The flight tickets for the two of them back to Shanghai were booked in the evening. The following day, they stayed in the room without going anywhere and relied on takeout for meals.
At noon, Shi Du took advantage of the time when he went downstairs to get takeout and made a video call to his mother, thinking of taking Yu Zhaohan to have a meal with her – while his father didn’t matter much.
The relationship between him and his father was very tense, and they had no contact for several months. His mother is much easier to talk to than his father and is willing to discuss things with him. His father wanted him to retire this year and report to an overseas school in September. Now it was already October, and he was still doing well in R.H. This had infuriated his father, who smashed three plates, two cups, and a vase at home.
His mother was caught between his father and son, concerned and trying to persuade both. She rarely bought bags and barely made smiles in the last few months, showing how fatigued she was.
When Mother Shi received the video call from her son, she was so happy that her face turned a shade whiter: “Xiao Du finally took the initiative to call me. I thought you had forgotten me as your mother.”
Shi Du smiled: “Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.”
“Where do you think I am now?”
“I’m abroad, helping you with your overseas study arrangements.”
Shi Du didn’t like the mention of “overseas study” and said, “There’s nothing to arrange; the enrollment deadlines have passed.”
“There are some things that can’t be explained over the phone,” his mother explained. “I’ll come to Shanghai to see you after I finish here. I’ve bought you lots of clothes and shoes; my son will look so handsome in them.”
Shi Du frowned: “Mom, don’t come. The training at the base is tense and I don’t have time to accompany you…”
His mother was called by someone nearby and said, “I have to go now. My best friend is calling me. I’ll hang up first. See you back home, Xiao Du.”
The camera shook as it switched, and Shi Du saw the aunt who often went shopping with his mother. They seemed to be in a luxury handbag store.
It appeared that his mother wasn’t too troubled; at least, she still had the mood for shopping.
So that’s fine.
When Shi Du returned to the room with the takeout, Yu Zhaohan was sitting cross-legged in front of the computer, responding to messages on WeChat.
“That was close. I was just about to starve,” Shi Du put the takeout on the table, “Who are you talking to?”
Yu Zhaohan said: “A lot of people.”
As Shi Du got closer to see, there really were a lot of people.
[Cheese: What color of chrysanthemum do you like, Captain? Xian and I will bring you two pots]
[Shine: White, but Timeless likes pink]
[Stone: Captain, my hometown is Chengdu. Do you have any Chengdu specialties that you want to eat? ]
[Shine: Timeless said he wanted to eat rabbit head.]
[Jiang: Captain, I’ve found a witness and new evidence. I’ve submitted it to the Basketball Association, and they said they will reopen the investigation into the events from back then.]
[Shine: Good, congratulations.]
[Jiang: Did you have breakfast today?]
After taking a bath yesterday, Shi Du wrapped him in a bath towel and carried him out.
Though a single bed wasn’t ideal for two guys to lie flat comfortably, they didn’t have that difficulty as long as one was on top and one was on the bottom. So they couldn’t stop themselves from playing another round, and it was already late when they finished. Yu Zhaohan went to bed too late, but he was awakened the next day by his biological clock, so he accompanied Shi Du back to sleep for a while. He hadn’t had breakfast and was only a bit hungry.
In any case, skipping breakfast wasn’t a good habit. He should not let Shi Du lead him into bad habits but he should lead Shi Du into a good one.
Shi Du asked: “Since when did I like eating rabbit heads?”
Yu Zhaohan said: “Don’t you like it? You like to eat everything.”
Shi Du couldn’t refute: “That’s true.”
They ordered takeout: fried sauce noodles and milk tea. After finishing their meal, Yu Zhaohan took out a tablet and a pen from his backpack and sat up straight, saying, “Now, let’s review what happened yesterday.”
Shi Du’s first reaction was that Yu Zhaohan wanted to review yesterday’s new map. Then he spotted the fried noodle sauce on Yu Zhaohan’s shirt and thought: Impossible, my wife can never be so normal.
Shi Du took out a wet wipe and wiped Yu Zhaohan’s clothes while saying, “Do you want to review yesterday’s bathroom incident?”
Yu Zhaohan nodded: “Yes.”
“Okay, let me talk first.” Shi Du said arrogantly as he tossed the wet wipes into the trash can, “The first rule is, from now on, you are not allowed to say you are tired in the middle, let alone say that you need to take a break first and then continue.”
