The group arrived at a mall near the arena.
They had planned to have hot pot, and after leaving the base, they had already traveled a distance and didn’t want to go any further, so Meng Yan found a hot pot restaurant in the nearby mall.

Since it was past the usual mealtime and the weather wasn’t great, there weren’t many people in the mall.
However, because they happened to come out just as a nearby match ended, they encountered several groups of players coming out of the arena as they entered the restaurant.

At first, it was just a few guys who recognized them and came over to greet them, wishing them luck in their upcoming matches.
When they saw Shen Yanming with TMM and realized they were all together, some of the fans showed a sudden understanding, and even some guys encouraged Shen Yanming to do well.

Shen Yanming: “…It’s not like that.”

Later, two girls came over from different tables, clearly not knowing each other.

One of the girls greeted them and asked for a group photo.
After that, she casually mentioned, “I just ran into Lan upstairs.
Isn’t he coming down to eat with you guys?”

Meng Yan raised an eyebrow.
They didn’t see Lan when they returned to the base earlier, and he didn’t respond to the invitation to have hot pot in the group chat.
Pudding said there was no need to bother inviting him, as he had left at noon and nobody knew where he went off to, being a lone wolf and all.

Well, Lan not joining them to play wasn’t something new.
Although the team members weren’t extremely close before, they got along harmoniously.
But recently, Lan seemed even more distant and unsociable.

Unexpectedly, Lan had come over here by himself.

Of course, they couldn’t reveal such things to ordinary fans and players.
Meng Yan replied, “He has something to do, but he’ll come later.”

On the other hand, the other girl who had asked about Lan reacted strongly, “You saw Lan? Where is he?”

The person being questioned didn’t know the reason, but still answered honestly, “In the model shop upstairs…”

After exchanging a few more pleasantries, the fan didn’t continue to hold them up in conversation.
Shen Yanming and the others were led by the waiter to a private room.

Shen Yanming looked back and noticed that the girl who had asked about Lan’s whereabouts didn’t return to her table.
Instead, she hurriedly walked out of the restaurant towards the direction of the escalator.
It seemed like she wanted to go upstairs.

Once they were seated in the private room, Shen Yanming couldn’t help but ask, “That girl just now, is she a fanatic fan of Lan?”

Fish replied, “I don’t know, maybe.”

Pudding shrugged, “Who cares? Let’s order, let’s order.”

There wasn’t really any gossip worth sharing.
The young boys gathered around one table.
Since Meng Yan couldn’t eat spicy food, they ordered a half-and-half hot pot with various types of meat.

The dishes arrived quickly.

Their private room had a round table, but it didn’t rotate.
Shen Yanming stared at a plate of fish balls that were a bit far from him.
No one had taken any yet, but he wanted to eat some.
Just as he was about to stand up to pick them, He Changkong, who was closer, seemed to have notice and put a few fish balls into the pot.

Shen Yanming: “o(* ̄▽ ̄*)o!”

After a while, when the fish balls were cooked, He Changkong used a shared spoon to pick up two and put them in Shen Yanming’s bowl.

Shen Yanming: “…Thank you, Kong ge!”

Shen Yanming was startled.
He thought He Changkong had put the fish balls in the pot because he wanted to eat them himself, but it turned out he did it for him.
He felt incredibly touched.

So, this is the nurturing love of a nanny? So loving!

Shen Yanming wasn’t the only one surprised.
Meng Yan and Pudding across from him also stared with wide eyes.

Pudding even held his bowl up to He Changkong and said, “Kong jiang, I want some too.”

He Changkong: “…”

But he still scooped a fish ball for Pudding.

Meng Yan made a disgusted face, “Disgusting.”

Fish also raised his bowl and blinked, “Brother, I want some too.”

So, He Changkong scooped a fish ball for Fish.

Damn it.
Shen Yanming thought, no wonder in families with many siblings, the children often end up fighting at the slightest disagreement.
After all, no one likes having the love of their mother, originally meant only for themselves, divided among others.

Meng Yan looked at everyone having fish balls and shamelessly said, “Kong Jiang, I want some too.”

He Changkong glanced at him, picked up the last fish ball in the pot, dipped it in sauce…and put it in his own mouth.

Meng Yan: “…”

Meng Yan put down his chopsticks and exaggeratedly said, “Boring.
I feel like I’m being isolated here.
I want to leave the team.”

Pudding: “Leave, go ahead.”

