He Xiaoxu was unable to convince nor boss around either of them, and had no other choice but to go downstairs and tell Lai Hua after fuming silently.
Lai Hua went silent for a long moment, then went upstairs to look for Yu Yang.
Yu Yang was in the middle of a practice match, and Lai Hua waited for him to finish a round before calling him out.
On the balcony on the third floor, the two both held a lit cigarette in between their lips, unspeaking.
Yu Yang never left ashes in the potted plant, instead bringing a single-use paper cup out every time he came out here. Lai Hua watched him hold the little paper cup, flicking ashes off slowly, and did not know what to say all of a sudden.
“You’re the only one who could maybe convince him. It’s fine if you don’t, but you’re actually enabling him?” Lai Hua’s brows furrowed into a crinkled mess, “You’ve lost your mind as well? Can’t you tell that we’re doing this for his own good?”
Yu Yang nodded softly, “I know. The captain’s parents were acting for his own good as well, back then.”
Hearing that, Lai Hua’s forehead went red immediately, about to explode with fury.
But Yu Yang did not actually fear Lai Hua’s anger.
Yu Yang looked at Lai Hua in the eye, “If Captain listened to them back then, then we wouldn’t be here today.”
“I can’t imagine what kind of life they live, people like the Captain and his family. But if he was to not go into professional e-sports, whatever he did…he would probably have an easier time than he does now, right?” Yu Yang looked at Lai Hua, “He was the one who said no to all that.”
Lai Hua had nothing to say, suddenly at a loss for words.
“I guessed this was what he was thinking when he was intent on going into surgery.” Yu Yang took a deep breath, “Don’t hold him back in the name of his own good…if he wants to play, then I won’t try to stop him.”
Lai Hua smoked his cigarette without a word.
After a long moment, he finally said muffedly: “And what if he really sucks now?”
“Then he won’t be put into the match. Let him try out practice matches first.” Yu Yang replied. “And not as a backup player…we can just say, he is here just to help out when the team needs it. There is a big hole in the team, with people retiring and no one to fill their spot, so it’s not his fault.”
Lai Hua did not say anything again for a long moment.
Being unsatisfied with how things ended—those feelings he understood first hand, but were also the most unacceptable for him.
“We’ll try it then, otherwise he won’t forget about it.” Lai Hua’s emotions were in turmoil, and spoke impassively, looking at Yu Yang, “His wound just healed, and it’s not completely recovered yet. You’re pretty heartless to let him do that.”
Lai Hua went to continue watching over the trainees downstairs, and Yu Yang was left standing on the balcony, putting another cigarette between his lips.
There was a slight breeze on the terrace. Yu Yang lowered his gaze, protecting his cigarette from the wind, lit up the end, and took in a deep drag.
“It hurts me more than you can imagine…”
And so, it was decided that they will see once and for all through the practice match.
“Will you really be okay?”
Yu Yang, who was infallibly firm in front of He Xiaoxu and Lai Hua, was even more nervous than Qi Zui himself when it was just the two of them. He looked at Qi Zui’s right wrist with a frown, “I feel like this scar is still kind of fresh…”
“It’s just how scars are, it’ll be like this for the next few months too.” Qi Zui put his bandages back on, “It’s true that it’s not completely recovered, but three practice matches is no problem…there are only three rounds anyway, right?”
Yu Yang nodded: “About a half hour each…and there’s eight days left.”
“That’s enough time.” Qi Zui rolled his sleeve back down, “It won’t even be two hours, no problem.”
“But…” Yu Yang was still worried, “It’s been a while since you trained, so it’s hard to say…are you going to start training again these days?”
“No.” Qi Zui would never take his own health matters lightly, “Not yet, we’ll have to wait for the muscles to recover.”
Yu Yang frowned slightly.
“It’s already been three months, it’ll be no difference if I rest for another few days.” Qi Zui said, shrugging, “And also, Captain Yu went pretty easy on me already, he didn’t demand that I have to rank first, so it’s not that bad.”
Yu Yang was sheepish. He was all confident in front of He Xiaoxu and them, but he actually did not have a clue inside. He knew how much Qi Zui wanted to play, so he changed his words last minute and said that top three would be acceptable.
Even though that was already pretty hard.
Qi Zui reached up to adjust his clothes. His right hand was right next to the closet; Yu Yang was worried that he’d bump into it and reached out and hovered his hand next to Qi Zui’s right arm.
“Do you think that I’ll get in the top three?” Qi Zui pulled the hand that Yu Yang had hovering around him, then giving him a gentle pinch. He smiled, “Be honest.”
Yu Yang looked down, and after a moment, he said: “Not sure.”
