IRL C2 Just Once

Ao Jing continued to stare but forgot all about the jar in his hand, just clutching it absent-mindedly. His thoughts were running a mile a minute but none of that showed on his face. Meet … in real life? Did this mean that Shangguan Yu wouldn’t mind if he saw him? Did this mean everything he had said before was true? He had worried without reason?

Shangguan Yu became self-conscious when he was looked at like that. Even his character in the game blushed and he hurriedly looked away, his fingers tugging at his robe. “I mean … it’s just meeting. Nothing more, nothing less. Just because we’re both gay doesn’t mean we have to go out as a couple or anything.” He tightened his lips and wondered if he should say anything more but since Ao Jing was still keeping quiet, he felt like he had to. This would just get awkward if he misunderstood.

Well, not that it was too much of a misunderstanding. Although he would love if they got along in real life just as well and could become an actual couple, he knew he couldn’t force it. That still didn’t mean that he wouldn’t inwardly wish for it.

He still felt that he should try to put things in perspective though. Otherwise, what if he scared Ao Jing off because he came on too strong? He’d only have himself to blame then! “I also know this is just a game. Marrying here doesn’t mean anything. I mean … It’s not that it means nothing but it doesn’t mean we have to get together in real life.

“I just … I just want to meet. Just once. If we can’t get along, we don’t have to repeat it. I … I’d also understand if you wouldn’t want to spend time with me in the game anymore afterward. I mean this would get awkward really awkward otherwise, right? In that case, we could just … go our separate ways.” Although that would be a pity. They had always gotten along and for the past few months, he had almost only played with Ao Jing. If they split up, he might just delete the game. He didn’t know if he could still have fun here without him.

Hearing him talk about going their separate ways finally woke Ao Jing from his stupor. He put the jar down next to him and reached out, taking Shangguan Yu’s hand, his touch gentle as if he was afraid this scene could burst like a bubble. “Don’t worry. I won’t misunderstand. Anyway, we won’t divorce here. Even if it’s not enough to become a couple in real life, we know each other good enough to be friends, don’t we?”

Shangguan Yu nodded happily. “Yes!” That was indeed true. If Ao Jing didn’t find him pleasing to the eye, he might not want to go out with him but that wouldn’t necessarily change their relationship here. And anyway, it wasn’t like there was no chance at all. He might not be quite as cute in real life but he was still handsome! Who was to say that Ao Jing wouldn’t be attracted to him? Maybe that was even his type?

“Alright, then … it’ll be New Years soon. I’ll go back to visit my family at that time and then stay for the whole break. If I remember correctly, you’re working one city over. Will you be there for that time? Then I could come and visit you.”

Ao Jing nodded. “I will. But let me come over to see you.” He reached up and nudged Shangguan Yu’s nose, his lips curving into a devilish smile. “You said you’re a student so you shouldn’t spend money carelessly.”

Shangguan Yu pulled back and covered the lower half of his face. “What are you doing? You’re just two years older than me, not twenty!”

“I’m already an intern though so I’m earning money. Just let me buy the ticket to come over.”

Shangguan Yu pursed his lips and rubbed his nose. “I wasn’t talking about that.”

“I know.” Ao Jing’s eyes narrowed into crescents, obviously in a good mood. “You just have that kind of tease-able face. I couldn’t help myself.” He shrugged his shoulders, leaned back, and picked up the jug of wine. Ah, he could hardly wait for the New Year. He probably hadn’t looked forward to it this much in several years. And why wouldn’t he? Even though he knew that there would be a difference between the game and real life, he still felt some faint hope that the illusion would at least come close to reality. In some regards, it might even be better.

Shangguan Yu leaned closer and put his head on Ao Jing’s shoulder. “You won’t bail on me, will you?”

“Of course not.” He reached up and brushed through Shangguan Yu’s hair. In fact, he couldn’t help but worry that the one bailing might be Shangguan Yu. But then again, he had brought the matter up so why would he? No, it would certainly go alright. “Let’s decide on a day and time when you’re back at your family’s place. You’ll be able to come online, won’t you?”

“Mn, don’t worry about that. My family isn’t that strict.” Shangguan Yu slightly adjusted his position to sit more comfortably. After they met, it would be more awkward to do something like this so he had to make use of the time now.

Ao Jing glanced at him and then put his arm around his waist, pulling him closer until Shangguan Yu’s cheek was pressed against his chest. “That’s good then.”

The two of them fell silent and just watched the sunset together like they had done several times before. In this fictional world without any industry that filled the air with smog and large expanses of nature that were undisturbed by any human influence, this kind of sight was unforgettable. And this moment when their hearts were close to each other was even more so.

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