Lu Zhe's movements had come so suddenly that Shen Qiao froze for an instant. The side of his face remained pressed to the fabric covering Lu Zhe's shoulder.
The other party's slightly elevated body temperature seeped out through his shirt, and the scent of his pheromones swiftly filled Shen Qiao's nose.
By the time Shen Qiao finally reacted, Lu Zhe had already carded his fingers through his hair and grazed his nails over his scalp. He'd even given Shen Qiao's head a pat, leaving him with a few words that sounded simultaneously like concern and a provocation.
"What do you need cigarettes for?" Lu Zhe had said. "Isn't my scent more addictive?"
Shen Qiao couldn't identify the feelings that coursed through him when he heard those words. When he came back to his senses, he knocked Lu Zhe's hand away and pursed his lips. Sitting up straight, he sharply wheeled his chair back to his desk. He moved with such force that the armrest of his chair slammed into the desk with an audible bang.
Everyone instinctively looked up to find the source of the sound.
Coach Fang, the only person who'd witnessed the whole exchange, gave Lu Zhe a faintly disapproving look and warned, "I'd like a certain someone to not mess with his own teammates' psyche before a match."
A moment ago, Qian Bao had been adjusting the height of her chair. With her headphones on and her head bowed low, she totally missed whatever Lu Zhe had whispered. She'd only noticed that Shen Qiao seemed to have moved his chair closer to Lu Zhe for a short while.
She put the puzzle pieces together in her mind, thinking about Lu Zhe's filthy and vengeful nature. Suddenly, she felt like she'd gotten a peek at some hidden truth.
Lu Zhe was the type of person who would take revenge without letting anyone realize he'd resorted to any low, cheap tactics. But they were going to play with Shen Qiao for at least a season. Keeping that in mind, Qian Bao felt obligated to clear her throat and say:
"Captain, don't bully our nice new kid just 'cause you're a degenerate."
Old Wo instantly added, "That's right. Old Daddy and New Daddy need to get along, or I'll feel super awkward being your son."
"…Old Wo," Er-Hua said. "How shameless can you get?"
Lu Zhe unmuted himself again and glanced over at Shen Qiao, who was already wearing his own headset. Shen Qiao's profile was cold and stoic. After a moment, Lu Zhe could only sigh and compromise.
"Alright," he said into the voice channel, with a smile tinging his tone. "I won't bully him anymore."
While Team DG chatted, the five members of Team BLX had already gotten online. Soon enough, the clock struck eight.
The private server simulated a real match. They started with bans and picks; taking turns, each team would ban three champions.
Instantly, Old Wo spoke into his mic: "Let's ban Draven, yeah? The Draven-Soraka combo is insane."
His teammates didn't protest; they chose Draven as their first ban.
The other team banned Elise, the Spider Queen.
"Wow," Qian Bao murmured lightly.
Elise was the champion Lu Zhe had used at the world championships last year. Because this champion could summon spiderlings, she could move freely through the jungle without taking any damage. By switching between her two forms, Elise could act as a solid carry for her team.
Lu Zhe's nickname, 'Emperor Lu', stemmed from his history with this empress, this queen.
When he first came to Team DG, Lu Zhe played Elise in his debut match—but he didn't play well. Trolls derisively called him 'Emperor Lu' and mocked his shitty skills with Elise until last year's world championship, where Lu Zhe carried his whole team to victory with Elise as his champion.
Since then, those mocking cries of 'Emperor Lu' had turned into genuinely respectful shouts of 'Lu-ge' and 'Daddy Lu'.
Seeing the enemy ban one of his best champions, Lu Zhe lightly furrowed his brows. But taking up one of their opponents' ban slots meant their opponents acknowledged his skill, and Lu Zhe's pool of viable champions was deep, anyway.
"Second ban," Lu Zhe said. "Rakan?"
There were a few formidable combinations that could be run on the bottom lane. Soraka and Draven made up one golden pair, and Rakan and Xayah were another. Before any match, teams blocked off as many of those dangerous duos as possible.
Old Wo was elated. "Deal! How about EZ, for our third ban?"
EZ was Ezreal, a bottom lane champion that could easily win the upper hand and set a rhythm for his team. With the enhanced movement skills in his kit, he wasn't easy to suppress.
