Sun He did not know how he got home. He felt dazed and felt like he was walking on clouds. The moment he entered his apartment, he headed straight to the couch and lied down. A repressed scream came out of his mouth and he could feel his face warming up. Various images of his date with Gu Liwei flashed through his mind. Sun He had never felt like this before: like a little shy boy on his first date. With Fang Cai, they had known each other for at least two years before they started dating, so their dynamic did not really change much besides becoming more intimate.

Sun He never thought he had a type, but if he did, Gu Liwei would be it. Not only was Gu Liwei handsome, Sun He felt comfortable in his presence. After he had exchanged contact information with Gu Liwei, the conversation had flown from there. Sun He had found himself exchanging anecdotes of when they were children with Gu Liwei. He learned that Gu Liwei completed his college degree in Country A and that his first official shooting job was right after his graduation for The Walk, a famous fashion magazine. Gu Liwei and his roommate had collaborated after college to open their own studio, LX Studios. Sun He had been surprised to learn that. LX Studios, while small, was one of the best studios in City S. Sun Hes company had cooperated with them before, and he only heard nice things from his coworkers. When Sun He had mentioned the cooperation to Gu Liwei, he had learned that Gu Liwei mainly does fashion-related photoshoots and preferred working independently. Most of his works required him to travel to Country F and Country A. Gu Liwei rarely stays in Country C. Gu Liwei is also turning 30 this year and his parents believe that he needs to settle down. Therefore, he has been restricting the amount of works that he accepts per their request. Although the main reason he really accepted to lessen his work was because he, himself, was starting to get tired of running all around the world.

Sun He had told him about the thoughts that he was having about opening his own studio, and inquired about some of the hardships Gu Liwei and his roommate had experienced. Gu Liwei had been very open about his experience, and advised Sun He to start from the clients that he already currently have to create and maintain his clientele. How a date turned into a teaching session, neither of them knew, but they did not mind it. Gu Liwei was better than Sun He expected. When his mother had told him about the date, Sun He was very resistant to it. However, he had felt too guilty to refuse. Since his father had passed away, Sun He had not been spending as much time home as he used to. He felt that he owed his mom and considering how accepting she had been of him and his sexuality, Sun He could not refuse.

Sun He opened the door to his mothers house and announced himself while taking his shoes off. He had woken up this morning to a call from his mother demanding he came back home for dinner. Sun He knew she wanted to ask him about his date and had spent a good ten minutes outside thinking back about his date with Gu Liwei. Sun He admitted the idea of dating made him feel weird. Gu Liwei had texted him last night and reported his safety to Country A. Sun He had stared at the message for a while. Sun He knew he was scared. He did not know if he had the courage to open up to someone new. He had a feeling that if he kept contact with Gu Liwei, he would fall hard. Gu Liwei seemed great but Sun He had no confidence in himself that Gu Liwei would like him too. Sure, Gu Liwei had expressed he wanted to see him again but Sun He knew that this was all based on his appearance. Would Gu Liwei like him still after truly getting to know him? Sun He doubted that. After he had calmed down from the high of their first date, he realized that he had been too impulsive. Too impulsive in asking Gu Liwei for another date. Something about Gu Liwei made him want to be impulsive, made him want to risk it all, and that scared Sun He the most. Last night, he had left Gu Liweis message unanswered.

Sun He knees buckled underneath him and he felt a weight on his back. If he did not stabilize himself in time, he would have plopped down on the floor. Laughter resonated behind him and he felt two hands around his neck.

”Hi ” His sister laughed not letting go of his neck.

Sun Hes surprise turned into happiness. He had not seen his sister in close to two months. Sun Hes sister Sun Ya is nine years younger than him. She had turned 18 this year and had decided to go on a month long tour with her friends after the college examinations. She had then extended her vacation by another month because she was having too much fun. Sun Ya had always been carefree and Sun He admitted that both he and his mom had condoned her actions. They both were of the same thought: Sun Ya only needed to live her life happily. There was no family business to inherit and Sun Hes parents were never rigid about school. They only wanted their children to be happy, so they never forced them to do anything they did not want to do. When Sun Ya had told them she wanted to become a doctor, Sun He and his mother had been happy but had sat down with her to make sure that is what she really wanted to do. They were worried Father Suns accident had influenced her decision. Sun Ya reassured them that was what she wanted before going away on her trip.

Sun He turned around after Sun Ya got off his back and examined her. Sun Yas face was rosy and she looked much happier than she did before going on her trip. A short bob, elongating her round face, had replaced her long hair.

”When did you come back? ” he questioned.

