Cheeks red, Lin Yixin punched me angrily in the arm before threatening me in a murderous tone, “If you dare lose this game I’ll make sure you’re dead!”
I gave her a smile and said, “Of course not. I couldn’t even bear to part with you.”
Lin Yixin grumbled for a second before sitting beside me to watch the match.
The red-haired guy’s ID was “Night_Yun”. I didn’t realize that he was a member of the university’s e-sports team. Lin Yixin blinked when she saw the ID and said, “Heavens, you absolutely mustn't lose to him, Lu Chen! I’ve seen this ID before, he’s the current captain of the university’s Starcraft team…”
I nodded. “Relax, Yiyi. If I lose, I swear to practice for 16 years and get you back from his clutches no matter what!”
“Go to hell! Enter your ID already!”
I typed in a familiar ID: Night_chen!
“Eh? He’s a part of our university too? Why haven’t I seen him before?” the red-haired student exclaimed in surprise.
I sneered. When I was the captain of the university team, you were just a kid holding a girl’s hand and eating cotton candy!
I picked the race I was best with, Protoss. While I haven’t played Starcraft 2 in a long time, I did keep an eye on the latest patch updates. That was why the game returned to me as easily as breathing.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find my old rhythm at the beginning, so my opponent was able to defend himself against my rush. Lin Yixin immediately panicked and started choking me. “Aaah, don’t you dare lose dammit…”
I almost lost my breath. “Calm down, Yiyi, I’m still warming up here…”
Lin Yixin dropped back to her seat and grumbled while staring intently at the monitor, “You do this and you call yourself an expert? Candlelight Shadow must’ve consumed half a year of melamine-laced milk powder to lose to the likes of you…”
I had no retort for that...
A short while later, I successfully ambushed my opponent’s attack squad and slaughtered them all. Positively glowing at my success, Lin Yixin slapped my shoulder once and said, “You did well this time…”
I grinned. “Is that a joke? If I had accepted the invitations to join a professional Starcraft team back then, I would’ve become one of the kings of the Starcraft scene already…”
Lin Yixin retorted, “Be careful, if you talk too big you might just sprain your tongue…”
Half an hour later, after an infinite amount of harasses, feints and micromanagement, my opponent finally lost and typed “GG”.
Cheers broke out inside the cyber cafe since dozens of people were watching our duel as well. It was an exciting battle to say the least.
The red-haired student rose to his feet and looked at me. He asked, “Who are you, really?”
I raised my eyebrows and responded curtly, “Who do you think I really am?”
Lin Yixin also rose to her feet and asked, “Hey, didn’t we have a bet earlier? It’s time to surrender your girlfriend!”
The guy’s girlfriend immediately looked nervous when she heard this. A lot of people started fanning the flames and urging the red-haired student to honor his bet, but I was a shy person at heart. There was no way I could muster the courage to ask for the hand of his girlfriend.
It was at this moment a fatty barged through the door in panic and shouted, “The police are making their rounds! Run while you still can!”
“Rounds?” Lin Yixin stared at me in confusion.
“Yep, rounds.” I nodded before explaining, “Cyber cafes aren’t supposed to do business after midnight, so we have to run before police arrives. Quickly!”
We were in such a hurry that we ran to the backyard without footing our bill. After the gate was unlocked, the students and we scattered into the night like ghosts.
It was a summer night, but the streets were a bit cold without the sun hanging above our heads.
As we walked side by side, Lin Yixin wrapped her arms around herself before asking, “Well, we’re out in the cold again. What do we do now?”
I suggested. “Do you want to go to a 24-hour bar?”
She immediately glared and chided me. “Hey, watch yourself. First, you made me spend the night out. Then, you took me to a cyber cafe after midnight. Now you want me to go gambling with you? Just how many school rules do you want me to break before you’re satisfied?"
I laughed. “In that case, you can come to my place and sleep in my room. I’ll just share a room with Gui Guzi for the night.”
“I don’t wanna!”
Lin Yixin shook her head. “There’s a pervert in your workshop who stares at both men and women with lecherous eyes! There’s no way I’m going there!”
I was one hundred percent certain that she was talking about Thirteen. Poor guy!
A while later, Lin Yixin called out to me quietly, like a cat. “Lu Chen, I want a cold drink…”
“Sure. Give me a minute!”
I went into a convenience shop and bought a cold drink for both of us. But when I returned, I suddenly saw Lin Yixin arguing heatedly with another person!
The troublemaker was a middle-aged man. Sitting inside his black Chevrolet, he beamed at Lin Yixin and asked, “Miss, how much for a night?”
Lin Yixin was confused by the question. “Excuse me?”
“Come on, do you really need me to point out to you that you’re dressed up so pretty and standing next to a road? You get me, I get you, so let’s get straight to the point, shall we? 2000 RMB, what say you?”
Lin Yixin finally understood what he was talking about. She immediately walked up to the middle-aged man and left a high-heel mark on his door, flashing her pale leg for a second.
Then, she started shouting at him and calling him a scum of society, a degenerate, a scoundrel, and other terrible names that didn’t match her sweet voice at all. All the while, the middle-aged man was stunned by the outburst and couldn’t react at all.
I quickly ran up to her and took her arm before she went too far. At the same time, I shot a furious glare at the middle-aged man myself and shouted, “Are you fucking blind, scumbag? This isn’t the street for the likes of you! Fuck off to the spas if you need a woman that much!”
The middle-aged man tried to muster a retort, but I was already raising my fists and threatening to beat down on him if necessary. Frightened, he quickly drove off and vanished into the distance.
