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During the Snowstorm

11.2

Tide of Fate

97

Such heartfelt words, coming from a man of such charm, were enough to move anyone.

 

Unfortunately, he is Lin Yi Yang, and the audience's expectations for him went beyond just that.

 

The female commentator exaggeratedly covered her face: "Is he saying he hasn't succeeded yet?"

 

...

 

The male commentator also laughed, feigning heartache as he pressed on: "Lin, you've let us down. Last year's most valuable star player and he still hasn't got the love he desires?"

 

"It breaks our heart," the female commentator added.

 

Lin Yi Yang was amused by their exaggerated act, playing off each other.

 

Really, there was no dealing with these commentators.

 

Due to their past familiarity, they simply wouldn't let him off, seizing on this suddenly revealed topic.

 

Even Sun Zhou and a few students beside Lin Yi Yang couldn't help but laugh, urging the boss to just reveal the truth already. Clearly, they won't let you off; if this goes on, the whole venue might go crazy.

 

"Let's cut to the chase," the male commentator stated his intention, "Lin, today's viewership peak rests on your shoulders!"

 

"Yes," the female commentator chimed in, "someone who left without a warning must leave behind something meaningful."

 

...

 

The entire audience also joined in the teasing, chanting in unison, "Tell her, tell her!"

 

Amidst the waves of voices, Lin Yi Yang, compelled, switched the microphone to his other hand again.

 

This was the third time he had switched hands.

 

It was an uncommon action for him. Usually, when he picked something up, he picked it up, and when he put it down, he put it down. His character dictated that there was no room for unnecessary hesitation. However, today was different; he felt the weight of caution.

 

"How should I put it?" he looked at the girl in the arena again, quiet for a long moment, slowly expressing his feelings for her with a compliment, "She's so perfect, I might have to chase her for a lifetime."

 

A moment of silence.

 

"So, no rush," he finally looked up at the entire venue, his eyes brimming with laughter under the brim of his cap, looking towards his supporting fans, "you see, I'm not in a hurry at all."

 

...

 

After the silence, thunderous applause followed.

 

Our king of the arena gave his beloved the highest praise, so frank and so direct.

 

In the frame, Lin Yi Yang finally looked towards the commentary booth, asking: Is it okay now?

 

The male commentator, having a great relationship with Lin Yi Yang, gave him a gesture, meaning: Thanks, old friend, let's have a drink after the game.

 

Today's heated atmosphere had everyone's blood boiling and passion surging. They could already anticipate the viewership peak at this moment.

 

He had once been just a young boy.

 

Struggling in subjects like language, mathematics, and English, his aspirations were once limited to watching his younger brother play, buying a few more exercise books, and playing basketball with strangers. His sole goal was to obtain a high school diploma to appease his teachers. And now, here he was, seated among the audience at the U.S. Open, proclaiming his love for a girl to the entire world.

 

No one knew his entire journey; even the closest friends could only see segments of his life. Each phase of his life was disconnected, jumping, including the people around him. He had walked through the lonely days, the moments of discontent, and the burning desire to break free from the fog all on his own.

 

Having said these words, sitting in this cheering arena, even he felt a sense of unreality.

 

Everything today, every step, left a deep footprint, including being able to sit here, including being able to be with her.

Lin Yi Yang turned off the microphone, handing it back to the staff.

 

The scene switched back to the arena.

 

Yin Guo was trying to control her tears. Su Wei hugged Yin Guo, her voice thick with emotion: "Oh my god, I'm crying too."

 

Taking advantage of Su Wei's embrace, Yin Guo wiped her tears with the back of her hand: "Don't let go... let me wipe my tears first..."

 

Thus, Yin Guo, with Su Wei's cover, dried the tears on her face in the live broadcast.

 

...

 

Five minutes later, the match officially began.

 

Yin Guo's eyes were still slightly red as she picked up her cue stick and approached her opponent. She proved to everyone a professional athlete's mental fortitude, especially as she was regarded by her fans as the perfect "master of emotions."

 

The pre-match excitement seemed unrelated to her, standing by the pool table, her calmness surprising.

 

A perfect strike, the serve was hers.

 

After nodding to her opponent, who was a head taller, Yin Guo first approached the table, positioning the white ball.

 

Aiming for five seconds, the white ball flew out with a loud snap, scattering the colored balls across the table.

 

Amid the loud sound of the balls exploding and the powerful impact of the white ball, the venue erupted into even more fervent applause than before. With just one shot, this Chinese girl directly pocketed four balls, including the nine-ball!

 

She won the first game in one shot.

 

She told the fans in the venue, the Lin you like, the person he likes is today's king of the arena.

 

The semifinals of the US Open began perfectly with Yin Guo's first shot.

 

Having won her own game, Yin Guo gracefully set aside her cue stick, exchanged handshakes with the referee, and prepared to depart from the arena. The audience responded with thunderous applause once again. To everyone's surprise, Lin Yiyang promptly rose from his seat, accompanied by his entourage, and began making his way towards the exit.

