[FLOTG] Chapter 15: First Meeting

On Friday night, the manager of Maple Moon drove them to the restaurant.

Song Xue-Yang asked, "Kun, are you really not going to come join us for a drink?"

"If I drink, then who'll drive you all home later?" Their manager mock glared at them, but quickly eased off with a laugh. "I'll pass and let you team members have your team bonding. Don't drink too much, and just give me a call when you all are almost done."

Song Xue-Yang smiled and said, "Don't worry, with me watching over them, they won't be able to drink much. Drive safe, Kun."

Hai Xing didn't put much stock in those words — when he saw that Song Xue-Yang wasn't the one driving tonight, he already knew that this would be yet another night where no one would leave until they were wasted. He rubbed his belly, regretting that he hadn't prepped his stomach for the drinking to come since he had only been thinking about feasting when he left.

Amused, Song Xue-Yang patted him on the head. "What's up? Already scared before we've even started?"

The intrepid Hai Xing who never backed down uncommonly had nothing to say to this; Song Xue-Yang was the person with the highest alcohol tolerance he had ever met.

That year when Maple Moon managed to break into the top 8 for the first time, Captain Guan He of Primo Wolf invited everyone for a meal together after the season's playoffs. Although the other teams in attendance had ranked higher than Maple Moon, the players were determined to work together to get Song Xue-Yang drunk to pay the old fox back for the suffering he had inflicted on them inside the game. In the end though, Song Xue-Yang drank all 8 pro teams under the table by himself.

At that dinner, Hai Xing had been knocked out very early on. Rumour had it that by the time all 8 teams were sprawled out drunk about the room, Song Xue-Yang was still filling up his glass with a smile. Guan He had been the only one spared, and the explanation given by a certain fox was... Guan He had to pay the bill.

Ever since then, Hai Xing had added one more item to the list of things he would back down from ― drinking with Song Xue-Yang.

This restaurant was rather well-known among the celebrity circles. It featured a rustic style and was decorated in a simple and homely fashion, and most importantly, the restaurant took its security and the privacy of its patrons very seriously. Patrons had to use their real names as members to make a reservation, so there was basically no need to worry at all that any reporters would manage to sneak in.

The group entered the restaurant, Zhou Ning carrying the pre-ordered birthday cake. The reception hall on the first floor was very spacious. This restaurant was very popular and was usually packed, but it was rather quiet today. The hall was silent, making people hesitant to speak loudly.

The manager in the reception hall welcomed them with an exemplary smile. "Welcome, may I know if you have a reservation?"

Song Xue-Yang presented his membership card. The manager checked the computer for a moment then said, "Here's the situation. Someone has booked the entire restaurant for tonight. But after consulting with the customer, the other party has agreed to leave a room for you on the first floor, but they ask that you and your friends do not go upstairs. Will that be alright with you?"

"They booked the entire restaurant?"

It was very expensive to book this whole restaurant, and the option was only available to the elite VIP clients. Anyone who could book the entire restaurant must be an influential figure.

Hai Xing asked curiously, "Who is it?"

"I'm sorry, I cannot disclose that to you," said the manager.

"That's fine, we'll stay on the first floor. We're just a little curious since we're benefitting from their kindness."

Song Xue-Yang was about to try and trick the manager into revealing more when suddenly, a cry of "welcome" came from behind him. At the same time, the automatic door slid open.

The group reflexively turned to look and were stunned when they saw who had entered.

It was a tall man dressed in a pale blue turtleneck sweater paired casually with a light grey suit jacket. Despite the simple attire, he looked as if he had just stepped off a runway with his elegant figure and quiet air of grace.

He took off his sunglasses as soon as he stepped through the door, his fluffy hair shifting slightly as he did so, revealing a pair of limpid eyes as dark as ink. Those eyes looked forwards at the group, as captivating as a galaxy of stars.

Song Xue-Yang did not react outwardly, but a touch of surprised wonder flashed through his smiling eyes.

Hai Xing numbly raised a hand. "Shen, Shen..."