Hearing Old Wo's demands, Coach Fang twitched. All three of those bans would benefit Old Wo. The coach grit out a warning through his teeth: "So high maintenance. Why don't you just ban Mo Mo?"
Old Wo laughed, but he didn't dare push his agenda to seal away Mo Mo's best picks anymore.
It was Lu Zhe who lazily said, "It's fine. This is only the first round, anyway."
Shen Qiao and Qian Bao didn't have any objections either.
They did ban Ezreal in the end, while BLX chose to ban Gragas and Qiyana.
Immediately afterwards, the champion selection phase began—
Shen Qiao helped Old Wo lock in Kai'Sa. Their opponents took Jayce for their top lane and Jarvan IV as their jungler.
When Lu Zhe's turn came up, Er-Hua quietly whispered through the voice channel, where everyone could hear: "Daddy Lu, help me out! Thresh! Nautilus! Whichever is fine, I can do it all!"
However, Lu Zhe ignored him and leisurely called out, "Qiaoqiao. Which champion do you want? Tell gege. Gege will pick for you."
Er-Hua was silent.
"You're starting that shit again?" Qian Bao griped.
"Lu Zhe," Coach Fang deadpanned. "Do you need a timeout to calm yourself down?"
After saying that, the coach swept his dark and solemn gaze over the five players and flashed a forced, professional smile. "Go ahead. Keep messing around. If you lose to BLX tonight, you'll all have two extra hours of training per day starting tomorrow."
As soon as those words landed, Lu Zhe locked in Nautilus for Er-Hua and coolly said, "Alright, everyone calm down."
No one said a word.
Finally, both sides used up their remaining bans.
Team DG locked in Kai'Sa and Titan. Qian Bao chose LeBlanc for herself, leaving Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao as the only ones who'd yet to choose their champions.
Lu Zhe glanced over to the side with a warm smile lighting up his eyes. "I'll take the Blind Monk, and you'll use…?"
Shen Qiao answered without hesitation: "Kayle."
Everyone seemed a little surprised to hear that choice. Coach Fang said, "Kayle is nearly useless before level six. If we let them take the advantage early on, we probably won't be able to recover the upper hand. You sure about this?"
Shen Qiao nodded.
Coach Fang didn't say anything else to dissuade him.
The opposing Team BLX also finished choosing their five champions: Jayce, Jarvan IV, Galio, Lucian, and Leona.
Soon enough, the match began—
Lu Zhe headed into the jungle. Shen Qiao waited for the other four to gear up before heading out to the top lane. DG's team comp would only work if Kai'Sa and Kayle had time to level up, so obviously they would rely heavily on Lu Zhe and Qian Bao in the middle lane during the early stages.
The top lane—
As soon as Shen Qiao got into his lane, the opposing Xu Xiao came in swinging his hammer. Shen Qiao dodged back with Kayle, using her E skill to get away. But Xu Xiao still caught up to him for a moment. He landed a blow with Jayce's hammer, knocking down half of Kayle's health in one blow.
Shen Qiao instantly used a potion to restore his HP.
At just over two minutes into the match, Jayce had already claimed four minions.
But Shen Qiao wasn't worried at all. He calmly manned the top lane, poking at Xu Xiao from a safe distance.
Meanwhile, in the jungle, Lu Zhe swiftly felled some Krugs and scored some buffs.
As he fought, he asked, "Qiaoqiao, you wanna eat these red and blue buffs?"
Shen Qiao was already distractedly trying to do two things at once. While avoiding Xu Xiao's attacks, he tried to poke holes in the enemy's defense as well. So when he heard these words from Lu Zhe, his mouth answered before his brain could react:
"Shut up. Stop trying to seduce me."
Lu Zhe laughed softly. His headset came equipped with an excellent mic, which carried and amplified that pleasant hum of his, turning it into a sound that could easily make a listener's imagination run wild.
Qian Bao, who was struggling to hold her own against the enemy Galio in the middle lane, nearly failed to dodge a blow from her opponent. Helplessly, she uttered into her mic:
"Captain, I'm begging you. Don't be a perv, okay?"
