“You need to be polite, alright, Xiang Huaizhi?” his agent hisses as they enter the banquet hall. “This is a really important deal—if you piss someone off, StarTV is the biggest streaming platform in the country, and if they decide to crush us, NCH’s streaming platform will be toast!”
“En,” Xiang Huaizhi replies simply, scanning the crowd.
“Are you listening to me, Xiang Huaizhi?” his agent demands.
“Be polite, don’t piss people off, StarTV can crush us,” Xiang Huaizhi replies languidly, still keeping an eye out. “I know.”
His agent draws back a little, staring at him dubiously. “…are you worried about the match with yanxyan? Don’t be—even if he thrashes you at PUBG, I can’t imagine he’ll be as good as you when it comes time to the NCH match.”
“En,” Xiang Huaizhi simply agrees.
(He’s not worried about the demonstration match—he’s not terrible at PUBG, so even if he’s not as good as Yan Xiao Yan, he probably won’t have that bad of a showing.
What he really wants though is to meet this Yan Xiao Yan who Jing Huan had described to him as just a little less handsome than Xiang Huaizhi.
Okay, so yes, he knows that he and Jing Huan are the same in that their first loves were each other, so he really doesn’t have anything to worry about, but—
It’s not entirely out of the question that Jing Huan had had an unconscious crush on this Yan Xiao Yan.
And of course nothing is going to happen now, and he would trust his boyfriend without question even without him pointing out that Xiao Yan is dating someone, but—he’s still a bit curious about someone that his boyfriend is so enthusiastic about.
He is well-aware that he could just open up yanxyan’s stream and check, but that would be adding to yanxyan’s viewcount, so he refuses to, and hasn’t asked Lu Hang to either.
But now he has the chance to get a look at this guy without adding to his popularity at all.
He’s not going to be rude to him—he just wants to see what Jing Huan likes so much about him.
And—maybe just reassure himself that Jing Huan likes him better.
They’re both very new to all this—Xiang Huaizhi had only just introduced Jing Huan to his parents and gone to see Jing Huan’s parents himself, and—to be honest, it was a little tense, but they had all seemed to accept it in the end seeing how serious the two of them were about it.
And it had helped that Xiang Huaizhi was already raking in a pretty decent salary as NCH’s streaming platform’s star anchor.
Still, with Jing Huan graduating soon and about to start a job, and the two of them moving to a new apartment—some reassurance would be nice amidst all the change.)
His eyes land on a tall man in a sleek suit who is sitting near the demonstration stage and talking quietly with some of the organizers. He’s handsome in a cold fashion, with dark eyes, a nearly Western nose, and a face that wouldn’t be out of place on a runway.
(Could that be yanxyan?
He looked—older than Xiang Huaizhi had expected. For some reason, he had thought the PUBG anchor was around the same age as Jing Huan.
Still—based purely on Jing Huan having fallen for himself, it does seem somewhat plausible he could have been so interested in this guy.
It’s the overbearing, domineering CEO look—Jing Huan can deny it all he likes, but it’s not like Xiang Huaizhi doesn’t know how squirmy and blushy his boyfriend gets when he lowers his voice and starts bossing people around.
It works especially great in the bedroom.)
Xiang Huaizhi turns around to see his beaming boyfriend heading through the crowd over to him, trailed by a delicate-looking, pale young man of around the same age.
Xiang Huaizhi smiles back at Jing Huan. “Having fun?”
“Loads—there’s tons of people here selling merch, and they even set up a booth with some of the NCH developers so you can go harangue them,” Jing Huan burbles happily before gesturing at the man behind him. “Oh yeah, I know you guys are going to meet later, but since I ran into him, I thought I might as well make the introductions first—this is Yan Xiao Yan, or Yu Yan, and Xiao Yan, this is Xiang Huaizhi or Yearning For.”
(This guy is Yan Xiao Yan?
But—but he’s so pale and delicate and willowy and not like Xiang Huaizhi at all.
Was that—was that what Jing Huan really liked?
Is Xiang Huaizhi the exception to Jing Huan’s taste that leans towards pretty delicate men and not tall, muscular, handsome ones?)
“Pleased to meet you,” Yu Yan says politely, offering his hand out. “I’ve seen a few of your streams—you really do make me want to try out NCH.”
“….Really,” Xiang Huaizhi manages to say, shaking Yu Yan’s hand in a daze.
Yu Yan nods and lowers his voice a bit, “And Jing Huan has told me so much about you.”
