“Confirmed official HOG team one players for the World Invitationals: Youth, Banana, Kay, Simba.”
“Two coaches: Lai Hua, Qi Zui.” He Xiaoxu closed the roster document, “The accompanying team will also include myself and the counsellor, and a few supporting team members. Since we’re going to Florida, there won’t be any need to bring a translator. Those of you who aren’t good at English, just make sure to not go around alone. And the schedule is already confirmed, the competition format is already sent in the group chat, you can all check for yourselves.”
Yu Yang picked up his phone.
Lai Hua had already scrutinised every single word of the competition rules, so he gave them all a walkthrough: “No matter how you look at it, either at the competition cash prize or the schedule of events, the main focus at this competition is on the four-man team event.”
“The first day will be duos, five matches in total, and there will be five matches in the event as well, so it’s over in one day.”
“On Day 2 and Day 3, it’ll be the four-man team event. Ten matches in total, five matches per day, it’ll be over in two days.”
“Last day is the solo exhibition match, four matches in total, it’ll be over in one day.”
Bu Nana looked at the schedule of events and shook his head: “Another marathon of events.”
“It’s not that bad, they took out a lot of the duo and solo matches, so it’s a lot less stressful.” Lai Hua looked at Qi Zui, “For backup players, according to the team’s preliminary plans, you can rest the first day, and on the second day you can switch out with Simba potentially. Rest on the third and fourth day.”
The backup player listened quietly, then looked up and said: “I went and got cut open for this competition, and you’re telling me I can play for just one day? And ‘potentially’ at that?”
Lai Hua waved his hands: “Don’t try to get me to make an exception for you, we decided this after a lot of discussion and consideration, and Youth agreed on it too.”
Qi Zui looked at Yu Yang at that; Yu Yang looked down on his phone and did not dispute it.
Qi Zui was a trump card, but no one could know how exactly their trump card would recover by the time of the competition, so on one hand, the team could not put their chances for winning on such an unknown element, and on the other hand, they could not exploit Qi Zui’s own health like that. After some of the higher-ups discussed it, they decided that Qi Zui will only participate in the most important team event for the first five matches.
“These ‘higher ups’…” Qi Zui said coldly, “Do not include me?”
He Xiaoxu coughed awkwardly, “Weren’t you busy? We just…didn’t tell you.”
“Busy my ass.” Qi Zui looked down at the schedule of events on his phone, humming for a moment, then said, “One change.”
Lai Hua frowned, but before he could retort, Qi Zui said: “I won’t ask to be on for more matches, but I can change the order alright? I’ll go on for the third day, play five matches. Simba can do the first five matches.”
Hearing his name, Simba’s head whipped up to look blankly at Qi Zui for two seconds, not understanding what difference that actually made.
He Xiaoxu, standing off to the side, was hesitant but did not speak up. Lai Hua’s brows furrowed, but he did not respond either.
Qi Zui locked his phone, then put it on the table without leaving any room for any questions, “So that’s decided then.”
He Xiaoxu said hurriedly: “What do you mean, it’s decided? Let’s discuss it a bit more…”
“I don’t want to discuss it, let’s just leave it like this. I’m going to go downstairs for a massage, you guys go on with training.” Qi Zui got up and left.
Simba was still completely befuddled. Frustrated at his cluelessness, Lao Kai said, “Your God Qi is doing this for you! Are you dumb? If it all goes as expected, he’s probably going to play better than you, right? If he plays the first five rounds, the you play the last five, then technically the team’s rankings will drop, and who’s taking the blame when the final ranks come out?”
Simba stuttered: “I, I…”
Lao Kai tsked, then pats Simba on the head, “Would he make you, a newbie, take the blame?”
Bu Nana sighed: “Qi Zui’s going into the competition himself, so would he let someone else wipe his ass for him? Is that the kind of person he is?”
Simba understood completely now, and immediately got teary eyed: “I will be loyal to God Qi till the day I die…”
“That’s enough, training time.” He Xiaoxu followed suit and also patted Simba on the head, “You said just yesterday you’d be forever loyal to Youth, how come you’ve changed so fast? Now that you understand that Qi Zui is doing it for you, make sure you use all the time you can to train.”
