Shen Yanming packed up everything neatly, even clearing out his bed.
Naturally, there was no reason for him to stay overnight in the dormitory anymore.
Although his roommate enthusiastically suggested that they all should squeeze together in a bed, Shen Yanming waved his hand to decline.

The dormitory bed was so small, and although he wasn’t particularly tall, he was still over 1.7 meters.
Instead of sleeping in a cramped space with other boys, he would rather sleep on the comfortable and spacious bed at home.
Besides, he’s not gay, he had no intention of getting close to other guys like that.

With great difficulty, he carried two boxes of things and prepared to leave the school gate to take a taxi.
The security guard at the gate stopped him, “Which class are you from? Where’s your permission slip?”

The Thirteen High School was a closed boarding school, and if you wanted to leave on a weekday, you needed a permission slip signed by the class teacher.
In the past, Shen Yanming naturally couldn’t get his hands on such a thing.
His joyful home was just beyond the low wall next to the playground, if he wanted to leave, he’d just climb over it.

This time, he could finally lift his head high, and proudly took out the permit from his pocket, showing it off to the security guard.

The security guard: “…” Nowadays, these brats act as if getting an exit permit is as good as getting a huge check.

After walking out of the school gate, Shen Yanming felt somewhat desolate.
Even though he was leaving to embark on a new journey, he still needed to say goodbye before heading towards the future.

It would probably be difficult for him to reunite with his cute classmates in the future.

He had just declined the invitation to sleepover with his roommate, but now Shen Yanming felt somewhat melancholic.

However, it was difficult to say.
When he was going to become a professional player in his previous life, he had also felt this sentiment.
Yet fate played its tricks on him and made him come back to repeat this cycle of sorrow after studying for another month.

While waiting for the bus, Shen Yanming’s imagination ran wild, and he even ended up scaring himself.
Could this really become an endless loop? Dying once, then living again, and repeating this cycle of studying… No, no, he couldn’t let that happen.

Finally, he boarded the bus, and just then, he received a call from Lin Qingyue, asking why he hadn’t come home yet and if she should pick him up.

Shen Yanming replied, “If I wait for you to pick me up, I’ll turn into a statue of a son waiting for his parents by the school gate.” Although he said this teasingly, he also understood that his parents were busy with work.
They spent the day working and rarely had time to rest at home in the evenings, so he didn’t want them to go through the trouble.

Upon returning home and pushing the door open, he caught a whiff of the fragrance of lotus root soup.
Shen Yanming glanced into the living room and saw Lin Qingyue with a face mask on, watching a talent show.
His father, Shen Zhu, was walking quickly towards the dining table with freshly heated soup in hand.
“Son, come have some soup.”

Before he could even sit down, Lin Qingyue sighed gently, “Yan, how about you give up on esports?”

Shen Yanming’s heart tightened.
Could his mother be changing her mind?

But then Lin Qingyue continued, “Instead, you should join the next season of this talent show.
Becoming a big star would suit you well, and you’re good-looking too.
How does that sound, following my advice?”

Shen Yanming: “…=.=.”

Shen Zhu put the soup down and came over with a spoon.
“Don’t listen to what Miss Lin says.
With your level, even doing the radio calisthenics1radio calisthenics: excercise routine would be challenging.
Become a star? Don’t be ridiculous.”

Shen Yanming: “…”

Ignoring them, Shen Yanming started drinking the soup.
Shen Zhu sat opposite him, coughed lightly, and looked like he had something important to say.

Shen Yanming raised an eyebrow, “Da ge2大哥 (Dàgē): big brother, just say it.”

“Nothing much,” Shen Zhu rarely engaged in father-son heart-to-heart talks with Shen Yanming.
Tonight, however, there were some things he wanted to say.
Even though he had prepared what he wanted to say beforehand, when the moment came, he still stumbled.
Nevertheless, in front of his child, he needed to maintain his fatherly authority.
Shen Zhu composed himself and spoke seriously, “You’re about to leave home, and there are some things Dad wants to talk to you about.”

Shen Yanming put down his spoon and prepared to listen attentively to what his father had to say.

“The other kids are waiting until their early twenties to graduate from university before entering society, but you’re restless and want to experience all of this ahead of time.
Your mom and I are worried.
However, you are like a wild goose, free to fly wherever you want.
Just remember not to have any regrets in whatever you do, and I hope you’ll never have any regrets.”

Having finished his heartfelt words, Shen Zhu hurriedly got up as if to ease the awkwardness and turned to go into the kitchen, muttering, “I’ll get myself a bowl too.”

Shen Yanming touched his nose.

In fact, he had heard these words once before.
He heard them on the eve of leaving home in his previous life.
But at that time, he was full of excitement, and he didn’t pay much attention to what his dad was saying.
He couldn’t really comprehend how difficult it was not to have any regrets in everything you do.
Thus, this seemingly ordinary blessing actually carried the profound care of an aging father.