(What does that mean?
What has Jing Huan told him?
Has he told them they’re together?
…he’s not about to try and steal away Huanhuan, is he?
That’s definitely not okay—Xiang Huaizhi didn’t care if this guy was having problems with or no longer with his own boyfriend, he can’t have Huanhuan.
So what Xiang Huaizhi needs to do is thoroughly crush Yan Xiao Yan at his own game, and then maybe Huanhuan won’t give him the time of day anymore.)
“Gege?” Jing Huan prompts, an odd expression on his face. “Something wrong?”
Xiang Huaizhi blinks and realizes he’s still gripping Yu Yan’s hand, so he quickly lets go. “…nothing. It’s nearly time, let’s go.”
He quickly walks over to the central table, where the tall man he thought was Yan Xiao Yan stands up, his eyes sweeping past Xiang Huaizhi to land on Yu Yan.
“I’ve made sure everything is set up for you. Are you ready?” the man asks, his deep voice oddly tender.
Yu Yan smiles up at him, “Yes—you really didn’t have to take the trouble you know.”
“I wanted to,” the man says, putting a hand on his shoulder then turning to look at Xiang Huaizhi. “And this…is the NCH anchor?”
“Yes, this is Xiang Huaizhi, otherwise known as Yearning For,” Yu Yan says, turning to look at Xiang Huaizhi again. “And Xiang Huaizhi—this is President Yi Chen of the Yida Group.”
(Oh—that was the big daddy investor in StarTV, wasn’t it?
Was StarTV that important that the big boss himself had shown up here?
And personally overseeing the set-up for the game?
…maybe the big boss was a big fan of PUBG or something?)
“And this is Jing Huan, someone I used to be an accompanying player for,” Yu Yan adds with a smile as Jing Huan also walks up.
Xiang Huaizhi immediately tenses up. “Jing Huan is my guest,” he immediately says.
Yu Yan gives him a sideways glance, “…um, yes? I know—oh, are you worried about where he will be sitting? We can definitely get him a good seat—”
“He’ll sit next to me,” Xiang Huaizhi interrupts.
Yu Yan’s eyebrows go up as President Yi starts to frown. “Yes, I was just about to ask that. Would the table here be fine?”
Xiang Huaizhi simply stares back at him. “En.”
“…alright,” Yu Yan says slowly. “Well then—I need to check in about one or two things—Yi Chen, do you know what account they set up for me?”
President Yi moves his piercing gaze from Xiang Huaizhi back to Yu Yan where it seems to soften a bit. “I’m not sure. Do you want to go check?”
Yu Yan smiles at him sweetly. “En.”
(They seem weirdly close, but Xiang Huaizhi has more important things to worry about.)
As soon as Yu Yan and President Yi leave, Jing Huan turns to Xiang Huaizhi with a frown. “…Gege, are you alright?”
“Fine,” Xiang Huaizhi replies, relaxing a little as Jing Huan takes his hand.
“…you can’t be nervous about the demonstration match, so—is it something about Xiao Yan?” Jing Huan asks, his eyes narrowing. “…he is very good-looking I suppose—”
“You said he wasn’t as good-looking as me though,” Xiang Huaizhi quickly interrupts, trying to suppress the feeling of panic that rises in his chest.
(No way, right?
He and Jing Huan have already been together for nearly more than a year now, and he knows Jing Huan loves him, so he knows that he has nothing to worry about—
But it’s like those fanboys at school for Jing Huan—of course he knows nothing is going to happen, but he can’t help wanting to punch them anyway.)
Jing Huan lets out a slightly surprised laugh at that. “Oh. Oh—Gege, you can’t think that I like Xiao Yan right? Or that Xiao Yan likes me?”
Jing Huan’s tone is so incredulous that Xiang Huaizhi suddenly feels a bit ridiculous.
“…he is pretty attractive…” Xiang Huaizhi points out slowly.
Jing Huan goggles at him. “…Gege,” he says finally. “While Xiao Yan also likes men, let me just say that I’ve found we have very similar tastes, and it’s definitely not each other.”
Xiang Huaizhi feels his eyebrows shoot up, “And what taste is that—”
“Xiang Huaizhi,” his agent hisses at him as he swoops in. “Were you being rude to Yan Xiao Yan???”
“…not particularly,” Xiang Huaizhi defends himself, shooting a look at Jing Huan who has suddenly started coughing.
