For a long time, even though it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, this pressure had truly been weighing on Shen Yanming’s heart.
And on this day, he finally let it all out.
Perhaps he cried too vigorously, to the point where he had no more tears left.
However, he couldn’t help but let out a couple of sobs, even experiencing two consecutive hiccups.
The originally pitiful-looking little puppy became quite comical due to these hiccups.
“Damn it,” Shen Yanming cursed, lifting his face from He Changkong’s shoulder.
Then he quickly turned around, covering his face with both hands.
“Don’t tell anyone… hic.”
He Changkong removed his hands from his face, pulled out a tissue from his pocket, and gently wiped Shen Yanming’s face.
He then carefully wiped his hands and fingers one by one.
“Alright, go wash your face.”
He Changkong guided Shen Yanming back, upstairs, and into the bathroom in his room.
He still acted like a responsible nanny, washing the towel with warm water, pushing aside the stray hair from Shen Yanming’s forehead, and gently rubbed the towel against his face.
The towel covered Shen Yanming’s face, but not his ears, which were now bright red.
“There’s something…” Shen Yanming spoke with a slightly nasal tone, “I want to confirm with you, ge.”
“What?” He Changkong asked.
Shen Yanming became a bit bashful.
How should he ask? Is it okay for us to consider ourselves in a romantic relationship now? That sounds too straightforward.
By the way, how do others get into a relationship? Shen Yanming might be naive, but he’s not entirely clueless.
There must be certain steps to follow, otherwise, it would be so haphazard, not romantic at all.
One crucial step in this process, for example, is confession.
After contemplating for a while, Shen Yanming stammered, “Ge, are you willing… to be in a gay relationship with me?”
As soon as Shen Yanming finished, he felt like slapping himself.
That didn’t sound romantic at all!
But he heard He Changkong chuckle softly before he lifted the towel covering Shen Yanming’s face.
Without confirming yes or no, he simply leaned down and kissed Shen Yanming’s left cheek.
At this inopportune moment, Shen Yanming thought of a scene from a historical drama where the bride’s veil was lifted.
He felt like he was about to explode.
He stumbled over his words even more, “I… I got it, you’re willing, willing to be in a gay relationship with me.”
He Changkong’s ears also turned red, “Mhmm.”
Shen Yanming took off the towel and hung it up, saying, “I-I, I’ll go outside first!”
He was fumbling as he left, walking awkwardly, his steps stiff.
Once he returned to his room, he tried to calm down—though he couldn’t really calm down at all.
It was like a loudspeaker was blaring in his mind: Breaking News! Shen Yanming and his crush Kong Shen are dating!
The background music was that song, “I love you, you love me, we’re really, truly in love for the first time…” It looped endlessly in his mind.
After a while, Shen Yanming received a message from He Changkong, who was still in the bathroom just a few meters away.
[kong_]: I’m willing to love you.
Shen Yanming immediately covered his face and buried it in his arms on the table.
He Changkong was still in the bathroom, and after sending that message, he also felt a bit flushed.
The word “love” was quite serious, but he was willing to give it a try.
When He Changkong came out again, Shen Yanming had slipped away, but he had left his things behind, and he would probably come back later.
He Changkong tidied up the bed, shaking the bedding in his hands as his thoughts drifted far away.
Actually, all of this came as quite a surprise to him.
Just a few days ago, he thought he might have to hold onto this fantasy for he didn’t know how long.
Then suddenly, Cupid decided to play a trick on him; the person he liked stole a kiss from him in the middle of the night, and he was caught red-handed.
But he didn’t express anything clearly.
On one hand, he thought it was hasty, and on the other, he was a bit timid.
Shen Yanming was much braver than him.
Once exposed, he asked if they could hold hands.
However, He Changkong thought it shouldn’t be that simple.
While he certainly wanted to be with Shen Yanming, it shouldn’t start so casually.
He hadn’t figured out a satisfactory way to convey his feelings to Shen Yanming.
Yet, Shen Yanming beat him to it.
Shen Yanming was indeed much braver than him.
Like a sun gone off its track, he crashed right into He Changkong’s heart.
He Changkong made the bed, took clean clothes, and went to freshen up.
Thinking about the message he had sent earlier, he felt that compared to Shen Yanming’s courage, his response lacked sincerity.
