Mo Fang looked up again. He hadn’t expected Li Ming to say this. In fact, when he came back, he hadn’t expected anything from Li Ming. Even talking it out was something he hadn’t been sure would ever happen. Of course, he had hoped for it but that was all there was to it, just hope.
Getting more than that … that had seemed unlikely. But now, not only had they been able to talk, but here Li Ming was, offering to pretend as if nothing had happened in the future and to treat him like an ordinary acquaintance. If it was any other person, he didn’t think they would’ve been able to do this.
Mo Fang smiled faintly. “Back then, you were a better person than I deserved. I see that in these three years, nothing has changed. But then, I didn’t expect that either. You’re not the type to change your values because of something like that.”
Li Ming wasn’t sure how to react. Mo Fang’s praise … he didn’t want it. There was something that had broken in him when he found out that the love he had thought was pure was really nothing but manipulation. Now, hearing something like this … it simply rang hollow.
Even if Mo Fang had really changed, it was hard to believe anything he said now. He was willing to accept that he had meant his apology because he hadn’t bothered him after the fact just as he had promised. But that was all. He simply couldn’t go further.
Mo Fang seemed to realize that Li Ming wasn’t up to discussing this. He didn’t insist on that line of thought either and simply nodded. “I’m not exactly sure how I deserve it but I would also be happy if we could have that kind of relationship in the future. Now, I shouldn’t overdo it. Ah Tao is making a call for me in the office. I guess I’ll go and see how he is doing. Maybe the others will arrive in the meantime and you won’t have to wait too long.”
Li Ming nodded and watched Mo Fang leave. He even glanced over his shoulder to make sure that he really went to the room in the back. Maybe he was thinking too much but with how much he distrusted Mo Fang, he simply couldn’t help himself. Only when he actually saw him disappear over there did he relax.
He took a deep breath and then sighed, glancing at the entrance door. Rui Lan and Cang Gui Ying still couldn’t be seen. It seemed that they might be running a little late. Usually, he wouldn’t have minded. But then, even if Mo Fang went to check on Si Tao, he wouldn’t stay back there all the time, would he?
No, later, he would definitely come back out. And he’d do so with Si Tao who didn’t have a good grasp of boundaries. That was something that Li Ming had already realized in the past. It had gotten a bit better after he had made it clear that he wasn’t interested in knowing anything about Mo Fang but if they were all in the same room, he didn’t know how this would turn out. And to be honest, he was afraid of that. He absolutely didn’t need somebody to try and push the two of them closer together.
Being acquaintances … that was alright. Mo Fang may think that this was something he was doing out of the goodness of his heart but, to be honest, that wasn’t the truth. No, he simply couldn’t take the awkward atmosphere between the two of them. Learning to treat Mo Fang as an acquaintance again was something that would make his own life easier. He really couldn’t say that he wasn’t being selfish here.
Li Ming thought for a moment and then pulled out his phone, checking whether Rui Lan and Cang Gui Ying had messaged him. So far, there was nothing. Checking the time though, they still had a good ten minutes left. He hesitated for a moment but then called Rui Lan.
At that moment, his friend and his wife were actually on the way to the restaurant. Hearing the ringtone, Rui Lan hastily pulled out his phone and then raised his brows when he saw the caller ID. He showed it to Cang Gui Ying and accepted the call at the same time. “Ah Ming, what’s the matter? We aren’t running late, are we?” He was pretty sure that they weren’t but maybe they had misremembered the time. If that was the case, it would be too embarrassing.
Li Ming smiled wryly, feeling that he was making trouble. “No, you’re not. I just wanted to ask where you currently are. Are you close to the restaurant yet?”
Rui Lan couldn’t help but feel that something was off. Instead of answering, he decided to inquire further. “What exactly is going on? Do you need to take a rain check?” It would be a pity but then, he’d simply treat this as a date. That also wouldn’t be so bad.
Cang Gui Ying had leaned closer and was listening in. She also couldn’t help but feel that Li Ming sounded as if something was off. She couldn’t quite put a finger on it though. He sounded a bit tense but if that was really the case, he might be in trouble. Considering that this was Li Ming they were talking about here, that just didn’t seem normal. So that meant they’d have reason to be worried.
Li Ming cupped his cheek and glanced in the direction of the office before turning back to the front. “It’s not that. I just … well, I just arrived at the restaurant and I … well, I managed to run into Mo Fang.”
Rui Lan clicked his tongue. “Oh wow, your luck is spectacularly bad today. So, would you rather go somewhere else? Wait, has he seen you already?”
Li Ming could only sigh. “He saw me, we very awkwardly greeted each other, and talked for about two minutes before he left for the office in the back. But yes, if the two of you don’t mind, I really think I’d like to go somewhere else. I don’t think Mo Fang would mind either. He seemed quite understanding that I wasn’t happy to see him.” And anyway, why should he take Mo Fang’s feelings into consideration? He wasn’t his boyfriend or even just a regular friend. He didn’t need to care.
Rui Lan glanced at his wife and raised his brows.
Cang Gui Ying simply shrugged. Anyway, whether it was that restaurant or some other place, what did it matter?
Rui Lan retracted his gaze and gave a hum. “Well, you choose a place then! Maybe just something in the same street. The two of us are on the way and you’re already there so that way, we won’t lose too much time. Just text me the address when you find something. We’ll be there in a bit!”