The barista walked over with the coffee and tea. Su Xue watched the motions of the woman, distracted. HuyaTV has their headquarters in Guangzhou, they’ll make me move there if I take this deal. But I kind of really like my life here in Shanghai! I stream a ton, but I also go outside! Maybe not as much as I should, but still! I go outside! I have friends I meet up with and hang out with! All of that would disappear. I’d be in a place where I don’t know anyone… again. When did I come to Shanghai? A year ago? No, can’t be. Has to be less, right? She bit on her lips and lightly shook her head. It took me months just to get settled! I jumped through jobs and barely made any friends until later! If I move to Guangzhou, I’d have to do that all over again! And this time, I’ll have a job that requires my full time and then some attention! How am I even supposed to meet anyone like that? But the offer, it’s so good! I can’t just turn that down…
Zuo You winked at the barista and said, “Thanks.” She nodded at Su Xue and added, “From her too.”
The barista smiled and walked away. Su Xue didn’t notice it. She was stuck in her own mind. Her lips moved soundlessly. What do I do? I should accept the deal, right? It’s too good to say no to! Ol’ Black was really jealous about it too! But…—
“Hey, girl,” Zuo You said. She looked at Su Xue and continued, “What do you want? And I don’t want you to think about this. What’s the first thing that comes to mind. What do you want?”
Su Xue bit on her lips and shook her head. She mumbled, “My stomach churns when I think about what I want… I love my life here! With you, with Lin Feng, with everyone! I don’t wanna leave that behind, but I also don’t want to turn this deal down! I… I don’t know.”
Zuo You leaned on the table and said, “Remember when you told me you’d started streaming? When I told you you were trying something that was most likely going to fail because there were so many others… I’m rambling, but you get the point, right? You knew what you wanted! To become the biggest, most famous streamer! Now you have that opportunity! This is a real opportunity to become the biggest streamer out there, Su Xue! Isn’t this deal exactly what you’ve been working towards for the past six months?”
Su Xue’s mind went blank. Every distracting thought was gone and she just stared at her friend. She’s right. This is what I have been working towards! Then, why am I hesitating? What’s there to hesitate… She bit on her lips and watched the steam rising from her teacup. I don’t like change and it’s all so sudden. Maybe that’s why I’m worrying so much about this! Maybe I just need to push myself through this. It is a great deal! I’ll have every chance to become the biggest streamer on Huya!—
“HeyHey! This really isn’t all that difficult!” Zuo You exclaimed. She sipped from her coffee cup and continued, “This is an exclusive contract with HuyaTV! Do you know how few people in the world get this kind of offer? You and two others! In the entire world! You and two others! What’s there to hesitate or think about? Shanghai isn’t that great! And it’s not like we’ll stop being best friends! I’ll fly over all the time! And with your streaming thing, you’re not poor anymore either!” She suddenly stopped herself and mumbled, “Wait…” She tilted her head and looked Su Xue in the eyes before continuing, “Don’t tell me… Is it because of him? Are you really hesitating because of him? I know he’s on your stream a lot, but it’s your stream! You’re the streamer! Those viewers are there for you, not him!”
“You stupid! No! NO!” Su Xue yelped, shaking her head. She grabbed a small spoon and swirled her tea and whispered, “Maybe…”
“No. No. No!” Zuo You said, her eyes growing progressively wider. “Don’t tell me you fell for him! Please don’t tell me you fell in love with him! He’s still a kid!”
Su Xue scrunched her eyebrows, surprised. Whu? Love him? “No!” She yelped. She shook her head and continued, “No! That’s not it at all! It’s more like…” She turned her head to look out of the window and explained, “You know when the landlady came to my door and told me I’d have to live with him? Well, I was really upset back then. I liked my life as it was. But I didn’t have any money and had lost my job, so I needed some help. The landlady knew that, so she helped me out.
“Lin Feng barged into my room that first night. I think he wasn’t even in the apartment for 10 minutes when he showed that he has no personal boundaries. And I was really mad with him. But he was also so, so pure and innocent? He just wanted to have fun. And I think it was infectious. He brought something to my life and to the stream I was lacking before. He taught me how to, how to just have fun! You’re right, it is my stream. The viewers come for me. But I could’ve never gotten to this point if it wasn’t for him. And my viewers always ask when he’s coming on again. He is a big part of my stream.