“You better not have—do you know who the main boss of his livestream is?” his agent asks frantically, his eyes flicking over to where Yu Yan is laughing with President Yi. “The head of Yida Group himself, President Yi Chen!”
…well at least that explains why President Yi seems to take so much care of Yan Xiao Yan.
Although—that’s still a lot of effort, Xiang Huaizhi has never even met any of the bosses of his livestream in person.)
His agent takes in his startled expression and nods seriously. “Yeah, so be nice! President Yi could sink us—and you know, I hear he has for Yan Xiao Yan before—there was some company that tried to sue Yan Xiao Yan for a breach of contract or something, and President Yi buried them. We definitely don’t want that to happen, so Xiang Huaizhi—play nice, alright?”
Xiang Huaizhi frowns. “Are you telling me to go easy on him during the games?”
“No, no, no, no—I bet he can tell, and that would be insulting too,” his agent shudders. “Just—just play normally, and—you don’t have to chat with Yan Xiao Yan, but at least be polite. And stop glaring at him!”
As his agent hurries away to busy himself with something else, Jing Huan’s mouth quirks up. “Well—even if he’s a ball of nerves, he’s not wrong.”
“…he’s pretty involved even for being the big boss of the stream,” Xiang Huaizhi comments, glancing over to where President Yi has a hand on Yu Yan’s shoulder and is leaning in to talk to him.
“Uh well—that’s because—” Jing Huan coughs, glances around as though making sure no one else is around, then lowers his voice as he leans in. “So it’s not 100% confirmed, but based on things Xiao Yan has said—and also those rings—I’m pretty sure the person Xiao Yan is dating is President Yi.”
Xiang Huaizhi blinks, and his head swivels so that he can check their hands, and—indeed yes, two silver rings that looked nearly identical gleamed on both of their hands. Added to the fact that their faces were quite close together, with President Yi looking very pleased with himself as Yu Yan’s ears turn red—Jing Huan seems to be right.
(...that explained so many things.
And—oh, Jing Huan had said that Yu Yan and him had similar tastes, and hadn’t he even clocked onto President Yi at the beginning as someone who resembled what he thought Jing Huan’s taste was at first?
That brought up an important question.)
“…huh,” Xiang Huaizhi said, turning to Jing Huan. “…so you and Yan Xiao Yan just sit around and discuss your boyfriends?”
Jing Huan flushes a bit. “Shit no—don’t make it sound so girly! We just—there’s been rumors about him and Boss 1 forever, and—well, they’ve been together a long time, and we’re about to start our adult lives together, so maybe I sent Xiao Yan a message asking him for some advice…I didn’t expect him to actually read it and write a pretty thoughtful reply…”
Then had Jing Huan also been worried about all the changes in their lives?
On one hand—he should have picked up on that, but on the other—he’s glad that they had both been thinking about it.)
“…I’ve been—asking around too,” he admits, reaching out and taking Jing Huan’s hand. “About—work and moving and how that will all go with a relationship in the future.”
Jing Huan blinks as a smile spreads across his face, “Really?”
“Yes. I—” Xiang Huaizhi takes a deep breath. “I—may have been overreacting a bit—maybe because so many things are changing and—I was thrown off a bit.”
“That makes two of us, but—I think we’ll adjust together,” Jing Huan says, gripping his hand tight as his voice dropping to nearly a whisper. “And…I love you, husband.”
(It doesn’t matter how many times he has heard this from his boyfriend, he always wants to hear it again.)
He can’t help but draw Jing Huan close, murmuring into his ear. “I love you too, husband.”
He can see Jing Huan flush as he smiles back at him. “Gege—”
“Ah—sorry to interrupt but—if you would please join us on stage, Mr. Xiang?” an assistant asks, bobbing nervously behind them. “We’re about ready to start.”
Xiang Huaizhi narrows his eyes at the assistant, but Jing Huan just smiles wryly and pats him on his arm. “Go ahead. Good luck, Gege—not that you need it.”
“En,” Xiang Huaizhi smiles back at him and leaves to go on stage.
As the MC greets the audience and explains the programming, Xiang Huaizhi checks over the computer he’s supposed to use for the demonstration match. It seems more or less fine—he could have brought some of his own stuff, but NCH wouldn’t skimp out on this. Also the Mount Qiya account they had set him up with seemed to be alright (it really wouldn’t have been fair to play against Yan Xiao Yan with his Yearning For account).