This time, he would do his best not to have any regrets.

Coincidentally, the Airpods in his ears were playing an old Cantonese song, “Who doesn’t have some unforgettable memories?/Who can predict the consequences?/Who doesn’t have some old grudges and inner demons?/A little unintentional mistake/Who doesn’t have some unattainable dreams…”

The song mixed with the dance music from the talent show on TV, making it hard to hear clearly.
Shen Yanming simply put on both earphones.

“… Sing a song of joy for today/Open up your heart to embrace new happiness/Unlock your heart in the evening breeze…”

The next day, Shen Yanming slept until almost noon, packed up his belongings, had McDonald’s for lunch, and then hurried to the airport.

Tomorrow, there’s a TMM team match, and although it’s the first round and they didn’t draw particularly strong opponents, Shen Yanming couldn’t wait to go and watch the matches live.

On the way there, with nothing else to do, he checked Weibo to see if the guy involved in yesterday’s drama has responded.

As expected, the feed exploded again.
It seems like Lan couldn’t handle the pressure and posted several lengthy posts in the middle of the night.
At first, he wrote something about being clear when one is pure and innocent, implying that being friendly with fans is considered a crime.
He tried to turn the truth into others smearing him.

Shen Yanming took screenshots and sent them to the hotpot group chat from that day.

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: He’s really bold.

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Haha, you’re munching on popcorn while spectating the drama as soon as you woke up?

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: I woke up a while ago, on my way to the gay club.

On the day they had hotpot, they had a heated debate about the essential dish to order.
The discussion even continued after they left the restaurant.
In the end, they all changed their nicknames in the group to show their stance.

Shen Yanming is “Shrimp Ball,” Pudding is “Tripe Brain,” and Meng Yan is “Fatty Beef.”

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: He even said that he trains hard every day, suffers from various pains, and has no time for funny business.
Many fans who didn’t know the situation kept mentioning us to vouch for him, hahaha.

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: Then none of us responded to him, and he later deleted that post in frustration.

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Yeah, that little essay he wrote, talking about training for over ten hours every day, experiencing all sorts of pains, losing personal time, but still persisting blabla… It made my head spin.
Which player isn’t like that? He’s just good at blabbering.

[I Eat Everything]: I’m dizzy.
Seriously, did Lan ge hire an army of internet trolls? Now everyone is saying those chat records are fake, and there’s this ‘tech geek’ who confidently claims the images were manipulated.”

This “I Eat Everything” is Fish.

Indeed, public opinion can easily be led astray.
Soon, the tide shifted to “Lan is being wrongly accused.”

[Kong_]: Let him do some more whitewashing.

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: Good afternoon, Kong ge, muah.
[Blow a kiss emoji]

[Kong_]: …

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: Oh, you don’t like that? Okay, no more kisses.

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: Why do you want him to do more whitewashing?

[Kong_]: That girl told me before that when Lan was with them, he was very cautious.
There were no intimate terms in their conversations, and they never took pictures together casually.
It was probably to avoid potential trouble.
But that girl secretly took some pictures of him while he was sleeping, just because she wanted to keep a memento of her time with the person she liked.
She didn’t expect it would be useful now.
When she released the first wave of evidence, I asked her to hold back on posting the pictures and some other key evidence.
So now, Lan probably thinks he doesn’t have any leverage in other people’s hands, which is why he dares to assert his innocence so confidently.

[Kong_]: Let him jump around a bit more, the more fiercely he jumps now, the more embarrassed he’ll be later.

The group chat fell silent for a few seconds.

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: Sly old fox.

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Sly old fox.

[I Eat Everything]: Sly old fox.

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: What are you all saying? Take it back!

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: So, this is the clever and resourceful Kong ge, love it love it v.

However, Shen Yanming was also a bit surprised.
He must admit that He Changkong’s move was indeed ruthless.
If he were to unload everything at once, it would drive the person away, but the effect wouldn’t be as significant.
In simple terms, the emotions of netizens reaching the peak all at once wouldn’t be as intense as when there are twists and turns leading up to the climax.

Shen Yanming opens He Changkong’s private chat window.

[Shen bird]: Ge, you did something unlike your usual self again.

[Kong_]: I can’t stand it, that girl was crying so sadly that day.

[Kong_]: And you’re joining the team.

Shen Yanming couldn’t figure out the meaning of “you’re joining the team.” Wasn’t he talking about exposing Lan’s misdeeds? What does that have to do with him joining the team?

[Kong_]: If Lan leaves so simply and leaves behind some fans who miss him, you’ll get scolded if you join the team.

Shen Yanming was taken aback; he hadn’t thought so much about it.