Shi Du said bluntly: “Because I will wither.”
“But I’m genuinely tired, and my hand gets sore.” Yu Zhaohan was in a dilemma, “I might as well satisfy you with my butt.”
Shi Du stood speechless as the beauty with the world-weary face spoke this without a single expression. He didn’t know whether he should smile slightly to show respect: “You damn thing, don’t talk nonsense.”
“Why don’t you let me say it?”
Shi Du laughed and said: “Do you think you can relax just by changing locations?”
“At least, I can lie down and stay still.”
“You can lie still.” Shi Du pinched his waist, “but don’t think you can play games while sitting.”
Yu Zhaohan flinched as if he was frightened by the discussion, “No, no matter what, I can’t delay the training.”
He lowered his head and wrote on the tablet “You can’t take a break in the middle.”
“Okay, I promise you I won’t do anything else midway in the future.” Yu Zhaohan said, “But you have to promise me to pay attention to the strength and speed of your hands, try to maintain a consistent speed, follow my commands during the final sprint stage, and increase your speed as appropriate.”
“That’s inappropriate.” Shi Du said seriously, “I suggest you don’t speak at any stage, let alone give orders.”
Yu Zhaohan asked again: “Why?”
Shi Du replied: “Because I will wither.”
Yu Zhaohan said pitifully, “Shi Du, you wilt so easily.”
Shi Du: “.”
Actually, it was unlikely to withy. Shi Du will never wither while looking at Yu Zhaohan’s face. However, the cold beauty’s words could ruin the mood. He might not lose it, but he could start laughing, and that might disrupt the process.
Shi Du came up with a good solution, “How about this, next time we want to do something, you can become Shine.”
Yu Zhaohan seemed to understand: “I understand.”
Shi Du watched Yu Zhaohan write down “Don’t turn into Yuyu during intimate moments” one stroke at a time, and couldn’t help but curse at himself.
Yu Zhaohan usually has very little time to turn into Yuyu. If Yu Zhaohan had to suppress his natural instincts when he was with him, wouldn’t that make him a scumbag?
“Forget it, just be Yuyu.” Shi Du said, “I will just find a way to shut your mouth when the time comes.”
But Yu Zhaohan didn’t want his boyfriend to wilt.
“How about I take turns?” Yu Zhaohan suggested, “One time I’ll be a fish, and the next time I’ll be Shine?”
What a great idea!
Shi Du smiled and said, “Okay.”
As the holidays came to an end, all R.H. members put their hearts into preparing for the playoffs. The official live broadcast would pick the opponents through a drawing method one week before the playoffs began.
At 7:50 in the evening, everyone gathered in the living room to watch the live broadcast. Two pots of chrysanthemums, one white and one pink, were placed beside the large screen. The coffee table was filled with rabbit heads and various flavors of spicy snacks.
Each person held a drink in their hand. Yu Zhaohan ordered iced Americano as always, and Shi Du ordered milk tea with a cute name and color. He took two sips and thought it tasted good. He handed the milk tea to Yu Zhaohan’s mouth: “Want to try?”
Seeing this, Old Tan commented, “Shine doesn’t like these sweet things. Don’t force him to drink.”
Yu Zhaohan took a sip using the same straw Shi Du had used and said, “It’s alright, I can handle it.”
Old Tan: “…”
Shi Du smiled brightly and greenly: “But what should I do? The captain is willing to force himself for me.”
Old Tan snorted: “Small achievements.” Old Tan nudged Cheese next to him with his elbow, “Don’t you have anything to say?”
Cheese thought, “I’ve even seen them kiss. Sharing a straw is nothing.”
At eight o’clock, the league’s official live broadcast room opened on time. One of the hosts was Alva, who had previously asked Yu Zhaohan out several times.
During the pre-drawing chat session, Alva first announced the prize pool for this year’s international tournament, which totaled $22 million, an increase of $2 million from the previous year. The champion team could get half of this prize pool, which equaled over 146 million RMB.
In addition to the high prize money, the champion team would also receive four exclusive skins, and the earnings from selling these skins would be shared with the players. This was a tradition of the international tournament. If a team won the World Cup, they would also be able to add a new world championship map to the game for their country.
After sharing these details, the host expressed their expectations for the playoff teams. Alva didn’t hide his affection for R.H and Shine, joking that he wouldn’t give up and would continue trying to date Shine even after R.H finished the playoffs.