Simba nodded hastily and went off to solo queue, filled with fighting spirit.
Yu Yang sat on his own seat, spacing out for a while before finally starting training.
He could find a new, better side of this person every single day.
He was loving this person a little more every single day.
Yu Yang gently rubbed at his left shoulder…Qi Zui was going back to the States tomorrow, but Yu Yang was already missing him before he even left.
They were to decide on all kinds of details for the competition today, so Yu Yang did not duo queue with Simba, but instead practiced on his own on a custom server just in case he would have to pause in the middle of something.
“We’ll get there three days in advance, but we’re basically flying for an entire day, so it’s technically four days in advance. There are no direct flights, we have a layover in Chicago.” He Xiaoxu came upstairs to confirm the timings with Yu Yang, “We upgraded everyone…this, we can still afford.”
Yu Yang did not have any issues and nodded. He Xiaoxu scribbled here and there on his notes, then looked up, “How about…we can tell Qi Zui to not come back. Isn’t he going back to the US tomorrow? There aren’t a lot of days left, anyway, might as well tell him to stay in New York, then meet up with us in Florida before the competition? Otherwise flying back and forth can be tiring.”
Yu Yang hesitated slightly, then nodded: “Okay.”
He Xiaoxu smiled teasingly: “You can’t be sad over those extra few days of not seeing him?”
“It’s for his own good, there’s nothing to be sad about.” Yu Yang’s expression was mostly neutral, “We’ll do just as you said.”
“Qi Zui has probably already booked his flights, I’ll go ask him later to see if I need to help him change his flights.” He Xiaoxu still had a mountain of things to deal with waiting for him downstairs, so he hastily wrapped up and went back downstairs again, feet barely stopping in his steps.
Yu Yang put on his headphones again, continuing with training.
But inside, he was a little frustrated.
With the plans like this, once Qi Zui left, they would not see each other again until the Worlds.
Yu Yang took a deep breath, then spaced out briefly and, with a clip of bullets, left holes in one of the team two members who was here to help with practice.
Bu Nana was also on the team’s custom server, practicing his shooting, and he laughed once he saw the kill notification. He turned on his mic: “Captain’s a little crabby today, how come you’ve killed off our practice buddy?”
The practice buddy was already finished off, there was no helping him up. In the custom server, as long as there are still people alive, then they cannot restart it; Yu Yang frowned and said his apologies, then everyone in the HOG custom server leaves and comes back.
Yu Yang told the practice buddy to take a break, then glanced at the time; there was still half an hour before dinnertime. Yu Yang left practice a little early today, taking off his headphones, then going back to the dorms.
Yu Yang usually started training an hour early, every day, and usually was the last to leave the training room, so Lai Hua would not tell him off if he left early every now and then. No one else pays any mind to it, either.
Yu Yang went to grab a cigarette, but did not go up to the rooftop, instead finding himself walking into Qi Zui’s dorm. Looking at the suitcases still left open on the ground, and the mess of clothes, Yu Yang was taken by surprise at first, then picked up each item for Qi Zui.
This past while, Yu Yang stayed in Qi Zui’s dorm, while Qi Zui stayed in Yu Yang’s dorms, but the both their belongings were still in their own dorms. They would use it as an excuse to visit each others’ rooms all the time, and everything was now all mixed together. Yu Yang assumed that Qi Zui also found it a little messy, so he gathered up half the things and left.
Yu Yang picked up an empty package from the ground, then walked over to the washroom to put it in the wastebasket, and immediately spots a T-shirt that Qi Zui left in the sink.
There were a few spots of juice stains on the white T-shirt. Yu Yang frowned…if this was left out for any longer, then it would be hard to wash out.
Yu Yang plugged up the drainage in the sink and got ready to wash out the T-shirt for Qi Zui. He rolled up his sleeves, picking up the T-shirt, then blanks.
Under the T-shirt, a pair of boxers falls out into the sink.
Qi Zui, finished with his massage and still with some time until dinner, went up stairs to look for Yu Yang to ask what he wanted for dinner, so he could make an order. But unexpectedly, he did not find Yu Yang in the training room.