”Early this morning ”, Sun Ya replied. ”I heard you went on a date. ” Sun Ya wiggled her eyebrows up and down and had a gossipy look on her face. ”How was it? ”

”Yes, Ah He, how was your date with Xiao Gu? ”

Wang Lings voice interrupted the siblings banter. Sun He looked up and his mom was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. She had an apron on and looked like an older version of Sun Ya. Sun He pursed his lips and looked down before putting on his slippers.

”It was okay. ” He said scratching his ear.

Sun Ya looked towards Mother Sun, who, upon seeing Sun Hes actions, retreated to the kitchen.

”Dinner is ready. Yaya, please help me set up the table. ”

Sun Ya hummed and headed to the kitchen. She stopped in her steps and turned back to look at Sun He.

”Jiayou! ”, she said before disappearing from Sun Hes sight.

Sun He sighed and looked back at the entrance door. He wondered if he would be disowned if he left during the meal. He looked towards his phone, smiled and texted his best friend, Tang Jing, before going to the dining room.

The meal was lively. Sun He was thankful to Sun Ya as she occupied their mothers attention with little anecdotes from her trip. He tried to lower his presence as much as possible and counted down the minutes. Tang Jing had agreed to call him during the meal. Sun He would claim he had a work emergency before heading out. However, his phone remained silent. Sun He cursed Tang Jing in his head and started thinking of all the ways he would refuse him when Tang Jing asks for his help next time. He was so immersed in his thoughts that he did not realize his mother was looking at him and smiling mockingly. A kick from Sun Ya woke him up from his thoughts. Sun He looked up and his eyes met with Mother Sun. Sun He shrunk his neck and almost choked on his food. He coughed and grabbed the water by his side before taking a sip.

”Sorry ” he started. ”I was thinking about work ”.

”Oh, I thought you were waiting on a call. ” His mother mocked staring at his hand that was gripping his phone. Sun He looked down to his phone and reluctantly put it away. He put down the chopsticks in his hand and accepted his defeat. He probably knew why Tang Jing did not call him… Seeing his obedient attitude, Mother Sun smiled.

”How was your date? ” she asked again ”No lies this time. ”

”I didn lie… ” Sun He abruptly stopped his words at the sight of his mothers mocking smile. ”I just omitted some things. ” He confessed.

His mother snorted and waited for him to continue.

”Gu Liwei was… nice… very handsome. The date went great. ”

”Do you like him? ” Mother Sun eyes twinkled. That was better than she expected.

”Its too early to say. ”

”Thats okay. You will figure it out the more often you meet. Whens the next date? ”

Sun He froze then looked down at the patterns on his plate. Next date? There probably will not be a next date. Mother Sun looked at him and frowned. ”Did he not want a… next date? ” She did not think that Gu Liwei would not like Sun He. After all, Sun He was great. He was handsome, had his own apartment and a more than stable income. Gu Liweis mother had also told her that Gu Liwei seemed to be interested in Sun He. She had high expectations for the both of them. However, looking at Sun Hes reaction, did she make a mistake in having them meet?

”He is on a business trip right now… We said we would meet for dinner after he comes back. But I… ” Sun He stopped talking and did not dare look up. I am scared. Sun He left the words unspoken and a painful silence followed. Mother Sun looked at Sun He, distressed. Was she pushing him too hard? Is Sun He still unable to forget Fang Cai? She sighed. She was in too much of a hurry.

”I am sorry. ” She said. ”I should not have forced you to go. I thought you were ready. I am sorry. ”

Sun He looked up sharply. His eyes shocked. ”No… No… It is not your fault. ” He stammered. ”Gu Liwei is great. I want to see him again… But I am scared. ” The words spilled out of his mouth. He did not want Wang Ling to blame herself. He knew she only wanted the best for him. There was nothing for her to apologize for. He, himself, agreed to that date and he had a great time. He was just scared. Scared of how fast his heart beat whenever he thought of Gu Liwei. Scared of how happy he had felt when he received his message. Mother Sun eyes widened.

”Baobei, you can always let fear keep you from being happy. ”

Sun He clenched his fingers and nodded before continuing with his meal.

It was dark outside when Sun He came back to his apartment. The sky was clouded and a heavy rain started to fall. Sun Hes apartment was dark and an eerie silence welcomed him. Sun He stood in the dark hallway for the longest time. He could not hear the sound of the rain no matter how hard he tried. He felt the darkness encroaching his body, staining him, removing him from everything. Sun He felt that was where he belonged. Eternally in that darkness. Eternally in that enclosed and silent space.

A ding from his phone interrupted his thoughts. He looked down at his hands and the light on his phone illuminated his face. Sun He stared at the message on his phone. Only three simple words and his apartment was no longer as dark.

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