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Brother is on the case

Chapter Text

On a huge 4 K television that took over the whole wall, a fierce fight was taking place. Even the one watching it had to admit it was a wonderful fight, the movement of the one in black actually awing him sometimes. The battle was quick, fierce and extremely terrifying, as the black one overwhelmed his opponent with obvious ease. Breath taking, honestly, and the viewer found himself smiling at that. That is, until another one joined from behind, the fight quickly derailing as it became two-vs-one.

As the black one went down, even after a fierce fight, the screen went black completely, and the viewer cursed in annoyance.

"Again. Why again?" Enraged, the man actually threw his popcorn at the TV, jumping to his feet as he began to pace around. "What were the other idiots doing? Wasn't it supposed to be a team round? Where the hell was the rest of the team?" Aside from the girl with the huge cannon, no one seemed to care about the game. "Disorganized, unruly, failing to listen to orders over and over again..."

Had it been in the office, he would have long since gotten rid of those bastards, useless pieces of crap. Running a hand through his hair, the man had to wonder why nothing was being done about it. The team hadn't had a win for almost a whole year, and the reason why clear as glass. Why the hell was nothing being done about it? When he had so gracefully allowed his brother to continue playing, it wasn't for him to be pulled down by useless trash!

“Xian Wu." A woman dressed in a dark professional suit immediately appeared from the shadows, face as expressionless as ever, as if she hadn't seen her boss throw a tantrum just few seconds before. "Investigate the situation in the club. I want to know exactly what is going on and why is my brother being forced to work with those idiots."

"As you wish. Should I also look for your brothers health records?" The woman knew him quite well, having been working for him for over five years.

"Yes, and... try and find the contract too. Even if you can't get a copy, I want to at least know the expiration date." Contacting brother was too hard, not that he would just give the information even if asked. "Have it done by Monday."

"Understood." With a bow, the woman left him, the screen once again beginning to play the previous video.

Staring at it in confusion, he couldn't help but shake his head. Brother deserved a better team, how else was he supposed shine brightly on his own chosen stage. "Ye Xiu, what trouble have you gotten yourself into this time?"

Chapter Text

"They want to do WHAT?"

The interns yelped in surprise as something shattered violently inside the closed office, all eyes immediately rushing to the dark imposing door, the loud yelling only making them flinch in fear.

How dare, those ass-

“What is happening?” A young girl asked terrified as she noticed everyone started to pack their things, saving the work in obvious frenzy, pale-faced and sweating.

“Boss in a really bad mood! Pack your things, now.” An older worker explained in a hushed voice, wincing at the sound of something hitting the wall. “Something must have happened to his brother, that’s the only time he gets this bad.”

“Brother? He has a younger brother?” Even as she said that, she hurried to follow the orders, realizing baffled that half the workers were already long gone.

“Not younger, older, but Boss is a little bit…”

I will kill them! Drain their blood and skin them alive! How dare they…” More violent shattering followed, as the girl winced suddenly afraid.

“Let’s talk about it later, come on! Boss’ filter disappears when he’s this worked up.” Pulling the young intern after her, the older woman shook her head. Boss was bad enough in normal circumstances, with his uncanny ability to reduce even the strongest workers to tears with well-placed and thought out comments, but when it was related to his brother… “Better work extra than risk the lifelong mental trauma.”

---

“Have you calmed down now?” Xian Wu asked calmly, making a note to buy a new items as her eyes swept through the damage.

"NO!"

“Should I bring some plates for you to shatter?” Ignoring her, Ye Qiu collapsed against his comfortable chair. “Or perhaps some Excellent Era merchandise?”

Rolling his eyes, Ye Qiu sighed tiredly, even if part of him quite wanted to shatter some merchandise… “Brother, brother, oh my stupid brother… why does he always ends up in trouble somehow?”

Rhetorical question, though Xian Wu had to smile at that. The stories of some of the issues Boss had been forced to resolve, both with and without his brother’s knowledge, were legendary. Sadly Boss only told them when drunk, which was quite rare in the first place. Perhaps, though, it was finally her time to experience one of the “Ye Xiu” disasters, she was quite excited to meet the hilariously shameless older twin.

"However, this is serious. I cannot believe brother allows them to just walk all over him... no wait, this is brother, as long as it’s not game related, he won’t care." The urge to throw something against the wall was serious, but Ye Qiu controlled himself as eyes feel upon a broken vase. Shit, mother liked that one! "Brother, you idiot... how about his health? Are they at least making sure he is healthy?"

“From the reports… I’m afraid not.” Ordering one of her underlings to bring some breakable Excellent Era merchandise, Xian Wu continued the report. “Your brother has not been seen by a competent professional in two years, not even standard examination. He has lost weight to the point it is worrisome, and it is unknown when was the last time he has had a decent night of sleep. Our surveillance team often finds him at night in the game, helping his guild using alternative accounts."

Ye Qiu was starting to lose his cool again, fists tightening dangerously, and Xian Wu could see his blood pressure jumping again. “He’s obviously stressed and overworked, often has headaches, possibly the reason why he’s not eating decently. There are, however, some suspicious that there’s more to it. I suspect there is something wrong with his income, your brother has stated smoking less and uses worse brands, even when it is obvious he’s suffering from nicotine withdrawal. We haven’t been able to obtain a copy of the contract yet however.”

“Those… those…” Staring at her in complete shock, Ye Qiu struggled to breathe, mind not computing. Xian Wu said nothing as the door opened slightly, taking the box with satisfaction, placing it just in time on top of the company papers.

“I WILL END THEIR SORRY LIFE!” Picking up a random item, Ye Qiu threw it viciously. “YE XIU! Hang in there, brother is coming!”

 

Chapter Text

Liu Hao was hurrying through the corridor, a blank face as he tried to hide his irritation.

The team’s training had just ended, and once again, Ye Qiu couldn’t keep his mouth shut. It was always the same, critiquing his play, nitpicking every detail, looking for flaws. Always, always, always… Liu Hao hated him, hated the man that he had once admired, the man who stood in his path to glory.

To be noticed by the Battle God had once been his dream. As much as it pained to admit, there was once a time when he had strived to be taught by the great king. Ye Qiu had been a goal for many of the training camps members, and Liu Hao hadn’t been different. Even after he had been acknowledged and had joined the team officially, becoming the vice-captain, he had strived to reach the expectations set by their Captain.

Tried. And tried. And tried once again…

But it had never been enough. It was never enough. There was always something he was missing, something he did wrong, something Ye Qiu didn’t like! Liu Hao had wanted Ye Qiu to acknowledge his work, but at some point, it hadn’t been enough. Liu Hao wanted to shine too! He wanted to have fans, wanted to become a God too, for his character to be immortalized!

However, it hadn’t take him long to realize: his dream would never happen if he continued playing with Ye Qiu. The Battle God was too good, too overwhelming. He stole all the attention, all the spot light even without once showing his face, leaving nothing else for the team.

Liu Hao hadn’t even realized when admiration turned into resentment, when love for an idol turned into hate. But hate he did, with an incredible passion, his wish to shine overwhelming everything. The team didn’t matter, Ye Qiu didn’t matter, as long as Liu Hao managed to find his spot under the spotlight.

Startled out of his thoughts as someone collided with him, Liu Hao barely managed to stop himself from falling, immediately scowling in anger.

“Watch where you are going!” The small worker flinched at his tone of voice, keeping his face down as he apologized, and Liu Hao snorted at that. Pathetic, didn’t he realize whom Liu Hao was? What if he got hurt, or worse? “Go away and pray I won’t see you here again.”

The worked rushed to run away, mumbling another apology, while Liu Hao rolled his eyes in annoyance. Excellent Era needed to improve their hiring policy, it was bad enough he had to deal with those annoying guys in the Technical Department, Ye Qiu’s loyal dogs.

Shaking himself out of it, Liu Hao hurried on, quickly slipping into the meeting room, completely missing the new addition to his inner coat. A small, dark button against the back of his collar, hidden from view.

Everyone else was already there, their Director Tao Xuan leaning displeased against the chair, eyes closed in waiting.

“Sorry for the wait, Ye Qiu kept us longer. Again.” Liu Hao apologized as he sat down, eyeing the rest of the members. Only those deeply involved with the plan were there, two from the management team, one from the legal team and Chen Yehui, the guild leader for their club.

“Ye Qiu has always liked to practice extra before a match.” Tao Xuan said with a sigh, finally opening his eyes as someone locked the door. “I guess our meeting may begin now. Liu Hao, how is it going with the rest of the team?”

“Everyone aside from Su Mucheng are going along with our plan.” Liu Hao explained easily. “As long as their pay doesn’t change, they do not mind throwing some games on purpose. And by now they know not to help Ye Qiu and to mess up his orders without it seeming too obvious.”

“The media is beginning to blame Ye Qiu.” Someone from the management team pipped in, shuffling some papers. “So far only those we paid to do it, but it won’t be long before other join.”

“I still think this is a bad idea.” The lawyer, Li Wei, mumbled, but was ignored as usual. He was there mostly to ensure no borderline illegal things were happening, mostly forced to be there against his will.

“Excellent, keep up the good work.” Discrediting Ye Qiu would be rather easy, not like the man would speak out for himself. “And I believe I may have found a replacement for him.”

Liu Hao had to blink at that, freezing for a second. Already? He was not stupid, he realized he wouldn’t be chosen for the captain position, but he had hoped it would take a while so that he could gain some power among his teammates.

“It’s still not set in stone, but we are looking into the newcomer Sun Xiang.” The management explained Tao Xuan’s words. “He’s new, eager and has skill. He is practically carrying his current team, with a character like One Autumn Leaf he’s bound to revive our club.”

“Have the negotiations already started?” Sun Xiang… the brat was arrogant and overconfident, but lacked any real experience. Liu Hao could work with that, the rookie would be easy to manipulate.

“Yes. Of course we are keeping everything quiet, the season has not ended yet, but I believe we’ll be able to get him by the next season.”

Liu Hao had to grin at that, already imagining it. Ye Qiu disgraced, thrown out of the club, with Liu Hao as the more experienced one left to lead his teammates… Soon, soon his chance to shine would come!

“Begin alienating Ye Qiu more.” Tao Xuan suddenly spoke up, his voice heavy but decisive. “Change tactics too. We need to make it look like Ye Qiu is slipping, that he cannot lead the team well. Chen Yehui, is Ye Qiu still helping with the guild?”

The guild leader nodded, and Tao Xuan hummed at that. “Excellent, keep requesting more of his help. Liu Hao, before each match, start adding some sleeping pills into Ye Qiu’s water or tea, I’ll send them to your room soon with instructions.”

“Hey, that’s illegal!” Li Wei suddenly spoke up, jumping to his feet. “Do you realize what can happen if you get caught?”

“Li Wei, sit down, nothing will happen. It’s just a little bit to make him more sluggish, it won’t actually knock him out. If anything, we can blame it on him overworking himself and not getting enough rest.”

“It’s still illegal! Why can’t you just talk with him like normal people and explain things? Or just fire him?” Yet, Li Wei sat down, scowling displeased.

“We can’t have him run to another team. We must back him into a corner.” Tao Xuan’s face was dark, but it was clear he had long since chosen his path. “And no one will realize what is happening, I assure you. Liu Hao, you understand, you must follow the instructions to the letter without any deviations. Start this week at the All-Stars, let’s see how he reacts before we implement it for the competitions.”

For a second there, Liu Hao imagined putting too many pills, watching gleefully as Ye Qiu succumbed to sleep to never wake up. But he didn’t want to be a killer, the consequences wouldn’t be good. “I know, don’t worry, I won’t give him a reason to suspect anything”

“Excellent. Remember, not a single word of what is happening here, especially you Li Wei.” Tao Xuan reminded them once again as he stood up. “As long as no one else knows, Ye Qiu will be gone next year to never return.”

Chapter Text

“It’s time everyone, the event that everyone has been waiting for! The best part of the second day of All-Stars, PLAYER VERSUS PRO BATTLE!” The crowd screamed in delight at those words, the stadium buzzing with excitement. “A chance to measure your luck! Opportunity to come face to face with a pro-player! Who will be chosen? A once-in-a-life-time chance, do not forget to push your buttons!”

The announcer knew how to do his job, not the first time presenting such an event, it was easy to rile up the crowd. “And the pro-player from our host Blue Rain will be… Yu Feng!”

If possible, the crowd went even wilder, many shrieking as the young Berserker walked up the stage. Last year's Best Newcomer, deputing in season 6, part of a champion team, there were many expectation put on his young shoulders. Yet the nineteen years old took it all with grace, walking upon the stage with a winning smile as he waved.

"Everyone, thank you for having me."

"Yu Feng, ready to show us some fun battles?" The Blue Rain player just laughed and nodded, ignoring how some women screamed his name crazily, giving the crowd another wave. He was not bad looking, he had many fans in the audience despite being a rookie. "Excellent, excellent. Let's choose your first opponent, shall we? What do you want? Random? A number?”

"Hm...." Pretending to think, Yu Feng put a hand up, remembering to make a handsome expression. "I think... how about I chose a number first? I was thinking.... 2-E!"

"2-E! Come down here!"

A girl shrieked excited as she ran down the stairs, clutching a card in her hand completely unaware of the jealous gazes lost on cloud nine. "I am 2-E! Oh, I can't believe this is actually happening..."

"Congratulations! So you have your own card?" Knowing to make some small talk, asking her name, the announced skillfully took control of the situation, remembering to keep the fan from the player to some extent.

.

.

The event progressed quickly and smoothly, as the normal players were easily defeated. Yu Feng remembered to keep it slow and give the normal players some advice, knowing it was all a publicity stunt for the game. Sharing their names, giving them a hug or a handshake when asked, he knew it was part of his duty too as a professional player.

"And finally, how about we do it random?" The announcer asked as it was almost time to finish, the only method they hadn’t used so far. Yu Feng agreed with a smile, anything to hurry up the process honestly. "Let's start! Remember to say Stop when you are ready!"

Nodding, Yu Feng waited for few seconds, before ordering the shuffle to stop. Surprisingly enough, for the first time, the number that appeared was different. 

"Ah... Player from seat AA-1, please come down!?" Even the announcer looked lost as he called the seat, half believing it was a bug. Yu Feng frowned too, having never heard of such seat despite the fact that it was Blue Rain's stadium. Perhaps gaining information from the producers, the announcer recovered quickly, grinning towards the crowd. "Ah, it seems someone in a private room has been lucky today! Such a rarity! Please, player from seat AA-1, come down!"

"Private room?" Yu Feng couldn't help but ask. Since when did they have a private room?

"For every final and All-Starts, the Alliance makes sure to secure some private rooms for those with certain deficiencies or special circumstances." The announcer skillfully smoothed over the subject, quick to point out that it wasn't just for those who had money. "That's why, ladies and gentlemen, if you have some disability that makes it seem impossible to attend the events, do not despair! Contact the Alliance, it may not be a dream after all!"

Yu Feng would have to remember it in the future, finding himself wondering why it wasn't common knowledge. Perhaps it was something new the Alliance added? Lost in thoughts, he almost missed as his final opponent arrived. "... and how may we address you, Mister-"

Putting his thoughts away for a later consideration, noticing absentmindedly that the announcer spoke with more respect suddenly, Yu Feng looked at the man.

And froze. In shock.

Because no matter how he dressed (shit, that suit looked expensive), with his hair carefully styled looking softer than ever, and no visible dark circles under those golden orbs, there was only one person who...

"You may call me Ye..."

"SENIOR YE QIU???"

Chapter Text

The crowd went dead silent. That was... God Ye? That man... God Ye? No, he couldn't but... Man... Man, that man was HOT! 

"Senior Ye! What are you doing here, shouldn't you be...?" Panicking, Yu Feng wanted to hit himself. Had he just given Senior out? Oh god, his captain and vice-captain were going to murder him! Looking up in panic at the Excellent Era area, wanting to know what the hell was going on, why hadn’t anyone stopped Senior, he froze once again.

No, impossible, why...

Senior Ye Qiu was with his team. Standing and in complete shock, even if his face didn't give out much, but... but there. THERE.

Looking down, not even trying to hide his confusion, he Yu Feng noticed that the copy was watching him like Yu Feng was crazy! Oh shit, was he losing his mind? Hallucinating? Too much coffee, it had to be too much coffee, captain had warned...

“I apologize.” Startling as Senior… no, not Senior, the clone, spoke Yu Feng tried to focus. The clone was smiling slightly at him, nice and warm, tone easy and posture relaxed. The way his eyes glinted sent alarms ringing down to his very core, but Yu Feng couldn’t understand why. “While my name is Ye Qiu, I am afraid I have never met you in my life. Perhaps you are mistaking me with someone?"

Mistaking... once again, Yu Feng looked up, searching for anything to help him understand what the hell was happening. On the corner of his eye he could see vice-captain making a scene, being held by three other teammates, probably trying to rush to the stage. Had he looked at the other teams he would have probably found the same scene happening, the way some pro-players were obsessed with Senior Ye was kind of terrifying. 

But no, Yu Feng chose to focus on Senior Ye (or at least the one standing in the red uniform). The shock had shifted into something more resembling... exasperation? Fondness? Did Senior know the clone? No, of course he had to know him, after all they were identical...

"Twins?" Even though his voice was faint, it was easy to hear, reverberating through the funeral-like stadium. Gone were the excited voices of the fans, the upbeat music and cheerful yells. Silence, everything and everyone were silent. 

"Ah yes, I should have thought about that. It might be possible that you have met my twin, Ye X-Qiu, as you may know him." The man gave him a pleased look, voice almost a purr like Yu Feng had just pleased a cat, and somehow, Yu Feng couldn't help but feel proud of himself. Shit, the heck. "He has been playing Glory professionally for a while, even if he doesn't appear on the stage."

Right... right... Senior Ye and the man were twins... there was a possibility Senior's name was not Ye Qiu after all (and didn't that bring a lot of questions)... and... and Yu Feng needed some damn drink!

"Mister Ye Qiu! It is quite an honor to meet God Ye's brother!" The announcer seemed to have rebooted, most probably forcefully judging by how he was clutching his left ear, all smiles and grins. "Why, we never knew God Ye has a brother, and to think it was a twin too!"

“I am afraid there were some family circumstances.” The man smiled gently, but damn, there was just something terrifying about it. Yu Feng prided himself having excellent instincts, and his heart was screaming to run away as far as possible. “Brother has always been mindful of our family situation, I shall ask everyone to forgive him for staying in the shadows for so long." 

Perhaps sensing a juicy story, the announcer seemed to fight against something for a second before he gave up, smile strained slightly. "Since your brother is God Ye, you must also play Glory. Which class do you favor?"

"Oh no, sadly, I do not play." Smiling sheepishly, Ye Qiu waved his hand elegantly. "I do not have much free time with the company to run, and my brother is the one with gaming skills."

"You do know how to play at least?" The producers must be pushing the announcer to keep to the schedule, Yu Feng reflected absent minded at the obvious panic.

"Ah, well... I am afraid not. Time for games has never been a priority in our household, even if brother rebelled quite often." The man seemed almost embarrassed at that, and the pro-player could literally hear half the stadium swoon. "To be honest I only came to the event hopping to catch a chance to talk with my brother, it has been a too long since we last seen each other. I never expecting this... to happen."

It was by chance that Yu Feng looked at the Excellent Era area, and did Senior just snort at that? 

"That is quite unfortunate, there is not enough time to explain the rules..." The announcer struggled to keep his expression light, the producing team screaming into his already battered ear. To replace Ye Qiu with another... With the reveal of his identity as God Ye's brother, and a twin!, their views all over China had skyrocketed! They even somehow had managed to get extra screen time!

And then, the salvation came from the one who caused the chaos in the first place!

"Perhaps my brother should take my place." Ye Qiu pipped in innocently, and immediately the crowd went wild. "I don't even know how to move the character."

Yu Feng had to wince at that, who in this time and age didn't know how to move a character? 

"But God Ye doesn't..." Despite the insistence of the public, the announcer had almost shot down the idea immediately, but caught himself in time. God Ye didn't want to reveal his face to the public, but hadn't his own brother taken care of that already? Hearing the agreement from the producer, the announcer nodded cheerfully. "It won't be player against pro, but taking in account the extenuating circumstances, as long as God Ye doesn't mind..."

"I am sure he'll agree, he owns me nine years of presents." Senior Ye, you won't buy even your own brother a birthday present, Yu Feng couldn't help but think, remembering how his vice-captain always raged because of lack of a present. Ye Qiu, oblivious to that, looked up directly at the Excellent Era's stand. As his eyes locked with his brother's, the biggest, softest, warmest smile the crowd had even seen broke out on his elegant face, yells of "CUTE!" half scaring Yu Feng to death. "Brother, come down here."

Yu Feng watched transfixed as Senior Ye stared at his brother silently, fingers on the rails tightening slightly, before he shook his head with a heavy sigh. Taking off his Excellent Era jacket, throwing it uncaring at some team members, the man began to make his way towards the stage. Slowly, like a lazy cat, almost like each step was carefully planned to make everyone wait. The crowd watched, attentively holding their breath collectively, as the man walked into the light.

Finally. After seven years of Professional Glory Alliance, the Battle God was standing under the spot light like he deserved.

"GOOOOOOOOOD YEEEEEEE!"

"NOTICE ME!!!! LOOOK AT ME!!!!"

"GOD YE, GOD YE, GOD YE!"

The stadium exploded. Yells, calls, tears, filled in the previously silent stadium. Even the Tyranny fan's rejoiced, as strange as that sounded. It was pandemonium, and the two twins on the stage were well aware of it.

Ye Xiu smiled helpless at his twin, eyes glinting in a way that often sent other pro-players panicking. "Long time no see, younger brother."

Chapter Text

No one could believe their eyes as Ye Qiu, the Battle God, three times champion, creator of a dynasty, appeared on the stage for the first time. A hallucination, some believed, their wildest dreams having taken control in a moment of weakness, for it had to be impossible, a dream, God Ye…

“Brother.” The man called Ye Qiu, yet not their Ye Qiu, stated with a warm smile at the approaching figure.

“Ye Qiu…” Ye Xiu tried to warn him with a glance, well aware that Ye Qiu wouldn’t be caught dead in a gamming event. The cameras distracted him for a second, not used to such exposure, but his attention was quickly forcefully redirected. Ye Qiu had enveloped him in a tight hug, burying his face in the crook of his neck.

The crowd immediately went wild, hundreds trying to capture the sweet as hell moment. For a moment the crowd feared that God Ye would do nothing, hands in his pockets, but then he tenderly returned the hug. The camera crew clearly held the same intention as the crowd, zeroing on that moment with terrifying precision, just in time to capture the soft smile dancing on their God’s lips as the deity whispered quietly.

