When Qiao Yifan announced that he was pregnant over the pack video call, there were various reactions from his packmates.
Luo Ji just nudged his glasses up his nose and congratulated him before asking how far he was along and if he knew who the father, or fathers, were. (“Thank you Luo-ge ge. It’s only been two weeks since my heat ended so let’s say it’s probably been a few days, and I suspect everyone had a hand in this pregnancy.”)
Gao Yingjie seemed to be hyperventilating that he got his best friend pregnant. (“Breathe Yingjie, we knew this was something that could happen since none of us were using contraception, and I said I wanted a family with my pack, didn’t I?”)
An Wenyi was shocked speechless and couldn’t form coherent words, much less a sentence.
Qiu Fei blinked and congratulated him before realizing just how Yifan must have gotten pregnant and asked, with an audible stutter, if one of the babies was his. (“I do recall you came inside of me, along with everyone else, so I suspect you fathered at least one of the kids. Do you want us to get a paternity test to determine which one is yours once I have given birth, Qiu Qiu?”)
Sun Xiang looked faintly green and demanded to know why he was in this video call and what does all of this have to do with him. (“Well, Senior Sun, one of the babies could very well be yours and you’re in this group call because I thought you were now part of the pack.”)
Mo Fan just stared at the screen and grunted a faint congratulations. (“Thank you, Mo Fan.”)
“Yifan,” Yingjie whined over the call once everyone had digested the news. “Are you sure you’re okay with this? The regular season is going to start in just a few weeks.”
Yifan hummed to himself before he placed a hand on his belly, almost as if he could feel the faint presences of the new lives developing within him, “of course I’m fine Yingjie, I told you I wanted this when I started my heat three weeks ago didn’t I?” Yingjie made a soft agreeing noise, but it was clear from the worried look on his face that he wasn’t convinced.
“Yeah with the regular season starting, are you sure you’re going to be able to keep up with pace of training and competitions,” Qiu Fei blurted out, his concerned eyes boring into his through the screen.
Yifan looked towards the camera and smiled softly. “I won’t let this keep me from competing, I can promise you that-“ A few of the people on the call immediately began to speak over him, and he rose his voice to be heard. “-I know this might not be the best timing with competitions coming up, but I don’t want to wait until we’re all old and retired before having children. I- I know there’s people that probably disagree with me, but I think I’m at the point where I am reasonably able to care for children now, and I’ve always wanted to have kids of my own. Al- also I don’t plan on playing Glory until I give birth, I’ll probably take the last month or two off so I can focus on my pregnancy and ensuring everything is ready for the newborns and I’ll probably take a few more months after that, if I’m able to, so I can take care of the kids. I- this is my personal decision, and, um, I hope everyone can support me on this. If- if there’s anyone whose not ready to be a father, I, um-“
Yingjie’s expression softened a bit, “if this is something you feel strongly about Yifan, then I support you in this.”
“Thank you, Yingjie.”
On the video call, Qiu Fei rubbed the back of his neck. “I- I guess I just never imagined being a father before, I- I knew that was a possibility before of course but-“
Yifan could be seen laughing merrily on the screen. “Alphas never do, Qiu Qiu.”
“Yeah, I guess we don’t.”
The pack spent the rest of the call discussing the pregnancy and making plans for it.
Wang Jiexi was the first of his pack to find out about Qiao Yifan’s pregnancy when he overheard his protégé, Gao Yingjie, worrying about it to himself during an online training session.
Ye Xiu was doing his best slime impression on Han Wenqing’s lap when he heard his name being called. He grunted but didn’t look away from the TV that was showing a rerun of some American basketball game that the older man had insisted on watching. He might have little interest in the sport, but he could admit the game was entrancing as he watched how the players ran up and down the court chasing after the small orange ball on the screen. His name was called again, and Wenqing actually shook his shoulder this time to get his attention.