Alva was already openly out, and Americans tended to be quite open about these things. Shi Du hadn’t reacted yet, but the typically shy and reserved Stone was the first to get worked up, “Where does he get the confidence to date our captain? Did he buy it online or something?”
Shi Du asked curiously: “Why are you so worked up?”
Stone’s face turned red with anger: “He’s trying to steal your spot, and you’re so calm?”
Cheesemouthed to Qi Xian, “Shipper fans are really something.”
Shi Du smiled: “Just him?”
Alva’s actions not only annoyed Stone but also upset R.H. fans, Shine fans, and Timeless fans, causing an outpouring of negative comments in the chat.
[Gay, please get lost! Get out! Get out!]
[I hope Shine isn’t watching; I’m afraid it would disgust him.]
[This Alva’s face is so big that it can’t even fit on my 60-inch screen]
The drawing was about to begin. Just before it started, Lu Youshan stood in front of Wan Feng memorial, lit incense, and muttered, “Bless us not to draw Lawman, bless us not to draw Lawman…”
Of course, Lu Youshan knew that sooner or later, they would have to face Lawman if they wanted to win the championship. However, the two divisions had gradually formed different playstyles during the long regular season, and R.H had only practiced against teams from the western division.
Actual matches were different from practice games. He hoped that R.H would have the chance to compete with more western division teams before facing Lawman, just like in RPG games where you fight a few smaller bosses to level up before taking on the final boss.
The drawing was conducted by the game’s producer from Destination, who used two automatic drawing machines. He started by drawing the eight teams in the losers’ bracket and then moved on to the winners’ bracket.
The producer drew the first ball, held it up for the audience to see, and revealed the team – Los Angeles Lawman.
[Damn it, they’re starting big right away!]
[Let me see which unlucky guy will beat the North American Devil in the first game]
[Go R.H, let me feel the atmosphere of the finals in advance.]
“Ban that user,” Lu Youshan pointed to the comments, “Ban the one who said ‘go R.H’.”
“But it’s not our own livestream; how can we ban them?” Timeless replied disdainfully. “Is the coach really that afraid of Lawman? It’s embarrassing.”
Yu Zhaohan said: “It may not be a bad thing to fight Lawman early.”
Cheese agreed, “I also think that if we beat the tough opponent first, the later matches will be easier.”
“I’m not scared,” Lu Youshan said, “I just hope we have enough time to prepare before facing Lawman, and to give more recovery time to Qi Xian.”
Qi Xian lightened the mood with a smile, “The coach will make Stone unhappy.”
“I won’t!” Stobe said hurriedly, “I don’t mind being a substitute for however long. I just want the team to win.”
The producer drew the second ball. The name of the team written on the ball would face Lawman in the first game of the playoffs. Everyone watched as the camera focused on the ball – Beijing IPL.
Lu Youshan breathed a sigh of relief. Shi Du sighed: “What a pity.”
[IPL is in trouble.]
[Just came out of Xu’s live broadcast room, the poor kid was so surprised that his face turned pale, he hugged Bi An and screamed]
[Well, there’s no need to be so pessimistic. IPL was last year’s runner-up team. Even though Timeless is gone, I still believe that IPL can… Okay, fine, IPL is in trouble.]
The third ball drawn was Hangzhou DSD, and they would be facing New York PPZ, the second-placed team in the western division. R.H was drawn in the penultimate round and was set to face Tokyo Sakura, a familiar team from the eastern division that they had previously beaten 3-0.
Cheese grinned, “Sakura? That’s an easy one.”
Lu Youshan shook his head, not entirely agreeing, “You’re being arrogant again, young man.”
The drawing concluded, and there were mixed feelings among the various teams. Professional players’ WeChat accounts were overwhelmed with messages; even opening a group chat meant finding dozens of unread messages.
In the IPL and R.H’s friendly chat group, Bi An would attach a bald head emoji to the end of each message.
[IPL.Bi An: We just finished a training match with Lawman this morning, 4-1, they got 4, we got 1 [bald head.jpg]]
[IPL. Bi An: Doesn’t matter, we’ll play sooner or later [bald head.jpg]]
[IPL. Bi An: I don’t care, I’m just worried that Xu will be nervous before the game [bald head.jpg]]
[Timeless: Prepare a few relaxation videos for him to watch, it’s said to be effective]
Everyone was busy chatting in the group when the doorbell rang. Old Tan thought it was a delivery and reached for the door, only to find a lady who looked to be in her thirties standing there, accompanied by a man in a suit who was carrying a bunch of branded shopping bags.
