Tian Tian’s mentor looked at Tian Tian. After hanging up his call with Lin Feng, Tian Tian had started crying. Not just a little bit. No. He was bawling his eyes out, rocking back and forth on his behind. What is wrong with him… It didn’t make any sense. A moment ago, Tian Tian was still beaming with joy! He rolled his eyes and said, “What are you crying about this time…” If he had a straight leather prop flogger whip, he’d be going to town on Tian Tian right now to smack some sense into him! You’re the best player at Worlds today, for fucks sake… Why do you have to be like this?
“No, no! That’s not it!” Tian Tian replied, wiping the tears from his eyes and blowing his nose in his sleeve. “I-it’s just. I’m really happy!” There were too many things that’d happened today. Too many good things. The games were great. He’d led his team to two big victories, even beating an Emperor in the second one. That alone was normally enough to push him over the edge. But beyond all the hectics around Worlds, there was something far more important. Something he’d stopped dreaming about and had given up on. An old friend. A dear friend. Someone who really understood him. He’d finally reconnected with Lin Feng. Finally!
“Oh! Uh-uhm…” Tian Tian rubbed his nose and looked up at his mentor. “Eh, Lin Feng promised me he would treat me to a big meal for playing so well today. It’s just… He isn’t here right now, s-so…” He carefully examined the reaction of his mentor. From the slight movement of the man’s hands to the twitch in his eyes. When he felt it was safe to continue, he asked, “I-i heard London has a 2 Michelin star restaurant… It’s supposed to have some really good food…”
The smile disappeared on Tian Tian’s mentor’s face. It warped from delight to fury in an instant. He gnashed his teeth and grabbed for his phone with a lot more force than he intended. Then he barked, almost next to Tian Tian’s ear, “SO THAT’S HOW IT IS, HUH?” He shook his head and walked towards the exit of the bathroom. “He wants me to treat you in his place? That little brat! He’s got some guts… trying to pass the buck on me!” He pushed the door open and walked away, shouting over his shoulder, “You coming, or what?”
High School 13 had played their three matches. They’d passed the first qualification round of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament and had qualified for the next one. The night was already getting pretty late. So the players of High School 13’s esports team decided against celebrating their victories. That could come another day. They had school the next morning and they couldn’t be late for that. Besides, there was still a way to go before they could qualify for the main tournament. Everyone went home and soon Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao were the only two left, walking down a brightly lid sidewalk.
Lin Feng hung up the call and put his phone away. Then he made a strange face. He put his hand in front of his mouth and looked for something bright to look at, squinting his eyes. “Aaachoo!” He shook his head and wiped his nose clean and muttered, “Hmm, someone must be thinking about me!”
Tang Bingyao stood next to Lin Feng. She tilted her head to look up at him and tapped him on his arm. “Were you calling with him? You know, him.”
“Yeah!” Lin Feng nodded, smiling. He felt his phone in his pocket and started grinning. “Yeah! One got me in touch with Fatty! Fatty said he won both games today! He says he played great! If he says that, he really did super good! KG should be through to the next round!”
“Mhmm.” Tang Bingyao held up her phone for Lin Feng, which showed the score from the KG versus Legend game. Specifically, the final score of Riven. “Look. It’s all over the news. Roundy Round hard carried both games. The first with Hecarim and the second with Riven. Look at these stats. They’re pretty amazing.”
Lin Feng balled his fist and threw it up in the air, then shouted, “Of course! Fatty is my old teammate! He was always amazing! And he’s still amazing!” He looked at Tang Bingyao and smiled, still clenching his fist, and continued, “Seven from COG is the best Toplaner and the best of the Seven Kings, right? Everyone says that. Fatty is at least as good as Seven. They both deserve the title. I think they should give it to him. He is the newest addition to the Eight Kings!”
“That is a stupid idea and it sounds stupid too. It’ll make the title meaningless if you keep adding people…” Tang Bingyao replied.
Lin Feng nodded and grinned, “Yeah! True!” He agreed. If you started calling them the Eight Kings today, then who was to say it wouldn’t be the Nine Kings tomorrow? They were the Seven Kings and Fatty deserved a spot amongst them. All he had to do was keep playing like he was, and he would secure a spot amongst them! He was more than good enough for that.
Tang Bingyao went quiet and focused where she walked, paying the utmost attention not to step in the cracks between the pavement. They walked together in silence and turned a corner. It was still a bit until they got home. She paused and asked, “Who’s One?”
Lin Feng also paused, caught off guard. He scratched the back of his head and laughed, a little uncomfortable. “Oh, him… Haha. Well… He’s a really, really amazing person.”
“Hmm…” Lin Feng looked around, then put his hands on his chin, pensive. He moved his head a little, weighing his thoughts, before ultimately replying, “Really amazing!” He knew that wasn’t the reply she was looking for. He could see the look in her eyes, even under this dim lighting. “It’s like this. One is like a mentor to me. He’s a really amazing guy. He helped me so much! You know. Back when I qualified for Worlds in Season 1, I was only 15, right? Well, the Global Esports Association was being difficult and wouldn’t let me participate. We’d almost given up. It seemed like no one could help. But then he came. One said a few simple lines and all was good. I was allowed to compete.