Though the first thought that popped into his mind when asked whether he was willing or not was that he was willing to love him, he wasn’t the type who could eloquently express this with words.
After hesitating for a while, he couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud.
Instead, he opted for typing it out and sending the message.
However, it seemed that Shen Yanming didn’t pay much attention to it.
When He Changkong came out, he found Shen Yanming already lying on one side of the bed, cocooned in the blanket.
Half of his face was visible, his eyes shining brightly.
He seemed a bit embarrassed and blinked stiffly from time to time.
“Would it be progressing too quickly if I come rushing over to sleep in your room…?” Shen Yanming said, then immediately self-corrected, “Hahaha, but then again, I’ve been coming to sleep in your room quite often before.”
He Changkong sat down beside him, and Shen Yanming also sat up.
He propped himself up with his hands on the bed, his gaze followed the water droplets that hadn’t completely dried on He Changkong’s neck until they disappeared into the collar of his pajamas.
Shen Yanming swallowed hard, his voice trembling slightly, “Ge, can I hug you?”
He Changkong nodded, and Shen Yanming, like a cautious little creature, slowly extended his hand and gently encircled He Changkong’s waist.
“No need to ask for everything…” He Changkong paused, looking at the white head leaning against his shoulder, “You can do whatever you want.”
“I’m really lucky to be gay,” Shen Yanming grinned foolishly, “Um, there’s something I’ve been wanting to say for a while.
Can you let me play on your account for a bit? I’ve been craving that little champion crown verification icon for so long.
It feels like using an account with a championship title comes with a buff.
It must be very impressive, right…”
He Changkong: “…Sure.”
I talk about romance, and you talk about games?
Truly a straight guy turned gay.
After some twists and turns, luckily, the regular season smoothly came to an end.
Having competed against eighteen other teams, TMM gloriously secured the top spot in the regular season points, advancing to the next round of playoffs.
On the final day of the schedule, when the dust had settled and there were no official matches, the league committee organized a small award ceremony.
First, they awarded the top eight teams in terms of points with qualification cards and miniature commemorative trophies.
On such occasions, the team captain usually goes up to receive the award.
TMM never officially appointed a captain, but whenever there was an event that required a representative to put in some labor, they would usually push Meng Yan, who was the oldest in the team, onto the stage.
He was essentially their workhorse, ready to carry out any task.
After presenting the qualification cards and trophies, the host announced that the top two teams in this season’s points ranking would be invited to the North American region for a week-long exchange training camp.
Though it was called a training camp, it wasn’t exactly formal training.
After all, arranging practice matches didn’t necessitate going to great lengths to hold them in a different city or even overseas.
Just scheduling online practice matches would suffice.
This event was more on the entertainment side, organized by the management and some sponsors.
It involved exchanges, informal matches, and live streaming for promotional purposes.
Furthermore, it was a chance for the top two teams to enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip and relax a bit.
The players had been informed beforehand, so at this moment on the field, they were just clapping along in coordination.
But for the audience, this was all new information, and as soon as the host announced it, the scene erupted.
China’s esports scene had indeed dominated the championship in recent years, but if we looked back a few years, the North American and Korean regions had also produced their share of top players.
And in recent years, they had performed well too.
There were even a few teams still considered strong contenders for the championship.
Seeing these powerhouse teams directly clash was undoubtedly a good thing.
After the team awards were presented, it was time for individual awards.
Shen Yanming had performed exceptionally well throughout the season, securing the most MVPs and ultimately receiving the Rookie King of this season award.
The “Return to the Throne” game organizer had prepared a ring with a design similar to the in-game crown as a gift for the Rookie King.
Knowing that esports players generally didn’t wear extra accessories on their hands, the designer had thoughtfully attached a chain to the ring, allowing the user to wear it as a necklace.
Holding the small box handed to him by the award presenter, Shen Yanming began to read his acceptance speech, “I am indeed very awesome…”
The audience: “…”
As boastful as he sounded, everyone found it hard to argue against him.
Before Shen Yanming took the stage to accept the award, the organizers played a video compilation showcasing his outstanding plays throughout the season.
It included moments of him stealthily ambushing from behind, stunning comebacks, and facing off against four enemies in a single challenge… Every clip was packed with high-energy action.
Hence, when Shen Yanming continued, “But without my teammates, I probably wouldn’t have been able to pull off half of the moves you just saw.”
