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Chu Yunxiu is a good captain. She has a good team. Their fans are good fans and their guild is a good guild. The only problem is that for all the great things, all of them can be undone in a moment by shit management. Most of the teams' management reaches a level where everyone is just in it for money, but Chu Yunxiu thinks Misty Rain is an overachiever and starts low in the tiers. Other people seem to agree; every time her contract comes up for renewal she gets a lot of official offers, but also a lot of unofficial 'if you want to leave this time we have your back' messages from the other pros. This year she gets an expected offer from Happy, and an unexpected offer from Blue Rain. So Mucheng gave her a heads up that she'd gone to Chen Guo to put together a contract, so that email is easy. It's nice to get, Chen Guo knows it's unlikely Chu Yunxiu will bail on Misty Rain, and though Happy is growing it's still a young team and she can't offer what Chu Yunxiu is worth, but she still has clearly put a lot of time and effort in. 

 

"Do you want me to tell her you'll say no?" Su Mucheng asks. Chu Yunxiu is distracted by the second email and doesn't reply. "Wait. Are you saying yes ?!" 

 

"I'm probably saying no, but if I say yes to anyone it'll be Happy. It's not as much money but your boss is smart. I'm tempted. But actually… Mumu, you're friends with Yu Wenzhou right?" Chu Yunxiu asks. 

 

"Mm… well, I think I'm technically friends with Huang Shao, but it's hard to tell with those two. Why? Did they do something? I can teach you some tricks to get them back. I can teach you this specific noise that Yu Wenzhou makes, if you deploy it at just the right moment it has the power to make Huang Shaotian yeet himself off things and across room. Or we can ask Ye Xiu to visit the teams Blue Rain is about to play and make posts about it so that Yu Wenzhou wastes times trying to work out why Ye Xiu is trying to help everyone beat his precious Blue Rain. I have lots of ideas," Su Mucheng says. 



"That's useful to know, but I think this is just an offer. Quite a good one," Chu Yunxiu says. "Why do they want me? They're not even going for Windy Rain. They don't need any more high attack classes, or ranged attack. People never ask for me for tactics and anyway Blue Rain definitely have that covered. I've never had an offer from Blue Rain ." 

 

"I have no idea, I can find out for you if you like. I can definitely make Huang Shaotian tell me," Su Mucheng says. 

 

"You're terrifying. I know since you took over as captain of Happy people have started to notice more that you're fierce, but they really have no idea," Chu Yunxiu says. "No, don't ask. Let's just find out."

 

"Good idea! Say you might be interested and see what we can get out of those boys," Su Mucheng says. 

 

It hadn't been exactly what Chu Yunxiu meant, but Su Mucheng has always been fairly insistent about getting what she wants, and what she wants right now is a free stay in a hotel in City G and to poke around Blue Rain. Chu Yunxiu listens to Su Mucheng talking about all the plans, all her ideas, her voice full of amusement. It's funny, she's known Su Mucheng for years, they've grown up together really. She's got so used to being a little in love she doesn't really notice it most of the time, then once in a while it will just hit her; she could spend her whole life lying on her bed listening to Su Mucheng talking and be quite content. 

 

The email from Blue Rain is really early stages, just a single feeler out to see if she might respond. It's easy to reply without really making any promises and it's normal enough at this point to ask that they don't contact your team yet. It's a little less usual to ask to bring your best friend along, when you get invited to go have a look around, but that's agreed too. It's all very easy. She and Su Mucheng are met at the airport by Huang Shaotian, bouncing on his toes waiting for them, eyes curious as they pass over Chu Yunxiu and then narrowing when they land in Su Mucheng. Chu Yunxiu perches on her suitcase and watches them exchange insults and then hug, and then exchange some more insults, finally ending up with their arms linked, both of them looking expectantly at her. 

 

"Hi," Chu Yunxiu says, waving. 

 

"Thanks for coming. My captain has a lot of grand plans, we have a lot to show you, I'm certain, absolutely certain, that we can lure you over here. Blue Rain is the best team," Huang Shaotian says. "I'll take you to the hotel and then you can settle in and then I'll come back for you again because we need to woo you so I'm taking you to dinner. City G has the best food, you'll see. Mucheng told me what you like. I don't trust her, she's tricked me so many times, but this time I think I made her tell the truth."

