WHEN AN ALPHA IS MARKED BY ONE OF HIS OWN KIND

Chapter 43

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Lu Zhe had to admire Shen Qiao's memory. Shen Qiao always remembered what he shouldn't, and forgot what he was supposed to remember.

"You only think of it as me cursing you," Lu Zhe pointed out helplessly. He massaged his temples as a warm, affectionate smile curved his eyes. "Can't you see it as me coaxing you to stop smoking?"

Shen Qiao scoffed coldly and looked away from Lu Zhe. He turned his gaze to the pedestrians walking around them, and he answered disinterestedly, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You coaxed me so politely. How could I have missed your deeper, kinder meaning."

The word 'kinder' was laced with no small amount of emphatic sarcasm.

As soon as he heard Shen Qiao's response, Lu Zhe knew he was in for a world of trouble. He instinctively wanted to sweet talk Shen Qiao's bad mood away, but by the time Lu Zhe lifted a hand, Shen Qiao had already stomped off. His steps were hurried and hasty; it was obvious he was trying to leave Lu Zhe behind.

Lu Zhe shook his head and quickened his own pace, catching up to Shen Qiao in long strides. From behind Shen Qiao, he lowered his voice and called out, "Don't walk so fast. Do you know where you're going?"

Shen Qiao had originally planned on giving Lu Zhe the cold shoulder for a while. At that question, he ground to a sudden halt and stuffed both hands into his pockets. With a cold smile curving his lips, he asked, "What, I don't deserve to eat just because I don't know the way?"

Lu Zhe was silent.

He lowered his head and sighed before answering, "No, I'm the one who doesn't deserve to eat."

After all, did a person who had just made their future wife angry deserve to eat? Certainly not.

Lu Zhe reflected upon his own actions in his mind, then glanced at the people passing by outside their hotel. In a sweeter tone, one that obviously begged to be forgiven, he soothed, "Don't be mad. I was wrong."

Shen Qiao didn't say another word. He marched away from their hotel and headed towards the first okay-ish restaurant he saw. It was obvious that he'd already lost interest in the restaurant Lu Zhe had mentioned. He just wanted to eat his fill somewhere, fast, and get back to the game.

Lu Zhe touched his own nose again. He didn't dare say anything else to provoke Shen Qiao. He caught up once more, following Shen Qiao in silence. At the convenient restaurant Shen Qiao chose, Lu Zhe sat quietly and handed Shen Qiao the menu. He poured drinks for Shen Qiao, he unpackaged the cutlery for both of them—behaving like the perfect little bride.

……

"Qiaoqiao…"

After returning to their hotel and getting out of the elevator, Lu Zhe checked their surroundings to make sure they were alone. It was only then that he reached out for Shen Qiao's arm. But Shen Qiao easily dodged his attempt and fished out a card key from his pocket, intending to head back to his own hotel room for a shower before training some more.

Shen Qiao opened his door, then moved to close it—

Only to have Lu Zhe forcibly squeeze his way inside.

Shen Qiao looked back at Lu Zhe. His gaze was still mercilessly cold. However, that cutting glare had no effect on the thick-skinned Lu Zhe. Not only was he undeterred, he even continued to smile cheekily at Shen Qiao.

Just looking at that grin made Shen Qiao want to give Lu Zhe a beating. He'd just decided to continue ignoring Lu Zhe's antics when Lu Zhe suddenly seemed to read his mind.

Lu Zhe took two steps closer and lowered his voice to whisper. "Don't hit me in the face. There's a game the day after tomorrow."

Shen Qiao said nothing.

Lu Zhe watched as Shen Qiao seemed to grow even more miffed. Truly helpless, Lu Zhe tentatively suggested, "Then… how about I get on my knees and let you beat me? I swear I won't hit you back."

Shen Qiao listened to his increasingly preposterous suggestions. The fire that had possessed his heart was burning hotter. For some reason that he couldn't begin to explain, his hand shot up and fisted in Lu Zhe's collar. He yanked Lu Zhe closer and bit at his lips.