Meanwhile, Lin Yixin was still jabbing a finger at the back of the middle-aged man’s car and swearing furiously. She was like a powder keg that exploded at the slightest spark. Scary.
I criticized myself inwardly for leaving a girl alone in the streets during the middle of the night—even if it was just a few minutes—and apologized to her. After I surrendered my portion of the drinks, Lin Yixin finally broke into a smile once more.
“Lu Chen, tell me, am I dressed up like a prostitute?”
“Not at all.”
“Oh?” Lin Yixin cocked her head at me. “It almost sounds like you have experience. How many prostitutes have you seen?”
“Uhh… not many, actually.” My thoughts went into the distant past. “Back in those days, all the guys in my hostel were either dating girls, organizing get-togethers, or chasing skirts outside the school or something. I never joined them though…”
“What did you do while they were gone then?”
“Playing games, duh…”
“...” Lin Yixin shot me a surprised look. “But how could you not go if your classmates insisted?”
“I just made up excuses and turned their invitations down, that’s all.”
“‘I’m allergic to women’.”
Lin Yixin let out a sigh as the night breeze lifted her hair a little. She actually looked a bit lonely as she stared at the waning lights of the city.
Some distance away, a foot spa with pink lighting was doing business as usual. As the sounds of people yelling and women giggling came out of the building, the two of us shared a knowing smile with each other. “Heh…”
What is life? Living, is.
We kept walking without bothering to count just how many streets we had passed along the way. Some time later, Lin Yixin rubbed her eyes lazily and asked, “Let’s find a place to rest, shall we?”
Shocked, I blurted, “Shouldn’t I be the one to ask that question?”
“Oh you!” She rolled her eyes at me. “Who’s overthinking things now? I mean that my legs are tired, and I want to find somewhere to sit down for a moment…”
I pointed toward a public transport stop. “We can sit there.”
Lin Yixin walked over to the stop, straightened her skirt for a bit before taking a seat. Under the moonlight, her angelic beauty and her devilish curves combined together to make a little white flower that only bloomed only during the night. She looked so beautiful that all the strangers who happened to pass by the stop couldn’t help but shoot admiring looks at her.
I sat down next to Lin Yixin and stared at the distant lights as well. I didn’t say anything. The two of us just sat there and did nothing, unwilling to break the moment of silence, return home, or go anywhere for a time.
A while later, Lin Yixin whispered to me. “Hey, Lu Chen?”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Mn. Shoot away.”
She stared at me with those beautiful eyes and asked, “Lu Chen, you’re a genius at gaming. I’m sure a lot of people have told you that. But what I want to know is... why do you play games?”
I thought to myself for a moment. “Why, huh…”
“Mn. Why do you play games? Is it for money, or validation?”
I smiled and threw the question back at her. “If you don’t mind, why do you play games, Yiyi?”
Caught off-guard, Lin Yixin looked down at her feet and answered after a while, “I play games to… prove that I’m better than others, I think. Or maybe it’s because of something else. I’m not sure. What about you? Why do you play games?”
I let out a sigh and stared at the murky sky above us. Then, I gave her my answer.
“The greatest joy of playing games isn’t to become the strongest or the most invincible character in a game. It’s to be strong in front of your friends and use that strength to protect your friendships, or perhaps even love.”
Lin Yixin pressed her lips together and stared at me expressionlessly for several seconds. Then, a smile suddenly sprang to her face, and she said, “That answer isn’t too bad, I guess. It’s getting really late, and I really want to find a place to rest my feet. Can you escort me to Green Tea Inn? It’s next to the university.”
“Ooh, are we sharing a room tonight?” I asked.
Lin Yixin rolled her eyes at me and chided, “Of course not. You can sleep in your own apartment!”
“Alright then. You sure you’re fine staying at a hotel by yourself?”
“Not a problem!”
Green Tea Inn was right next to Lin Yixin’s university, and I accompanied her all the way to the reception hall. The receptionist was a guy about 25 years old, and when he saw that Lin Yixin was the one paying for the room under her resident ID, he immediately stared at me with an inexplicable look on his face.
The room was on the third floor, and I accompanied Lin Yixin all the way to the entrance to her room. After she went inside, she turned back and shot me a smile. “Go to sleep soon. It’s going to be another day of hard grinding come tomorrow.”
I nodded. “I’ve always been a hard worker.”
“Oh right, I forgot!”
“What is it?”
Lin Yixin blinked once and said, “Lu Chen, I’m not sure if you noticed, but I saw a purple skill book in your bag when we were splitting the loot.”
“Huh? Was there a purple skill book?”
I smacked my own head. I guessed I was so distracted by the equipment and the Hero’s Token that I didn’t even notice.
Lin Yixin smiled at my reaction and said, “It’s fine, I wasn’t going to claim that skill book anyway. Let’s just say that it’s my gift to you. Well, bye…”
I didn’t react to her words. I simply stood there and stared at her.
Lin Yixin couldn’t stop herself from giggling. “What’s wrong? Are you actually planning to come in and take a seat?”
I broke out of my reverie and hurriedly shook my head. “No, no. I’m going home. Don’t forget to send me a message after you’ve returned to the campus tomorrow.”
“I know. Now go home!”
I walked out of the hotel and walked all the way back to the entrance to my district. From time to time, I would look back at the tall building that was Green Tea Inn and feel as if I had left something behind.
By the time I finally returned to the workshop, it was already past 1 am. I took a quick shower, hit the pillows, and immediately fell into deep slumber.Previous Chapter Next Chapter