Old Tan was stunned and asked: “You are…?”
The lady smiled and said, “I’m Shi Du’s mother, and this is the family’s driver.”
Old Tan asked: “Are you his biological mother?”
Shi Mu blinked: “Hmm?”
Old Tan, making use of his social butterfly skills as an R.H member, continued, “I thought you were his older sister.”
Old Tan had met two mothers during his time at R.H, Shine’s mom and Timeless’s mom. If Shine’s mom was the gentle, graceful, intellectual type of mother, then Timeless’s mom was like a glamorous and aristocratic lady. Considering that Timeless’s mom was in her forties, she didn’t look it at all.
No wonder people say handsome guys take after their mothers.
When Mother Shi heard this, she smiled brightly at the compliment. Old Tan invited her inside and shouted to the living room, “Timeless, your mom is here!”
Yu Zhaohan and Shi Du stood up together. Shi Du recalled his own awkward encounter with Mother Yu, he projected his own experience onto Yu Zhaohan and assumed that Yu Zhaohan might be nervous. However, Yao Zhaohan was calm and composed, even looked forward to the meeting: “Just in time, I’ll go say hello to Auntie.”
Qi Xian was surprised when he saw Yu Zhaohan being so calm: “Have you already made it clear in front of your parents?”
Shi Du scratched his head: “I don’t know how to describe it.”
When Mother Shi walked into the living room, she saw several of her son’s teammates competing with each other to look good in different ways. The muscular man, the boyish long-haired gentleman, and the beautiful man all greeted her warmly. Her spirits lifted instantly.
Shi Du looked at his mother, who only reached his shoulder, and said helplessly: “Mom, what are you doing here? I told you not to come.”
Mother Shi scolded: “If I didn’t come, your dad would really cancel your inheritance rights.” She spoke to her son but kept her eyes on Yao Zhaohan, thinking that this boy was strikingly handsome. “Xiao Du, is he also one of your teammates?”
Shi Du said: “He’s the captain.”
Mother Shi smiled and said: “So you’re the team captain. Thank you for taking care of our Shi Du.”
“It’s not hard, Auntie.” Yu Zhaohan smiled lightly, “Shi Du and I take care of each other.”
Yu Zhaohan’s smile made everyone a little bewildered. No one could resist a smile from the high cold beauty, and Shi Du’s mother was no exception.
Her favorability level for Yu Zhaohan suddenly increased, immediately improved, and she said tenderly, “Auntie wasn’t sure what you liked to eat, so I bought a lot of fruits. I’ll have the driver bring them in for you.”
Jiang Di said: “I’m going to help.”
However, she hadn’t forgotten her main purpose. She turned to her son and said: “Xiao Du, want to talk to mom alone?”
Shi Du suggested, “Why don’t Captain Yan join us? He knows everything about me.”
His mother seemed surprised but agreed, “Alright.”
The three of them came to the conference room. Yu Zhaohan poured a glass of water for Mother Shi: “Auntie, please have some water.”
Yu Zhaohan’s manner and decency made Shi Du realize again how stupid he was when he met his mother-in-law. Mother Shi smiled and took the water: “Thank you, Little Captain.”
Yu Zhaohan couldn’t help but twitch the tips of his ears when he heard an elder whose facial features were five points similar to Shi Du’s calling him “Little Captain.”
Mother Shi sipped her water and said: “Xiao Du, I have already applied for delayed admission for you. It will not be too late for you to report to school after you finish playing this season.”
Yu Zhaohan was slightly startled.
Shi Du’s expression also changed: “What do you mean?”
“I know you’re upset with your dad for changing his mind. He originally agreed to give you two years to play professionally, but he pressured you to go to school before that. On that matter, I apologize on his behalf,” his mother explained with a smile. “But now it’s fine. I convinced your dad, and he agreed to let you enroll after you finish this season.”
Yu Zhaohan lowered his eyes.
Shi Du said coldly: “His agreement doesn’t concern me. I didn’t agree.”
“We had an agreement before. You were supposed to play for two years…”
“It was my father who betrayed me first.”
