Big-Mouthed Zhou was practically apoplectic after seeing Lu Zhe's response.
For a long moment, he just pointed one trembling finger at Lu Zhe. Then, for another long moment, he just concentrated on remembering how to breathe, clutching his chest with one hand like he was about to collapse at any second.
The DG fans who had been trying to puzzle out the full story behind that photo weren't much better off. When Lu Zhe's response came out, they swarmed into the comments section to react. In no time at all, a slew of replies popped up.
[I was drinking water when I saw this. Spewed like a fountain. I think I hit the farthest reaches of the Milky Way. Captain, you wanna pull the other one?]
[Only you would be able to say this with a straight face, Captain.]
[Biggest joke of the year: two alphas flirting.]
[How is this flirting? What were you doing? Crossing swords? Come on, give us the deets. I'm listening.]
The comments section descended into chaos. Big-Mouthed Zhou was paralyzed by shock for a while before he recovered and admonished, "Quit making trouble for me! From now on, until the team issues a formal statement, you're forbidden from posting to Weibo! You're also forbidden from going outside! Otherwise we'll… we'll withhold your salary for the month! All of it! All of it, you hear?!"
Lu Zhe idly tugged at his earlobe, like he couldn't be bothered to listen to Manager Zhou's irritating chatter. His lips were still curved into a faint smile.
He clearly took Big-Mouthed Zhou's rage as nothing more than a childish temper that simply had to be weathered. Lightly, he said, "I've heard that getting so worked up at your age increases the risk of blood clots and stroke."
After saying that, he sighed softly and slightly furrowed his brows with a pained expression.
"Where's the trust these days?" Lu Zhe lamented. "Has mankind become so untrusting of one another?"
Big-Mouthed Zhou could practically feel the blood pressure rising in his brain. Alarms were going off in his head. He was so pissed that he could only laugh. To Lu Zhe, he said, "You want to talk about trust? You want to claim you're speaking the truth? You're barely speaking human! If I dropped to all fours and acted like a sow climbing a tree right now, I'd put on a more convincing act than you!"
Lu Zhe gave him a contemplative look. "…is that so?"
He stroked his slender fingers over his chin, and a look of mischief appeared in his dark eyes. His expression took on a rare hint of anticipation. "Then why don't you act it out and let me take a look?"
Big-Mouthed Zhou fell silent.
Then he exploded, "Cut the crap!"
After saying that, he spun on his heel and got ready to march out to contact their public relations team about this incident. Just as he reached the door, he heard Lu Zhe, who'd remained in place, call out from behind him:
"I have good news. Would you like to hear it?"
Big-Mouthed Zhou snorted derisively and continued stomping out. His heavy footfalls seemed to state that he would rather die than turn around.
But Lu Zhe's next words nailed him to the floor:
"Shen Qiao has agreed to come to DG."
Big-Mouthed Zhou remained frozen for a moment. Confusion and anguish flashed across his face. Then he spun sharply and raced back to Lu Zhe's side with an incredulous look. "Impossible! Why? He rejected me so adamantly when I called. And now you're saying he agreed after fighting with you today? Why don't I believe you?"
Lu Zhe gave him a once-over and stated matter-of-factly, "That's because you're ugly."
Big-Mouthed Zhou sucked in a sharp breath like he'd suddenly developed a raging toothache. "If it weren't for the fact that I couldn't beat you in a fight—"
Lu Zhe flashed a smile that wasn't like a smile at all. With an arrogant look, like he was just asking for a beating, he said, "Yes, what a pity."
Big-Mouthed Zhou fell silent. He repeatedly told himself to keep his temper in check.
After taking several deep, calming breaths, Big-Mouthed Zhou asked in a low voice, "Captain Lu, Granddaddy Lu, please satisfy my curiosity."
Lu Zhe smiled slightly and didn't wait for Big-Mouthed Zhou to ask the obvious question. He answered right away: "Because he likes me."
Big-Mouthed Zhou rolled his eyes and picked up his lost dignity. He turned on his heel again and marched out, calling back over his shoulder, "Fine. If you don't want to tell me, just don't tell me."
Lu Zhe shrugged and laughed softly. He didn't say anything more before turning and heading into the training room.
"Captain! Please have some tea!"
As soon as he entered the training room, Lu Zhe saw Qian Bao reverently offering him a cup. Her expression was full of open admiration and awe.
In all of Team DG, there weren't many people who could be so brazen online.
Qian Bao continued to gaze at Lu Zhe with admiration as she asked, "Captain, what do I need to do to cultivate this skill of telling bald-faced lies?"
Lu Zhe eyed the proffered cup with unbridled scorn, though the smile on his lips grew a little wider. He casually made his way across the room and sank into his own gaming chair, where he propped his elbow up on the armrest and his chin up on one hand. Not too slowly and not too quickly, he gave a warm answer:
"It's simple. First, you need to fall in love with an alpha."
