The two of them actually didn’t see each other until the end of Li Ming’s shift as Zhao Chen didn’t need to work until later that day. Quite coincidentally, he was the one to relieve Li Ming from his position though.
The two of them looked at each other, neither knowing what to say. Li Ming hadn’t constantly been thinking of the matter but it had still crossed his mind every now and then and more so since the end of his shift started to draw near.
As for Zhao Chen, he hadn’t thought too much about last night and what Li Ming had said but seeing his face that was still pretty pale gave him pause. He opened his mouth, then hesitated before finally looking around. Nobody was there so he stepped closer, cupping Li Ming’s cheeks. “Hey, what’s the matter? You look … terrible.” He didn’t want to tell his boyfriend that he looked terrible but he couldn’t find a better word to describe it at the moment and he really was worried.
Li Ming closed his eyes, silently cursing on the inside. He had imagined a lot of outcomes to the moment they met but not this. And to be honest, that made him feel worse. How come he had expected the worst? Was that supposed to tell him something about himself or about their relationship?
Zhao Chen became even more worried when he didn’t get a straightforward answer but he felt like Li Ming looked even more exhausted. He pulled him into his arms and lightly rubbed his back, feeling a bit awkward.
They had been together for a bit now and had shared quite a few stories of their past, even some that were rather intimate. But this was probably the closest they had gotten emotionally. At the very least, it felt like it. At other moments, Li Ming always seemed a bit guarded even though he could see that he was trying hard to open up.
He took a careful breath and then kept his voice low, not wanting to ruin the moment. “I don’t know what’s going on but … it’s the end of your shift. You should probably go home, lie down, and take care of yourself. I can see if one of the others would be willing to switch shifts with me as well if you don’t want to be alone.”
Li Ming reached out and gingerly hugged him back. He knew he should tell him. Even if Zhao Chen hadn’t figured it out yet, it would be dishonest not to be open about this with him. It was just that he really hated having to destroy this moment. If Zhao Chen really broke up with him …
He took a deep breath and then sighed. At the end of the day, simply pushing the inevitable back wouldn’t make it easier, only more painful. “It’s alright. It’s not …” He didn’t know how to say it and shook his head. “Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep. I … I couldn’t get out of my head what you said about me being jealous because of my ex.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows, still holding onto Li Ming tightly. He had expected a lot but that hadn’t even crossed his mind. But then, now that Li Ming mentioned it, it didn’t seem strange either. Anyway, he had realized early on that he was prone to overthinking like this.
He pulled back a little and then cupped Li Ming’s cheek again, rubbing his cheek with his thumb. “So you obsessed over what that meant for us and … felt guilty, probably.”
Li Ming nodded. “Yeah, exactly that. I … I guess I am really not as much over him as I thought. So if …” He hesitated but finally forced himself to continue. He owed Zhao Chen this much. “If you want to break up, I’d understand that.”
Zhao Chen raised his brows, not even sure how to react for a moment. He got being anxious but immediately jumping to breaking up … it seemed a bit extreme. Still, this was obviously a real worry for Li Ming so he couldn’t just brush it aside. He thought for a moment but then shook his head. “I don’t intend to break up with you over this but I guess this will require a deeper talk sometime soon when you’re a bit more yourself.”
Li Ming nodded. He couldn’t help but feel that maybe Zhao Chen was just trying to spare his feelings though. Maybe that ‘deeper talk’ would be the actual breakup.
Zhao Chen felt like he could read his thoughts just from looking at the way that Li Ming had lowered his gaze. He had no idea what to do. He didn’t think that he had ever had a boyfriend worried about him breaking up like this. Especially about such a topic.
His thoughts stayed on the original source of this whole disaster for a moment and finally, he sighed. “Honestly, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. A few days ago, I might have reacted differently. But by now, we’ve talked about that ex and how your relationship broke down. It’s clearly something that is still affecting you so, of course, you’re not completely over it. But … look at it this way: If he were to walk into the hotel right now, offering you to take you back, would you break up with me to take him up on the offer?”
Li Ming stared at Zhao Chen and slowly shook his head. No, of course, he wouldn’t. Even though he mourned the relationship he would have liked to have with Mo Fang, he wouldn’t be willing to take him back, especially not over a boyfriend with whom things were currently going great. What would he even do that for? To be fed even more lies?
He leaned in and hugged Zhao Chen again, feeling like a weight was lifted from his shoulders. Yes, it didn’t matter if he still had some unresolved feelings regarding that relationship. The only important thing was that he was currently with somebody else and it was going well. The rest … those were simply the small hindrances you had to overcome.