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CN•HOOK2’s electrifying climb was a constant drip of adrenaline into most players in China and Korea. But while they obsessed over all of the games and the mystery surrounding CN•HOOK2’s identity, the player behind the account was completely unaware of the waves he’d generated. Lin Feng had passed out as soon as his final game of the night ended. He didn’t even have time to check the Korean ranked ladder to find out where he ended. All he knew was that he’d completed the task that One set out for him, and that was all that mattered. Lin Feng didn’t even remember how he ended up in bed. All he had were foggy, distorted, non-linear memories of someone dragging him from the chair he was in to the bed. He remembered a wet cloth wiping his face, and the sensation of being tucked in. And then after that, he had nothing. He was out like a light, deep asleep, his mind and body completely worn out by the stress of the day.

And he continued to sleep well into the next day. Lin Feng’s stupor was only broken at lunch time, when An Xin managed to get him awake enough to drag him to the table to eat. But he was barely there and functioning on autopilot. The Lin Feng from yesterday and the Lin Feng at the table today were two very different people. Today’s Lin Feng was completely lifeless and didn’t even notice the food he was eating. Or that he was eating. That in itself was the most unusual thing, because there were very few things that Lin Feng loved more than food. His chopsticks moved in slow motion between the food in front of him and his mouth. And he was clumsy with them. Some of the food fell back into his bowl, but Lin Feng never even noticed. Whatever food did make it into his mouth, he slowly chewed and swallowed without any indication that he’d noticed how it tasted. 

Zhang Hao had been waiting in a state of constant, unrequited excitement for Lin Feng to finally wake up. He wanted to congratulate his friend and celebrate with him, especially since this was a once in a lifetime event. Zhang Hao had played on the team that had won the Collegiate Cup, and then his teammate had gone up against some of the best League players in Korea that very night and come out on top. The excitement pounding in his veins and the vague ideas of how to properly cherish this moment rendered him nearly incoherent. And he’d been waiting all morning for Lin Feng to wake up and turn all of those vague ideas into reality. But when Lin Feng finally did wake up and came down to lunch, reality turned out to be a splash of ice-cold water on Zhang Hao’s head. What happened to him last night? He doesn’t even look like he’s alive! I said good night to Lin Feng after the Collegiate Cup ended, and now I’m looking at Zombie Feng trying to eat like a human! What does a person have to go through in a single night to turn into… whatever this is?

Zhang Hao tried to get a grip on his shock as he noticed how tired and broken Lin Feng looked that afternoon. All plans of partying had been completely dashed. He didn’t even know what to say, rendered completely speechless by the turn of events and the clash between expectation and reality. When Zhang Hao finally did manage to form words, all he could say was, “Lin Feng… Y-you alright there? Are you still alive? Please be alive!”

There was enough concern and distress in Zhang Hao’s voice that it forced Zeng Rui to glance up at Lin Feng. He frowned and shook his head from side to side once before looking back down at his bowl. But before he resumed eating, Zeng Rui flatly stated, “He’s still alive. There’s nothing wrong with him. Lin Feng pushed and overworked himself to an extreme degree, and now he’s completely exhausted. He’ll be fine in a few days.” 

With those words out of the way, Zeng Rui started eating again. But he continued the conversation with himself in his mind. It really isn’t surprising that Lin Feng is exhausted. He spent yesterday playing in the Finals of the Collegiate Cup and then the rest of the night playing ranked game after ranked game against skilled opponents. No. Not just skilled opponents. He played game after game against opponents who constantly grew more cautious and wary of him with every single game. I don’t know why Zhang Hao is so shocked that Lin Feng is tired right now. After something like that, any other person would sleep for a day or two. 

What is surprising is how well he did in that state. I’ve always known that Lin Feng is a monster. But this much of a monster…?

Tang Bingyao, on the other hand, continued to watch Lin Feng with concern. She decided to do something to help Lin Feng out, and offered him her mango juice. “Lin Feng… Lin Feng! You want to try some of this? It’s mango juice and it’s got a lot of sugar. It’ll give you energy and wake you right up! Mhm!”

