Li Ming nodded faintly. He could see that Mo Fang was serious about this. Even though he wanted to try and even though he had said so several times, he was still grateful that Mo Fang was making sure that, well, he was sure. After all, this went to show the type of person he had become.
He smiled, feeling that their relationship would be off to a good start if they could keep this level of communication up. In that regard though, there was something he should probably ask about as well.
“I will keep it in mind. Since we’re on the topic though: The same goes for you. I know you were engaged before and that you lost him. It’s been two years but … that can be a really short time to get over this kind of loss. If you feel that this is too soon, I’d also understand.”
Mo Fang requited his smile and nodded as well. “Thank you. To be honest, if it was with anybody else, maybe it would be. I … I don’t think I’d be able to make it through the early dating stage. Putting myself out there feels weird and so would trying to get to know somebody new. It’s different with you.”
Li Ming rubbed his temple. “Well … I guess we can indeed skip some steps.”
“Mn. Exactly that. I know it must sound weird. What’s the difference, after all? But to me, it just feels different. Also, I guess knowing what kind of guy you are, I don’t feel like I have to be worried about being disappointed.” He smiled sheepishly, not sure if this could be counted as a compliment or would be seen as too perfunctory.
Li Ming also raised his brows. Being disappointed with some men you went out with was probably to be expected. It was often a pity but he had never thought too much about it. Come to think about it though … “It makes you think of him more, doesn’t it? Their shortcomings, I mean. You probably compare in your mind.”
Mo Fang nodded. “Yes, I do. I know I shouldn’t. Everyone is their own person. Yu Ting … that is in the past. It really doesn’t help to cling to this idea of how great everything was. After all, it’s not like I can ever get it back.” He sighed and shook his head.
“Anyway, even if I know, I can’t help it. The relationship with Yu Ting was in large part what should me how a relationship should be. In the future, I won’t be able to accept less. But having to go through that process is heartbreaking.”
Li Ming hummed. In fact, some of that heartache could be seen in Mo Fang’s expression right now. It made him regret having brought it up but then, they needed to talk about this sooner or later. If they got it over with right at the beginning, they wouldn’t experience any bad surprises later on.
“I get what you mean. With me, you already know what to expect …” He had wanted to say more but thinking about how this meant that he was basically up to standard, Li Ming felt slightly embarrassed. He cleared his throat and gave a wry smile. “Well, I guess I should feel happy to have made the cut?”
Mo Fang chuckled in response. “You can if you want to. Honestly, you and Yu Ting are similar people. The relationship with you is also what I refer to, to see what is working or not. Back in Europe, it really made me fed up with most men. Only Yu Ting was worth it.”
Li Ming nodded but his expression couldn’t help but turn a bit cautious. “Is it … alright talking about him?”
Mo Fang gave a hum. “Sure. I mean … it hurts to think about him, yes. If it had been my choice, I would have wanted to marry him and grow old together. If I hadn’t had that intention, I wouldn’t have agreed when he proposed to me.
“But at the same time, it’s been two years since he died. I … I can’t live in the past. One way or another, I have to move on. Admittedly, that’s difficult. I don’t know if it would be easier to do if I just pretended none of it ever happened. Maybe.
“But frankly, without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today so … I don’t want to do that. He deserves that acknowledgment and for me, it’s actually nice being able to talk about it. You know, not many people want to regularly hear about your dead fiance.”
Mo Fang smiled wryly. Yes, this was something he had realized in the last two years: He could tell people what had happened once but later, they would skirt around any topics they deemed as triggering. Whether it was engagements, car accidents, or even just breakups, they wouldn’t want to bring it up in front of him.
They weren’t ready to have these difficult conversations with him and honestly, he could understand it. Not everyone was good at it and not everyone was close enough to him to want to invest the time and effort. But then, it could make you feel lonely to never be able to talk about something this important to you.
Li Ming sighed. Seeing Mo Fang’s expression, even his own heart hurt. “I don’t mind talking about it.”
“Mn. Which is why I’m trying to date you again.” Mo Fang’s smile brightened a bit and he finally even chuckled. “I mean, I’m not just doing that so I can talk about him. I mean you’re the type of person I know I can have that kind of relationship with where it’s alright to be honest and even talk about things like that. It’s why I didn’t think twice when I agreed.”
Li Ming also laughed. “Being a good conversational partner might not be my worst attribute so I guess even if it was the former, I’d get it. No, seriously though, I’m happy you’re alright with it. I know you feel guilty toward me so I don’t want you to feel pressured. You don’t have anything to make up to me. All of that … it’s in the past. We can start over because we want to now but we shouldn’t base it solely on what happened back then.”
Mo Fang nodded. “No, I think the same. Frankly, the guilt was actually what made me not think about it. Otherwise, I might have taken the first step.” He smiled faintly, thinking of how they had met again at his job a year ago. “If you were to ask me what I liked about you the most when we were dating, then I think it was your patience. These days, I’ve seen you show a lot of that in your job. You’re just so … good with people. And I know you’ll be just as good to me if we really start dating again.”
Li Ming smiled faintly. “That’s something I can promise, yes.”
Mo Fang nodded again, having expected anything else. “Well, that was … a bit of a depressing note on the start of our first date the second time around. If you finished eating, we should probably get to baking. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll end up crying on your shoulder by the end of this date if we continue at this rate.”
Li Ming gave a hum. “Let’s do that then. The food was really delicious. I’m curious to see how your baking is in comparison. Mine … probably isn’t much to look at so don’t get your hopes up but I’ll try my best. Have you decided what we’ll make or are we first collecting ideas?”
Mo Fang got up with a smile and started to put away the dishes. “I do have some ideas. I figured since you’re rather health-conscious, we should pay some attention to that. I have a magazine here with some recipes and marked the ones I thought might be something for you. Have a look while I clean up!” He handed Li Ming the magazine and then got right back to cleaning up.
Li Ming watched him busy about and couldn’t help but feel odd. This was a side of Mo Fang he hadn’t seen. It felt … well, it was something he appreciated. He was somebody who liked to do things at home, after all. Seeing Mo Fang do this kind of thing was naturally a good indication that they’d get along well in the future.
It also made him feel that time sure brought changes. In the past, Mo Fang might have done things like this to impress him. He would have thought he’d have trouble accepting this as genuine but … maybe it was the previous conversation but seeing him like this now, he had no doubt that this was indeed the way Mo Fang usually was at home.
He shook his head, not sure what to make of it, and then also got to his feet. “Let me help you. We can look at the recipes together after that.”