Ye Xiu turns the corner with Baozi at his side, sharing a bag of chips between them, and stutters to a halt at the alleyway shortcut back to Happy.
“Hey, get away from him!” Ye Xiu shouts, rushing forward.
Wei Chen is shoved to the ground, still clinging to his wallet where his Glory card is kept, and the mugger makes a break for it.
Ye Xiu helps Wei Chen back up but Baozi continues for a few more steps past them until he can grab a half broken brick off the ground and hurls it, the brick slamming into the back of the mugger’s head.
Ye Xiu’s eyes go wide. Wei Chen’s mouth drops open.
The mugger hits the ground with a solid thump, weakly groans and staggers up to keep running.
Ye Xiu and Wei Chen slump against each other in relief that Baozi didn’t just straight up murder someone.
Baozi starts to follow.
“No!” Ye Xiu cries, scrambling forward and hugging the other man’s arm. “No, no, it’s over now.”
“Boss, I can get him!” Baozi insists.
Wei Chen wheezes, more winded from the shock Baozi gave him than the actual tussle with a mugger. “No need. It’s fine. Let’s - let’s go back to Happy now.”
Ye Xiu privately thinks to himself that Baozi is very efficient at dealing with trouble.
This, (un)fortunately, comes in handy.
Ye Xiu sees the man in the dark staff tunnel of the Glory arena as he leaves the stage. The man is waiting a bit further down, jacket zipped up with hood pulled over his head, face covered in a mask.
Ye Xiu refrains from judging him as suspicious because actually Ye Xiu is wearing the exact same thing. People know his identity now but it’s kind of hard to break the habit. However, Ye Xiu isn’t stupid and does avoid going too close.
The man steps forward instead.
“I don’t have a pen for autographs,” Ye Xiu tsks.
“That’s okay,” the man says quickly and grabs Ye Xiu’s forearm. “I have it already. A lot of them. And your posters. And the figurines, um, Autumn Leaf and Lord Grim.”
“Yep, thanks,” Ye Xiu says and pointedly tries to pull his arm away.
The man leans in closer, crowing Ye Xiu back against the wall. “I love you – no, I mean, I have an unspecialised too. Can you, um, give me some pointers? I modelled it after Lord Grim and I have an umbrella but it’s not, um, not your umbrella.”
“Let go,” Ye Xiu says firmly. “We can talk but I don’t like you touching me. Let go or I will hurt you.”
“I love you,” the man swears, other hand coming up to touch Ye Xiu’s face, to pull the mask down. “I’ve always loved you, since season three, even when I didn’t know who you were-“
Ye Xiu flinches back and tries to shove the man’s hand away. There’s a brief scuffle and Ye Xiu’s throat is grabbed, which is when he kicks into full on panic mode.
Ye Xiu shoves the second knuckles of two fingers into the man’s eyes and the man screams, jerking back. Ye Xiu tears himself away even as the man blindly claws at his clothes and sprints for it but very quickly hears the sound of someone running after him. Ye Xiu knows the tunnels better, he knows where security is, everything is fine.
Ye Xiu whips around the corner and body-slams Yu Wenzhou to the ground, a startled Huang Shaotian yelping.
The man also turns the corner but freezes at seeing more people, then doubles back and runs.
“Ah!” Huang Shaotian cries. “I saw you! What were you doing? Why were you chasing Old Ye?! I saw you, I saw you!”
Huang Shaotian starts yelling out what coloured clothes the man has, plus any facial features Huang Shaotian managed to catch. Age, the way he’s squinting slightly, which tunnel he runs down and where he turns.
Ye Xiu has gotten back to his feet and helps Yu Wenzhou up, who immediately takes out his phone and calls security.
Huang Shaotian turns to Ye Xiu in confusion. “What was that? Why was he chasing you? Huh? Did you piss him off?”
“He was a fan,” Ye Xiu says dryly, rubbing his forehead where he said an enthusiastic hello to Yu Wenzhou’s face. He pulls up a sleeve to check on the ache there and finds red lines from nails clawing at him.
Huang Shaotian goes quiet.
Yu Wenzhou narrows his eyes and grips the phone tighter. “The man injured a player,” he tells security. “He was last seen heading left at the C-D staff tunnel intersection. Send people to the C3 door, he’s most likely to leave through there to the staff parking lot.” Yu Wenzhou hangs up.
Ye Xiu pulls his sleeve back down. “Scary. That tone of voice makes you sound like a mob boss.”
Huang Shaotian laughs. “Captain can get scary. Come on, come on, let’s go watch justice prevail~!”
“Wait until he is caught first before we go,” Yu Wenzhou reminds the other Blue Rain member. The captain glances at Ye Xiu. “Why didn’t you yell for help? It would have alerted us sooner.”
Ye Xiu tucks his hands into his pockets and shrugs. He honestly didn’t think of it. “I didn’t want to subject the poor man to this shameless trash talker.”
Huang Shaotian splutters. “I’m shameless? You’re shameless! Did you forget what just happened in the group match? You’re the most shameless! What a blatant lie.”
