Shen Yanming stole a fleeting, almost indiscernible kiss – if one were to insist, it was just a momentary contact of their skin.
That was all it was, but when he turned his head back, he felt like a perverted maniac, as though he had done something wicked.
His heart drummed within him, and he was overcome with annoyance, blaming himself for being too impulsive.
Is Kong ge asleep? Kong ge must be asleep.
Holding onto the blanket, he wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he heard a sigh through the haze.
“Aren’t you feeling stuffy?” He Changkong spoke and reached over, gently pulling at Shen Yanming’s face, attempting to uncover his head from the blanket.
Shen Yanming: “!!!”
The mouth that was usually so good at spouting nonsense suddenly choked up.
“Ge… you, you, you, you’re not asleep.”
He Changkong responded, “Hmm.”
Shen Yanming stammered, “Um… I… I…”
He struggled for a while, unable to successfully form a complete sentence.
He was fished out by He Changkong, who had become as tense as a steel plate due to nervousness.
He patted Shen Yanming’s back gently and then naturally pulled him into his embrace, saying, “Sleep.”
In fact, He Changkong was nervous too.
He had just gone through a lengthy mental struggle.
At first, he wasn’t sure whether Shen Yanming’s action was done while he was awake or if it was another one of those unconscious embraces from before.
He hadn’t moved, observing the movements of the person beside him for a while, and realized that the other party was wide awake.
Shen Yanming was awake, Shen Yanming had kissed him.
After realizing this, on this quiet autumn night, the roars of spring thunder seemed to explode within He Changkong’s heart.
Usually, Shen Yanming’s actions could be explained away by his personality.
Even if he was often teased into a restless state, he would maintain a calm façade.
But this time was different.
He knew that no matter how eccentric someone was, they wouldn’t secretly kiss a friend in the middle of the night unless they had some peculiar preference.
However, he had no experience in dealing with such situations.
In matters of the heart, he was a completely blank canvas.
He thought for a long time about whether he should play dumb or pretend not to know… But Shen Yanming had remained buried under the blanket.
He genuinely worried that the kid might get uncomfortable from the stuffiness, and after much internal struggle, he couldn’t resist but speak up.
Shen Yanming: “Hmm.”
He Changkong rubbed Shen Yanming’s head.
Shen Yanming leaned against He Changkong’s chest.
“Ge, your heartbeat is really fast.”
He Changkong: “… “Failing at acting composed.
Shen Yanming muttered again, “Mine is too.
Feels like it’s about to jump out.
How can this be?”
“I don’t know,” He Changkong’s tone tone remained steady, but his breathing amidst the tranquility sounded somewhat heavy, “Just sleep.”
Shen Yanming: “… Sleep like this?”
He Changkong: “Hmm, close your eyes.”
Shen Yanming arched slightly, “Okay.”
Shen Yanming obediently closed his eyes.
However, he couldn’t fall asleep; the aftertaste of that stolen kiss was still lingering.
He remained in a strange state of wakefulness.
It had indeed been discovered, but He Changkong hadn’t said anything and was still holding him.
What did this mean? Was it what he was thinking?
If it was what he was thinking… like this? Just like this?
He didn’t know when he fell asleep.
The next day, Shen Yanming woke up and found that He Changkong wasn’t in the room.
He tidied up and sat on the bed, waiting for He Changkong to finish exercising and call him.
He Changkong returned not long after, just like usual, he greeted, “Morning.
Are you ready? Let’s go.”
Shen Yanming stared straight at him.
Was that it?
Could it be that last night was a dream?
Shen Yanming began to doubt life a little.
He hopped off the bed, followed He Changkong out of the room, closed the door, went downstairs, and it was all just as usual.
It couldn’t be a dream… Shen Yanming took a few steps and reluctantly called out to He Changkong, “Ge.”
He Changkong stopped and turned his head to look at him.
Shen Yanming weakly asked, “…Can we hold hands?”
He Changkong neither agreed nor disagreed.
He turned his head back and seemed ready to continue walking.
Shen Yanming: “!!!!” No way!
But before his disappointment could fully set in, he saw He Changkong, though he hadn’t turned around, extend one hand backward, palm up, towards him.
After a while with no movement, He Changkong squeezed his palm together.
Shen Yanming bit his lip and placed his hand on top.
He Changkong immediately held it.
Actually, it wasn’t convenient to go up and down the stairs like this.
The two of them were practically shuffling downstairs.
They held hands down the stairs and all the way to the cafeteria.
As they sat facing each other for their meal, their hands remained under the table, fingers interlocked, gently swaying.
Since it was early morning, there were hardly any people around the base, so they dared to act so boldly.
Eating with only one hand was quite inconvenient, and it took twice as long as usual to finish breakfast.
By the time they got to the training room, they were running a bit late.
Sitting down in front of their computers, Shen Yanming finally, albeit reluctantly, let go of He Changkong’s hand.
“Time to play the game.”
His tone carried a touch of lament.
As soon as their hands parted, Shen Yanming began to reminisce.
