was creating more burner accounts to fight with the people on the forums while also giving everyone a debrief, “It’s not over now that we qualified. There’s a month to go, so train hard and don’t let your guard down before the competition. We don’t have much time and a lot to do, so we won’t do a celebration this time once we’re back, okay? So that the fans won’t come after me for wasting your time if they see. I’ll buy dinner tonight, 20 pounds of crawfish, how’s that?”
Naturally, everyone agreed.
He Xiaoxu looked at Yu Yang: “Any word from Qi Zui?”
Yu Yang shook his head.
“Ai, relax. It’s a small surgery, it’s definitely fine.” He Xiaoxu smiled, “Get yourself together, and you’ll be able to see him in a month.”
“I understand.” Yu Yang put away his phone, expression the same as always, “We’ll train as usual tonight, no worries.”
He Xiaoxu felt a little bad for them, and said: “How about resting for a day? You were in competition all day…”
Yu Yang did not even need to think on it: “No need.”
He Xiaoxu had no other option but letting Yu Yang go ahead.
Once they get home, everyone unpacked their things while waiting for takeout to arrive. Yu Yang took a shower, and immediately checked his phone again after finishing–still no word.
Yu Yang frowned slightly. It is almost eleven, and Qi Zui had said on their phone call before that he shouldn’t take this long.
Yu Yang wanted to call QI Zui, but was worried that it would interrupt him. He held back on it and sent another two messages.
Not long after, He Xiaoxu called to tell him to go downstairs for dinner. Yu Yang brought the phone downstairs with him.
At the same time, in the hospital room where Qi Zui is, a few doctors and a rehabilitation specialist were still going over some important things to know, and then reminded the nurse who was in charge of taking care of him to get Qi Zui to move his right hand around as much as he can, even if it hurts. It was starting to hurt already now that the anaesthesia on his right hand was starting to wear off. Qi Zui nodded, then asked the nurse for his phone once the doctors leave.
The nurse was still a little worried and tried to convince Qi Zui to rest longer. Qi Zui smiled: “Relax, I won’t use my right hand. It’s just that my boyfriend is waiting for me to contact him.”
The nurse glanced at Qi Zui, surprised, then smiled apologetically and handed him his phone.
Qi Zui took his phone and saw there were hundreds of unread messages. He did not bother opening the others and read Yu Yang’s first.
The first message was about the competition results; they placed third, which was already quite a feat for them, and Qi Zui was very satisfied.
Qi Zui scrolled down quickly, reading Yu Yang’s other messages, until the last ones…
Youth: Are you still in surgery? Does it hurt?
Youth: It’s eleven already, you should be done? Or is it hard to use your phone?
Youth: Respond to me if you’re able and if you see this, don’t type anything. Even an emoticon is fine.
Qi Zui scrolled down more.
Youth: I really want to give you a call…but I’m worried you’re still busy so I stopped myself.
Youth: Send me an emoticon if you can. He Xiaoxu is calling me to go to dinner. I’ll bring th phone with me, so if you reply I’ll be able to see it right away.
Qi Zui’s heart melted.
QI Zui quickly gave Yu Yang a call.
The call was picked up in just two seconds.
“Hello?” Yu Yang sounded urgent, “It’s done?”
Because Qi Zui contacted him half an hour later than expected, Yu Yang wanted to ask but was also scared to. He said carefully after hesitating, “How….how did it go?”
Qi Zui looked down and smiled, “Really well.”
Yu Yang stammered: “R-really well? LIke, the surgery went really well?”
“Yeah, the doctor said that everything turned out better than expected.” QI Zui smiled, “Better than how they predicted before going in, and the surgery itself was very successful too. Nothing messy, and the scar is small, too, and not much blood. The recovery process might be faster than expected too.”
Yu Yang was finally grounded again after being so high-strung, repeating: “That’s good, that’s good. Then…does it hurt?”
The anaesthesia was slowly wewaring off, and Qi Zui’s hand started to hurt more and more. He said: “It’s alright. I don’t really feel anything right now.”
Yu Yang was still worried: “It’ll probably start hurting later. Did you take any painkillers ahead of time?”
“I’ll take some later…” Qi Zui said softly, “You’ve fought well, at the competition.”
Yu Yang felt guilty for some reason, “We didn’t do that well…we almost…”
“I only care about the results, which are pretty good.” Qi Zui laughed, and said on purpose, “What will we do now? Now that you’ve qualified, you have train more ahead of the competition now, so you can’t come see me.”
