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During the Snowstorm


Voice of Youth


Yin Guo returned holding her own thermos after a short absence. A line of athletes eagerly awaited their turn for hot water, and she had patiently stood in line for quite some time.

This moment marked the pinnacle of China's achievements, with the spotlight shining on the two team gold medals. The grand finale was upon them.

Out of the six players, five were experienced veterans. Amidst them, Yin Guo stood out as the sole player in her twenties, naturally drawing attention. While waiting in line, a young boy greeted her in broken English. Yin Guo glanced at him, her thoughts forming as she pondered, "I wish he'd hurry so I could fill my thermos."

She couldn't contain her excitement with her thermos now brimming with steaming hot water. Swiftly, she made her way back to the designated rest area.

Upon Yin Guo's return, the team doctor greeted her with a friendly smile and gestured toward a seat.

Yin Guo slipped behind the sofa, her presence hardly noticeable.

Lin Yi Yang had the red and white China team jacket casually slung over his shoulders, his back to her. Just as she considered stealing a glance, he reached back, gently touching her arm, and asked, "Where did you go?"

"I was getting water," she replied playfully, a hint of mischief in her voice; her ears had, indeed, caught his approach.

He gently grasped her hand and guided her to a seat beside him.

Lin Yi Yang gazed at her, his desire to speak evident.

"I was actually considering getting you a birthday present for next year," Yin Guo admitted, a faint unease settling over her under his intent scrutiny. She pondered what had drawn him to such seriousness.

Casting a quick glance in his direction, she found him still inclining his head, his unwavering gaze fixed on her.


In the end, Lin Yi Yang lightly tapped her knee with his left hand, retrieved the thermos she had given him, and rose from his seat. Just a moment before fully straightening up, he spoke softly above her head, "Thank you."

It echoed that moment back on the deserted expanse of Hawaii's Big Island when he had communicated to her: "Thank you."

Peeling away layers of masks, shedding the veneer of education and life's experiences, discarding the protective armor, he remained the boy from the past—

He was not adept with words; the deeper his affection, the harder his expression became.

It was as if he beheld her anew, his mind brimming with innumerable words yet held back by the fear of stumbling.

It distilled into the simple phrase, "Please have yours," a realization of discarding myriad sentences he had contemplated.

For Yin Guo, it was as though she had become ensnared in his enchantment. The fewer the words, the sparser the sentences, the more profound was her sense of a man's genuine intent.

Lin Yi Yang's phone still rested with her, though he had already departed.

Once Lin Yi Yang departed, Wu Wei promptly sidled up to Yin Guo's side. "Did you catch it? On Weibo."

"I did," Yin Guo confirmed, her attention having been dedicated to scrolling through it all along.

Amidst the men's team's triumph for the gold medal, the online taunts had been overshadowed by a chorus of public congratulations. Sometimes, the world could exhibit such cruelty. No matter how strenuously you attempted to silence the critics, it amounted to naught. Only through sheer strength, through tangible accomplishments, could you substantiate your worth—there existed no alternative route.

"What's your reaction?" Wu Wei's expression was etched with disappointment.

"...Well, I suppose so. I've grown accustomed to it," Yin Guo responded casually.

"Accustomed to it??" Wu Wei was taken aback, presuming Lin Yi Yang's girlfriend must have a substantial following if she had become accustomed to such attention.


Nonetheless, Wu Wei had the longest history with Yin Guo. Upon reflection, he surmised that Yin Guo probably didn't fully grasp the implications of her words.

"Lin Yi Yang is all the rage right now."

"My brother and Jiang Yang are also in the spotlight."

With the conclusion of the men's team snooker gold event, it naturally became the dominant topic of discussion.

While fetching water for Lin Yi Yang, Yin Guo came across various keywords associated with the three men from the men's team gold event. The discussions revolved around bringing honor to the nation and the unexpected rise of an underrated event. What caught her off guard was the prevalence of attractive individuals in this lesser-known sport, naturally igniting conversations.

"You've read through all of them? Did he check his alternate account?" Wu Wei inquired once more.

Alternate account? Yin Guo was baffled.

Wu Wei extended his phone to her.

"The latest trending keyword on the hot search is 'LinY'."

So, there actually is a secondary account? Didn't he claim he doesn't use Weibo?

Yin Guo tapped on it, and the screen promptly filled with screenshots of Weibo posts from the account 'LinY.'

All of these had been published post-match.

