SML V5C70 We Need to Talk

Zhu Yi was right in one way: The courses wouldn’t get worse. After having to deal with Zhi Bao Yu and the other participant who felt comfortable making guesses about their private lives, the other group was a breeze to work with. Time seemed to fly by and soon, this course ended and a new season started with new participants strolling in, leaving the two troublemakers as only a memory.

Not just that but with the participants of the last two courses leaving glowing reviews online and telling people they knew about it, Zhu Yi had no trouble at all filling the next two courses to the brim. He finally even decided to open up a new one that would happen on a different day at a different time so those who weren’t able to register for the first two could also have an option. In short, it could be said that their cooperation was a full success.

Unfortunately, when one thing went well in life, that didn’t mean that others would as well.

Li Ming glanced at Zhao Chen who was sitting on the couch, looking absent-minded. This wasn’t the first time this had happened recently and he couldn’t help but wonder if anything major was up. He wasn’t downright worried. That was something he had worked on in the past few months and he really wasn’t obsessing over all the possibilities any longer but naturally, he still noticed.

He retracted his gaze, telling himself that Zhao Chen would bring it up if he wanted to. Until then, he shouldn’t think too much. He focused on cooking and then brought the bowls over, sitting down next to him. “Here.”

Zhao Chen looked up, seeming startled. It took him a moment before he gave a hum, nodded, and picked up the bowl. He didn’t start to eat though.

Li Ming watched him for a moment while eating by himself and finally couldn’t help but reach out, rubbing Zhao Chen’s leg. “If you want to talk, you know I’m here.”

Zhao Chen didn’t answer immediately. He simply looked at him and then sighed, putting the bowl back down. “Ah Ming … you know I love you, right?”

Li Ming nodded and put down his own bowl as well. The way Zhao Chen was currently looking at him … it was hard to describe. It was somewhere between ‘we need to talk’ and ‘I have a guilty conscience’, definitely not the type of look he wanted to see on his boyfriend’s face.

He hesitated about whether or not he should say something else in response but finally figured that it wouldn’t help if he just waited. Clearly, Zhao Chen had something to say but wasn’t sure how to start. “I do and I wouldn’t doubt it.” He reached out and grasped his hand, his lips curving up in a small smile. “And I hope you know that I love you as well.”

Zhao Chen nodded and held his hand in return but his gaze became more complicated. “Yeah, I do. I …” He stopped speaking and then furrowed his brows. “I don’t know how to say this. I … I feel like lately, we haven’t been spending much time together.”

Li Ming thought back to the past weeks and had to admit that this wasn’t wrong. He hadn’t noticed as much, actually, having been busy with other things. “Well, do you want to go out again sometime? We haven’t been on a proper date for a while. I mean, just the two of us.” They had gone out but more often than not, that included other people as well which simply wasn’t the same.

Zhao Chen squeezed his hand but finally sighed. “Actually, I … I think we should break up.”

Li Ming stared at him, unable to understand what he was saying for a moment. “Break up?” He repeated the words but he still didn’t know what to make of this. Zhao Chen had just said that he loved him and he had told him that he felt likewise. Was that the kind of thing you said if you wanted to break up?

He shook his head, his brows furrowing. “I … I don’t think I understand. Is it because I’ve been too busy? I … I could ask to reduce my hours.” Anyway, the courses he did with Zhu Yi weren’t just a hobby. He got paid for his work so reducing his hours at the hotel wouldn’t hurt. It was only a question of whether Manager Quan would be alright with that but then, there was a chance it could work out. He simply needed to ask. There was no need to jump to breaking up!

Zhao Chen closed his eyes. He had been thinking about this for several days and no matter how he tried to imagine this conversation, he had known it wouldn’t be easy. Actually needing to have it though … it was worse than anything he could have come up with. He simply couldn’t look into Li Ming’s eyes and see the obvious hurt and tell himself that it would be for the best.

He took a deep breath and then forced himself to explain. No matter what, he owed it to Li Ming to put things out there clearly. And it would be pure torture for both of them if he took his sweet time to do so. “That’s not it.

“I … I know this is sudden and it’s really not about my feelings for you. It’s just that … these last few weeks, I’ve seen how happy you are and I am glad. I love this for you even if it means less time for the two of us.

“If it was just this, I would keep going no matter what and just try to find a way to make the best out of it until we find what works for us. But two weeks ago, I got an offer for a job. It’s … it’s the kind of thing that working with Zhu Yi was for you, I guess. Unfortunately, it’s not in Shanghai and after spending less time together these weeks, I’ve realized that I couldn’t do a long-distance relationship. I’m sorry. I just … I see no way for us to work under these circumstances.”

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