In fact, in his previous life, he almost managed to win this ring.
Back then, he led the team into the quarter-finals as a young and promising player, earning his reputation and making waves.
However, in the Rookie King selection, he was ultimately outperformed by another rookie.
The reason was simple – as he just mentioned, he lacked teammates capable of enabling him to pull off those extreme maneuvers.
Initially, everyone thought Shen Yanming was going to start boasting wildly, but he surprised them by becoming more modest and sincere in the latter half of his speech: “This game is a team effort.
Without Kong ge covering my back, I wouldn’t have dared to make those reckless charges.
Plus, I mostly play White Wolf, and you all know about that ultimate move.
Many times, I’ve taken kills that Yan ge and the others could have gotten… It’s because of them that I’ve managed to win so many MVPs.
So, I believe I owe this award to the brilliance of my teammates.
I still have a lot of room for improvement, and I’ll continue to work hard.”
The host led the way, and the audience burst into applause.
“So, I’ve decided to copy this ring and make four, five, or six of them, giving one to each of my teammates,” Shen Yanming said, glancing in the direction of the host, “Is that okay?”
Host: “…Uh, I think that should be fine.”
After leaving the stage, Shen Yanming sat back beside He Changkong and whispered in his ear, “Actually, I initially wanted to make an extra one just for you, but that would have been too obvious.
I observed it – Meng Yan and Tiantian don’t like wearing fancy stuff like this, and Ding jiang prefers gaudy and colorful accessories… I didn’t mean to secretly call him tacky… So, it’s just the two of us wearing them, isn’t that perfect?”
It had become a couple’s accessory.
He Changkong teased him, “So, all that talk up there was just an excuse to get this ring?”
Shen Yanming immediately denied, “No, not at all.
I truly mean it.
I want to sincerely thank my brothers here.
Without you all, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
He Changkong ruffled Shen Yanming’s hair, “We achieve together.
You’re much more impressive than you imagine.”
Shen Yanming felt that he shone brightly mostly because of his teammates.
In reality, another person might not have been able to coordinate so well even if they took his place.
However, with the venue bustling, it wasn’t the right time for deep conversations.
After some lively discussions, they decided to go for a meal together.
It was a somewhat celebratory gathering, and the one treating them was Fish from the second team.
Those within the team who had a good relationship with him joined in.
His contract was nearing its end, and he hadn’t intended to renew it or transfer to another club, he had decided to leave and return to his hometown.
Given his talent, he could have continued for a while longer, but he was resolute in leaving despite the attempts by Coach, Manager, and his teammates to persuade him otherwise.
During the meal, Fish, the chubby guy, substituted juice for alcohol, yet he found himself tearing up as if he were drunk, finally revealing his true reason for leaving.
His mother fell seriously ill, and the doctors said she might not have many years left.
He didn’t want to continue wandering outside; he wanted to return to his mother’s side and take care of her properly.
Shen Yanming finally understood, no wonder Fish had suddenly disappeared in his previous life.
Feeling quite emotional, Shen Yanming put his arm around Fish’s shoulder and offered some comforting words along with the others.
Once everyone had nearly finished eating, Meng Yan excused himself to buy some chewing gum and dragged He Changkong out.
After purchasing the gum, Meng Yan tore open a pack and popped a piece into his mouth.
He squatted by the convenience store entrance, hesitated for a moment, and then, after much deliberation, spoke vaguely, “Your mother is also sick.”
To his surprise, He Changkong’s emotions, while not overtly enthusiastic, didn’t appear all that shocked either.
He just responded calmly, “Hmm, and then?”
Meng Yan continued, “…She’s been messaging me, saying she wants you to go back.
We haven’t finished the match yet earlier, I was afraid it would affect your mood, so I didn’t dare to tell you.”
The scene was identical, just like in the previous life.
It had been after the match, during a meal together, that Fish had shared his situation.
Taking advantage of the moment, Meng Yan had spoken to He Changkong about this matter.
Squatting by the roadside, an unsure Meng Yan looked up at He Changkong, who stood beside him, without much confidence, “How about you find some time to go back and see her?”
He Changkong remembered that in his previous life, despite his hesitation, he had ultimately agreed and returned to the home he hadn’t set foot in for several years.
However, the outcome…
This time, he let out a long sigh and then said, “If she’s sick, she can go see a doctor herself.”
Thank you for reading!
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