That night, in various supertopics on Weibo—
A photo of Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao hugging on stage was circulated rapidly by their fans. All their shippers, regardless of which ship name and 'configuration' they supported, came together to celebrate the onslaught of delicious content.
[My ship is thriving, my ship is thriving! Why am I so happy even though DG only came in third?]
[Someone tell me RIGHT NOW where they got their rings!]
[Don't you think silver and gold are very deliberate color choices? If I remember correctly, neither Shen Qiao nor Lu Zhe were in the habit of wearing rings before Shen Qiao joined DG. Why are they suddenly wearing such fancy ones?! If you extrapolate from there, that means they probably got married! And if you extrapolate some more, that means they're probably sleeping together! Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this!]
[Dog Lu and Wolf Cub are together, they're really together! Look very, very closely at this photo. First of all, they're two alphas hugging each other. Let's not even get into how much alphas tend to repel each other with their pheromones. Next! The rings they're wearing! And that's not all! Lu Zhe's watch! Everyone look at Lu Zhe's watch! This is the lovers' bridge VCA watch, isn't it?!]
[Ahhhhhh, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care anyone! I officially announce today as the day that WolfDog becomes official!]
[Are you all crazy up there? This is LuShen territory. All you WolfDog fans, please remove yourself from the premises, thank you. Our ship is not reversible!]
After the shippers partied like it was New Year's Eve, they quickly split up into clear-cut factions once more—arguing over who topped and bottomed between Lu Zhe and Shen Qiao.
Lu Zhe casually downloaded a few R18 LuShen fanworks while he joined his teammates in the training room to watch the livestream of the finals between BLX and WTG. He brushed his fingers across the screen of his phone and sent those downloads along to Shen Qiao as well.
Shen Qiao was sitting right next to him, watching a fight unfold between BLX's top laner Xu Xiao and WTG's top laner. Meanwhile Zheng Zhizhuo was sitting on Shen Qiao's other side, raptly watching the stream and whispering, "Ward, ward, ward, the jungler is coming to gank…"
Shen Qiao heard Zheng Zhizhuo's mutterings. He tilted his head and, while keeping his eyes on the screen, explained what he knew about Xu Xiao's style of play. "He knows the jungler is coming, but he wants to take down the enemy Renekton while he can."
As soon as he finished saying that, Shen Qiao felt his own phone vibrate.
He looked down and found that it was a message from Lu Zhe, with a few text files that bore rather strange names.
Before opening the first text file attached to Lu Zhe's message, Shen Qiao turned and looked at Lu Zhe, wondering exactly what Lu Zhe had just sent him. But Lu Zhe was already talking to Coach Fang, on his other side; he didn't notice Shen Qiao's gaze.
Shen Qiao could only lower his head and click open the text file. Before opening it up, he assumed Lu Zhe had organized his thoughts on the game and wanted to share that with Shen Qiao. But as a result, once he opened the document—
The article began with a few lines marked out by asterisks.
This story is not real! Not real! Purely for entertainment, do not take it as reality!
CP: Lu Zhe x Shen Qiao (R18 content! Minors, begone!)
Various settings and scenes—kitchen, bathroom, training room. Don't like, don't read!
Shen Qiao stared.
He expressionlessly turned off the screen of his phone. The air around his whole body seemed to grow chilly.
Zheng Zhizhuo, after witnessing BLX's Xu Xiao single-handedly take down WTG's top laner, heaved a mournful sigh for WTG's player. He was just about to turn to Shen Qiao again to discuss WTG's performance in that bout, when he suddenly noticed Shen Qiao's expression had darkened.
He couldn't help but call out, "Wolfy-ge?"
Shen Qiao managed to resist the urge to bash his phone against Lu Zhe's skull a few times. He took a deep, long breath and calmed himself down. He muttered to Zheng Zhizhuo that nothing was wrong, then got up to pour himself a cup of water, switching his seat when he returned.
Lu Zhe and the coach were still talking. BLX managed to storm WTG's base, and now—
The score between the two teams was 2-2.
Both sides were at match point.
When BLX dealt the finishing blow to WTG's base, Lu Zhe turned with the intent of discussing that final team fight with Shen Qiao. But when he turned, he found that Shen Qiao had put a mile of distance between them. He'd squeezed in between Zheng Zhizhuo, Zhao Yue, and Old Wo… and he was refusing to even look Lu Zhe's way.
The two teams on the screen retired to their respective rest areas for a break. Lu Zhe fixed his heated gaze on Shen Qiao, but that wasn't all he did to beckon Shen Qiao back to his side. He let his cedarwood-scented pheromones out as well. The scent that diffused through the air was so noticeable that Old Wo, Qian Bao, and Er-Hua all looked over at Lu Zhe. It would have been a challenge for Shen Qiao to continue pretending not to notice anything.
"May we please inquire as to why our captain is suddenly feeling rambunctious while watching a game?"
"Restrain yourself, restrain yourself. I'm afraid our neighbors will come knocking down our door to complain about the alpha pheromones leaking out from here."
They all cracked exaggerated jokes about Lu Zhe's display of pheromones, though in truth Lu Zhe's pheromones weren't really drifting towards them. It was just that alphas all had sensitive noses. They could detect the scent of Lu Zhe's pheromones even though Lu Zhe was aiming them at Shen Qiao.
But Lu Zhe was shameless, and he instantly retorted to Old Wo, "It's not like I'm being 'rambunctious' at you."