He sighed and looked up at the Team Tyranny captain with disgust. He thought retiring meant he could spend his free time however he wanted, and what he wanted was to spend his time relaxing with his packmates, something that was rare back when he was still an active player in the Professional Glory Alliance. Ye Xiu got a raised eyebrow from his comfortable chair in response for his troubles. “Wang Jiexi is calling for you from the kitchen.”
He huffed and looked towards the kitchen. “What do you want, Lao Wang?”
There was a moment of silence as Wang Jiexi puttered around in the kitchen before coming out with two mugs of steaming tea. Ye Xiu made grabby hands for one of the mugs, which the Team Tiny Herb captain quickly handed to him. “I was wondering if you knew that Qiao Yifan is pregnant,” he said as he sat gingerly next to Han Wenqing on the couch, taking a sip from his mug. Both men turned to look at him when he finished asking the question.
“Qiao Yifan is pregnant?”
“Do we know who the father is?”
Yu Wenzhou, walking into the room from the main hallway, spoke before Wang Jiexi could say anything. “If Qiao Yifan kept track of who he was having sex with, he would probably know who the father is.” The Team Blue Rain captain walked past the trio towards the kitchen and continued from there. “I assume that the father, or fathers as case may be, is probably from within his pack.”
Ye Xiu could feel the eyes of his packmates zeroing in on him. He sighed and let his head fall backwards into Han Wenqing’s lap. “I’ll talk to Xiao Qiao.” (He got a smile from Wenqing and a hand brushing through his hair for the action. He closed his eyes and sighed in pleasure. Retired life was wonderful.)
When Mo Fan met with Yifan again in the Team Happy dorms after (an admittedly short) summer break, he pulled the omega towards him and buried his face in the crook of Yifan’s neck. Yifan hummed and hugged Mo Fan tightly against him as the alpha took in his scent. The omega smelled faintly of spring rain and apple blossoms, as usual, but his scent was starting to shift and become- more. He took a few deep breaths before he smiled faintly against Yifan’s skin. Buried deep within the changing scent, he could sense his own scent. “One of them is mine?” He could barely dare to ask the question and was unable to resist pressing a soft kiss against warm skin.
Yifan chuckled and swayed them from side to side. “It seems so.”
Mo Fan couldn’t help the sappy smile that crossed his face as he buried his head deeper into the omega’s neck. He pressed a hesitant hand lightly against Yifan’s belly and let the other man’s body heat seep into his palm. “We’re having a baby,” he murmured in no small amount of awe into Yifan’s neck. “You and me … and the rest of the pack.” Yifan’s soft delighted answer was his only response and Mo Fan’s smile only grew.
Children. They were going to have children of their own to cherish and nurture.
The moment was broken by the sound of An Wenyi whining from the door. Both of them stopped to look in his direction before the alpha rushed over to envelope them both into a crushing bear hug. “Oh, what are we going to do, you two? Yifan’s pregnant and we have our first match in a few weeks and- Yifan have you prepared anything for the baby? Food? Diapers? Baby clothes? Where are they going to stay? We’re going to need to get them baby cribs and then dorms are too cramped to put in more furniture and-“
There was a loud cough from somewhere behind them and all three turned to look at their old captain staring at their group hug with a raised eyebrow. “Yifan?”
The trio stood there for a long moment before Yifan gave an unsure smile and disentangled himself from An Wenyi and Mo Fan’s embrace. He purposefully ignored the disgruntled noise that Mo Fan made as he took a step away from the two alphas surrounding him. “Yes, Senior Ye?”
Ye Xiu’s gaze lingered on An Wenyi and Mo Fan for a moment before he nodded his head in the direction of one of the dorm rooms. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Um, sure?” Yifan remained standing where he was, trying to figure out what the ex-captain wanted to talk to him about. An Wenyi and Mo Fan exchanged a glanced.
Ye Xiu cleared his throat and raised his voice when it was clear the omega wasn’t going to move. “Now?” Yifan yelped an apology and quickly ran into the room. Ye Xiu shook his head with a sigh before following him in, ignoring the suspicious looks he was receiving from the two alphas left standing in the hallway and the aborted move from An Wenyi to follow him inside.
