After three days, all the 57 or so staff members working at the hospital where Qi Zui stayed knew about Drunk Qi’s convoluted yet romantic love story.
Of course, not every staff member had time to listen to Qi Zui blab on, so when no one was available to listen to him, Qi Zui would find some of his fellow patients to chat with. It was okay if the other did not understand Mandarin–Qi Zui respected and accommodated all languages. If there was just one regret, it was that Qi Zui was not as strong with his Japanese as compared to other languages–otherwise, the Japanese pianist next door to Qi Zui’s room might not have been spared from it all. Qi Zui was even willing to try and learn some Japanese, but the other was discharged after just two days, so the timing did not work out.
“If he knew, then he might even write a song for me once he goes back to Japan…” Qi Zui regretted, “Art imitates life after all…”
At this point, the nurse lady was at the point of even knowing that Yu Yang didn’t like to drink water because he didn’t like making trips to the bathroom. After changing Qi Zui’s bandages all the time, nothing surprised her anymore. On the other hand, there was a male nurse that never got tired of the stories, face full of envy: “Your boyfriend is so lucky to be this adored by you.”
“It’s me who is lucky…”
Qi Zui sucked in a breath from the pain. The wound on his hand had not healed completely, but in order to keep the muscle groups from sticking together, Qi Zui had already started rehab exercises the day after the surgery. He moved his wrist according to the nurses’ instructions, non stop, working up a sheen of sweat over his forehead not long after.
“Here…this is a photo of him.” Qi Zui looked up slightly so that it was easier for the nurse to wipe at his sweat. He took his phone out and unlocked it, flipping to the photo album quickly and handing it to the nurse, “This is him in competition.”
The nurse took the phone from him, surprised, “So young? So handsome…”
“Asians do look young for their age, but he isn’t that old either…he just turned eighteen.” Qi Zui clenched his teeth, moving his wound around as the nurse instructed through the pain. “Ow…flip to the end.”
The nurse flipped through the album after getting confirmation, spending some time looking through Yu Yang’s straight-faced competition photos. After those, there were some candid photos from Yu Yang’s daily life.
The team would release photos of their players’ daily lives every few days on their official Weibo. As a seeded celebrity player, Yu Yang had his photos taken all the time by He Xiaoxu–training, eating, resting, scrolling on his phone–there was a selection of all kinds of photos, and Qi Zui had saved them all.
The nurse gave his sincere admiration: “So handsome….so cool…”
“He is pretty cool when he’s playing in a competition.” Qi Zui took his phone back, “But privately with me, he’s very easy going…he’s like a porcupine, he doesn’t seem easy to approach, but he’s actually quite soft.”
“I can’t imagine.” The nurse said enviously, “It seems like you guys have a really strong relationship.”
Qi Zui laughed. Through blabbing about Yu Yang, he finally made it through the morning rehab session. The nurse helped him clean the wound again, then brought him the medications he needed to take with lunch.
Qi Zui asked when he could be discharged from the hospital, but the nurse did not have a sure answer, consoling him instead: “The surgery went really well, and the rehab is going well too. It should be soon that you’ll get discharged, but you’d still have to do daily rehab exercises.”
It was inconvenient to video call Yu Yang in the hospital, so Qi Zui had been wanting to move back to the hotel for a while. But there was no getting around the requirements for treatment, so he could only deal with it. Fortunately, Yu Yang had been doing intensive training these days, busy to the point of losing track of day and night. After that one time of asking to video call on the first day, he did not mention it again.
It was no easy feat qualifying, and in order to prepare for the Worlds Invitationals, the entire team was training and resting as one–they started training at 10 am on the dot every morning, leaving the computer at 3 am, with only an hour of lunch break in the middle. There wasn’t much time left for solo queueing either; as long as they were training, they were queueing together.
He Xiaoxu originally wanted to set an example for the team and also followed their schedule, but after a few days of accompanying their training, he was out of steam. He exclaimed, “I can’t go on like this, I’m tired, I’m dizzy and seeing spots in my eyes…I have to ask, are you all really okay? How come I have no energy at all during the day?”
Bu Nana tapped away on his keyboard, unphased. “There is no sleeping in e-sports.”