 

The intention was clear: My girlfriend is leaving, so I'm leaving too...

 

One passed through the corridor within the arena, and the other through a side exit in the spectator area.

 

As Yin Guo arrived backstage, she caught sight of Lin Yiyang descending the stairs and entering the players' lounge.

 

Coincidentally, Barry, who had recently playfully teased Lin Yiyang, was engaged in a conversation with someone in the lounge. Spotting Lin Yiyang, Barry erupted into laughter and enthusiastically extended his fist, celebrating the reunion of old friends.

 

Lin Yiyang playfully pointed at Barry and jokingly warned him in English, "You've crossed the line this time."

 

Barry laughed heartily.

 

Being able to witness the whole process of Lin Yi Yang pursuing Yin Guo was one of the most brag-worthy experiences of his life.

 

Yin Guo leaned against the wall, watching Lin Yi Yang greet everyone and exchange pleasantries with friends he had made in the past year on the circuit.

 

This was his second time in this backstage, a completely different situation from the last.

 

Last time, only the Chinese from Dongxin City and Beijing knew who he was and knew his past.

 

But today, everyone here had competed against him, many of whom had been defeated by him...

 

Lin Yi Yang took off his baseball cap and walked towards Yin Guo.

 

She leaned against the wall, lined with soft wallpaper, watching him approach, close enough for him to tousle her hair and place a warm kiss on her forehead.

 

Lin Yi Yang silently congratulated her on making it to the semifinals.

 

"I wish I was here last year..." she whispered, slipping her hand into the pocket of his sports jacket, "I wanted to see you compete, wanted to see you chased by fans."

 

As staff members called out to them, Lin Yi Yang also slipped his hand into his pocket, holding her small hand.

 

"The fans are waiting for you outside; they came after watching the live broadcast," a young player said behind them, patting Lin Yi Yang on the shoulder in English, "Don't go out through the main entrance later."

 

The player was familiar with Lin Yi Yang and nodded at Yin Guo with a smile as a greeting.

 

Lin Yi Yang just smiled, not responding.

 

Goodbyes are sad, and he preferred to leave the local fans with the impression of him from just moments ago.

 

Now, he was just a bystander.

 

Her making it to the semifinals was no surprise.

 

Chen An'an making it to the semifinals, however, was a pleasant surprise.

 

That evening, they took Chen An'an to Red Fish to celebrate.

 

Chen An'an had heard a snippet of Lin Yi Yang's impromptu speech in the player's rest area and became interested in the place, the bar. But there was nothing special about it; it was just a bar with wooden doors, an old handle, American-style bar counters and seats, a band, and various chicken wings, onion rings, and cocktails.

 

The only thing special was that the bar was famous for its jazz, a well-known secret among a small circle. Yet, why a jazz bar would play "Yellow" that night remained a mystery. Perhaps it was because of the incoming blizzard, and everyone needed a few old songs with a taste of sunshine to soothe their nerves.

 

Yin Guo and Lin Yi Yang sat in the seats she and her cousin had occupied that night, shoulder to shoulder, looking at each other.

 

Chen An'an found a separate seat to give them privacy.

 

Back in China, dawn had already arrived.

 

Yin Guo asked her cousin about the match, and he informed her that it took place between 2 to 3 a.m. in China, so their family couldn't watch it. She reminded her cousin to keep it a secret for now. She hadn't yet figured out how to make it public, but it would be sufficient if she could keep it concealed for one more day.

 

Yin Guo sipped her juice through a straw, "Say something, you've been quiet."

 

"What should I say?" Lin Yi Yang asked back.

 

"About that night," she tilted her head to look at him, "I want to hear the truth."

 

Ever since watching Lin Yi Yang's interview at the China Open, she had a revolutionary understanding of him. He was truly reticent, truly had high EQ, especially in adapting to situations on the spot. Today, under such sudden circumstances, he organized his language in just a dozen seconds, successfully defusing all "interrogations" and "questionings," forcing her to admire him.

 

But no matter how well one speaks in public, it's for outsiders to hear. She wanted to hear the unpolished truth.

 

Lin Yi Yang rested one arm on the edge of the bar, the other around her waist, whispering, "It was all true."

 

Seeing Yin Guo's skeptical look, he laughed.

 

"Come." He pulled her up from the seat, pushed open the wooden door of the bar, and stepped onto the path outside.

 

Outside, they were joined by a group of young international students chatting and laughing. Amidst the lively atmosphere, Lin Yiyang shared with her what had happened that night, saying, "Jiang Yang was also in the United States that day, stuck at the Chicago airport. He called me, wanting to meet up. After we hung up, I felt restless and wanted to find a place to drink."

 

Sometimes, when you think about it, the connections between people are truly destined. If Jiang Yang had smoothly arrived in New York that day, Lin Yiyang and Wu Wei wouldn't have come out, and they wouldn't have met Yin Guo.

 

"When I arrived here that night, I didn't come in. I wanted to have a smoke first," he said, standing in the same spot as that night and continuing his story.