 (That moment, somewhere, thousands of fan boys/girls died from nosebleed.)

Unknown to everyone but the production team, that All-Start event became the top most-talked thing on internet, #GodYeLookAtMe!!!! becoming the most trending tag in just few seconds, closely followed by #GodhasDescended, #GodYeHotasHELL and #ShitThereAreTwoOfHim.

-----

XXX: OH.MY.GODS! GOD YE HAS DESCENDED! I REPEAT! GOD YE HAS DESCENDED! #GodYeHasDescended #ShitThereAreTwoOfHim

xxx: This is the best day in my life... I can go die happy now. #GodhasDescended

xxxx: Shit, isn’t he gorgeous??? Forget ZZ, I wanna marry him. #GodYeLookAtMe!!!! #GodYeHotasHELL

XXXX: God YE! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT THE CAMERA! #GodhasDescended #GodYeLookAtMe!!!!

XX: Oh. My. Fanfics. #GodhasDescended #GodYeHotasHELL #ShitThereAreTwoOfHim THEY ARE SO SWEET!

xxxxx: Today is a glorious day. #GodYeHasDescended Question though. Are they both called Qiu???? #GodYeYeQiu?

----

“Brother, it has been too long.” Letting go with obvious reluctance, Ye Qiu schooled his expression into a polite smile, though he kept a tight grip on Ye Xiu’s forearm. It was reminder for both of them who was in control of the situation, brother better not get any ideas. “Nine long years… You could have at least called home. Do you realize how worried I have been?”

“I did return few years ago…” God Ye stated calmly, keeping his voice low as he glanced at the camera once again. Not low enough, however, as the announcer had swiftly moved into the area, broadcasting every word for the world to hear. “Ye Qiu, let’s do this later, alright?”

“For you to run away again? And that doesn’t count, you didn’t even wait for me, leaving after your fight with father. Two minutes and I would have been there!” Ye Qiu scowled unhappy, still upset that he had missed Ye Xiu that day.

Frowning, lost for a second as he tried to recall something, God titled his head sweetly, prompting another screaming melt down from his fans. “Weren’t you in a meeting with a potential American investor that night?”

“Irrelevant. I left immediately once I heard you were at the company.” There was nothing more important than his brother.

“Oh, so that’s why I received a letter from father stating that I am a bad influence and not to return until I stop playing.” Wait, WHAT? “I have been wondering why he went that far to reinforce the idea, I thought he had been clear enough during the meeting…”

 “Father said what?” Ye Qiu had never heard about that!!! Was that’s why brother didn’t bother contacting him at all? Shit, that piece of…

“Irrelevant.” Excuse us??? The crowd wept slightly at the calm tone. It’s not irrelevant! “You know how father is.”

Gritting his teeth, Ye Qiu shook his head. “Let’s talk about that later.” Preferably somewhere without other people, so he could hug his brother fiercely. The previous hug wasn’t enough, but he needed to return to the plan. As he gave Ye Xiu a quick look, Ye Qiu frowned visibly. “Hm, brother, have you been eating properly?”

“Ye Qiu, let’s not keep everyone waiting-”

“You haven’t looked this thin since middle school! Don't they know how to treat you properly there?" Cutting his words mercilessly, Ye Qiu frowned worriedly, making sure his expression was caught by the camera. “And those dark circles… are you having insomnias again?”

“Ye Qiu…” Brother tried to warn him again, pulling slightly on his arm, but Ye Qiu’s grip was firm. He could feel the frail bones underneath, the obvious lack of care maddening.

“You know how it affects your health! Please tell me you are taking your supplements at least. They are not cheap, but with the salary of a professional gamer you should have no problems.” Ye Qiu could see the moment when brother put it all together, the barely concealed wince as he realized that yes, Ye Qiu knew what was going on. The quick desperation to keep it all quiet, even though both knew that Ye Qiu would never forgive it. “Last time you looked like this you ended up in a hospital. Do you want to give Mother a heart attack?”

“Ye Qiu, enough.”

Like hell was that enough! Because Ye Qiu knew brother wasn’t taking the supplements, wasn’t sleeping enough, wasn’t eating enough! But the silent plea kept him quiet. Even if others couldn’t tell, thinking Ye Xiu was simply being his usual assertive self, Ye Qiu could read between the lines. How brother’s fingers twitched slightly, posture tensing few millimeters, the tinniest lines under his eyes…

Ye Qiu’s only goal was to create as much chaos and trouble as he could, but if it meant hurting his brother so openly, he would have to cease for now. And so he huffed, turned his attention to the confused hovering announcer, signaling for the man to continue with the show.

“God Ye! It is an honor to see you here on the stage for the first time!” The announcer skillfully pretended that nothing had happened, a professional smile in place. The event had obviously derailed quickly.

“Mmm. Can we get this over with?” Ye Qiu rolled his eyes at the tone, trying to keep himself from laughing as the announcer’s smile twitched. Brother, still as shameless as ever.

“Of course, of course.” Perhaps sensing it was better to get it over with, the announcer no longer made any small talk, trying to hurry the situation. “I assure you want a battle mage class?”

God Ye was about to nod, when suddenly, he focused on his opponent. “Little Yu Feng, my brother has created a lot of trouble for you. How about you choose my class? I won’t mind even if it is a Cleric.”

“S-Senior!” Yu Fang somehow had managed to regroup himself, managing to stay somehow coherent. Whatever just happened, he really didn’t want any part of it. To think he was about to fight God Ye! One on one, and he could even chose the class he wanted! Ha, wasn’t it his chance? Senior Ye was known as Glory Textbook for a reason! Captain only had high praise for the man. Then…

"Why don't you let me chose?" Ye Qiu suddenly interrupted, and Yu Feng actually glared at the man, feeling his opportunity slip by.

"You have already created enough trouble, Ye Qiu.” Was that… was Senior reproaching his brother? Yu Feng had seen that soft look before, but usually it was directed at Su Mucheng. “You should actually apologize to Little Yu Feng, putting him in such an awkward position."

"Not my fault he chose my seat." Ignoring the skeptical look Ye Xiu gave him, Ye Qiu huffed annoyed. "But I won't argue, you may chose, Yu Feng right? Brother, I shall be waiting, you better not try and escape this time.”

The implication of those words were lost to no one, Yu Feng thought absentmindedly as Senior just rolled his eyes. Then again, considering Senior’s track record during matches and conferences…

“Little Yu Feng, have you chosen a class for me?” Senior Ye had turned to him with a warm smile, and Yu Feng focused on the present. Chance, it was his chance!

"Ah, yes! I would like to play against a Berserker!"

Chapter Text

xx: Guys, guys, GUYS!!!! I think God Ye IS NOT NAMED YE QIU!!!! #GodYeHasDescended #GodYeYeQiu?

xxx: the hell ya talking about? Of course he's Ye Qiu, he's been playing with that name for ages.

XXX: yes, yes, but... his TWIN is Ye Qiu! i doubt they would have the same name. #GodYeYeQiu?

xx: and look here! I found the twin! He's the deputy-chairman for the Ye Corporation! And the wiki page says he has a twin named YE XIU!!!! #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU

xxxx: No way! #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU

xxxxx: Impossible! When you sign up with the association you have to use your real name. It must be wrong. #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU

xx: No, I just went to check, and there is nothing saying you must use your real name, at least not in public. Maybe it was a pseudonym? I did some math, and if what the twin said is right, God Ye probably ran away from home AT THE AGE OF 15!!!!! #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU #ohmygodhesarunaway

xxxxxx: He did say nine years... #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU #ohmygodhesarunaway

x: shit, this a mess! #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU #ohmygodhesarunaway

XX: And don’t even forget about his father! Apparently the bastard told him to stay away until he stopped playing! #ohmygodhesarunaway #GodYeHasDescended #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED

XX_XX: AHHH, god ye, too shameless. and cute... did someone catch a good pic? I want one! #IWANTAGODYEPLUSHIENOW

X_XX: Me, me, me! I will start working on it immediately! #IWANTAGODYEPLUSHIENOW thank god mother has graced me with good knitting skills! @xx send me the link for the wiki!

X_XX22: I'll draw God Ye! #GodYeHasDescended #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED

xxx: stop derailing the topic! is he qiu or not??? Where is excellent era?? @ExcellentEraV The hell is going on??? #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU

xXx: Damn, creating chaos must run in the family, this is incredible. Forget the name, though, did you even listen to what the twin said??? GOD YE IS TOO THIN! AND HE HASN’T BEEN SLEEPING. #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED What’s up with that???? Hmmm??? I smell a conspiracy!

XxxX: Its been nine years, bro probably doesn’t remember well. #GodYeYeQiu? #YEQIUorYEXIU

xxxV: No, no, no, as a loyal stalker, I do believe God Ye has lost some weight. Look here. This one is from last year *godyehandscollection25.jpg* and this is from a week ago *godyehandscollection43.jpg*. Goddess Mumu has confirmed that both are God Ye’s! And you can clearly see that the hands, while gorgeous, are thinner! #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED

xxX: I also have some too! *GodYehandsohmygod.jpg* *GodYehandsohmygod2.jpg* *godyehandsfocusenchanced.jpg* #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED

xxx: Sht i wanna some too…

xxxV: The official God_Ye’s_hands_are_the_best fanclub site can be accessed here. *wink*

XXXX: Damn it, stop derailing the topic!!! Is God Ye Ye Qiu or not??? Has he lost weight??? The heck is going on with EE’s games because they ALL KEEP SCREWING UP AND GOD AND GODDESS ARE LEFT TO PICK UP THEIR SHIT!

Xx: You are right! @YeQiuV GOD YE, COME OUT. PLEASE TELL US THE TRUTH! #GodYeYeQiu? #GODYEMUSTBEPROTECTED

XX: @YeQiuV: GOD YE, GOD YE, GOD YE!!!

Chapter Text

“Shit, they are not here!” Huang Shaotian cursed as he kicked the innocent door, glaring at the empty room AA-1 “Goddammit, we ran all the way here! When did he even have a chance to run away? Ye Qiu, I’m going to PK, PK, PK, PK you next time I see you!”

Those closest to Ye Qiu had all rushed to the room as soon as the event was deemed done, ordering their team members to head back without them, only to find the man and his brother gone.

“Senior truly is the master of disappearance.” Chu Yunxiu mumbled to herself with a smile, wondering if she had time to get some popcorn in the meantime, the drama would be precious once they located Ye Qiu.

“Senior…” Zhou Zekai lamented, staring at the empty room like an abandoned puppy, and Chu Yunxiu had to restrain herself from pulling out her phone. She suspected Han Wenqing would not appreciate it, he already looked murderous enough.

“Does it mean we have to search the whole stadium for him now?” Zhang Jiale asked somewhat depressed, not in the mood for that. There were too many rooms and possible hiding spots, it would take the whole night!

“No need.” Yu Wenzhou suddenly stated, pocketing his phone with a radiant smile. Immediately, those around him took two steps back. “I already asked Su Mucheng, just follow me.”

Muffling her smile as the other Master Tacticians looked like they have been slapped, probably wondering why they hadn’t thought of something so simple, Chu Yunxiu shook her head. Yu Wenzhou truly was a Master… a master at taking advantage of the opportunities.

---

There was something quite mystical about watching Senior Ye Qiu and brother Ye Qiu argue with each other…Creepy… and was Ye Qiu even his name to being with? Even if his father was apparently an asshole, the Ye parents wouldn’t give the twins the same name.

“This is… traumatizing.” Huang Shaotian mumbled feeling weirded out, unable to summon even a single drop of his usual enthusiasm. Usually the whole pro-scene would be worried, Shaotian rarely deviated from usual behavior, but for once, everyone in agreement.

The pro-players weren’t sure what to say as they watched the twins argue. Arguing in hushed voices, the pro’s would think the pair hadn’t even noticed them, if not for a single interesting detail.

“Since when does Senior Ye know French?” Wang Jiexi somehow managed to ask in a controlled voice, straining his ears to listen.

“As expected from Senior, I guess.” Ye Wenzhou mumbled with a strained smile, hesitatingly considering his next actions. “Anyone knows French?”

“Not enough to understand. They speak too quickly.” And heatedly, or at least the Ye Qiu dressed in the suit did, while their Senior still looked deceivingly aloof. That is, until his brother pushed him away almost violently, Senior falling down on the sofa in obvious shock.

The pro-players immediately ignored their confusion at the situation, rushing to help Senior, afraid the man would hurt him, brother or not.

“How long do you plan on allowing this? They are HURTING YOU!” Those words were enough to stop everyone, as the group stared at the man alarmed. “After everything you have done for them, this is how they replay you? A measly contract that can barely cover your needs, more working hours than your body can handle? Trying to replace you with some puppet?”

“…” Trying to… his brother couldn’t be talking about… Excellent Era wouldn’t…

“You are not sleeping, not eating, drying out yourself trying to give them everything they need, and they still do this? Brother, you know this can’t continue. This… this… this self-destructing path, when will it end?” Ye Qiu’s voice fell into less than a whisper as the man himself staggered down, falling to his knees. “You are so thin, you barely even eat… all this time I thought you were being taken care off, that you were happy… Would we have met again in a hospital, with me crying over your unconscious body? Would I even be informed, or would I have learnt it from the news…?”

“Ye Qiu…”

“Brother, I don’t want to lose you, if something seriously happened to you… I know you care about the team, you have helped create it from scratch, but those snakes cannot be trusted! They will stop at nothing to destroy you! Please…” the man took a deep breathe, staring his brother right into his eyes. “Let me take care of this. If not for yourself, then do it for the game and your fans, let’s return your team to it previous glory.”

In silence, senior kneeled next to his brother, pulling him into a tight hug. Feeling like intruders, the pro-players turned around, trying to pointlessly give the pair any similarity of privacy, while slowly panicking inside. With what the brother had revealed… fear, paralyzing fear was their main emotion.

“Ye Qiu, I am… I am sorry, I didn’t think…” Senior whispered, struggling with his words, and everyone in the room wished they could just hug him and shower him with love. “Do it. Do what you want, I will… I will support you. I promise.”

Chapter Text

“You know, it would have been more efficient if you just left the room, instead of turning around. Intruding on a private conversation, haven’t you lot been taught manners?” The mirth in Senior’s voice was enough to make the group scowl, turning around to give the man a piece of their mind.

The two brothers were back on their feet once again, all emotion well-hidden beneath a familiar mask. In all honestly, one would never believe the heavy conversation that took place just judging by their behavior. After giving them a quick glance, Ye Qiu fished out a black smart-phone, proceeding to ignore them skillfully.

“Just now, what were you…?” Zhang Jiale tried to ask.

“Yu Wenzhou, good job in asking Su Mucheng.” Senior, however, seemed intent in controlling the flow of the conversation, giving them a half-smile that made them dread their next encounter on the field. “This generation and their phone addiction…”

 “Thank you, Senior.” Ye Wenzhou was pleased all the same, any type of praise from Senior was good in his book. “Perhaps you should consider acquiring one for yourself, I can help you chose a good one.” The brother looked up from his phone for a second with narrowed eyes, as if considering something, before returning his attention to the phone with a huff.

“Thank you for the offer, but I don’t think I would be a good match with a phone. I probably would lose it right away.” Senior laughed, and the others had to agree with that. “But I shall consider it. Now, why don’t we go-“

“Why have you never told us your real name?” Han Wenqing interrupted suddenly, eyes flashing as he stalked forward like a man on a mission. While everyone else was busy trying to put their thoughts in orders, distracted by that shameless man’s words, his oldest rival had his priorities straight. And he was done waiting. “Were you even planning on telling us one day?”

“Old Han, why don’t we talk about this later?” The pro-player, however, still tried to postpone the inevitable. “It isn’t good to leave your teammates waiting-“

“Your name.” Han Wenqing, however, was having none of that.

Huffing to himself, the golden eyed man ran a hand through his hair, momentarily amused by the picture of few pro-players reaching for their wallets instinctively. “My name… you know, this whole mess… wasn’t supposed to happen. I honestly had every intention to use my real name, there were just some… unfortunate complications.”

“Yes, like you running away from home without your ID.” The twin suddenly chipped in, frowning as he read something on his phone. “And then returning home only to steal mine.”

“Who told you to hide mine?”

“That was supposed to give me time to convince to you to stay?” The brother yelled in obvious annoyance, much to Senior’s amusement. “How was I supposed to know you would take mine? Shameless! I should just report you for identity theft!”

Han Wenqing’s patience, as thinly stretched as it already was, snapped at that moment. The man crossed the rest of the distance between them, grabbing the pro-player’s shoulder as he pulled the man closed towards himself. “Enough. Your name!”

Some rushed forward slightly terrified, aware a fight between those two could only have one ending. Even the brother looked alarmed. “Hey, don’t you dare touch my bro-“

“Ye Qiu, quiet.” One word, and the twin immediately went silent, even if with a pout. Senior, strangely enough, was the only one who didn’t look worried at all. “Ye Xiu. My name is Ye Xiu.”

(Chu Yunxiu, bless her soul, was there to immortalize everything. Be it the adorable pout of a certain businessman, or the shocked silence at the name reveal. Her fellow pro-players were a lost cause, she really should have prepared some popcorn…”

“Ye Xiu… Ye Xiu…” It was not terribly different, and yet, it seemed to open a new can of worms. How many more secrets was the man hiding? “Ye Xiu.”

“Hey, don’t over use the name.” Ye Xiu tried to say a joke, but a quick glare from everyone made him actually shut up.

“Ye Xiu, when were you going to tell me the truth?”

(As the faithful observer, Chu Yunxiu almost chocked at that. Han Wenqing, being bold as always. Beautiful. Everything was beautiful.)

“Maybe after retirement. The consequences of someone discovering too soon…”

Han Wenqing’s eyes narrowed, the grip on the shoulder tightening further. Never was probably the most likely answer, judging by the evasive answer.

“It won’t be a secret for long now, Senior.” Yu Wenzhou stated diplomatically, hopping to ease the man into answering their questions.

“Old Han, your grip.” Ye Xiu complained, yet made no movement to dislodge the hand, nor increase the distance between them.

“I don’t know what your original plan was, but don’t you even think of disappearing. If you dare to leave, I’ll drag you back even if I have to break your legs.” Han Wenqing’s expression grew fierce, the grip only getting tighter, but somehow there was something almost kind in his threat. “Anything you need, tell me. You can’t leave, Ye Xiu. You can’t.”

Ye Xiu’s lips lifted upwards, golden eyes shining with fondness, and it brought Han Wenqing back to their first year as pro-players, where every win was fought with blood and tears, every milestone a reason to celebrate, be it their own teams or others. When was the last time he had seen such a genuine sweet smile from his eternal rival?

“He doesn’t need your help! Stay away from him!” The moment was broken as a warm, elegant hand suddenly dislodged his grip, Ye Xiu pulled backwards. In to time another pair of golden orbs were glaring at Han Wenqing, filled with resentment, suspicious and anger. “I am here now, brother doesn’t need anyone else!”

(Chu Yunxiu felt like she was having a heart attack, almost squealing delighted. Thank every existing god she had been smart enough to buy a discrete phone. The material before her was too good! Oh. Her. Dramas!)

“Ye Qiu, behave. It’s not Old Han’s fault he was born with such a face, blame his parents.” The man’s hand twitched, but otherwise, the Tyranny captain managed not to react at all.

“I don’t want him near you.” Ye Qiu, however, just continued glaring at the man. “I wonder about his intentions towards you…”

“Don’t be stupid.” The older twin rolled his eyes at that, actually used to it. “Old Han is an old friend, don’t antagonize him; that is my job. Focusing on the problem at hand, Yu Wenzhou is right, it won’t be long before they figure out. Perhaps we can work out something with the chairman…”

“Fear not, I have already taken care of it.” Giving the man one last warning glance, Ye Qiu turned towards his brother proudly. “It seems that the original contract has unfortunately been destroyed, horrendous management apparently, and had to be replaced. Ye Qiu is obviously your stage name, which you have requested to be used for personal reasons.”

Much to everyone’s shock, Ye Xiu just nodded, as if he had expected that! His brother had done something borderline illegal, or was it completely illegal, and the gamer didn’t care?

“How did you even convince the chairman? The old man is stubborn!” Huang Shaotian exclaimed unsettled, suddenly revived, staring at the twins with his mouth open. “Do you know how hard it is to convince the Alliance to do anything? Oh, tell me, tell me, tell me, we could use this opportunity to push for more vacation days! I am dying to travel to some warm island! We can all go together, Old Ye you need to catch some sun, children will probably mistake you for a vampire one day! It would do you good, let’s go together this summer! When will your vacations begin? We need to start planning now, and don’t forget-”

And the chatter machine was back. With a smile, Yu Wenzhou put a hand against his mouth, pressing tightly to keep the idiot from talking. “I apologize in his behalf. If you would please answer the first question…”

“How can he talk so much…” Ye Qiu mumbled in complete shock, already imagining the headache that came with dealing with such a brat. Hopefully brother didn’t have to deal with him too much. “And convincing the chairman was easy, after all…”

“Boss.” The door opened as a woman dressed in a dark suit walked inside, her hair styled into a tight bun. “I apologize for interrupting, but the board of directors are insistent. I have already secured a safe room within the hotel, the meeting will begin once you arrive.”

“Tch, those annoyances. Don’t they see I have much important matters at hand?” Huffing, Ye Qiu adjusted his suit, cursing them colorfully in his mind. “No matter, if this is how they wish to play it… get ready the documents, today we are getting rid of their little alliances. Playing around with my company, who do they think I am?”

“Being the head suits you, brother.” Ye Xiu pipped in shamelessly, actually grinning as his brother twitched. “Much better than me. Hey, why don’t we just convince father to disown me already and- hey.”

“Shut up you, I am just holding the spot until you come back.” Ye Qiu didn’t even think twice as he softly hit his brother on the back, slightly upset. “Once you are back I am running away, mark my words.”

“Right, right, this time don’t leave your luggage on the open, who knows who will steal it next…”

Ye Qiu couldn’t stop himself from blushing at that, rage and embarrassment of his first and only failed attempt still vivid in his mind. Yet, before he had a chance to murder his brother and end all their suffering, Xian Wu came to the rescue.

“Boss, we need to go. We still need to escape the crowd, the fans are not moving from the entrance hopping to catch sight of your brother.”

The group had to wince at that, returning to their hotel was going to be a pain.

“Right. Brother, I apologize, but it seems I cannot keep you company tonight. Stay with one of your friend, I don’t want you nowhere near those snakes. Except the buff one, I don’t trust him.” There were still so many topics to discuss between them, but it would have to wait for later. He felt apprehensive leaving his brother, but he didn’t have much choice at the moment. “And eat something healthy, understood? A soup maybe, you always liked chicken soup. But no instant noodles!”