“One has always been there for me. Whenever I’m going through something rough, he’s helped me. When I wanted to contact Fatty, I didn’t have his number. So I didn’t know how I would even go about contacting him. That was when I remembered One. I still had his number. He’d given it to me on a piece of paper four years ago. I still have it! So I called with One and he said he would help me. Then after we hang up, he called Three who flew to England to talk with Fatty, an–”
“Wait. Hold on,” Tang Bingyao said, confused. She looked Lin Feng in the eyes and asked, “One and Three? Why do you call them that? It’s really confusing. How many number people are there? Why don’t you just call them by their names? So the one who flew to Worlds isn’t the one you spoke to on the phone, right?”
“Right! I first called One. He called Three. Three went to London. Then Three called me!” Lin Feng explained, matter of factly. He felt his explanation sounded perfectly reasonable. But Tang Bingyao disagreed. She opened her mouth a few times before asking, “Is it really ok that you call them by… numbers?”
Lin Feng shrugged. Then he rubbed his nose and grinned. “Oh, it’s fine. Haha! You wouldn’t understand.”
“Ok. Fine too. Don’t tell me,” Tang Bingyao said, scrunching up her nose.
Lin Feng looked over his shoulder at Tang Bingyao. She’d turned the corner to go home. He still had to walk straight a little further and he’d be home too. But he didn’t walk. He hesitated and just stood there in the middle of the street, staring and thinking. I should thank him. He reached into his pocket and grabbed his phone, then dialed a number. It quickly connected.
“What do you want? Haven’t I done enough yet?”
“Three! Thank you! Really, I mean it. You went all the way to London for me.”
“Oh? So you do realize how much trouble this little errand of yours caused me? Did you think this little trip wasn’t expensive enough already? You even tried to get me to pay for Fatty’s food? You know how much that kid eats! In a 2 Michelin star restaurant? Are you trying to get me bankrupt? That’s not a very sincere thank you, Lin Feng.”
“Ah! Haha! U-uh... That was a misunderstanding. Yes, totally a misunderstanding!”
“You think I’m stupid? Screw it. Forget it, I’m going. And not to take Fatty out for food. KG’s management will do that. They’re taking the whole team out for dinner tonight, so you’re lucky. I won’t be hounding you for the money. Besides, those guys can show their gratitude by paying for all of his food. Haha! Alright, I’m leaving now. It’s been enough fun here.”
“Leaving? What do you mean?”
“What do I mean? I’m going back to Barcelona. Of course I’m leaving. What did you think? I only came here to pass your message along. That’s done. Fatty is doing great. What use is there in me being here? My nice hotel room is waiting for me in Barcelona. I want to go back to the sun!”
“Oh, right, right. Thank you again! It was really nice of you!”
“Don’t thank me. You know me. I like the kid. There was no way I wouldn’t have gone. Plus I got to see two great games. That was plenty. I would’ve been really upset if I’d come here for nothing. Hehe. Actually. If you really want to thank me, how about you start playing in the professional scene again? I know how good you are. You can lift up the LPL. We stink right now! Only one King. Ha! What a joke! A disgrace! Only one! You need to get some fame back for all of us!”
“You could do it yourself! You’re more than good enough! Maybe you’re a little old and rusty, but you got plenty of experience to do something beautiful. I believe in you. You can really do it! Why don’t you try and do it?”
“There’s no point in talking about that. I’ve had my fun. It’s time for you kids to make your move.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I think we all go through life doing some stupid shit and not realizing it until much later when our friends call us out. I remember one time, Devshard was talking about how he spent his first year of college thinking bath towels were disposable. So, he’d never wash them. He’d use one for like two weeks before disposing of it and buying a new one. And all of us were just blown away that he’d spent his entire life not realizing they’re meant to be thrown in the laundry and reused. I’ve had some of these snafus too, like thinking you were supposed to condition your hair first, then shampoo it second for the longest time. Or the fact that I didn’t know you aren’t supposed to rinse your mouth immediately after brushing your teeth. But I think my most embarrassing life skill fail is probably the fact that I had no idea you were supposed to replace your toothbrush every three months until last year. So, I’d been using the same crusty ass toothbrush for years. Friends would always complain to me about my bad breath, and I had no idea why. I’d been brushing regularly, even buying mouth freshening products. Then we finally got to the bottom of it when one of my friends saw my toothbrush. After it was replaced, the bad breath quickly went away, and I’ve had no issues since.
Dev Thought (the only one worth reading): Okay. I’m going to be honest here, I was and still am awful at domestic tasks. Before I went off to college, I never really thought about bath towels. I had one in my bathroom for a week or so, and then a different one would be there. But they were always clean. I did not realize that it was my Mum washing and swapping them out. So when I first got to college and went to Walmart where they had a deal on for 2 bath towels for $3, I just assumed you used them until they got too dirty to use after a shower and then threw them away. Or turned them into rags for cleaning up spills. Because they were so cheap! AND NO ONE SAID ANYTHING TO ME! This went on for a year until I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment with friends. One of my roommates noticed the giant pile of old towels in the laundry closet and then both of them sat down to have a talk about it with me. Easily on the Top 20 list of most embarrassing moments in my life. But I do know better now. I wash my towels. I also invest in much higher quality bath towels.