(He would have to deal with the cleric and assassin later, but, for now, he wanted to focus on Yifan.)
Yifan made a beeline towards one of the beds and sat, hunched over, on it as he watched Ye Xiu shut and lock the door behind him. He gulped and tried not to feel too anxious about what the former team captain wanted to speak to him with. Maybe he was just wanted to know how if he had any concerns for the upcoming season.
Ye Xiu’s fingers twitched as though he was looking for a cigarette or a pen, before he shoved both hands into his pockets and looked at Yifan from the doorway grimly. “I- well, it would probably be best if Yu Wenzhou was here talking to you about this-“ Yu Wenzhou? What did the Team Blue Rain captain have to do with anything? Yifan clasped his hands together and tried to not let his confusion show on his face. “-but, well I’m your former team captain so-“ There was a brief pause as if Ye Xiu was fighting with himself on what to say before the ex-captain spat it out- “you’re pregnant, Yifan?”
Yifan felt his eyes widen in shock. He hadn’t told anyone besides his packmates and- “h-how did you find out, senior?”
Ye Xiu rubbed the back of his neck and looked away from him. “Through the pro player grapevine-“ He quickly rushed to reassure Yifan when the younger man’s face turned pale- “Although, only Yu Wenzhou, Han Wenqing, Wang Jiexi, and I know. Wang Jiexi was the one to tell us and we agreed to keep it a secret within our pack for now.” Yifan looked away. Wang Jiexi? He must have found out through Gao Yingjie. “Are you doing okay? Feeling okay?”
Yifan looked back towards his senior, feeling a bit more composed now that the pieces were falling in place. “Yes? Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Pregnancy is a big event, it takes a lot to bring a child into the world.” He couldn’t help but notice that Ye Xiu still wasn’t looking at him. “I would understand if you’re feeling anxious about this or if you wanted to drop out of the team for a while to gather your thoughts or-“
“I wanted this,” Yifan said as firmly as he could. He disentangled his hands and felt them clench into tight fists at his side.
Ye Xiu looked at him in surprise. “Excuse me?”
He took a moment to breath. “Senior, I wanted this,” he said as politely as he could. “I- I’m finally at a point in my life where I feel ready to have kids, and I won’t give them up or get an abortion or-“
“-h- hey I didn’t say anything about needing to go that far-“
“-and I will be competing with the rest of Team Happy this season for as long as I’m able to-“
“-are you sure about that? You have to dedicate a lot of time and energy to training and it’s probably best if you focus on the children and not the game. Remember, you have other lives to worry about besides your own-“
“-senior, I know, and I don’t see what being pregnant has to do with my qualification as a pro gamer and ability to compete this season!” Both Yifan and Yexiu were taken aback by how loudly Yifan had shouted.
“I just wanted to make sure you were making the right choice, for yourself and your children,” Ye Xiu finally said after a long pause. “You’re still young.”
“I am,” Yifan said as he stood, “it might not be a decision that makes you happy, but it’s one that I choose for myself and I will stand by that decision.” He walked towards the door, trying to ignore the way that he was shaking ever so slightly. “Is that all you wanted to talk to me about?” Yifan opened the door and stepped into the hallway when the former captain gave him a nod.
He felt tears start to prickle the corner of his eyes when he saw that Mo Fan and An Wenyi were waiting for him outside the door. A twin pair of concerned gazes focused on him. “Yifan,” Mo Fan said softly before reaching a hand towards him. Without another word he pulled the pair into a hug and burst out crying into their shoulders.
Yu Wenzhou went back to City G a few days later to help his team prepare for their first competition of the season. Ye Xiu couldn’t help but pout when he saw the placid face of the Team Blue Rain captain when he finally picked up the call. “Xiao Yu,” he whined over the headset, “I wish you were there to talk to Xiao Qiao instead of me.”
Wenzhou stared at him calmly and pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. “Did the talk with Qiao Yifan not go well?”