“Boss!” Xian Wu complained, wondering if she would have to drag her boss out.

“Ye Qiu, don’t worry, I will be alright.”

“Yea right…” With a sigh, and one last glare at the pro-players, Ye Qiu hurried away. Those idiots from the board who dared to call a meeting were going to pay. Hard.

----

.

.

Watching everything from the sidelines, Chu Yunxiu chuckled madly in silence at the juicy drama she just watched, the photos a beautiful reminder and excellent inspiration for some fanfictions. Oh, her fans were going to go crazy over the new stories, now she just needed to adjust the names…

“Chu Yunxiu, don’t think I didn’t notice it. Delete the photos.” Shit, Senior Ye caught her. Scowling as she dutifully deleted them, she was an honest person, the gamer presented the proof to the waiting Senior.

As Senior’s attention was snatched by Wang Jiexi, the woman grinned a little. Yes, she was an honest person and she did delete the photos on her phone… but Mumu had a copy! Muahahahaha

Chapter Text

Tao Xuan was sleeping when he received the call. Lately his schedule had been full, making plans and preparation for the future of the team, and lack of sleep had started to catch up to him. A nap had seemed like a great idea at the moment, the club peaceful for once with all the players gone. Ah, peace.

Little did he know, it would be the last time in a long time.

“What?” Startled by the news, the man jumped from the bed in hurry, rushing towards the TV. “Calm down now! Ye Qiu’s brother has appeared at All Stars?”

Ye Qiu had a brother? How? What? The man had never mentioned his family! Everyone had assumed he was an orphan like Su Mucheng, otherwise how else would they meet?

“Yes! The man was called to battle one of the pros, and revealed that they are brothers. Twins actually.” Chen Yehui tried to explain the situation, but the Boss didn’t pay much attention to his mumblings, heart betting fast. Twins. Ye Qiu’s brother… didn’t it mean that Ye Qiu would stop hiding?

“Be quiet for a moment.” Ordering rudely, the man focused on the TV, ignoring how Ye Qiu beat his victim into submission. The rewind ability that the TV cable companies offered was a godsend, sharply analyzing every moment since the twin appeared on the stage.

The similarities between the two men were startling, twins indeed. Appearance wise at least, Tao Xuan would be hard pressed to distinguish them. The air around them, however, was a dead giveaway. The brother was more refined, elegant and composed, dressed in a tasteful tailored suit with the air of unquestionable power. It was the name, however, that demanded his whole attention.

Ye Qiu. The twin introduced himself as Ye Qiu.

The implications didn’t go unnoticed.

“Chen Yehui, good job. Find me everything you can on his twin.” Disconnecting without a second though, Tao Xuan immediately dialed his lawyer’s number. With whatever had just happened, Ye Qiu wouldn’t continue hiding, but it didn’t mean the man would be accepting sponsorships either. Despite the reveal, the situation surrounding the man didn’t change much. For Ye Qiu, or whatever is his real name, that is.

“Why are you calling me now?” Li Wei’s voice reflected his fatigue and annoyance, but the owner couldn’t care less.

“The contract with Ye Qiu, can you check it out for me quickly?” Tao Xuan could feel his heart speed up in anticipation. Even though he knew it by heart, he wanted someone else to confirm it for him.

“You mean the certainly illegal by now contract that should have been updated? Yes, I have it, what do you want?”

“The name, the signature. Does it say Ye Qiu?” Ignoring the jab, Tao Xuan focused on what mattered.

“Of course it says Ye Qiu!” The annoyance was quickly escalating to fury. “Were you drinking or something?”

“That’s not his real name. The Battle God has signed the contract using a false name, probably even a false ID.” It might be a big leap in logic, but Tao Xuan had a feeling he was right. Oh, this situation was just wonderful. Who would have thought that the man’s own brother would bring Ye Qiu’s ruin?

“Shit, you are drunk. Stop spouting nonsense. Can’t believe you have interrupted my dinner for this.”

“Check the All Stars. Apparently our dear player had a twin brother.”

Using the information would be difficult up front. As Li Wei had said, Ye Qiu’s contract was borderline illegal. By the new rules of the Alliance, it should have been updated and re-signed two years ago. The news rules, however, didn’t fit Tao Xuan’s future plans, and since Ye Qiu didn’t pay attention, they continued using the old format. They couldn’t release his contract to the public as proof… but the Alliance should have the original contract the man had signed with them. Tao Xuan could use that.

“Contact the Alliance first thing in the morning. Let’s use them to smoke Ye Qiu out. He probably used a fake name there too, I doubt the Alliance will allow him to play again.”

“Tao Xuan… how far are you willing to go?” Li Wei asked tiredly, conscience hurting. “Weren’t you his friend?”

“Stop thinking and do as I say. Don’t forget, you are as implicated in this as I am.” Not allowing the man to continue, Tao Xuan finished the call, focusing on the two men on the stage.

The fans would be wanting some explanations soon, wouldn’t they? Organizing a press conference was probably the smartest move, but Tao Xuan didn’t want to get ahead of himself. Until the Alliance made a move, Excellent Era would lay low. And then…

And then, Excellent Era would finally have its chance to grow towards new heights.

 

Chapter Text

“Ye Xiu.” The man looked back as he noticed his name being called, deciding to let Chu Yunxiu off the hock for now. Surprisingly enough, it was Wang Jiexi, apparently the man was done listening in silence. “You need somewhere to spend the night, right? Tiny Herb’s hotel is far from Excellent Era’s, I believe your brother would feel better if you stayed from them as far as possible.”

That… Ye Xiu hadn’t been expecting that. While Ye Qiu may have asked him to stay with someone, he wasn’t exactly planning on doing that, thinking of crashing on a random sofa at the stadium. Some of the employees were his acquaintances, he was certain they wouldn’t mind him staying the night.

Misinterpreting his silence for hesitance, Wang Jiexi pushed more, taking advantage of the others distraction. “There is room for Su Mucheng too, I can text her to meet us there, she didn’t look happy having to leave with the rest of the team.” When in doubt, the pro-players have learned, always involve Su Mucheng.

“I… you are right. Thank you, if there is really place for us, we’ll impose on you.” While Su Mucheng had left with the rest of Excellent Era as not to complicate things further, he doubted she felt happy there. Or safe. He didn’t care much for himself, he could sleep anywhere, but Su Mucheng had to be protected.

“Perfect. We should leave then, it will be hard enough to escape the fans-“

“Senior.” Zhou Zekai appeared out of nowhere, fist clenched tightly. “Senior… stay… with us.”

Jiang Botao cheered on his captain from the side, pleased the man had managed to overcome his nerves for once. The prep time (casting-time) could be improved, but at the least the man hadn’t stopped midway.

“Little Zhou, thank you, but Big-Eyed Wang here has already offered me a place.” The disappointment was clear as day as Zhou Zekai’s whole face fell. “Oh, don’t be disappointed. How about a sleep over tomorrow? Even if Ye Qiu insists I stay in his room, I’ll just kick him out.”

“Senior!” Ye Xiu laughed at the excited tone, ruffling the soft hair in affection, messing up the stylist’s hard work. “Promise!”

“Sure, I promise.”

Jiang Botao made a mental note to warn the rest of the team, delighted at the turn of the events nonetheless. Wang Jiexi seemed displeased at that, eyes slightly narrowing as Senior Ye continued to pet captain gently.

“Still as doting over younger players as ever.” The Tiny Herd captain stated calmly, nodding to himself. “Though I am not sure Zhou Zekai can be considered that anymore, he’s been with us over two years now.”

“Hmm… you are right. Has it really been that long? I guess there is something innocent about him that makes me want to pamper him.” The man replayed serious for once, thinking deeply. “Little Zhou, do you mind? If you mind, I’ll stop, okay?”

“No!” Panicking, Zhou Zekai raised his voice, all attention immediately on them as the small talk stopped. “I don’t… I… don’t… mind…”

Smiling indulgently, Ye Xiu ruffled the silky hair once again, pleased. “Then I won’t stop.”

“Oi, oi, oi, what is going on here? Old Ye, why are you petting him?? Pet me, pet me, pet me! My hair is better, I take good care of it every day! See how wonderful it is? I bet it could be even used in a shampoo commercial or something!” Jumping into the conversation, Huang Shaotian shamelessly put his head between the two captains, urging Ye Xiu to touch his hair. “Come on, do it! It is quite nice, I swear!”

“No.”

“Screw you, Old Ye! Discrimination, favoritism, unfairness, double standards!” The blond man screamed angered. “I am only one year older than him! Discrimination I say, discrimination!”

“Have you been reading a dictionary lately? I see you have been learning new words.”

“Screw you! Let’s go, I’ll kill you thousand times over! PK, PK, PK, PK” Huang Shaotian almost jumped at the man, but Yu Wenzhou quickly pushed him back with a silent warning.

“Please ignore him. How about staying with us for the night? I’ve been meaning to discuss something with you actually.” And giving his vice-captain a glance, Yu Wenzhou smiled gently. “And I’ll keep this idiot from you, so you can rest.”

“Hey, who are you calling idi-“

Wang Jiexi stepped forward, putting his hand comfortably on Ye Xiu’s shoulder. “He’s already agreed to stay with Tiny Herb and Su Mucheng is on her way too.”

Ye Wenzhou smile grew wider for a second as both men stared at each other in silence, the air heavy between them. Tiny Herb and Blue Rain’s rivalry wasn’t just on screen, for more reasons than the rest of the word realized.

“Damn, as expected as the magician, as unpredictable as ever.” Zhang Jiale mumbled, and Chu Yunxiu had to agree whole heartedly.

“I can see the sparks flying.” The woman commented. “Ah, why didn’t I bring popcorn…”

A loud clap startled almost everyone, Zhang Xinjie’s efficient and violence free method of controlling the crowd. “There’s ten minutes until dinner. Captain, we need to leave.”

“Yes. While there is still a lot to discuss, it can wait one more day. Tomorrow, after the event, we are going to have a long discussion, Ye Xiu.” Han Wenqing warned serious.

The pro-player didn’t even fight it, aware it would be pointless. With one last warning glance, the Tyranny duo left. Soon enough, the others left one by one, making the same promise to attend the interroga- meeting the next day. Since Ye Xiu was snatched by Wang Jiexi, it was pointless to stay any longer. Except for Huang Shaotian, he just wanted to annoy Ye Xiu to death, but his captain took care of that problem easily enough. And soon enough, everyone had left.

Chapter Text

Ye Xiu laid awake, unable to fall asleep despite the heaviness in both his mind and body. While he had managed to keep himself composed around others, the truth was that Ye Qiu’s sudden appearance and words had shook him to the core.

This self-destructing path, when will it end?

It hadn’t been supposed to happen. He hadn’t meant it to happen.

Would we have met again in a hospital, with me crying over your unconscious body?

Taking care of himself had never been a priority for Ye Xiu, even back home. There was always work to finish, books to study, languages to remember, reports to analyze… and on the streets, it was a matter of survival. Finding a place to sleep, money to feed himself, safe heaven to escape the worst parts of the streets…

His well-being had never been a priority. As long as he could function, he was good.

Su Muqiu and Su Mucheng had changed it a slightly. Both kept insisting he ate, slept and rested, even when earning money should have been a priority. They kept him safe and sane, in more ways than either ever realized. Slowly but surely his priorities shifted. It became a priority to keep the pair happy, and if it meant eating the right meals, so it be.

It was a good time in his life, Ye Xiu had realized later, a happy time. Love freely given, with no attachment nor conditions. The siblings weren’t like his parents, who loved him mostly for his achievement, nor his brother, who had no other choice but to love the single entity in that cold house who cared. No matter if he earned money or not, if he knew the answer to their problems, the siblings still cared for him, still smiled and protected him.

Ye Xiu had wanted to protect that warmth. But life… life was cruel.

Throwing himself into the club had been the only way he knew to keep himself sane. Ensuring Su Mucheng’s future and well-being, there was no other goal. To gain glory, to reach the dream Su Muqiu no longer could. A single priority. Everything else, the club, the players, his own health, became secondary.

That’s why when he realized what was happening within the club, it had been too late. In his quest for Glory, he had lost those he had once called friends. There was nothing he could do to repair it, the wound was too deep, too old. But he still couldn’t regret his actions, no matter the outcome.

For he had reached the goal, created a dynasty as they had dreamed off. Became a God of Glory.

And Su Mucheng… she had bloomed. Beautiful, strong and proud as a mountain, no one could make her bow. His greatest joy.

How long do you plan on allowing this? They are HURTING YOU!

Ye Xiu was fine with that, he didn’t mind it. He could live with their actions, would accept it and ignore it. Compartmentalizing his feelings was easy, he had learned it long ago. It was easy to ignore the hurt, the hateful words and gazes. Their actions in the game were less forgiving, but he often made up for it by pushing them further in training. He had hopped, at least, to leave a competent team when they finally threw him away.

Perhaps once he left, Su Mucheng would finally have a time to shine properly on the stage.

Brother, I don’t want to lose you.

Ignoring the effect he had on other people, however, was more difficult. If Ye Qiu had been driven almost to tears, how had it affected Su Mucheng, who had been forced to witness everything? The weight he had lost was significant, even he admitted it. The insomnia was driving him insane, the headaches and painful stomach cramps… she had always been there, helping him, even if he tried to hide the worse.

If Ye Qiu, who hadn’t seen him in years, was panicking to the point of begging…

Ye Xiu felt like trash. Pathetic, how pathetic… If Su Muqiu could see him now… what a poor excuse of an older brother…

Sighing at his quickly derailing thoughts, Ye Xiu calmly climbed out of the bed, carefully covering his bed mate for the night. Those depressing thoughts were pointless, he hated how they somehow managed to snuck upon him with a terrifying force. Perhaps it was time to take a walk around the hotel, hopefully sleep would caught up with him soon enough.

Glancing at Su Mucheng who was sleeping in a nearby bed, Ye Xiu smiled to himself, adjusting her covers before sneaking out. After all those years, and the girl still had horrible sleeping posture.

Walking down the corridor, Ye Xiu wished for a smoke, saddened he had finished his last pack the day before. Even though Wang Jiexi paid for the dinner, the gamer didn’t have enough money to buy a new one. Thinking about the man, Big-Eyed Wang sure had an interesting sleeping posture. All straight, the man resembled a corpse creepily enough. Ye Xiu would have to take a picture when he returned, he doubted others would believe him without proper proof.

How the man had convinced him to share the bed was a mystery. Even though Ye Xiu hadn’t minded sleeping on the sofa, it was soft enough and he had slept in worse condition, somehow in the end he still ended up in the bed. Su Mucheng had laughed at him, that traitor, but hadn’t offer to share her own bed, thankfully. Both knew the results would be bruises. Dark and painful.

In retrospective, he could have asked to share the room with someone else. He trusted Wang Jiexi not to try anything funny with Su Mucheng. Why hadn’t he thought of it sooner though?

All thought quickly disappeared, however, as he heard the clear sound of keys being pressed. Intrigued, he hurried to follow it, only to end up in a small computer room. There was only one occupant, a young boy with dark hair, certainly younger than 20. It was almost two already, shouldn’t he be sleeping?

The teen was playing Glory, running a dungeon alone with a scary intensity. An assassin, and the boy wasn’t half bad. There were some aspects that could be improved, but overall, there was a possibility for him to go pro.

“Ah, you should have used Blade Storm there.” The man couldn’t help but comment as the boy’s character was thrown back when he failed the attack. “The extra stabs would have done the job.”

The boy yelped at the sudden noise, hands randomly hitting the keyboard as he swirled back. Feeling bad, Ye Xiu put up a faint smile, internally wincing as the character performed a series of embarrassing moves. At least there was no one else there, the other players would have laughed at the boy mercilessly.

“S-s-s-senior Ye Qiu!” The voice was shaky, disbelief clear as blue eyes became huge. The child was slowly hyperventilating, game completely forgotten, even though monsters were starting to gang upon him.

“Good night. Shouldn’t you be sleeping? By the way, your character is dying.” The boy absentmindedly turned to the game, but it was obvious he was still in shock, because his hands didn’t move a single millimeter. “Move to their back with Shadow Move and Cut Throat at the closest.”

The child obeyed without a question, showing little to no trouble with his directions. “Ankle Break on the second and focus on the forth with Teleporting Stab, go all out.” Ye Xiu had to smile at that. It had been a while since someone aside from Su Mucheng actually listened to his orders that carefully.

“S-senior, t-thank you…” The boy mumbled looking down after ensuring the character was in a safe zone.

“It’s fine, it’s fine. I was my fault for startling you in the first place.” Ye Xiu wanted to play too. However, he couldn’t exactly use his main character, and he had left his alternatives back in the hotel. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“Ah, I was just… wanted to practice a little bit more…” The boy was a shy one, reminding Ye Xiu of a puppy he once had, a nervous little thing.

“How about I help you practice? If you can find a card for me, I can give you some pointers?” The boy froze, no longer playing with his fingers as he finally looked at Ye Xiu properly in complete disbelief. The pro-player just smiled encouragingly. “I’ll have you know that I am called the Glory Textbook for a reason. You can give me any card you have.”

“Ah… I… yes, I have…” The child was speechless, which only amused Ye Xiu further, as he nervously pulled off a card. “It is an assassin…”

“Excellent, it will make things easier. You can call me Ye Xiu by the way, that’s my name.” The poor boy was overwhelmed, eyes clearly swimming still in complete shock, and the man actually laughed at that. “What is your name, young one?”

“Senior, sorry, I am Qiao Yifan.”

Chapter Text

“The press has been camping at the entrance since five in the morning, sir.” His attendant stated calmly, eyes on the crowd forming bellow, as the other two monitored the health of their chief. “And I don’t think they will leave any time soon, unless we give them the opportunity to interview Ye Qi- Ye Xiu personally.”

“You damn good know why we can’t do it.” Feng Xianjun grunted between clenched teeth, struggling to continue breathing evenly. Even though he had already taken his heart medicine, the current situation was a little too much for his poor heart. Perhaps he should seriously consider resigning already. “The consequences for the Alliance would be devastating. Only by allying with the demon and following his plan can we survive this.”

The men looked at each other in worry, having been there during the meeting between the chairman and the true Ye Qiu. Chairman had a point, the whole scandal could pretty much kill the company, especially if the man himself got involved. The Ye Corporation, while mostly flying under radar for regular people, was a major player in the economy. They had their hands in everything, be it construction, technology or fashion and beauty. And despite how nonsensical the threat had sounded, Ye Qiu looked dead serious when he promised to destroy anyone who stood in his way in his quest to avenge his brother.

Be it a person. Or a whole company apparently.

(Secretly, one of them wondered how much of a bro-con the man was, but wisely chose not to voice it.)

“Excellent Era’s lawyer, Li Wei, is calling once again.”

“Ignore him, don’t answer, I don’t want to deal with them at the moment.” Sighing, Feng Xianjun accepted another round of pills, forcing himself to swallow, hopping it would be enough to prepare him for the chaos that would soon plague the entire Alliance. “Is the press room ready?”

“Yes, everything is ready and waiting.”

“Good, good… starting allowing them in, but only one per publisher. I shall be there soon enough.” The man’s eyes moved towards the prepared speech on his desk, written with elegant strokes which belonged to that demon. What to say, which questions to expect and how to answer. The man had come prepared.

“Chairman, I still don’t understand.” A new aid mumbled tiredly, finishing organizing the medicine. “Even if it is God Ye, it’s just a name. I am sure there were others way to handle this…”

“If only it was just a matter of names…” Sighing, Feng Xianjun clearly felt his age as he stood up, the graveness of the situation weighting on his shoulders. “While in appearance belonging to their respective clubs, in the eye of the law, the pro-players are ultimately employees of the Alliance. A single lawsuit at this point would be detrimental to the Alliance, but with everything happening in Excellent Era…”

The man didn’t need to finish for the young man to understand, paling suddenly. Instead, he just followed dutifully as the chairman made his way towards the press room.

..

The camera flashes were unrelenting, but Feng Xianjun skillfully ignored them, already used to it by that point. It wasn’t often he gave official statements, but honestly, there was no other option.

“Chairman Feng, is it true?” “Has Ye Qiu faked his name?”  “Breach of contract? Will Ye Qiu be disqualified?”

Many questions were being thrown around, the noise almost overwhelming in its intensity. The man waited patiently until the crowd calmed down, showing no weakness to those vultures.

“First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their investment in the Glory Alliance. It warms my heart to know that many have shown up at five in the morning just to get some truthful information for the fans.” Some of the reporters had the decency to turn away, recognizing the jab for what it was. “Despite what is speculated online, Glory player Ye Qiu is registered with us legally, with his real name, and there is no issues with him playing professionally. While we admit it is not his real name, the regulation does accept the use of pseudonyms.”

“What is his real name?” Someone asked, jumping right into the issue everyone was passionate about; and Feng Xianjun noticed absentmindedly that there were few cameras in the room, recoding instead of taking pictures.

“Usually I would not say, but player Ye Qiu has agreed to disclose it.” A lie, but the chairman was certain the junior demon would convince senior demon. “His real name is Ye Xiu.”

“It is rather similar, why did he use a pseudonym?”

“While I cannot state outright the reason, it is related to some family issues. Please direct such question to the person himself.”

“Is it because he ran away from home as a teen?” An intuitive reported hurried to ask, eyes flashing. “The same reason why he hasn’t appeared in person during games?”

“Once again, please direct those question to the player.”

“So there are no issued with the contract? Did he use his real name?”

“Yes, the contract player Ye Qiu has with us has his signature, it is completely legal without any issues. The question whether he’ll continue with the pseudonym or use his real name is still open however.” The chairman stated with a small smile, trying to appear welcoming, while hopping the interview would just end. “Since this matter is settled, if there are no more follow up ques-“

“Ah, here! Nian Zhen, from Path of Glory. Could you please address the growing apprehension caused by God Ye’s brother?” Suddenly a small woman stood up from the crowd, her blond short hair swaying as she practically jumped to be noticed. “The man has stated that God Ye has some health issues and has even lost weight!”

The chairman had been expecting that question, but it didn’t keep him from wincing internally. It was time, however, to follow the prearranged script. “I can neither confirm nor deny such worries, as I rarely interact with players. The clubs are responsible to ensure their players are healthy and given enough rest, therefore such questions should be directed to the club.”

“But isn’t there a system in the Alliance to ensure it is being followed?” The woman continued to push, frowning. “There is a documented photo record that proves God Ye has been losing weight. And during All Stars the fatigue was obvious. I am afraid the fans are starting to worry.”

“The Alliance receives a yearly physical examination of all players done by an independent physician. There is also examination of the work conditions twice a year.” Or at least there should be.

“Nothing else?”