Lin Feng stared at her with dead, unfocused eyes. Unwilling to give up, Tang Bingyao carefully held out her glass to him and moved the straw into his mouth. Lin Feng gulped the whole glass down, and continued to pull on the straw after it was all gone. Unfortunately, the mango juice was not very effective for Lin Feng’s current situation. His eyes continued to droop shut and completely shut as he continued to try to drink from the empty glass. 

An Xin laughed at what was going on in front of her and shook her head. “It’s fine. Let’s leave him alone for now. We’ll let him get some more rest once we’re on the plane. This idiot… he tried to exceed his own limitations or whatever last night. Ended up pushing himself too hard and now he can’t function anymore. He really just needs to sleep it off.” Then she helped Tang Bingyao pull her glass away from the still sleep-gulping Lin Feng. 

Over on the other side of the table, Chu Fang look at Lin Feng with complete admiration. He was one of the first few people who had learned that CN•HOOK2 climb through Korean Challenger ended at Rank 5. He reached over to pat Lin Feng on the back and said, “He really did manage to exceed his limitations. All that hard work… It was completely worth it! Did any of you ever imagine that you’d be sitting here with someone who managed to make it into the Top 5 on the Korean server? I don’t know how Lin Feng pulled it off, but he’s finally brought some hope to Chinese League of Legends!” 

Chu Fang continued to look at Lin Feng with a mixture of fondness, admiration, gratitude, astonishment and hope in his eyes. All that hard work… What Lin Feng did last night, that’s not something that could’ve been accomplished with hard work alone. I can’t even count how many players from China, from talented younglings to professional players, have attempted to break through Korea’s ceiling. I can’t recall the last time someone from China managed to do this either! This boy… he managed to win the Collegiate Cup Championship and got ranked 5th out of all the Challenger-level players on the Korean server in a single day! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect conclusion for all of this. Now we go home as champions!

After they finished lunch, everyone from Team Shanghai gathered their belongings and piled into cars to go to the airport. Lin Feng fell asleep the second he got into the taxi and slept all the way to the airport. Then he fell asleep again as they waited to board their plane. And once they had finally gotten onto the plane, Lin Feng fell into a deep sleep the second he was plopped down onto his seat. 

For the rest of Team Shanghai, this was the most stressful trip they’d taken thus far. Getting Lin Feng from the car all the way into the plane required coordination and planning from every member of Team Shanghai, with at least two of them constantly supporting and leading Lin Feng all the way to his seat. Every time Lin Feng fell asleep along the way, it was more and more difficult to wake him up for the next part. But somehow, they’d finally made it onto the plane with Lin Feng, and now they could relax. 

The flight from Beijing to Shanghai took two and half hours, and Lin Feng was asleep for all of it. When the plane finally landed at Pudong Airport, Team Shanghai’s brief respite ended. It took almost all of them to shake Lin Feng awake and pull him up from his seat. Then Zeng Rui and Zhang Hao cleared the way ahead while An Xin and Tang Bingyao supported and pulled Lin Feng down the aisle and off the plane. It took significantly longer than any of them had planned, and was accomplished with considerable difficulty. But they eventually did get Lin Feng off the plane and out of the airport.

Once they were outside, the members of Team Shanghai decided to go their separate ways and take different cabs to their houses. Except for Tang Bingyao and Lin Feng, who were headed in the same direction and sharing a cab. And getting Lin Feng into a car was the first thing that had to be done before the rest of Team Shanghai could consider going home. 

Zeng Rui called a car and Zhang Hao helped support and shove Lin Feng into it. Before Tang Bingyao could climb in after Lin Feng, An Xin pulled her aside. She looked worried as she stared at the still groggy Lin Feng. Then she looked at Tang Bingyao and said, “Tang Tang, listen, you’re going to have to drop this comatose idiot off at his house first. If he tries to walk home from your place, we have no idea where he’ll end up or what kind of trouble he’ll stumble into.”  

Tang Bingyao looked at Lin Feng and then back at An Xin before nodding. “Mhm! Okay!”

Tang Bingyao got into the car next to Lin Feng. In the brief time between him getting into the car and her conversation with An Xin, Lin Feng had completely fallen asleep again. As the car started moving, Tang Bingyao stared at Lin Feng’s face and saw the exhaustion carved into it. She felt a dull ache in her heart. 