“Un, Yifan started crying when the conversation was over.”
Wenzhou frowned at the statement. “Crying? That’s no good-“
“Crying?! Oi Captain Yu, who made who cry?” Huang Shaotian’s face suddenly appeared on the screen and Wenzhou and Ye Xiu glanced at each other. The vice-captain of Team Blue Rain was famed for his motormouth, and it was probably not a good idea to let him know about Qiao Yifan’s pregnancy, even if he was a member of their pack. “Shameless Ye?! Are you making your juniors cry?”
Wenzhou wisely interrupted his vice-captain before the other man could continue speaking. “We were talking about Qiao Yifan, and I’d be more than happy to talk to him Senior Ye.”
“Senior Ye made Xiao Qiao cry? The ghostblade? Oi, aren’t you ashamed of yourself Lao Ye? Making such a promising pupil of yours cry like that. If you have time to be tormenting your juniors like that come PK PK with me! I-“ Wenzhou pushed Shaotian off screen and grinned at Ye Xiu.
“Perhaps you can talk to the two alphas from Team Happy in Qiao Yifan’s pack? They were your former teammates after all.”
Ye Xiu brightened at the suggestion. “Ah, that’s a good plan. Maybe we can rope Wang Jiexi into talking with Xiao Gao and either MuMu or Xiao Shiqin to talk to Xiao Qiu.”
“You don’t want to talk to Qiu Fei yourself?”
He sighed. “Not if I have to talk to both An Wenyi and Mo Fan.” The topic from there switched to dinner with Huang Shaotian, and later Wang Jiexi, when he wandered in on them, eagerly joined in.
“Yingjie,” one of his teammates called out after knocking on the door, ”the captain wants to see you.”
Yingjie tore off his headphones and gave a wry smile. Mentally, he rang through all the reasons why the captain would want to see him. Was it because he was more distracted at practice recently? Not focused on his teammate’s positions when giving calls? Bad performance at the last match they had?
“Ah, right, let me just-“ he turned around and made sure his character was in a safe spot before yanking the glory card out of card reader, “I’ll go and see what he wants then.” The two of them shared a tired grin at the doorway. Hopefully, whatever it was, the captain wouldn’t chew him out too much.
“Captain, you wanted to see me?”
Wang Jiexi looked up from the pile of reports he was reading and gestured towards one of the empty seats in front of him. “Please, sit.” He frowned at progress report of one of the new members in the training camp and jotted down a few notes in the margins, before moving onto the new report in the pile. When he glanced up, Yingjie was still standing in the doorway, pale as if he was seeing a ghost. He cleared his throat and was about to repeat himself when Yingjie suddenly shook himself alert and dashed into the seat.
“Captain, if this is about the last match, I’m so sorry I didn’t-“
“-this, isn’t about that Yingjie, although we can always talk about it if you want to discuss your performance.” This shut Yingjie up immediately as the younger player looked at him with wide doe eyes. His fingers twitched and, for a moment, the captain of the Tiny Herb team could understand why Ye Xiu smoked so much. It would be nice to have something to hold onto, or play with, right now. Instead, he settled for knitting his fingers together and leaning down to better look into Yingjie’s eyes. His protégé gulped.
“You are in a pack with Qiao Yifan, correct?”
Silence and then a hesitant- “captain?”
“It has come to my attention that Yifan has fallen pregnant. Were you responsible for this?”
Yingjie got even paler, which he didn’t think it was possible, and stuttered, “I- we- didn’t use contraception and-“
We? Wang Jiexi could feel the beginning of a headache forming and he gave his protégé a flat look. “Children are a big responsibility and Qiao Yifan will not be able to play during the later stages of his pregnancy-“
“-and I expect that you will want to be there to support him during childbirth and the first month as well.” Yingjie fell quiet and then opened his mouth to say something, but he held up a hand to stop him. “When the time comes that you cannot compete due to your fatherly duties, I expect you to have picked someone to take your place in the team. Think of this as a lesson in picking your eventual successor.” He looked to the stack of reports from the training camp and an idea came to mind. “Oh, and one more thing.” A few of the top-most reports were selected from the pile and handed to Yingjie. “Pick a few promising candidates from the training camp to use as backup for the team.”