 

His craving for cigarettes wasn't particularly strong, but he often felt the urge when his mood was either extremely good or bad.

 

Unfortunately, it was a bitterly cold night, with temperatures below minus twenty degrees Celsius, strong winds, and heavy snowfall. He attempted to light a cigarette several times but was unsuccessful. Feeling frustrated, he glanced up and spotted her through the adjacent row of glass windows. Among all the different faces, Yin Guo was the only Asian face in the corner, just like him.

 

There is a natural sense of affinity between people of the same race.

 

And that day, a feeling of displacement lingered in his heart due to Jiang Yang stirring up memories of the past. When he laid eyes on Yin Guo at that moment, it was as if he had caught a glimpse of a distant homeland through her.

 

"Right here," Lin Yi Yang pointed to the window, "I watched you for three or four minutes."

 

He observed her tilting her head in frustration, witnessed the blizzard forcefully shaking tree branches, saw the crease on her forehead as she tapped on the glass with her fingers, and witnessed the surprise in her eyes as a branch fell and struck a car...

 

He really wanted to walk in, ask her: Little girl, what's there to worry about? The blizzard will pass.

 

"I did want to go in, wanted to buy you a drink, get to know you, get your contact information, and make sure you got to your hotel safely," he said with a smile, "all true."

 

Following his description, Yin Guo changed her perspective and also looked towards the small corner of the bar where she had made her phone call.

 

It was as if she saw herself at her most helpless and despondent that day.

 

There was nothing particularly captivating about her appearance at the time—having gone days without a shower, stranded at the airport... The mere thought of it was embarrassing.

 

Yet, no matter how disheveled Yin Guo was that day, she had a strange allure to Lin Yi Yang.

 

However, as time passed, it became evident that Lin Yiyang was the only one harboring such attraction towards Yin Guo. Wu Wei, who had also gotten to know her alongside Lin Yiyang, merely remarked that she seemed sweet and didn't entertain any further thoughts. Whenever Wu Wei encountered a Japanese girl at the ramen shop, he would become nervous while talking, and Lin Yiyang would acknowledge the Japanese girl's cuteness, but that was the extent of it.

 

If it had been Lin Lin who made the phone call that day, Yin Guo speculated that she would have scolded him with a stern face, and Lin Yiyang's initial reaction upon witnessing such a scene would have been to quickly find another place. However, if it had been Meng Xiaodong passing by, the outcome would have been entirely different.

 

In truth, it's hard to say.

 

Without your presence, there would have been no initiative, no worries, and everything would have remained in perfect order. Without you, no matter how perfect and outstanding it may be, it would have had no connection to me whatsoever.

 

Perhaps, the term love is specifically meant for that person who belongs to you.

 

That night, as Yin Guo was sound asleep, she was abruptly awakened by his phone ringing. It was for Lin Yi Yang.

 

He quietly slipped out of bed, leaving the room in darkness. The desk lamp remained off, but Yin Guo could feel the warmth of his presence nearby. His voice was hushed and tender as he spoke, "Sun Zhou contacted me. I have to return to the billiard hall. I won't be able to attend your match tomorrow."

 

Yin Guo murmured an acknowledgment in her drowsiness, watching him dress in the dim light from outside. Lin Yi Yang usually moved quickly, even when dressing, but tonight every movement was slow, so silent that it made no sound.

 

By the time she was aware again, he was no longer in the room.

 

The blanket still held Lin Yi Yang's warmth. She moved to his side, smelling his scent on the pillow, and fell into a deeper sleep.

 

In the semifinal the next day, Yin Guo played vigorously and enjoyed the game thoroughly.

 

In the Chinese locker room, everyone congratulated her on winning the semifinal smoothly, while teasingly wishing her love life to flourish as well. Yin Guo, embarrassed by the congratulations, found a corner and started wiping her cue stick with a cloth.

 

A senior player who was about to go on stage grabbed her arm: "Chen An'an withdrew from the competition."

 

"Withdrew?" She was clueless.

 

Yin Guo had left early in the morning and hadn't crossed paths with Chen An'an. The women's matches were scheduled before the men's, so she wouldn't have heard this news during her match...

 

The senior player added: "Only one from Dongxin City is left competing today; the rest have left."

 

Anxiety surged within her.

 

Yin Guo set down her cue stick and rushed out to get her phone back from the coach.

 

She turned it on, anxiously entered her password, and called Lin Yi Yang.

 

The call didn't go through.

 

Yin Guo forced herself to remain calm and checked his WeChat.

 

Lin li Guo: What happened? Chen An'an withdrew?

 

Standing in the corridor, she was greeted enthusiastically by a commentator passing by: "Congratulations."

 

Yin Guo hurriedly smiled: "Thank you."

 

Suddenly, there was a response on WeChat.

 

Lin: Is the match over?

 

Lin Li Guo: Yes, it's over, I'm in the finals. Have you reached Washington? Do you know about Chen An'an withdrawing?

 

Lin: I know.

 

Lin: My teacher passed away.

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