There is a light cough, and he looks up to see that Yu Yan has wandered over to his table.
Yu Yan peers at him. “Um…I just wanted to say that I’m sorry if we got off on the wrong foot—”
“No, I’m the one who should apologize,” Xiang Huaizhi interrupts. “I—misunderstood some things. I’m sorry for behaving rudely.”
(After all, apparently this Yan Xiao Yan had actually tried to help Jing Huan with his relationship with him.
And—he did seem pretty smitten with that boss of his, now that he thinks about it, so Yan Xiao Yan probably really just had friendly intentions towards Jing Huan.
That still didn’t mean he was going to go easy on him in the NCH match though.)
Yu Yan gives him a relieved smile. “Oh, it’s alright, it’s alright. I was worried I had said something wrong or something… Well then, let me just say that—despite how—convoluted it sounds like it all started, I’m very happy for you and Huanhuan, and I wish you two all the best. It may be—difficult sometimes, but it is always worth it.”
“…thank you,” Xiang Huaizhi manages to say.
(They’ve been lucky in that all their friends and most of their family have been supportive, but he thinks this is the first time he’s met someone else also in a long-term relationship with a man.
He can suddenly see why Jing Huan asked him for advice.)
“That said, don’t go easy on me in NCH because I won’t go easy on you in PUBG,” Yu Yan says, flashing a confident grin that reveals a small tiger tooth.
“En, will do,” Xiang Huaizhi nods determinedly.
“Annnnnd the moment you have all been waiting for! StarTV’s #1 PUBG anchor yanxyan versus NCH’s #1 anchor Yearning For!” the MC announces, gesturing dramatically at the two of them. “They will first be playing one round of an NCH arena match, followed by a PUBG match where the winner will be the person with the most kills at the end of the round!”
Yu Yan nods and smiles at the cheers while Xiang Huaizhi simply sweeps his eyes across the audience until he catches sight of Jing Huan waving at him, and then he smiles.
“Alright players—time for the NCH arena!” the MC says enthusiastically with a final wave of his hand before they start.
Yu Yan’s account was an assassin class, and within a few moves, Xiang Huaizhi can tell that despite him being a beginner, he’s both very fast and accurate. Honestly, if Yu Yan was up against one of Jing Huan’s friends, Qiufeng, or even maybe Lu Hang, he’d have a very good chance of winning the match.
But he was up against Xiang Huaizhi, and Xiang Huaizhi showed absolutely no mercy in unleashing all of his 100% accurate DPS attacks against Yu Yan’s assassin until the assassin was a bloody heap on the ground.
“And Yearning For is the winner! But not to worry, yanxyan fans—PUBG is next!” the MC says as President Yi narrows his eyes at him.
“That was fun,” Yu Yan says cheerfully as they switch to PUBG. “You’re really quite good—and NCH seems to have a really fun battle system too. I’ll have to let some of my friends know so we can all play together.”
“…if you would like to join a guild and you’re on Illusion server, you can join Idle Pavilion if you want,” Xiang Huaizhi says generously.
Yu Yan’s eyebrows raise as he smiles at him. “Thank you; I’ll definitely keep that in mind. And if you ever want to come play PUBG, let’s add each other on WeChat later so you can just ping me and let me know! You can even just lie there while I carry you if you want.”
Xiang Huaizhi raises his eyebrow. “Who’s to say I won’t be the one carrying you?”
Yu Yan’s smile grows a bit sharper. “I think that’s rather unlikely. Shall we begin?”
It turns out, Yan Xiao Yan’s reputation as StarTV’s number one sharpshooter is very much earned. He starts racking up kills right off the bat after landing, sniping down enemies with deadly accuracy, flipping down from windows and still managing to kill off people, and even overturning cars with well-placed shots.
Xiang Huaizhi would say that his PUBG skills aren’t bad, but after Yu Yan gets his 10th kill while he only has one, he has to admit that Yu Yan is a different level and that the only reason he’s still alive is that he landed pretty far away and Yu Yan seems willing to let the match last longer.
Still, by the time the final circle forces them all together, he puts up a good fight, but Yu Yan throws out a smoke grenade, then uses frag grenades to flush him out, and finally shoots him in the head, winning the demonstration match and managing to eat chicken in the PUBG match.
“And yanxyan is the winner of this match! Please give a hand to both of our top-notch anchors!” the MC cheers and the audience wildly claps.