He Xiaoxu nervously touched under his eyes, “I think I already have under eye bags…none of you have this problem?”
Yu Yang, a contestant born in 1999, looked up and frowned at He Xiaoxu. “What are eye bags?”
He Xiaoxu looked at the entire team full of youthful faces with great animosity, grinding his teeth, “Nothing important…forget what I said. Anyway, remember to locate all your passports in your dorms tonight, we’re going to get our visas done tomorrow, don’t forget, okay? Don’t wake up tomorrow and tell me you can’t find the documents I need, it’ll be a waste of time.”
Lai Hua hesitated, then looked up: “What abou Qi Zui’s?”
Hearing the words “Qi Zui”, Yu Yang turned around immediately and took his headphones off.
“He probably can’t come back in time, right?” He Xiaoxu thought for a moment, “Even if he does, it’s fine. Doesn’t he have the B2 visa that’s good for 10 years? It’ll be fine as long as he can get into the country.”
Lai Hua looked down without a word, then after a long moment, he said. “Put aside an official invitation for him, then. Just in case he comes back, then we’ll put his commercial visa through.”
He Xiaoxu spluttered, “What’s the point of that? It’s such a hassle, I…”
“Just do it.” Lai Hua’s expression did not look natural, “He has a tourism visa, but when he’s with the team, it’ll be all unofficial, can’t have that.”
He Xiaoxu was speechless, but Lai Hua was particular about things like this, and would not budge once he got stubborn.
He Xiaoxu actually knew what Lai Hua was conflicted over.
Once team one qualified, the competition organizers would give each player and accompanying staff member an official invitation document, so that when team one applied for a visa, there would be an official reason and there wouldn’t be any issues with pushing the paperwork through.
And they were officially invited by the official competition organisers to go play.
On the Worlds stage in one month–or to be precise, 35 days–Qi Zui would definitely be present. But due to not having an invitation letter, Qi Zui could only count as a…fan.
He would not even be counted as accompanying a team member.
Lai Hua could not stand that kind of thing.
He Xiaoxu had no luck persuading Lai Hua so he could only send another email to the organisers, asking for another invitation letter for Qi Zui as a coach.
Yu Yang did not understand what they were talking about, but counted the days to himself…there were 35 days left.
Another 35 days, and they would be able to meet again.
Yu Yang put on his headphones again, continuing with training.
But deep down, he started to think about Qi Zui again.
It had been almost 10 days since Qi Zui’s surgery.
In the week immediately following the surgery, they video called only once, and Qi Zui did not show his hand the entire time.
It was not until Qi Zui had his stitches out and switched to lighter bandages that he finally started to contact Yu Yang as normal.
But Yu Yang was on a rigorous training schedule; during normal training time, Lai Hua did not allow them to even touch their phones. Yu Yang did not have solo queue time as a break anymore; as long as they were in training, they were as high-strung as they would be in competition. Now that calling Qi Zui while also playing matches was out of the question, the opportunities for Yu Yang to contact Qi Zui could be counted on one hand.
Yu Yang was missing Qi Zui like crazy.
Especially when training did not go well.
In yesterday’s training match with one of the royalty teams from the States, they were absolutely wrecked to no one’s surprise, and Simba almost broke down mentally. As captain, Yu Yang did the debrief and recap alone in order to give the others some time to gather their emotions.
And after his review of the footage, Yu Yang’s own mentality almost collapsed.
In order to avoid bringing his negative emotions to the others, Yu Yang stood on the rooftop and smoked a few cigarettes, coming up with multiple strategies…
Wearing Qi Zui’s team jacket, Yu Yang started a quick stream.
After reading the fans’ endless spamming in the chat supporting both him and Qi Zui, Yu Yang’s mood quickly recovered.
Of course, this was something that He Xiaoxu would yell at him for afterwards; Yu Yang was starting to have wifey fans nowadays, and in the previous months’ merch sales, Yu Yang’s merch almost surpassed Bu Nana’s sales for the first time, jumping to the second most popular in the team.
Qi Zui’s fans were shockingly supportive of sales, and there was no competing with him, but it really was a feat to surpass Bu Nana, another celebrity player. And the cherry on top was that Yu Yang was still young, so it was a given that he would have much more wifey fans in the coming years. He Xiaoxu had been thinking about getting Yu Yang to do separate video messages to his fans even, only for Yu Yang to suddenly show off Qi Zui without a warning.