Shen Qiao didn't hold back the slightest bit of strength.

Lu Zhe sucked in a cold, pained breath. But a hazy laugh rose from the back of his throat. He lifted a hand and gently stroked Shen Qiao's back, up and down, as though to soothe and placate him.

Shen Qiao, hearing that faint laugh, only intensified his attack.

Lu Zhe finally couldn't just stand there any longer. But he didn't try to evade Shen Qiao's assault. In fact, he moved closer, giving himself over to that clash of lips and teeth while smiling and urging, "Not so hard… I really won't be able to face anyone later…"

The more Lu Zhe acted up, the fiercer Shen Qiao became. He even viciously snapped, "Shut your mouth."

Lu Zhe's lower lip was starting to ache quite badly. Just as he was about to rein it in and stop provoking Shen Qiao, he tasted a hint of copper on his tongue. Shen Qiao paused at the exact same moment.

In the next instant—

The hand Lu Zhe had placed on Shen Qiao's back began to move up, finally settling at the back of Shen Qiao's head. Lu Zhe didn't sink his fingers into Shen Qiao's hair. He only increased the pressure of his touch, drawing Shen Qiao closer. He took control now, abandoning the guise of being the passive party, and seized the reins.

"Have a taste," he whispered. "Does it taste bad?"

Shen Qiao was thoroughly captivated by Lu Zhe's soft, inviting tone. It was a gentle tone that was laced with a flirtatious sort of perversion, and it suddenly rendered Shen Qiao speechless. He could only mumble something unintelligible as the sight of Lu Zhe's mirthful eyes filled his field of vision. Those frosty eyes were so joyous—beautiful, and cool and salacious as well.

……

After their bout of 'nonsense' concluded, Shen Qiao leaned against the door to the bathroom with his arms folded in front of his chest. He watched as Lu Zhe studied himself in the mirror, checking out the cut on his bitten lips. Those thin lips were a pale peach color in the day, but now they were at least three times redder, tinged a deeper shade by their kisses. It was as though those peach blossom lips had been ground up, producing a fine nectar that seeped out now.

Lu Zhe caught a glimpse of the look in Shen Qiao's eyes through the mirror. He pressed down on his split lip as he turned around. The light in the bathroom danced off the mirrors and lit up his eyes. He grinned and asked, "How about I head out and wander around the streets a bit, to show off your masterpiece?"

Shen Qiao straightened and expressionlessly menaced, "You would dare?"

Maybe Lu Zhe had no shame, but Shen Qiao sure as hell did.

After thinking about it for a moment, Shen Qiao bit out a few more words through gritted teeth—

"You were asking for it."

Lu Zhe braced one hand against the edge of the sink and leaned back to study Shen Qiao. He could see that Shen Qiao's anger had diminished, and Lu Zhe wasn't interested in pissing him off again. Instead of offering his usual sharp-tongued, teasing retort, he simply answered, "Yeah. I deserved it."

He didn't pay any more attention to the cut at the corner of his lips. Instead, he moved closer to Shen Qiao again and lifted his arms to draw him into an embrace. He hooked his chin over Shen Qiao's shoulder and tipped his head, letting his breath ghost over the crook of Shen Qiao's neck as he spoke—

"It was all my fault. I should have been nicer in those messages I sent in your stream. That way, I wouldn't have had to keep borrowing other people's alts to get in."

After all, being banned from your ex-boyfriend's streams and having to constantly borrow accounts just to get back in wasn't something Lu Zhe could brag about.

Besides…

When Lu Zhe thought of Shen Qiao's poor mood, he even wanted to give himself a beating.

Back when he sent those messages, Lu Zhe hadn't known what Shen Qiao went through after their separation. And he didn't know how hard Shen Qiao had worked during their time apart. He'd only been focused on… how he could direct and influence Shen Qiao's life, in the ways he thought were right.