Meng Yan’s face was full of disbelief, “Is there any love left in this team??”

Pudding: “None.”

Meng Yan: “…”

Shen Yanming couldn’t help but laugh as he listened to their conversation.
Then he looked at He Changkong beside him, who still had a relatively expressionless face, but his eyes had visibly softened.

He Changkong was calmly eating his food, even when it was hotpot, he didn’t have that sweaty and messy appearance with spicy oil all over his mouth like the others.

Shen Yanming couldn’t help but sigh, “I could never imagine how Kong ge would look like eating hot pot before.”

He Changkong paused and looked at him, while Meng Yan was also puzzled, “What’s so hard to imagine about that?”

Shen Yanming looked at He Changkong and finally decided to speak his true thoughts, “I feel like he’s someone who drinks immortal dew, you know? So seeing him eat something so down-to-earth like a hot pot feels a bit out of place.”

He Changkong: “…”

Pudding rolled up his sleeves and said, “Don’t you think it’s even more out of place for me to wear such elegant and glamorous clothes to eat hot pot?”

Shen Yanming: “It’s alright, isn’t it? I’ve seen girls wearing luxury brands while shopping at the market.”

“Damn, your fan filter is too heavy,” Meng Yan said with disdain.
Then, as if remembering something, he continued, “Don’t be fooled by his current appearance.
Let me tell you, back in middle school, before he had his growth spurt, he was this short.
He would always carry books and focus only on studying… One time, when he didn’t do well on a test and only ranked second in the entire grade, he got scolded.
So, he dragged me to a knockoff McDonald’s in our neighborhood.
He ordered several combo meals and ate like crazy.
In the end, he couldn’t finish them all and just sat there sulking in front of a pile of burgers.

Shen Yanming listened attentively to Meng Yan’s story.
At the beginning, he couldn’t help but imagine what the tiny, bean-like Little Kong looked like as Meng Yan described.
But when he heard the latter part, his head was filled with question marks, “Being ranked second is considered not doing well???”

Meng Yan answered matter-of-factly, “Yeah, that’s how it is in the world of top students.”

Shen Yanming: “…”

People are truly different.
If he ranked second, his parents would probably throw a banquet and invite everyone in the neighborhood to celebrate.

However, considering He Changkong’s excellent grades, it is widely known that he even scored 985 for the admission to a prestigious university in the capital city.
With such remarkable achievements, why did he drop out of school to play games?

Well, it’s fortunate that he’s good at the game.
If he weren’t, it would be a big loss.

He Changkong didn’t seem eager to continue discussing this topic.
He simply said, “Let’s eat.”

Meng Yan realized he had talked too much and changed the subject, “Let’s eat, let’s eat.
I’ll try your spicy hot pot.
Is it really spicy?”

Pudding, who hailed from Chongqing, said, “It’s not spicy at all.”

Meng Yan naturally didn’t believe this person’s nonsense and turned to Shen Yanming, who came from a coastal province where people don’t eat spicy food, “Luanzi ge, what do you think? Spicy or not?”

“It’s okay, not spicy,” Shen Yanming, who was prone to making random remarks, had held back a lot these past few days, accumulating a lot of pent-up energy.
Now, he couldn’t hold it in any longer and started being mischievous again, “Well, at least it’s not as spicy as me.”

Meng Yan: “???”

Meng Yan automatically ignored the second half of Shen Yanming’s sentence and picked out a few pieces of meat from the pot, saying, “I believe you.”

He Changkong replied coolly, “If you can’t handle it, don’t force yourself.”

Then Meng Yan took a bite and started howling, “Water, water, give me water!”

Others laughed, “Hahahahaha.”

Meng Yan, with a pained expression, said, “I can’t trust you spicy food lovers at all.
It’s all lies.
I feel like I’m going to ascend to heaven now.”

At first, it seemed like Meng Yan was intentionally exaggerating his expression.
But later, his face turned pale, and he said, “F*ck, my stomach hurts.”

Shen Yanming was a little flustered.
He didn’t expect Meng Yan to have such a strong reaction to the spice.
“I’m sorry, Yan ge, I didn’t know you couldn’t handle spicy food at all.”

Meng Yan waved his hand, “It’s not your fault.
I occasionally eat spicy food too, but recently, my diet has been so irregular that even a little spice is too much… Damn it.”

This wasn’t something Meng Yan said just to comfort Shen Yanming.
In fact, Meng Yan’s inability to handle spice and still forcing himself to eat it had become a regular act during TMM’s team meals.
Every time, he would pant like a husky and chug water, but he would still eat more.

