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Yu Wenzhou’s first encounter with Ye Qiu was not at an official match, but rather at Blue Rain’s training camp practice rooms late at night far past their closing hours. Yu Wenzhou had made friends with the cleaning staff and charmed his way into borrowing the room keys in order to get in extra practice. On the night after Blue Rain’s home game with Excellent Era, he unexpectedly found that the room was already occupied with his captain and another younger player. Neither had noticed his entrance at the time, too preoccupied in cussing each other out.

“Did you forget what card you loaded in this match? Switching weapons with two movement skills added onto them, do you think you’re a fucking bunny? Is this a fucking joke to you? Play me seriously!”

To be more accurate, Wei Chen was the one cursing enough for the both of them.  

“Have you seriously checked your health bar?”

“Bah, are you bragging about a damn 10% difference?”

“It’s 12% now.”

“That’s not even half of what I can do once I get my fucking hands on you!”

When Yu Wenzhou saw the characters on screen, he almost had to do a double take. Swoksaar and One Autumn Leaf, two of the most famous accounts in all of Glory, were tussling ungracefully around a random arena map in what seemed more like a game of tag than a serious match. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Yu Wenzhou rapidly made the connection that the other player could only be the elusive Ye Qiu.

Like most Glory players, he had an admiration toward Ye Qiu. Even before Glory’s professional scene started, Yu Wenzhou had been an avid follower of One Autumn Leaf’s prolific forum guides. He continued to follow news of that account – and later, its player, even until now. If he weren’t surrounded by his fellow trainees who would lynch him for disloyalty, he would even admit Ye Qiu was his favorite player in the scene.  

He stepped closer, not so discreetly trying to catch a better view of Ye Qiu’s face. Yu Wenzhou had never been as invested as other “fans” about the mystery of Ye Qiu’s appearance, but now that the answer was right in front of him, that latent curiosity was finally aroused from its slumber and making itself known.

Yu Wenzhou had expected to feel disappointed – after all, there was such a legacy behind the name Ye Qiu that it would be hard for any person to live up to such a larger-than-life image. But somehow, Ye Qiu looked…like Ye Qiu.

Maybe it was the way his relaxed posture spoke of unbeatable confidence even as he dragged his fellow top player into an undignified dogfight with an unconventional character build. Maybe it was how his agile fingers smoothly switched between actions without hesitation, with every movement planned at least three steps in advance of everyone else. But upon further thought, Yu Wenzhou knew what really hit home was Ye Qiu’s smile. It was a child-like grin full of mischief and pure joy that was much more expressive than he had anticipated, but it fit. After all, Ye Qiu had poured so much time and dedication into Glory that it wasn’t hard to imagine how much he must have loved the game. He played it not only because he was good, but because it was fun.

Yu Wenzhou found himself simultaneously drawn closer and itching to play himself. Ye Qiu made dancing around Swoksaar look so entertainingly easy, effortlessly dodging attacks in a manner that could only be possible if he had predicted them in advance. It made Yu Wenzhou feel that even he could pull off such a feat.

“Oh, someone’s here this late?”

“Whoever it is, quick, pull that guy’s power cord,” Wei Chen urged shamelessly without even looking away from his screen.

“Finally acknowledging that you can’t keep up?”

“Pah! I just think it’s a waste of electricity to keep playing this joke of a match.”

“Looks like you scared them away with your shamelessness instead.”

“Good help is so hard to find,” Wei Chen mourned.

 

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Yu Wenzhou never forgot that first encounter. In fact, he had been caught idly sketching Ye Qiu’s image on his notebooks several times by his fellow trainees in the weeks following. None of them made the connection that the person in question was Ye Qiu, at least, not until long afterwards.

It was two years later in their debut season that Huang Shaotian loudly cursed upon seeing “Ye Qiu” for the first time at Excellent Era’s stadium .

“Ye Qiu? You’ve been drawing Ye Qiu in your notebook this whole time?” Huang Shaotian accused later when they were in private.

Yu Wenzhou knew it was futile to lie, so he merely nodded in confirmation.

“Shit, when did you even meet him. Are you a stalker or something?”

“I saw him play Captain Wei a few years ago. I ‘stalk’ him just as I would any of our future opponents.”

Huang Shaotian was not convinced. “Bullshit, Yu Wenzhou, do you think I was born yesterday? I’ve never seen you draw Han Wenqing or Wang Jiexi or literally anyone else. But I recognized Ye Qiu from your drawings alone.”