After saying that, he patted the spot on the couch next to him and smiled towards Shen Qiao. "Come here. What are you doing all the way over there? It's not like I'm going to eat you."
Shen Qiao scoffed coldly. He folded his hands under his chin and kept his gaze fixed on the commercials playing on the screen. He would rather listen to these mindless ads than give Lu Zhe any attention.
Lu Zhe smiled at him with mirth twinkling in his eyes. He knew that Shen Qiao must have already looked at the 'documents' he'd sent over, so he didn't continue teasing Shen Qiao out loud. Instead, he only reached for his phone and sent over a message—
How far did you read?
Shen Qiao glanced at his phone, which he'd set down on the table. When he saw the contents of that message, he simply rolled his eyes and muted his phone before flipping it over and placing it facedown on the table.
Old Wo took in their interactions and chuckled over this new bit of drama.
"Are you guys fighting?" he asked. "Captain Lu needs a beating. Hurry up and give it to him."
"Seconded," Qian Bao added.
From the sidelines, Er-Hua watched his two teammates stick their noses into Lu Zhe's business. He sighed and shook his head. "Be noisier, be noisier. Keep this up and Captain Lu is the one who'll give you a beating."
DG's players joked and bantered with each other until the fifth round of the finals started to play on the screen. This was the game that would determine the winner of the LPL's summer tournament, as well as the first seeded team that the LPL would send to the world championship.
Everyone quieted down and turned their full attention to the big screen.
WTG and BLX both came prepared.
During the picks and bans phase, both sides played it safe and made very conventional, by-the-book choices. Neither team's coaches chose any outrageous champions. If they won, such choices would have been fine, but if they lost, their fans would curse them all into early graves.
Both sides created a lineup that could take and dish damage.
BLX seemed like they wanted to play a more cautious game, but unfortunately—WTG came at them right away. When everyone was still at Level 1, WTG invaded BLX's jungle and started up a Level 1 team fight in the bottom lane.
Mo Mo and Lele were both given a scare. Luckily, they had plenty of experience with all sorts of storms and challenges. As soon as they saw WTG lurking in the underbrush nearby, they signaled their team for reinforcements. If they hadn't been quick enough, they would have come out of that battle at a loss.
In the first ten minutes of the game, Xu Xiao blew past his opponent in creep score.
During that time, WTG's jungler went up to try to gank him, but ultimately failed to get the kill.
Meanwhile, BLX's jungler repeatedly visited the bottom lane to help his teammates power up as quickly as possible. Mo Mo was playing Ezreal while Lele played Yuumi. They kept WTG at bay and built up an advantage before long.
WTG began to aggressively farm in the jungle. They forced BLX into a team fight outside a dragon pit, trying to snatch the advantage back for themselves.
The fierce match went on for thirty-eight minutes. The intense back-and-forth between the two teams kept all spectators on the edges of their seats. Finally, WTG was pushed back to their base by BLX, but WTG all respawned and came out with new gear, fighting back with all their strength—
BLX's Mo Mo perished in that battle, leaving Yuumi to tag along with their middle laner. WTG barreled past BLX's assault, pushing them back and directing the action away from their base, leaving only their support behind to defend.
Just as WTG was about to regroup and flip the tables on BLX, a bright red bolt of light suddenly appeared next to WTG's base. The commentators' hoarse voices excitedly rang out—
"WTG has killed off four of BLX's champions! BLX only has their top laner Xu Xiao left! He's teleported in! He's teleported directly to WTG's base! Right now, WTG only has their support guarding their base, and their Nexus is at half health!"
"Xu Xiao is behind the Nexus! The support can't stop him! He's targeting the Nexus! WTG is coming back now, but it's too late, it's—"
"Ahhhhhh, congratulations to BLX for their successful assault! Our summer tournament champion has been decided! The former kings are back on top! Let's congratulate this year's summer champions once more—BLX!"
As the crowd roared at the stadium, the group watching the stream at DG's base also leapt to their feet.
"Holy shit, in those final moments… Xu Xiao really did good work."
"WTG didn't keep enough people at their base. That support couldn't have stopped Xu Xiao alone."
"That play… was way too sick."
Amidst that wave of excited chatter, Lu Zhe suddenly said, "BLX will be the first seed, and based on the cumulative scores between the spring and summer tournaments, WTG will definitely be the second seed for the world championships. In that case, our opponents in the fight for the third spot… will be COCO and BIG."
The other players instantly reacted—
"Wow, these two teams again?" Old Wo said. "If we slaughter them one more time, will they suffer some lasting psychological damage?"
Er-Hua calmly took a sip of water. "Between them suffering psychological damage and us suffering the regret of missing out on worlds, I choose the former."
Qian Bao rubbed her hands, eager for action. "I like how this is playing out."
Shen Qiao took out his phone and sent a 'congratulations' to Mo Mo and Lele, his old teammates. Then he put his phone away and said, "The rest is up to us."
Lu Zhe looked at him. After a long moment, he sincerely answered, "Yes. This summer will be over very soon."
If their team could successfully win a spot at worlds, then the future would be bright—both for their team, and for him and Shen Qiao.
They could look forward to playing in the world championship tournament.
They could also look forward to…
Deepening and strengthening the understanding between them.
To Lu Zhe, in his mature view of the world, he wanted it all—the championship title and Shen Qiao. He wouldn't miss out on a single thing.