Ao Jing looked at him, taking a moment to consider. Even though Shangguan Yu hadn’t said it outright, he understood that if he said ‘yes’ now, there would be no relationship. This was a dealbreaker for him.
To be honest, he did understand. Being gay could be hard enough in this country with lots of people still being so conservative. At work, you would have to hide your orientation, and sometimes, you couldn’t even count on your family or closest friends.
But it was a different thing whether you told them and they pushed you away or if you always pretended in front of them, not even giving it a try. The former was naturally harsh to bear. But you might also be gifted with knowing that some people would always stand by your side no matter what while others would show you their true colors and prove that they were actually not worth the friendship.
In the end, that was also worth a lot, wasn’t it? But on the other hand, just pretending all the time wouldn’t achieve anything. It was just making yourself unhappy.
Ao Jing looked down, giving himself a while to think things through.
On the other side of the table, Shangguan Yu already became anxious. From the half the year that they had interacted with each other, he really liked Ao Jing. And now, sitting face-to-face with each other, there also wasn’t anything he could find that he disliked about him. He was a good-looking man, his personality was still pretty much the same as in the game even though he had been a little more nervous in the beginning, and he just felt that they got along very well. They could talk easily, they could share their thoughts even on difficult subjects, and they were both willing to work on a future together.
That was the type of man he wanted to spend his life with. Or, well, even if he didn’t talk about his whole life yet, he at least wanted to give it a chance and see where it led them. If things really didn’t work out because of this … He didn’t know what he should make of that.
Shangguan Yu gulped and forced himself to stay calm. He didn’t know for sure yet but he did realize that he had to expect the worst. Just thinking of it made his throat constrict but what could he do? He could only try to make sure. “I guess that isn’t acceptable to you?”
Not far behind him, Yu Lan held his forehead with one hand and messaged his wife: [That guy’s botching it up.] He lowered his phone and looked over to where Shangguan Yu and Ao Jing were sitting. He knew that brother-in-law of his well enough to know that he was devastated even though he couldn’t see his face but only his back.
Really, what was that guy thinking? Even though their conversation had been a little weird, they seemed to have gotten along great. Why would he do this now? Didn’t he understand how big the risk was? He could lose Shangguan Yu over this!
Back at their table, Ao Jing raised his head. “That’s not it.” He took a deep breath and reached out, taking Shangguan Yu’s hand. “I like you. Very much so. And I understand that if I want to have a relationship with you, then this is something I have to do.”
Shangguan Yu slightly furrowed his brow. “I don’t want you to feel forced to do anything.”
“That’s not it.” Ao Jing shook his head and then looked at their hands, seemingly unsure of how to say it.
“Ao Jing … Just get it out with. What’s there that we can’t talk about?”
“You’re right.” Ao Jing smiled slightly but it was still a little strained. “The thing is … While I don’t mind coming out and introducing you, I … I am scared.”
Shangguan Yu looked at him, confused, but when he thought about it, he started to understand. “You mean because your relationship with your parents worsened after coming out and you didn’t have a good one in the first place. All you ever really had were your friends. And now …” Now, coming out would put that at risk.
Ao Jing nodded. “Yeah. I know, it’s cowardly. I can’t help it though. It’s just how I feel.” He lightly squeezed Shangguan Yu’s hand, trying to reassure him before he would feel like pulling back. “I understand that with this, we couldn’t have a relationship though. So I promise you that I will come out. I will introduce you. Not with some bullshit excuse like you just being a new friend I made but as my partner. But … I can’t do that immediately. I … I need a bit of time.”
Shangguan Yu smiled and reached out with his other hand, holding onto Ao Jing tightly. “I never expected you to call them immediately and break the news. We’ve only just started seeing each other outside of the game. Let’s take our time to get to know each other and when we’re sure where our relationship goes, then you might also feel more comfortable telling your friends.”
“Mn. Let’s do it that way.” Ao Jing heaved a sigh of relief, honestly glad that they had managed to talk it out. Thinking about that … “I think it’s good that we already spent so much time together online. We’re able to talk things through that really wouldn’t be possible if this was just a first date.”
“True. But I guess if this was just like any plain old first date, we would be talking about other things instead. Otherwise, we might really be moving too fast.”
“I guess you have a point.” Ao Jing shook his head at himself and then just smiled, happy that things were working out so well for them. That half a year of dating online … it really came in handy now.