 

Chu Yunxiu follows the ongoing stream of chatter, listening for clues, making mental notes about what she might sneak in a follow-up to later on. She's known Huang Shaotian a fair amount of time now, too, and has learnt to pay at least half attention to him when he rambles. Su Mucheng sidetracks him and Chu Yunxiu listens to her instead, Huang Shaotian fading into the background.

 

The hotel is quite nice. Nothing fancy, but comfortable and clean, and the staff are very welcoming. Huang Shaotian seems to know some of them, he stays at the front desk chatting after he says goodbye to them. Their room has twin beds with blue covers, an armchair, a desk, big windows. It's cool and bright, a thin curtain over the window to keep the sun from dazzling them, thicker curtains they can draw later. Su Mucheng sits on one of the beds and gives a little bounce to test it, grinning up at Chu Yunxiu. She looks happy, really happy and really good. She's always a happy person, but these days there's something very certain and settled about her. Chu Yunxiu wishes she had some of that certainty. She's spent most of her career striving for Misty Rain, working hard to balance everything and mitigate the bad management so that her players have good opportunities. Or so that when they don't, they have her as backup when they go to fight for good opportunities. 

 

"Huang Shao didn't think to ask what you like to eat," Su Mucheng says, pulling Chu Yunxiu out of her thoughts. 

 

"What did you tell him I like?" Chu Yunxiu asks, resting her suitcase by the other bed and going to look in the little fridge. If Blue Rain is picking up the bill she might as well take advantage. Su Mucheng laughs and Chu Yunxiu pauses to watch, then crouches to find something to drink. "You seem happy." 

 

"I am. Are you?" 

 

"Mm. Do you want… Why is the only thing in here Cola? And, Mumu, why do all of these have your face on them?" Chu Yunxiu pulls out two cans and turns to show them, on one side Su Mucheng holding up a vee and on the other Dancing Rain with her gun slung casually over a shoulder. 

 

"I guess it's a Shaotian thing. That was such a fun promotion, the photographer was sooooo beautiful," Su Mucheng falls back into the bed with a gusty sigh, hands over her heart, "she had such a nice voice, she'd ask me if I would move or smile it try something and I was like 'I will do anything for you, ask me anything'." 

 

Chu Yunxiu goes to sit beside her, popping open the can and taking a sip. They stay in those positions for a while, quiet, Chu Yunxiu lost in tangled thoughts about her team, her choices, the feeling she has when she's in Su Mucheng's company. It's a settled kind of feeling, the sort of settled feeling…

 

"I am happy at Misty Rain," Chu Yunxiu says. "I don't want to end up like Zhang Jiale, burnt out and having to leave." 

 

"That shameless gunner came back," Su Mucheng grumbles. Then she perks up. "I blew him up in the playoffs, did you watch?" 

 

"I watched." 

 

"So the next step is to figure out how to keep Misty Rain steady, without everything carried on your shoulders." 

 

"The next step is to remind you that I don't want to eat sushi, I don't like raw fish," Chu Yunxiu says. 

 

"I'll…  just send Huang Shao a quick message." 





Blue Rain really is quite nice. They have the usual sort of thing; offices, training area, canteen, living area, guild. They have, Yu Wenzhou explains on the tour he gives them, invested in making it a good place to live. The canteen is a little bit nicer than it should be, with nice soft-furnished areas for coffee and big windows. The living areas include a common room with bookshelves, a gathering of mismatched sofas one end, a big table the other, a mess of art and craft supplies scattered over it. Yu Wenzhou gives the mess a disapproving look but the room looks well lived in and homely. There's a small kitchenette as well, with a microwave and kettle, a bunch of mugs with various team logos on the draining board. 

 

"Why do you have a Thunderclap mug?" Su Mucheng asks, picking it up. 

 

"Hm. Yes," Yu Wenzhou says, giving it a disapproving look like he gave the mess. "Those keep turning up. We started out with Blue Rain ones only." 

