SML Extra: A Sweet Treat (2)

A few days later, the weekend already arrived. Mo Fang got up early and started to tidy up the apartment and finally started to cook a few dishes for lunch. He hadn’t forgotten to tell Madam Zuo the day before that he couldn’t accompany her for lunch. He didn’t mind bringing Yu Xin over but when it came to his first date with Li Ming, it didn’t seem right to sit with one of his neighbors.

Madam Zuo didn’t mind. Instead, she insisted on giving him some heartfelt advice so his date would go well. In the two years since Mo Fang had moved into the neighborhood, she hadn’t heard him say that he was going on dates even once. Seeing that he also wasn’t that young anymore, she felt distressed for him and as if this date was his last chance. Just thinking about it, Mo Fang couldn’t help but chuckle.

Mo Fang just finished with the last dish when the doorbell rang. He hurriedly turned off the stove and walked over, smiling brightly when he saw Li Ming.

In the past two years, he hadn’t really thought about dating again. In fact, only when it came to Li Ming and how his attitude was slowly softening, had he ever considered how it would be if they ever tried again. He hadn’t dared to think too much about it though. Now, they were actually in this situation he had imagined.

“Hey.” He stepped to the side, letting Li Ming into the apartment.

Li Ming nodded in return, giving a faint hum. He wasn’t sure what to say though. Somehow, he felt more nervous than he had five years ago when they went on a date for the first time.

He waited for Mo Fang to close the door behind him, quietly looking at him. Mo Fang seemed the same as he did when he saw him at work as if he hadn’t paid special attention to his appearance today. Compared to back then, it sure was different.

At that time, Mo Fang had always worn what he thought would have the most impact on them. Every outfit was worn with a deliberate goal in mind. It hadn’t been obvious at first but after thinking back, Li Ming had naturally realized this. It only added to his negative feelings though.

Now, it was different. Mo Fang seemed to have found a style he liked and whether it was at home or at work, he would just wear that. Maybe for a special occasion, he would dress up in a similar but slightly elevated style but this date didn’t seem to be one of those.

It wasn’t strange though. After all, if the plan still stood, he should have made lunch just now, and later, they’d be baking together. Why would he want to wear a good outfit and risk ruining it on accident when he could just as well use his everyday clothes? Anyway, he looked good in everything.

Mo Fang realized that Li Ming was staring at him and faintly raised his brows. He still wasn’t sure if Li Ming wouldn’t have second thoughts about this but since he had made his way over and hadn’t said anything, maybe he just shouldn’t think too much.

He smiled and motioned over to the kitchen. “I just finished making lunch. Let’s eat in the kitchen?”

Li Ming nodded and followed him silently, looking around the apartment. It seemed a bit like one of those places you saw in a magazine: Every single piece of furniture fit together as if from the same type of style or even the same series. They were also arranged in a way that allowed for the maximum amount of light to fall in through the windows. If not for some decorative elements that added a touch of personal style to it, this place would have seemed as if nobody was actually living there.

Li Ming noticed but he didn’t have much of a reaction to it. Before, Mo Fang hadn’t had his own place and had only ever lived at his boyfriends’ places or at his parents’ house. Thus, he had never seen how Mo Fang really liked to live. Maybe he actually was this type of organized person.

When they reached the kitchen, Li Ming looked around more closely. There were already some dishes on the table and Mo Fang hurriedly added the rest. Both what he could see of the food and also the tools and appliances in the kitchen gave the impression of somebody who cooked regularly.

Li Ming sat down at the table and couldn’t help but give Mo Fang a curious look when he placed the last dish in front of them and sat down as well. “You said you learned how to cook but it seems you were underselling yourself. You cook a lot now, don’t you?”

Mo Fang laughed lightly. Was this a case of ‘takes one to know one’? “I guess you could call it a bit of a hobby by now.” He motioned for Li Ming to taste the food while he thought back to how this had begun. “I admit, back then, I only signed up for that cooking course because I thought it would be one chance to get you back.”

Li Ming paused but then nodded. “Yeah, you … you always tried doing that, didn’t you? I mean, appealing to my likes?” In fact, even though they had broken up and then made up three years later, slowly getting closer again until this date today, they had never really talked in detail about their relationship back then. Yes, there had been the time when Mo Fang apologized and Li Ming asked some questions but that was it. They had never gone into detail.

Mo Fang nodded with a sheepish expression. “That wasn’t just with you.” He picked up some of the dishes for himself, his expression tangled. “I … I actually did that with every boyfriend to a degree. I’d look at what type they person they were and what they liked, then try to figure out from there what kind of person they’d like their boyfriend to be. After that, I acted like that person as best as I could.”

Li Ming nodded. He knew this probably wasn’t something they should talk about on their first date the second time around but then, it was Mo Fang who had originally brought up the past, and maybe there was still something to talk about in regard to the matters back then.

He hesitated for a moment but finally still continued the topic. “Why though?” He had talked about it with both Si Tao and Linghu Jiahao and he felt that he somewhat understood. Still, it seemed so strange. Clearly, Mo Fang never would have needed to do this to get a boyfriend.

Mo Fang kept silent for a moment. He blankly stared at the food in his bowl, trying to find the words to express his state of mind from back then. “I guess … I felt insecure?” He looked back up, his brows raising and furrowing slightly at the same time. “I know it must sound ridiculous. I have a good family background from my mom’s side, my father’s support, and good enough looks to be a model. Why would I be insecure?”

He shook his head and sighed. “Actually, I asked myself that question a lot while I was in Europe. Clearly, I don’t have a reason, right? If I truly think about it, that’s the answer I arrive at. But emotionally, I never felt like that.”

Li Ming nodded. “I figured it was something like that.”

“Mn.” Mo Fang sighed again and started to move his chopsticks again but his thoughts still stayed on the question. “I guess I lot of it came down to the experiences I made.

“I was always … always reduced to my looks. My family — even my father — never encouraged me to try anything else. So I became a model because it seemed like my looks were my only capital.

“Then later, my first one or two boyfriends were a bit fussy. It made me feel that whether it was my job or my personal life, I could only trust in my looks and I had to be careful with what I showed of my personality because people wouldn’t like me. They’d get tired of me really fast and move on.”

He smiled faintly while looking at Li Ming, thinking back to the short few months they had dated. “You were the first one who encouraged me to look past that and believe in myself. Even someone like Si Tao who became a good friend after dating for a while never did that. Not when I would have needed it at least. You were … special in that way.”

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