He noticed that when they first held hands, Kong ge’s hand was dry, but soon it seemed to get a little sweaty.
If it were winter, holding hands like this would probably be quite warm.
He Changkong chuckled softly.
“Don’t want to play?”
Shen Yanming straightened up in an instant.
“Want to play, want to play.
Nothing is more important than playing the game.
Enough nonsense, let’s start.”
Thankfully, Shen Yanming did have one advantage.
No matter how chaotic his thoughts were before, as soon as he entered the match, he would be completely focused on playing.
They kept playing until lunchtime.
Meng Yan dragged Sunday to sit beside them.
The other two, who had just recently arrived and sat down in the cafeteria exchanged glances and winked at each other.
Shen Yanming didn’t quite get it.
“What’s wrong with Yan jiang? Is your eye cramping?”
“Your uncle’s cramping,” Meng Yan handed over his phone, “Take a look at the group.”
Shen Yanming didn’t pay attention to him, took out his own phone, and skeptically opened the group chat.
He found that Pudding had just posted Moonlight’s exposure on Weibo, with the caption falsely claiming it was a “fan submission.”
Liu Ritian’s account already had quite a few followers.
Adding to that, Pudding also tagged many popular marketing accounts, gossip bloggers, and influential personal bloggers within the industry.
The post garnered a considerable number of reposts shortly after it was posted.
[NurseSisNumberOne]: You guys focus on training this afternoon, I’ll monitor public opinion, if necessary, I’ll hire some water armies.
[KongJiangNumberOne]: Ding Ding Jiang, you still buy a water army?
[NurseSisNumberOne]: Of course.
Meng Yan saw Shen Yanming’s question and explained, “There was this boring gaming account before that organized a pointless poll, something like ‘Choose the No.1 face of the throne in your heart.’ Your Ding Zi ge secretly bought a water army to manipulate the votes and pushed himself to first place.”
Shen Yanming: “…”
Shen Yanming turned to look at He Changkong, “I think this guy next to me is the real no.1 face of the throne.”
Meng Yan touched his own face, “I’m not bad either.”
Sunday, who had been mechanically eating his meal with his eyes half-closed, suddenly perked up after receiving a phone call, “Leader, they’re calling me for a talk again.”
The others were puzzled, but He Changkong suddenly spoke up.
“Using his account to post on Weibo exposed you immediately.”
Only then did the others finally catch on.
It turned out that they had been so secretive for so long, only to be caught by such a detail in the end.
Meng Yan: “Why didn’t you mention it earlier?”
He Changkong: “Didn’t think of it before.”
But Sunday was quite optimistic, “Don’t worry, Mountain Man has a trick up his sleeve~”
Shen Yanming opened his mouth, “Since when did he start using such difficult words?”
Meng Yan: “Lately, he’s been enjoying those storytelling podcasts.
Every night, he and Ding Jiang get on voice call to listen to them…”
Sunday vigorously nodded, “Exactly, at midnight every night, let the NetEase Cloud Music, begin!”
Shen Yanming: “…While others use NetEase Cloud Music to listen to sad songs, you guys listen to stories from the Three Kingdoms? Do you even understand?”
“We don’t understand,” Sunday added, “Help me take care of the fans, I’ll be back in a bit.”
“Off you go,” Meng Yan waved at Sunday, then turned to their two teammates who had been eating one-handed since a while ago, “What are you guys doing? Did your hands break or is this some new trend?”
Under the table, the two of them, who had been tirelessly holding hands, suddenly froze.
Shen Yanming then pinched He Changkong’s palm, released his hand, placed it back on the table, and wore an embarrassed yet polite smile on his face, “Ahaha.”
He Changkong also lowered his head.
Meng Yan said, “Something’s off.” He looked at Shen Yanming and then at He Changkong.
He had a gut feeling that there was something unusual between these two, but after staring for a while, he couldn’t figure out what it was.
Sunday left and returned.
He said he had given his account to someone else and knew nothing.
He received a scolding, but the leaders seemed to turn a blind eye to it.
He Changkong analyzed, “Actually, it’s normal.
To be frank, the club wants us to win and probably hopes to have fewer competitors.
As long as we haven’t been exposed, they probably don’t care.”
Shen Yanming poked at the chicken in his bowl, “Whether there are competitors or not doesn’t matter.
Anyway, they can’t beat us.”
Meng Yan teased, “Luan Jiang, you’re quite full of yourself.”
He Changkong took out his phone and sent a message to Shen Yanming.
Shen Yanming received the message, and the corners of his mouth lifted again.
After they returned to the training room and trained for an afternoon and evening, when they stepped out, the public opinion had turned upside down.
Drawing from the experience of witnessing the other girls flip Lan’s situation last time, Pudding, alone in the hospital room, had ignited a storm with his Weibo posts.
Initially, he had only shared chat records of their conversations, and as expected, there was no creativity on the other side’s part to explain anything; it was all just bluffing.
He even rode the wave and portrayed himself as a caring and affectionate boyfriend.
Subsequently, Pudding released a video.
The content of the video matched the time, place, and outfit mentioned in the chat records.