He had originally tried sending messages like 'smoking is bad for your health', but all those comments had gone unnoticed. In the end, he'd resorted to more eye-catching remarks to really grab Shen Qiao's attention.

But that hadn't been right.

Lu Zhe lifted his head and met Shen Qiao's gaze with barely any distance between them. There was no trace of a smile in his tone of voice now as he said, earnestly, "I'm sorry."

Shen Qiao was thoroughly shocked by this heartfelt apology. He shifted his gaze away in discomfort, but his thoughts were written all over his face—

Since you apologized so sincerely, I'll be merciful and forget about this.

After a moment, he remembered something and lifted a hand to push Lu Zhe back. At the same time, he asked, "Account?"

Lu Zhe didn't understand right away. "Hm?"

Shen Qiao didn't look at him. He kept his tone light and casual in a forced sort of way and continued, "Give me your account ID. I'll look through my blacklist later and remove you. Better to clear that space for someone else."

Hearing that, Lu Zhe couldn't help but grin with amusement.

He lifted a hand to reach for his cell phone out of habit. He planned on checking his notes to find his account information, because he had way too many alts and borrowed accounts to have memorized them all. It was simply impossible to cram all that information into one brain.

However, right after unlocking his phone's screen, Lu Zhe suddenly changed his mind. He dropped his phone back into his pocket and took Shen Qiao's hand in his own, bringing it up to his lips to brush a kiss over his fingers.

"Forget it. I don't remember anymore," he said with a smile in his eyes. "It's fine, anyway. The banned accounts were all alts. No big deal."

Shen Qiao shook off that grossly sweet gesture of affection. He furrowed his brow and stared at Lu Zhe's pocket, sensing intuitively that there was something wrong with this answer from Lu Zhe.

Lu Zhe was hiding something, for some reason.

He lifted his gaze again and coolly studied Lu Zhe. His brows rose like sharpened blades, and he spoke with an exceptionally patient tone—

"Are you sure you want to continue lying to me?"

Lu Zhe was silent.

With Shen Qiao staring at him, the stinging cut on Lu Zhe's lip seemed to sting a little harder. In the end, Lu Zhe was helpless to do anything but surrender. He took his cell phone out again and pulled up the note with his account info, scooting closer to Shen Qiao to show him as he mumbled, "It's just some dark history…"

Shen Qiao skimmed through the first few lines of that note and quickly realized there were more than twenty accounts listed there. He couldn't help but admire Lu Zhe's speed when it came to creating alt accounts.

After turning and heading out of the bathroom, Shen Qiao found his own laptop to see if he could make changes to his streaming room's blacklist from there. Lu Zhe had all his account IDs listed along with their passwords. Shen Qiao should have been able to just go down the list and unban each one.

While the laptop booted up, Shen Qiao checked out those IDs again, just to see if he could recognize any of them—

His finger abruptly paused when he scrolled to the very bottom of the list.

"69370000? This numerical ID…"

Lu Zhe's heart flipped in his chest, but his expression and tone of voice remained unflustered as he asked, "What about it? You think that string of numbers looks familiar?"

Shen Qiao glanced at Lu Zhen, then logged into his streaming room. He loaded up a log of tips he'd received from his viewers and started to scroll down, but Lu Zhe quickly lifted a hand and blocked the screen.

"Alright, alright. It was me," Lu Zhe said. "How could you possibly remember a stingy little account that only sent you a hundred yuan per day?"

He sighed helplessly, once again baffled by Shen Qiao's mysterious memory. Years ago, in high school, Shen Qiao had enrolled in the humanities track with a memory like that? Unless Shen Qiao filled out his exams with his eyes closed, his memory alone was probably enough to guarantee him good scores.