 

He sighs and turns away, continuing the tour. Chu Yunxiu sees Su Mucheng slip the Thunderclap mug into her bag while Yu Wenzhou is distracted. It's not just the life part of the work-life balance that Yu Wenzhou shows off, his tour includes demonstrating how good their training areas are and  a promise that their software is all up to date and a very quick look in to the tech team to show their research is cutting edge. He's full of quiet pride for it all and Chu Yunxiu agrees - everything is very nice. It's very nice that he's able to push for all of this and seems to get management's support, and it's nice that he and Huang Shaotian have so much leverage, being the core, both being all-stars, having won a championship. 

 

She's a little bitter. 

 

Every year there are articles and widespread discussion about how female players aren't fierce enough, aren't as good at points of stress as male players, about how she in particular falters when the pressure comes, many many pieces about her lack of determination. Su Mucheng joining her as a female captain in the Alliance hasn't made much difference, because now Su Mucheng is said to be exceptional and proves the rule. Because Su Mucheng doesn't falter. Misty Rain doesn't have Blue Rain’s money or championships status, or Happy's fame, or the backing of old gods like Wei Chen and Ye Xiu. They just have her. 

 

"Oh, there's Shaotian. I hope… I let- I mean i asked him to organise lunch," Yu Wenzhou says, seeming distracted and talking half to himself as they reach the foyer. 

 

Chu Yunxiu thinks of the very nice restaurant they had dinner at last nice, not a glimpse of raw fish, Yu Wenzhou’s quiet smiles, and realises that he had organised it. Not Huang Shaotian at all. But today they really will be at the mercy of Huang Shaotian’s whims. It seems Blue Rain really are trying hard to impress though - they have lunch in the canteen and everything is excellent. Su Mucheng and Huang Shaotian bicker and gossip, leaving Chu Yunxiu to talk to Yu Wenzhou. He starts a neutral conversation about tactics, politely asking for her ideas and listening as if he's not a master, as if they're equals. She lets him flatter her this way, pretending not to notice, wondering what on earth they're up to.

 

After lunch, Huang Shaotian and Yu Wenzhou walk them back to the hotel. Yu Wenzhou apologises for not getting to meet others on the team, who are on holiday, and Su Mucheng and Huang Shaotian exchange boasts about their teams, trying to one-up each other, arms linked as they walk ahead. Chu Yunxiu gives her attention to Yu Wenzhou when he talks, and watches Su Mucheng. Her hair is loose, the browns and reds saturated by the sunshine, her jumper is over-size, she's beautiful and Chu Yunxiu is having another moment of self-realisation; usually her love is slow, steady, almost dormant, by right now Su Mucheng is just too bright and close and overflowing with happiness, and Chu Yunxiu is a bit screwed. Yu Wenzhou quietly clears his throat and Chu Yunxiu realises she's been asked something. 

 

"Ah, yes, what you said," she agrees. Yu Wenzhou laughs softly. "Really, I definitely agree." 

 

"I asked if you wanted to see anything in the city, captain," Yu Wenzhou says. "We haven't got anything else planned. However, I think we'll leave you to it. I'll organise a car from the hotel to the airport for your flights later. Shaotian!" 

 

Chu Yunxiu flushes, Yu Wenzhou’s amusement making her feel observed, deduced. The hotel is ahead and Huang Shaotian and Su Mucheng both turn at Yu Wenzhou’s call. Huang Shaotian unlinks himself to bounce back to them, then he turns again and skips the step back to Su Mucheng to embrace her, then he comes to Yu Wenzhou’s side, both of them smiling at Chu Yunxiu. 

 

"Captain Chu, we won't ask for your thoughts, my captain says now we give you time to have a think and let it sink in how great and good and brilliant Blue Rain is, now you've seen and know how great how really really great we have it here. But I'm gonna wait on QQ you need to message me, you need to, message soon. We can PK even if you haven't got an answer, OK? OK? Good. OK!" Huang Shaotian says, rattling through it too fast and needing to catch his breath after. 