Yingjie’s eyes shone with a fierce light as he gently took the pile of papers from him, “captain, I- I will not let you down-“
He waved him off. “That is all, go back to practice.”
Wang Jiexi waited until Yingjie had walked out of the hall before giving into the urge to rub the bridge of his nose. This was a big mess, wasn’t it? And given to how many teams Yifan’s pack spread- He sighed and stood up to make himself a pot of tea.
The new generation was certainly brave. He wondered if Glory was ready for what they had to bring.
Meanwhile, Su Mucheng and Xiao Shiqin were having even less luck with one sulky, and quite teary, Qiu Fei. The two had managed to corner the young man into his dorm room, where he was now sitting on his bed and hugging a pillow to himself as if to use as a shield against his two seniors.
“Now,” Su Mucheng said in her most gentlest tone, “we’re not here to judge you-“
“-but you cornered me here to give me a lecture, is it? What? Because I’m some brash alpha who can’t control his dick?”
“Qiu Fei,” Shiqin said in a warning tone from where he stood beside Mucheng.
“I love Qiao Yifan and I would never hurt him. What happened to omega rights in this country huh? Is an omega only allowed to get pregnant when they have permission to be?”
“Qiu Fei,” Shiqin repeated more forcefully, but Qiu Fei steamrolled past him.
“So, what if Qiao Yifan got pregnant? If he wants to raise children, then let him! Are the laws so strict that a working omega is no longer allowed to have children? Are we ruling that the laws of nature themselves are unnatural and illeg-“
Goodness was Qiu Fei getting on her nerves. “Qiu Fei,” Mucheng finally snapped from where she sat hunched in front of her junior, “Qiao Yifan won’t be able to play when he’s heavily pregnant. Do you seriously think he’s going to have the energy to keep up with the season when he’s carrying? And what will you do then, hmm? Will you leave or will you stay and play as though nothing is happening?”
Qiu Fei gave the pair a steely look, his eyes gleaming with tears. “That will be Yifan’s decision and whatever it is I will stand by him. If he wants me to leave, I will go, and if he wants me to stay and play through the season, I will. Either way, that’s none of your damn business and I will let you know what we decide on doing.” Qiu Fei hurled the pillow in his arms as hard as he could at the window, knocking down the lamp on the desk.
He stood up and all but stormed out of the room, hands clenched and shoulders shaking. “I will be in the practice room if you need me for anything else.”
Somehow, Ye Xiu had even less luck talking to Mo Fan and An Wenyi. The two had stared at him completely stone faced as he went on about training schedules and responsibilities as a new parent. They seemed to react to neither his threats nor his cajoling. The only time they had spoke was to confirm that they, along with others who they would not name (but Ye Xiu suspected he knew anyway), had a hand in Yifan’s pregnancy.
When he was about to start screaming at them, if only to get a reaction out of the pair, there was a knock on the door. Luo Ji adjusted his glasses and gave the three a wane smile. “Sorry, Captain, I mean Ex-Captain, Ye, I wanted to talk to those two about the next matchup we have since Captain Su isn’t here to talk to them about it in person.” Ye Xiu blinked at the young man before sighing and standing up.
“I hope you two seriously think about what I have said to you.”
Mo Fan just grunted as Luo Ji slipped past him with a notebook tightly clenched to his chest. Ye Xiu turned to leave but noticed that Qiao Yifan tying his shoelaces just outside the doorway, pointedly looking away from him and the trio in the room. He furrowed his eyebrows but said nothing as he walked past him.
Qiao Yifan was in the middle of clearing a mid-level dungeon with his pack when he heard the knocking noise from QQ. He frowned as he pulled up the messenger and saw who it was that was trying to contact him. Qiu Fei noticed that his character wasn’t moving and asked him if something was wrong.