Shen Qiao pursed his lips and didn't say a word as he pried Lu Zhe's hand away. He kept scrolling past the accounts that had tipped him hundreds of thousands of yuan. After going down a hundred names or so, he found the numerical ID from Lu Zhe's list, which had tipped him a total of nine thousand yuan.

He stared at that account ID and that sum for a long moment before he murmured, "Not stingy at all."

……

It was a memory from a time shortly after Shen Jinyi passed away.

Lu Chengzhen had welcomed his 'new family' into the house without any delay. Shen Qiao had had no interest in keeping that new couple company, and he had no idea how to treat Lu Qianshuang, so he'd simply decided to leave the Lu family's home.

He took all the money he'd gradually saved throughout the years and got himself a hotel room in a neighboring city.

Unsurprisingly, Lu Chengzhen turned a blind eye to Shen Qiao's departure. He let Shen Qiao go and didn't pay him any mind, as though he'd never had an adopted child in the family in the first place. Shen Jinyi's existence had been nothing more than a hindrance to Lu Chengzhen, after all. It seemed only natural to him that he would instantly forget the adopted son that Shen Jinyi had taken in.

Shen Qiao knew that no good would have come out of it even if he'd been thick-skinned enough to stay in that house. Considering his relationship with Lu Zhe, Shen Qiao was already a thorn in Su Qiongpei's side. And Shen Qiao wasn't the type to linger where he obviously wasn't wanted.

Either he left of his own volition, or the Lu family would have told him to scram.

As for going back to school…

When he thought of his own academic standing, Shen Qiao was very sure that there wouldn't have been much of a point in him taking the college entrance exams. He could either go to a vocational school and work hard to earn a diploma that might end up being useless to him, or he could repeat a year of high school, which meant he might have had to get a job to pay his own tuition.

Either way, he would have had to get a part-time job. Shen Qiao figured he would just get straight to the point and start working.

He booked himself a very cheap single-person room for a month at a special introductory rate. Then he headed out and started looking for a job.

But no matter which restaurant or factory he went to, he was turned away. As soon as they learned he was still a minor, they rejected him outright, not wanting any trouble.

After running around for a few days without getting any results, Shen Qiao could only go to a net cafe to try his luck. But who could've known that even net cafes were more strictly regulated those days—the owner told Shen Qiao that, starting earlier that year, minors weren't allowed to get online at net cafes.

Shen Qiao had no choice but to start looking in darker alleyways. He finally found a shady net cafe that would let him in. It wasn't easy to find, and the atmosphere inside was an absolute disaster.

At a very young age, Shen Qiao learned how to use cigarettes to communicate with people. He learned to coexist with a bunch of rowdy guys who had no place in 'civilized' society. And he learned to read people's moods. All for the sake of getting some work as a gaming coach at a shady net cafe.

His coaching fee was twenty yuan per day, and he had to pay eighteen yuan to the boss to get online.

The remaining two yuan wasn't enough for him to eat a full meal, and he was often harassed about paying some 'protection money' to the scoundrels hanging around as well.

Naturally, Shen Qiao never gave them a single cent. If he did, he would have been taking a loss every day! Even though he was only earning two yuan a day, he could at least say he was earning something. It was enough to buy four steamed buns per day, which was enough for him to live on, as long as the owner of the steamed buns cart was kind enough not to puff up the buns with too much air.

Single queues, team fights, rinse and repeat…

Every day, Shen Qiao went back to the hotel with fresh bruises on his face. When he found his living expenses burning a hole in his wallet, he downgraded from a five-star hotel to a three-star hotel, then from a three-star hotel to a shitty motel—the sort where you could even hear your neighbor coughing through the wall.

After living for another half a month like that, he got himself on good enough terms with the owner of the net cafe to rent himself a living space there for as cheap as possible.

During that time, his cell phone was wrecked in a fight with the ruffians at the cafe. His luxury clothes were ruined, and his watch—which had cost upwards of ten thousand yuan—was nearly stolen. He ultimately decided to strike first and pawn his watch off at a secondhand store, exchanging it for some cash that sat in his bank account.