That’s why no one stopped him earlier.

But they didn’t expect him to have a stomachache right at that moment.

Pudding got up and handed him a glass of warm water.
Shen Yanming also stood up, saying, “I’ll go buy you some medicine.”

Meng Yan tried to stop him, saying, “It’s fine.
I’m not that fragile.
Just rest for a while, and I’ll be fine.”

Shen Yanming looked at Meng Yan’s pale face and still decided to leave the private room.

Not long after he left, He Changkong followed and tapped his shoulder from behind.

Shen Yanming was slightly surprised.
“…Kong ge, why did you come out too?”

He Changkong said, “Do you know where the pharmacy in this mall is?”

“…I don’t know,” Shen Yanming admitted, “but I have a navigation app.”

Upon hearing this, He Changkong showed no intention of going back.
“Let me take you there.”

The two of them went upstairs side by side.
Initially, everyone in the private room was having a lively conversation, but now that only the two of them were left, the atmosphere became somewhat awkward.
Both of them seemed to want to say something, yet neither of them spoke.

The pharmacy was still a distance away from them when He Changkong broke the silence, saying, “The typhoon warning has been lifted.
Have you booked your return flight? When do you plan to go back?”

When it came to this topic, Shen Yanming started to feel conflicted.

He shook his head.
“I haven’t checked the flights yet…”

He Changkong said, “If you plan to go back to school, you should check the tickets as soon as possible.
Don’t delay too much on your studies.
You can come over to play again in the future.”

Shen Yanming hesitated for a moment before saying, “Actually…”

He found it difficult to express himself.

He Changkong didn’t urge him to continue, but simply placed his hand on Shen Yanming’s shoulder.

After contemplating for a while, Shen Yanming finally said, “Actually, I don’t really want to go back.”

He Changkong responded, “Hmm?”

Shen Yanming didn’t mention the match he watched in the afternoon or Xu Yin’s action that had been lingering in his mind.

For such a long time, he hadn’t confided in anyone about his confusion.

Of course, he didn’t directly state it this time either.
He just had a feeling that He Changkong would be willing to listen to these seemingly trivial worries of his.
So, he tried to peel back a small corner of his perplexity and said, “If I once gave up on my dreams because of certain things, can I find them again?”

He Changkong didn’t expect Shen Yanming to ask him such a question.
This child usually appeared carefree and cheerful, but when he spoke, it was quite heavy.

“Yes, you can,” He Changkong replied.

He Changkong didn’t know what “certain things” Shen Yanming was referring to, but he could guess that Shen Yanming’s dream was likely related to gaming.
Despite his usual refusal to join the professional scene, there was a glimmer of longing in his eyes.
If not for that, He Changkong wouldn’t have asked him multiple times if he wanted to compete.

He actually wanted to say more, but this wasn’t the appropriate time or place for a heart-to-heart conversation.
Their conversation naturally came to a halt when they arrived at the pharmacy.

Shen Yanming bought the medicine and, after coming out, looked at the escalator far away.
He suggested, “Why don’t we take the stairs next to us? It’s just one floor, and it’s a hassle to walk all the way to the elevator.”

He Changkong had no objections and followed behind Shen Yanming as they walked towards the staircase.

The mall wasn’t crowded to begin with, and the staircase was even more deserted, with only a dim light illuminating the corner, creating an eerie atmosphere.

As they got closer, they heard voices arguing in the staircase.

First, there was the voice of a girl.
Her voice sounded hoarse, as if she had just been crying.
“I just had an abortion for you, you can’t treat me like this…”
Shen Yanming quickly reacted, freezing in place.

Is it really that explosive?

Then another girl’s voice joined the battlefield.
“You’ve been avoiding me, not replying to my messages.
You’re with her? And you even got her pregnant? You made someone get an abortion? Song Lan, are you even a man?”


Song Lan is Lan’s real name.

Shen Yanming widened his eyes and looked at He Changkong, but He Changkong seemed completely clueless about this.

“It’s not like that.
Both of you calm down first…”

Upon hearing the last voice, Shen Yanming confirmed that it was indeed Lan.
Although he had never interacted with him, Shen Yanming had watched many of Lan’s live streams and videos, so he was familiar with his voice.

If what the two girls said earlier was true, then was this a scene where a scumbag meets his downfall?

Thank you for reading! 

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day

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