Do I want to sleep next to you? No! I said no! It’s a stupid joke! “You’re not funny!” Lin Feng shouted at An Xin. She was teasing him again, something she seemed to find great pleasure in. He glared at her and said, “I just wanted to get my own pillow back. I can’t sleep on another pillow. I need my pillow!”
An Xin burst out laughing, her shoulders bouncing up and down, and couldn’t stop for a good several minutes. After she finally calmed herself down, forcing long and deep breaths, she looked up at Lin Feng. “Oh, Feng Feng, I’m so funny. You’ll understand one day. But I wasn’t laughing because of tha—” She started grinning again and quickly placed her hand before her mouth to stop herself from breaking into an uncontrollable laugh again. It took her a minute to gather herself again and then she continued, “You’re 19 already, but you’re still such a kid. It’s kind of cute that you still need your favourite pillow to fall asleep.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that!” Lin Feng argued, annoyed. “What’s so bad about having a favourite pillow? I just like how it sleeps! My head feels good on it! And, and… It’s all your fault! You had to steal my bed and my pillow! I need my pillow to sleep!”
An Xin couldn’t stop herself from giggling whenever she looked at the expression on Lin Feng’s face. He looked so serious and annoyed. She shook her head and focused on her breathing, forcing herself not to laugh, until she could talk again. “Alright. I understand. It’s my bad. You can have your favourite pillow back and I’ll take the one you have.” She watched him jump to his bed and grab his pillow, then cradle it in his arms. But she didn’t laugh at his comical response. She was just staring at him and asked, “Since we both can’t seem to fall asleep, why not keep me company for a bit and chat?”
Lin Feng held his favourite pillow close to him and grumbled, “I couldn’t sleep because you stole my room…” But he sat down on his bed and looked at An Xin, who sat with her back against the large window. She had put her legs up onto the windowsill and was hugging her knees. “Be careful you don’t fall off,” Lin Feng said, rubbing his butt as he remembered the last time he’d sat down on the windowsill.
An Xin looked back out of the window at the city nightscape, which was illuminated by the moonlight. “It’s fine,” she said. “I won’t fall. Plus, you have a really great view here. The park over there with the trees, and the large skyscrapers in the distance. It’s so beautiful. I like it.”
Lin Feng stared at An Xin. At his best friend in the whole world. He vividly remembered all the good times they’d shared together when they were younger, running around at the playground and pranking guests at dinner parties. There was never a dull moment with her around. But she looked so different now from the girl in his memories. Somewhere along the way, she’d grown from a meatbun into a beautiful woman. He smiled and said, “Hey, BunBun. You’ve become really pretty.”
An Xin was stunned. She slowly turned away from the window and looked at Lin Feng. He wasn’t ogling her nor was he trying to flirt, she could see it in his gaze. He was just saying what he thought, and he thought she was pretty. She started smiling, bright and cheerful, and said, “Thanks!”
Lin Feng and An Xin chatted about their daily lives, school, and most importantly League of Legends. They discussed the players currently playing in the LPL and their teams. They argued about who the worst player was, which took them far longer than it should have. Tian Tian was another name that popped up, as was Eleven who competed in the LSPL these days. Lin Feng and An Xin were both League of Legends fanatics. There was always more League of Legends for them to talk about.
A cold breeze blew through the cracks around the window. Poor insulation. An Xin had really enjoyed this chill after sweating under Lin Feng’s thick winter blanket. But she was starting to feel cold. She hugged her knees tightly together and buried her face into her chest. She sat like that for a minute before raising her head and quietly asking, “What’s going on between you and Tang Tang?”
“Uh, what do you mean?” Lin Feng asked, confused.
“You big idiot…” An Xin mumbled, shaking her head. She’d seen Tang Bingyao’s strong reaction at the electronics mall after the Semifinals of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. There was clearly something going on between Lin Feng and her. An Xin looked at Lin Feng, who looked genuinely confused. You big idiot… She decided not to push this specific conversation any further and changed the direction of the conversation back to League of Legends. “Are you planning on making her the ad-carry for your new team?” she asked.
Lin Feng’s lips parted into a wide grin. He nodded fervently and said, “Yeah, I am! She’s really talented! If she puts in the effort, she can become one of the best ad-carries in the world!”
An Xin smiled and replied, “I see. Yes, she’s pretty talented. This also means you’ve decided to start playing professionally again?”