“…good game,” Xiang Huaizhi says, stretching out his hand for Yu Yan to shake. “…I guess you will have to carry me.”
Yu Yan laughs. “Will do! You’ll be easier to carry than Huanhuan anyway—you’re not too bad.”
“Jing Huan is alright,” Xiang Huaizhi instinctively defends him despite the fact that if Jing Huan manages to not get turned into a lootbox upon landing, it’s a pretty good match.
Yu Yan raises an eyebrow. “…perhaps he has improved under your tutelage,” he says generously.
“Yanyan,” President Yi says softly, coming up on the stage. “Congratulations.”
Yu Yan turns to beam at President Yi. “Ah—not that impressive was it though? I was completely crushed in NCH—”
“It was one of your first times playing, and I’m sure if you want to, you’ll get better at it,” President Yi says, reaching out a hand and rubbing Yu Yan’s hair.
“Mm, and Xiang Huaizhi has been nice enough to invite me to his guild as well!”
President Yi pauses in his actions and turns towards Xiang Huaizhi, his eyes cold. “Did he now. Despite being so rude to you earlier?”
Xiang Huaizhi winces inwardly and bows his head. “Again, I am very sorry, Yan Xiao Yan.”
“It’s fine, it was just a bit of a misunderstanding,” Yu Yan says, waving a hand dismissively. “The more important question is, if I’m playing NCH, would you like to play with me as well, Yi Chen?”
“Of course. I would play anything with you,” President Yi replies, the corner of his mouth twitching as he draws a hand down Yu Yan’s back.
For some reason that makes Yu Yan flush, and he coughs before turning back to Xiang Huaizhi. “Well anyway—let’s add each other on WeChat, and I guess we’ll see you online at some point, Xiang Huaizhi. Especially since StarTV is collaborating with NCH—perhaps we should do a livestream together at some point.”
(Could be fun.
Yu Yan seems to be pretty good, and after all, maybe it would make his agent stop nagging him about showing something new.
And Jing Huan would probably like livestreaming with his friend too.)
“En,” Xiang Huaizhi replies with a nod.
As he makes his way off the stage and back to his table, his agent comes over to him all a-twitter that things went smoothly. “I think that went really well! President Yi didn’t seem too happy at first, but I guess Yan Xiao Yan must have liked you because in the end the collaboration has been confirmed! And what’s this I hear about a livestream with Yan Xiao Yan??! At last Xiang Huaizhi, have you finally managed to learn what being a popular anchor means by meeting Yan Xiao Yan—oh, we still have to sign the papers, I better get over there.”
As his agent hurries away, Jing Huan laughs. “One day, you’re going to give that poor man a heart-attack.”
Xiang Huaizhi shrugs. “Got the collaboration confirmed.”
“And got a new friend it seems,” Jing Huan says with a grin, propping his chin in his hand. “Lu Hang is going to be so jealous—and Lu Wenhao too, he’s also a big fan of Xiao Yan’s.”
(Did he now also count as Xiang Huaizhi’s friend?
…he wasn’t too bad he guessed.
Although his boyfriend was right, Lu Hang was going to protest and claim best friend status, which of course he still had.)
“En, I invited him to join Idle Pavilion if he likes.”
“Oh, that’ll be fun! I’m sure Chunxiao will be really excited too—we really don’t have many good assassins,” Jing Huan chatters away, thinking about the logistics of the guild. “Not that I guess he’ll be a regular member, but he could still pop in every once in awhile if we need him—and I guess Boss Yi will be playing with him too? No idea what he’ll pick—but I’m pretty sure his LoL friend and his girlfriend will join him, and the girlfriend will probably also pick a Fairy Fox Cave…”
“Whenever you have time, we’ll do the stream together,” Xiang Huaizhi promises.
Jing Huan smiles in delight, reaching down below the table and taking his hand. “Gege is so good to me. How can I ever repay him?”
“I can think of a few things baby,” Xiang Huaizhi says, dropping his voice and sweeping his eyes across Jing Huan’s body.
Jing Huan licks his lips and stretches in a way that makes his shirt just peek up a tiny bit to show a sliver of his waist (oh that was just cheating). “…let’s hurry up and go to the hotel Gege. I can’t wait.”
“En,” Xiang Huaizhi immediately agrees, adjusting his pants a bit before standing up.
(Whatever challenges they face, whatever changes may come, he still has Jing Huan at his side to face down all of it.
And together—they’re Yearning For and Xiao Tianjing, and they can do anything together.)