“Wait another month.” Yu Yang paused, then asked softly, “Are we still video calling today?”
Qi Zui didn’t want Yu Yang to see his hand wrapped up in bandages, and laughed: “Nah, I have to stay at the hospital these few days, and they might not allow videos in the patient rooms.”
Yu Yang went silent on the other end, and said very, very quietly: “You don’t have to turn your video on…”
Qi Zui felt completely disarmed as his heart melts even more. He glanced at the nurse who was still standing to the side, and took advantage of the fact that they didn’t understand Chinese. He said lowly: “I am discovering that you really don’t have any sense of danger…you’re not worried at all about me recording you?”
Yu Yang did not say anything.
After a moment, Yu Yang said quietly: “If you record me, then I’ll…”
“Hm?” Qi Zui smiled. He was rather curious about what Yu Yang could come up with as a threat to him, “You’ll what?”
“I’ll…I won’t be able to break up with you then?”
Qi Zui did not understand right away, and frowned: “What break up?”
Yu Yang felt too shy to keep going.
Qi Zui laughed exasperatedly: “What nonsense are you going on about? What break up?”
Yu Yang had already walked out of the base’s front doors. He squats next to the flowers and greenery outside, a piece of grass in his mouth. He muttered vaguely, looking down: “If you have my nudes and videos…if I break up with you, then it’ll be dangerous for me.”
Qi Zui drew in a deep breath…he really wants to pull off the IV drip and go back home right away.
“You’ve got it backwards, no?” Qi Zui clenched his teeth, “You’re handing blackmail content to me on a silver platter, and now you want to tie me to you forever?”
Yu Yang did not respond again.
“Not today, but in a few days.” Qi Zui reassured him gently, “Wait till I’m out of the hospital, okay?”
Yu Yang had always been very agreeable to whatever Qi Zui said, and naturally agrees. They call for another while before finally hanging up.
Qi Zui ran a hand over his phone, letting out a small sigh.
He missed Yu Yang so much.
The nurse came and gave Qi Zui the painkillers, which Qi Zui took. The nurse smiled and asked Qi Zui if his boyfriend was upset.
“No.” Qi Zui laughed once, “I just miss him…there’s a big mess back there and it’s all his to deal with.”
The nurse did not completely understand but still nodded empathetically and reassured Qi Zui that as long as he cooperated with the treatment plan, he would be able to go back and see his boyfriend soon.
Qi Zui laughed to himself–however soon he is able to go back, it will still be too late to be there for when Yu Yang had it hardest.
The young nurse shook her head, then reassures Qi Zui a bit more. Qi Zui sighed and said in English: “Nevermind…do you have any staff workers who are not on duty right now? Anyone with nothing to do? Who else is in charge of me other than you?”
The nurse nodded and hurriedly went and got a few others to come over.
“There are some things that I’ve always wanted to say…” Qi Zui adjusted his backrest, stretching out his long legs and making himself more comfortable. He said slowly, “But I never got a chance, and no one wanted to hear…you guys might know my profession, but not as much about my workplace…my teammates, and my opponents…are all not very friendly, and no one wants to listen to this kind of thing, no one at all…”
“I, of course, could only bury these things deep in my heart.” Qi Zui said faintly, “Perhaps this is what it means to be a man…he cannot say anything, but yet every now and then I have the urge to confess to others…”
“But the e-sports industry…is very cutthroat and high-stress. Nobody is willing to slow down and listen to this kind of thing.”
Qi Zui placed extra stress on the “nobody”, and continued: “Not only this, but my manager is an idiot…sorry no, my manager, that person, is keeping tabs on me day in and day out, and doesn’t let me talk about these things with others. So I can only find opportunities to share a few things here and there…”
“And after doing so, he would scold me.”
One of the older nurses was already getting red in his eyes, rushing in to console Qi Zui, saying that he was willing to be his most loyal listener.
Qi Zui looked at him meaningfully, and contnued slowly: “That would be great…”
“Where should I start…” Qi Zui glanced at his phone and decided that it would make the most sense to start with a flashback. “Look at this phone here…those who don’t know, might think that this is just the newest white phone with the most storage, but actually, behind it, there is a love story…”
God Qi, who had been repressed for too long back home, finally finds his audience in a foreign country.