“I’ve drawn you before,” Yu Wenzhou smiled.

“Yeah, as a dog!” Huang Shaotian snapped back. “That doesn’t even count! It looked nothing like me!”

“Captain Fang said it was very accurate.”

“First of all, Fang Shijing can go eat a pile of dog shit since he wouldn’t be able to tell what he’s eating with that piss-poor vision of his anyways. Second of all, you still haven’t explained your thing for Ye Qiu.”

“My…thing?”

Huang Shaotian gestured wildly in the air while talking like that would somehow perfectly elaborate his point. “Your…art thing. You know, in dramas and stuff, that’s usually something that someone would do when they’re pining over a love interest. Out with it, out with it! Do you like Ye Qiu or something?”

“Or something,” Yu Wenzhou repeated with amusement. “I admire him, but I hardly know him. It isn’t like what you’re thinking.”

“Look, I wouldn’t judge if you did. I mean, I’d question your tastes because, really, Ye Qiu? Damn! He’s probably the worst person to go for. He’s stolen so many of our championships and now he goes and steals our captain’s heart under our noses? What do you even see in him?”

“He’s pretty good at Glory,” Yu Wenzhou said jokingly.

Huang Shaotian cursed both Ye Qiu and lamented that the spice in the cafeteria’s special Friday meals must have ruined more than just the taste buds of everyone around him. But, unexpectedly, he ended his rant by patting Yu Wenzhou’s shoulder in what was supposed to be a comforting motion if it weren’t so forceful, promising to “help” in whatever way he could.

That determined glint in Huang Shaotian’s eye won only weariness. Yu Wenzhou recognized that look, the look that Huang Shaotian got when he had his eyes set on a target and anticipated an opening. But Yu Wenzhou also knew there wasn’t anything he could do to dissuade his teammate.

As if to repent for his behavior during their former trainee days, Huang Shaotian had been overly eager to support Yu Wenzhou now that he was the captain. Yu Wenzhou wasn’t sure if this was the kind of support he wanted, but he figured it probably wouldn’t do any harm so he chose to push the whole encounter out of his thoughts.

It was only when Huang Shaotian started to physically drag him somewhere after their match that he remembered the earlier promise.

Apparently, his vice-captain was making good on his word, because he had pestered Su Mucheng, Excellent Era’s launcher who had also debuted this season with them, into taking them out to eat. And, as everyone was beginning to catch on, wherever Su Mucheng went, Ye Qiu tended to follow.

“Your disguises are awful, you can’t just change out of your jerseys and call that enough, that’s basically asking for us to get mobbed,” Su Mucheng scolded the second she saw them. She was dressed up to the point that they would have hardly recognized her if it weren’t for her voice. All of her hair was tied up and hidden under her cap, and any remnants that hung out were tucked out of sight under her scarf. Even her eyes were obscured by sunglasses.

Yu Wenzhou had to admit that they were a bit lacking in comparison, though they had never had a problem getting around without such measures. Of course, the situation at Excellent Era was understandably different. They were the three-time champions, with a mysterious captain who everyone was dying to uncover. They would be under much more scrutiny.

“It’s not like he’s any better!” Huang Shaotian accused, gesturing to Ye Qiu who was very much undisguised save for a standard face mask.

“My face isn’t well known anyways,” Ye Qiu shrugged.

“Well, just come to our dorms then,” said Su Mucheng. “Ye Qiu will pick us up some food and we can eat there.”

“Haha, Ye Qiu, the Ye Qiu, captain of Excellent Era, three-time MVP, reduced to an errand boy? Hahaha!”

Ye Qiu shrugged, unashamed and unmoved by Huang Shaotian’s words. “It’s more convenient this way. Is there anything you'd prefer to eat?”

Yu Wenzhou ordered okra, knowing that Huang Shaotian would absolutely hate it.

 

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Yu Wenzhou actually exchanged contact information with Ye Qiu during that first dinner. He had already known Ye Qiu’s handle – Fang Shijing had added him to the captain group chat before the season even began, but both he and Ye Qiu largely refrained from speaking there for entirely different reasons.

Whenever he saw Ye Qiu among all the other names in his friends list, it began to hit home that he had finally made it. He was finally on the same stage as all the players he had once admired, and they were now acknowledging him as their equal. A fellow competitor.

Still, Yu Wenzhou let the name simply sit, admiring but never daring to reach out despite Ye Qiu’s invitation.

It was Ye Qiu who made the first move a few weeks later, asking if Yu Wenzhou would be interested in comparing notes about the newest Glory update. Several hours of discussion later, the ice between them had been significantly cracked.