The story began before the snooker team competition. Some compassionate internet users wanted to offer solace to the snooker team's captain, a two-time gold medalist who still faced mockery for withdrawing from a contest. They intended to leave a comforting message on the captain's Weibo account, only to discover Lin Yi Yang wasn't registered on the platform.

Naturally, skepticism prevailed, prompting the pursuit of clues to confirm the truth.

Before long, netizens stumbled upon a striking pattern: numerous players from Dongxin City's snooker team had all coincidentally followed an account named LinY, which seamlessly aligned with Lin Yi Yang's competition moniker "Lin" from his stateside games.

With unanimous consensus, everyone concluded that an account capable of attracting so many prominent peers must undoubtedly belong to the captain himself.

Reposting: Video from the China Open.

"Repost on Weibo."

Reposting: Video from the Nine-Ball World Cup finals.

"Repost on Weibo."

Reposting: News regarding this year's championship in Hangzhou.

"Looks like progress."

Reposting: Video from this year's World Snooker Championship.

"Repost on Weibo."


At this point, she found herself almost laughing to tears.

He truly had a penchant for choosing shorter words and avoiding typing whenever he could.

Lin Yi Yang never talked about the subject of her matches; in fact, she was under the impression that he never tuned in to watch them. After all, he had been juggling snooker and local pool tournaments single-handedly since the previous year, a demanding task that consumed his time.

Suddenly, witnessing him reposting all the web articles linked to her matches and even actively seeking out videos to share on Weibo dawned on her the essence of their long-distance relationship throughout the past year. He was quietly staying updated on her progress in his own understated manner.

Apart from videos and news pieces, he occasionally crafted a nine-grid collage of the latest photos and posted it.

All the photos were expertly taken, capturing her in the most flattering light. Some even included screenshots of him from match videos.

However, in the case of Yin Guo's pictures, Lin Yi Yang refrained from adding any written commentary.

Except for a snapshot from this year's World Snooker Championship training camp, where he remarked, "Who came up with this outfit?"

Under this overtly disapproving comment about the sportswear, Jiang Yang's response confirmed the true identity of "LinY" as indeed being Lin Yi Yang.

Jiang Yang: Why aren't you posting our matches?

LinY: Not my thing.

Jiang Yang: ...

These two lines were the sole content in all the Weibo entries, paired with a snippet of dialogue involving Jiang Yang.

However, this subtle exchange conveyed a clear message: the strikingly handsome captain of the national snooker team held a fascination for a fellow player—a stunning young woman in the realm of nine-ball.

What added intrigue was the fact that the striking young woman seemingly didn't reciprocate his interest; she hadn't even bothered to engage with him or follow his account.

In the realm of snooker, a niche sport, such gossip usually went unnoticed in the past.

So, were they close? Had he successfully captured her attention? Or perhaps their connection hadn't even started, with him secretly admiring her from afar? These questions loomed as an enigmatic puzzle.

She couldn't contain her laughter as she read through the posts.

The internet had depicted Lin Yi Yang as a rather tormented soul...

Before long, even more astute netizens had acquired screenshots of Lin Yi Yang's admission to Yin Guo in the stands at the US Open. The image came with a Chinese translation: "Everyone, put an end to your speculations. This captain is pursuing someone even before his comeback."

"So, did he manage to win her over or not?"

"I've replayed the video more than ten times, and he was being so vague. So, he didn't win her over, did he?"

"As a seasoned fan in the snooker world, a reliable source confirms he's still pursuing her."

"Seriously? This good-looking guy can't win her over?!"

"Label him an idol; you can't disregard his athletic prowess. Even though he's a sports prodigy, you can't overlook his heart-melting looks... I was just about to jokingly call him 'hubby,' and now you guys throw this at me... I really shouldn't have clicked on this trending topic."

"So envious, what's it like to be pursued by someone like him, ahhh..."


As the browsing continued, Yin Guo began to feel a tinge of embarrassment while Wu Wei remained enthusiastically at her side, quipping, "Feeling a little conceited now, aren't you?"

Just the mere thought of it sent a thrill through her.

A man who commands the arena, capturing the attention of thousands, now interpreted as a fan, using an undercover account to either share your match videos or news or meticulously gather a collection of your match screenshots and post them on Weibo...

No matter whose name you insert in place of this "you," the sentiment is bound to be profoundly moving.

Ironically, the two of them remained in a somewhat concealed relationship. The general consensus persisted that this man hadn't yet succeeded and was still passionately pursuing her...

It was undoubtedly a situation that would arouse envy.

"What are you looking at?" came the voice of the man from above her head.