Yu Wenzhou holds up a hand to stop them, eyebrows furrowed. “What’s that sound-?”
The fanboy abruptly sprints past the intersection, followed by a grinning Baozi. Ye Xiu had automatically grabbed both Huang Shaotian and Yu Wenzhou, pulling them behind him, but the sprinters cut past without a glance towards the group of three.
There’s a scream and a splatting sound and all three pros lean around the corner to find Baozi pinning Ye Xiu’s attacker on the floor in an arm-bar hold.
“I got you, boss!” Baozi yells in the vague direction of Ye Xiu.
There’s the sound of several heavy, running footsteps as several security guards make their way down the tunnel where Baozi had come from.
A young security guard snatches away the walkie-talkie that Baozi was still gripping, her lips pursed in a mix of anger and embarrassment at having it stolen from her by a crazy pro gamer who overheard the mass warning about a dangerous fan.
“Ah,” Ye Xiu says slowly. “Good job, Baozi.”
“Fucking moron!” the Striker screams and slams his hands on the desk. “Again, fucking go again. This God damned mouse isn’t working!” He hits the mouse against the table with loud, plastic cracks.
After the outburst, the room is quiet except for the cautiously quiet clicking of keyboards and the nervous swish of mice. Everyone is tense, especially the ones sitting next to the snarling player, facing off against him and getting cutting, cruel remarks and swears.
It’s not trash talk, it’s just malicious swears.
This is a charity event. The people here paid to get tips and tricks straight from Glory professionals and the money is being donated to funding education in rural areas.
Ye Xiu contacted the management about the player already but the Striker is the son of the computer company that offered up this space for the charity event. It got waved off and Ye Xiu got told to play nice with the others, and the Striker player just really gets so emotional about the game he loves so maybe Ye Xiu should be more understanding.
“Fuck!” the player screams. He slaps the keyboard into the monitor and both topple over, then he turns to the opponent on his left and shoves the person’s chair over with another roar, sending the teenager falling to the ground.
“Your hand speed is slow, that’s why,” Ye Xiu says.
The Striker pauses and turns around in his chair to look back at Ye Xiu.
“That’s not a difficult hurdle to get over,” Ye Xiu continues, idly tapping away in his teaching match with the teenage girl he’s now confirmed as an excellent Mechanic. “But you also have bad situational awareness.”
“You think you’re hot shit, huh?” the Striker hisses, standing so sharply the chair rolls back and collides loudly with the table.
Han Wenqing stands up from the chair beside Ye Xiu and stares the teenage player down. “We should go outside.”
“Go fuck yourself,” the Striker spits out and storms up, shoving Han Wenqing.
Han Wenqing does not even wobble. “I will only ask one more time. Let’s go outside.”
Ye Xiu clicks his tongue as the match ends. He takes his hand off the keyboard and mouse, sitting back in his seat. He’s gritting his teeth, upset because this player has been scaring the others and trashing the equipment. No one is enjoying this, some have even left already.
Ye Xiu turns around in his chair and peeks out from around Han Wenqing’s sturdy form. “You want tips for your playing, right? Well learn to control yourself first, and then I’ll give you a fifteen page essay on everything else that’s shitty about you.”
The Striker player rips out a keyboard from a desk behind him and throws it, the equipment sailing past Han Wenqing, too far left for him to grab it. Ye Xiu ducks, arms coming up.
Sun Xiang lunges forward to knock it out of the air. “I’ve called security,” Sun Xiang warns with a scowl because he’s just been progressively more pissed off. “Pull your fucking head in before someone beats it in.
The player grabs his gaming chair and starts to lift it up except Baozi knees him in the gut, grabs his arm and does a shoulder throw so hard that the floor shakes when the guy hits the ground.
Security arrives soon after in a rush and Han Wenqing very firmly, taking no excuses, directs them to grab the troublemaker and escort him away, with liberal help from a too enthusiastic Baozi.
“Is your hand okay?” Ye Xiu asks, standing up and taking Sun Xiang’s hand into his own.
Sun Xiang. “What? Uh, yeah.” He then puffs himself up. “That was dangerous.”
Ye Xiu smirks. “I needed him to leave, he was scaring the others.”
“So, you pissed him off more?”
“Do you deny that it was efficient?”
Han Wenqing comes storming back in. “You need to tell your Brawler to calm down.”
“Yeah, you can try,” Ye Xiu shrugs.
Baozi pops up. “Boss!”
“Good boy!” Ye Xiu cheers because at this point he's just accepted it.
Han Wenqing’s face does some interesting gymnastics and a handful of wallets are thrown at his feet. “Why are you-? No. No, don’t encourage him.”
They’re splitting a 10-person dungeon drop between the three of them, their alts standing around the pile.
Zhou Zekai is quietly sitting to one side and accepting the gear shoved at him. Ye Xiu is lightly arguing with Wang Jiexi over pieces that he really doesn’t need just because he feels like it. Wang Jiexi is tolerantly pointing out why Tiny Herb should get the piece over Happy.