……

In order to avoid starving to death, Shen Qiao also learned how to stream while coaching. He made the most of every second of every day.

When he was just starting out, earning money by streaming was very difficult. He wasn't accustomed to speaking while live, and he refused to turn on his camera. Even half a month after he started streaming, he didn't have more than a hundred viewers. The only people who gave him attention were the ones who thought his skills were pretty good.

Later, the owner of the net cafe seemed to see how miserable Shen Qiao really was. He scooted over to Shen Qiao's chair and shook his head disapprovingly, advising, "You really want to make money? If you do, you gotta turn on your camera."

Shen Qiao bitterly asked, "Is my face worth more than my skills?"

The boss nodded. "To the viewers who don't understand the game, yes—your face is worth more than your skills."

Shen Qiao was silent for a moment. "…but I'm a gaming streamer, aren't I?"

The boss patted the back of his chair and gravely told him, "You should be glad you're a gaming streamer. You'll be the best-looking one out of all of them, and you'll be the most skilled one as well."

Shen Qiao fell silent again.

After a moment, he instinctively replied, "I'm not the best-looking one."

For no definable reason, he suddenly thought of Lu Zhe. If that guy started to stream, all he would need to do was turn on the camera, and half a year's salary would magically fall into his lap…

Shen Qiao stared blankly at the monitor for a while. In that smoke-filled net cafe, where strange stenches and loud cursing rose from the background, Shen Qiao was suddenly overcome by longing.

His heart became sour and acidic, like someone had poured lemon juice into his veins. Even after he shook himself off, Shen Qiao still felt that sourness in all his limbs, like the feeling had permeated every single one of his cells.

"Okay, okay, okay. You aren't the best-looking one, but you're the most handsome!" the boss compromised. He didn't know what Shen Qiao was thinking, and he soon walked away with a cigarette between his lips.

When Shen Qiao came back to his senses, he studied his streaming room for a long moment. Though he was still dubious, he finally turned on his camera for the first time.

That day, his viewership count reached four digits for the first time. And it was also the first time he received a tip.

Some people tipped him six yuan, others threw him system gifts. Bullet comments started to flow across the stream as well, but most of the questions were—

[Little gege, do you have a partner? If not, how about me? Would you consider me? If you do have one, do you want one more?]

[Just based on your appearance, I don't care if you're an alpha, beta, or omega. I would, I totally would!]

[If I go download LoL right now, will I become as handsome as you?]

[Let's keep it simple! Just name your price! How much do you want for your private contact info? How much to get on your friends list?]

Shen Qiao glanced at the chaos in the bullet comments. He couldn't help but furrow his brow with a frown.

"Not adding any friends."

As soon as he said that…

The tips and gifts stopped coming in.

That was the reality of the human world.

Shen Qiao's expression shifted, teetering on the verge of collapse, but in the end he continued to focus on diligently playing the game.

The next night, he saw an account that tipped him a hundred yuan in his streaming room.

He wasn't very good at thanking people. Awkwardly, he started, "Thank you '69370000' for the support…"

After a few seconds, in a weaker voice, he added, "Do you want to be a mod?"

Because User 69370000 had tipped such a large sum, their username shot straight up to the top of the list of donors in Shen Qiao's room.

But Shen Qiao waited and waited, receiving no response from User 69370000.

Shen Qiao felt like he'd made a fool of himself. He had no idea what kind of streamer this big spender liked, so he just continued playing his game as usual.

As a result, every day after that, User 69370000 reappeared at night and tipped one hundred yen, then disappeared without a word.

That month was the first month Shen Qiao brought home six hundred yuan in tips from the streaming platform. In addition to his streaming salary of eight hundred yuan, minus the three hundred he paid as rent to the net cafe's boss, he was left with one thousand and one hundred yuan.

He could at least make ends meet.