Qi Zui laughed.
“Three months isn’t a long time, but it’s not a short while either. If I were to not train for three months, my skill level would go down drastically.” Yu Yang frowned, “But our situations are different. I’m still in my growth period, and you’ve been at your peak condition for a few years now, so I’m not sure if that will change things.”
Listening to Yu Yang matter-of-factly say that he was still growing, Qi Zui wanted to kiss him immediately.
“And also…” Yu Yang was unaware of the thoughts from the gutter filling Qi Zui’s mind right now and continues with his analysis, “I only know how many points it is to get the full score, but I don’t know how many points you have.”
Qi Zui did not understand, “What do you mean?”
“If the full score is a hundred points, then you were getting hundreds before retirement. But what if the full score is not a hundred?” Yu Yang looked up at Qi Zui, “All this time, I don’t know if one hundred points is your true score, or the ceiling that is boxing in your full score.”
Qi Zui held back his laughter, “God Yang, your praise is getting to my head.”
Yu Yang said awkwardly: “I’m serious…you were always first place before, so I don’t even know where your limit is at. What if your limit is one hundred and twenty points? Then even if you’re not at your best, then you could probably still get the top three…”
Qi Zui laughed and said lowly: “I’ll try it out.”
Yu Yang nodded gently, but was still worried, “Your hand…”
“It doesn’t hurt anymore, really. I just need to wait now, there’s no use rushing it.” Qi Zui smiled, “I’ll have to go back for more check ups after the practice match, and then go into the next stage of rehab and exercises. I’ll probably be just out of the recovery period by the time Worlds start.“
“As long as it doesn’t hurt. No rush.”
Yu Yang gently raised up their clasped hands, then lowers his head and places a kiss onto Qi Zui’s right hand.
Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang with a faint smile.
Yu Yang was starting to blush under his gaze, but still went on and kissed his hand twice more.
Yu Yang didn’t like drinking water, so his lips were slightly dry. The soft lips brush against the back of Qi Zui’s hand, distracting Qi Zui with all kinds of other thoughts.
“How come you just refuse to drink enough water? What kind of problem is that?” Qi Zui pressed down on Yu Yang’s lips with his thumb, “No time to pee…what kind of reason is that?”
Yu Yang licked his lips once, “I just…don’t want to go.”
“You’re just spoiled.” Qi Zui let Yu Yang go, “One litre a day, no less.”
For small things like this, Yu Yang listened to whatever Qi Zui said and nodded: “Okay.”
Yu Yang started to walk out, but Qi Zui gently pushes him on the shoulder, pressing him against the closet.
The corners of Qi Zui’s lips started to lift, “Noticed your lips are still kind of dry…let me help you fix that.”
Before Yu Yang knew it, Qi Zui was holding him down with a kiss.
This was not the first time anymore, so Yu Yang was not as stiff as before. After Qi Zui calms him down with a hand brushing down his back, Yu Yang would even kiss him back of his own accord.
Qi Zui’s brows lifted, then he lifted his head on purpose.
He had the advantage of height here, so when he lifted his head, Yu Yang subconsciously holds onto his shoulders in order to kiss him.
Mischievously, Qi Zui leaned back little by little, making Yu Yang press closer and closer to him.
Qi Zui wrapped, Yu Yang who was now completely pressed against him, on his tiptoes, into his arms, “You seem eager today?”
Yu Yang’s cheeks were blushing slightly. He explained lowly: “You were moving away…”
“I did that on purpose.” In order to bully Yu Yang, Qi Zui was able to make up all kinds of excuses; he held Yu Yang’s chin gently, smiling teasingly, “You said before…that you want me to be your backup player?”
Yu Yang felt a little awkward, “I said it without thinking, mistakenly…”
“No mistake, I was just begging you to take me on as a backup player.” Qi Zui was completely shameless, nudging Yu Yang with his hips, “Do I have to go through the practice match? Can I get in through the back door?”
Yu Yang was furiously blushing by now, “I joined team one through the competition too, back then…”
“That’s because you were stupid.” Qi Zui was still salty over this, “You didn’t say a word to me the entire first month in the team. If you came and talked to me on day one, would you have to wait for that long?”
Yu Yang paused, “I thought about it…was scared you’d curse me out.”
Qi Zui scoffed: “Curse you out?”
Yu Yang looked down, “Was worried you’d call me a bitch…”
Qi Zui brought Yu Yang into a kiss again, unbelievably gently.