 

 

One Autumn Leaf: Your preferences are really different than Old Wei

One Autumn Leaf: He’ll be rolling in his grave when he sees

One Autumn Leaf: But let him, it suits your style better

Swoksaar: I know, but it does feels a little strange changing the skill points so much. Captain Fang never changed much last season.

One Autumn Leaf: There can’t be growth without change

One Autumn Leaf: Have some confidence

Swoksaar: Thank you, Senior Ye

One Autumn Leaf: And if you win a championship, it’s not like he’ll have any room to talk

Swoksaar: Haha, guess I will have to win a championship then

 

 

Blue Rain lost to Excellent Era in the quarter finals of the playoffs that season, and failed again the next season, but they continued to build on their experience and finally broke their quarter final curse to make it to the championships in season six. Tiny Herb and Blue Rain were neck and neck all the way up until the team challenge of the game three tiebreaker held in Tiny Herb’s home stadium in Beijing. Huang Shaotian broke the game open by killing Tiny Herb’s healer, and Yu Wenzhou had squeezed the advantage to its fullest.

 

It was Blue Rain’s victory.

 

Holding the championship trophy in his trembling hands, supported by all his teammates, Yu Wenzhou felt so many things, so strongly, that he could barely hold back tears. Although he had believed this moment would come, holding the cup with the same hands that others had looked down on as crippled felt like the ultimate act of vindication. For all of his and Blue Rain’s weaknesses, their combined strength was greater. Great enough to grasp the summit of Glory.

 

Everything was a blur afterwards.

 

There was a press interview and a celebration dinner. Yu Wenzhou suspected part of his hazy memory had to do in part with Huang Shaotian sneaking in alcohol to said dinner. Pro players normally did not drink, but that night they weren’t simply pro players – they were champions, and champions deserved to celebrate.

 

He could barely remember what they ate, but what he does remember are the two messages Ye Qiu sent him that night. A simple “Congratulations,” and a link to a privately uploaded video. The video was a surprisingly well edited compilation of Swoksaar, evidently Wei Chen’s Swoksaar of the past, simply rolling. There was a whole minute of these clips, set to the tune of “We Are The Champions,” and ending with what appeared to be a very old in-game footage of Swoksaar accidentally rolling off a cliff to his death before the video cut to another minute of Swoksaar, but this time his Swoksaar. It was all the highlights of his plays during the championship matches. Ye Qiu had picked the best of them, and he had obviously hand-picked them from the full VoDs of the game rather than just the online stream.

 

It was such a thoughtful, personalized gift that Yu Wenzhou was overwhelmed for the second time that day. Empowered by the high of victory and the liquid courage of alcohol, he invited Ye Qiu to a meal the next day.

 

Ye Qiu teased him about his intention to gloat his championship over the other losers, but accepted nonetheless.

 

They were at the same hotel, so they planned to meet for breakfast before their flights that afternoon. Or at least, that’s what Yu Wenzhou intended, until his parents happened to call him as he was waiting for Ye Qiu in the lobby.

Yu Wenzhou’s family had never approved of his career choice. A part of him had hoped that, maybe, somehow, having a championship under his belt would change his parents’ opinion for the better. But this call had dashed his hopes. If anything, winning a championship had made things worse, because it made his career choice more public than ever. His parents had told him he should be satisfied now that he had a championship and that he should come home to complete his education.

But as a competitor, one championship was never enough. Winning had only made him hungrier to taste that same sweet victory once more.

The call ended on a sour note.

“Sorry,” Ye Qiu apologized as he walked in afterwards. It was easy to figure out that he had been around the whole time, respectfully giving space for the call.

Yu Wenzhou couldn’t tell if he was apologizing for overhearing, or for Yu Wenzhou’s situation. Either way, he waved the apology away as unnecessary, but he couldn’t help some of his fresh bitterness from leaking out either.

“It’s nothing, I’ve just been banned from what would be an unpleasant New Years anyways,” he said.

“I haven’t seen my family for almost a decade,” Ye Qiu commiserated, but he didn’t pursue the topic. Instead, he promptly ushered Yu Wenzhou to somewhere to sit. Like magic, Ye Qiu pulled out bag after bag of street food from his bulky jacket which was enough of a hilarious image to put Yu Wenzhou in a good mood once more. The two fell into easy conversation, largely steering away from personal topics to focus on safer subjects like the upcoming season.