User 69370000 continued to appear in Shen Qiao's stream until Shen Qiao signed with a rookie training camp. Then that user disappeared without a trace, just like they'd appeared out of thin air.

But Shen Qiao always remembered.

……

Lu Zhe stroked a hand over Shen Qiao's head from behind him and whispered, "I was in the northwest at that time. I had the sort of phone that couldn't even get online. It was one of my old classmates who told me that they saw you streaming…"

Su Qiongpei had been dead set on cutting off all ties between Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao back then. She was deathly afraid that they would rekindle their old feelings.

They sent Lu Zhe away and cut him off completely. Even his pocket money was strictly controlled by Su Qiongpei. Lu Zhe received an allowance of only one hundred yuan per day, in cash from a neighbor. That wasn't a small sum; it would have allowed him to live quite comfortably. If he saved up, he could have eventually bought himself a new cell phone.

But he didn't save.

When he heard about Shen Qiao's stream, he instantly went to find the wealthiest student in his class and gave that classmate one hundred yuan in cash. He asked that classmate to help him transfer the funds to Shen Qiao through his stream.

It was the end of the month at that time. Lu Zhe only had two hundred yuan left on him. He could occasionally still buy himself a meal at the school cafeteria, and his life was reasonably comfortable.

At the time, he didn't know Shen Jinyi had passed away, and he didn't know whether or not Shen Qiao still wanted to be with him. So he only asked his classmate for this favor; he didn't say anything else. His only intention was to support Shen Qiao in some way, just once, since Shen Qiao had started a stream and all.

But then, Lu Zhe's classmate noticed something and asked, "Huh? Hey, do you want to try adding him as a friend? That account of mine is the top donor in his stream now! I think you could try to ask for his contact info!"

"A hundred yuan and you're already the top donor?" Lu Zhe echoed, a bit stunned.

"He's a newbie, they're all like that," his classmate said, like this was perfectly normal.

Lu Zhe thought about it for a while, then asked, "Can other people send him money and add him as a friend?"

"I think not… but I didn't ask either, I still have to go check out my beautiful lady streamer's room! You get it, hehe."

Lu Zhe nodded. "It's fine. He might not want to know it's me. This is enough. Thank you."

Back then, Lu Zhe had still been a little pissed.

Shen Qiao had been the one who first brought up the subject of breaking up. It was only after they broke up that their parents forcibly separated them, despite Lu Zhe's insistence that he wasn't low enough to continue harassing someone who'd dumped him.

But Su Qiongpei hadn't been able to relax.

And so, although Lu Zhe still harbored feelings for Shen Qiao, he remembered his promise to Su Qiongpei and didn't take the initiative to contact Shen Qiao. He used his classmate as a middleman, hoping that the distance would cause his own feelings to fade bit by bit.

Then, the next day, that classmate said to Lu Zhe, "Hey, is this friend of yours having trouble at home? I checked out his stream last night, before I went to sleep. He was still streaming at three in the morning. And when my alarm woke me up this morning, guess what? He was still streaming. He'd been up all night! He's working way too hard!

"Man, it really is too difficult to be a successful streamer… I have to go give my goddess some more tips!"

Lu Zhe froze for a moment, shocked. "That… that's not possible, right?"

His classmate only shrugged. He didn't mention it to Lu Zhe again.

Later that night, Lu Zhe took a routine call from home. That matter was still on his mind, so he tactfully tried to get some information from Su Qiongpei, asking if anything had happened at home recently.

Su Qiongpei hesitated, but she didn't hide the truth for long. She boastfully declared, "That woman has finally died…"

Lu Zhe reflexively asked, "What about Shen Qiao?"

Su Qiongpei's tone instantly turned harsher. "What are you asking about that for? Are you still thinking about him?"