 

He looks like he has more to say so Chu Yunxiu quickly fills his pause, politely thanking them for their tour and their company and food, and promising to think about things and get back to them after considering everything. Yu Wenzhou smiles knowingly at her and takes hold of Huang Shaotian’s elbow. He shakes loose and hurries to say bye to Su Mucheng again and then comes to say bye again to Chu Yunxiu, asking to PK again, wondering if he can hug her, hugging her as soon as she nods, suggesting they PK as soon as they're both home. Yu Wenzhou catches his elbow again and tugs, saving them from more chatter and hugs and goodbyes, towing Huang Shaotian away. Chu Yunxiu slips her arm through Su Mucheng's and they carry on to the hotel. 

 

"How tiring that little swordmaster is," Chu Yunxiu says. Su Mucheng laughs, tutting sympathetically and patting Chu Yunxiu's hand where it's the crook of her elbow. "You like him." 

 

"We're good enemies," Su Mucheng says. "He's fun. Did they tell you why they're trying to steal you away from your captaincy?" 

 

"No, they didn't really tell me anything, now that I think of it," Chu Yunxiu realises. 

 

"Yu Wenzhou is sneaky," Su Mucheng says.

 

They get back to their room and Su Mucheng unpacks a box of treats she got packed up from lunch, two more cans of coke with her own face and Dancing Rain on them that Huang Shaotian gave her, and her stolen Thunderclap mug. She sets it all out and admires it. 

 

"Why did you take the mug?" Chu Yunxiu asks. 

 

"Huang Shao steals them whenever he goes visiting, they probably have Happy and Misty Rain too," Su Mucheng says. It's not an answer. Chu Yunxiu makes an unimpressed noise and Su Mucheng goes very slightly pink. "I'll bring this back to Shiqin." 

 

"Oh," Chu Yunxiu says, dissatisfied with Su Mucheng's ongoing crush on their friend. If she's going to have a crush on a friend, why not have a crush on Chu Yunxiu? Why pick Xiao Shiqin? Xiao Shiqin’s face is too soft, he looks like uncooked tangyuan dough. "If you need a reason to visit I suppose this is as good as any." 

 

"You read too many romance webnovels, Yunxiu, I'm not trying to woo Shiqin by stolen and restolen mug! I already wooed him very effectively, thank you very much," Su Mucheng says. 

 

"Oh, OK then," Chu Yunxiu says, feeling very tired all of a sudden. "I'm going to shower. Enjoy your mug romance." 

 

She feels Su Mucheng's eyes on her as she moves to her case and then to the bathroom. She closes the door on it and puts on the water, then sits on the closed toilet seat and looks at her phone. She hadn't known Su Mucheng was dating Xiao Shiqin. It shouldn't matter, it's not like it makes a difference, Chu Yunxiu wasn't going to say anything anyway. She has eight messages from Huang Shaotian asking her to PK. A ninth comes through as she watches. She explains that she is busy having an existential crisis. 

 

Shao-ting at you: Uh oh! I have those, captain usually sits on me :)))) 

 

Chu Yunxiu wonders if that's a euphemism of some kind.

 

Shao-ting at you: It's quite comfy if you're lying on the floor get Mucheng to sit on you it's great. My captain says he's perfectly capable of doing his work from there so I better not get any ideas about climbing the walls. 

 

Missed train: I think your existential crises sound unlike mine

 

Shao-ting at you: are you or are you not shut in the loo? I used to pretend to have a shower but the captain says that's a waste of water and he always knows anyway 

 

Chu Yunxiu looks at the shower. Water pouring down the drain. 

 

Chu Yunxiu: you fell for your best friend, right? What would you have done if he'd gone and fallen in love with stupid captain Xiao and his stupid soft face? 

 

Chu Yunxiu isn't really close to Huang Shaotian. Maybe that's why she gives in the impulse to tell him. She regrets it at once, then she starts to laugh at herself, pressing a hand to her mouth to keep Su Mucheng from hearing. She's too cautious to win a championship but not cautious enough to keep her own secrets. 

 

Shao-ting at you: maybe she loves you too. Did you ask her? Did you? I bet you did not. If she doesn't, you can come shopping with me if you like, I have to buy a gift for some sort of cousin who I don't know you can help. You're a woman, she's a woman, do women like soap or does that imply she smells? These soaps are shaped like flowers maybe I'll buy some for myself they're so pretty. 