He Xiaoxu was so angry, he abandoned his lunch and came up to scold Yu Yang, frustrated, “Are you just that scared that your wifey fans don’t know you have a hubby, huh? Huh?! Do you not see that all your wifey fans are crying right now?!!!”
Yu Yang was hunched over, shovelling food into his mouth, and awkwardly corrected, “He’s my boyfriend…”
“Is there a difference?!” He Xiaoxu was getting a headache all because of Yu Yang, “How satanic, what kind of curse have I gotten under…I’m begging you, okay? Do you not know that our merch store gives you separate commissions off your solo merch? If you sell more then you earn more, are you dumb?!”
Of course Yu Yang was willing to earn more money for Qi Zui, but he was too embarrassed to say that, so he continued with his food shovelling.
“Damn, impressive.” Bu Nana finished his lunch and was now patting at his belly, tsking, “Our God Yang is not even twenty, and he has wifey fans already? Seriously, I really want to experience getting surrounded by a bunch of girlfriend fans who are yelling to get married…if not just once…”
“Youth is more and more like Captain these days, so it’s normal that he’s starting to get wifey fans.” Lao Kai sighed, “But speaking of, why are we copying what they do over in celebrity circles? In e-sports, you talk with your skills, can we not leave some means of survival for those of us who don’t have the looks?”
Simba swallowed his last mouthful of food, and said sincerely, “Kai-ge…even if we had the skills, it’s still God Yang who’s the strongest, there’s still nothing wrong with it.”
Lao Kai felt like he was about to spit out some blood and tidied up his takeout containers. He said quietly, “I’m a noob and ugly, it’s all my fault…I’m going to train now…”
“Wait.” He Xiaoxu took a deep breath, “We’ll end training at 10 pm today, remember, don’t schedule too many late night training matches.”
Yu Yang looked up. “Why?”
“Is there an event?” Lai Hua looked over at this as well, expression unhappy, “Didn’t I tell you already? Refuse all commercial events this month? You…”
“It’s a private event, shut up.” He Xiaoxu was expressionless, “Wrap up training a few hours early, and we’ll celebrate your 30th birthday.”
Lai Hua blanked.
Bu Nana hurriedly took out his phone and glanced at the time, then was startled. “Holy, Captain Lai, it’s really your birthday today!”
Normally when a teammate had a birthday, they would all go out to eat, and everyone would prepare some kind of present for them. But because they’ve been wrapped up in one thing after another these days, with big ups and downs, and now with the Worlds Invitationals–they could barely tell daytime from nighttime, with the Invitationals date as the only date that anyone remembered–no one could tell you what day it was anymore.
Lao Kai said awkwardly, “I completely forgot, I didn’t prepare anything…”
“I knew you guys would forget.” He Xiaoxu sighed, “But all things said, it’s still a whole number birthday, so we’ll just take up a few hours of your time, okay? We won’t go out either, I’ll buy dinner. We can do a celebration at the base and have a few drinks, and everyone goes to bed at midnight. Think of it as a vacation, no refusing, okay? Everyone’s tired enough these days, take a break today.”
Everyone naturally agreed. Lai Hua was a little embarrassed and said hesitantly, “I even forgot myself, you…”
“Don’t apologise.” He Xiaoxu glanced at Lai Hua coldly but proudly, “I refuse it.”
Lai Hua had nothing else to say, and could only add, “Then why don’t I buy dinner.”
He Xiaoxu was satisfied and looked at Yu Yang. They were sacrificing quite a few hours of training time all of a sudden, and would need the Captain’s approval.
Yu Yang nodded.
Yu Yang picked up his phone to message Qi Zui, telling him of Lai Hua’s birthday and that he might go to bed early today. Qi Zui was probably still sleeping and did not reply.
In the evening, after everyone turned off their computers at 10 pm, they gathered in the lounge room, eating all kinds of takeout and having a few drinks.
Lai Hua did not have a high alcohol tolerance, getting chatty after just a few glasses. He started to recount all kinds of ancient and mundane events, blabbing on and on, one by one.
