Mo Fan returns from the bathroom to see the lights dimmed. Not that weird as Chen Guo’s had more than one idea on how to conserve energy, but the rest of his team is missing. The chairs creak in the non-existent wind. All of the computers are still on, their characters frozen in the Heavenly Domain. Other players are jumping around them, no doubt trying to pose for some pictures on Weibo—some sort of makeshift line wraps around Lord Grim, and there’s way more than one person trying to create some sort of romantic scene.
He logs off of Deception, and only Deception.
This is definitely a set up for an ambush. Somebody, maybe his roommate or the old man, has rounded up the rest of the team to scare him the moment Mo Fan let down his guard. And he isn’t going to play along.
Instead, he plops down into his gaming chair and starts surfing the internet. Nothing interesting is happening at the moment, but he can’t stop scrolling. Social media is a trap.
There’s a coughing noise from the other room. Mo Fan ignores it.
The coughing gets louder.
Someone’s throat is going to get ruined like this. Normally he wouldn’t care, especially if the perpetrator was who Mo Fan thought it was, but the coughing was definitely getting a little obnoxious. So he gets up, and walks to the other room.
A single light illuminates Team Happy, all sitting around a circular table. Mo Fan didn’t even know that they had a table like this. The thought of everyone frantically trying to build a table in the five minutes he was away was hilarious, but Mo Fan doesn’t laugh.
Chen Guo closes the door behind him, and the click of the lock all but echoes. An Wenyi has his phone out, recording him. Whispering, Tang Rou and Mucheng keep glancing at him. Not a good sign.
What might be even worse is Yifan mouthing words, either trying to say ‘sorry’ or ‘haw yee,’ and Mo Fan isn’t actually sure about which it is. Luo Ji looks like he doesn’t want to be here at all, and especially so as Rongxing keeps poking him in the cheek. Mo Fan can at least commend the guy for not smacking his attacker in the face.
The only people that look serious about the affair are Ye Xiu, Wei Chen, and Fang Rui, and that’s how Mo Fan knows that nothing important is actually going on.
Fang Rui beckons to the only empty chair, trying to speak. He can’t get any words out, of course. Serves him right for coughing so much. Yifan rolls him a bottle of water, and after a few large gulps, Fang Rui finally speaks. “So. I’ve been noticing a few things, Mo Fan.”
“A first.” Mo Fan sits down. “Is that all?”
“I found your secret little stash ,” his roommate emphasizes. Wenyi drops his phone on the table, shoulders shaking as he desperately tries, and fails, to hold back his laughter. “You know what I’m talking about.”
“I really don’t.”
“Your stash. ” Fang Rui slaps the table, and everyone else takes out some familiar looking packages. They do it with such synchronicity that Mo Fan is certain that Team Happy had practiced this before.
“You organized all of this,” Mo Fan starts, “because I’ve been getting fan mail ?”
“It’s not just fan mail. Look! Some of the packages are really heavy! And they’re all from the same person too—all signed off with hearts. Hearts , Mo Fan. You haven’t even opened any of them, imagine what that poor girl must be thinking—”
“It could be a guy.”
“That doesn’t matter! They’re probably wondering if you’ll ever respond back to their letters, acknowledging their feelings, or if you’ve just rejected them without a single word!”
“How many dramas have you been watching?”
“A lot of them,” Mucheng chimes in, grinning. “He’s been on a binge ever since that last match with Tyranny.”
“Mucheng, I love you but please—”
Tang Rou adds, “He saw a video like this a while ago, you just happened to be the perfect victim. Fang Rui’s been looking for an opportunity the entire week.”
“Mo Fan, I put in so much effort for you, and all you have to say is ‘wow’? I can’t believe this.” Groaning, Fang Rui lays his head down on the table, muffling his words. “I’m dead and dying and it’s all your fault.”
“We just all want to support you!” Yifan finally says, pushing forward a light pink letter sealed with a heart sticker. There’s a light floral scent coming from it, and as Mo Fan picks it up, he can suddenly understand what it must be like to defuse a bomb. “It’s exciting, right?”
Mo Fan turns the letter over, looking at his name written in purple ink on the back. “Is it really that exciting that I get mail? It’s not like I don’t have fans.”
“Hey, I’ve never gotten fan mail like this!”