Simba looked up and spotted QI Zui and said immediately: “God Yang went out with some cigarettes, he’s probably on the rooftop for a smoke.”
Qi Zui went to the rooftop and did not find Yu Yang there either, but noticed from a far that his own dorm room door was ajar.
Qi Zui pushed open the door…
Splashing sounds came out of the small bathroom, and Yu Yang was standing with his back towards Qi Zui, in front of the sink.
QI Zui remembered what he left there earlier, and his ears went pink. He gave a dry laugh and quickly said: “Wait, I forgot to wash it, don’t touch…”
Qi Zui walked closer in few steps, and notices that Yu Yang had an unlit cigarette between his lips, neck and ears on fire, head lowered, and was slowly scrubbing at his boxers.
Qi Zui smiled exasperatedly, a little embarrassed, but going unbelievably soft inside.
Yu Yang’s face was blushing enough to bleed red.
“How come you’re over here?” Qi Zui walked into the tiny bathroom, speaking lowly, “It’s not dinner time yet.”
Yu Yang was thankful that Qi Zui changed the subject, and stuttered: “Was feeling off, so…just took a break early.”
“That’s rare, God Yang also has off days?” Qi Zui laughed, “What happened?”
Yu Yang hesitated, then said lowly: “You’re going to be leaving soon, so I won’t be able to see you…”
“What do you mean, won’t be able to see me? I’m just going for a check-up.” Qi Zui understood now, “He Xiaoxu talked to you, eh? He wanted to tell me to stay there until the worlds?”
Yu Yang nodded blankly.
“Don’t listen to his yapping.” Qi Zui was exasperated, “I refuse.”
“It’s true that…there aren’t that many days left.” Yu Yang stuttered, “It’ll be a hassle to fly back and forth…”
“I like flying.” Qi Zui smiled, “You’re the only one missing me? Do I not miss you? Stop torturing me, I spent so long convincing the rehab technician to come back with me, what’s the point of me staying over there on my own? And plus, I have to come back to train.”
Yu Yang’s strung-up heart finally settled.
They wouldn’t need to separate.
He was too embarrassed to say anything else, but the corners of his lips, still holding a cigarette, lifted up. He looked down again, and continued to wash.
Qi Zui reached out and gently took away the cigarette between Yu Yang’s lips.
“How come you decided to do my laundry for me?” QI Zui threw away the cigarette in his hand, then said lowly, “This is the first time someone’s washing this for me.”
Yu Yang’s blush deepened, but he did not say anything.
Qi Zui walked closer, then wrapped his arms around Yu Yang from behind, giving a short laugh, “How about you take yours off here, and I’ll return the favour?”
Yu Yang looked straight down, gritting his teeth: “No…no need.”
“That would be rude of me.” Qi Zui put his right hand on top of the button on Yu Yang’s pants, testing the waters, gently brushing his hand over it. He said lowly, “It’s only right to return the favour.”
Qi Zui had Yu Yang boxed in completely, with no room to shy away. Even by now, he still thought they were talking about taking off his boxers for Qi Zui to wash, and said hurriedly, “N-no need…I just changed into a new pair this morning…”
“Just changed?” Qi Zui was both melting and softening inside, at a loss as to how exactly he should spoil Yu Yang. He said quietly, “Let me investigate…”
Qi Zui pulled down Yu Yang’s fly. Yu Yang’s eyes flew open immediately, letting out a “Oh”, then could not help but arch his back. Qi Zui took the moment to lift up Yu Yang’s shirt, making him hold it between his teeth.
“Shh…the noise proofing in the rooms here is really not great.” Qi Zui still had a smile to his lips, “And my poor hand is still not completely recovered, if I’m helping you out with my hand…don’t make me overexert myself now.”
Yu Yang paused, then let his body go completely pliant.
“Be good.” Qi Zui leaned over and kissed Yu Yang’s ear. “It’ll just take a moment.”
What Qi Zui called “a moment” took a good half an hour. By the time he let Yu Yang go, Yu Yang’s underwear was indeed, as he said earlier, “dirtied”.
T/N: This chapter was translated from a third party site because the JJWXC one is locked :’)