“When Qi Zui first joined the team, he didn’t care for the food, thought the base was too small, complained that there wasn’t a housekeeper auntie…he didn’t even know how to do his own laundry! It was I who did it all for him!”
“But at least when Bu Nana came in, Bu Nana became in charge of the laundry…”
Bu Nana nibbled on his skewers angrily, “I was about as old as God Yang back then! I was also a young master back home! I didn’t even get to play matches at the base, and I still had to do your laundry!”
“What are you going on about, isn’t it just throwing it in the laundry machine…also we moved bases just half a year since you joined, and we hired a bunch of aunties…”
“Qi Zui is so fussy!” Lai Hua was getting angrier the more he thought about it, “When he first came to the team, we were in the same dorm. He was just here for a month!!! A month!!! And his luggage filled up the entire dorm, there were so many clothes, countless shoes…all thrown out by his mom, there was no room for it all in the dorm! And he wasn’t even that old back then, where did he even get all those clothes from…”
He Xiaoxu said calmly, “I heard from the manager at the time that he really wanted to list Qi Zui’s clothes and shoes on second-hand designer clothes websites to sell…the profits would support the team.”
“He didn’t just think about it, he really did sell some.” Lai Hua took another sip, recalling, “There was a really hard time when we didn’t have any money, so we took Qi Zui’s trench coats and stuff that were worth tens of thousands…we listed it as three thousand yuan online, and got people asking if it was a dupe, sigh, forget about it…”
Bu Nana was very wistful, “Why didn’t I know you guys then? If I knew I’d get in on it for sure…Hermes men’s bags for two, three thousand, I’d buy it even if I had to pawn everything…”
Lai Hua held onto Bu Nana’s hand, looking all tragic, and the two of them started to mourn after the clothes in a daze. He Xiaoxu joined the team around the same time as Lao Kai, and they also started to complain about their troubles back then, hand in hand.
Yu Yang sat alone to the side, eating barbeque skewers without a word.
He was the latest to join the team, and did not experience much yet. Everyone’s reminiscing, good and bad, did not have much to do with him.
Yu Yang listened quietly–as long as it had to do with Qi Zui, he wanted to hear it all.
Yu Yang also glanced down at his phone every now and then. Qi Zui still did not respond to his messages.
Yu Yang wiped his hands, and took a picture of the table laden with barbeque skewers, crawfish, and beers, sending it to Qi Zui.
“The days got better after that, but the industry also shifted really fast, we almost couldn’t keep up…” Lai Hua was still mumbling on, “The entire industry seemed to change professions…it was more and more like the entertainment industries, people started having girlfriend fans, can you believe? A decade or so ago when I was playing competitions, we were just in the internet cafes, we didn’t even see a single woman!”
“Now that they had girlfriend fans, a lot of people started to lose hold of themselves, and there really were jerks that…that fucking slept with their fans!”
Lai Hua slammed the table angrily, “They were already looking down on us, and now we had that going on! The poor girls were doing perfectly fine and got involved with those people, ai…”
He Xiaoxu took a sip of beer, “Some of them were tricked into meeting up, and there were also fans who were more open…I remember…which year was it? Wasn’t there a fan who was trying to get with Qi Zui?”
Bu Nana burst out laughing, “During the matches back then, the organisers didn’t assign the best hotels…the bullshit hotel was just a small hostel really, and in the middle of the night, this girl who was completely infatuated with Qi Zui somehow got into Qi Zui’s room.”
Yu Yang looked up.
Lai Hua started to chuckle.
This got Simba’s attention, too. He asked excitedly, “And then, and then? What happened then?”
Lai Hua and Bu Nana fell over each other, laughing, but wouldn’t say anything no matter what they asked. They were starting to get stitches in their sides from laughing, almost knocking over the beers.
Yu Yang took another gulp of beer and looked at his phone…still no reply from Qi Zui.
Yu Yang downed the entire bottle of beer, messaging Qi Zui again.
Youth: Captain…have you taken advantage of your fans before?
He Xiaoxu was also curious and got annoyed by the two who were dragging things out and gave Bu Nana a kick, “Out with it!”