“Old Wei, is that really what you want to say so casually?” Ye Xiu also slides over the letter he’s been holding. “I’ve gotten lots of these sorts of gifts before. Never responded to them, but I enjoyed the free chocolate.”
“Same here.” Wenyi joins the other two in letter giving. “I didn’t have the luxury of not responding, but hey, free gifts are free gifts.
Luo Ji hands Mo Fan another package. “Please get this over with before this becomes a flexing competition. I’ve been in pain the moment Fang Rui started handing out all of your mail.”
There’s a lull in the conversation, and Mo Fan knows that if he looks up then he’ll meet everyone’s expecting eyes. Not sure if he wants that.
“Are you going to open them?” Rongxing leans over, eager. “I bet you got snacks.”
Mo Fan brings the mail close to his chest. “Does it even matter? I haven’t opened them for a reason.”
“Which is exactly why you need to open them now!” Fang Rui lifts his head off the table, a bright red mark splotched across his forehead. “C’mon, might as well.”
“This is peer pressure.”
“And we’re pressuring you with love!”
He doesn’t even want to respond to Fang Rui.
“Mo Fan, we’ve all had to go through this before,” Ye Xiu sighs, drumming his fingers on the table. “It’ll inaugurate you as a true pro-player.”
Tang Rou and Wenyi didn’t have to go through this, Mo Fan wants to add. But maybe pointing that out wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. He tries again, “It’s a breach of privacy.”
“You don’t need to read it outloud, just satiate our ever growing curiosity. The more you delay the more eager we’ll get.” An Wenyi laughs. “You’re stuck in the room, anyways.”
Curse those doors and their locks. Mo Fan opens the first letter, and his eyes immediately hone in on the sender’s signature. Huh. He opens the second, and then the third, lining them all up in front of him.
Mo Fan reaches for the boxes next. Eight of them, all varying in sizes and weight. The smallest one makes a rattling noise as he shakes it. There’s parts of a bracelet nestled inside, a delicate silver chain next to a few charms.
“Those aren’t snacks—”
He sends a glance over to Rongxing and Luo Ji, who go silent. The rest of the boxes are about the same size, and Mo Fan reaches for the one closest to him. A scarf, this time. It’s definitely hand knitted; some parts are… chunkier than others, and in the middle there’s a knot where purple wool meets blue, where the creator either tried for some two-tone effect, or simply ran out of wool.
The next box holds an actual kunai, and he almost cuts himself digging it out of all the cotton balls and packing peanuts. After that is some sort of Sasuke cosplay, the size almost accurate, except for the fact that it was a smidge too long. They’d probably hoped he was taller.
He closes the fifth box right away.
Of course, that makes everyone else curious. “What’s inside?” Mucheng holds her hand out for the box, but Mo Fan just shakes his head.
“Not something for mortal consumption.”
He’s almost afraid to open the rest, but he pushes on. A candle, with a label reading ‘for the edgiest of edgelords,’ smelling like cotton candy. Assorted snacks, and he tosses a packet of chips to Rongxing, opening up a bag of candy for himself.
In the final package sits a small figurine.
Mo Fan takes it out gently, placing it on the table.
“Damn.” Ye Xiu sighs. “I’ve gotten all sorts of gifts, but never an actual model of One Autumn Leaf. Maybe my fans thought they wouldn’t be able to capture all of his greatness.”
It’s undoubtedly Deception. A really good representation, actually. All of the clothes seem handsewn, and a few more outfits are included. The default clothes for new players, Team Happy’s uniform, and Mo Fan’s favorite black jacket.
He doesn’t know what to say.
There must have been a lot of effort put into it. Painting the eyes, the hair, ensuring the limbs could move.
“Mo Fan? Are you… are you crying?” Qiao Yifan asks tentatively.
He’s definitely crying. Those are tears running down his face. Mo Fan doesn’t know what to say.
Team Happy doesn’t know what to say either, glancing between each other in worry.
Mucheng gets up to crouch beside him, Tang Rou passing her a box of tissues. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” Mo Fan blows his nose. “Just… just happy, that’s all.”
Fang Rui gets up as well, opening his arms wide. “Want a hug?”
“Not from you.”
“Well, too bad.”
He’s crushed under the weight of Fang Rui, and then everyone else as they pile on top of him.
None of them can see his expression, and Mo Fan allows himself to smile.
“Do you think the pants are removable?”
“Bao Rongxing, you’re ruining the moment.”