“The duty to ensure the health of the player’s falls into the club’s hands, as is stated in the contract between the clubs and the Alliance. The club’s knows the penalties to fail to ensure it are serious, I doubt anyone would be stupid enough to ignore it.” Aside from Excellent Era, apparently. “Of course, face the growing distress, the Alliance shall send specialist to check upon the situation to ensure there are no irregularities with player Ye Qiu’s health. The Alliance shall keep everyone informed.”

Whispers followed his words, but the crowd at least looked calm enough. He had went through all the question the demon had prepared, hopefully no curve balls would come his way. Once it was done, he was going to relax all day, ignore the mess happening outside and…

“Chairman, just one more question.” That time Feng Xianjun recognized the reporter, a seasoned man that had given him more headaches than warranted. “If the Alliance was aware of Ye Xiu’s family issues, why was still fined every time he missed a press conference?”

Shit, a curve ball! Feng Xianjun wanted to hit that man, why give him more headaches?

“No matter the circumstances, the players must all follow the same rules. We cannot make exceptions just for one player.”

“Surely the rules could have been revised to include some exceptions, it wouldn’t be the first time the rules changed because of one person.” Everyone winced as they remembered Huang Shaotian and his big mouth. “Continuing to harass player Ye Qiu despite knowing his circumstances looks almost like bullying, chairman.”

Bullying his ass! As if anyone could bully that shameless demon; the reporter could only say that because he had never been forced to interact with the man… Ah, but now that he thought about it, couldn’t it actually be seen as bullying? The man had serious reasons why he couldn’t exactly just show up, the junior demon had been honest on that aspect. And yet they had insisted, not asking even once for the reason…

“I admit the matter could have been handled differently, by the time I came into office it was the norm.” The staff even printed the documents in advance to save time. “I assure you the matter shall be revised to become more flexible.”

Chapter Text

“You really did it…” Huang Shaotian couldn’t believe his eyes and ears, replaying the press conference again and again. There was wonder and awe as he looked at Ye Qiu, speechless for once. To think that there was someone in the world capable of manipulating that old fart… Jumping towards the serious man, Huang Shaotian held a pair of slender hand tightly. “Master, please teach me!”

“Tch, get away from me! Ye Xiu, help!”

The pro-players were all sitting around a table, happily eating the wonderful (and rather expensive) cuisine Ye Qiu had so gracefully offered to pay for, none paying attention to the drama happening.

“Hey, stop eating all the meat!” Zhang Jiale complained, trying to retrieve the plate Chu Yunxiu had stolen. “Weren’t you supposed to be on a diet or something?”

“Red meat is good for a diet.” The pro-gamer replayed, taking everything. “Haha, guess you get second place again. Just ask for more.”

“Second place??? Listen here, you-“

“Senior, you need to eat more vegetables.” On the other side of the table, sandwiched between the two Tyranny players, Ye Xiu could only watching helpless as Zhang Xinjie added more food to his plate. “It is good for your health. And a little bit of chicken too, perfect.”

“Isn’t this too much? I can’t eat so much…”

“Add more protein, he’s too skinny. We’ll have to set you up with a proper exercise routine, lifting weights will help ensure the extra calories go into your muscles.” Han Wenqing added, sticking to his own diet instead of going crazy over the food like the others.

Helpless, Ye Xiu stared at his full plate in despair, not even sure where to begin. It was thrice his usual portion, how was he even supposed to find space for everything in his little stomach? Even trying to ask Su Mucheng for help was useless, Old Han was watching him like a hawk!

The All Stars event was finally over, and as promised, everyone had reunited to talk about the issues surrounding Ye Xiu. The man had tried to distract them with food, using his brother as bait of course, but the group was dead set on getting some answers. After the dinner of course.

“Master, master, please teach me, I swear I shall give you anything you want, just teach me how to make the old man yield! I can even teach your how to play Glory, don’t you want to play with your brother, you’ll love the game once you realize how great it is! And I’ll even help you make a silver weapon, we’ll improve it to the point others will want it, and then we’ll gang up on the Excellent Era guys together and beat them down until their level becomes red! We can’t kill them for real, but sometimes it feels good to kill them in game, trust me! Come on, tell me, please Mas-“

Panicking, Ye Qiu pushed a dumpling into the man’s mouth, rushing to find some solace next to his brother, terrified. It was the first time he hadn’t managed to intimidate someone with a glare, aside from brother of course.

“Ye Xiu, stop ignoring the issue and help me!” Sprawling over Ye Xiu as he hugged him from behind, the powerful CEO wanted to hide. Or at least to be small enough to hide in his brother’s pocket. “Why doesn’t he stop talking? He is so loud! Not resting even to breathe, how is it possible? How can anyone even stand him!  Don’t laugh, help me!”

“Hey, I am not loud! And of course everyone loves me, Master how can you be this-“ And yet, another dumpling was pushed into his mouth, that time by the older twin.

“Huang Shaotian, be a good boy and shut up for a minute. Don’t you see you are scaring my brother?” Barely containing his laughter, Ye Xiu nudged Han Wenqing to make some space, as Ye Qiu wasn’t exactly light. The blond Blade Master scowled slightly but obliged, skulking as he ate his dinner silently. “I’ll play some rounds with you later.”

“Ha! You better! Everyone heard you say it, you can’t escape now!” Now in a much better mood, Huang Shaotian focused on his food with enthusiasm.

Ye Qiu, in the meantime, frowned, looking at the space created for him next to the glasses guy, with brother practically glued to the scary faced bastard. Ha, as if!

“Move.” Pushing Ye Xiu aside, the twin inserted himself between the two rivals, giving the larger man a glare. “I think I told you to stay away from my brother! State your intention towards him immediately, or else I’ll-“

Ye Xiu was quick, resolutely feeding Ye Qiu a piece of his uneaten chicken. The younger brother looked at him wide eyed in disbelief, uncertain if he should protest or accept it. On one hand, he was being fed by Ye Xiu. On the other hand… well, there was nothing. Instead, completely ignoring the audience, he obediently opened his mouth as Ye Xiu feed him.

(“Chu Yunxiu where did you get the camera?” Zhang Jiale asked startled. “And the popcorn!

“Shush, don’t interrupt my time in heaven. This is just so tasty!”)

 

 

 

“Alright, let’s us focus on the issue at hand.” Yu Wenzhou decided to take control of the interrogation, giving Ye Xiu a warm smile as the last waiter left the room. Only dessert was left, but they could eat it slowly while talking. “Senior Ye, we all have noticed something off with Excellent Era. Mostly we assumed it wasn’t serious, we had believed Senior would ask us for help if anything happened… just as you always told us to do if we ever needed anything.”

There was a reason Ye Xiu was so well liked in their circle, despite his general shamelessness and bluntness. Unknown to the public, there was a special QQ group dedicated specifically to solving problems, be it game related or otherwise, with the Battle God as both the owner and top contributor. The man had often helped them navigate through the legal aspects of the Alliance, negotiation of contracts and other issues. Some even asked for personal advice, and the man had always been more than happy and available to help them.

The new generation may have never made use of it, as the situation in the Alliance had become stable, with more rules protecting the players, but the earlier players would never forget the huge help the man had been.

To think that the one time he needed an advice… no one knew.

“You were the one who created the rule that every problem should be shared.” Han Wenqing stated simply, crossing his arms. “What do you have to say for yourself, Ye Xiu?”

Ye Xiu visibly hesitated, for once not sure how to answer under the waiting, and somewhat hurt, eyes of his coworkers and friends. “It is just… an internal problem within Excellent Era, as it wouldn’t affect other players…”

“And that justifies it?” Some flinched as Han Wenqing punched the table vexed. “Do you think we care so little about you? That we would ignore something simply because it doesn’t affect us?”

That’s… something that had never even passed through his mind. Ye Xiu found himself unable to look at anyone in the room, not wanting to see how much his actions had affected others. Having grown used to rely solely on himself, carrying all decision and consequences, Ye Xiu couldn’t answer even such a simple question. It wasn’t that he thought they didn’t care about him, it’s just…

“Senior, we worry about you.” Wang Jiexi finally mumbled as the silence became too much, shaking his head. “Be it as fellow players or friends, we care about you and wish to be there in your times of need. All we ask is for you to be honest with us.”

“That’s right! You always help us out, now it is our turn!” Chu Yunxiu stood up all fired up, pulling Zhang Jiale up forcefully. “It’s time to kick some ass and take some names!”

“My arm, my arm, woman why are you this strong? But she is right, you can count on-

“Senior. Count on us.” Zhou Zekai suddenly interrupted, much to a certain pro player’s ire. (Second again, what the hell is this?) “We all… help…”

“That’s right, don’t underestimate us! We are no longer newbies, we can kick anyone’s ass, even yours! Ha, rise everyone, it’s time to show those idiots who dared hurt Old Ye how useless they are!” Trust Huang Shaotian to find a way to trash-talk even during a heartfelt moment.

Gazing at the group, Ye Xiu was amazed and, not that he would admit it, touched. Perhaps sensing it, Yu Wenzhou smiled gently as he took Ye Xiu’s hand in his. “Senior, we understand there were some circumstances forcing you to keep your silence. However, as you can see, everyone here is worried and would do anything to help you. Please, tell us what is happening.”

 

 

The explanation went as well as anyone would imagine it. Between Han Wenqing’s glare, Yu Wenzhou’s gentle prompts and Ye Qiu’s loose mouth, the whole story was quickly painted in all its glory.

“Wait, you mean that this is happening simply because you refused the sponsorships?” Zhang Jiale asked speechless, finding it hard to believe his own words. “You gave them three wins, made them a dynasty!”

“Money is an attractive things…” Ye Xiu just shrugged, pushing his dessert towards Ye Qiu. “For some people, Glory is not enough.”

“But… It’s a dynasty! Excellent Era’s name will go down in history! Your name alone will never be forgotten!” Chu Yunxiu knew better than anyone the weight of a name. “Are they not afraid of the consequences? Are they not embarrassed by their actions?”

The actions of Excellent Era were revolting. Nauseating. And incredibly terrifying.

“Excellent Era has changed.” Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Su Mucheng spoke her mind. As focused on Ye Xiu as they were, most completely forgot about her. Was Excellent Era treating her the same way? No, Ye Xiu would not allow it, not her.

“Su Mucheng, what do you mean?” Wang Jiexi prompted, wanting to hear the situation from someone who had seen it all happen first hand.

“It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, it was just about the game. Everything began in an internet café, it was simple and easy. There were no excessive demands, no scheming behind our back. Glory. It was all about Glory.” The partners looked at each other, momentarily lost in the warm memories. “But as the team began to win, as the Alliance began to grown, it became much more. Tao Xuan began to see the potential for more money, for Excellent Era to grow further. The fame went to his head, they began to pressure Ye Xiu more. It wasn’t much at first, simple remarks and offers. Talks about possible deals, but nothing serious. That is, until the team lost the final.”

“Su Mucheng…” Ye Xiu wanted to stop her, but the girl was on the roll, unable to restrain herself.

“They blamed Ye Xiu for the loss. Replaced everyone immediately, using Ye Xiu’s notes from the training camp, without even considering the consequences for the team unity. You won’t even believe the mess it was at the beginning, we couldn’t coordinate at all; I swear it was a miracle we even made it to the semi-finals that year. And the pressure for sponsorship… I tried to help, offered to do it myself, but they kept insisting. They wanted Ye Xiu, the Battle God, to become the face of Glory. They could only think about money and prestige… Ye Xiu, refused, of course, but they didn’t give up. Not until Zhou Zekai.”

“M-me?” The young man couldn’t help but exclaim, shrinking as everyone turned his way. “I… I… Senior…”

“You became the face of Glory, little Zhou, and the higher ups grew resentful as the offers stopped coming from the Alliance.” Patting Su Mucheng gently on the head, as to remind her to choose her words carefully, Ye Xiu just stared at the distance lost. “At first it wasn’t bad. The management team took out their anger on me by proposedly delaying my pay or forgetting to buy the items I requested, small stupid things. I thought it would stop eventually, as long as we won a new final. The team was starting to work out, they were finally catching up to me and Su Mucheng; I was actually looking forward to the new season. And then…”

“It was a disaster, as you all know. At first we dismissed the errors as mistakes, it wouldn’t be the first time pressure got the best of a team. But soon enough it became obvious. The mistakes-“

“Were on purpose. One player at first, and then slowly but surely, no one aside from Su Mucheng listened to my orders while in field. By this point they don’t even try to hide it, pathetic honestly.” Ye Xiu craved a smoke, the stress of the situation catching up like a blow.

“And the other conditions are degrading quickly too. They have barred him from using the common kitchen, and even try to stop me from eating with Ye Xiu. It has come to a point that they even requested him to pay for the water he uses for shower!” The young woman’s eyes were blazing with righteous fury. “And that’s not even the worse part! I don’t know if they think Ye Xiu’s an idiot, or they truly lack some serious brain cells, but the contract they keep forcing on him…”

“I don’t think we need to discuss that...”

“Oh, no, we really need to discuss that.”

At some point they had forgotten about Ye Qiu, but the man had been patiently and attentively listening and watching, making a mental note to investigate some of the other pro-players.

“Were you drunk when you agreed to that contract?” Without any mercy, Ye Qiu slapped his brother with a rolled journal, looking like a furious housewife. “Did the gaming kill your remaining brain cells? Father would disown you immediately if he ever caught wind of your stupidity… and don’t even think about it!” To empathize his point, he hit him again.

“Ye Qiu…”

“Don’t Ye Qiu me! Only an idiot would sign that willingly! And as much as it hurts me to admit it, you have never been an idiot. So admit it, right now, how did they threaten you?”

“Brother, really let’s talk about this later…” In the privacy of their own room, where a certain someone wouldn’t get hurt…

“They used me, right?” Su Mucheng quickly realized, closing her eyes tightly. “The only reason why…”

“It wasn’t just you. It was…” Ye Xiu sighed, absentmindedly scratching his wrist. “It was everything. They used you, Dancing Rain, even One Autumn Leaf at some point. I couldn’t just… I would be willing to leave One Autumn Leaf, but you and Dancing Rain… his last legacies…” Even considering it in a hypothetical scenario hurt too deep, Ye Xiu couldn’t keep talking about it anymore. The fear of being forced to part with everything was too fresh, too vivid. If even the last piece of him was lost…

Without warning, Ye Xiu stood up, finding that he needed some air. No one tried to stop him as he rushed out of the room, whatever they saw kept them put.  Not even Su Mucheng, glued to her own seat, tense and miserable.

For a while, silence reigned the room. Ye Qiu, strangely composed, and the pros, trying to digest the information. But in the end, however, there was only one thing that was left to say.

“Ye Qiu…” Su Mucheng broke the silence, steal in her eyes and voice. “Excellent Era… they need to pay. For everything… Tell us what to do.”

Chapter Text

Battle God, Ye Qiu uses an alias to play Glory!”

“Ye Qiu, official pseudonym of Ye Xiu.”

“The price of privacy: Ye Xiu became Ye Qiu”

In an unusual display of anger, Tao Xuan threw the newspapers against the wall. The country was discussing only one topic – and not in the way he had expected.

 “How is this possible? Our contract clearly states Ye Qiu!” They had double checked and everything! “Li Wei, what did the Alliance say?”

“The same thing as at the conference, and they even sent me a copy of the contract. It has the part about the fake name for the games and is signed clearly using Ye Xiu.” Li Wei calmly slipped on his coffee, ignoring the hissy fit. “Whatever you were planning, I am afraid it won’t work now.”

“Shut up!” Growling as he began to pace around, Tao Xuan tried to understand.

There was no doubt in his mind that Ye Q-Xiu used a fake name to sign up with the Alliance. There was no reason to use a fake name for his contract with Excellent Era and not with the Alliance. The contract Li Wei had seen, however, was clearly signed with Ye Xiu.

The Alliance was backing him up… but why? Of course, it would be bad if it became known that Ye Xiu joined using fraudulent methods, but it would not reflect too badly on the Alliance itself. At most few calls to increase the security measures, but nothing major. The current chairman, however, was no fool. There had to be some pressing reason for such swift actions, faking an official document wasn’t as easy as some believed.

Shit, Tao Xuan was missing something essential. A reason for the Alliance to stay on Ye Xiu’s side…

Was he overthinking it? Even if Ye Xiu came from a rich family (and wasn’t that an ironic finding), it was obvious that only his younger brother cared about the runaway. Playing professionally obviously brought nothing but disappointment to his father, the man hadn’t even attempted to contact his son after all. To sway the Alliance money alone would not be enough, the probability Ye Xiu’s brother was involved…

No, he was overthinking it. The chairman probably didn’t want any unnecessary trouble on his side, not with the momentum the Alliance was having.

“While we cannot use the Alliance anymore, we can still use the situation.” The man finally said after a while, rubbing his throbbing head. Dammed Ye Xiu, bringing only stress and headaches. “We’ll go with the initial plan. Wang Sheng, release the agreed-on statement, just leave out anything related to the Alliance.”

Xxx: Hey guys, have you read the EE statement??? Can you believe this??? God Ye has been concealing his real name from his own team!!!

Xx: Holy shit! That’s unreal!

Xxx: God Ye, why??? From your own team!!!!

Xx: is that even legal? Like, don’t they have contracts and shit…

X: hmm… maybe? I mean, if it was done through the Alliance… Then again, EE won’t press charges, right?

XX: Of course not! But that’s not the point. Ye Qiu/Xiu LIED TO HIS OWN TEAM!!!! Does that shameless man know no boundaries??

XXX: Oh please, many people use stage-names and alias. It’s not that strange. So what if God Ye wanted to separate his personal life from profession life?

XX: But not telling his own team? That’s a dick move if you ask me.

X_X: Hey, you need to remember that he ran away from home! I bet it was for self-protection, self-protection I say!

XX_X: That is true… You may want to look into it, but holy shit, his parents are loaded. Bet he feared someone from the club would sell him out… and then there would be no more God Ye for us…

Xx: Please, as if EE would do that. YX is just a selfish bastard! He lied to everyone! Can you imagine what it will do to the team?

XX: Yea, YX should retire and pay for what he did! How dare he lie to everyone! What else is he hiding, hmmm???

Xxx: hear, hear. Enough with him! And with his bad performance lately, isn’t it about time he goes? He’s getting sloppy!

XXX: sloppy? are you blind or something? God Ye has been performing excellently as always!

Xxx: Ha? Blind your mother! The team hasn’t won a match properly in months!

X_X: But that is not God Ye’s fault! He always wins his individual matches! And even when it is group match, he kills at least two other players!

Xx: Yea! Don’t go pushing blame on my YX muffin! It’s the team, the team! Those other assholes are pulling him down! Poor YX and SM, having to play with those idiots…

xXx: To begin with, why did EE even release such a statement??? Other teams would certainly stand by their players! Yet EE immediately attacked YX!

X_X: Hear, hear!

XxX: You are right!!! The hell, I almost didn’t notice! Why would EE do that?

Xx: Maybe because EE is an honest club???

Xxxx: please, like there is an honest club out there… my children, we need to investigate this!

 

-

Ever since the All-Stars last weekend, the atmosphere in the club dropped to icy levels. Aside from the cleaning staff and the technical development team, the rest either threw him dirty looks, or pretended that he didn’t exist. No one directed him a single word, treating him like an invisible ghost, breaking the mold only for the training.

Usually, Ye Xiu wouldn’t mind at all. It was refreshing in a way, not having to deal with them. If not for the fact training was being affected.

“Liu Hao, stop lagging behind.” Ye Xiu barked the order half tempted to strike the idiot. “He Ming, one more rookie mistake and you’ll be running the beginner dungeons for a month.”

The training was turning out a disaster, pure and simple. The players’ mind clearly wasn’t in the game, as those idiots threw him probing glances occasionally, and his patience was nearing its end. Ye Xiu might be more resistant to stupidity than most, but it didn’t mean his patience was infinite. And boy were those idiots testing him.

Too bad for them he had already reached his limit.

“He Ming, you are done. Request a level one card, if you insist to act like a noob, then I shall treat you as you wish.” The young adult just stared shocked, frozen in his spot. “Liu Hao, run the training menu number 4 until you clear it in five times, we don’t need turtles in the team. Guo Yang, this is your first and only warning.”

“You-“ He Ming stood up furious, ears burning as someone laughed at him. “You can´t-“

“I can’t? Need I remind you that I am still your captain?” There was steal in his eyes, anger in his voice. Ye Xiu wouldn’t allow them to disrespect Glory, not like that. “Training regime is my responsibility, sadly enough for you. And if you insist on behaving childishly, then you shall be treated that way. Tomorrow I shall check on your progress, you better have reached at least level five.”

“Ye Xiu…” Liu Hao spat in a barely controlled voice dripping with loathing. “There is a game next Saturday, we should be preparing for the game.”

The captain stared at his supposed teammates as he smiled in distaste. “Let’s not pretend that any type of preparation will change the outcome of the game.” Liu Hao twitched at that, but Ye Xiu just shook his head. “Training is over for everyone else today.”

“Ye Xiu!”

The man ignored his vice-captain’s call, leaving the room without hesitating with Su Mucheng following close behind. There was no reason to continue playing his usual role, Ye Qiu was on the move and his current team wouldn’t stay together for long. There was no need to put up with their childishness and disrespect, not with the end approaching.

“Ye Xiu…” Su Mucheng called out worried, pulling his sleeve slightly. It was rare for him to get so dismissive in training, even if he often used his sharp tongue to press where it hurt. “Want to go get something warm to eat?”

Even though he wanted nothing more than to lay down and try to sleep, he couldn’t refuse that warm smile. “Of course, I could eat something already.”

“Great! I found great place you’ll like! Their soup if great, and you’ll love the dumplings.” Ye Xiu was thinking of fast food, it was cheaper and he hadn’t received his salary for the month yet, but then she looked at him with those round eyes and all he could do was nod. “Let me just-“

“Ye Xiu.” Wang Sheng snarled from behind, haughtily signaling with his head to follow. “Tao Xuan wants to talk to you. Alone.”

The pro-player had wondered when it would happen. The boss had kept radio-silence for almost a week. Gently ruffling the annoyed Su Mucheng’s hair, he winked at her. “Go get your disguise and wait for me at the entrance. This won’t take long.”

---

“Ah, there you are.” Tao Xuan didn’t even look up as Ye Xiu was unceremoniously pushed into the room. Wang Sheng had no tact. “The man of the internet. You are quite famous at the moment, Ye Xiu.”

Ye Xiu didn’t have it in him to play games, not even flinching at the venom in his old friend’s voice. Leaning against the wall as he crossed his arms, the pro-player decided to cut the chase. “What do you want.”

