While Mo Fang was lost in thought, the door at the entrance of the restaurant opened again. The person that stepped in noticed him immediately when raising his head and stopped in his tracks. Well, this was awkward.
Li Ming rubbed his forehead and wondered if he should just leave again. He was supposed to meet up with Rui Lan and Cang Gui Ying here this evening but he had come a bit early so maybe it wasn’t too late to send them a message and find a different place to meet up.
He hesitated for a moment and looked around to make sure that they weren’t there yet. When he couldn’t spot them, he pulled out his phone, feeling that he should give it a try. Before he could even open WeChat, the door behind him opened again.
The person that wanted to come in looked at him oddly, unsure why somebody was standing in the doorway. She couldn’t see anything going on though so she could only speak up. “I’m sorry. May I?”
“Of course. I’m sorry.” Li Ming hastily stepped to the side, feeling even more awkward. Yes, he probably should have gone back outside to solve this.
At the table a few steps away, Mo Fang opened his eyes and turned around after hearing a familiar voice. Naturally, he spotted Li Ming at once, his gaze even catching Li Ming’s. The two of them looked at each other awkwardly. It seemed like half a minute went by with neither of them moving.
Li Ming glanced at the door, wondering if it was too late to just turn around and leave. It seemed impolite to do so without a word but considering their history, maybe it wouldn’t be too odd.
Before he could make his final decision, Mo Fang actually got up and walked over to him, his expression apologetic. “Hey. I’m sorry, I didn’t know you’d be here. Ah Tao invited me to come and meet him here. Do you want me to leave?” He had promised before that he wouldn’t get in Li Ming’s way and make things difficult for him. Even though he hadn’t had any bad intentions with coming here, he still felt that he should at least make sure he kept that promise now that he had run into Li Ming after all.
Li Ming stared at Mo Fang’s expression for a moment and suddenly felt like he was an idiot. Anyway, they were both adults. Why would he make such a fuss about simply seeing Mo Fang?
He hurriedly shook his head, not wanting this to get any worse. “No, that’s not necessary. I just … I was a bit surprised to suddenly see you when I came in. I’m actually meeting Rui Lan and Cang Gui Ying later. I guess they aren’t here yet.”
Mo Fang nodded faintly and then motioned toward the bar. “Linghu Jiahao is also here. I heard that the two of you met.”
Li Ming nodded and glanced over. For a moment, he wondered whether he should go and try to talk to him. It would’ve been a good way to not awkwardly stand in front of Mo Fang any longer. That was probably also why he had mentioned it. Unfortunately, it seemed that Linghu Jiahao was chatting somebody up. So if he went, he would definitely be inconveniencing him. That didn’t seem right.
He hesitated for a moment and then shook his head again. “No, it’s alright.” He thought for a moment and then motioned back to the table where Mo Fang had been sitting. “How about just sitting down together for a moment?”
Anyway, since Mo Fang was back and they were clearly frequenting some of the same places, it would be best if they got used to running into each other sooner rather than later. He wasn’t sure if sitting together and eating would really help with getting there but it was worth a try. At the very least, they wouldn’t be awkwardly standing at the door any longer, obstructing the other patrons.
Mo Fang raised his brows in surprise but finally nodded. “Sure.” He didn’t say anything else and went back to his seat, giving Li Ming a pointed look as he sat down. “You know, you don’t have to force yourself. I do know that the situation is hard and I honestly don’t hold any expectations in regard to you.”
Li Ming leaned back and sighed, not sure what to say. “Three years ago, I never thought that if we’d meet again, it would be like this. But anyway, it is what it is. We can’t change the past and also … we’re still living in the same city, we share the same friends and even the places we like to go to.
“It’s almost a given that we’ll meet again in the future. So, at the end of the day, we need to learn how to deal with this. Treating each other like total strangers seems awkward though. Like this … it’s better.”
Mo Fang smiled wryly. “It is indeed. It’s not like we can just pretend that the past never happened, after all.” He lowered his gaze, feeling that if he was able to just forget about the past, life would be a lot easier.
Li Ming saw his expression and fell silent as well. Mo Fang looked a bit … distraught. But even though he noticed, he didn’t say anything. He simply wasn’t a person who should be inquiring about that. No, the situation between them was already bad enough. It would be best if he just ignored this. And doing so … well, it depended on him getting used to this.
He lowered his head, folding his hands on the table. “I think it would be nice if the two of us could get to the point where we treat each other like casual acquaintances. The type who runs into each other and just nods before walking away or asks how the other side is doing before politely bidding each other goodbye. I think I’d be alright with that.”
Clearly, never running into each other was impossible. He also didn’t want to be friends. But this … this was something that he could do. At the very least, he was pretty sure that he could.