SML V4C64 An Alternate Universe

Duan Zhi Hao wolfed down half the food before he finally figured that it was probably impolite to just eat and ignore the person opposite him the whole time. He put down his chopsticks and cleared his throat, giving Li Ming a curious look. “So, uh, how was the past week? You mentioned a bit but I bet there was much more to it. Is the new course really fun?”

Li Ming nodded, smiling brightly when he thought of the last week. “Yes, it really is. To be honest, Teacher Linghu’s style was a bit easier to follow for me and I felt like it stuck better in my mind, but with this one, it’s alright as well as long as I sit down for an hour afterward and go through everything, making sure I’m prepared to ask any questions the next day.

“When it comes to the topic though, I might actually like this one better than the first. That one was just about general communication. It’s definitely interesting and also helpful in any kind of job — don’t get me wrong — but for my specific one, the one that I’m doing now is probably more suitable.”

Duan Zhi Hao nodded. Li Ming had already mentioned last week when Yao Ai asked that it was about body language. Thinking about what kind of thing a security guard had to do every day, he wasn’t too surprised that Li Ming thought it would be helpful. It might give him insight into where conflicts were likely to occur soon or something like that. “Well, I guess you don’t need to worry about your job prospects then. Do you still want to do another one after this?”

Li Ming hesitated at that. “You know, I’m not sure. On the one hand, I think that doing something to further my skills was long overdue. I didn’t really do anything in that regard in the last couple of years while I was at the railroad station. Showing some initiative there should also be good for finding employment again. But then, on the other hand, I also don’t want to be out of a job for too long. Also, part of me taking this kind of ‘break’ was also because I needed to heal from what happened with Mo Fang.”

Duan Zhi Hao looked at him and gave a hum. “Do you think you’re done with that?” To be honest, if he thought back to how Li Ming had looked just a week or two ago and then compared it to right now, he had to say that he really didn’t seem to be that troubled anymore. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have thought you’d get this far in such a short amount of time.”

Li Ming couldn’t help but chuckle, finally picking up the glass of wine to take a sip. “You know, I thought the same. If you had told me three weeks ago that I’d get over it this fast, I wouldn’t have believed you. And, well, maybe I’m not totally over it yet. It still hurts to think of it and I don’t think I could meet him right now and keep a straight face but then, that isn’t what this is about either, is it?

“At that time, I was completely out of it. I couldn’t take working with him anymore and got out of the situation. Now, I haven’t seen him in a while, and I think that after talking it over with you, with some people who also knew him, and even with my family, I’m slowly starting to not just get some distance from it but also reframe it in my mind.

“The last part is probably the most important for me. I was focusing so much on how everything ended and what he did wrong, that I didn’t give myself the time to appreciate the good parts and what actually came of this. And right now, I’m focusing on that part.

“Yes, what he did was wrong. I will probably have some doubts when I get into my next relationship, but that isn’t a problem for now. I don’t want to date again immediately. I just … I need some space from dating and then in the future, I’ll see about that. In general though, this break up … it had a good influence on me, you know?”

Duan Zhi Hao stared at him, really not sure how Li Ming was doing this. “That is probably the most mature reaction to a break-up I’ve ever seen. Well, as long as you’re happy, I guess there’s no reason to dwell on it. And, well, it’s not like there isn’t enough other stuff occupying your mind.”

Li Ming nodded and then put down his chopsticks as well, crossing his arms on the table. “Last week, you asked me about the guy we met at the theme park.”

“That old crush of yours, yes. You didn’t want to say anything back there.”

Li Ming nodded, his expression a bit complicated. “I couldn’t say anything at that time because, frankly, it’s not something I would want to talk about in front of sister Yao or in front of anyone, really. It’s something that I am still not quite comfortable with.

“But I think seeing him again made me realize that we all make mistakes. And some of those are things that, even after the fact, you can’t make up for. And there’s a certain gravity to some compared to others. So maybe I shouldn’t judge Mo Fang as harshly.”

Duan Zhi Hao stared at him, really not knowing whether this was going. He knew Li Ming as a steady person who cared about others, listened well, and was able to put his own feelings on the backburner. He really couldn’t imagine what kind of thing he could have done that would make him say something like this even about a crush. “Honestly, you’re making this sound really ominous. Maybe next time, you should take a course about storytelling instead.”

Duan Zhi Hao chuckled at his own joke, but Li Ming’s expression stayed serious.

“No, it sounds ominous because it was. I … I’m not proud of it, of course, but back then, I assaulted him.”

Duan Zhi Hao blankly stared at him, his mouth actually gaping open for a moment before he slowly exhaled. Honestly, Li Ming assaulting somebody, he couldn’t imagine that at all. It was like he was talking about some different dimension or alternate universe. But then, Li Ming’s expression told him that he wasn’t joking about this. Well, the topic was too serious for that as well.

In the end, he could only clear his throat. “So, you said you’d tell me when we were alone. So, what really happened? I mean, this really doesn’t sound like you. So I guess there will have been a bit more to it. Some backstory, at least.”

Li Ming sighed, wondering if there really was more to it. But keeping quiet about it wouldn’t make it go away so he might as well tell him. Anyway, he had been prepared for that from the moment he brought it up.

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