Bu Nana was pretty drunk by then, his chubby face completely red. He was starting to hiccup from laughing, “Your God Qi…I think he was just about nineteen then? Or just twenty? He didn’t really have experience either…Jeez, it’s the middle of the night and there’s suddenly another person in the room! Isn’t that a shock?”
“Qi Zui was all dazed and confused from sleep, and got alert right away…” Lai Hua took a sip of beer, choking a little and continued after a long moment, “He threw some clothes on and came to find me, telling me that there’s another person in his room. He thought that the team next door was planning to finish him off in the middle of the night. Hahahahaha I almost died…”
Simba was dying from laughter. “As if they hired a girl to go and ruin his hands in the middle of the night? Hahahahaha…”
“Qi Zui switched hotels that night.” Bu Nana was getting cramps from laughter, “Captain Lai and I sent the girl back to her school that night, and the girl was still asking where Qi Zui was when we were leaving.”
Simba could not recover from laughing and asked, “How could he think that it was someone there to finish him off?”
Lai Hua was done laughing and rubbed at his belly, saying slowly, “How could he not know? But he just didn’t say it straight out…if he made it a big deal, and it was in the papers, then how will the girl keep her head up later…they were all young, it was just a spur of the moment thing.”
Yu Yang blanked, with mixed feelings that he could not parse.
“Even if we didn’t do those things in our team, there were still girlfriend fans who would be suggestive, or send DMs, or try to contact you on the down low. We’d just ignore it…but Qi Zui really had bad luck!” Lai Hua wanted to start laughing again, “I actually suspect that it was because of him that we have a lot of girlfriend fans in the industry! It wasn’t just once that he had this happen to him! There was always someone sidling up to him, in the lounge rooms, in the car, at the base…There were people here waiting for him all the time, like little puppies trailing after him…”
He Xiaoxu sighed regretfully, “The only thing was that your God Qi didn’t care for women…”
“There were men too, a lot of people knew his sexual orientation.” Lai Hua laughed to himself, “Not as much, but they were there…but Qi Zui did not give them the time of day either.”
Yu Yang fiddled with his phone, looking down…Qi Zui still did not respond.
Lai Hua finished off another bottle of beer, moving on to nagging about Bu Nana’s history.
It had been a long time since they last fully relaxed, and everyone did not have it in them to stop once things got going. After midnight, they were still reluctant to wrap things up and go rest, so He Xiaoxu ended up ordering some more takeout and told Simba to grab more beers so that they could keep going.
Yu Yang did not stop them, listening quietly and glancing at his phone every now and then.
At 1 am, Yu Yang’s phone buzzed.
Yu Yang opened the notification right away…
Drunk: Come out for a second.
Yu Yang’s heart suddenly started to race.
Yu Yang was too scared to get his hopes up, taking a deep breath and a big gulp of beer. He got up and left the lounge room.
Everyone was getting pretty drunk by then, so no one asked where he was going. Yu Yang went downstairs quickly, pushing open the base’s front doors.
Yu Yang’s heart was beating so fast that he could not get a word out.
A suitcase was laid across the front doors, and Qi Zui raised a single brow, “So who was it that was starting rumours to you? Telling you that I sleep with fans?”
Yu Yang felt as if his heart would leap out of his throat if he said a single word. He worked hard to calm himself down, and shook his head furiously.
“But I guess they weren’t completely wrong.” Qi Zui pushed the suitcase aside, “I did want to sleep with one specific fan for a while, actually…”
Qi Zui, the one who refused to stay in the same room with any random fan, gently pushed Yu Yang to the wall. A leg pressed between Yu Yang’s knees, much like a hooligan. Qi Zui interrogated lazily, “What else did they say about me?”
Yu Yang took a deep breath. He only dared to believe that Qi Zui was really here when he gently held his arm in his hand. His voice was shaky, “They said…that you’d avoid getting involved…”
“Depends on the person .” Qi Zui lowered his head and pressed his lips gently against Yu Yang’s, “If it were you…never mind being welcome to it. If you were to avoid getting involved with me, I wouldn’t be able to allow it…”
Yu Yang wanted to say something else when his mouth was blocked by Qi Zui’s deep, dominant kiss.
Another 2 in 1 chapter~
Thanks for your support
Taking a bow