Nothing would come out after the two "Shen"s he uttered, so Hai Xing simply fell silent.

Shen Huai was just as surprised, never expecting to bump into Song Xue-Yang here. Even though Maple Moon's HQ was indeed in Shanghai, there was still a strange sense of serendipity at being able to meet on the same day at the same restaurant.

Shen Huai wasn't the type to initiate conversation to begin with, so meeting Song Xue-Yang like this, completely unprepared, he was left even more at a loss for words. His gaze skimmed lightly over the group before he strode silently towards the reception desk.

The atmosphere in the reception hall turned tense — for an instant, all eyes were on this exquisitely perfect man. However, the man himself seemed unaware, exuding natural ease and grace with his every move.

The reception manager's voice trembled a little as he said, "Welcome. May I know if you are a guest of Miss Liu?"

Shen Huai answered with a faint hum of acknowledgement. His gaze drifted to the left to land on a birthday cake. There was no name written out on the cake, but it was illustrated with a slightly comical red fox.

He looked at the grinning fox, and then looked up at Song Xue-Yang.

Hn, the resemblance is uncanny.

"Second floor, Heaven's Hearth."

Shen Huai nodded and was just about to head upstairs when someone suddenly reached out and grabbed his sleeve. He turned to look, and Hai Xing quickly let go.

"I, I, I... could you give me an autograph please?" It was rare for Hai Xing to speak so politely, even using please. He grabbed a notepad from the reception desk and presented it to Shen Huai, but then he could not help but flush at how lame his offering was.

The reception manager's expression darkened slightly. Customers choose to book the whole restaurant precisely because they do not want to deal with other people. If not for the fact that this group of customers had placed an earlier reservation and Miss Liu had already agreed for them to use the first floor, the restaurant would not even have let them in. Now this child here was not only tugging at clothes but even asking for an autograph... if this angered Shen Huai, the restaurant would be the one fielding complaints.

She hurriedly put on a professional smile. "Excuse me, this notepad at our reception desk is not for loan."

Hai Xing found this rather unreasonable, but still asked, "Then do you have any other paper you can give me?"

The manager replied stiffly, "No."

Song Xue-Yang was very perceptive. He knew Hai Xing had committed a faux pas, so he stepped in and pulled Hai Xing back by throwing an arm over his shoulders.

"Apologies, Mr. Shen," said Song Xue-Yang, and he saw Shen Huai frown slightly, "He was a little too excited to see his idol and acted rashly. If convenient, could you please sign an autograph for him?"

This was Shen Huai's first time speaking to Song Xue-Yang face-to-face, without the filter of a machine. Like the man himself, his gentle voice seemed to always carry traces of a smile, like lazy afternoon sunlight warming a living room, easing tension and inviting people to relax.

Shen Huai was silent for a long while, during which Hai Xing also realised how inappropriate his behaviour had been in this situation. Hai Xing bowed his head and apologised in a low voice, "It's fine, forget it. I'm sorry..."

Before he could finish his sentence, Shen Huai turned towards the reception desk. "Could you provide me with a pen and paper?"

The manager blinked and then quickly handed over the notepad and a pen.

Song Xue-Yang watched as Shen Huai's clear eyes were shaded behind lowered lashes, his slender and fair fingers wielding the pen swiftly to leave an artistic signature on the paper. This scene was even more lovely than the autograph he signed, as if even the act of signing had been carefully choreographed.

Shen Huai handed over the notepad as soon as he was done signing and headed upstairs. The crowd's gazes trailed after him until his figure disappeared from sight at the top of the stairs, and the reception hall once again became silent.

Half a beat later, exhalations of awe could be heard one after another.

Fan Jing-Ming was the first to speak. "He's really beyond handsome."

Zhou Ning agreed. "Even more handsome than what we see online."

Hai Xing was excitedly hugging the notepad. "Thank you, Captain!"

Said captain was unresponsive, still staring at the stairwell.

"Captain?" Fan Jing-Ming nudged him, waggling his eyebrows. "Have you become bent?"

"No way," said Song Xue-Yang airily, looking back at the group.