“But it’s not even just that. Yeah he’s a big part of my stream, but I can get over that. My viewers will get over it if he doesn’t appear anymore. They’ll understand. I might lose a few of them, but most will stay. I’ll still have one of the biggest streams out there.” She sighed loudly and continued, “But he’s not just a co-streamer, and he’s not just my roommate. He’s, he is… He is my friend, my little brother, the person I wake up early for every day just to make sure he gets to school on time. The kid who forgets his keys. The guy who loves and appreciates my food more than anyone else in this world! I’m not in love with him. I’m not! Not in the way you’re thinking, anyway. But I do love him, like a little brother. He’s my family, and I don’t want to leave him behind… I, I think I want to stay with him.”
Zuo You laughed awkwardly. Don’t love him, but you do… Great work, XueXue! She looked at her friend lovingly and said, “You can’t make your decisions based on other people. Think about yourself here, XueXue. What you want for yourself. Regardless of everything and anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you accept or decline the offer. But make that decision because you want to take it or turn it down, not because you worry about someone else.”
Su Xue nodded and smiled. She said, “Thanks.” She then breathed in deeply and looked at the passing traffic outside the coffee place. What do I want… What do I want? I just don’t know. Stay I guess? Or go? Maybe… “Uch!” she exclaimed. She then shook her head and concluded, “I don’t know! I just don’t…”
It was almost 7 P.M. Su Xue had finished preparing dinner half an hour ago and was now sitting at the table, impatient. Where is that little shit? Did he stay out to eat again!? He better not…– She turned her head to look at the hallway, listening to a key turn in the lock. Finally! She waited for the door to open and then shouted, “You’re late! Take your shoes off, wash your hands, and get in here! The food is getting cold!”
“Coming, coming!” Lin Feng shouted from the hallway. He stamped on his heel to take one shoe off and repeated the process for the other one. He then ran to the kitchen and sprinkled some water on his hands before rushing into the dining room. Smells so good! Su Xue is the best cook! He sat down at the table and looked at all the food Su Xue had prepared, grinning. “So good!” he said while filling his bowl with some red braised pork and stir fried beef. Then he dug in.
Su Xue watched Lin Feng devour the food and chuckled. I’d have to miss this… She grimaced and asked, “Lin Feng?”
“Mhmm?” Lin Feng replied with a full mouth. He looked at her and opened his mouth to say something, when she cut in and said, “Don’t talk with a full mouth!” He nodded and swallowed the food down, then asked, “Yeah? What’s up?”
Su Xue chewed on her lips until she asked, “If you had an opportunity presented to you. Something that could change your life and help you achieve everything you’d ever dreamt of. But by accepting it, you’d also have to give up on a lot of things you really don’t want to give up on. What would you do?”
“What would I do?” Lin Feng asked, scratching the back of his head. He then shrugged and answered, “Accept it of course!”
“But you’d have to give up on things. A price to pay…” Su Xue argued.
Lin Feng shook his head decisively and explained, “There’s always a price to pay. But it’s your dream! You don’t give up on your dream because things become a bit difficult! You think it was easy for me back in Season 1 to make it to Worlds? We didn’t have any money! There were no sponsors! We ate the cheapest food and stayed in the cheapest hostels! And if we lost a tournament, we didn’t have money even for that! But we didn’t give up on our dream of reaching Worlds! We sucked it up and kept working for it!” He grinned and added, “So what if you gotta give up on a few things? You’re getting the chance to reach your goal and make your dream reality! That’s worth everything!”
Su Xue scrunched her eyebrows, surprised. What’s gotten into him? Since when does he actually sound mature…? Who is this person and what did they do with the real Li– She shook her head and grimaced. Stop this, Su Xue! Stop making jokes to think about something else! He’s right. Zuo You is right. They’re all right! I’ve got this amazing opportunity to achieve my dream! I’ve always talked about wanting to become the biggest streamer! Zuo You and Lin Feng have spent so much time helping me get there, and now I have the chance to actually get there! She chuckled. I’m really stupid! Really, really stupid! This was never a question. I have to take this. She breathed in deeply, trying to stop her heart from slamming into her ribcage, and then breathed out. She looked at Lin Feng and said, “Thanks, I needed that. Also, I’m coming with you to Guangzhou.”