“Lin Feng… You really did push yourself, didn’t you? I don’t know how you even did it all. I was completely exhausted after the Finals of the Collegiate Cup. I got back to the hotel, showered, and fell asleep the second my head hit the bed. But you… you stayed up and played game after game on the Korean server. And you won most of those games! How did you do that…?”

Lin Feng, still completely asleep, didn’t reply to anything she said. It was unclear if he’d even heard her words. But Tang Bingyao continued to watch him sleep and then bit her lips. Her eyes blazed with determination. I need to get stronger! Mhm! I need to get strong enough to stand next to Lin Feng and share his burdens! Mhm! I’m going to get strong enough that Lin Feng can lean on me when he needs help next time! Mhm!

The cab bumped and bounced down the poorly maintained roads of Shanghai, and the cabin could not keep out the blaring horns and bustle of the city. But none of that was enough to disturb Lin Feng, who remained fast asleep. Tang Bingyao remained quiet and lost in her own thoughts. 

Soon enough, the cab pulled up outside Lin Feng’s building. Tang Bingyao tried to gently nudge Lin Feng awake, but it didn’t work. Soon she started shaking him roughly and yelling, “Lin Feng! Wake up! Wake up! We’re here! You gotta wake up…” 

After a tense minute, Lin Feng finally opened his eyes. Slowly. He looked at Tang Bingyao with unfocused eyes and asked, “Wha—? Ooo-oh? We’re home?” Then he looked around and blurry recognition of his surroundings showed up on his face. He slowly nodded, and then tried to get out of the car. But he was clumsy and it took him several tries to open the door. Once he finally got it open, he slumped back in his seat and looked at Tang Bingyao. “Alright… I’ll see you tomorrow Tang Tang. Good night! Bye bye!”

But after he said that, Lin Feng closed his eyes for 30 seconds and then tried to lurch out of the cab. Tang Bingyao watched him with evident concern on her face and said, “How about I walk you to the door?” 

Lin Feng shook his head. “Its… it’s fine… there’s just the stairs. I’m… really… good… at… climbing… stairs!” And with those words, Lin Feng fell out of the cab at an awkward angle and tried to stand up. Which made him stumble and tumble onto the sidewalk. 

Tang Bingyao quickly got out of the car and helped  Lin Feng get up onto his feet. Then she supported him while looking at the sleep-walking Lin Feng with distress in her eyes. “Mhm! I believe that you’re really good at climbing stairs. But I think it’s best if I walk you to the door anyway!”

The doorbell chimed through the apartment that Su Xue and Lin Feng shared. Su Xue was still in her pyjamas and in her room at the time. She quickly slipped into her fuzzy slippers and walked out of her room to open the door. As she walked towards the door, she started yelling at it, “Lin Feng! How many times do I have to tell you not to forget your keys!? Every single time you leave! What are you going to do if I’m not home? Or if I’m not available to open the door! Next time, I swear! I’m not going to open the door and leave you outside! You hear me, Lin Feng! This is the last time!”

Then she opened the door, and her eyes popped open at the sight of Tang Bingyao struggling to hold Lin Feng up. Once he had gotten up the stairs, Lin Feng had decided the floor outside the apartment was close enough to fall asleep again. Su Xue covered her mouth with her hand in shock. Then she looked at Tang Bingyao and asked, “Tang Tang? What happened to Lin Feng?”

Tang Bingyao was clearly struggling to keep Lin Feng on his feet, but she tried to explain the situation to Su Xue anyway, “Lin.. Feng… He’s really exhausted! Didn’t… Didn’t think he could climb the stairs! Mhm! So I helped him get up here! Mhm!”

Storm clouds raced across Su Xue’s face as her expression darkened. Now this is over dramatic and extra. This little punk can’t climb the stairs on his own? Since when? But she still moved to Lin Feng’s side to help Tang Bingyao support him. 

