“I’m still working,” Jingxiang said.
“No, you’re not,” Taiyu claimed.
“I already spoke with your boss. You…”
“Have the rest of the night off,” the owner of the restaurant went over to inform Jingxiang.
“Boss, we don’t have enough servers tonight. Yi Shuai took a sick day.”
“No worries. I’ll take over his shift. You’ve worked hard tonight. Go have your meal.” The man gave Jingxiang a pat on the shoulder and threw Taiyu a smile before walking away.
“Come here.” Taiyu grabbed a hold of Jingxiang’s wrist and pulled him closer.
“What are you…?”
Untying Jingxiang’s apron, Taiyu unwrapped it from the smaller man’s waist and draped it over the extra chair. “Sit down and eat.”
“I’m not hungry,” Jingxiang claimed yet his stomach growled in contradiction.
“Your stomach tells me otherwise.” Taiyu chuckled. “Stop being so stubborn and sit down. I promise not to bite.”
“Fine.” Jingxiang wanted to take the seat facing Taiyu, but the other yanked him down on the seat beside his.
“Have some iced tea.” Taiyu pushed one of the glasses to Jingxiang.
“Why are you doing this?”
“You’re too thin, so I want you to eat more.”
“Are you stalking me?”
“What do you think?” Taiyu smirked.
The owner interrupted Jingxiang, when he came over to place their appetizers on the table.
“Anything for a good friend,” Yaowang stated. “Enjoy.”
Taiyu placed a shrimp toast and two chicken wings on Jingxiang’s plate. “Eat.”
Seeing the delicious food in front of him, Jingxiang nodded and took a bite of the shrimp toast. He noticed that Taiyu was staring at him, so he quickly swallowed what was in his mouth. “Why aren’t you eating?”
Taiyu leaned over and took a bite from the shrimp toast Jingxiang was holding. “Mm…it’s good.”
“Why are you eating mine when there are more on the plate?”
“Food tastes better when you share,” Taiyu provided.
“You…are beyond reasoning.” Jingxiang placed the shrimp toast down and picked up a chicken wing to munch on. Before Taiyu could protest, he picked up another piece of chicken wing and lifted it to the other’s mouth. “Here.”
Taiyu took a bite and chewed happily.
“You’re acting like a child,” Jingxiang complained.
“As long as it gets your attention, I’ll do it.”
Yaowang brought over the four dishes that Jingxiang ordered for Taiyu earlier and organized them on the table. “Tell me if you need anything else, Taiyu.”
“You know I would,” Taiyu uttered and started filling Jingxiang’s plate with food.
“I could help myself. I’m not a child.”
“I want to make sure that you eat enough.”
“Trust me. I’ll eat enough.” Jingxiang took his chopsticks and began eating.
Seated at a corner table, diagonally across from Taiyu’s, Bowen frowned when he realized that Rui was looking at Jingxiang’s direction. “Do you like him or something?”
Rui averted his gaze to Bowen. “Pardon?”
“Do you like him…that friend of yours?” Bowen inquired.
“Friend?” Rui wondered. “Are you talking about Jingxiang?”
“Yeah. You seem to care a lot about him.”
“I do,” Rui answered honestly.
“As a love interest…?”
“I care about him…as a brother.” Rui peeled some shrimps and placed them on Bowen’s plate. “Eat. They are your favorite.”
“Only as a brother…?”
“Only as a brother,” Rui confirmed.
Relieved, Bowen dipped a shrimp in some hoisin sauce and put it in his mouth. “Do you…?”
“Do you have someone that you like?”
“I do, but he doesn’t know.”
Bowen tried not to look disappointed. “Why doesn’t he know?”
“We aren’t of the same status. I’m not a good match for him.”
“You should tell him and let him decide, rather than assuming everything yourself. Don’t be like me. I lost my chance even before I could tell him.”
“You,” Rui felt his heart drop, “have someone you like, too?”
“Yes, but he already likes someone else.”
“Oh.” Even though Rui said that they couldn’t be together, a part of him was still hoping. “Did you tell him about your feelings?”
“No.” Bowen shook his head.
“I…don’t know how to,” Bowen admitted. “It’s already too late.”
“You shouldn’t give up so easily. At least tell him how you feel. You’ll never know without trying.”
“You think so?”
“Alright. I’ll need to work some things out first.”
Rui smiled at his young master. ‘Bowen looks so adorable when he’s excited.’
They ate the rest of their dinner in silence.
‘Does Rui really think of Jingxiang as a brother?’ Bowen frowned when he caught Rui staring at Jingxiang’s direction once again.
Meanwhile, Jingxiang proceeded to eat and muttered. “Why did you have to order so much food when there are only two of us? It’s such a waste.”
“Why would it be a waste? We could pack the leftovers,” Taiyu reminded.
“Why are you doing this?” Jingxiang questioned.
“Why am I doing what?” Taiyu took a sip of his iced tea.
“Why are you treating me to dinner?”
“You’re too thin. I feel the need to feed you.”
“Whether I’m thin or not, it is none of your business.”
“It is, because I see you in class.”
“Are you telling me to leave class?”
“That’s not what I mean,” Taiyu denied.
“What are you saying?”
“Why are you always so defensive?”
Jingxiang put down his chopsticks and wiped his mouth with the napkin. “Thanks for dinner. I’ll be on my way now.”
Once Jingxiang stood up, Taiyu grasped his arm to stop him from leaving. “I’ll drive you home.”
“There’s no need. I could go home by myself.”
“Why are you so afraid of me?”
“I’m not afraid of you. I’m just annoyed.”
“What is it that annoys you so much?”
“You.” Jingxiang tried to break loose from Taiyu’s grip, but the taller man had a strong hold on him.
Taiyu got up and waved to Yaowang to indicate that they were leaving. When he received a smile from the man, Taiyu dragged Jingxiang out with him. “Let’s go!”
“Let go of me,” Jingxiang requested.
Seeing this, Rui wanted to go help Jingxiang. Bowen grabbed Rui’s wrist and shook his head to tell him not to.
“I don’t want you walking out in the dark,” Taiyu explained to Jingxiang. “You don’t live in a very safe neighborhood.”
“How do you…?” Jingxiang caught himself mid-sentence. “Never mind. I know how you know. Anyway, I’m not a girl. I could take care of myself.”
“Why are you so stubborn? Why can’t you accept someone being nice to you?”
“Because…usually a nice person wants something in return.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry. I don’t want anything in return. I only want you to get home safe.”
Jingxiang looked up at Taiyu and saw the sincerity in his eyes. “Okay, I’ll leave with you. I just need to go to the back to change out of my uniform and get my school bag.”
“All right.” Taiyu finally let go of Jingxiang and allowed him to go do what was needed.
Jingxiang said goodbye to his boss and coworkers, and then left with Taiyu. They walked to Taiyu’s car and got in when it was unlocked. Shutting the door, Jingxiang pulled on his seatbelt. “I’m assuming that you already know my address.”
“That’s correct,” Taiyu affirmed.
“Is there anything that you don’t know about me?”
“There is one thing.”
“Do you have feelings for me?”