This was familiar territory for Yu Wenzhou. After nearly every game Blue Rain and Excellent Era played, the two would meet up like this to catch up. Two years time had been enough to dissolve the awkward wall of seniority between them, and they exchanged trash talk just as amicably as they did tactical observations.

But their conversations had always focused on Glory. So it was a surprise when, at the end of their conversation, Ye Qiu asked him if he would like to spend New Years together.

Almost on reflex, Yu Wenzhou refused. “I really wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“You’re turning down a prime opportunity to spy,” Ye Qiu admonished. “Mucheng and I are usually alone in the building, you could walk right into R+D if you wanted.”

“I’d be concerned for Excellent Era if it were so easy,” said Yu Wenzhou, not buying it for even a second.

“We could settle this by PK.”

Yu Wenzhou laughed. “Do you think I’m Huang Shaotian?”

The back and forth continued for only a short while longer before both of them got notifications that they needed to prepare to leave.

“Just consider it, you’re welcome to visit anytime,” Ye Qiu finally said with an uncharacteristic amount of sincerity in his gaze. Yu Wenzhou could only nod.

If he were to be completely honest, he wanted to go.

All of his teammates usually left for the week of Spring Festival, and he didn’t want to be smothered in their pity when they found out he would not be leaving during the vacation. Newer pro players tended to have better relationships with their parents now that the scene had developed to the point that their wages had become respectable. Yu Wenzhou knew Huang Shaotian’s parents were incredibly supportive of his career because he had always done poorly in school. Since a more conventional path would have never worked for him, they were ecstatic that he had found something he could excel in.

Yu Wenzhou, on the other hand, had always been academically gifted and his parents had harbored countless hopes and expectations on him from early on. Even after four years, they haven’t forgiven him for ruining every single one of them.

It wasn’t something he could talk to any of his teammates about. He didn’t want to put a damper on their happiness with his own troubles.

But Ye Qiu…Yu Wenzhou could tell that he understood. It wasn’t something they outright talked about, but there was an implicit understanding that it was an experience they both shared and could talk about if one of them ever desired.

So, Yu Wenzhou did want to spend New Years with Ye Qiu, who he knew would be good company without any overt pity or judgement. But that last gap of personal distance between them was not a leap that was so easy taken.

He was, at his core, a defensive player. He wouldn’t take the initiative until he felt the conditions were right, and he wasn’t sure if that would ever happen for this kind of matter.

Neither of them mentioned it again. The off season came and went, and the next season began. Yu Wenzhou had expected the matter was dropped, but he was proven wrong when Excellent Era came to Blue Rain’s stadium for their first away game of the season.

Excellent Era lost.

While their individual matches were to his expectations, the team challenge…Yu Wenzhou could barely see the “team” over all the internal “challenge” Excellent Era was obviously struggling under.

After the match, Ye Qiu rejected his invitation to dinner, saying that he had team matters he had to attend. Instead, Ye Qiu asked, with a remarkably blank face, “Let me read your palm.”

Yu Wenzhou gave a puzzled laugh, but played along as he usually did. “When did you become a fortune teller?”

“Haven’t you seen any of those old articles about me? I’m all-seeing, apparently. I’ve always been able to do this.”

“That didn’t seem to help you in today’s match,” he teased.

“Some things you can foresee, but you can’t prevent.”

And before Yu Wenzhou could look further into all the implications behind that, Ye Qiu took his left hand and gently traced the lines of his palm with a steady thumb. Ye Qiu was looking so intently that, for a second, Yu Wenzhou almost believed he was serious about it all.

“Close your eyes,” Ye Qiu ordered.

“I’ve never had a reading that required that before.” He closed his eyes regardless.

“Oh? You’ve had a reading done before?”

“Once. They warned my health would be frail earlier in life and my parents took it as a sign to keep me at home more often than not.“

“Mm, and now you’ll probably outlive all of us. Your lines run long, though most aren’t deep. These-“ There was a tap on his palm, a futile effort to emphasize a landmark to someone who had no vision, “-are especially shaky. Yu Wenzhou, for all your decisiveness in Glory, it seems you’re quite indecisive in personal affairs!”

Then, something smoother and firmer was pressed into his hand. A piece of paper.

Yu Wenzhou opened his eyes.

Ye Qiu had given him a printed copy of a plane ticket reservation.

“I-“

“Just come, you won’t regret it,” said Ye Qiu.

Truly dirty, fitting of the original Master Tactician.

 

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“Happy New Years!”