“Ye Xiu, Ye Xiu you have always been a smart one, I am sure you already know what I want.” He didn’t dignify the man with an answer, simply waiting. And as always, that did the trick. Tao Xuan really needed to learn patience. Somethings never seemed to change.  “Ye Qiu, Ye Xiu, retire. Leave the pro-scene and don’t come back.”

“And why exactly would I do that? I am still young; I can still play. I would say I have at least three to four years ahead of me if I play my cards right.”

“The scandal about your name alone can burry you, and we both know it. I don’t know how you managed to convince the chairman, but we won’t protect you here.” Tao Xuan waved the contract at him, smiling smugly. “You know what will happen if we decide to press charges.”

Weak. Such a weak attempt. Honestly, wasn’t Tao Xuan underestimating him a little? Didn’t he realize what his reveal to the public meant… ah, Tao Xuan always had problems seeing the larger picture.

“Stop the charade, we both know that that contract shall never see the light of the day. If it becomes public, you won’t escape serious criminal charges.” Tao Xuan’s smile dropped as he slammed the contract on the table, revealing the coldness behind the smiling façade.

“Ye Xiu, don’t test my patience. Retire, do it for the team. It is your duty”

“If I remember correctly, my duty is to win games. Too bad your own actions are keeping us from doing it.” The man stood up, but Ye Xiu knew there was nothing more to discuss. No reason to pointlessly keep Su Mucheng waiting. “I won’t retire, Tao Xuan, not this easily. Good luck in your scheming though, you’ll need it.”

Chapter Text

Things were not going as Tao Xuan had expected. Not even the attempts at discrediting Ye Xiu online. The man just had to go and win a group challenge by himself, hadn’t he? Prove to the fans that he was not losing his touch, spiting on the club's attempt at manipulating the public’s perception.

Ye Xiu, that dammed devil!

Not even the plan B was working, the man refused to eat or drinking anything not bought by Su Mucheng! And he had gone to such lengths to acquire strong sleeping pills anonymously…

Ever since Ye Xiu’s face was revealed to the public, it became exponentially harder to deal with him. Tao Xuan had half forgotten how tiresome the devil could be.

“Liu Hao, next game the team needs to redeem itself. There is no need to continue playing badly on purpose.” Rather, it would be bad if the team continued to produce such bad results. “Take control half through the game and win it. We’ll stick to the main idea, but make it seem like Ye Xiu isn’t a team player anymore.”

It was a long shot, Tao Xuan knew, but better than nothing. How else was he to explain their horrible results so far? One wrong move, and the public would turn on the rest of the team.

“I gathered as much… I’ll talk to the rest. What about the issue with the practice? That bastard continues giving out annoying punishments every time we mess up somehow. He Ming is stuck in a low-level zone for at least two more weeks.”

“Just endure it, nothing can be done for now. Practice is of the responsibility of the captain; my hands are tied.” Ye Xiu was once again being needlessly difficult. Gritting his teeth, the man considered his options. “Removing him from the captain’s position now will do more harm than good-“

An insistent knock on the door broke the conversation midway, Tao Xuan’s face darkening immediately. He had ordered not be disturbed in any way!

“Excuse me, sir, but there is someone here for you.” A professional looking woman opened the door slightly without even waiting.

“I said not to disturb me, I am in a meeting right now.” The new secretary would be fired today. Was it that hard to listen to orders? Was Ye Xiu’s lack of respect rubbing on others?

“I apologize, but this is really important.” Tao Xuan had to frown at that, noticing for the first time how rattled the woman looked. Had some accident happened in the club? “There is someone from the Glory Alliance here waiting to speak with you.”

From the Alliance? Ordering her to bring them as he sent Liu Hao away, Tao Xuan adjusted his suit. Was it because of the issue with the name? Or perhaps… had the Alliance realized there was no valid contract between Excellent Era and Ye Xiu? No… no, that wouldn’t be a problem. Their inside contact had assured a proper fake would be in the data base in case anyone looked for it. And Tao Xuan would have been informed too.

However, why then would the Alliance bother them? The examination had been two months ago, they had submitted the health records in time too. There was, honestly, no reason for the Alliance to bother them.

No matter, he would deal with it. Perhaps luck was finally going to shine upon them.

“Excuse me, thank you for receiving me on such short notice.” The man whom walked in wasn’t someone Tao Xuan recognized, but the credentials he presented were real.

“Of course, anyone from the Alliance is always welcomed here.” The owner was on edge, fighting to keep the poker face from slipping. “How may I help you today, Mister...”

“Li Qiang, from the External Administration Office. Due to the recent events, I am here to inform you that Excellent Era will undergo a thorough examination of its facilities and treatment of its players.”

-

 

Excellent Era under suspicious: what exactly is happening.

As many may be aware, the only dynasty club Excellent Era is currently undergoing a thorough examination by the Alliance. But many may be wondering: What exactly does it mean?

The process of an examination by the Alliance is usually simple. An official worker of the Alliance will visit the club on a specific day, without any warning, and take a look at three key points: the living space, the training space and the relationship between the players and their employees. This usually means that each player is interviewed personally, in a secure place, and these answers are stored anonymously.

While EE has already passed this year’s second examination, and with flying colors too, there has been a growing outrage in the online community demanding a thorough investigation in regards of God Ye's health condition. There has been a speculation, caused by God Ye brother's comments and pictures of different body parts of the God through the years, that God Ye's health may be in jeopardy.

Most would believe the current investigation is just the Alliance making good on their promise to the fans to look into the situation... but honestly, I am afraid there is more to it!

Now, as many may expect, the officer that inspects each club is chosen randomly and anonymously, as not to have any previous ties to the club in question. It seems, however, that EE does not apply to this rule!

That's right! This reporter has dug deep into this matter, and there is no room for doubt: there hadn't been a single, completely independent examiner for Excellent Era!

Excellent Era has never been checked by an independent individual! Family members or friends of EE workers, individuals with possible hidden intention, those were the usual officers over the years.

And it does make you wonder, right? Did EE have no idea? Was it just a coincidence...? In all honestly, I suspect it’s not that innocent. And the Alliance seems to agree with my speculations. Could it be that the incident with God Ye is only a facade for the Alliance’s true intentions?

EE has, for many years, been considered as the best club for player growth and treatment, the Alliance examination bringing them many hopeful souls. A good review by the Alliance added with God Ye? Sing me up please.

Yet, the discovery that everything may be fake is worrisome.

How, truly, are the players treated there? The interns, the children in the training camps? The fact we don't know is terrifying. Hopefully the Alliance will uncover the truth, but this reporter won't wait.

I shall be conducting a personal investigation into Excellent Era and its growth over the years. I'll keep everyone updated!

Nian Zhen

Path of Glory

Chapter Text

"Little Yifan, are you sure you don't mind?" The young man blushed a little as Senior Ye called him by his name, a foreign warmth filling his little heart. Still, he tried to keep his composure as he logged with his new character.

"Yes, Senior! I d-don't mind. T-thank you for inviting me." There! Qiao Yifan had said it! He had finally thanked Senior. Not quite how he wanted, but it would have to for the moment.

Senior Ye laughed slightly, the sound a delight to his ears, as the two were talking through the game. "If you are certain. But if it starts affecting your training, we can work out something different."

Qiao Yifan had been terribly surprised when Senior Ye had added him on QQ, and even more when the god started inviting him to late night arena fights. The man was a legend indeed, teaching him with patience no one had shown before, instructing either with his voice or with his character. And the results were immense. Even Captain Wang Jiexi noticed his improvement, having complemented him the other day, though the young man felt like he didn't quite deserve it. It was all Senior Ye, Qiao Yifan would not have improved that much on his own.

Therefore, when Senior Ye invited him to play in the new server, the young man accepted immediately. Despite feeling uncertain, changing to Ghostblade when he had been playing and improving as an Assassin, the young player didn't hesitate. Even if Senior Ye had requested a cleric, he would have done it in a heartbeat.

"I am in the game, Senior." With his new character he went all out, digging into his repressed imagination to create what became One Inch Ash. Though perhaps he shouldn't have been reading his mother's poem book as he named him, hopefully no one would notice. "And I have all quests done as you asked, I am level seven now”

Yifan wanted to do something to repay Senior Ye. Even if the man was just doing it to pass time, the attention and time senior had so kindly given him was a blessing. While he had grown used to being ignored and outshined, always the last option, a part of him still craved for attention. To be recognized. To be prized. To be taught, cared for and remembered.

Sometimes… sometimes, when he was feeling particularly down, he would resent Gao Yingjie for having everything Yifan ever wished for. The attention, the recognition, the chance to grow… it never lasted, though, it horrified him that he could even think that way about his friend.

Now, though, perhaps he would never feel that way again. Even if it didn't last for much longer, Senior Ye had already given him everything he wanted. And it was time for Yifan to repay the kindness.

"Excellent, then I will meet you at the entrance of Green Forest, I need some materials there and we need to catch up to the others." Qiao Yifan didn't even ask why, immediately redirecting his character to the meeting point. "Send me a party request once you see me. My name is Lord Grim." 

Chapter Text

Blue Rain had just finished a good game, managing to win 8 to 2 beautifully. Then again, as last year’s champions, there was a certain expectation from them. Therefore, it was with good mood that the team sat in front of the cameras, patiently answering the potential questions.

“What do you think about your chances on winning this year?”

“We shall do our best to try and meet our fans expectations. “Yu Wenzhou answered professionally, as always with a gentle smile. There was always at least one similar question, at that point everyone knew how to deal with them already.

The team so far was doing well, their spot in the playoffs was guaranteed, and the press knew it. Usually the post-game conference before playoffs wouldn’t even have that many people, but for once, the venue was packed.

“You next game will be an away game with Excellent Era.” With the pleasantries gone, it was time to address the main reason everyone was there. “Have their recent wins changed your strategy for the game?”

“No, no matter the previous games, we are well aware that Excellent Era is not to be taken lightly.”

“What about player Ye Xiu’s recent accomplishments? There has been talk of Ye Xiu losing his touch, do you think his recent actions are a last effort to-

“What, Ye Xiu losing his touch? Have you been drinking?” Huang Shaotian interrupted rudely, laughing at the red-faced reporter. “Don’t believe the crap out there. Ye Xiu is still the same menace, do you guys know how hard it is to fight with him? He has no mercy, no mercy! Just ask Yu Feng, the poor guy was toyed by him at All-Stars.”

“Senior…” Yu Feng mumbled embarrassed, but didn’t exactly refute the statement, as it was true. That incident still hunted him sometimes, Senior Ye truly was a storm to be reckoned with.

“See! See! If Old Ye is losing his touch, then what does it say about the rest of us? Perhaps we should all just retire… He’s the best for training for solo matches, trust me. The other day I somehow managed to sweet-talk him into PK-ing with me, but I think I somehow made him mad, he didn’t even give me a chance! Finished me in two minutes, I really shed tears that day. I used that frustration during the match, ha, I think I am ready for a rematch. Old Ye, Old Ye, come PK tonight, I’ll show you why they call me the Sword Saint!”

The interview was derailing fast, as it always happened the moment Huang Shaotian opened his mouth, but for once his team mates didn’t seem eager to help solve it. “I-I see that you seem to respect Ye Xiu a lot.” The reporter tried to take control back, the smile cramping. “Captain Yu, what do you think about the issue?”

“As Huang Shaotian said, Ye Xiu is still in the prime of his years, underestimating him only leads to defeat.” Yu Wenzhou took off his glasses to clean them, as calm and collected as ever. “While Excellent Era hasn’t been having the best performance, if you look closely, it’s clear that it’s not because of Ye Xiu or Su Mucheng. Their winning rate in individual and group challenges are frightening. The rest of the team, however…”

“You think the rest of the team is unable to catch up?” A female reported suddenly pipped in, her pink hair easy on the eyes despite the color. “Excellent Era has a top-notch training camp, finding better players to coordinate with their duo shouldn’t be that hard.”

“I did not say that, miss. I am just stating the facts, as was said, we quite respect Senior Ye. I think I speak for the whole community when I ask people to do their research first before publishing fake information.” The reporter who had dared ask the question shivered as Ye Wenzhou’s smile grew wider.

“Understood, Captain Yu. Since we are on the topic, can you comment on the rumors that Ye Xiu’s health is failing?”

At that Yu Wenzhou has to look at his teammates, something that did not go unnoticed by the press. Nor did his hesitation, as he readjusted his glasses, obviously uncomfortable.

“Ye Xiu… as you probably expect, he is not exactly the most open person, as such I cannot go into much detail. However, it is true that he has been losing weight steadily over these two years, looking more tired and stressed with each passing month.”

“And he eats so little!” Huang Shaotian pipped in displeased. “I swear my nephew eats more, and he’s four! I keep on reminding him to eat more, but he mostly ignores me. Rude, let me tell you. Is it that hard to answer to my messa-“

“The time is up.” An alliance worker appeared suddenly, cutting off the gamer without care.

“Oh, you are right, we didn’t even notice.” Smiling politely, Yu Wenzhou took lead, urging his team to leave. “Thanks everyone for being here. Hope you have a good night, and please do your research properly before publishing anything.”

Escaping to the dark corridors were no reporters would follow, Huang Shaotian grinned widely. Yes, they were the first to speak out! Ha, take that Wang Jiexi, Blue Rain had won that round.

“Shaotian.” The gamer froze at that tone, the sweetness making goosebumps run through his body. Scared, he turned around carefully, take a few hasty steps back at Ye Wenzhou’s bright smile.

“C-c-captain! Whatever happened, it wasn’t me! It was Zheng Xuan!”

“Hey, don’t drag me into this. Little Yu, let’s go, we don’t want to be witnesses.” Yu Feng hurried to agree, praying Huang Shaotian would survive the calamity.

“Huang Shaotian.” At his name, the blond man took more steps back, paling as he realized he hit a wall. Shit! “Ye Xiu isn’t answering in QQ. How are you contacting him?”

Contact- Honestly, he didn’t want to tell, it was like his precious little secret. But then Yu Wenzhou smiled more, and the Sword Saint knew he was domed.

“He asked me few days ago to help him with a dungeon in the new server, I don’t even know why he has a character there or why he wanted the dungeon, but I did it and now I have his character as a friend and I message him and he answer sometimes if I annoy him enough, he even confirmed last night that he ate a proper dinner and I was happy, but he still isn’t eating enough and…”

And he needed to breath. Feeling the world swirling as lack of oxygen hit him hard, Huang Shaotian didn’t even notice when captain hurried to his rescue. In, out, in, out. “Better now?” Yes, yes it was better, even if he still felt light headed. “Excellent. Now, let us continue.”

Nooo! Save him!

Chapter Text

Mispa: Oh. My. Glory! Have you read the latest story??? I can’t believe it.

xxharmonia: Shit, I have, and… shit… is it real? @ Rispa shouldn’t you say god?

sillenttium: I… I don’t want to believe it but… but…

EEforthewin: It can’t be real! EE would never do that!!!

chosingausernameistoodif: Exactly! EE has no reason to do it! My cousin went to their camp few times, he’s not good at all, and he has always returned happy. Lies.

GloryOhmyGlory: Stop with the lies! Come on people, this is EE! Don’t you believe your own club???

sillenttium: But… god, I don’t know anymore. Nian Zhen is a legit reporter! She does not exaggerate, and her investigations are always in depth…

EEforthewin: Yea right, legit reporter. Like there is such a thing.

Nomada: Bet she just wrote it to gain some attention! Lies, it is all lies!

bestHuangShaotianbest: Oh come on, like she needs that. She already gains enough money.

ButterflySnow: Plus! Plus, plus, plus! THERE ARE WITNESSESS! SHE TALKED TO PEOPLE. PEOPLE WHO WORKED THERE! WE CAN TALK TO THEM TOO!

Mispa: I don’t want to believe it… @ animusharmonia you worship your thing and I’ll worship mine

bestHuangShaotianbest: Nian is a well-respected journalist. And she excels at revealing hidden truth. I don’t want to believe it any more than you guys, but I can’t exactly ignore it either.

xxArdenMichaelisxx: Something fishy is going on with EE.

GloryOhmyGlory: You people are just trying to create problems for EE! You are not real fans!

AnimusMelodiam: Well, if being a real fan implies ignoring their wrongdoings, I DON’T WANT TO BE A REAL FAN!

 

--

Tao Xuan threw the newspaper viciously, not even caring when it hit someone in the face. He was furious. No, beyond furious. It was outrageous! Who dared-

The discrimination in Excellent Era’s training camps.

“What is this?!? Who dares… who wrote this thing?” The image he had worked so hard to build of his club was slowly being taken apart, bit by bit, revealing the dark cracks underneath.

“It’s that woman Nian Zhen, it seems she has returned to China.” Tao Xuan gritted his teeth as he sank down on the chair, struggling to regain his cool. “And it seems she is back investigating Chinese E-sports club.”

“I thought she had fled the country because of some issues with the police?” Cui Li wondered confused.

“Yes, but it appears to have been solved, she is no longer a wanted person.” Wang Sheng presented everyone with a small background on her, frowning in distaste. “She has been busy abroad, focusing on the Glory clubs of America and Canada. It seems she had been giving the clubs overseas some problems.”

The club owner didn’t care what the woman had been doing or why, all he cared was that she had returned! Excellent Era was suffering one blow after another, their investors were leaving one by one. The Alliance investigation was bad enough on its own, no need to add a public relations disaster to the list.

“But why now? Why Excellent Era?”

“Cui Li, I don’t know. As far as I can tell, her issues with the police were solved at the end of last month, and she arrived in China before the All Stars.” Something about the timing rubbed Tao Xuan wrong. “Her departure from the States was somehow strange. It seems she has been working on a piece regarding one of the clubs there, but put it on standby unexpectedly before returning to China.”

Heart betting fast, adrenaline running through his veins, Tao Xuan’s mind worked furiously. The All-Stars, the Alliance, that woman… coincidence? Could he really still believe it all to be a coincidence?

No, no he could not. He might not have the mind of a genius, but he wasn’t stupid. All his problems began with one man, and one man only.

Dammed Ye Xiu and everything related to him.

“It does not matter why she came here, what matters is that she is in China and set on destroying Excellent Era.” His voice startled the group, but the owner couldn’t care less, trying to control his fury. “We need to decide on our next course of actions. Wang Sheng, you will be responsible of dealing with her from now on. I don’t care what you say or do, as long as it doesn’t reflect badly on the club.”

“Yes, sir.” The man already had few plans in his head, a green card from the boss was everything he needed.

“Cui Li, you focus on the management, make sure each player is treated accordingly, Ye Xiu included.” They couldn’t take the risk with Ye Xiu anymore, not if what Tao Xuan suspected was true. “All restrictions on him are gone, ensure everyone knows to treat him warmly. Chen Yehui, stop asking Ye Xiu to help out, better not to take any risks. We need to quickly reverse the public image. Dismissed.”

Chapter Text

“God Han! Just few minutes, we swear. Please wait!”

Han Wenqing and Zhang Xinjie were returning from a quick grocery run when a small group of reporters surrounded them. It wasn’t that unusual, and the guards were already moving in, but Han Wenqing stopped them.

“What do you want?” It was a small group, headed by a small pink haired woman, amber eyes sparkling as he stopped.

“God Han, we just want to ask some quick questions regarding God Ye.” Han Wenqing’s face only grew sterner at that, and few reporters actually took out their wallets in fright. “Is it true that God Ye’s condition is slipping?”

The pro-player snorted at that. “Ridiculous. Stop wasting my time.”

“Senior Ye is still as strong as ever.” Zhang Xinjie added calmly, ignoring that one reporter that actually threw his wallet. “There still hasn’t appeared anyone who has more knowledge about the game than him. And his ability to control and overwhelm his opponent is second to none.”

“But what about his special move, he hasn’t used it in years. Doesn’t it mean that he can’t use it anymore?” One of the reporters bravely pushed on, and Zhang Xinjie recognized him from the TV. Hadn’t he made Yu Wenzhou angry?

“As if. He doesn’t use it because he doesn’t need to use it.” Han Wenqing was starting to lose his cool. He had a plane to catch in three hours, and his bag still wasn’t ready.

“What do you mean? With how Excellent Era has been performing, shouldn’t he-“

“Are you an idiot? It has a long ending lag, during which Ye Xiu can’t act. When he had decent teammates, he could use it and trust he would be protected, but now? Aside from Su Mucheng, who has his back?” Han Wenqing was furious, eyes flashing dangerously, as he defended his supposed arch-enemy. “If he used it during team matched, he would be just a sitting duck.”

“B-but at least t-the i-i-individual…”

“Why would he? Senior Ye has always been a practical person, he plays Glory by the books. If he can win without using it, then there is no need to use it.” Many pros considered Ye Xiu’s way of playing crude, efficiency always the priority. Doing things for the flare or for the sake of the audience, Ye Xiu wasn’t that kind of person.

“Ye Xiu has not weakened, ask any pro-player. He’s still the Glory top hidden Boss.”

--

“Eh, Senior Ye is getting worse? Are you drunk?” Chu Yunxiu laughed openly at the stunned anchors. “Senior Ye is a monster. We are always excited yet fearful to meet him on a battlefield, it’s never easy, you know? But it is rewarding and exciting. We know that we’ll always have a good fight with him.”

Chu Yunxiu had been invited to a morning tv show, who would have thought she would be asked questions about Ye Xiu.

“What about the talks online?” One of the anchors quickly asked, putting down his cup of water in wonder.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. Senior Ye’s personal performance is still the same as always, fighting him is a nightmare. Relax even for a second and he’ll take advantage of it.” Many fans of Glory all across the country had tuned in immediately to the show, the views sky rocketing. “It may be because of the team challenge; Excellent Era hasn’t been having the best results this year.”

“That is true. While Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng’s personal results are good, the rest of the team leaves much to desire.” The other anchor finally recovered, adding his two cents.

“Hm, agreed, agreed. The players aren’t bad per se, but it is clear that they lack team spirit. Senior Ye has always been a team player, he has taught many of us that Glory is not a game one can play alone, no matter their strength.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, despite what some think, Excellent Era’s dynasty was created by the whole team, not just Senior Ye.” Chu Yunxiu smiled gently as she recalled those days, memories of the formidable team that Excellent Era had once been igniting a fire in her heart. “As a Battle Mage, it is not unexpected that all attention fell on him, but the rest of the team played a key role. Wu Xuefeng was Senior Ye’s right hand man for a reason, the true mastermind behind many of their most outstanding wins.”

“Wu Xuefeng?” Many didn’t remember the old roster, the team that had made Excellent Era a dynasty.

