Excellent Era announces Ye Qiu’s absence the day before their first playoff match.
No one quite believes it, even though Excellent Era has no reason to lie. Up until the very last second, fans held onto the hope that Ye Qiu would, somehow, miraculously appear in the nick of time anyways. But Excellent Era’s roster is called, One Autumn Leaf is nowhere to be seen, and Excellent Era loses miserably. For the first time in seven years, Ye Qiu is absent from the playoffs.
Then the conspiracy theories start.
There was no way Ye Qiu, Glory’s top player, the player voted by his fellow pros as most-likely-to-get-married-to-Glory, would miss playoffs for any simple matter. The official press statement claimed the reason for his absence was “urgent family matters,” but it took no time for fans to re-interpret that to “someone found out Ye Qiu’s identity and threatened his family.”
Excellent Era Number One:
Maybe this is why God Ye never made public appearances, he was trying to protect his family this whole time!!
Bro, you’ve been watching too many dramas. Why would anyone bother to threaten Ye Qiu just for a quarterfinals match? This isn’t Season Three! Excellent Era’s not that good anymore, they haven’t even been in the finals for the last three years.
I don’t really want to believe that kind of B-rated drama plot, but even if it was a normal family emergency...I’ve always imagined God Ye to be that kind of cold genius who could and would ignore dying family members if he had a match the next day? Like, “If they’re going to die anyways, what difference would my presence there make?”
Most pros seem kind of distant with their families. Would he really miss the playoffs for that?
Is it so hard to believe God Ye is a normal human being who loves his family??
Leaf Autumn One:
I mean...have you ever seen the highlight reels? You gotta sell your soul for that level of skill. God Ye is not a normal human being.
Three time league champion, three time MVP, two time Team DPS Star, one time One Hit One Kill. God Ye is not a normal human being +1
And really, has anyone actually seen him in person? God Ye is not a human being +my account number
The rumors were, coincidentally, not too far off from the truth. Ye Xiu’s family had been threatened, but not for any reason related to Glory. With his family’s involvement in maintaining the police, there were already plenty of people with enough motivation to send a violent warning.
Ye Xiu loved Glory, but he also loved his brother. When he got the call from his father that Ye Qiu was injured, he went home immediately.
Logically, as a biological twin, there were some things he could do for Ye Qiu that no one else could. But, more importantly, as an older brother, it was impossible not to worry about his sibling.
After all, many of the burdens Ye Qiu took were left upon him by Ye Xiu.
Ye Xiu was not one for regrets, but he was also not one to balk at taking responsibility when it came down to it. When Ye Xiu left Excellent Era that day, he had not expected to come back.
...And yet, just days later, he finds himself being sent right back to Excellent Era with a seven-year-old brother in tow.
“I can’t believe we’re flying economy.” Ye Qiu wrinkles his nose at the people around them and presses himself slightly closer toward the only source of familiarity next to him.
Ye Xiu reciprocates by slinging an arm around his brother’s smaller frame and leaning in to whisper, “With all that’s happened, that’s the part you can’t believe?”
“I can’t help that a murder attempt by poison somehow de-aged me into a child, but you could have just bought better tickets.”
“It’s not so bad.”
“You’ve always had terrible taste. These seats are made of stone.”
Ye Qiu huffs and puffs in all his usual ways, but never voices his real complaint. Nor does he push his brother’s arm away, and Ye Xiu understands everything from that alone.
No victim would want to be trapped in a crowded space with potential attackers.
Yet eventually, sheer exhaustion wins out against all else. Ye Qiu falls asleep with one hand trapping his brother’s arm-turned-pillow in place, as if that single arm would be enough to protect him from the world.
Ye Xiu knows that isn't enough; he's a professional gamer, not a professional bodyguard. Nonetheless, he's more than willing to become a professional arm pillow if that's what his brother needs to rest.
He’s been a poor brother for the last decade, but it wasn't too late to start fixing that.
It turns out, Ye Xiu isn’t the only brother determined to fix things.
Revitalized from his nap, Ye Qiu strides into Excellent Era like he owns the place, flanked by his brother on one side and their family’s trusted lawyer on the other. By the end of the day, he really does own Excellent Era. Or at least, indirectly.
Several sponsors had pulled out after Ye Xiu’s sudden absence, leaving the team in desperate financial straits. Excellent Era was in no position to decline the generous new sponsorship arranged by the Ye family, and the sponsorship itself was a step up from their previous ones in every way. Not only was it offering significantly more money, there were no requirements to advertise, no conditional renewal dependent on winning the championships. All Excellent Era had to do was keep their captain and overlook his recent breach in contract from skipping out on playoffs.
“You have to treat my brother well,” Ye Qiu adds after everything is signed and done. He has made no attempt to act his age this entire time, much to everyone’s confusion, but at the very end of it all, he allows himself to indulge in a single fit of impulsive childishness.
“And don’t you dare think of bullying him while I’m around!”
Tao Xuan feels wronged. What bullying? Aren’t I the one being bullied?
One sibling had driven Excellent Era to its knees with a single absence, and the other had swooped in on the opportunity like a little tyrant beyond his years. If he didn’t know better, Tao Xuan would have thought this was all planned from the start, a scheme worthy of a Master Tactician.
((But Tao Xuan does know better. He knows about the tidy grave in Nanshan Cemetery that receives a visit every year without fail. He knows that before Ye Qiu ever gained the title of Master Tactician, something much more important was lost. He knows that for Ye Qiu, a family emergency is too sore a wound to lie about.
It’s even more obvious in the way Ye Qiu always keeps his brother within an arm’s length, eyes subtly darting back and forth to readjust their distance with a level of microing worthy of Glory's top player.
Against this vulnerably human side of Ye Qiu, Tao Xuan finds himself defenseless. If there's a way for the both of them to win, what's the harm in accepting?))