Yu Wenzhou’s entrance was met with a sharp crack and a spray of paper fluttering in the air around him like rain. In front of him, Su Mucheng and Ye Qiu shared similar grins while holding empty party poppers. When he noticed that the paper was also in the shape of flowers, he couldn’t help but comment, “Copying Zhang Jiale? I’m not sure if you’re welcoming me or cursing me!”

“I don’t need to rely on curses, that’s your forte,” returned Ye Qiu.

Meanwhile, Su Mucheng was already pulling him inside. “We’re glad you came! It’ll be nice to celebrate New Years with three people again!”

“Again?” Yu Wenzhou asked, his curiosity letting the question slip before his sense of propriety could stop him.

Luckily, Su Mucheng didn’t seem to mind answering. “When my brother was alive, the three of us always celebrated together. Then after he passed away, our boss would celebrate with us. But he’s been busy recently, so we’ve had to celebrate ourselves last year.”

Yu Wenzhou had never heard of Su Mucheng’s brother before. Despite all the publicity Su Mucheng did, it surprised him how well she managed to keep her private life under wraps

“I hope I’m not too poor of a substitute then,” he joked self-consciously.

“Don’t think of it as a substitution,” said Ye Qiu. “If anything, this is your chance to be a successor, for the low, low price of joining our party for the Spring Festival event.”

Playing Glory on New Years…it was something he saw coming a mile away, yet the idea still felt unfamiliar to him. He had never participated in the Spring Festival event on Glory before. His family hated the idea of him playing games when they otherwise had a whole itinerary of plans for the holiday week, so he usually left his account to someone else to grind during the event for that infamously low skill book drop rate.  

“I don’t have Swoksaar,” he warned.

“Do you have any account on you?”

After a moment of hesitation, Yu Wenzhou answered, “I brought my original account, but it’s a bit old…”

He had barely touched it over the years, too busy familiarizing himself with Swoksaar and managing his team. But for this purpose, it should be enough. The Spring Festival event was not something that required high levels or skills. As the account had already passed the Heavenly Domain challenge, the three agreed that it would be fine.

Since the event wouldn’t start until after midnight, they helped Yu Wenzhou settle down in a corner of Ye Qiu’s room with a well-worn roll-up floor mattress. Initially, Ye Qiu had offered him the bed, but Yu Wenzhou firmly refused.

It didn’t take long for him to unpack what he needed for the night. While Ye Qiu and Su Mucheng were away setting the dinner preparations, Yu Wenzhou had the extra time to do a quick precursory inspection of the room.

It could be considered minimalistic at best, no posters or decorations adorned the walls. Ye Qiu didn’t even display any of his certificates or trophies. The only personal item that stood out was a single picture frame displaying two grinning boys holding up a jubilant, younger Su Mucheng. He recognized one of the boys to be Ye Qiu immediately and assumed the other boy must have been the brother Su Mucheng mentioned.

The importance of this single picture struck him.

It was essentially the classic family picture everyone treasured at their bedside. The three weren’t biologically related, nor did they have anything resembling the typical nuclear family, but this was Ye Qiu’s family of choice.

Everyone in the league had been speculating for years the true nature of Ye Qiu and Su Mucheng’s relationship, but the answer was right here in front of him: they were family. They had probably grown up together. It all made perfect sense to him now – the familiarity in their interactions were not born from years of secretly dating but rather from years of cohabitation.

It made Yu Wenzhou wonder about the path that his own relationship with Ye Qiu was headed. Would they also settle into something more platonic and familial? Would Ye Qiu start to look at him as a younger sibling?

Yu Wenzhou realized that he did not want that. What he wanted was something…more. Just as a single taste of championship victory had not been enough, getting closer to Ye Qiu had only made him more hopelessly infatuated.

There was no use denying it anymore.

He was in Ye Qiu’s room on New Years Eve, they had long passed being mere professional acquaintances. What he wanted was so close at hand yet so frighteningly fragile that he was afraid to grasp for it.

Somehow, in the midst of his internal crisis, his brain concluded that the best course of action would be to text Huang Shaotian.

 

Swoksaar: Remember the conversation we had almost three years ago?

Swoksaar: I’ve had a realization

Swoksaar: I like Ye Qiu

 

When his phone buzzed merely seconds after pressing send, Yu Wenzhou didn’t know if he should be more impressed by the speed the reply or the sheer volume of messages.

 

Troubling Rain: wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf

Troubling Rain: how the fuck did it take you two years to realize this

Troubling Rain: Yu Wenzhou!