Suppressing his grin, Wu Wei retrieved his phone from Yin Guo's hand. "We need to get going; the coach said it's time."

He explained that the head coach had decided for the Chinese team to lead the way, heading outside to bid farewell to the local fans. Otherwise, leaving a crowd waiting outside would be quite a pitiable sight, and the same held true for those waiting within the sports hall.

With his explanation concluded, he made his exit.

Yin Guo couldn't admit she had been perusing his trending topics alongside Wu Wei. "I'll assist you in getting dressed."

"I'll manage on my own," Lin Yi Yang declared.

However, he was met with an exasperated glare from Yin Guo.

He relented, conceding to her assistance.

With careful precision, Yin Guo slipped the right sleeve of the jersey onto his arm, then replicated the motion on the left. She positioned herself in front of him, securing the zipper. The soft sound of the plastic slider echoed, a shared auditory experience between the two of them.

"Do you have a second Weibo account?" she asked, cautiously dipping her toes into the topic.

Lin Yi Yang lapsed into a brief silence... She must have just come across that information.

He elaborated, "A Weibo account is practical for organizing things."

"Oh," she responded, attempting to stifle her laughter.

Surprisingly, her laughter struck Lin Yi Yang as inexplicably endearing.

Indeed, when he initially signed up for Weibo, he primarily intended to use it as a repository for news and videos. Weibo's search feature provided him with a comprehensive tool to gather information—unlike Moments, which had more limited search capabilities.

However, she chose not to disclose that she had already stumbled upon his "LinY" account, often sprinkled with his comments. Men and women had distinct ways of thinking, and he held reservations about her getting upset upon encountering his remarks.

Ultimately, she opted against raising the subject of discovering his "LinY" account. She imagined his reaction when he chanced upon the comments that had garnered thousands of likes in the evening, and suppressed laughter welled within her.

Lin Yi Yang sensed a subtle shift, prompting him to ask, "What's amusing?"

Shaking her head, she assisted him in neatly folding down the collar of his sports uniform. "I never realized you've been following my matches all this time and even archiving things."

He didn't perceive anything out of the ordinary about it. Naturally, he would watch her matches. When circumstances prevented them from meeting in person, observing her play became his most cherished pastime.

Whether it was through text or videos.

Yin Guo located his cue case. "Let Jiang Yang assist you with the sports bag. I'll take care of the cue."

Observing Yin Guo's departure, Lin Yi Yang experienced a lingering sensation that something was being withheld from him by everyone.

At the moment, he couldn't quite fathom what it might be, so he resolved to head back to the hotel first and unravel the mystery at a later time.

Before long, the members of the Chinese snooker team were all prepared. Each of them slung their sports bags over their shoulders, bearing cue sticks. Under the guidance of the organizers, they followed Lin Yi Yang as he led them toward the glass doors.

Beyond the glass doors, the floodlights encircling the arena were fully illuminated. As the doors were momentarily pushed ajar, a symphony of cheers reverberated, assaulting the eardrums of everyone present. Yin Guo found herself unable to make out anything amidst the uproar distinctly.

Anticipating Lin Yi Yang and Jiang Yang to step forth consecutively, they were caught off guard when Lin Yi Yang hesitated.

Using his left hand, Lin Yi Yang propped open one glass door while Jiang Yang offered a smile and nonchalantly pushed open the other. The pair of towering men took their positions at the forefront, carving out a path for those trailing behind.

Lin Yi Yang leaned against the glass door, prompting those behind him, "Aren't you all going?"

After a brief pause, everyone started moving forward, one by one, stepping into the expanse of fans that lay ahead like a boundless ocean.

Lin Yi Yang and Jiang Yang lingered until the final team member exited, exchanging a shared smile.

Concurrently, they released their hold, and the two glass doors gently shut.

Yin Guo turned her head and happened to glimpse Lin Yi Yang, and Jiang Yang caught in the midst of the crowd. Unlike the others, they were encountering some difficulty in making their way through. Somehow, her mind drifted to the song he had played that day when he had joined her for practice in the small pool room beneath the New York apartment building. The lyrics resonated:

"Confident and commanding, I stride forth as all eyes are on me.

"Confident and commanding, I have no need to look back.

"Turning the world upside down, I establish my own rules..."

Perhaps from that day forward,

When she stood beside the billiard table and caught sight of that silhouette in a black long-sleeved T-shirt and a plain pair of jeans, casually picking up a shared cue, she ought to have realized that this man would eventually arrive at this moment.

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