“Oh, no nothing’s wrong,” he said, remembering the dungeon that he was in, “um, senior Huang Shao is contacting me. I’m going to see what he wants.”
“Senior Huang,” Yingjie wondered out loud in the voice chat, “I wonder what he wants with you.” Out of the corner of his eyes, Yifan watched as his packmates surrounded his character on the screen and his gaze softened a bit. The knocking noise sounded again, and he apologized before muting himself in the voice channel to answer the call from the sword saint.
“Senior Huang Shao?”
“Ah? Is that little junior Qiao Yifan? The one that Shameless brother Ye made cry? Why I should PK PK PK PK PK PK that bastard for what he did to his adorable little junior-“
Yifan winced at the stream of words that came out of the headphones and gave a nervous chuckle. “Ah, yes it’s me Senior Huang, is there anything I can help you with?”
“Help me with? Well if you want to go and PK PK PK your old captain with me I wouldn’t say no, but no I wanted to say congratulations since I’m sure no one else has been doing any congratulating recently. Those old bastards in the league are all old stuck in the muds who haven’t moved past the last fifty years I swear. Omega rights? What omega rights. They wouldn’t know an omega if one rubbed their pheromones all over them-“
Yifan blinked, unsure if he had heard correctly. Although with how fast the sword saint like to talk- “C-congratulations, senior?”
There was finally a pause. “Yes, congratulations. I heard you were getting pregnant little Qiao and I wanted to be the first to congratulate you since I’m sure no one else has bothered to do that yet.”
Yifan was taken aback. Huang Shaotian wasn’t wrong, but- “err, aren’t you going to give me a lecture on how immature and unprofessional my actions are?”
“Like hell I am! I don’t know what bullshit Ye Xiu and the other captains have been feeding you and your pack, but don’t you know that our Blue Rain is the most omega friendly team in the league? In fact, you should quit Happy and join Blue Rain, you and your pack, we have subsidized on-site childcare, and your little ones, when they’re born, will get along with all the other children we’re raising in Blue Rain. Hey, did you know that our 10th server guild leader has a pair of twins? They’d love-“
Yifan completely ignored the offer to join Blue Rain and tuned out Huang Shaotian’s voice as he tried to recall what he knew about Blue Rain. The Sword and Curse duo were well known for being an alpha and omega duo, with Senior Huang Shao being the- “um, senior Huang? Shouldn’t Captain Yu be the one talking to me? Since he’s an omega?”
“Well, actually, the captain was the one that suggested I talk to you, little Qiao.”
“And that’s because I’m his precious omega.”
“Anyway, I thought that we omegas should stick together, even if the world says it’s ready for modern omegas who know what they want and are working to juggling all their desires, sometimes the world just doesn’t have the capability to support us. Anyway, I think my free time is up. Blue Rain, think about it. Bye and good luck to you and your mates.” The call ended and Yifan rejoined the dungeon voice channel in shock.
“Yifan,” he heard Yingjie ask over the headset, “what did Senior Huang want?”
“To congratulate us,” he found himself replying automatically, “and to offer us to join Blue Rain if we find our own teams repressive.”
Yifan found himself nodding woodenly, even if no one could see him. Blue Rain, omega friendly, subsidized childcare- he found himself smiling fondly as he remembered the words that Huang Shaotian had left him with. “Sometimes the world doesn’t have the capability to support us, so we omegas should stick together,” he paraphrased.
“Huh? Where did you hear that, Yifan?”
“Ah, sorry, Qiu Fei, I was just thinking about something I watched somewhere. Now, how much more of this dungeon do we have to do until we hit the boss?”
He let the chatter of the group wash over him as he thought to the conversation he just had, the silly on his face never leaving. Somehow, despite how difficult things had seemed, everything seemed just a bit brighter.
(Ah, what a shame he never got to thank Huang Shaotian for his words. Maybe he should send a fruit basket to Blue Rain sometime.)