“He was the original owner of Qi Breaker and Vice-Captain until he retired by the end of the third season. One of my personal heroes, to be honest.” The girl actually blushed a little at that, admitting to her secret crush on life television wasn’t easy. “He was much older than other players, so he couldn’t keep up with hand speed. Instead, he used his brain. Actually, he and Senior Ye complimented each other really well. Wu Xuefeng was always there when Senior Ye needed it, watching them play together was beautiful. You can still find some of their videos online.”

“Let’s see if we can find some.” The anchor mumbled to himself, struggling to keep his face relaxed. There was a reason why he disliked morning live shows. “Ye Xiu now has Su Mucheng-“

“But it’s not enough. Aside from the Wu Xuefeng, Xue Mingkai and Qin Tianran were excellent damage dealers and worked quite well with Ye Xiu. Xia Ming, their Sharpshooter excelled at control and knew how to take advantage of the situation. Yin Xiong was always there when needed, no matter what, his ability to survive any situation was terrifying.” The pro-player laughed at her memories. “It is a running joke between pro-players, but we believe one of their cleric training regimes was for the cleric to run away from Senior Ye in the game. Nothing else can explain Yin Xiong’s dodging ability.”

The audience laughed heartedly at that, not realizing how close to truth the woman was. “That does sound like a formidable team. No wonder they became the first Glory dynasty.”

“But I think we all understand what you are saying. Ye Xiu won because he had a good team. Yet the current team…” Now they were entering in murky waters. Chu Yunxiu couldn’t talk badly about other team members; it was highly frowned upon and could result in serious fines.

“They are not bad, in the end everyone there is a professional player after all. However, they do not work well with Senior Ye, and it shows.” Chu Yunxiu might not be able to talk about other players… but management? Oh, that was free game. “I do not understand why the upper management hasn’t deal with the situation yet. They aren’t even rotating the players. It’s almost like they are doing it on purpose, pushing Senior Ye to deal with the situation himself.”

“You believe the management is to be blamed for Excellent Era’s abysmal performance this year?”

“I cannot say they are the only ones to blame, but for most part? Yes, yes I believe so.” Everyone could already see the headlines forming. “Sadly, it is the management that has the final say in who gets to play, not the Captain. And when it is obvious a team is not working together, despite the Captain’s best attempts, it is managements job to fix it! Senior Ye is obviously trying his hardest, but for one reason or another, the rest of the team aside from Su Mucheng isn’t working with him.”

“That is true, the obvious disregard the players show for his orders is baffling at times.” The anchor added seriously, clearly following her logic. “It has improved, though, the team has been showing better results since All-Stars.”

“Isn’t that strange, though?” The other anchor interrupted suddenly, not a twitch of a smile. “The team only started performing better after Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng began to monopolize the group arena. And it was too sudden. They improved from one week to another. Such a big improvement; isn’t it impossible?”

“Makes one wonder, doesn’t it? What exactly is happening in Excellent Era?”

--

ButterflySnow: OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD! It is true! Something is happening in Excellent Era!

GloryOhmyGlory: Stop insulting Excellent Era! Nothing is happening there! Those are nothing but groundless rumors!

xxArdenMichaelisxx: Check this: God Han hints to issues in EE team: “Aside from Su Mucheng, who has his back?”

xxArdenMichaelisxx: And this: Chu Yunxiu: “Senior Ye is a monster” Watch the whole show.

bestHuangShaotianbest: Not to forget: Captain Yu: “While Excellent Era hasn’t been having the best performance, if you look closely, it’s clear that it’s not because of Ye Xiu or Su Mucheng.”

EEforthewin: Lies! They just want to create problems for EE!

Inglorywetrust: Hear, hear! Why should we pay attention to them? Liars.

sillenttium: “Senior Ye is still as strong as ever.” Zhang Xinjie

xxharmonia: Chu Yunxiu: “I do not understand why the upper management hasn’t deal with the situation yet. They aren’t even rotating the players. It’s almost like they are doing it on purpose, pushing Senior Ye to deal with the situation himself.”

AnimusMelodiam: Huang Shaotian: “Ye Xiu is still the same menace, do you guys know how hard it is to fight with him? He has no mercy, no mercy! Just ask Yu Feng, the poor guy was toyed by him at All-Stars.”

AnimusMelodiam : Huang Shaotian: “The other day I somehow managed to sweet-talk him into PK-ing with me, but I think I somehow made him mad, he didn’t even give me a chance! Finished me in two minutes, I really shed tears that day.”

Huang Shaotian V: Ahhh, did you have to remind me of that? @ AnimusMelodiam cruel person, cruel…

Yu Wenzhou V: Who told you to lose in two minutes. And go back to training! You have extra training for another week.

Li Xuan V: Trololololol. Pathetic, truly pathetic.

Huang Shaotian V: @ Li Xuan V I am not pathetic, you piece of… PK me! PK PK PK let me show you who is the pathetic one!

Mispa: OH! MY! GLORY!

GloryOhmyGlory: WILD PROS APPEARED! I REPEAT, WILD PROS APPEARED!

bestHuangShaotianbest: Huang Shaotian! Notice me!

AnimusMelodiam: I was noticed by a God… mother, I am ready to leave this mortal world.

Yu Wenzhou V: @Huang Shaotian V Don’t make me warn you again.

Huang Shaotian V: Yes Captain! @bestHuangShaotianbest noticed *thumbs up*

Wang Jiexi V: I wonder how Senior Ye feels hearing everyone calling him a monster…

Zhang Jiale V: That is because he is! That bastard actually dared to pull of a 3-1 in our game last week! He’s usually mild mannered, who dared anger him??? @Huang Shaotian V was it you? Was it?

Zhou Zekai V: Senior… Strong!

Zhang Xinjie V: It is true, it has been a while since Senior Ye has fought that fiercely. It’s almost like we are back in the first season.

Chu Yunxiu V: Ah, that is true! I still remember the first time I saw him fight… Battle God no matter what!

Fang Rui V: Isn’t it obvious! Ye Xiu is showing off for his one true love: his brother! He has to impress his CEO brother somehow!

Chu Yunxiu V: @Fang Rui V  NICE!

Yu Wenzhou V: You guys… hasn’t the topic derailed?

Jiang Botao V: It always ends this way.

Wang Jiexi V: Bottom line: Senior Ye is strong. Huang Shaotian may or may not have angered him, so everyone will need to be careful in their next games.

Huang Shaotian V: Screw you! It wasn’t me! He was already angry before he fought with me! Like really angry! And it was before your game, @Zhang Jiale V, so stop blaming me! I am innocent, INNOCENT! Why do I always end up in trouble because of him? I swear, its like he cursed me or something! And to makes things…

Huang Shaotian V:… worse, his brother won’t even answer me! @Ye Qiu V Master, please teach me! I will be the best student, I swear! I’ll give you anything you want, teach me! Anything Old Ye has told you, it’s a lie! I am the best student you’ll ever have! Don’t trust that sly fox, don’t!

Yu Wenzhou V: Huang Shaotian. 😊

Huang Shaotian V: Oh xsddf I’m not here! Training, training, I am training.

Mispa: Oh. My. Glory.

Chapter Text

QQ chatroom for the professional Glory players.

One Autumn Leaf: With all that’s happening, I almost forgot. Wang Jiexi has the funniest sleeping position I have ever seen.

Swoksaar: ? What do you mean?

Dancing Rain: Oh yea, I can’t believe it! I would have expected it from Zhang Xinjie…

Windy Rain: Deeds! Describe it! Quickly!

Dancing Rain: No need. YX has something better.

Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: How do you two even know…?

One Autumn Leaf: Haha, look at this! *photo of Wang Jiexi sleeping on his back, completely straight, covered by a blanket* *photo of Wang Jiexi in simple pajama, hands lying straight next to his body, the blanket slightly lifted*

Windy Rain: Oh… my… how did you even…

Dancing Rain: I have one! *photo of Ye Xiu lying next to Wang Jiexi, using his arm as a pillow, one leg on top of the corpse-like man*

Windy Rain: *nosebleed*

Swoksaar: …

Troubling Rain: …

Cloud Piercer: ...

Doubtful Demon: …

Immovable Rock: …

Carved Ghost: …

Dancing Rain: Oh, and this one! *Wang Jiexi’s hand around Ye Xiu’s neck as the man migrated to the chest, curled around Wang Jiexi*

Desert Dusk: … pathetic.

Bullet Rain: Oh god! How did this even happen????

Dark Forest: Tinny Herb, good luck. I will pray for your death to be painless.

Windy Rain: When did this happen? How? Why? Oh, do you have more??? Oh god, oh god, oh god! This is better than my dramas! +1 pray

One Autumn Leaf: When we stayed over after meeting my brother. I didn’t want to impose, and sharing a bed with Su Mucheng… *terrified*

Dancing Rain: I kick. (・ω<)☆

One Autumn Leaf: Li Hua, why the prayers? And why isn’t anyone laughing? I thought it was funny… (╥_╥)

Vaccaria: They have no sense of humor, Senior, do not worry. Next week well fight with EE, want to stay over again?

Angelica: Captain…

Troubling Rain: WANG JIEXI! Fuck! Fuck! You! Shameless bastard! Taking advantage of the situation! Kill! Kill! Kill! I am going to kill you next time I see you!

Crying Devil: Wang Jiexi… terrifying.

Doubtful Demon: Kill.

Moon-Luring Forest: +1

Dazzling Hundred Blossoms: +2

Demon Subduer: +3

Yu Wenzhou: Senior Ye, you are right, that is funny. Wang Jiexi resembles a corpse when he sleeps… fitting indeed. 😊

Life Extinguisher: …

Zheng Xuan: …

Cloud Piercer: … Senior! Careful!

Empty Waves: Senior, you need to be careful. You like to cling to people when you fall asleep. Some people may have hidden intentions.

Troubling Rain: @Vaccaria come out you piece of shit, let me teach you a lesson. Stay away from YE XIU! STAY AWAY!

Troubling Rain: Wait, Zhou Zekai, how do you know this?? Shit, has Ye Xiu stayed over your place? Unfair, I say unfair! Next time you have to stay with us! You have to stay with us! Or else I’ll PK, PK, PK you to death!

Desert Dust: @One Autumn Leaf  next week I will be in B city, you’ll stay with me.

One Autumn Leaf: You guys are weird.  @Troubling Rain No.

One Autumn Leaf: @Desert Dust Sure. Prepare two extra card readers.

 

---

“Xian Wu.” Ye Qiu called icily, staring absentmindedly at the papers in confusion. He had a feeling someone trying to make a move on his brother… “Immediately send someone to check over my brother. I have a bad feeling…”

Chapter Text

Mispa: This is it. I am storming Excellent Era! *attachment: YeXiuHealthReaportCard.png*

“Date: xx/xx/2019

Name: Ye Xiu Age:24 Sex: Male

Date of birth:29/05/XXXX Marital Status: Single

Address: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Physical Examination: Height: 178 cm        Weight: 58 kg

Health History:

Digestive problems, recurring hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), dizziness, sleep disorder – insomnia, reversible lung damage, slight malnutrition, slight dehydration.

Vision: No remarks

Blood pressure/pulse rate: Normal range/Regular

Hearing: No remarks

Medical examiner’s comments:

Patient seems sharp and aware of his surroundings. Signs of prolonged stress and exhaustion. Aside from small alterations in the structure of the lungs, no other internal changes were observed.

Medical examiner’s recommendations:

Patient should immediately improve his diet through the introduction of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Water intake should increase. For episodes of hypoglycemia, a mixture of sugar and water is recommended. Episodes of hypoglycemia should decrease with a proper diet – consult a physician in case it continues.

Patient should stop smoking.

Digestive problems should decrease with the proper diet – consult a physician periodically to adjust the medication.

Insomnia – temporary medication. Recommended to reduce stressful situations, adopt good sleep habits, relaxation exercises before sleep. Suggestion: Find the underlying cause for insomnia.

May continue working, though recommended longer rest periods.”

 

--

“This is getting out of hand!” Wang Sheng stared through the window rattled. “The crowd outside demanding answer is growing quickly.”

“And we lost another sponsor, they even willingly broke the contract before due end.” Cui Li added worried, biting his nails from stress. “The other two haven’t said a thing, but we need to do something to stop this. The club can’t take any more blows.”

“Nor the guild. Excellent Dynasty has been losing people left and right. And without Ye Xiu to direct the hunts for World Bosses, we have been unable to reach this month’s materials goal.” Chen Yehui complained sullenly, ashamed of himself and furious with Ye Xiu. The man had completely stopped appearing in the game!

To make things worse, in the new server, a strange group has appeared creating nothing but chaos! Chen Yehui has been counting on the new server, it was his chance to shine bright and show they didn’t need Ye Xiu! And yet…

“Forget the guild, the matter with the club is more urgent. We have enough money in reserve to last a year or two, but we need to think in the long run.” Wang Sheng shut his coworkers, dreading the moment he would have to deal with the crowd. “Unless we solve this somehow, Excellent Era is done.”

Excellent Era is done.

The club he had watched grow from nothing, which held all his expectations and hopes, on the verge of a cliff. Because of Ye Xiu…

Ye Xiu was the reason the club was born… who would have thought he would also be the reason why the club would burn?

“No.”

All voices fell silent as Tao Xuan stood up, deceivingly calm. There were dark circles under his eyes, sleepless night caused by the stressful situation. His hair wasn’t perfectly styled, suit not in its immaculate state. He hadn’t even managed to eat dinner last night, slowly losing his appetite.

“No, Excellent Era cannot fall. Not now. We are too close, too close…” Sun Xian had rejected their offer mid the scandals, but no matter. That boy was a wild card to begin with, Tao Xuan didn’t need him. “Liu Hao, tell Qiu Fei I want to talk to him in half an hour. Cui Li, bring Ye Xiu to me now.”

As the men hurried to follow the orders, Tao Xuan focused on Wang Sheng, mind working overtime. “Wang Sheng, it’s time to address the fans. Taking in the discoveries, Excellent Era has decided…

---

 “…to temporarily relieve captain Ye Xiu of his duties until he recovers. The club has been noticing Ye Xiu’s gradual decline, but upon his own insistence, we decided to allow him to play. The gradual decline has, however, caused some discord between players. Sadly, Ye Xiu tends not to attend practice, which resulted in bad coordination between the players. Liu Hao has been responsible for the training for a while, that’s why the other players tend to listen to his orders more often than Ye Xiu’s.” Wang Sheng pretended to be saddened as he informed the public, even though deep inside he was ecstatic. “As such, Liu Hao will be the temporary captain until Ye Xiu recovers. As Ye Xiu has been insisting to be seen by an outside doctor, the club is not aware if the underlying decline is caused by a physical condition or perhaps some mental disorder. However, we hope that Ye Xiu finally decides to trust the club and discuss the specifics with us.”

The fans stood there staring at him in shock, their little minds struggling to comprehend. It always fascinated the man how malleable the public was, perhaps the reason why he went into public relations in the first place.

“You are trying to replace God Ye?” Someone yelled outraged from the back, and Wang Sheng actually struggled not to frown.

“No, no, it’s not like that. No one will ever be able to replace Ye Xiu. However, taking in account the recent discoveries, it is clear Ye Xiu needs time to recuperate and solve whatever issue that is causing his problems.”

“Bullshit!” Another person screamed, the crowd agreeing. “God Ye is obviously performing beautifully! If anything, it is one of the other players that should be replaced!”

“And why haven’t you done something to improve his health? Shouldn’t a club look after their players? Dirty, Excellent Era is dirty!”

“Please calm down. We have been trying to work with Ye Xiu to deal with this issue. Sadly, he is a complicated, stubborn man.” Indeed, had he taken the hint, there would be no such problems. “It has become obvious, however, that he cannot take care of himself. Excellent Era feels that it is for the best for both the club and the player for him to take some time to recuperate.” Half the audience, however, didn’t seem to be paying attention, looking at their phone screens. “In the meantime, a substitute will take on the burden of supporting the team with One Autumn Leaf. I hope all fans will understand this is a difficult decision for the club, but we feel-.”

“Shit, everyone, check Weibo now!” Someone suddenly yelled not caring that he had interrupted someone. “I mean it! Quick check the live stream section!”

“What are you even- holy sh-“

“Is this for real????”

“Shhhh people, I want to hear what he’s saying!”

Confused, Wang Sheng took out his own phone, quickly opening the application. And there, the most trending livestream…

Live: Excellent Era’s owner talking with God Ye! Must watch!

Chapter Text

The game he had been playing… Tao Xuan had thought he knew the risks. There was no chance of losing, or so he has believed whole heartedly. Ye Xiu was a stubborn man, but not unmanageable. One threat there, an insinuation there, and the man would do as asked.

For the first time, however, Tao Xuan feared he was playing with something he shouldn’t have touched.

“You wanted to see me?” Ye Xiu, the man he has once considered a friend, stood tall and proud before him, unwilling to yield even in the end.

“Yes. Ye Xiu, you are ruining Excellent Era.” Tao Xuan didn’t want to use his last method, despite knowing how effective it would be. Despite everything, he had never meant to hurt the young player. “I will give you one more chance. Retire of your own accord, leave the pro-scene forever.”

“I won’t.”

Of course he wouldn’t. Because why take the easy way out? Not showing any emotions, Tao Xuan pulled out a silver card from the top drawer. It was a beautiful thing, first edition Glory card many would die for, and Ye Xiu’s eyes immediately zeroed in on it. Gently, Tao Xuan ran a finger on the edge, heart heavy.

“Are you certain? You know-“ He had taken care of the card for so long, wavering between his ambitions and the duty to the late teen. Ambition had won out. As always. “-I was entrusted this card by a certain individual to find a proper wielder for it. The hope was to later incorporate it into the team. Sadly enough, I never found anyone good for it.”

“No, it can’t-“

“Nor could I return it to its original owner. The young man passed away rather tragically, it truly was a shame-“

“Be quiet! Why do you have Autumn Tree? We thought it was destroyed!” Ye Xiu’s eyes were ablaze, molten gold shining with barely restrained fury.

“Ironic, isn’t it? I would have returned it sooner, if only you had behaved from the start. Su Muqiu left it with me few days prior to the incident.”

“Don’t say his name.” The pro-player bit out through clenched teeth, not even attempting to hide his disgust. “Return it to Su Mucheng!”

“Of course, of course. You must understand, I completely forgot about it after the crash.” Tao Xuan was pushing all the right buttons, the man knew as he watched the young man’s face go all blank. For all his bravado, Ye Xiu was surprisingly easy to hurt. “But first you must do something for me.”

Ye Xiu didn’t react, but the owner knew he had corned him. Smile twisting, Tao Xuan gently held the card with both hands, intentions clear. “Quit the pro-scene. Don’t come back, don’t return, disappear.”

“It won’t solve anything, you know it. Even if I retire, you can’t continue hiding the dirt.”

“Let me worry about that. You just have to take the blame for the team. Because of your health issues, you were unable to lead the team properly. You failed your team and your fans, and this is your way to atone for your actions.” Everything else Tao Xuan would find a way to deal with, be it the Alliance or the unruly reporter.

Ye Xiu smiled slightly as he shut his eyes, hands immediately reaching for the pack of cigarettes he no longer carried. “This far… why? Using our characters, Su Mucheng, even Muqiu… Even though I gave it all- asked just for one thing-“

Once, Tao Xuan would have rejoiced at the gamer’s inability to form coherent sentences. However, all he could feel was emptiness. No joy, no sadness, not even guilt. Had he become a monster? The teen had once been his friend… it was too late, however. Far too late.

“It’s your choice. Do it, or I will break it.”

There was nothing in his gaze as Ye Xiu finally looked back at him once again, a coldness Tao Xuan had never seen before. The owner remained firm, simply pushing a contract forward. He knew what Ye Xiu would choose. Both of them knew.

“Alright. I’ll-“

“STOP TALKING!”

Wang Sheng burst into the room like a maniac, clothes slightly undone, looking like he had run a mile. Infuriated, he has been so close to obtaining what he wanted, Tao Xuan couldn’t help but yell at him.

“I am busy! What do you-“

“There is a camera in the room!” The other man didn’t care however, immediately looking around, searching. “There is a hidden room that is broadcasting everything that is happening right now!”

“What?” Both Tao Xuan and Ye Xiu asked, staring bewildered at the man.

“A camera. There is a livestream going, everyone is seeing this!” Wang Sheng wouldn’t be playing a prank, so… Tao Xuan immediately palled, rushing towards the man in panic. “Check the angle, where could it be hidden?”

The owner couldn’t believe it! Someone had installed a camera in his room? How was it even possible? Taking in account the angle, the pair turned towards the most probable location, the bookcase. Nothing seemed out of place, but Tao Xuan wouldn’t know, as it was kept mostly for decorative aspects.

“Inspect it, quickly.” If the public actually saw everything that just happened… Tao Xuan feared to even imagine it. Not now, not when he was so close…

A sudden movement to his left startled him, Tao Xuan freezing for a moment until he felt a hand on his. Ye Xiu!

“Don’t you even-“ Despite his emancipated appearance, Ye Xiu was surprisingly tenacious. Feeling the card slip out of his gasp, Tao Xuan pushed him back violently, staring in shock as...

Ye Xiu, stumbling back. Losing his equilibrium. Tripping, falling, hitting his head against the doorknob

… as Ye Xiu laid unconscious on the floor.

“Ye Xiu!”

Chapter Text

Su Mucheng’s heart beat fast as she watched the stream apprehensive, sharp eyes following every moment.

Installing the camera had been a huge risk, working in the middle of the night without cover or help, but it was more than worth it. She was not stupid. There wasn’t much Ye Qiu could do on the inside of the club, new personnel suddenly joining would be too suspicious. Su Mucheng, on the other hand…

Who would suspect her? The sweet, calm, weak Su Mucheng, who rarely stood up for Ye Xiu, who always hid behind her brother, always the supporting role…

Naïve bastards.

Resentment and hatred sharpened her mind, boosted her will and determination. Su Mucheng would stop hiding. Take action, make them pay, destroy them. She had made up her mind, and anyone standing before her would be ruined.

Be it the mastermind, or the fools deluded by money.

“Yes. Ye Xiu, you are ruining Excellent Era”

The sound was good, the angle perfect. She had taken her time to capture the best view, losing sleep night after night until perfection. Countless times she had almost been caught, forced to hide like a thief. Countless hours of her life spent watching Tao Xuan working boringly just to sneak in later to adjust some detail, be it the angle or the sound system.

Planning, recoding and waiting until the right moment.

And finally, it was the right moment. Now. Now, the world would know of the true darkness behind Excellent Era.

“I will give you one more chance. Retire of your own accord, leave the pro-scene forever.”

Ye Qiu had anticipated something big happening after the medical report release. The pure weight of a professional’s word could never be ignored, especially in the current circumstances. Weeks of wondering and fearing for the worst confirmed almost cruelly. Su Mucheng still couldn’t forget it, the coldness invading as she read those words, the hard, cold truth Ye Xiu had tried to conceal so hard.

