Chapter 177 - Changing Winds, Sinking Ships

“Whuh?” Lin Feng blurted out. He blinked, keeping his eyes closed for a second longer than he normally would. Then he looked at Tang Bingyao. He looked at her defensive posture as she scrunched back, trying to hide the red tint on her face. “You want to treat me? To milk tea? You?” He looked at her, incredulous. “Are you feeling ok?” She never spends any money. She likes making money and she likes having money. Why would she… He reached out towards her, wanting to feel her temperature. Maybe she is sick… But she recoiled, moving far away from him and shaking her arms in front of her. “Uhh?”

“No! Don’t! If you don’t want to, just say it. That’s fine. I understand. Let’s just go home, ok?” Tang Bingyao said, hurried. Then she turned around and started walking and then running away towards the intersection where they always split up.

“Wait! Waitwait!” Lin Feng called out after the now running Tang Bingyao. She paused, turned around. He smiled at her and said, “I would love some milk tea! This is great! This is the best day ever! I can’t wait to tell Ouyang about this tomorrow! He’ll be crazy jealous!”

“N-no. No! Don’t tell him,” Tang Bingyao said, lowering her head.

“Uh... Why not?” Lin Feng asked. Then his eyes widened. It was the exact moment where you could almost see the lightbulb light up. “OH! I know! Ouyang will come begging you for some milk tea too!” Lin Feng stood up tall and smiled. He patted his own shoulder, complimenting himself for his quick thinking, and winked at Tang Bingyao. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell them. Your wallet is safe with me.”

Tang Bingyao started at Lin Feng, dazed. Of everything he could’ve said, this wasn’t something she’d ever considered. Why don’t you get that I want to buy you a milk tea, not Ouyang or anyone else? But I guess he said yes… We’re going to have a drink together. Just you and me. She smiled at him and nodded. “Mhm. Don’t tell him or our other classmates.” Then she waited, until he nodded, before walking back towards him and going into the fast food place together.

Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao walked up to the register together and ordered two milk teas and a chicken cutlet. The employee gave the price. She took the money that she was already firmly holding out from her jacket pocket and handed it to the employee. It felt strange, especially with those large eyes from Lin Feng looking over her shoulder. She could feel him staring at her. Then she turned around and nodded at him and he smiled right back at her. It was that same smile he always had, bright and innocent.

Tang Bingyao nodded at Lin Feng and tried talking to him. “It was a good practice earlier…” She trailed off. Lin Feng wasn’t looking at her anymore. He mumbled a reply as he stared at something behind her. She followed his gaze behind the registry, where their order was being prepared. The chicken was being fried. She turned back to him and tried again, “You did really well on…” She could see that he was more focused on the food than on her. She started fidgeting with her fingers. What do I say? What do people say? What… She wanted to talk, but the otherwise so natural conversations with Lin Feng suddenly took a lot more effort. I have to say something. She looked up at Lin Feng and tugged at his arm. “Uhm, that… Your friend, Bunbun, she’s really an amazing Jungler.”

Lin Feng finally looked at Tang Bingyao. He laughed and said, “Yeah! She’s good! But she isn’t as good as I am! I’m way better!”

Tang Bingyao nodded and asked, “Did she follow you around when you were playing as a pro back in Season 1?” She thought for a moment, barely a second, and added, “Like, to the tournaments?”

“Yeah! She always came with us,” Lin Feng replied. “You know what she did today? She also did that for my team in Season 1. She always came up with our gameplans and strategies.” He paused for a moment, taking his time to ball his fist and throw it up into the air, then said, “That’s why beating Shanghai International is going to be easy now! With her on our team, we’re unstoppable!”

“Oh. I see…” Tang Bingyao nodded, her gaze falling down to her shoes. She sounds really good. She’s probably better than I am. And she’s also really pretty…

“Thanks for waiting! Here’s your order,” the shop employee said, tearing Tang Bingyao away from her thoughts. The shop employee handed the two cups of milk tea and the chicken cutlet Tang Bingyao had specially ordered for Lin Feng. “Enjoy!”

“Yeeeeeeesss! Chicken cutlet! You’re the best, Tang Tang!” Lin Feng cheered. He hurried towards the counter and grabbed the chicken cutlet, treasuring it in his embrace, then also picked up his milk tea. His hands were full, so he used his teeth to get a taste. “Ahh!” came his scream as he dropped the chicken back in the bucket. “HotHotHot! Ahh, so hot!” he wailed, hurrying towards an empty table and sitting down, so that he could cool his tongue down.

“A-are you ok?” Tang Bingyao asked as she hurried after Lin Feng. “Isn’t that really hot? Did you burn yourself?”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m really good at eating hot food too!” Lin Feng brushed her worries off. He grabbed the piece of chicken he’d just dropped and took another bite. He was a little more careful this time, making sure only his teeth touched the meat. Then he took slow bites, letting the heat escape his mouth every few seconds. He swallowed the first bite and exclaimed, “Ahhh, delicious! Hot food is so good! Tang Tang, you’re the best!”

Lin Feng blew on his chicken cutlet and took another bite. Then he stopped. He didn’t chew the meat but instead turned towards Tang Bingyao. “Hrey…” He placed his hand before his mouth and quickly swallowed the chicken down. “Uch, uch. Tang Tang, do you want to try? It tastes better when you eat together!” He offered his half-eaten chicken cutlet to Tang Bingyao and said, “Here, try it! Take a bit. It’s really good. I’m the expert here! I eat this every night. Su Xue orders it for me!”