Even his teammates came forward anonymously to confirm that he did go out that day.
Moonlight couldn’t refute this anymore.
The harder he had denied before, the more embarrassed he looked now.
This event wasn’t only making waves within the esports circle, but even outside of it.
People started sharing the Weibo post because it wasn’t just about some esports player’s scandal; it touched upon the issue of deceiving straight women with a same-sex relationship, making it a huge controversy.
Initially, some fans were helping to speak up for him.
However, later on, a long-time fan came out with a somewhat sarcastic remark: “Do you know why I stopped pursuing him back then? Because he privately told others that we, the ‘handicapped and brainless’ players, don’t understand anything and just know how to give advice all day long.
Well, I won’t give advice anymore.
Don’t bother defending him, he doesn’t rely on fans for a living, and your affection means nothing to him.”
Of course, this old fan’s words lacked concrete evidence.
However, at this crucial moment, many people bought into this rhythm.
After all, this fan had genuinely helped TR gain some sponsorships and find matches when the team was just a small workshop-style team.
If nothing significant had occurred, they wouldn’t have left so decisively.
Then, Zhuo Minxing’s ex-boyfriend stepped in.
He didn’t reveal his identity, but he sent Liu Ritian a photo of Zhuo Minxing and Moonlight in an intimate moment, along with a statement after providing some context: Moonlight showed me these photos to anger me, so no need to cleanse your eyes.
Moonlight is just a deceptive gay.
In one short evening, public opinion had completely turned around.
Later, various bits of information were leaked by different people, all contributing to Moonlight’s downfall.
Their club’s response was quite swift.
They issued a disciplinary announcement not long after, banning Moonlight due to the severity of the situation, and he was expelled from the team.
Following that, some individuals even contacted Zhuo Minxing’s school’s official account, and they indicated that they would address the matter.
Regardless of the outcome of the discussion, this individual had, at the very least suffered a social death.
It was a tumultuous night, the only consolation was that the deceived young lady seemed quite resilient.
She sent a private message to Liu Ritian’s account, expressing her sadness and gratitude to the person who exposed the truth behind the submission.
Otherwise, she would have really been preparing to marry this trash.
Shen Yanming didn’t return to his room; instead, he pulled He Changkong along for a walk outside.
They strolled around while glancing at things on Weibo.
After a while, Shen Yanming found it annoying and pocketed his phone, looked up at the sky, and said, “Ge, I defeated him fair and square in the competition, and I’m happy about that.
I’m glad to see him face the consequences of his wrongdoings.
But I really don’t want to see all this mess… People used to curse me the same way back then.”
Netizens were indeed a spiteful group; scum like Moonlight was now being bombarded with curses whenever his name was searched.
Once upon a time, Shen Yanming had been mistaken for such a person too.
Due to his soft-heartedness, he didn’t immediately defend himself.
Furthermore, his teammates falsified evidence and slapped labels like violence directly onto him.
Everyone wanted to appear upright and just, so they used the harshest words to curse him.
Some even managed to find his parent’s phone numbers and called to ask, “How did you raise such a beastly son? Simple-minded, all brawn and no brain, probably raised on pig feed.” They even felt smug enough to record the call and upload it online.
He didn’t realize he was merely standing up for someone else and how it had all spiraled into this.
If given a chance to start over, he was determined not to be a good person anymore.
Then again, he thought it might be better not to start over at all.
Isn’t it quite meaningless? He had worked so hard, yet his goals remained unattainable.
With good intentions, he had attracted the worst possible outcome.
Fortunately, the second time around, he met He Changkong and the other companions who firmly pulled him out of the mire.
He thought that if he had stayed in school, with his average grades and lack of enthusiasm for studying, even if he said he wanted to learn, he probably wouldn’t have achieved much.
After taking the college entrance exam, he might attend a technical college and eventually become a salesperson, just like his father had initially been.
The pay would be decent, but the socializing would be exhausting.
Late nights spent drinking with clients might even remind him of the dreams he once had.
Shen Yanming shook his head, trying to clear his mind of these chaotic thoughts.
He turned to He Changkong again, “Ge, can we hold hands?”
“Sure.” He Changkong held Shen Yanming’s hand, feeling it slightly trembling.
He then pulled him into an embrace, patting his back.
Of course, He Changkong was well aware of all those things.
Despite not being close before and not usually meddling in others’ affairs, that one night He Changkong had sent Shen Yanming some words of encouragement.
They weren’t anything particularly special, just a hope that he would pull through.
However, it seemed that even if it was sent out, there was no chance for it to be seen.
Because on that night, in that world, there was no longer a youth named Shen Yanming.
Fortunately, all of that has passed now.
He Changkong patted Shen Yanming’s back gently, saying, “Everything is okay, hugging is fine, crying and laughing are all okay.”
Shen Yanming let out a soft “wow” and buried his head in He Changkong’s shoulder.
It wasn’t long before He Changkong felt a dampness on his shoulder.
Go ahead and cry, my little friend.
That’s what He Changkong thought to himself.
Luan luanzi: QAQ
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