“But now he knows he was wrong and he agrees to stick to the original agreement. Du, you should consider my situation too. If you continue to fight with your dad, I’ll be the one who suffers the most. Can you see it? I even have some gray hair.”
Shi Du: “…”
Seeing that her son was unmoved, Mother Shi turned to Yu Zhaohan for help: “Captain, please help me persuade him.”
Yu Zhaohan realized that his voice was a little hoarse when he spoke: “Auntie, he wants to win the championship.”
Mother Shi said hurriedly: “Auntie knows, but aren’t you very strong this season? You will definitely win the championship, right?”
Yu Zhaohan glanced at Shi Du and said in a businesslike tone: “The team and I will respect Timeless’s personal wishes.”
“That’s fine,” Mother Shi said, taking another step back in her stance. “I promise you this, if R.H. doesn’t win the championship this season, I’ll go talk to your dad again and persuade him to give you one more year. Is that acceptable? Please, don’t keep fighting with your family, my dear. Do you really not want your mom and dad anymore?”
Shi Du: “…”
Ultimately, Mother Shi didn’t receive a definitive answer from her son. However, she felt that Shi Du’s attitude was less stubborn than before. She knew her son well; he was susceptible to persuasion when she appealed to his softer side.
Shi Du escorted his mother to the airport, which took three to four hours. When he returned to the base, everyone else was asleep except for Yu Zhaohan, who was training alone in the practice room.
Shi Du watched him play games quietly from the side. Yu Zhaohan plays the Black Swan which he is best at. Even though he knew that his boyfriend might retire early, his sniper rifle was still very stable, averaging one headshot every two shots, which was a joy to watch.
Shi Du knew that even if Shine burst into tears, his marksmanship would not be affected by his tears.
After the game ended, as expected, Shine received the MVP award. He exited the game, looked up at Shi Du, and opened his arms, “Hug.”
Shi Du immediately leaned over and picked him up. It was Yuyu’s favorite koala hug.
“If R.H wins the championship, Shi Du will retire.” Yu Zhaohan lay on his shoulder and spoke slowly, “Then after you retire…”
Shi Du blurted out: “I don’t want to retire.”
After saying that, Yu Zhaohan still had no reaction, but Shi Du was annoyed and muttered, “Damn.”
What he said was “I don’t want to retire” instead of “I won’t retire.” Does this mean that he subconsciously feels that he may not be able to give 100% commitment.
“Okay.” Yu Zhaohan thought for a moment and changed his question, “If one day we have to be apart, would you consider having a long-distance relationship with me?”
Many of the novels Yu Zhaohan has read have plots about going abroad. Going abroad often means that a couple has to break up. He didn’t understand it, and he didn’t want to break up with Shi Du.
If they couldn’t be together all the time, having a long-distance relationship would work fine. He could easily afford international plane tickets. When Shi Du completed his studies and returned, they could still be as close as ever.
Shi Du hugged Yu Zhaohan tighter and said hoarsely: “…Yes.”
Yu Zhaohan was comforted by the simple one-word promise. He lifted his lips slightly and optimistically said, “That’s good, I won’t be sad anymore.”
However, Shi Du felt sad. His chest felt heavy as if it had been struck by a shield.
He knew that Yu Zhaohan was used to separation after being in R.H for so long. Shine experienced the death of the captain he relied on the most; When the previous R.H. owner performed poorly, Shine had arranged transfers and retirements for teammates wanting to leave one by one. He knew Qi Xian had a hand injury and only one season of professional play left. He then faced reality calmly after crying.
Not only Shine had adapted, but Yuyu had also accepted the idea that “anyone could leave.”
Yu Zhaohan was well aware of the situation with his family. He might have been prepared for the possibility when confirming their relationship—not to break up, but to discuss the possibility of a long-distance relationship.
But he didn’t want that. Shi Du likes Yu Zhaohan who is coquettish and clingy. If he couldn’t be clingy anymore, who would he spoil?
“By the way, do you know how to have a long-distance relationship, Shi Du? How many texts should we exchange in a day, and how often should we video chat? Also, if it’s a long-distance relationship, I can’t always care about it.” Yu Zhaohan rambled as if asking Du, and also speaking to himself. He kept talking non-stop, “When I have time, I will learn how to make love with you through video.
Shi Du: “…”