Li Ming cleared his throat. Suddenly, he understood why Zhao Chen had looked so embarrassed when he asked that question. He was feeling the same now and he didn’t know how to get out of the situation either.
Zhao Chen looked at him and then laughed heartily. “You … you really didn’t know what I meant?”
Li Ming’s ears actually turned red at that. “Call me dense but that indeed went over my head.”
Zhao Chen chuckled to himself and then shook his head once more. “Well, I can see the humor in that. Anyway, the opportunity wasn’t wasted. At least I got to compliment you even if it was slightly crude execution-wise.”
Li Ming took a deep breath and then gave a hum, disagreeing with Zhao Chen’s words. “There was nothing crude about it. Actually …” He tilted his head, his gaze lingering on Zhao Chen uncertain.
Zhao Chen raised his brows in response. This time, it was him who had no idea where this was going.
Li Ming smiled at his gaze, his embarrassment receding fast. Either way, since he had inadvertently forced his boyfriend to say something corny, he should probably give back. “The delivery was very good. I especially liked that look at the end.”
Zhao Chen tapped the rim of the bowl in front of him, his gaze deepening. “So that’s your weakness. I was wondering.”
Li Ming chuckled. “Not … a weakness, no, just … something I can appreciate. You have very expressive eyes, you know?” Yes, looking at Zhao Chen, he sometimes felt that he could say a lot with just those eyes. In fact, even though Zhao Chen wasn’t somebody who was very quiet, he did seem to default to just giving one of those expressive looks every now and then. Usually, they didn’t fail to get across what he wanted.
That feature wasn’t necessarily something that would make him weak in the knees but Li Ming had to admit that it could be … hot. Who didn’t like being looked at that directly by their own boyfriend? At those moments, it seemed as if he was Zhao Chen’s whole world and nothing outside was important.
Zhao Chen smiled at this moment, actually lowering his gaze again. He did appreciate the compliment but it made him a bit shy as well. Anyway, after just being praised for this ability of his, he somehow felt that he couldn’t mess up by looking at him. If he just stared blankly because he was overwhelmed, how awkward would that be?
He cleared his throat and only looked back up after another moment. “Well, it seems you’re also a sweet-talker.”
Li Ming made a sound that could have been an agreement or disagreement either way. “In any case, I mean it. As for before, I really had no other intentions. Or, well, it felt a bit weird when you said you were watching me. I guess I just wanted to make sure.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows but then, understanding dawned in his eyes. “I see.” Yes, hadn’t Li Ming told him about his bad breakup just a few hours ago? He hadn’t put two and two together but after thinking about it for a moment, it was probably that Li Ming was still a bit sensitive. Whenever a boyfriend would show even a hint of a red flag, he would get worried. And telling him that he had been ‘watching him’ sure made him sound like a stalker, didn’t it?
He rubbed his neck, feeling that he should be more careful in the future. It was better to weigh his words a second time before actually saying anything. At the very least, that was what he should do while they were still dating. Later on, when they were in a committed long-term relationship, things would be different. Li Ming would get what he meant even without that.
Zhao Chen gave a hum. “Suddenly, I understand even more what you meant when you said you love the time after you’re very familiar with your significant other. It sure reduces the risk of this kind of misunderstanding, doesn’t it?”
Li Ming nodded. “Yes, it does. But either way, you were saying?”
Zhao Chen needed a moment to think back but then managed to pick up where he left off. “Right! I wanted to say that back then after we met for the first time, I paid some more attention to you so I figured I had a pretty good grasp on what kind of person you were.
“It’s mostly in the way you speak to others and how you behave around them. It’s … it’s beautiful.” He stopped himself there and raised his brows again, feeling that this time, he really didn’t have an excuse for why he was saying something this cheesy. “I mean you’re kind to others. That’s … nice to watch.”
Li Ming chuckled but nodded. “I see. I still don’t quite get how that told you anything about my movie preferences though.”
Zhao Chen was dumbfounded for a moment. Right, that was how this whole discussion had come about. “Well, you might call it a reach but I guess I thought that somebody who was always kind to others in real life, paying attention to how his words and actions would affect them and how they were feeling, that such a person would also cherish stories that focus more on the characters than the plot.” He wasn’t sure if his logic was sound but he felt like he hadn’t explained it that well yet. “I think it’s because I felt it might be second nature to you so even when looking for entertainment, you might inadvertently have the same habits. Of course, I could have been totally wrong.”
Li Ming wasn’t sure if this was really something that was true in general but … “You weren’t wrong in my case. I guess all that observing in the beginning paid off.”
Zhao Chen nodded. “It did. Although I still feel that I have gained a deeper understanding now that we’re together. Talking like this … it really makes me appreciate you even more.”