Looking at Zhao Chen’s glittering eyes, Li Ming couldn’t help but smile. So far, he had only ever seen him calm and stable, maybe making a few jokes here and there. But right now, he actually looked cute. It was … a good look for him.
He shook his head at himself and then motioned to the menu that was displayed on the wall. “You know, maybe we should order first before you dive straight in. Something tells me that this is going to be a longer conversation.”
Zhao Chen couldn’t help but give an awkward laugh. “Is it that obvious that I’m eager to talk about this?”
Li Ming gave a hum in response, not quite sure what to say. “Well … I’d say you look almost as excited as you did when I agreed to go out with you that day.”
Zhao Chen rubbed the back of his head, uncertain whether that was a good thing or not. Honestly, that day, he had been ecstatic. He had almost believed that he didn’t have a chance at all to make Li Ming fall in love with him. After all, at that time, he hadn’t shown any interest. If not for the fact that the hotel was well-known as a good place of employment for queer people so that there was a good chance that Li Ming was gay, he would’ve given up much earlier.
“Well, it’s not that this is more exciting than being able to go out with you. It’s just that I seldom have the chance to talk about this. So … don’t think of this as a commentary on our relationship.”
Li Ming raised his brows at him. “Shouldn’t I? Actually, I thought it was sweet that you were this open with me about something that you enjoy. Especially since it seemed like this is not an easy thing for you to talk about. So I was feeling a bit honored just now. But if you think that I shouldn’t be … I won’t insist!”
Zhao Chen shook his head at him. “You’re teasing me! I really wouldn’t have thought you were the type.”
Li Ming raised his brows. “No? I figured that I would have teased you before. Did I really not do that in all these weeks?” He really couldn’t imagine. Quite honestly, he was a person who loved teasing his significant others. It was something that he would only do with somebody whom he was really comfortable with. The kind of person that he had developed a trusting relationship with. He could also do this with friends but only after knowing them for a long time. The fact that he was comfortable enough to do this with Zhao Chen after only a few weeks was a good sign.
Zhao Chen clicked his tongue and shook his head. “At the very least, you never did regarding our relationship. Or maybe I just never caught it. Anyway, you’re not wrong about ordering first. Let’s do that! What do you want?”
The two of them quickly chose and then ordered, leaning back while the food was being made.
With that done, Li Ming couldn’t help but pick up the previous topic. “So, you were saying?”
Zhao Chen smiled, thinking of their previous exchange, but then turned serious again. Anyway, he loved talking about the things he liked but this was also so that Li Ming could get to know him better. He had to make sure that he gave a good answer. “Well, things first. What I like about reading is the depth that the stories have. I’m not saying that movies don’t have that. It’s just that there is a limit to how much you can tell based on how long a movie is. Compared to that, in a book with several hundred pages, there are just so many more details, so many things you can make more explicit, and also things that you can hide between the lines. I really enjoy that part.”
Li Ming nodded, feeling that he could get behind that explanation. “Then, do you like series more than movies? Not that I’d be trying to say you have to watch at all. I’m just being curious. Since they have more time to establish a story over several episodes or even seasons, they should be more in-depth as well.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows and nodded. “Not bad! You would really make a good detective. Actually, you’re not wrong. When it came to watching things with previous boyfriends, I would pick a series nine times out of ten. Even a miniseries is alright. I just … I like those small details. I don’t need a big, convoluted plot. I want to focus on those little things in life, you know?
“I think that I am mostly watching for the people and what they experience rather than for what is actually happening.” He shook his head, his brows furrowing faintly. “I’m not sure if I’m making sense.”
Li Ming took a moment to consider his words, indeed not quite sure if he knew what he was getting at. Most people seemed to watch things for what was happening. But then, there should be other ways to go about it. In fact, if he thought of himself, he wasn’t even sure what was more important to him.
“I think I get it to a certain point. Is it like when there are some people that — in life I mean — that you just like? I would imagine that it is probably the same when you are reading a story or watching a movie. You just … I guess you can relate to them in some way so it’s interesting to see how they react to what happens.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows and nodded. “Yes, I think that’s a good way to put it, actually. There are things happening to them and they have to deal with that. It’s very much like how it is in real life.
“In fact, I think that maybe I prefer stories that are a little closer to real life in general. But I can also get behind other types if they feel like they are close to life, you know?”
Li Ming was somebody who wasn’t that into movies but also didn’t necessarily enjoy reading. He was more the outdoorsy type who didn’t like being trapped at home so he had to admit that he needed a moment to think of something. “You mean like a riveting fantasy or science fiction story that still has characters in it that seem really human? In the sense that just the setting is different but they still behave like you and I would?”
Zhao Chen nodded, his lips curving up. “Yes, just like that! Sometimes, they just seem so … far removed from regular people. That is something that I don’t really enjoy seeing or reading about. But if it’s the kind of story that could happen in real life as well, just with a different setting, I really like it.
“In fact, sometimes those stories are interesting to me because they give me a different view on the world that we live in.” Yes, sometimes, it made him think that that was what he actually liked about it.