Qi Zui’s hand was still not recovered, so he was unable to attend training, but he followed Yu Yang’s schedule for the following week. When Yu Yang was training, he would watch livestreams, and he would help with analysis when Yu Yang was doing his match reviews. If there wasn’t anything he could participate in, Qi Zui would look at his own match recordings, watching it for ours on end without any expression on his face, so focused it was scary.
He Xiaoxu was completely uneasy, and whispered to Lai Hua: “Is there any help in watching like that?”
“There is.” Even though he didn’t want to admit it, Lai Hua still reluctantly nodded, “It does make a difference for him. He has been playing for so long, so he would be able to pick things back up faster than others…since that is more like his normal state.”
He Xiaoxu was a mix of relief and worry, “Even so…he wouldn’t be able to get into the top three, right?”
Qi Zui’s situation was too unique for Lai Hua to be sure. He said stiffly: “Who knows, if he just manages to place third…it could happen.”
He Xiaoxu sighed.
Time flew by, and the eight days flashed by.
Before the solo matches start, Yu Yang gave Qi Zui his own account password.
“We agreed already that even if you’re in the top three, you’d be here to help out every now and then. It wouldn’t count as coming back officially, so…” Yu Yang mumbled, “So just use my account for now, don’t use your Drunk main account…would be a hassle if there were any misunderstandings.”
Qi Zui’s lips curved into a smile: “No, you’re just worried that I’ll be such garbage that people will laugh at me.”
Indeed, Yu Yang could not bear other people slandering Qi Zui. But once Qi Zui said it outright, he felt a little awkward. He struggled to explain: “No…I just didn’t want to play today. Use my account.”
“Okay.” Qi Zui said agreeably, “Just as well, I’ve never played with your account before.
Qi Zui turned on the computer, logging into Yu Yang’s account with his password, and put on his headphones. One hour before competition, he entered the customized server to warm up.
Qi Zui picked up a random gun, putting it on auto fire. Choosing a target, he fired off an entire clip of bullets, all steadily landing on the center of the target.
He moved his wrist gently—not bad.
Qi Zui wasn’t picky with his guns, familiarizing with different types one after the other…no one will know what kind of gun they will get later, so there Qi Zui did not have the right to choose, he would be fine as long as he got a gun.
“Any problems?” Bu Nana was more nervous than even He Xiaoxu. He looked at QI Zui from afar, tsking, “Solo match, no teammates, everyone will be an enemy, and he hasn’t played in so long…what if I completely annihilate him later? If I destroy the boss in came, would I still be able to live in the team?”
“Who knows if you’ll even run into each other.” Lao Kai swallowed, “I saw the list of participants earlier, the entire first and second team of TGC will be there, and four people from Knight, and the Wolves and Lioness teams are there too…I’m a little stressed.”
“I-I-I…” Simba stuttered, “I really want God Qi to win, I can move aside at any moment, as long as I can still be a part of HOG, I’d be happy sweeping the floors. B-b-but…is this really okay? I really can’t accept it if he ranks low, I think I might lose it first.”
Lao Kai said awkwardly: “I’m suddenly envious of Youth…if Qi Zui uses his account, then he won’t have to play.”
“I will definitely do my best.” Simba was on the verge of tears, “But I still hope God Qi will be in the top three.”
“Who knows?” Lao Kai consoled Simba, “There were players before who were on break for a year and still came back to play matches, you never know.”
“Yes yes yes.” Simba nodded hastily, “All roads lead to Rome, everyone’s journey is different…it’s fine as long as they arrive.”
Qi Zui only had one headphone on, but did not turn on the in-game sounds, so he catches every single word of the team one members’ whispering.
“All roads lead to Rome…” Qi Zui repeated Simba’s words to himself, then smiled, “Nah, I was born in Rome.”
An hour later, the solo practice match began.
Qi Zui finishes warming up and enters the practice server with Yu Yang’s account.
In the first match, Qi Zui got five kills, ranked fifth, and his total score ranking was in fourth.
Lai Hua was originally using the general observer viewpoint to watch the match, but after the first round, he was on his feet, staring at the screen in disbelief, nervously calculating the points between Qi Zui and Zhou Feng, who was currently in third place.
He Xiaoxu was gaping as well, glancing at Yu Yang and also rising to his feet, crowding around Lai Hua’s monitor.
Yu Yang’s heart raced, faster and faster. He clenched his fingers, not speaking a word.
Round two, Qi Zui made five kills and came in first, and his overall score flew up to second place.
Round three, Qi Zui made seven kills, and his overall score jumped to first place.
After the scores for the three rounds came out, the entire HOG team stood frozen to the spot in front of their computers.
Qi Zui took his headphones off.
Qi Zui looked at Bu Nana and everyone, then smiled: “I heard you guys thought you could destroy me?”