[Kong_]: The circle is complicated.
Pure technical fans might scold you for a mistake or two, asking to quickly bring Lan back.
Others who liked Lan for various reasons will resent you, thinking you took away his position.

[Kong_]: So, let him fall a bit harder, don’t leave any room for people to remember him.

Naturally, being scolded was not something unfamiliar to Shen Yanming.
Not every player is friendly; some players are skilled at pointing fingers even if they don’t perform well themselves.
At his worst, when he opened his private messages, he would see a screen full of insults, asking him to quit because he lost a match due to missing a combo.

Every player has faced such scolding, but hearing these insults repeatedly made Shen Yanming immune to them.

Besides, there were always warm-hearted fans and players cheering them on.
Moreover, he played games not to hear others’ opinions but for his own enjoyment.

It was really not a big deal… but he never expected He Changkong to worry about something he hadn’t even considered.

[Shen Bird]: Ge, qoq.

[Kong_]: I won’t chat anymore, I’m going to play a few matches with the substitute to get used to them.

[Shen Bird]: Okay!

Seeing He Changkong’s response, Shen Yanming knows that the team will definitely deal with Lan.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t need to adjust to the substitute at the last minute.

As they talked, the car arrived at the airport.
Shen Yanming put away his phone and proceeded to check in and drop off his luggage.

Counting the waiting time, several hours later, the plane landed.
On the shuttle bus, Shen Yanming caught up on the latest updates about the situation with Lan.

As expected, just like He Changkong said, Lan initially believed that he had nothing to be used against him, so he became more exaggerated in his statements, trying to portray himself as innocent.
Some of his fans were even like entertainment industry fans defending their idols, tagging the team’s official account, asking if they would let their champion player be bullied, and so on.
They even started trending topics like #TMMTeamDoingNothing#.

Shen Yanming felt embarrassed watching all this unfold.

If the team had really mistreated the players, then there was nothing wrong with trending such topics.
Just like those fans of celebrities, they must have reasons for criticizing their companies.

But Lan’s situation, really?

This isn’t the healthy interaction between a player and their fans; it’s more like being so deeply infatuated with someone that you lose your sanity.

Soon after, the girl who posted before also came forward, sharing photos and videos of them together.
It wasn’t just this one girl; other girls also released any material they had.

Didn’t they say it was all fabricated? Now, these can’t be fabricated, right?

Finally, someone, who they didn’t know if they were an insider from the beginning or just switched sides, shared a chat from a small group, which recorded Lan’s instructions to others about what to say.

Lan’s fans relentlessly flooded the official account, and the account finally made a statement.
However, the statement was an official notice with a stamped seal of punishment.

The notice stated that an investigation had already been conducted before the online uproar, but they had chosen not to disclose it to avoid affecting other players’ pre-match emotions.
They originally decided to penalize Lan after the regular season’s first round, and had even talked to him, hoping he would behave well to reduce the penalty.
Unexpectedly, Lan worsened the situation online, causing a severe negative impact on society and damaging the team’s reputation…

In short, they would expel him and demand compensation for the breach of contract.

So, it’s not at all as Lan imagined, where the team values him and is unwilling to punish him.
The team’s higher-ups are simply considering the upcoming matches.

It’s really pitiful.

Shen Yanming once again took screenshots and sent them to the small group.

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Hahaha, Luan jiang just got off the plane and is already eating popcorn again.

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: So, Lan is truly finished this time?

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Yup, he seems to be unable to accept the reality and is making a fuss.

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: Luan jiang got off the plane? Where are you staying tonight? A hotel? The base?

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: If you stay at the base, will you stay in our building or go to Yuzi’s building?

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: Come to our building; there’s an empty room next to Kong ge.

[Tripe Brain the Real Best]: Wasn’t that room used as a storage room for random stuff before? It hasn’t been cleaned yet.

[Fatty Beef is the Best in the Universe]: Then you can sleep with Kong ge tonight.
The bed is big enough for you two to roll around [cat rolling gif].

[Shrimp Balls Are the Best]: What the heck?

Author’s Message:

Luan Luanzi: I don’t tie tie3tie tie: “贴贴” (tiē tiē) is a Chinese term used to describe getting physically close or sticking close to someone, often in an affectionate or intimate way.
with guys!

Meng Yan: Oh?

The lyrics quoted in this chapter are from the song 笑看风云 (xiào kàn fēngyún) by Zheng Shaoqiu.

Thank you for reading! 

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day

If you like reading my translations, do consider supporting me with ko-fi

1radio calisthenics: excercise routine2大哥 (Dàgē): big brother3tie tie: “贴贴” (tiē tiē) is a Chinese term used to describe getting physically close or sticking close to someone, often in an affectionate or intimate way.

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