The meeting in the room was proceeding as expected, Tao Xuan trying to make Ye Xiu quit-

Until it wasn’t.

“A-Autumn Tree?” Su Mucheng’s hand trembled, breathing stopping.

Ironic, isn’t it? I would have returned it sooner,-“ Her mind couldn’t follow, couldn’t understand. It couldn’t be… “-if only you had behaved from the start. Su Muqiu left it with me few days prior to the incident.”

“Don’t say his name. Return it to Su Mucheng!”

No. No… No, Autumn Tree had been destroyed, destroyed! One Autumn Leaf’s true partner. The future king of gunners! Autumn Tree… the essence of her brother-

They had lost him! They had lost them on the same day, both had disappeared from the word, leaving them behind, leaving him behind-

Of course, of course. You must understand, I completely forgot about it after the crash. But first, you must do something for me!”

The reality of the situation hit Su Mucheng like a bullet, brown eyes widening in panic. There were only one thing that could overcome Ye Xiu’s love for Glory: Su Muqiu. The person who had led Ye Xiu to glory, who gave him a family and a dream. Su Mucheng knew it with her whole heart. Ye Xiu would do anything to preserve Su Muqiu’s memory. Anything.

And Tao Xuan knew it too.

“No, no, no, no… Please, please don’t-” Biting her lower lip, treacherous tears slipped down her face as Tao Xuan went for the kill. Using Autumn Tree as a hostage, using SU MIQIU AS BETTING CHIP-

“This far… why? Using our characters, Su Mucheng, even Muqiu… Even though I gave it all- asked just for one thing-“

Even though he destroyed himself giving them everything they wanted! Ye Xiu’s smile cut her deeper than any knife could, blood flowing as she punctured the soft lip.

“It’s your choice. Do it, or I will break it.”

“TAO XUAN!” Unspeakable hatred burned in her heart, hatred for the man she had once called a big brother. Unscrupulous bastard, greedy coward that would do anything for the money…

But the world now knew. Ha, yes, it was over. Whatever Tao Xuan wanted Ye Xiu to sign- it wouldn’t work, not now. Red eyes focused on the number of views even as Wang Sheng busted in, a cruel smile growing on her beautiful face. Her stream was currently top one, the viewer number only growing. Soon everyone would know!

Soon, Ye Xiu would be free.

The sound of struggle caught her attention, the gamer’s smile dying down as the heart jumped to her throat. Her perfect placement caught it all. As Ye Xiu tried to retrieve the card, as Tao Xuan pushed him away, as her brother lost his footing and-

“YE XIU!” The girl called in panic, not even thinking as she began sprinting out. The whole club was in uproar, others began to walk out of their rooms worried, heading to the office. She didn’t care though, pushing not-so-gently in her rush. “Make way! Make way you idiots-“

It wasn’t too far, and soon she was before the office, her breath coming out irregularly as her worry intensified. Ye Xiu was lying unconscious, not responding to Tao Xuan’s panicked voice.

“Ambulance, did you call an ambulance?” Tao Xuan yelled sharply, slapping an assistants hands as she tried to move Ye Xiu. “Don’t move him, you fool! He could have a serious injury! The ambulance!”

“C-called. They are on the way.” Wang Sheng stated unsettled, holding in one of his hands the hidden camera. No matter, Su Mucheng didn’t care anymore.

“Stay away from him!” She ordered as she fell to her knees, pushing the club bastard away violently. “Look what you did! You hurt him!”

“I didn’t mean-“ The woman blocked out his words as she focused on her brother, only her power of will stopping her from crying.

Ye Xiu looked so frail! Defenseless in a way she had never seen him, and she vowed that from that point on, she would be the one protecting him. “Ye Xiu, brother, please-“

“Su… Mucheng…?” Slowly, painfully so, his eyes opened, golden orbs staring unfocused. “Mucheng what- my head…”

“Ye Xiu! It is fine, it will be fine. The ambulance is on its way!” She dared not move him, the possibility of a head injury gripping her heart in an iron clad claw.

“Ambulance? No, why would I- Tao Xuan’s office? Why am I here? On the floor? Is that blood on your lips?” Ye Xiu tried to move his head, hissing violently as it only brought pain. “Shit, it hurts. My head, why does-“

“You hit your head pretty hard, but don’t worry, everything is alright. Just try not to move your head. No, better yet, don’t move at all alright?”

“Not move, yes, yes, I can do it…” Su Mucheng licked away the blood, not even having noticed it, as she softly gripped his hand trying to settle her heart. Ye Xiu was fine and talking, awake, it would be fine. “Su Mucheng? Why am I lying on the floor? I need to- Urg, my head.”

“Don’t move, please don’t move.” Dread suddenly filled her as she stared at him carefully. “The ambulance is almost here, don’t worry.”

“Ambulance? Did someone get hurt? And why does my head hurt-?”

“You fell and hit your head. The ambulance-“

“I hit my head?” Ye Xiu interrupted her wide eyed, frowning immediately. “Strange, I don’t remember that… Why am I in Tao Xuan’s office?”

Memory problems… Ye Xiu was having memory problems… Trying to keep him calm, trying to keep herself calm, Su Mucheng prayed the ambulance would hurry up.

Chapter Text

“Brother!”

“Urg, don’t yell-“ Ye Qiu burst in the hospital waiting room like a possessed devil, the appearance of a perfect businessman long gone as the worry distorted his features. “My head-“

“Where is the doctor?” It had only been ten minutes since brother had been admitted, but Ye Qiu had expected the medic team to be already checking him. It baffled him that they were in the public area too, many people were staring and whispering at the gaming duo.

“We are waiting for our turn. His bracelet is orange, so it should take long…” The young girl explained in a whisper, clenching and unclenching her fist anxiously.

“Apparently I feel and hurt my head.” Ye Xiu explained as he read some note, surprisingly chill about it. “And it seems I keep forgetting it. Hopefully we’ll go to a more remote area soon, the voices are killing me.”

Wait. The hospital expected his brother to wait? In the public area, surrounded by gawking, whispering people, where every noise hurt his precious brother? Oh hell no! Hadn’t they realized whom Ye Xiu was?

“Xian Wu.”

“On it.” The woman efficiently read his intentions, and he knew his will would be done.

Calming his racing mind, taking in the smallest details, he felt his heart break. Ye Xiu was exhausted, barely keeping his pain in check, eyes focusing with difficulty. From time to time his face would go all blank, eyes close for few seconds, words revealing his confusion. The girl, Su Mucheng, handled the matter professionally, voice calm and collected as she explained the situation.

It wasn’t unusual for people to have problems remembering things after a head injury, but the speed of how quickly Ye Xiu’s mind seemed to wipe all information scared him. Was it normal because of the shock? A way his brain tried to protect him? Or was there something more serious? Could his frail health influence the situation?

“Oh, Ye Qiu, you are here too. Sit down, Su Mucheng said we will be called soon.” Ye Qiu’s hands twitched at that, the desire to hug his brother almost overwhelming. Two minutes, and Ye Xiu had forgotten about his presence again. “Haha, you look horrible. Did you just wake up?”

“Yes, I was having a nap.” No, he had stupidly jumped from a helicopter midway through the lift up when he saw what happened, rushing to his brother’s side. Later he would need to check for injuries, his left leg hurt slightly.

“Already an adult and still taking naps, childish as alw-ahhh, can’t they shut up…” A pair of teen were making a racket on the corner with her phones out, and Ye Qiu’s glare immediately dropped to absolute zero. “Tch, why does it hurt so much… Did I hit my head in my sleep?”

The sound wasn’t helping, and for a second there Ye Qiu considered ordering his security team to shut the public up. Violently if necessary.

“Boss, come.” Xian Wu appeared at the perfect moment as always just as the businessman was pulling out his phone to send the order. “I have already arranged everything.”

Gently, oh so gently, Ye Qiu helped his brother as the small group hurried to the private section. And if he held his brother closer than necessary, needing the reassurance that everything would be alright… well, everyone knew better than to call him out on it.

-


 

“Mister Ye will be perfectly alright. It’s just temporary.” The doctor finally gave the verdict to the quiet group, smiling gently, her voice reassuring. “We have given him a mild pain reliever and left to rest. It’s for the best to leave him to recuperate in the hospital for the next 24 hours.”

Su Mucheng sighed in relief, head falling down on her hands as she silently wept. Xian Wu hugged her gently, having bonded with the girl in the hour they had been waiting.

“Brain injury?” Ye Qiu couldn’t relax yet, however, thoughts running wild.

“CT shows no sign of any injury.” The woman explained, giving him the images. “We will schedule an MRI for next week just to make sure no tissue was damaged, but doing it now would be more detrimental than helpful. Mister Ye cannot handle loud noises at the moment of any kind and we need information on possible allergies to contrast solutions.”

“Understood, I’ll send all the information.” Those were… those were good news. Feeling better immediately, a weight released from his heart, Ye Qiu smiled slightly. “May we see him now?”

“Yes, but don’t make much noise. He must be asleep by now, poor thing is exhausted.”

“Thank you.” The doctor smiled as she walked away, and Ye Qiu sighed from relief. “I will go ahead.”

The girl wasn’t in condition to visit Ye Xiu yet, and Ye Qiu kind of wanted to see his brother first. The panic had abated, but the frightening possibilities his mind had dug up would only dissipate once he saw brother. Worrying for Ye Xiu was something he did daily, it came with the job so to speak. But fearing for his brother’s well-being in a hospital… brought too many bad memories.

With gentle motions he opened the private room, careful to walk as silently as he could. For the first time he cursed his spending habits, good quality leather shoes were not made to be quiet. His workers would laugh at him if they saw him, walking on his tiptoes afraid to wake up his brother-

“Ye Qiu? Are you trying to imitate a cat?”

“What cat? At least say dog- Brother, you are awake?” The smug bastard just smiled at him, annoying as always, and Ye Qiu couldn’t stop himself from pouting. “Why aren’t you sleeping yet?”

“I almost was… but then a heard you coming.” It was obvious Ye Xiu was barely hanging on, eyes practically glued together, even as he gestured Ye Qiu to come closer. How did he even know it was Ye Qiu? “I’m still unsure about what happened but… sorry to have worried you.”

“Hmp, I was not worried! I didn’t worry at all! I know how tick your head is. I just…” Yet brother just laughed at him, fighting against the sleep to pet his arm awkwardly. Stubborn bastard.

“I know, I know. But before that, I need to ask you- Tao Xuan had something important. I can’t remember what, my head kills me every time I try but- it’s important, Ye Qiu, please, it’s-“

“I know. We have it, you don’t need to worry anymore; we have it.” Ye Qiu had been confused to see his brother clutching a silver card like his life depended on it, even though he couldn’t remember what it was. Autumn Tree and Su Muqiu… there was a lot he still didn’t know about his brother. “You can rest now, just sleep. I will take care of everything.”

“Ye Qiu… thank you… love you…”

The twin just stood there staring, face slowly going red as he digested those words. Gods, Ye Xiu must really be out of it to say those words! Wasn’t he embarrassed? Shameless, shameless, shameless!

Sighing, Ye Qiu gently ran a hand through his brother’s messy locks, eyes softening as he whispered. “Love you too, idiot.”

Chapter Text

I.

The room was dark, blinds effectively blocking the outside interferences, the only source of light a big computer screen right in front on the bed. “You do not love me! You cannot continue using me to hide-“ A drama was playing on the screen, a frail looking female fighting her tears as she turned around to face her male counterpart. Both were gorgeous, a perfect couple some would say, but surprisingly enough… “When will you admit that you love HIM? When will you stop hiding?

N-no, it’s not true, I don’t-“ The male backed away terrified, hands trembling. “I love you! You! Not him!”

Don’t LIE TO ME! Don’t lie to yourself!” The woman, however, was tired of all the games. “I can see how you look at him! You cannot fool me, I’ve known you since we were-

“You got mail!”

A computerized voice startled Chu Yunxiu as her drama stopped automatically, a red box flashing brightly on top of the characters face. There was only one person allowed to contact her during her drama time.

“Why would Su Mucheng send me an email…?” Confused, Chu Yunxiu immediately went to read the message, only to end up more confused. “I need to share this with all my fans immediately? No, why?”

Even as she wondered, her fingers were moving, clicking on the link as she disabled the Don’t-Bother-Me mode. Su Mucheng always respected her private time. If the girl disturbed her, it had to be important.

“Excellent Era’s owner talking to- Oh, this can’t be good.” The stream was shared even before the screen finished loading, the number of views jumping dramatically. Indeed, such was the power of a pro! “Let’s see, what have I missed so far…”

Su Mucheng was a smart one. Bellow the stream was a transcription of everything said. Therefore, even if the video itself was removed afterwards, others would still be able to know what had happened.

“The boss trying to get God Ye to quit, Ye Xiu obvious refusing but… Autumn Tree? Why does this name sound familiar?”

 

II.

“This is crazy…” The players were supposed to be practicing, running a daily dungeon to get some materials needed for the technical department. And yet, their characters stood still, forgotten, as everyone crowded around a small monitor. “The heck is-“

“Quiet.” No one dared to even breathe loudly as Wang Jiexi pulled to the front, complete attention on the video. Watching and listening, not even blinking, heart pounding.

They all knew things were getting bad at Excellent Era. No one expected, however, for it to come to that point. Whomever Autumn Tree and Su Muqiu were, the importance they held for Ye Xiu was obvious. And yet that slimy bastard was still trying to use them against Ye Xiu!

“Are they really trying to force Senior Ye to quit?” Gao Yingjie mumbled to himself terrified, still innocent and oblivious to what greed could do to a person.

“Things at Excellent Era are not what they seem. Haven’t been for a while.” Wang Jiexi still cursed himself for not acting sooner. “People are only now starting to notice- Ye Xiu!”

The small group cried out worried as Senior fell down, the feed getting cut soon after. Staring at the screen incredulous, it took Wang Jiexi few seconds to reboot his brain. He hit his head. He hit his head. He hit his head. Was the only thing on his mind, terror slowly dripping his heart and reason. Head. Ye Xiu. Head. Hit.

“Get me a ticket now!” His voice was thunderous, and the crowd immediately scattered, having never seen his face twisting that way. Fear and terror led to anger rather quickly, and soon all Wang Jiexi could think off was to get there quickly. Ye Xiu was hurt! Hurt!

“T-t-there is a plane leaving in two-hours.” A shy voice informed him, and Wang Jiexi didn’t think twice as he gave his card details.

“I don’t know for how long I will be gone, Deng Fusheng will be responsible until I am back.”

As worried as everyone was, no one even noticed as the young man booked a plane ticket for himself, with his own money of course, quietly leaving a note of leave.

 

III.

Yu Wenzhou has always been a person prepared for everything. Planning and seizing the opportunity was a life-moto his whole family tended to follow, looking into countless possibilities to predict the best out-come.

There was a reason why his parents had not objected to his plan of being a pro-player despite his unfortunate hands. Where some had seen nothing but a pointless struggle, they had realized the possibility of something greater. With his brains and strategies, with a competent team, slow-hand speed would become nothing more than a small inconvenience.

That’s why, the moment the medical report had been released, Yu Wenzhou had been ready. The tickets were ready. He had booked a ticket for every available plane for two whole weeks, anticipating the worst. And hold and behold, his gut feeling had been right.

Not that he had expected the video. Or for the boss of Excellent Era to actually lay his hands on Ye Xiu, physically at least. Watching Ye Xiu hit his head had frozen his senses for a good half minute. His actual expectations were more in the realm of forceful retirement and public attempt at discrediting their captain, which was actually Excellent Era’s plot.

Anyway, Yu Wenzhou had planned to be there for Ye Xiu, as a friend of course, for moral support in such a difficult time. And if it had the added benefit of making Ye Xiu like him more, who was he to refuse?

That’s why, the moment his heart unfroze and thoughts stopped going through all the possible ways he could murder and get rid of Tao Xuan, Yu Wenzhou lost no time in leaving. Taking his pre-prepared bag, ticket on the phone and taxi already waiting, the captain of Blue Rain was ready.

“Captain, captain, were you really going to leave me behind?” As focused on his journey as he was, Yu Wenzhou almost got a heart attack as someone jumped at him from within the taxi. “Shameless!”

“Huang Shaotian?” Speechless, the dark haired gamer couldn’t help but stare at his vice-captain in shock. What was…? Why was…? How?

“Captain, did you really think you could hide it from me??? Booking all those tickets to go see Ye Xiu and not inviting me! I thought we were on the same team, how could you? I trusted you! With my life! And yet you tried to abandon me, leave me behind! Take advantage! Two-faced! Two-faced, captain, you are two-faced!”

“Shaotian, shut up.” He could already feel his headache forming. Feeling the gaze of the taxi driver, he smiled at the man as he forced his way inside, pushing Huang Shaotian away rudely. “I apologize for him, he has been dropped on his head too many times as a child. We would like to go to the XXX airport please.”

The driver nodded in understanding, quickly pulling away as it became obvious no one else would come. Huang Shaotian, on the other hand, just rolled his eyes silently, pouting as he stared out of the window. With both of them angry, it was going to be a long trip to H city.

 

IV.

The Samsara team had a lot of money. Not that they flaunted it, or made unnecessary purchases, mostly keeping it under wraps for when it would be needed. It didn’t mean, however, that the money wasn’t used. The club owner respected her players, and as long as the request wasn’t too outrageous, she usually didn’t mind fulfilling their wishes. Be it buying a new mattress for a bed, finding someone to repaint a room, or even buying cheap noodles, the boss was an easy going person most of the time.

She believed that while the players were in the club, it was the clubs responsibility to ensure their well-being and comfort. And as for their salaries? Everyone was encouraged to put it into their saving accounts. Even more so Zhou Zekai, their main secondary form of revenue aside from the game. That’s why they never rejected his requests, no matter how strange they were.

Like when he requested figurines of One Autumn Leaf. And a pillow. And a bunch of posters. Or when he requested someone to print pictures of someone, without looking neither at the digital or printed photos, in different sizes. Or when he asked to buy a web domain dedicated to a certain pro-players hands... In all honestly, there were too many strange requests, which were fulfilled with dedication and love.

Still, as the owner made her way to the practice room, she couldn’t help but think that the last request was starting to push some boundaries. Asking to create a program that automatically warned Zhou Zekai whenever Ye Xiu’s name was mentioned… the obsession was growing. And the owner, despite giving the green light for the project, thought it was time to have a serious talk with her best player.

The training room was unusually loud, the woman reflected absentmindedly. Usually the team was training their synergy with their quiet captain, pretending they were in the field. And yet, she swore she could heart someone curse.

“Captain, wait!” The door opened suddenly, Zhou Zekai running out in terrifying distress despite the arms around his waist. “Please, stop, we need to ask firs-“

“What is going on here?!?” Her two best players made quite the comical view, Jiang Botao practically on his knees as he tried to restrain his captain.

“I. Need. Go. Senior!” Something bad must have happened, the usually unexpressive Zhou Zekai was radiating distress. “Please.”

“Jiang.”

“Things in Excellent Era escalated and Senior Ye was hurt. Captain wants to hurry to his side, but we have a game in three days.”

The owner had to bite her lip at that, suddenly conflicted. Zhou Zekai was practically begging her with his eyes! The poor little thing was so distressed, how could she say no to- stop, get a grip, remember your position!

“You cannot skip a game, the fans will be devastated if you fail to show up.” Zhou Zekai’s face fell immediately, and were those tears she was seeing??? “But if you promise me to arrive back in time for the game, then I shall allow you to take the clubs private jet!”

Shit, she was a weak woman. “We swear! I’ll make sure captain is back here in time!” The owner rolled her eyes at Jiang Botao’s unusually earnest expression. Of course both would want to go, that Ye Qi-Xiu was a terrifying man. And yet as Little Zhou jumped to hug her, a beautiful smile blooming despite his anxiety, she couldn’t stay annoyed at anyone.

“Right, right. Go pack your things quickly, I will ensure you two can depart immediately.” With one last squeeze and a nod, the boys rushed away. Left with a room of confused pro-players, noticing her primary goal had been derailed, the owner sighed to herself. Guess the conversation about stalking would have to wait for later.

 

V.

The man was sitting quietly staring out of the window, face dark and clouded, thunderous thoughts running through his head. Violent and unrestrained, they consumed everything, powered by a feeling of worry and helplessness. Ye Xiu had been hurt, and he had been too far to be of any help. Useless!

“Captain.” Fierce eyes didn’t change their direction, almost like no one had even spoken. “We will be there in half an hour, I have the address.”

It was a thirty minutes too much, but Han Wenqing wisely kept his mouth shut, choosing to tighten his fists. In his left hand he still held the phone he had destroyed in his rage, unable to let go even if had become nothing but a useless piece of junk.

“I have managed to contact Su Mucheng.” Finally the man looked up, posture tensing immediately. “He will be alright, no after effects expected. The fall gave him a mild concussion that will go away with some rest.”

With a sigh, Han Wenqing fell against the comfortable seat, relief making his tense body finally relax. They had been in the middle of training when a junior rushed in with the news. There wasn’t much he remembered after seeing the fall, mind going red with rage and worry, only that he might have yelled at some people that certainly did not deserve his anger.

Zhang Xinjie had arranged everything. The private plane, the car, the quick lift off in just an hour minutes… Han Wenqing regretted it a little, he should have kept his cool better than that, but what he had seen and heard had been too much for him. And not just the part of Ye Xiu getting hurt.

Autumn Tree.

Others might not recognize the name, but Han Wenqing knew the character personally. In the past, wherever One Autumn Leaf went, Autumn Tree would follow. During the battles for the Wild Boss, when those two were in the same team, it was chaos. If those two were in different teams… well, pandemonium. Hell. Literal hell for everyone. Inseparable. The two were inseparable.

But then one day, Autumn Tree stopped appearing. It was too sudden, too unexpected, and Han Wenqing had often found himself almost asking. He never did though. Never could bring himself to do it. Because Ye Xiu had changed after the disappearance. No longer accepting every challenge, no longer carefree and wild and too bright-

“Autumn Tree… there is not much information about this character online.” Zhang Xinjie broke through his depressing thoughts without even noticing, attention firmly on his phone. “Just some low leveled guides and introduction to silver weapons. But the guides haven’t been updated in years.”

“You won’t find information on him online, he was active before Glory became a major thing. One Autumn Leaf’s ever faithful partner. Only veteran players will remember him.”

“One Autumn Leaf’s? But… there was never such a character in Excellent Era.”

“He disappeared one day. Little before the pro league started. No one knows what happened.” Only Ye Xiu, Su Mucheng and Tao Xuan, he suspected, knew the truth. “He was a monster of Ye Xiu’s caliber. I never faced him in the arena, but he gave everyone a hard time when it came to boss fights.”