After mulling it over for a moment, she continued, "It's pointless to think about him now, that boy has already left. We don't have any clue where he's gone, and we don't care—but Little Zhe, don't you do anything stupid now. If you let this interfere with your entrance exams, your mama will go crazy. Be good for your mama, okay? I'm begging you. You promised me you wouldn't go looking for him, right?"

Lu Zhe laughed coldly and answered, "How could I look for him? You have the neighbors here monitor my movements every day. You make my teachers report to you on whether or not I attend class. I don't even have internet in my room. You've practically imprisoned me. I want to look for him, but do I have any money? Do I have the ability to run away?"

He hung up without waiting for a response.

Then he sat in his room for an hour, fully consumed by his tumultuous thoughts.

In the end, he heaved one long sigh after another. He couldn't help but worry that Shen Qiao wouldn't have any spending money. Ultimately, he called up his classmate again and asked him to tip Shen Qiao another hundred yuan, promising to pay his classmate back in cash the next day.

Lu Zhe's classmate asked if Lu Zhe wanted to leave any sort of message in the bullet comments.

Lu Zhe slowly answered, "No, better not…"

What would Shen Qiao think if he knew the money was coming from Lu Zhe? Would he feel vexed that Lu Zhe couldn't leave him alone, or would he mock Lu Zhe for acting in his own self-interest?

Day after day passed like that, until Lu Zhe's classmate said to him, "Entrance exams are coming up. My mom banned me from using my account. I'll give you the password to that account of mine, so you can tip that guy yourself."

Lu Zhe froze up when he received the note with the account ID and password. He pursed his lips, unable to say that his phone couldn't even connect to the internet.

But then his classmate added, "Oh, hey. I did hear that he signed with a rookie training camp. He's going to go pro. He probably won't be short on cash anytime soon."

"Really?" Lu Zhe lowered his gaze. "Then forget about it."

……

It was only much later, after Lu Zhe had also started to play professionally, that he overheard some people talking after a tournament game. It was only then that he heard all the rumors about Shen Qiao leaving home and having a rough time on his own.

Lu Zhe couldn't help but feel some regret. If only he'd found out a little sooner…

Unfortunately.

Back then, they had both been too weak and powerless. And Lu Zhe had been too focused on maintaining his pride.

In the present, Lu Zhe sighed and buried his face against the nape of Shen Qiao's neck. He breathed in the cool scent of Shen Qiao's pheromones and spoke with a rare hint of embarrassment in his voice—

"Back then, I didn't know the platform was taking such a huge cut of your tips. I stupidly threw in three thousand yuan every month, and who even knows how little you wound up receiving…"

If only Lu Zhe could travel back in time and give his old self a good thrashing.

Shen Qiao lowered his head, no longer looking at the monitor of his laptop. He quietly whispered, "It was enough."

Even just six hundred yuan had been enough. Really.

After a moment, he asked, "Why do you call this your dark history?"

Lu Zhe smiled and said, "Compared to those fans of yours that send you two hundred thousand yuan in one go, this nine thousand yuan of mine is just setting me up for a public execution… I can already imagine the headlines.

"Shocking news! DG's captain demonstrates his outrageous stinginess! Lu Zhe pursued a streamer and threw in less than ten thousand yuan!"

He laughed, then brought his lips to Shen Qiao's ear and whispered, "I'm sorry, Qiaoqiao. I should have come back sooner."

I should have been at your side sooner.

Shen Qiao reached back and clasped a hand at the nape of Lu Zhe's neck. He tilted his head back and breathed in Lu Zhe's scent, doing his utmost to temper the heat in his own eyes.

After a long while, he answered, "It's not dark history."

The extravagances they enjoyed in the present could never overshadow Lu Zhe's kindness in Shen Qiao's hour of need.

"And you don't need to apologize," Shen Qiao continued. "You've always appeared at exactly the right time."

Not too soon, and not too late.

At exactly the right time, you came into my life and lit up my world.

 

Author's Notes:

Don't cry anymore, Qiaoqiao! I'll give you all my chocolates! Here!

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