“You are?” Lin Feng asked in surprise. He then grinned and shouted, “Awesome! Are you coming just to cheer me on? That’s so nice of you! I knew you were the best! We’re gonna win the whole tournament! You’ll get to cheer me on in every round and then watch me lift the trophy!–”
“No, you idiot!” Su Xue interrupted. She glared at him and explained, “I’ve got a meeting there with HuyaTV about my future with the platform. I might become one of their faces!”
Team Shanghai met up at Pudong Airport at 7 A.M. on January 12th 2016. It was the day they were going to fly to Guangzhou for the main tournament of the Winter Collegiate Cup. There were two extra people with them. The first was Chu Fang, who was the vice president of the Shanghai Esports Organization. He was the team’s manager officially and would accompany them on the trip. The second person was Su Xue who had a meeting with the executives from HuyaTV.
Lin Feng pointed at Su Xue and shouted, “I brought Su Xue with me! She’s gonna come and cheer us on all the way to the Finals!”
“I’m not,” Su Xue replied. She glared at Lin Feng and continued, “I told you, I have stuff to do in Guangzhou! But if I’ve got time, I might come and watch you guys play some.”
“See?” Lin Feng exclaimed. He patted his chest and continued, “Told you she was gonna come and cheer us on!”
Tang Bingyao nodded and said, “Mhm! Nice to have you join us!” She looked at Su Xue and smiled. When I grow up, I wanna be like her! She’s so pretty and she plays League for a living! And she makes so much money playing League too! She’s got tens of thousands of people tuning in every time she goes live! If I could get that many viewers, life would be so much easier!
An Xin smiled and said, “The more the merrier. Good to have you with us!”
The group went through the motions at the airport. Dropping off their bags, going through security, getting to the gate early and waiting to board the plane. They eventually sat down in their seats and felt that brief moment of weightlessness as the airplane took off.
The plane landed at Guangzhou Airport a good two hours later. Team Shanghai got their luggage and took a cab to the 4-star hotel they’d be staying at. Chu Fang had chosen this particular hotel because of how close it was to the Tianhe Stadium, the venue for the Winter Collegiate Cup. They checked in and went to their two person rooms. Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao took one room, An Xin and Tang Bingyao another and Lin Feng and Chu Fang the last one. As for Su Xue, she got her own room.
Team Shanghai met back up in the lobby downstairs after dropping their bags off at their rooms. Lin Feng looked around, grinning, and said, “Let’s go eat! I’m really hungry! Fatty told me about this really great restaurant that’s right near here! It’s got Canton style special dishes! I really want to go try it out! Who’s with me?”
An Xin smacked Lin Feng on the back of his head and said, “No. We’re going to register at the tournament venue first.”
Zeng Rui nodded and added, “I want to check out the venue’s facilities. It’s good for us to familiarize ourselves with the place before playing there. It helps take the edge off.”
Zhang Hao put his hand up and asked, “We might also see our potential opponents, right? The other teams will also have to check in! Maybe some are there when we go!”
SIETSE IS THE FERRIS BUELLER OF THE MODERN DAY
Sietse Thought: How to sleep through a Zoom call? I’ve got one tonight. I’m exhausted because I didn’t sleep well last night and I’ve got a sore neck. All I want is to close my eyes and take a nap. But I gotta stay up, get shit done, and then attend this meeting that really doesn’t require my focus. Like, at all. So how do I attend without attending? Put Googly Eyes on? But then what if they ask me a question? There’s like 6 people in total in this meeting. They’ll notice something is up.
ThingsandStuff (manager extraordinaire) had a similar problem. There was construction work going on around him. I think it might’ve even been inside the building he was staying at. He was complaining about the noise (drilling, hammering, etc.). It made perfect sense to him that that was a great excuse to skip a Zoom meeting. Or at least, to be semi present. Turns out that’s not how it works. Zoom is apparently pretty damn good at filtering the construction work sounds. He was the only one hearing the construction work and as such he was the only one with a headache.
That puts an end to Googly eyes and Construction work sounds (or any type of sounds that can be reasonably explained, I suppose). So my question is, how do you get out of a meeting to take a nap, when your presence is required? When people are going to ask for your input on several points. What is the excuse I can use that makes me not look like a giant dick? How can I attend while napping and them not minding I am napping?
I need your help to solve this!