 

Shao-ting at you: how long have you loved her? 

 

Missed train: I don't know. It comes and goes. 

 

Missed train: eight years 

 

Shao-ting at you: I bought six soaps I think this is too many soaps do you want one? Wenzhou is going to make his face do this thing, if I come home with so many gifts that I've not even got for the right person his face will do the thing. This is definitely too much soap. 

 

Shao-ting at you: we want you for your tactics, captain Chu. Because you know a lot about nurturing female players and work hard to make the game better, and because we think you and the captain can come up with some brilliant ideas to move Blue Rain forwards in new ways. You're fun to play Glory with, you care a lot about the people you play with. I don't know what answer Su Mucheng will give you, but you deserve good things. 

 

Shao-ting at you: seriously though, can I bring you some soap 

 

Chu Yunxiu doesn't want flower shaped soap but she imagines that she's getting flower shaped soap no matter what she says. She doesn't think this is a fight she needs to be fierce in so she gives in and says he can bring soap for both of them. Huang Shaotian leaps between ideas and topics, but some of his leaps are quite disturbingly accurate. She turns off the shower. 

 

Su Mucheng is lying on Chu Yunxiu's bed, it's closer to the window. She's reading, phone held up over her head, laughing at something. She turns her head when Chu Yunxiu emerges, smiling. Seeing Chu Yunxiu dressed and dry she sits up, phone tucked away. She pats the bed next to her. Like she already knows there's something up. Well, obviously; Chu Yunxiu isn't sure how long she ran the shower for but she very obviously didn't get in it. Su Mucheng hugs her when she sits. 

 

"You're upset? Did that Huang Shao do something? Say something? I'll PK him until his fingers bleed, I can do that. We'll get him back. Or is it just stressful, having to make these choices?" Su Mucheng asks. "I bet I can think up some ways to make Misty Rain managers miserable. As a rival team, I can put it on expenses." 

 

"I think I love you," Chu Yunxiu says. 

 

"I hope so," Su Mucheng says, tightening her arms around Chu Yunxiu. 

 

"And you love that dumb boy Xiao Shiqin," Chu Yunxiu says. To make it clearer. Su Mucheng pauses, but doesn't let go. Chu Yunxiu elucidated even further. "I think I'm jealous." 

 

"Of… You're jealous of… Because of the mug? Shall I go get all the Misty Rain mugs? Do you want them?" Su Mucheng asks. 

 

"Of the wooing." 

 

There's a long silence. Chu Yunxiu feels she should pull away but it's comfy here and it's nice having her arms around Su Mucheng's waist, and she might have to let go forever if she lets go. So she stays where she is. 

 

"I should have kept quiet. Huang Shaotian somehow persuaded me to tell you," Chu Yunxiu says. "Oh, and he's bringing us soap." 

 

"Soup?" 

 

"Would that be less weird?" 

 

"...soap. Huh. I think my answer is complicated, so don't get the wrong idea. I do like Shiqin, a lot, I think we're technically in some kind of relationship and I like it. I also really, really like you. But I want both, and I also want my team and my life in City H, and I have commitments to my friends that I never intend to give up in preference for romance," Su Mucheng says. "I don't see relationships like this, in our dramas." 

 

Chu Yunxiu thinks about it. They've known each other for a long time, Su Mucheng isn't just bringing up the romances they watch as a casual thought. She knows that Chu Yunxiu likes that, and she's saying she won't offer it. Su Mucheng doesn't love people in that way, in the way Chu Yunxiu thinks that she might; sunlight in their hair at just the right moment, swelling music, the sort of love that sweeps you away. But she's loved Su Mucheng quietly for years. Maybe she doesn't need the romance. And if she does… What Su Mucheng's offering seems like there might be space for Chu Yunxiu to still find the other sort, if it turns out she needs it. 

 

"If I wanted you forever, can I have that? In this way, with your friends, with Shiqin, but forever?" Chu Yunxiu asks. 

 

"Very much." 

 

"And if I meet an immortal prince or secret CEO who gets shot with an arrow for me and kneels in the rain until I pay attention to their contrition and… Good thighs, beautiful wet thighs…" 

 

"Sure," Su Mucheng says. "For the good thighs." 

