Mo Fang: [Do you have an oven?]
Li Ming stared at the inexplicable message Mo Fang had sent him, not sure what to think. He had asked him yesterday whether he’d go on a date with him. Considering that they had already broken up once five years ago, this was a bit awkward so as soon as he got a positive reply, he rushed off to work and didn’t dare to speak to him any longer.
As a result of his behavior though, they hadn’t actually made plans for this new first date. There wasn’t a time or even a day and certainly no plans yet. He had thought about coming up with a plan first and then reaching out but also hadn’t known how or when so he hadn’t actually gotten back to him for a full day.
Now, Mo Fang was the one to reach out first but he had no idea where the question had suddenly come from. He had probably been thinking about this for a whole five minutes and had only come to one conclusion: This had to have to do with their date but … he didn’t get why.
Li Ming rubbed his forehead and finally decided that thinking any longer wouldn’t get him anywhere either. He could only try and get an answer from Mo Fang. Thus, he sighed to himself and messaged back.
Li Ming: [?]
On the other end, Mo Fang was leafing through a magazine. Hearing the notification sound, he picked up his phone and then laughed. It seems he had sounded too mysterious? He shook his head and slowly explained himself, spreading the information across a few messages so Li Ming wouldn’t have to wait too long.
Mo Fang: [For our date.]
Mo Fang: [Remember how I mentioned I picked up cooking?]
Mo Fang: [I guess your hobbies haven’t changed so I thought we could do something together. I don’t want it to be boring though.]
Mo Fang: [It’s Christmas soon. Why not bake together?]
At this point, Mo Fang stopped. Anyway, that was about it. He didn’t have anything more to add.
He looked over the messages again and smiled to himself. Putting down his phone again, he picked up the magazine and continued to look at the recipes inside. Actually, he hadn’t baked much in the past but he didn’t have the urge to look perfect in front of Li Ming anymore. As long as they were able to enjoy themselves on this date that would be enough.
Li Ming looked at the series of messages in a daze. He had to admit that Mo Fang’s idea wasn’t bad. He could indeed see himself doing something like this with a prospective boyfriend. Although when it was Mo Fang …
He vividly remembered Mo Fang’s rather useless appearance in the kitchen from when they had originally dated for those short few months. By now, how much better had he gotten?
He pursed his lips but told himself not to think too much. Anyway, it had been five years. That was half a decade. People changed in such an amount of time and they could definitely pick up new skills. Since Mo Fang said that he enjoyed cooking now, he shouldn’t doubt it. And anyway, even if it didn’t turn out well, it was alright, wasn’t it?
He took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled, thinking about what to write back. First, the logistics needed to be settled.
Li Ming: [I see. I don’t have an oven.]
In response, he got a message with an address. Li Ming felt confused but before he could ask, Mo Fang already sent another text.
Mo Fang: [That’s my new address.]
Mo Fang: [Unless you don’t want to come to my place?]
Mo Fang: [I thought you might not want to do it in public so I figured we should do something at home but it’s okay if you’re not alright with that.]
Li Ming stared at his phone screen in a daze. He actually didn’t mind going to Mo Fang’s place. If he were worried about that, he wouldn’t have asked him out again. No, what stunned him was that Mo Fang seemed to think he wouldn’t want to be seen with him in public. Why was that?
He hesitated, not sure how to ask this question in a short message. In the end, he simply shook his head at himself. Why bother with texts? Since they were trying to decide on what to do for their date, he might as well just call. How awkward could it be?
Thus, Mo Fang’s phone rang just a few seconds later.
He blinked his eyes but still picked up without hesitation. “Hey.”
“Hey …” Li Ming uncomfortably cleared his throat. No matter what, he still felt a bit embarrassed about their current situation. Most people probably wouldn’t ask out the ex-boyfriend they had already dumped once. “I figured it might be easier to discuss details in a call.”
Mo Fang gave a hum in response. “So, would you be alright with this plan?”
Li Ming hummed as well. “It sounds alright to me. Just …” He still hesitated about how to say it even when talking. With their past, it seemed prudent to be a bit more careful in their communication. Otherwise, it would just cause misunderstandings. “You said you thought I wouldn’t want to have a date in public. Can I ask why?”
Mo Fang kept quiet for a moment and then chuckled lightly. “Oh, that. Well …” He leaned back, looking out of the window. “Have you tried to imagine what that date will look like?”
Li Ming felt like he couldn’t quite follow his line of thought. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, are you even sure you want this?” Mo Fang sighed but forced himself to continue before Li Ming could actually respond. “Brother Li, I get it. We were together for a bit, I … I didn’t behave like a normal person and we broke up in an ugly manner. There was a lot of hurt and it’s my fault. Even though it’s been five years and we have both changed, that has to make you uncomfortable.”
Li Ming chewed on those words, not sure how to react for a while. “I asked you out though.” Yes, if it had been the other way around, he could understand Mo Fang’s worries. But since he was the one who had brought it up, shouldn’t it be clear?
Mo Fang gave another hum. “You did. But you also looked a bit … reluctant or maybe hesitant at least. I think I’m not wrong to think you had some second thoughts about this. You’re worried about how this will turn out and I don’t think you’re wrong to worry about this.
“So, seeing as there is some hesitation, isn’t it better to be careful? If something is brought up that we can’t agree on and all that hurt bubbles up again, neither of us would want to make a scene in public, right? So at home seems like a better choice or maybe a place without too many people. Otherwise, we’d feel awkward.”
Li Ming raked a hand through his hair, not sure how to answer. In a way, he understood what Mo Fang meant. It was just … “Do I seem like the type to make a scene because of a disagreement?” He really didn’t think so. Even at the height of his frustration with Mo Fang back then, he hadn’t done something like this. What more after five years of being apart.
Mo Fang chuckled again. “No. No, you don’t. But let’s just call it a preventative measure. Anyway, I … I would like this to work out. So why not be a bit more careful and ensure we’ll be more comfortable?”
“Yeah, I guess … that’s a good idea. So, baking at your place it is?” Truth be told, he wasn’t hugely into baking and would have been alright with just cooking and having a meal as well but since Mo Fang had already suggested this, he felt like it couldn’t hurt either. And, well, it was going to be Christmas soon. Making some festive treats didn’t sound too bad either.
Mo Fang gave a hum. “Yes, it is. I’m usually only free on the weekend or in the evening but I guess your schedule should be different?” He was only working directly with Li Ming once a week but he knew from some small talk that Li Ming should be pretty busy and this might not exclude the weekend either.
Li Ming sighed. “True, although I am free this weekend if it would be alright with you.” He glanced at the time, realizing that his break would be over in another few minutes.
It had been some time since he needed to take his schedule into consideration for a potential boyfriend. After Zhao Chen, he hadn’t dated much. In fact, there was only one person who made it past the dating stage and turned into a committed partner for a while. So he really wasn’t used to this anymore.
Mo Fang curled his lips. “Then this weekend. You’ll probably be tired. How about coming over for lunch? I’ll make something and you can relax first. After that, we can start baking.”
Li Ming wasn’t sure yet how good Mo Fang’s cooking skills had gotten but then, he could take one bad meal. “Alright, let’s do that. I’m afraid I need to get back to work now.”
“Mn, work hard!” Mo Fang ended the call with a smile and went back to leafing through the magazine. This date, he also wanted it to go well so it couldn’t hurt to prepare a bit. At the very least, he should make sure that he had most of the ingredients in the house so they wouldn’t have to go and get these first.