Lin Feng stopped a few steps short of the intersection and turned to look at Tang Bingyao. What’s got her all shivering? It’s not that cold… Well, it’s cold. It’s almost winter! Wait. No. Don’t tell me this is about the food. Does she want me to pay? I offered her half! I only ate it all when she said that she didn’t want any! He looked at Tang Bingyao and probed, “What’s up?”
Tang Bingyao stared at Lin Feng, clenching her fists in her mittens. Then she glanced at the stoplight at the intersection. Still red. I need to say it. It’ll turn green soon. If I keep making excuses, I won’t say it at all. Mhm! I’ll say it! She bit on her lips and looked down at her feet. “Uhm, Lin Feng?” she repeated. “Uhm…” She glanced up at the stoplight again, waiting for it to turn green. Turn green! Go! Now! … Now! It jumped to green a few seconds later, which was her cue. She looked up at Lin Feng and said, “It’s my birthday next month… Oh! The light is green. You can’t miss it, go! See you tomorrow! Bye!” Then she turned the corner and ran home.
Lin Feng stared after Tang Bingyao, dazed. What? Then he shook his head and shrugged. That was probably nothing. Oh, I should go home! He crossed the street at the intersection and then walked the last bit home. Su Xue called out to him from the kitchen when he opened the front door, saying something about dinner. He wasn’t entirely sure, his mind playing the scene with Tang Bingyao on repeat. I missed something. There was something there. Right? Was there? Maybe I’m just imagining things. But that was a hint, right? I think so… But what was she hinting at… Her birthday… Birthday… Then he shrugged. I don’t know. I’ll think about it later. He went to his room and played a game of League of Legends, waiting for Su Xue to call him for dinner. But still, something didn’t feel quite right. He just couldn’t put his finger on what that was.
Su Xue looked at the feast she had prepared, proud of herself. That came out better than expected! Lin Feng is going to love it! Talking about that kid… “LIN FENG! DINNER’S READY!” she shouted through the apartment.
Lin Feng dashed out of his room and sat down at the dining table. His eyes went wide when he saw all the food and he said, “This looks delicious! Can I? Can I?” He didn’t even wait for Su Xue’s nod. He put a chicken cutlet in his bowl and grabbed it with his chopsticks. Then he paused. Tang Tang… What did she want? Birthday… He put his chopsticks down and mumbled, “I’m not really hungry. Tang Tang bought me some chicken cutlet on the way home…”
“WHAT? AGAIN?” Su Xue blurted out. Then she threw her own chopsticks on the table and shouted, “It’s the same thing every day lately! Wasn’t I clear to you about this just the other day? I spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner for you! HOURS! What am I doing all this hard work for if you’re not even eating it? I could’ve spent that time streaming!” She clenched her fists and breathed in, trying to hold back the tears. She waved at the food and yelled, “IS MY FOOD NOT GOOD ENOUGH? DO YOU NOT LIKE IT? IS THAT IT?”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his head in embarrassment and explained, “Of course I like your food! It’s really good! But I can’t help it that Tang Tang bought me milk tea and chicken cutlet on the way home. It was really filling. Maybe I’ll be hungry again in a few hours. I’ll just eat your food then!”
Su Xue glowered at Lin Feng, a vein throbbing on her temple. “You knew I was making dinner. You could’ve told Tang Tang that I was making dinner. Or you could’ve called me and told me you were having chicken cutlet. OR YOU COULD’VE SAID SOMETHING WHEN YOU GOT HOME!”
“Well, you see, Tang Tang was treating me and I felt bad for not eating it. So it’s not really my fault…” Lin Feng argued.
Su Xue growled through gritted teeth, “It is your fault. Don’t try to blame Tang Tang! This was all you!” She took a deep breath. Calm down. He is helpless. He is helpless. He doesn’t understand it. He is an idiot. She forced a smile and asked, “Why is she treating you so often anyway?”
“I don’t know! She says she had some spare change! If I didn’t eat the chicken cutlet, it’d be a waste of food!” Lin Feng fired back. Then he grinned and continued, “Besides, I couldn’t say no! She was just trying to be nice!”