Tang Bingyao looked at the chicken cutlet, at the bites Lin Feng had taken from it. Uhh, do I… She didn’t know what to do. This whole situation was different from what she knew and expected. Finally, she shook her head and pushed it away. “No, it’s fine. You eat it. I know how much you like it.”

“More for me it is!” Lin Feng laughed, taking another big bite of the chicken cutlet.

Tang Bingyao leaned on the table, watching Lin Feng eat. He looks happy. Maybe I should tell him now… N-no. I should let him eat first. He looks so happy. She smiled and asked, “Do you like it?”

“Like it? I love it!” Lin Feng replied.

“Mhm. Good,” Tang Bingyao said, a hint of red returning to her face. She took a sip from her milk tea and continued watching him. Maybe I should say it now. If I keep pushing it back… She took a deep breath and forced a brighter smile on her face. “U-umm… Lin Feng? Well, I can keep tr—”

RING! RING! RING!

Lin Feng looked down at his phone to see who was calling and his eyes widened. He dropped the chicken cutlet in his hand and picked up. “Hey! Sorry I’m late!” He then listened to someone talk on the other end before replying, “Okay, got it! I’ll come home right away. See you in a few!” He hung up and turned to Tang Bingyao. “Hey, sorry. That was Su Xue. She’s calling me home for dinner. I have to go right now. But you live right around the corner from this place, right? So that’s fine. I have to go.” He jumped up from his seat and was already on his way towards the exit. Then he stopped, thought, and turned around. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Tang Tang! Thanks again for buying me the milk tea and chicken cutlet! Bye!”

Tang Bingyao watched Lin Feng bolt out of the door, dazed. She had finally mustered up the courage to tell him something she’d been wanting to tell him. She was already halfway through saying it. And then, then his phone went and he left. She had no chance to get in between! Well, that’s what she told herself. She looked at the empty plate on which the chicken cutlet was served. Lin Feng had taken the food with him. I’m such a coward… I couldn’t even tell him. She shook her head, frustrated. She’d never felt like this before for anyone. It was all new to her. Should I text him? She quickly shook her head. That didn’t feel right either. Maybe I can call him? She shook her head again. This was something she wanted to say in person. That was the only way that felt right. It was just... How do I tell him?

Lin Feng pushed the front door open and shouted, “I’m home!”

“Why are you home so late?” Su Xue asked from the kitchen. Then she poked her head around the corner and looked at Lin Feng, and at the milk tea and chicken cutlet in his hands. She raised an eyebrow, unimpressed, and said, “I cook dinner for you every day at the same time! Why would you go and buy food?”

“I didn’t! Tang Tang treated me!” Lin Feng explained, excited as always.

“She did?” Su Xue asked in surprise. Didn’t he say how she liked her money? Su Xue looked at Lin Feng, looking for something but not finding it, and then said, “Sounds like you two have made some real progress in your relationship, huh?”

Lin Feng scratched his hair and asked, “What do you mean?”

Su Xue sighed and shook her head. “Nevermind. Go wash your hands. Dinner is almost ready.”

“Okay!” Lin Feng replied, after which he pushed past Su Xue into the kitchen. The food was still on the fire, its strong aroma causing his stomach to rumble. He washed his hands, while watching Su Xue bring the food to the dining table. A few moments later, barely long enough to get his hands clean, he ran after her and sat down at the dining table. He was hungry.

Su Xue sat down across Lin Feng, who was already gobbling up the food he put in his bowl. She stared at him, shocked, and said, “Eat a little slower, please. The food isn’t going to grow legs and run away… How are you still so hungry anyway? Didn’t you just have chicken cutlet? And milk tea is also kind of filling. Do you ever get full?”

“Only when the food is bad!” Lin Feng replied in a brief moment between bites. Then he chewed away another mouthful and said, “Your food is really good!”

Su Xue smiled as she put her elbows on the table and supported her head with her hands. “Oh? Is that so? Hmm… You didn’t look this happy in the morning. Did something happen?”

“Yrep!” Lin Feng said with a full mouth, nodding.”

“What happened? Did you ace a test?” Su Xue continued her interrogation.

Lin Feng waved his chopsticks in the air, swallowing down a too big bite, then said, “No. It isn’t that. You know the Semifinals for the 16 School Tournament? Well, we’re going to win it! We’re going to crush them!”

Su Xue looked at Lin Feng, surprised, and asked, “Really now? Where’s all that confidence coming from so suddenly?”

Lin Feng chuckled and looked at Su Xue, attempting to look as mysterious as he could. The exhaustion and stress were gone from his face. He was full of confidence for his game against Shanghai International. For the first time in a week, everything was looking up. And that was all thanks to An Xin. With her coaching the team, he didn’t need to worry anymore. Bunbun, it’s good to have you back. He was still looking at Su Xue and spotted the slight annoyance in her expression. Then he laughed and said, “You’ll know when the time comes!”

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littleshanks's Thoughts

There is a new chappie! Can you believe it? A new chappie! WOOT WOOT!

Sietse Thought: I feel so sad for Tang Tang. This idiot is more concerned about his chicken cutlet than a beautiful and kind girl who's trying so hard to show him how much she likes him. How are you not picking up on this, Lin Feng? Everyone can see it from a mile away. Why can't you? Or do you see it? What if Lin Feng does understand that Tang Tang is crushing on him, and he's trying to tell her that he's not interested by showing no interest in her?

That brings us to today's topic! Have you ever asked someone out who then thought it was just hanging out as friends? Or were you the one who got asked out and thought it was just a fun friend activity?