Chapter 7
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Xiao Yi had walked to the third floor and cursed himself for not working out anymore. His legs throbbed with a dull ache, the type that he’d only previously experienced when hiking with his old friends or doing leg day at the gym.
This was heaven’s way of punishing him, that must be it. Lee didn’t tell them about the elevator being down because he’s in on it, the entire world hates him!
Suddenly, his totally graceful, not at all painful, descent was interrupted by a barrage of text messages and he found an excuse to let himself rest.
Xiao Yi stopped at the second-floor entrance and moved to lean against the window, out of any resident's way if they also found themselves on the hellish track of using the stairs.
[V]: Good morning sleeping beauty.
[V]: I saw you leave the apartment, where are you going?
[V]: Want a drink?
[V]: I was originally going to ask… Do you want to be an accompanying player again? I had an application come through.
Xiao Yi hummed to himself as he thought it over, giving his legs a moment to rest.
Xiao Yi had only just woken up in the hospital, still delirious from the high fever, when V came to visit.
As the doors pushed open to welcome the visitor, both the nurse and V were surprised to see him attempting to sit up in his confusion. The nurse left, and V stared at him for a long moment as he tried to contain his emotions.
It was Xiao Yi’s first time seeing V face-to-face outside of a professional setting despite being friends online for nearly a year. He was his only friend outside of the original group of friends.
Somehow, they had met through Chen Qiang who had found him in a party recruit for a new dungeon. V was only online to test the game, but after meeting the two players whose names he recognized from the league, he decided to play with them for a while.
Chen Qiang had to train more than Xiao Yi, so the two of them became very close in a short amount of time. He learned that V was the CEO of the company that created Valley of Light, but despite that, they joked around like normal teenagers.
Sometimes he’d give tips on how to improve the game, but it was a similar attitude as - you’re a friend, so I’ll give you advice.
V stood in the doorway, his normally pale face was red with anger, but his phoenix honey eyes were still wet with tears, and his face was a little puffy. His vibrant red hair which was usually styled was a mess, as if he rolled straight out of bed and ran to the hospital without brushing it.
He hadn’t even put on a suit. He was wearing pajama bottoms with a coat.
This was the face of a CEO who had no care about his reputation when things got rough.
He took one look at Xiao Yi and started cursing, “You bastard! I, your father, haven’t died yet so how dare you try to chase death?”
He moved closer to the bed as he continued venting, “How’d you end up here huh? I know how much money you make. I’m the one who gives out the budgets to the teams, the one who pays the prize money for the league - how dare you end up on the street?”
“Is the bench outside better than a warm, cozy bed in my mansion?”
“Were you looking to die?”
“How’d I find out about my best friend not being in the hospital after not receiving a message for two weeks… From his brother calling to ask if I heard from him! How dare you?”
V stopped ranting and looked at his best friend, lying on the hospital bed looking as if he were really dying. He felt as if the other had gone through life and came back. Xiao Yi was sickly pale despite being curled up tight in a blanket and hooked up to a drip. He had bags under his eyes from not sleeping, chapped lips, and the most striking difference was how skinny he’d become.
“Why didn’t you ask me to house you? What about your brother? Parents? Even if the entire esports world is against you, we will pick you up in a second.”
Xiao Yi, who had been silent with a straight face suddenly let a singular tear fall.
He hadn’t cried in more than ten years, but as the first tear fell it must have opened the flood gates and soon he was sobbing on the hospital bed with a CEO who had no idea how to calm him down.
He lurched forward as his heart hurt, the fever amplifying his emotions.
“Wait, don’t cry, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t scold you too hard.”
He didn’t reach out to V because he’d already reached out to some acquaintances from the league for help, only to get torn apart and told to go die. He didn’t want to know V’s reaction, he didn’t want to lose another friend in such an ugly way.
Xiao Yi’s scratchy voice spoke out softly, “I was disowned, don’t tell my brother…”
V’s hand on the nurse button paused and he slowly turned to the voice, “What? When? Why?”
Xiao Yi’s tears continued to fall and he had a small smile that wasn’t quite a smile, “Did you really think the company would just hand them the contracts and let them walk out? Four esports players who just won the world championship… The company was planning to sell them off overseas for the highest price, I just made a little deal.”
V’s face went from red to white in a second as his hand shook. He’d heard about what happened… Frost, the captain of Team X led them to victory, collaborated with the company to shut down right before the brackets after making all the money, and then ripped the contracts in front of his teammates and told them to leave when they could.
He didn’t help them find a team. He didn’t leave with them to create a new one. He told them to get out.
He heartlessly abandoned them.
V nearly spit out blood. The contracts the five of them signed were five-year contracts. They should have been sold off to the highest bidders when the company disbanded, they wouldn’t have a choice of where to go…
V stared at Xiao Yi who clearly wasn’t in the right mind to know that he likely wanted to keep this a secret and asked, “What kind of deal did you make?”