Zhou Ning teased him, "Then why are you still staring even after the man has left?"

Song Xue-Yang's expression was cool and composed. "I was just wondering how he knew it was my birthday just by looking at the cake."

The group: "......"

That's a good question! They had all seen it. Shen Huai's gaze had landed on the cake and then shifted unerringly up to look at Song Xue-Yang. Setting aside the fact that the cake was in Zhou Ning's hands, the cake had no name on it, only a fiery red fox!

This wasn't at all something a complete stranger would be able to guess.

Zhou Ning mused out loud, "Maybe he knows that your nickname is fox?"

"That can't be," Hai Xing said, shaking his head, "Shen Huai has never paid any attention to the gaming circles. Back when he went on a variety show, he couldn't even play Tetris well. His father also mentioned during an interview that Shen Huai usually spends his free time either reading or sleeping. Anyway, he just doesn't seem like the type to pay attention to esports, right?"

The group nodded. True, Shen Huai gave off the impression of being rather cold and aloof, not really like someone who was passionate about his hobbies.

Song Xue-Yang put a stop to the conversation. "Maybe it's because I'm more handsome?"

The rest of the group shook their heads emphatically.

Sorry, in a contest of looks, no one in Maple Moon would ever concede to another.

The group was led by a serving staff to the private room 'Xiaoxiang Water Pavilion'. Hai Xing was still ecstatic. "So awesome! I actually managed to get Shen Huai's autograph!"

Song Xue-Yang opened a bottle of wine. "What do you want the autograph for? It's not like you're his fan."

"But Nana likes him," mumbled Hai Xing.

The Nana he mentioned was Captain Hu Nana of the pro team BattleGod. As the only female captain among the top 8 teams, she was widely respected within the circle.

Zhou Ning fluttered his eyelashes and teased him, "Oh, who could have guessed that our little Xing is such a warm and thoughtful man who would help his crush ask for an autograph?"

Hai Xing turned red instantly. "Shut up! I just really respect Nana!"

Zhou Ning laughed and said, "Alright, alright, I was wrong. Next time I meet Captain Hu, I must tell her how much our little Xing 'respects' her."

Hai Xing bowed his head and cursed under his breath.

This minor interlude was quickly forgotten as dishes gradually filled the table, and the group was half-drunk by the time they brought out the birthday cake. Hai Xing plopped a birthday cap onto Song Xue-Yang's head and snapped a photo by the light of the candles on the cake, offhandedly posting on Weibo while he was at it.

<(V)Maple Moon-Wishing Star>: Congratulations, Captain, on growing another year older! [Yeah]!

Hai Xing was enlightened. "I didn't think of that! Ash Wing probably won't see this, right? He doesn't even have a Weibo..."

Zhou Ning said helplessly, "Just because he doesn't have a verified Weibo doesn't mean he doesn't have a Weibo account."

Hai Xing started to panic. "I'll delete it now!"

"It's fine." Song Xue-Yang waved dismissively. "Even if you didn't post that, he was already suspecting us."

"Why?" Hai Xing, who believed he had acted very well, was very puzzled.

Song Xue-Yang leaned back into his chair, his slender arms resting against the back, his demeanour relaxed and indolent. "If he had no suspicions at all, he would not have invited us to play in the Arena together."

"What?! Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Recalling how he had gone on a rampage and even nabbed a hexakill, Hai Xing felt his face burn up.

Song Xue-Yang's lip quirked up slightly. "One can only become truly convinced after experiencing doubt."

Hai Xing: "......"

You foxes who play with strategy are all black-bellied!

Although he found himself feeling sorry for Ash Wing, he also really wanted to become teammates with Ash Wing. What to do?

Song Xue-Yang passed the wine bottle to Hai Xing. "Penalty of one cup. By the end of this month at the latest, Ash Wing will be our teammate."

Without another word, Hai Xing poured out a glass and chugged it down.

The group chatted as they ate, only leaving the room at 11pm.

Song Xue-Yang was dragging the utterly wasted Hai Xing, while Zhou Ning and Fan Jing-Ming were leaning against each other crookedly for support.