“Yeah, I have!” Lin Feng replied immediately. Then he looked at An Xin. He really looked at her. His smile was gone. He looked dead serious and said, “I’m going to make my comeback. I’ll make a team and qualify for the LSPL. Then the LPL. Then Worlds. And then I’m going to beat Rake in the Finals and become World Champion of the world! I will become the best player in the world!”
An Xin stared at Lin Feng. Some things just never change. He’d given her this same speech back in Season 1, before he quit the game. Becoming the best player in the world. It had always been his dream, and it would probably always be. She didn’t think he’d ever let go of it. But the past few years he hadn’t been able to say the words out loud. Now he did. He was willing to voice his dream and chase it again. She nodded and said, “It’s a great dream.”
Lin Feng rubbed his nose and chuckled. He’d proclaimed this dream to many people in his life. Some didn’t understand it. Others just laughed at him. An Xin was one of the select few who genuinely believed in him and supported him through thick and thin. “Oh right!” he suddenly blurted out. “Wasn’t your dream to become the best coach in the world?”
“You remember,” An Xin said happily. She nodded and continued, “Yep! That’s still my dream. I want to become the best coach in the world!”
Lin Feng jumped from the bed and made his famous victory pose, clenching his fist and throwing it up in the air. He shouted, “That’s great! Let’s chase our dreams together! You’ll be the best coach and I’ll be the best player!”
An Xin placed her finger before her mouth and shushed him, “Quiet! You big idiot. Don’t wake up Su Xue.”
“Oh, uhh right,” Lin Feng whispered. He looked at the clock on his nightstand and said, “Right. We should get some sleep. The Finals are… today. I’m going to sleep. Good night!” He grabbed his favourite pillow again and started hugging it as he left the room. Just before closing the door behind him, he poked his head back inside and said, “BunBun, thanks.”
“You big idiot. What’s there to thank me for? Go and get some sleep,” An Xin replied. She watched him leave the room, then turned back to look out over the city. “My dream, huh?” she mumbled to herself. “I guess…” She smiled and shook her head. “Some things never change. That applies as much to me as it does to him. Guess all I can do is to keep trying…”
The sun shone through the window in the living room. The couch was facing away from the window and the backside blocked the light from reaching Lin Feng’s face. He peacefully slept through most of the morning and only woke up from the smell of scallion pancakes. His stomach started growling, scaring him awake. He opened his eyes wide and sat up straight in an instant. Then his eyes followed his nose towards the food. Su Xue and An Xin were sitting at the dining table, enjoying a large breakfast. His stomach rumbled. He rubbed it, still waking up, and complained, “Why didn’t you guys wake me up for breakfast?”
Su Xue glanced over at him and said, “It’s not our fault that you sleep in so late. It’s almost 11 A.M.! You woke up from the smell of the food, right? Your lazy ass would’ve slept until dinner if it wasn’t for the food.”
“He’s a lazy pig. You’ll get used to it,” An Xin said. She picked up a piece of scallion pancake from her plate, then dipped it in some soy sauce and put it in her mouth.
Lin Feng didn’t even hear what Su Xue and An Xin said. The food had woken him up. His eyes saw food, his ears heard food, his nose smelled food, and all that was left was for his mouth to taste the food! He ran towards the dining table and grabbed a bowl, almost letting it fall on the ground in his hurry. “Breakfast! BREAKFAST! Those noodles look great! Ohh! Is that a soft boiled egg? Woow! Those pancakes look so good!”
“GET UP!” Su Xue shouted, and An Xin added, “Go brush your teeth and wash up! You smell!”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his head and mumbled, “I don’t smell and why can’t I brush my teeth after breakfast? Isn’t it all the same anyway?”
“Did you say something?” Su Xue asked, raising an eyebrow. “I thought for a second there that you tried to argue with me.”
An Xin showed Lin Feng her trademark smile that was anything but a smile and asked, “What did you say?”
Lin Feng grumbled, but got up from his chair and stomped to the bathroom, where he brushed his teeth and washed his face in a short few minutes. Then he charged back towards the dining table, just in time to hear Su Xue yelp, “What? No Way!” She held her phone in her hand and was scrolling through the latest news about Worlds.
Blueberry Pancakes & Racism
Dev Thought: Do you guys know how hard it is to come up with a translator thought for a chapter sometimes? Today’s particular thought went through quite a journey. The first idea was Shanks whining about how Su Xue made blueberry pancakes, and how he firmly believes that Chinese people don’t eat blueberry pancakes. So we scrapped that. Then Sietse came up with another thought where he decided it was super interesting for all of you to read his journey about how he finally got an appointment at the Dentist’s office in the morning. And how his hygienist was hot, which led to him thinking about french kissing with morning breath. I thought it was kinda dumb, so I decided to tell them about a whole Diversity seminar about public health and leadership that I had to attend this morning. This led to a truly confusing argument where Shanks once again decided to assert that Chinese people wouldn’t go to a Black doctor. Which Sietse has condensed for you guys below with his thoughts.