The two girls shoving and pulling him from side to side managed to rouse Lin Feng enough that he forced his eyes open. He saw his own living room and his sleepy brain processed that as him being home. He muttered, “Oh, I’m home. I’m going to take a little nap now…” Then he kicked off his shoes outside the apartment and stumbled into the house. It was unclear if he noticed that Su Xue and Tang Bingyao were there at all.

Su Xue watched him stumble into the house and started yelling, “Hey! Hey! Idiot! You’re going the wrong way! That’s the kitchen! Not your room! You’re going into the kitchen, Lin Feng! This idiot… he hasn’t been home for ten seconds and he’s already causing trouble. What a hassle! Tang Tang, thank you so much for helping get him home! You can go home now, I’ll take care of him.”

Su Xue took another minute to properly thank Tang Bingyao and say goodbye. Once Tang Bingyao got back into the cab and left for her house, Su Xue closed the door and turned around to see Lin Feng. He had passed out on the sofa in the living room. As Su Xue watched, Lin Feng hugged one of the cushions and muttered in his sleep. She walked over to the sofa and stood over him. “Are you seriously that tired? Lin Feng! Go to your room and sleep!” Su Xue was yelling, but her tone was amused. 

Lin Feng buried his head deeper into the cushion and muttered, “N-no… too tired. It’s fine here. Very comfortable. Just let me small nap, I’ll move later.”

Su Xue sighed. “Why are you so exhausted? Did you not sleep well last night?” 

“No… no sleep Feng. I played all last night. Game after game. Needed to keep my promise to One. I did it though. Just very exhausting.” Lin Feng replied. 

Su Xue’s eyes went wide. Oh! That’s right! I can’t believe I forgot about that! He was playing on the Hook2 account all night! Now that she remembered, Su Xue stared at Lin Feng fast asleep on the couch, lost in her thoughts. 

This is CN•HOOK2! The player who rocked everyone who is even slightly interested in esports and League of Legends in China! The person who caused waves through Korea! And right now, he’s asleep on the sofa and refusing to go back into his room to sleep like a small child.

Su Xue had trouble reconciling those two separate mental images together. Then she broke into a smile. It really is so easy to forget because of all the amazing things Lin Feng has done and will do… but he’s really just a kid at the end of the day. She smiled again at Lin Feng, a warm nurturing smile. Then she said, “Alright, alright. You can sleep on the sofa if that’s what you want. I’ll go get you a blanket, we wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.”

Everything Goes Wrong

TAS Thought: What’s up what’s up, it your boi Tas again!

You guys ever have days where everything that could possibly go wrong, does, or at least comes close to it? I thought people were exaggerating when they’d talk about a day like that until last fucking Friday.

My day started at noon. Which would’ve been great if work didn’t begin at 8am for me. And if I didn’t have three important meetings that morning, after two weeks of having one morning meeting at most. Turned out I forgot to charge my phone overnight so it died and I didn’t have an alarm to wake up to. Some of the readers know that I work in M&A finance, unfortunately one of my meetings was with an exec about a pretty big deal, and another was with a recruiter at a company I think could be very interesting. I spent like an hour catching up with all the missed emails and sending apology notes to everyone who I stood up. The exec, who is my former boss by the way, and the recruiter did not sound happy in their response to me. Then I rushed to get ready because I needed to leave for a dentist appointment by 1:45 except I almost missed my Uber because there was only one elevator running and guess who lives on the 14th floor -_- The bad news doesn’t end there! I realized I lost my mask at the dentist and Uber doesn’t let you travel without a mask, so I started looking for a receptionist to ask for a spare mask but somehow everyone was gone. Luckily I made enough noise for someone to check up on me and give me one so I made in time for my Uber at the last minute again. So finally after all this, I got back to work and decided to pick up my antibiotics later after catching a breather. Big mistake. They were stocked out by the time I got there and I had to return the next day. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if I throw out my hip trying to tie a shoelace. Maybe get a cramp wiping my ass. Slip in the shower and crack my skull on the edge of the toilet like a bad parody of Million Dollar Baby. It was very much a “I wish I could go to sleep and pretend today never happened” kind of day.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT. It’s over now. That was an entire year’s worth of bad RNG frontloaded, so it’s all smooth sailing from here, right? Right?!

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