“From what we heard in the video, it seems the character belonged to someone named Su Muqiu. Possibly has a relation with Su Mucheng, I’ll ask someone to research it-“

“Don’t. Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng have the right to decide who should know.” No matter his curiosity, Han Wenqing respected their privacy, feeling it wasn’t a matter that should be taken lightly. At all.

Chapter Text

Sitting in a silent room, enveloped in darkness, a man stared out of the big window at the city before him. A familiar city, where he had grown up, opened his business, started a new life… but as he listened to the voices outside, neon-blinding lights and colorful signs, the city no longer felt familiar.

Excellent Era Suspended! Full investigation opened.

Battle God, Ye Xiu, taken to the hospital with a head injury.

Tao Xuan: accident or assault?

It had barely been a full day, but the man already knew that his future was gone. Excellent Era was ruined.

The television and internet were filled with bad news regarding the club, and not only the latest disaster with Ye Xiu. Reports of the staff’s misconduct, allegation of blackmail and discrimination. The internet was buzzing, and people alongside it. Protesters were on the streets, fans demanding answers.

Answers only Tao Xuan could give them.

“I see you are hiding here like a coward. Quite fitting.”

The man didn’t even react at the intruder, eyes never straying far from the wide window. There was only one person whom would dare to bother him at the moment…

“Ye Qiu.”

Leaning against the door in apparent ease, a copy of Ye Xiu stared at him emotionlessly, those golden eyes impossibly cold. Now that he had the chance to look closer, despite the unsettling physical resemblance, understanding that it was not Ye Xiu was easy.

One only had to look into the glint of their eyes.

“Tao Xuan, the man my brother had once called a friend.” Tao Xuan said nothing, taking in the insult bared in the familiar voice with a calm he hadn’t felt in years. “The man who overcame his humble beginning as a game café owner to create the first Glory dynasty-“

“Cut to the chase. I don’t believe you have come here just to insult me.”

Ye Qiu simply laughed slightly. “I would not advise you to try and understand my intentions, trash. I am afraid your last brain cells might just combust.” Hearing those words from a Ye Xiu copy was jarring. The gamer always hid his insults between clever words and stealthy glances, obviously his brother didn’t have the patience for that. “Then again, perhaps there are no brain cells left in that empty head of yours. A smart person would have backed away and prayed for forgiveness the moment they heard my name. You, on the other hand, just had to continue digging your own grave-“

“You do not intimidate me.” Tao Xuan knew he was done. The club was suspended and the investigation would quickly uncover everything they had done. Excellent Era would not survive, he was certain, more than half the staff would be fired, most of the pro-players included. That didn’t mean, however, that he would cower before Ye Xiu and his brother.

“Then you are more stupid than you look. I’ll have you know, I have quite the reputation.” Finally, Ye Qiu detached himself from the wall. There was something refined about his posture, yet threatening at the same time. “I was planning to play with you for a while longer. Break your will piece by piece, reveal the secrets one by one, until you begged on your knees for forgiveness. It was going to be hilarious to watch.”

Tao Xuan had expected as much. Everything was too much to be a coincidence. The online whispers, the investigation, the reporter… “Why do you care? Neither you nor your family have contacted Ye Xiu for years. Is it a matter of pride? Ye Xiu is quite annoying to deal wh-“

“Shut your dirty mouth, you don’t deserve to say his name.” Tao Xuan couldn’t help but flinch at the venom in those words. The disgust in that familiar face. “I believed Ye Xiu to be happy, contently spending his days doing what he loved. I actually trusted you filth to ensure his well-being and happiness! Should have known better, honestly, such a rookie mistake.”

“Sounds more like you couldn’t bother to check on your brother-“

The man didn’t even notice when Ye Qiu arrived next to him, but suddenly, there was an irate man lifting him threateningly, a deceivingly strong grip around his collar. “Listen here, you piece of shit, and listen well. Don’t you ever dare to insinuate I don’t care about Ye Xiu. Next time, I’ll have someone break your bones one by one, and I’ll be there to enjoy every single pathetic scream of yours. Understood?”

Tao Xuan could do little more than nod, terrified, as Ye Qiu threw him back into his chair. The young man obviously tried to calm down himself as he adjusted the sleeves of his expensive suit.

“Excellent. You should count yourself lucky brother doesn’t like violence, to be honest my initial plan was to make you disappear.” Those words were said with a childlike smile, and Tao Xuan instinctively understood: Ye Qiu was a dangerous man. “But let’s go back to business, shall we? I have to be back before brother wakes up.”

How could two people related so closely be so different, the older man couldn’t help but wonder as he shallowed rattled. “Go ahead, what do you want from me.”

“What I want? Hm, quite a lot, but I think I can settle on one thing for now.” Tao Xuan barely caught a slick, black USB pen thrown his way. Ye Qiu looked visibly displeased at that, but quickly hid it behind a refreshing smile. “You shall find our contract terms there for the transfer of the club and everything related to it, characters included.”

“Transfer the club?” What stupidity was that? Even with the scandals, Tao Xuan could still make some money if he sold part of the club to others, especially the characters. “Don’t you even think-“

“I would advise you to think twice about your answer. For the transfer, the Ye family will not sue you with blackmail, criminal negligence, intent to commit assault via poison, physical assault, among other charges.” Paling, Tao Xuan stared at the twin in shock, feeling himself feel faint. “I assure you, we have more than enough evidence for everything.”

“Then why haven’t you filed the charges yet?”

“You might find it hard to believe, but brother asked me not to. Brother is too soft.” Scrunching his nose with distaste, Ye Qiu shook his head. “You still will have to face charges with the Alliance, which will give you at least some years behind the bars and serious fines, and I am quite certain Miss Su Mucheng will file a case against unlawful possession of personal items.”

Prison… he hadn’t thought of that. Hadn’t thought he would get caught, all his secrets exposed to the world. Even after Excellent Era was officially suspended, the notion of a possible prison sentence hadn’t even appeared in his mind. But he deserved it, didn’t he? All his actions and plans… and yet despite it all, Ye Xiu was still protecting him?

Why?

“I’ll sign the contract.”

“Like you have any other option.” Ye Qiu snorted, not even looking at him anymore. “I’ll have someone bring it here tomorrow, don’t try anything funny. Oh, and brother told me to tell you that you suck.”

Left with nothing but his thoughts as the young man walked away silently, Tao Xuan smiled bitterly. You suck. Ye Xiu used to say that a lot about his ability to play Glory. And of course he was right, as always. You suck.

“Hahaha, I do, don’t?” Closing his eyes bitterly, he whispered to himself. “I suck.”

Chapter Text

Waking up to the distinct smell of disinfectant was disquieting, even more with a hazy head and a dull pain at the back of the head. The strange hole in his memories did not help calm the sudden anxiety he felt. There were the memories of making plans with Su Mucheng, a few dungeons he wanted to run, and then… blank. Nothing, only a faint recollection of pain, a strange emptiness filling his head-

“Ye Xiu!”

“Senior Ye.”

Startled, Ye Xiu almost jumped in shock, light viciously burning his eyes as he stupidly opened them. Hissing in pain, he almost cursed, muffled voice begging for someone to turn out the light.

“Blink few times, it’ll help adjust.” Absentmindedly following the directions, he focused on the voices he heard, trying to put a face to them. Everything felt strange, feeling awake but not conscious enough to actually understand what was happening. “Is there a switch somewhere to dim the light slightly?”

“Not that I can see, and just turning it off won’t help. He’ll get used to it eventually.”

Familiar voices, friendly, and Ye Xiu relaxed slightly. The light did not hurt as much, he could finally look without feeling like a knife was poking him, and immediately took advantage of his newfound ability to look around.

Reality hit him like a bullet, violently and mercilessly, as he realized two important things. First, he was in a hospital room. And second, there was a bunch of pro-players staring at him with undeniable worry and relief like a pack of hyenas.

“For how long have you been standing around my bed like a bunch of creeps?”

A part of him felt bad, it was clear they were worried about him, but he just could not get over the visual of them all staring at his unconscious body. Where was Ye Qiu when he was needed?

“He’s fine if he’s already spouting nonsense.” Old Han’s scowl deepened, shoulders easing a little.

“Old Ye, you are awake!” Huang Shaotian practically threw himself at him, warm arms enveloping Ye Xiu’s frame firmly, provocation all but ignored. “I was so worried! The doctor said you just need to sleep it off, but you missed dinner already. Are you better now? Quickly, who am I? You remember me, right? Old Ye, tell me you haven’t forgotten this lovable face.”

Things were not making much sense. He had expected a more biting comment from the others, Old Han’s words could almost be considered kind. What the hell had happened? Faces with such an open distress, he did not have the heart to remove the chatterbox despite the discomforting position, absentmindedly patting the man as he focused.

“What happened? Why is everyone here?” At least half the alliance had a representative there, it was putting him on edge. Many possibilities went through his mind, and he palled, looking at Han Wenqing in distress. “Please tell me I did not get hit by a car.” He did not wish Su Mucheng to experience such trauma again.

“The doctor warned us you might not remember the incident.” It was Yu Wenzhou who answered with a tight smile, eyes dangerous, as he came closer to the bed. “I assure you that there was no car involved however.”

That was a relief. Though through the years it got easier to handle, memories of Su Muqiu’s death still haunted him and Su Mucheng. Neither could even watch movies or shows with car crashes, specially Ye Xiu, and both were extremely thankful to Chu Yunxiu for her wonderful work of reviewing them first.

“How are you feeling?” Wang Jiexi asked kindly noticing his distraction, and Ye Xiu smiled tiredly.

“Confused. Part of my memory is missing and it’s surprisingly annoying. There’s also this dull pain in my head… did I hit something?” It felt off-putting not being able to remember such a recent event. Despite the fragility of his body, he had always been confident in his brain. “I remember I was playing when someone knocked on the door, but after that everything is a blur.”

He did not miss the exchanged glances, nor how Wang Jiexi shook his head slightly as if in warning. It was easy to understand their fears, certain they simply did not want to overwhelm him at such moment, but he honestly would prefer it more if someone just told him the truth without beating around the bush. It wasn’t even that hard to guess what could have happened.

“You guys need to work more on being discrete. I bet I can guess what happened.” Huang Shaotian looked up at him with a displeased frown as he stopped patting his fluffy head. “Tao Xian probably tried to force me into retirement, but something went wrong along the way and I had some accident, since I don’t think Old Tao would do it on purpose. Did I get it right?”

“Old Ye, don’t stop-“ Huang Shaotian cursed as his own captain pulled him back by the collar with surprising strength, falling unceremoniously down. “Captain, that’s violent!”

“Ye Xiu, later.” He almost disagreed, but then Han Wenqing gave him a glare, and the pro-player relented, defeated. He was not in the mood to argue, he still felt somewhat off to see so many of his friends there. And, though he would never admit it, he really did not want to piss off Old Han.

The odd sight of everyone together around his surprisingly large bed made him almost smile. Little Zhou standing by uncertain if he should approach or not, Jiang Botao silently encouraging him; Yu Wenzhou strategically blocking the chatter-box from approaching. Zhang Xinjie barely holding on by Old Han’s side, eyes dropping closed with each passing second. Wang Jiexi busy talking with someone familiar on the side…

“Little Yifan?” The small teen jumped as everyone’s attention turned his way. “It’s really you. Did you come here to visit me too? Come here, come here.”

The boy hesitated for a second, it was obvious the attention was making him feel to self-conscious, and Ye Xiu almost scolded his fellow pro-players, insensitive bastards. “S-senior. I saw what happened and… I was worried.”

Taking his hand, he pulled the boy to sit down next to him. “There’s nothing to worry, I’ll recover soon enough.” The boy saw what happened? Could it be… he had suspected Su Mucheng was up to something, sneaking out late at night, but had she really installed cameras in the club? Ah, his little monster, all grown up. “I don’t know how long I’ve been out, but did you rest at least after arriving?”

“I don’t think so, Senior, everyone’s been too worried.” Ye Xiu ruffled the teen’s hair affectionately, and Qiao Yifan smiled shyly. “Ah, your brother left about an hour ago. He said to tell you that he’ll take care of Excellent Era as you requested if you wake up before he returns.”

Ah, he had been wondering where Ye Qiu had disappeared too. To be frank, he had expected his brother to go all out after whatever landed him in a hospital. Even after so long, Ye Qiu was too soft on him. Though he doubted he would be able to continue living in the club house without surveillance.

“You saw my brother, I see. On a scale from one to ten, how furious was he?”

“I think he was more worried than angry.” Wang Jiexi pipped in, sitting down at the end of the bed. “How did you meet Qiao Yifan? I never knew you two were close.”

“We met after the All-Stars, when I stayed over with you.” Immediately all pro-players twitched, murderous looks thrown at the calm Magician. “Couldn’t sleep, went for a walk. Meet this little one, and we’ve been playing Glory together since.”

That reminded him, he missed quite a number of dungeons. Lord Grim still needed too many materials to count, hopefully Ye Qiu would get him discarded soon, otherwise he would have to ask Mucheng to smuggle a laptop. Not his preferred method of playing Glory.

“We’ve only played after training.” Qiao Yifan hurriedly added as his captain gave him a look, curling into himself uncomfortable. “Just some dungeons…” Ye Xiu threw Wang Jiexi a warning as he ruffled the dark hair once again; Su Mucheng was quite found of the boy already, though the same could be said about himself.

Ye Xiu felt tired, and surprisingly sleeping despite being unconscious for a while. The conversation had drained him.

“Senior.”

Blinking few times as he refocused, realizing he must have dozed off for a second as all eyes were on him, the man shook his head annoyed. “I’m fine, Little Zhou, just tired I guess.”

“You are supposed to be resting. Maybe it’s our cue to leave.” Jiang Botao stated diplomatically, rubbing his heavy eyes. “Captain, we have a plane in the morning, we need to find a place to crash.”

Right, the group hadn’t rested at all. They really were worried about him. “Ask Xian Wu to arrange some rooms, she’s terrifyingly efficient.” The woman was certainly keeping watch outside his private room along with a bodyguard or two, Ye Qiu could be quite predictable sometimes. “Ah, Qiao Yifan, you can stay here, I don’t take much space and you look ready to pass out.”

Flailing, feeling the tension in the air, Qiao Yifan immediately tried to decline, but the older man would have none of it, pulling the small boy to lay down. “S-senior, I am fine, really-“

“You are still growing. I’m surprised Big-Eyed Wang even let you stay up for so long. Should have told you to sleep on the couch like Zhang Xinjie over there.” Indeed, the man had given up his fight against sleep, curled into a small ball. “His back will kill him tomorrow.”

“He’s not that old.” Old Han rolled his eyes, making no move to wake up his vice-captain. “I’ll be back tomorrow; we need to talk.”

Shaking his head, Ye Xiu repressed a yawn. Trust Old Han to make a dramatic exit.

“Senior!” Zhou Zekai suddenly sat down firmly on the bed, taking hold of his hand. “Can stay? Game soon.”

Had glares been able to kill, Zhou Zekai would be dead ten times over.

“There’s not much space, Little Zhou. And you probably will relax better in a proper room.” And yet the sharpshooter shook his head, looking devastated.

“Will worry. Please.”

It was a not-so-secret secret, but Ye Xiu was weak to puppy eyes. He cursed Su Mucheng for that, though hopefully Ye Qiu would never learn of it – the future would be bleak otherwise. And Zhou Zekai had devastatingly efficient puppy eyes.

“If it makes you feel better.” Little Zhou light up like a Christmas tree, and Ye Xiu sighed mentally. Well, not like there wasn’t enough space, and he was used to sharing a bed with the young star. Jiang Botao immediately took the last couch, lying comfortably.

“Shameless! I want to stay too!” Huang Shaotian suddenly jumped, face red from anger. “Captain, this is your fault! Why did you stop me?”

“Don’t be loud. Please rest well, hopefully you fell better tomorrow.” Ye Wenzhou smiled gently, ruthlessly grabbing Huang Shaotian as he dragged him away.

“Captain, don’t be so rough! Ah, that hurts, wait, Old Ye-” Whatever the man wanted to say was ruthlessly cut off by the slamming door, and Ye Xiu only could only watch in wonder. Yu Wenzhou was furious, and surprisingly strong.

Wang Jiexi was the last to leave, patting Ye Xiu’s leg reassuringly few times as he promised to return soon. With everyone gone, Zhou and Qiao both under the covers, Ye Xiu finally allowed his mind to rest again. He had a feeling he needed all the rest for what was to come.

.

.

 

 

 

 “WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE DOING IN MY BROTHER’S BED?”

The second time Ye Xiu woke up, it was to the loud screech of his beloved annoying brother. Could he not see some people were sleeping?

“More… ten…” Zhou Zekai mumbled into his shoulder, warm arm holding him gently in place. “Sleep…”

“NOT EVEN A SECOND!” There was no rest from the thunderous anger. “Take your slimy paws off my brother! And- is that a hand on his waist? You piece of sh-“

Ye Xiu missed the warm covers, taken away unceremoniously as Ye Qiu violently tore him away from his cozy human bed, killer rage written all over his face. The world spun dangerously for a moment, only the steady grip on his back kept him from kneeling over, unsteady on his feet. On one hand, he never knew Ye Qiu was that strong, how did he even pull him to his feet; on the other, he would have preferred to stay down, thank you very much.

“… never again. Just watch as I get a restraining order on every one of you, how dare you take advantage of my brother you slimy brat-“

“Ye Qiu, shut up.” Getting to focus on the world took few seconds, he truly was not prepared to face the world again, but someone needed to defend his shy junior. “Everyone was tired and the couches were already taken. Stop over reacting, my head hurts.”

“He was in your bed! Snuggling you! I will not stand by and allow some weirdo to take advantage of yo- psfs- Don’t you dare close my mouth!”

Rolling his eyes, Ye Xiu sighed tiredly, leaning against his brother to control him. “Please don’t talk that way about my friends. And it’s the other way around, as you well remember, I’m the one who tends to snuggle in my sleep.” Zhou Zekai yawned adorably, blinking few times trying to wake up.

It was Qiao Yifan that impressed him the most, not even stirring despite the noise. The boy was dead to the world, curled into himself in a small ball, sleeping without a care.

“That’s even more the reason not to share your bed! I don’t trust your supposed friends! Suspicious, every single one of them!” Worked up as he was, Ye Xiu knew making his brother see reason would be hellish. It was easier to just ignore his words.

The other two occupants had woken up with the noise too, though Jiang Botao was dealing with it better than Zhang Xinjie. The disruption of his routine was clearly taking its tool, Zhang Xinjie looked ready to murder someone. The man could compete with Han Wenqing with that look, too bad there was no one to take a picture. For the first time, Ye Xiu regretted not owning a phone.

“Captain, it is time to go.” Jiang Botao hid his yawn as he checked the phone, only swaying slightly as he stood up. “Good morning, Mr. Ye. We apologize for staying in your brother’s room, we just didn’t want to rent a room only for few hours.”

“Was worried.” Zhou Zekai mumbled stumbling out of the bed, shivering slightly in his thin shirt from the temperature difference. The room might have a heater, but the difference was still startling. “Happy Senior fine. Thank you.”

Ye Qiu looked at the two men with his eyes narrowed, letting go of his brother with a huff. Xian Wu’s report about those two came out clean, Ye Xiu had stayed over with their team without any incident happening. Zhou Zekai admired his brother, though Ye Qiu wondered if there was more to the story. While still suspicious, as Zhou Zekai bowed gently in greeting, eyes still somewhat glazed from sleep, he let it go. Nothing about him screamed dangerous, and brother did seem to be fond of him.

Leaving the three to say their goodbyes, he chose to focus on the still sleeping intruder. Not a pro-player, Ye Qiu had memorized all those currently in the Alliance, but could be a trainee. Certainly young, fluffy-looking, the type brother would unconsciously dote upon when given a chance. Probably not a threat.

As the two Samsara players left after making a promise to keep in contact, Ye Qiu assessed his brother’s condition. “Ye Xi-“

“Senior Ye.” Startled, he wiped around to glare at the fool who dared to interrupt him, having forgotten about the other pro-player. “I’m sorry for falling asleep yesterday, I am happy to see you better now.”

“Zhang Xinjie, just go to sleep. You can use my bed if you don’t mind sharing with Little Yifan.” What? Hadn’t he just told his brother not to share the bed with another man? Did the fall affect his brother’s brain? “Ye Qiu, don’t look at me like that. I want to talk to you in private, he can use the bed since I won’t be sleeping anytime soon.”

“No, Senior, you should rest, I will be fine. It is my time to wake up too.”

Right, Ye Xiu probably had many questions for him. Ordering his men to secure a location as brother convinced the surprisingly stubborn man to take his bed, Ye Qiu hesitated for a second before texting to Su Mucheng. At the end of the day, Ye Xiu thought of her as his younger sister, which meant that she was his sister too. She deserved to be there.

 “Zhang Xinjie, you better lay down right now before I wake up Han Wenqing for this.” Brother had finally lost his patience, downright ordering the man. “You will feel sluggish all day and find it hard to concentrate, I don’t want Old Han to come and yell at me. I’m giving you five seconds. Five.”

“Senior, I am not a child, I’ll still function even if-“

“Four.” Ye Xiu opened his palm, and Ye Qiu grinned, wordlessly giving his phone. The pro-player stood there uncertainly; stubbornness was strong with that one. “Three.”

“Senior, why are you like this?” In the end, the man gave up, laying down as ordered. Ye Qiu didn’t even comment as brother all but tucked the man in. Honestly, sometimes Ye Xiu worried him.

The walk to the room was silent. Ye Xiu did not seem to require any help walking, confident stokes as he almost glided through the corridor, and that’s how Ye Qiu knew that his brother was lost in thought. Most would not assume it, but Ye Xiu’s carefree, slouched position was more of a conscious choice rather than a natural behavior. How could it, when at least ten years of their lives were filled with strict tutors and even stricter rules?

Su Mucheng was already waiting for them in the room, a wide smile as she rushed to hug the older man, no sign of the tears. Ye Xiu welcomed her with a smile of his own, and privately Ye Qiu felt jealous for a moment, he missed such an easily intimacy, until brother all but pulled him into the hug too, laughing soundlessly at his inelegant gasp.

“I am fine now, both of you can stop worrying.” Ye Qiu would have argued had Su Mucheng not laughed. He was not worrying, he was just… thinking of his own future. “I want to know what happened.”

The following conversation would be heavy, he hesitated for a second not wanting to stress his twin. Waiting few hours more would not hurt, but the Ye Xiu gave him a look, and he was left pulling out his computer tired.

“Let’s start by watching this. We’ll talk afterwards.”