The first day of All Stars just ended and most of the players had wandered into the large room to play together, either PVP or running dungeons. It’s late now so only the three of them are left.
There is a security guard waiting outside.
He’s been there for an hour now. Or at least they first noticed him standing there an hour ago.
Zhou Zekai tried to leave but the security guard began to follow. He felt uneasy so quickly turned back, pretending to forget something. Wang Jiexi took one look at the nervous expression and invited Zhou Zekai to another dungeon run.
The door to the room is open, their backs facing it, and the security guard is just leaning against the wall, watching them with a medical mask covering his face. Zhou Zekai has shrunken down in his seat until the tall backrest covers him.
Zhou Zekai typed to them in game that he just wanted to keep playing, that’s all. Ye Xiu and Wang Jiexi easily hopped right over that excuse and push him for answers. Zhou Zekai finally just admitted that the guard was suspicious and he got scared, especially with what happened to Ye Xiu a few months ago with the fanboy.
They decided that they would all leave together once the dungeon was finished. It should be nothing to worry over, but the security guard is acting strangely so it’s better to be safe.
“Warlock locket,” Ye Xiu muses. “Give it to me, I’ll gift it to Old Wei.”
“We’ll roll for it,” Wang Jiexi decides.
Ye Xiu wins it and smirks. He logs out with the other two and leans back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head. “Time for bed then.”
Zhou Zekai is taking peeks out of the door using the reflection on his monitor. They gather their empty drinks and snacks, taking it over to the bin further inside the room.
Wang Jiexi keeps his voice low as he glances at Zhou Zekai. “Ye Xiu and I are in the same hotel. We’ll drop you off first and tell your team to keep an eye out.”
They talk lightly about what they’re looking forward to in the next day of All Stars as they leave the room.
The security guard follows.
They exit the building out onto the back parking lot where it’s faster to reach the train station and when the guard exits with them, Zhou Zekai gets so scared he grabs Ye Xiu’s hand.
Ye Xiu abruptly stops and turns to face the security guard. “We know where the train station is, there’s no need to follow us.”
The security guard keeps walking towards them. He raises a walkie talkie to his mouth. “The back exit, south. Three of them.”
Ye Xiu pushes Zhou Zekai back and steps out in front of the two. “What do you want? There are cameras all over the building.”
The guard stops and puts the walkie talkie back onto his belt. Wang Jiexi starts to pull the other two players away. There’s a populated street not far off, they could run for it.
A large van drives around the corner.
The three sprint for it but the guard lunges and gets the back of Wang Jiexi’s jacket. Ye Xiu whirls around and slams his shoulder into the man’s side, sending them both to the ground, Wang Jiexi pulled down as well by his jacket but rolls free and scrambles back to his feet.
The van stops and opens to reveal three more men in the back who jump out. Wang Jiexi and Zhou Zekai try to drag the guard off Ye Xiu, but the other people make a grab for them. They both manage to scramble back but have to leave Ye Xiu on the ground.
A huge tour bus branded with the Tiny Herb logo swings around the corner into the empty parking lot.
Wang Jiexi lets out a shaky breath in relief. He had been messaging them on QQ about the situation and warned them when the dungeons was finished that he was leaving the building. He didn’t know they’d meet him here.
The guard drags Ye Xiu up, quickly moving towards the van where the other men and piling back in for a fast get away. So, he wasn’t after just one of them, he only wanted to grab the easiest. Probably with the same group that almost caught a Thunderclap Ghostblade almost a year ago to try and ransom the Glory alliance. Players are worth millions after all.
Zhou Zekai puffs himself up and charges the guard. He gets grabbed as well but kicks and punches and stalls them enough that they decide it’s not worth it and shove him to the ground.
The Tiny Herb tour bus screeches to a stop and the door is thrown open, almost the entire rostered team plus stand-ins and even management come lurching out. Baozi is the first one out, having been harassing another Tiny Herb brawler for a 1V1 when Wang Jiexi's message came through, and he’s sprinting towards the van before the bus even comes to a proper halt.
Baozi catches the sliding van door right before it shuts and hurls it back open again. He rips out one man from inside by the hair, slams the man's head against the side of the van with a crunch and goes back for another.
Tiny Herb gets there en masse and pulls Ye Xiu out from the other side, which gives Baozi the chance to finally cut loose without worrying about a hostage. One of the kidnappers gets shoulder thrown to the ground and curb stomped.
By the time the police arrive, Ye Xiu, Wang Jiexi and Zhou Zekai are sitting in the tour bus, squished together on a seat. Tiny Herb surrounds them, adjusting the blankets over the three, handing them snacks and water.
“Do you have a gaming laptop in here?” Ye Xiu asks.
Wang Jiexi stares at the man past Zhou Zekai’s head. “I don’t think now is a good time for playing Glory.”
“It’s always a good time to play Glory.”
Baozi is outside chatting with police, splattered in blood. Not a scratch on him.