 

"You have amazing thighs. Can I say that now? Can I tell you how hot you are?" 

 

"If I can say things back," Su Mucheng says. "I have so many thoughts stored up. So many. So many ideas. How do you feel about-" 

 

Chu Yunxiu's phone rings though, and they have to go down to meet a frantic Huang Shaotian, who seems to have panic-bought half of G City. They let him up to their room and help him sort through and listen to his monologue about why his father should never have entrusted him with this very important task. It's not the worst, he's bought lots of nice things and he lets them have whatever they want. And when Chu Yunxiu wraps a scarf around Su Mucheng's neck and admires it and Su Mucheng's eyes seem to get glued to Chu Yunxiu, he cheers and gathers some of his things, apologising, bundling himself out of their room. He freezes in the doorway. 

 

"I bet my father dislikes her, that's why he's done this, he's hoping I choose the worst gift. How shameless," Huang Shaotian says. 

 

"Give her your weird soap," Su Mucheng advises.

 

"Yeah. Okay. Yunxiu, tell us when you decide to come to Blue Rain! Bye, bye!" 

 

The door slams behind him and they're left alone. Then he's back again and asking if they want to stay an extra night because he's sure he can sneak the expense past Blue Rain, but he probably can't do the same for their flights. Chu Yunxiu wants to say yes, but she waits until Su Mucheng says yes, following instead of leading. Letting Su Mucheng charge ahead. When he's gone again, Chu Yunxiu notices that the Thunderclap mug is also gone, stolen back again. She also notices that Su Mucheng is staring at her bum. 

 

At least some things are working out this summer. 



 

"... Dare I ask why you brought your strap to Blue Rain?" Chu Yunxiu asks, getting her breath, naked and sprawled across the bed and feeling awesome, especially with Su Mucheng coming back to sit astride her, flushed right over her collar bones, smiling and smug and naked and hot. Chu Yunxiu holds into Su Mucheng's hip, and onto Su Mucheng's thigh. "Not that I'm complaining about this outcome, but who did you bring this for? Who did you plan to fuck?" 

 

"So jealous. I think I like that," Su Mucheng says. 

 

"I am. I like having you. I don't mind not being the only one, but we can find some things that are just mine, can't we?" Chu Yunxiu says. Su Mucheng nods. "So? What was the plan, for the strap? Or do you always take it, just in case you run across some horny Misty Rain captain?" 

 

"Maybe I do. Maybe it was in my bag from some other trip and I just never unpack all the way. Maybe I bring it every time I see you, hoping you'll make dramatic confessions of love," Su Mucheng says. "Maybe I brought it to peg- but can we do this, can we talk about who we find hot? You are hot. I like having you here under me, this is good. But the others?" 

 

"Hm… yes. I think I like that. Who were you thinking of pegging? We only saw Yu Wenzhou and Huang Shaotian. Yu Wenzhou? He's not… well, I'm sure he's someone's type. He's got no butt." 

 

"I don't know, I didn't have anyone in mind. If it's solely butt, Huang Shao has a butt. He's very proud of it. And his thighs," Su Mucheng says. "He is very proud of his thighs."

 

"Noooo. Neither of them! Their security guard, the one Huang Shao tried to rope into doing a dance for a video on our way out. She was hot." 

 

"Can I make you jealous? I think I like it. I want you to be possessive of me. I want to be yours," Su Mucheng says. 

 

"I don't mind." 

 

"The security guard is hot. She's Hu Bing, I've met her a few times she's quite often stuck wrangling Huang Shao. Maybe I brought my strap for her," Su Mucheng says. 

 

While the thought of Su Mucheng coming here to peg Yu Wenzhou or even Huang Shaotian is just ridiculous and funny, the thought that maybe Su Mucheng came here for Hu Bing does make her a bit jealous. Su Mucheng notices and looks very pleased with herself, she leans down, pulling her hair out of the way, kissing Chu Yunxiu, sucking her bottom lip, eyelashes fluttering when Chu Yunxiu squeezes her thigh. She has such long eyelashes, such strong things, such a lovely mouth. 