In the bottom lane, Old Wo and Er-Hua had already leveled up. Er-Hua had hooked the enemy Leona, but he'd been stunned by Leona's Q skill at the same time. Old Wo wasn't doing so well against Mo Mo's Lucian, either. When he heard Lu Zhe taking time to tease Shen Qiao while manning the jungle, Old Wo couldn't help but lodge a protest:
"Daddy Lu, if you have so much free time, why don't you come help us out in the bottom lane?"
Before Old Wo even finished speaking, Lu Zhe's calm voice rang out again:
"Jarvan disappeared. Old Wo, Er-Hua. Keep your eyes on the river. Don't go too deep. He's getting ready to gank."
Old Wo and Er-Hua grunted their acknowledgement in unison.
At the four-minute mark or so, Lu Zhe spoke again: "First one up is an infernal drake. It's ours."
He moved his blind monk into the bottom lane, but the opposing BLX clearly had the same idea. Slaying the infernal drake granted an attack buff. Whichever team scored the kill was sure to gain an advantage in the early stages of the game.
The blind monk, Kai'Sa, and Nautilus faced off against Jarvan IV, Lucian, and Leona by the river.
Titan tried to hook Lucian, but Lucian deftly dodged the attempt. Leona retaliated—
Er-Hua tsked, disappointed in his own failed attempt to hook anything but air. Old Wo, marked by Leona, was targeted by the enemy Jarvan IV and Lucian.
For a split second, Er-Hua hesitated. But Lu Zhe's voice rang out decisively, without any trace of doubt:
"Forget it. Leave him."
Old Wo wailed pitifully.
A call of 'First Blood!' rang out, and with that—Kai'Sa became the first death Team DG gave away.
However, DG's troubles didn't end there. At the seven-minute mark, BLX ganged up against Qian Bao's LeBlanc. With her health dropping dangerously low, Qian Bao dragged her bloody self back to their base. BLX took the opportunity to slay the infernal dragon.
At the ten-minute mark, their tower in the bottom lane lost three plates under the enemy's assault.
Lu Zhe suddenly spoke up: "Old Wo, Er-Hua. Come here. We'll take the Herald."
He charged in against the Rift Herald with his blind monk before he even finished speaking.
BLX's Xu Xiao wanted to interfere with him, but Shen Qiao stopped him. While Kai'sa and Titan made their way through DG's jungle, the opposing Mo Mo and Lele took the chance to take down one of their towers in the bottom lane.
Just as one of Team DG's towers fell, Lu Zhe defeated the Rift Herald. He took the Herald and headed straight down the middle lane.
The enemy Galio had just gone back to their base to change his gear. Lu Zhe and Qian Bao led the Herald on a rampage down the unattended middle lane.
Very soon, Galio got back into position. Jarvan IV joined him on the middle lane as well, and the opposing bottom laners came rushing over too.
Old Wo slipped back to his own lane to farm some experience. Er-Hua, meanwhile, continued to drift around. He successfully hooked Galio, and Lu Zhe and LeBlanc instantly flung all their offensive skills at the ensnared enemy—
While they focused their attacks on Galio, Jarvan IV and Lucian rushed over, flinging their skills at Lu Zhe's blind monk.
A team fight broke out between the two sides!
Lu Zhe's HP plummeted quickly. He calmly flashed away, but Leona kept him under her control.
Just as Lu Zhe faced certain death in the middle lane—
Shen Qiao charged into the fray, flinging out his R skill just in the nick of time!
A golden circle of light emerged below Lu Zhe's feet, rendering him invulnerable for the moment. The angelic Kayle, bathed in golden light, descended upon the battle.
At that moment, the opposing Galio had been killed. The enemy Jarvan IV, at half-health, was under stasis. Leona had been hooked by Titan, and all of Lucian's skills were on cooldown.
Lu Zhe looked at the golden glow under his own feet and smiled. "Qiaoqiao…"
He wanted to say, I hadn't called for you yet.
But Shen Qiao seemed to know what he wanted to say.
"Mm," he interjected lazily. "I'm here."
Our top laner x jungler ship is sailing! Who can defeat our Qiaoqiao's angelic R? Just try it!
PS - I started writing an hour earlier than usual today. Who knew it would take me so long to write a battle scene…
But I feel like anyone who doesn't play LoL is crying too.
I hope nobody thinks I'm a faker. QAQ (But it's okay if you think I suck.)