The alpha Qian Bao instantly turned around and faced her own monitor, like their whole conversation hadn't happened at all. "My bad, forget it. That's impossible for me."
Old Wo and Er-Hua exchanged a look with each other, then turned and each gave Lu Zhe a thumbs up. They were also blatant in their admiration.
Old Wo sighed and said, "I couldn't even conceive of a tall tale like this."
Er-Hua nodded thoughtfully. "He's our daddy for a reason. Ordinary plebs like us can't imagine bullshitting like him."
Alphas were dominant by nature, and their pheromones were innately incompatible. Their instincts drove them to compete and even fight with one another. If Cupid blindly shot his arrows into a literal pile of alphas, those alphas would find a way to deflect every shot.
Old Wo glared at Er-Hua. "Don't lump me in with you. Do you think I'd call someone my daddy so easily?"
In the next instant, he turned to Lu Zhe and asked, "Daddy Lu, do you wanna queue up together?"
"No," Lu Zhe answered lightly.
Old Wo tried to gain sympathy by crying like a miserable little hamster. "Think about it? You don't want to miss out on a killer ADC like me. I'll wait for you!"
Lu Zhe remained firm in his refusal.
Er-Hua smirked mockingly at Old Wo, then pinched his voice into a falsetto and shrilled, "Gege, check me out! I can be sweet, I can fight, and I can take a beating. Why don't we team up and become the LPL's most intimate duo?"
Qian Bao sighed as she listened to their shameless self-promotion. "In ancient times, people like you would have been strung up like pigs."
Er-Hua and Old Wo turned to her and scoffed in unison.
Lu Zhe's reply rang out at the same time:
"This jungler has already been claimed. Outsiders begone."
Then, he picked up his cell phone, loaded up Weibo, and began to type out a private message to Shen Qiao.
At the same time.
Shen Qiao, Lele, and Xu Xiao were sitting in the manager's office. Lele pointed at Xu Xiao and said, "Judging by the angle of that photo, it was taken from inside the building. At that time, I passed the second floor and saw him taking a photo of something on his phone. Who else could have taken the picture, if not him? He was at the right window and everything."
Xu Xiao innocently spread his hands. "You checked my cell phone. It wasn't posted from my account, and you didn't find the photo on my phone. Slandering people without evidence is no good, is it?"
Lele laughed coldly and clearly wanted to continue speaking, but their manager interrupted with a clap of his hands and said, "Okay, that's enough. Don't argue."
The manager looked at the indifferent Shen Qiao, then he looked at Xu Xiao. One of them was about to become a benchwarmer, while the other was the team's expensive new top laner who upper management planned to debut that season. The manager knew what had to be done.
"Alright, don't let this happen again. I don't like infighting, and the big bosses at the top don't like it either."
He left Xu Xiao with that meaningful warning, then turned to Shen Qiao.
"Shen Qiao, that goes for you too. I don't want to see you getting into physical altercations with anyone again. Otherwise, the team may consider banning you from future games."
Lele's eyes widened. This was blatant favoritism, but before he could say anything, Shen Qiao hummed a curt sound of acknowledgement and walked away.
And so, Lele only shot a fierce glare at Xu Xiao before following Shen Qiao out.
On his way out, Shen Qiao felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out and saw a spam message. At the same time, he also saw that someone had sent him a private message on Weibo.
He clicked in and saw a familiar black and white avatar—
DG-ZHE: I left in a hurry today. Forgot to tell you something.
DG-ZHE: When you become DG's top laner, I swear to exclusively play in the top lane.
Seeing that, Shen Qiao moved his thumbs over the screen, wanting to type something in the chat box. But he didn't end up sending anything.
Because at just that time, two new messages popped up.
DG-ZHE: Oh, that's right.
DG-ZHE: [photo] This photo is pretty nice. Give my thanks to the photographer.
Shen Qiao ultimately sent back a string of ellipses.
Seeing that response, Lu Zhe smiled triumphantly at his computer monitor. He continued to type with his well-defined fingers, wearing a look of immense satisfaction on his face.
A while later, Shen Qiao abruptly stopped walking and took a deep breath. He blurted out, apropos of nothing, "I regret it."
Lele gave him a blank look. "Huh?"
Shen Qiao locked eyes with him and asked a heartfelt question: "Earlier, why didn't I just beat Lu Zhe to death?"
Lele was alarmed.
Shen Qiao lowered his gaze to his phone again, then chose one of Lu Zhe's most recent messages to report.
Those most recent messages—
DG-ZHE: You know what?
DG-ZHE: The way you look in this photo, like you want to hit me but can't bring yourself to lift a hand, makes me want to fuck you to tears.