That hit the wrong snare. Su Xue exploded and yelled, “OH, IS THAT SO? THEN WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FOOD I MADE FOR YOU TONIGHT? HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO THAT?” She took short, laboured breaths and closed her eyes. Deep breaths, Su Xue… Deep breaths. Calm down. You can’t hit him. That’d be child abuse. And getting angry is bad for your skin. Yes I won’t let him ruin my perfect skin. She took several deep, calming breaths and then asked, “You still didn’t answer me. Why does she keep buying you food?”
“How should I know? She just has a lot of spare change lately!” Lin Feng answered, finding nothing strange about it.
She just happens to have a lot of spare change lately…? Su Xue shook her head. Oh, Tang Tang… She knew what Tang Bingyao was trying to do. She’d tried to do it herself too back in high school. It was so easy. Just find an excuse to get some alone time with your crush. Then offer him the food and smile cutely. He’ll melt and stumble over his words as he asks you out on a date. But I never crushed on a blockhead like Lin Feng… My god, how can he be so oblivious? I have to contact the Guinness Book of World Records one of these days. He deserves to be in—
“Oh, right!” Lin Feng suddenly shouted, interrupting Su Xue’s thoughts. “Tang Tang told me her birthday is next month!” Then he shook his head and added, “I was really scared when she brought it up. She looked so embarrassed that I thought she was going to ask me to pay for all the food she bought me. I don’t have that much money! Buying skins on League of Legends is expensive, you know! But…” He looked at Su Xue, uncertain. “…maybe I should pay for it sometime? She always pays… What do you think?”
Su Xue shook her head and said, “I swear, it’s a miracle you get any girls to talk to you at all! You’re an idiot. I’m done. I’m done. I can’t talk to you right now. I just can’t.” She gorged down the rest of the food in her bowl, shaking her head every few seconds, and then got up from her chair and walked to the kitchen to do the dishes.
Lin Feng spent the hours after dinner on his homework and procrastinating. At 11 P.M. sharp he finished and glanced over at the alarm on his nightstand. I’m not tired yet… Maybe Su Xue is streaming? He got up and walked over to Su Xue’s room, where he poked his head around the door. She is streaming! I’ll just keep her some company! She’ll like that! He walked into the room and sat down next to Su Xue.
「OH SHIIIIIIIZ is that lil bro!?」
「who’s that guy?!?!?!?! does xuexue have a bf????」
「CREEP ALERT CREEP ALERT! THERE”S A CREEP IN SNOWFALL”S ROOM!!!!!!」
「Could someone kindly explain to me who that guy is and what is going on? Thank you in advance.」
Su Xue looked over at Lin Feng and asked, “You’re done with your homework?”
“Yep! All finished!” Lin Feng replied, grinning. He then leaned closer to Su Xue and waved at the camera. “Hey guys! Long time no see! How is everyone?”
「FENG FENG!!!! WELCOME BACK!!!!」
「ahhhhhhhhhh! haven’t seen you in so long! missed you so much!」
「How’s school, lil bro?」
「OUT WITH THE MAID! OUT WITH THE MAID!」
「the maid is tryna show off on korean server. But oh my lord she’s bad. Like, no joke, i wanna hang myself!!」
“What the… HEY! I’m not doing that badly!” Su Xue cried out just as her screen went grey again. She looked at the top right corner of the game client, which showed her KDA. Her Lucian was 2/5/4. She shook her head and mumbled, “Well, I might be doing a little bad… But that isn’t my fault! I just wanted to play at a higher rank for my second commentate video and since I’m Platinum on the Ionia server, I thought I could also play at Platinum on the Korean server! Who knew the skill level would be so much higher here! You really can’t blame me for this! And I still got two kills!”
「You can’t even rank your Korean Gold account to Play… Why did you think you could play in Plat? Lol」
「just let lil bro take over. hell carry this for yaaaa」
「DONT FORGET TO GET HIM SOME WATER!!!!!!」
「I wanna see Feng Feng carry DO IT」
Lin Feng turned to look at Su Xue and asked, “Want me to play the next game? This one looks about over…”
Su Xue pursed her lips but eventually relented. She said, “Fine fine! Play!” Then she glared at her camera and said to her viewers, “But I don’t want to hear any of you threaten to unfollow me again!” She focused back on the game. It’s lost. No point in continuing to push for it… She sighed and started a surrender vote, which was unanimously accepted by her team.