Song Xue-Yang rapped on the reception counter. "Pretty lady, the bill please."

He was handsome and charming, and his smile looked friendly and kind. A lovely mole dotted a corner of his smiling eyes, and he had a gentlemanly air about him. The young lady at the counter could not help but look twice at him.

The lady lowered her head to check for a moment. "Sir, someone has already settled your bill for you."


Song Xue-Yang was taken aback, raising his head slowly to look towards the top of the stairs. Hai Xing suddenly started spouting garbled nonsense behind him, pulling him out from his thoughts.

"Who was it?"

"I just started my shift so I'm not too sure..."

Hai Xing abruptly made to vomit with a cry, and Song Xue-Yang wasted no more time with questions. He uttered a hasty 'sorry' and then dragged Hai Xing out the door.

Zhou Ning and Fan Jing-Ming were in slightly better shape, but they were also swaying on their feet and obviously dazed.

When the team manager waiting outside the entrance saw them, his mouth twitched. "Captain Song, you got them all drunk again?"

Song Xue-Yang pointed at himself innocently. "They were trying to get me drunk."

Of course, it had been beyond their abilities.

The manager stopped the van at the door. Song Xue-Yang let the relatively sober Fan Jing-Ming get in first, and then tossed Hai Xing in after him before supporting Zhou Ning in as well. He then closed the door behind him and settled into a seat in the second row.

Hai Xing laid in Fan Jing-Ming's lap and stretched out his arms, flailing. "Why am I on a boat?"

"This isn't a boat." Zhou Ning grabbed hold of his unruly hands.

"But I feel like I'm floating!"

The familiar melody made the group perk up instantly. Before the van even started moving, the three in the back row had already begun howling along to the tune. The manager frowned, exasperated.

At this moment, the doors of the restaurant opened again and someone strode out briskly. A horde of reporters armed with cameras suddenly charged out of the previously tranquil night. The pitter patter of footsteps drew ever closer from the distance, and the successive flashes of light made it almost impossible to open one's eyes.

This scene change had occurred too abruptly — just as if 6 brawny thugs had charged out of the bushes in game to bombard you with skills — the group's attention was instantly drawn towards the commotion.

The person being chased by the reporters started running, and before Song Xue-Yang could figure out what was going on, the car door beside him had been pulled open. The cold air of the night rushed in as a figure swiftly hopped into the car to sit beside him, slamming the car door shut behind them.

"Drive," said Shen Huai.

The singing inside the car came to an abrupt halt. The gaggle of drunks were like frightened baby chicks.

Song Xue-Yang's back was against the other car door as he stared in shock at Shen Huai.

The team manager, having recognised the person who had barged into their car from the rear-view mirror, snapped his head around so quickly to stare that his neck creaked.

The reporters outside the van were pounding against the sides, but time seemed frozen inside the van.

An odd expression finally appeared on Shen Huai's perfect face. He urged, "If you don't start driving, I'm going to puke."

The van that had been like a snail just moments ago zoomed off into the night.

ryuxenji: Whee~ our main CP finally meets! o(≧▽≦)o Oh, and for those interested in the song the drunk boys were singing, it's 飘摇 (Swaying). You can listen to it at: https://youtu.be/A3t5Dbe7EXg

As always, thank you for your kind comments. They really do keep me going. ❤️️

Previous: Chapter 14: Gathering
Next: Chapter 16: Retirement Commotion

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  1. ahhhh shen huai!!! AHHH!! i love him so much LOL. imagine the hottest celebrity getting into ur car and saying that casually... the gall of him LOL. ahhhh thank you for the update!!

  2. i would be starstruck if shen huai just entered the car where i am so i can sympathize with them HAHAHAHAHAHA i can already imagine the silence. Thank you for the chapter!

  3. Haha, hope they all make it home without anybody puking in the car! Thanks for translating!

  4. Ooh they met and Hai Xing would be begging to get Ash Wing’s autograph back once he knows who he is!

    Thanks for the chapter! 💕


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