Sietse Thought: Asian versus Black. Shanks versus Devshard. They’ve been going at each other’s throat for the last 15 minutes. Why? I don’t know. They don’t either, I guess. But that doesn’t stop them from arguing on and on for 20 minutes straight. Shanks argues how Asian people are not very receptive of Black doctors. They’d rather die than open up to a black man. Devshard counters with the typical, “But where else would they go? Are they just going to die?” This shouldn’t take 25 minutes. The answer is so damn obvious. There’s more than a billion Asians. They don’t have to go to a black doctor, because they know there’s plenty of them left if a few die.
Dev Thought (continued): As you can see, this did not end in a good place. Or a reasonable place. My entire reason for bringing up this discussion was that the Diversity seminar that I had to attend veered into a WEIRD place where it started to feel like racism with extra steps. I was trying to say that we should all take a minute to step back when diversity turns into racial discrimination. But somehow, that just led to an increasingly confusing and racially charged discussion between the three of us. Just to be clear though, Sietse is not encouraging some kind of purge of Chinese people. Or genocide. Or encouraging racism in any way. He’s got… I want to say an odd sense of humor. But he’s really not that funny. There is something truly wrong with Sietse, and we may never know what that is. Sietse’s stance on my little story about how diversity morphed into racism with extra steps was that he does not give a fuck and has no thoughts about it. I was just trying to tell a funny story. Neither of us know what Shanks is on about.
Sietse Addendum: Sietse had heard the story before and wasn’t about to delve into that minefield again. Tired and ready for bed, I just wanted to move on to another discussion. Unfortunately, my tired brain eventually got fed up with these two bickering about the subject, and I just wrote something to distract them and have them shut up. It worked. Now we’re here… I might be feeling the early signs of regret.
Shanks Thought: I was perfectly happy talking about the blueberry pancakes, or the Sietse’s porno-esque encounter with a hot young dentist. I even had a few funny quips about it, like how he thinks any of us in the Rise community have any relevant experience with French Kissing. Then Devshard had to drop this bomb in VC going, “Hey guys, let’s talk about racism!” Then Devshard started making a bunch of talking points that sounded eerily similar to the kind you hear from the KKK. Yes, imagine an Indian man in a Klansmen costume.
Dev Addendum: Okay. Listen. The lady leading the workshop wanted me to decide if I wanted an Asian person or a Black person on the team for this hypothetical public health initiative. She kept pushing for it, and it made me both confused and a little nervous. I don’t know how Shanks took that conversation to a place where he started imagining me in the KKK. This is why we’re so bad at doing things. It’s because Shanks only listens to about 20% of what’s going on, and then imagines the rest of it in his head.
Shanks Addendum: I understood what Devs was talking about, with the workshop lady and everything. But how else am I supposed to react to the line, “Isn’t this just racism with extra steps?” Sure, people in positions of power can do some really silly things to promote diversity or enforce equality. They’re probably well intentioned. But in my head, it was much more entertaining to imagine Devshard starring in an Indian version of BlacKkKlansmen, you know?
Sietse Addendum: Would pay to watch Klansmen Devshard fighting against racism and banishing it from this Earth! Then he takes off into the stars to save another planet from the plague that racism is. His cape fluttering behind him, a brilliant smile on his face. You know, one of those blinding smiles. The light of the sun reflecting off those whiter than white teeth. The kind you get after going to the dentist! In season 2, he helps the Decapodians in their fight against which shade of red is the best shade of red. Spoiler alert, they’re all the same. We are all Dr. Zoidberg!
Dev Addendum: … and now we’ve turned a parody of a racist icon into some kind of mythical figure. The only thing missing is an angle where I go off into the wide cosmos to cultivate and continue to fight racism across several planes of existence. All while wooing jade-like (female) and granite-like (male) beauties for my polygamous and gender-fluid harem. Oh, and apparently Shanks wants me to have a mustache like Singham.
IN SUMMARY: Racism is bad. Don’t be racist, guys. Don’t promote racism. Don’t turn diversity into a racism thing. That’s the moral message we were trying to go for. The rest of this… I don’t even know. At least now you guys know what happens when we try to come up with a Translator Thought for the end of the chapter.
Sietse Addendum: WE ARE ALL DR. ZOIDBERG!