 

"But you didn't, did you? You came to me instead," Chu Yunxiu says, letting go of Su Mucheng's thigh and holding her chin instead, pulling her into another kiss, rolling them. Su Mucheng's legs wrap around her hips, arms loose around her shoulders, smile so wide and smug. "You will always come to me instead. We'll buy you a new strap, one that's just ours. I'll buy you a Misty Rain mug." 

 

Su Mucheng laughs, cupping Chu Yunxiu's cheek, thumb against her ear, then she just lies there, gazing up at Chu Yunxiu. 

 

"You're so pleased about that, aren't you? That Huang Shao stole it back. Poor Shiqin, he'll be so confused by your sudden rivalry," Su Mucheng says. 

 

Chu Yunxiu is sure he's smart enough to work it out. As long as it makes Su Mucheng happy, Chu Yunxiu will enjoy this small jealousy, but she's already sure she'll be able to get over it. She can see a future stretching in front of her and now it's got this joy in it, not just an ongoing struggle with no light at the end. She can see a day when she'll be friends with Xiao Shiqin, maybe they'll even gang up on Su Mucheng, get her back for this delight she's taking in Chu Yunxiu's jealousy and Xiao Shiqin’s predicted bafflement.



 

When she gets back to Misty Rain, days and days later than planned after following Su Mucheng back to city H and Happy, Lu Hua is waiting for her. He's wary; he's either caught a rumour about Blue Rain from somewhere, or he just knows that every transfer season when her renewal period comes up there are tempting offers. He must get his own fair share of teams trying to lure him away, he's a talented player, good in a team, and there are plenty of articles about how it's her lack of determination that infects the others. He stays, like her, and now he's waiting for her answer, to a question he doesn't want to ask. 

 

"I'm staying," she says, making the choice right then, walking into her own team building, the feeling of being home and the leap of her heart making her certain. 

 

Now she has Su Mucheng, and she has a strange friendship of Huang Shaotian (whether she wants it or not, he messages a lot. A lot a lot), and she has renewed confidence in herself. She knew everything Huang Shaotian told her, the day of her shower crisis. But coming from someone else, someone she wasn't even close to, it bolstered her. She is valuable. Hearing the same thing from Su Mucheng and Chen Guo also helped. Being welcome at Happy even after she said upfront that she was probably going to say no to their offer, that helped. Now she's home and she has work to do. 

 

"Ok," Li Hua says. "OK. Good. That's good." 

 

She smiles to reassure him and heads towards their dorms, gesturing for him to walk with her. She knows her team and though the media might be stupid, she knows very well the uncertainty and anxiety that makes Li Hua more hesitant than he should be, that made him such a good fit for their softer style. 

 

"We've got work to do, we've got a shitty lineup to make work. Give me ten minutes to get all this stuff put away. No, make it half an hour, the bullet train was packed and everyone was sweaty, I need to shower. Meet me in the office," Chu Yunxiu says. 

 

Li Hua nods, staying in the lift when she gets out at the dorms. She dials Yu Wenzhou’s number as she walks, punching in her door code as it rings. 

 

"Hello, captain Chu," Yu Wenzhou says. She can hear his smile. She can also hear Huang Shaotian talking, coming closer. She wants to get this sorted before he grabs the phone. 

 

"I'm staying at Misty Rain," Chu Yunxiu says. 

 

"Were you ever even tempted?" Yu Wenzhou asks. 

 

"Yes; Blue Rain has good food. But I like it where I am, thanks. We're going to win. Next season, we're going to beat you to the championship," Chu Yunxiu says. She can hear Huang Shaotian get the phone. "Why would I abandon ship for a team that is just going to lose to my Misty Rain?" 

 

"Chu Yunxiu you're so heartless if my captain heard your trash talk he would have cried! PKPKPKPK! How can y-" 

 

"I'm going now, I'm too busy to fight you. I've got to work out the finer points of how to trash you in the playoffs. We'll crush your beloved Blue Rain." 

 

"So fierce."

 

Chu Yunxiu hangs up on any more. She's grinning. She's got this, she's going to make the stupid line up work. She's sure Misty Rain can win, they'll just keep on working hard with what they've got and one day soon they'll have their championship.