The voices could already be heard when the participants were down the corridor. At first, Li Ming didn’t think much and simply used the opportunity to straighten his sleeves and try to look occupied while not having anything to do. He even took a step back to make sure that they would first come into contact with Zhu Yi.
When the voices got closer though, he first blinked his eyes in surprise and then smiled wryly. Why … did that one person sound so familiar? Please, don’t let it be who he thought it was!
He inwardly pleaded until the two of them stepped around the corner but, of course, there was no use. Neither were any of his preparations.
“Ah? Bro Li, what are you doing here? Don’t tell me you still need to take a course in self-defense!”
Zhu Yi looked from his participants to Li Ming. Then, his gaze stayed on Li Ming’s poor expression. Suddenly, he felt like he had neglected one thing: What if some of the participants weren’t total strangers to Li Ming? And what if their relationship wasn’t any good? After all, even the nicest of people would have moments where they simply couldn’t keep their composure.
For a moment, Zhu Yi saw his whole plan crumble. He wasn’t willing to accept it though so he hurriedly plastered a happy expression back onto his face, and then tried to first get the backstory so he could mediate. “Oh, you two know each other?”
Li Ming tried hard to get his own expression back under control as well. No matter what, this was Zhu Yi’s course. His livelihood depended on it and maybe also his happiness. He couldn’t ruin that for him.
He nodded with a heavy heart and gave a hum. “Yes, Sis Zhi and I were co-workers a few years ago.”
Zhi Bao Yu nodded and pulled her friend closer. “We were! It feels like it has been ages though. How are you doing now? It was such a pity that you and Mo Fang couldn’t work your issues out.”
Before anyone could answer, her gaze slipped from one side to the other and then turned into that ‘knowing look’ that Li Ming hated the most.
“Oh! I see. You and Ah Yi are dating now, aren’t you? Did you come to drop him off for work? That’s so cute!”
Li Ming gave a forced smile. “We’re not.”
Zhu Yi nodded. “I’m not gay. I also have a girlfriend.”
“Sure, sure. It’s okay though. I’ve known that Li Ming is gay for … well, it feels like forever. From crushes to relationships to break-ups, I’ve seen it all. So you don’t have to pretend with me.”
Li Ming rubbed his forehead and reminded himself that this was important for Zhu Yi. It was hard staying calm though. This was precisely what he hated about her. She never listened and as soon as she had some idea stuck in her head, she’d refuse to even entertain any other positions. Not to mention that this was precisely how he had gotten into that situation with Su Yan back then. Yes, he really could have done without ever seeing her again.
Zhu Yi wasn’t a stranger to Zhi Bao Yu’s baseless accusations. He also found them annoying but his reaction wasn’t as strong as Li Ming’s. Anyway, it wasn’t the first time somebody thought he was gay but he didn’t give anything about that. As long as he knew which gender he liked, there was no reason to care about other people’s opinions. Also, well, he already had the world’s best girlfriend so who cared?
Looking at Li Ming though, he knew that he couldn’t let this go on. He turned to Zhi Bao Yu and shook his head. “Alright, alright, you can joke around with me but don’t joke with him. I invited him over today. It has nothing to do with any personal relationship. It’s about work so you have to be more serious. Since you know him, you certainly also know which job he does, right?”
Zhi Bao Yu looked skeptical but didn’t mention her thoughts any longer. Instead, she simply nodded and tugged at her friend’s sleeve. “Right, you don’t know him. So let me introduce you guys.
“Xiao Na, this is Li Ming. He also worked at the railroad station a few years back but not at the service counter with me but as one of the security guards. He was dating our boss’s son for a while but things didn’t work out in the end. It was a real pity, they were such a cute couple!” She sighed and then turned to Li Ming to continue with her introductions.
“Now, Bro Li, this is Xiao Na, a good friend of mine. We’re from the same town and basically grew up together. She has only recently moved here and said she felt scared in such a big city so we signed up for Ah Yi’s course together and that’s why we’re here. Ah, I never would have thought we’d meet again like this!”
Li Ming gave a hum and turned to Xiao Na. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Zhi Bao Yu was somebody who was very liberal with the use of the word ‘friend’. If you asked her, she might turn out to be friends with each and every person she ever met in her life. As a result, if she introduced somebody as a good friend, that really wasn’t any clue as to what their character was like. Even if it was, since this was their first meeting, he would naturally be polite to her.
Xiao Na also nodded in return. “It’s nice to meet you too.” In fact, she had also realized that Zhi Bao Yu loved the drama and would exaggerate things often so she didn’t trust much beside the fact that he was named Li Ming and they had worked together. The rest … well, she’d find out soon enough.