Troubling Rain: I thought your hands were slow, not your brain!!!

Troubling Rain: wtfffffffffff

Troubling Rain: With how often you two go out for meals to “discuss strategy,” I was beginning to wonder if you were just using it as a front for something else!

Troubling Rain: But no!

Troubling Rain: You two were actually that hopeless!

Troubling Rain: Master tacticians my ass!

Swoksaar: What should I do to not be so hopeless?

Troubling Rain:

Troubling Rain: …I was going to say seduce him, but then I remembered who we were talking about

Troubling Rain: Fuck

Troubling Rain: Just PK him then!

Troubling Rain: PK him into submission until he dates you!

 

Yu Wenzhou muted the conversation once again and wondered how many notifications worth of poor suggestions Huang Shaotian would send before he realizes what has happened. To be honest, his purpose for the text had never been to secure advice anyways – Yu Wenzhou knew what he had to do. He just wanted to see how it felt to finally put his feelings out into the world, and Huang Shaotian was the safest (albeit noisy) choice.

He liked Ye Qiu.

It was as cathartic as it was frightening to admit. But he had made up his mind. He wouldn't hesitate any longer. He was no longer the same young boy stuck admiring the stars in the sky. 

He liked Ye Qiu, and he was going to pursue him.

 

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Yu Wenzhou's first account was a battle mage. He was, like many others at the time, inspired by One Autumn Leaf's dominating performance and chose the class on impulse with little thought on how suitable it would be for his own play style. Ye Qiu chuckled at this recounting shared over the tapping of keyboards and the cracking of melon seeds late into the night.

Ye Qiu said, "I didn't know you were such a fan!"

"At first, I admired you for your skill in Glory," said Yu Wenzhou. "But now, I have other things I admire you for."

"Oh? Are you trying to butter me up for something?"

"I haven't thanked you yet for inviting me here, would you like me to wax poetic about your merits?"

"You shouldn't," Su Mucheng warned. "He won't be embarrassed at all."

"I won't!" Ye Qiu confirmed shamelessly.

"Just like your playstyle, you're very blunt." Yu Wenzhou began. "Some people might find it off putting, but I actually prefer it. And you're never blunt to be purposefully rude, it's always been about efficiency, hasn't it? In fact, you're quite considerate. You remembered my favorite dishes for dinner earlier."

"It's not hard to remember when you're such a foodie," said Ye Qiu. 

"Sometimes, I think you know me better than even my own teammates. You always seem to know when I'm troubled, and you're frustratingly good at distracting me from it. I'm still not sure how you convinced me to come here, but it's been the most fun I've had on a New Years for a while now."

"My charm is pretty strong, huh?"

Yu Wenzhou agreed, adding, "Also, despite sitting on a seat for most of the day, your butt is quite nice."

Ye Qiu, for once, didn't have an immediate reply. Su Mucheng was nearly choking in laughter, and their party came the closest they had that night to a team wipe.  

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After Su Mucheng had fallen asleep at her computer and later physically dragged to her room, it was just the two of them in the practice room. The clock was just a few minutes shy of three AM and Yu Wenzhou was halfway to sleep himself when he noticed that Ye Qiu was not using his keyboard anymore.

"You know," Ye Qiu started, removing an unlit cigarette from his lips. "I've also admired you over the years."

He smiled at Yu Wenzhou's dazed look and continued. "At first, it was your skill in Glory that I noticed. You always knew what you were capable of, and utilized everything you could to its fullest instead of taking the risk on what you couldn't do. It was a very mature way of playing that no other rookie had. Then when we started to hang out after matches, I immediately liked your quick wit. By season five, all of my original teammates had retired and there weren't many people I could talk to so casually anymore. Even though we had a generation gap between us, you weren't afraid to share your opinions and criticize my own when they disagreed. It was refreshing."

"So you like me because I told you your skill point spread was wrong?"

"You made a whole spreadsheet of calculations to convince me otherwise, it was impressive."

Yu Wenzhou couldn't help it, he laughed and laughed until he finally got himself together and dared to ask, "Do you like me enough to consider dating me?"

"Well, I don't invite just anyone over on New Years," Ye Qiu said knowingly. "But maybe it'd be best to talk about this when you aren't half asleep on your feet. Are you sure you don't want to join me on the bed? The floor is pretty cold this time of year."

"You're truly too good at convincing me to do things," Yu Wenzhou said helplessly. 

“Just come," Ye Qiu insisted with the same pitch that brought him here in the first place.

That night, Yu Wenzhou had no regrets.