Lin Feng quickly pushed Su Xue out of her gaming chair and sat down in it. Then he looked at the account and flexed his fingers. He laughed and said, “Platinum on the Korean server? This is going to be so much fun! Watch me carry this game, guys!”
「CARRY WITH YOUR LEBLANC!!!!」
「godleeeee i wanna see your godleeeeeee」
「LIL BRO >>>>> KOREANS HARHARHARHARHAR」
「feng feng is playing. Ez gg」
Su Xue sat down in the chair next to Lin Feng and smiled as she watched him bantering around with her viewers. We’re the perfect duo. I’m the cute face that tries really hard and he is the pure talent many people want to see. And when we get together, there’s always something fun to see for the viewers. Jokes to make. He really helped me turn this one-person stream into a team-stream. And the viewers are loving it! She pretended to sulk when the viewers said something mean about her. And she got up and brought Lin Feng a glass of water as had become tradition. She didn’t mind doing it. It was all part of the game. And she was winning. She relaxed back in her chair and watched Lin Feng play. These are the days. I wish it could be like this for the rest of my life. That’d be perfect.
Lin Feng woke up the next morning with Tang Bingyao’s message about her birthday still on his mind. He thought about it under the shower, while eating breakfast, and while walking to school. Why did she tell me that and then run away? She was just really embarrassed about it, but why? Does she normally not celebrate it or something? Maybe she didn’t have a lot of friends to celebrate it with? No, that’s ridiculous. She has so many friends! Guys keep approaching her! It wasn’t until he walked into the classroom and saw his friends that it started to make sense to her. Maybe she really wants to have a big birthday party but is too shy to tell everyone, so she confided in me! Right, so how do I go about this?
Lin Feng mulled on that thought for the rest of the day, until finally the dismissal bell rang. I should just tell the others. They’ll know what to do! He turned to Ouyang sitting next to him, then to Yang Fan sitting in front of him, and finally to An Xin sitting on the other side of him and said, “Yo, guys! Guys! I need to tell you for Tang Tang that it’s her birthday next month!”
Ouyang’s eyes went wide. It took him a moment to recover and then he shouted, “PARTYYYYY!”
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and said, “Next month already? That’s pretty soon. We won’t have much time to organize it.”
An Xin leaned over from her desk and chimed in, “Let’s get started then. It’s for Tang Tang, so we have to do it properly. We’re going to throw her a big party!”
“YES! A PARTY! I’M THE KING OF PARTYING!” Ouyang shouted, grinning. Then he patted his chest and said, “All we need is 10 beer kegs and a ton of plastic cups! Oh oh! Chen Ze and Wei Dong can help out too!”
Lin Feng nodded and said, “Yeah! Let’s do that! That sounds great!” Then he turned to Tang Bingyao who’d just walked over and said, “See? That was really easy to say, right? You don’t have to be so shy, you can tell us! We’re all friends here! Of course we’ll celebrate your birthday! We’d love to!”
Tang Bingyao stared at Lin Feng, dazed. W-what… How? Uh? What is happening? Then she mumbled, “Uh, oh, uh… thanks.” But she didn’t look happy. She lowered her head and chewed on the inside of her cheeks. That’s not what I meant. It’s not at all why I told you. I could’ve told them. I’m not that shy. I wanted to tell you…
Ren Rou sat down on Yang Fan’s desk, quietly following the conversation. And while everyone else was excited about the prospect of a big party, she was the only one who noticed Tang Bingyao’s dejected response. She glanced at Lin Feng and then back at Tang Bingyao before shaking her head. You poor girl. He’s braindead, you know that. We talked about this. You need to spell it out for him, and even then he might not get it… He’s braindead. Don’t let him drag you down with hi—
Ouyang turned to look at Lin Feng, confused. It took him a moment to gather his thoughts before asking, “Who’s calling you?”
Lin Feng rummaged through his pockets and located his phone in his coat. He grabbed it and checked the Caller ID before scrunching his eyebrows in surprise. “Eh? Chu Fang? Why is he calling me? Wait. How does he even have my phone number?”