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maybe our future is light-years away
the first "i love you"
The first time he had ever uttered the words "I love you"—and had actually meant them—to another person in his life was completely on accident. It left him absolutely mortified and completely confused. Xuling had absolutely refused to see her for a fortnight after he had spoken those world-shattering words. And all because of something so terribly stupid...
Meili had remembered his birthday and had given him a gift.
Now, Xuling was more than accustomed to receiving lavish gifts on his birthday seeing as he was a son of the Tang Clan. Jewels, feasts and concubines had always been in abundance on that day particularly, but none of them had truly meant anything. He hadn't had a meaningful gift ever since his father had deemed him too old to be coddled any longer.
Meili's gift was special.
He had decided to go and see her on that day like usual, practically twitching with excitement at the prospect of spending time with the reserved griffin and messing with her like he always did. It had become a routine for him to visit her whenever he wanted to—which was practically every day much to her vocal chagrin—and he would spend hours at a time trying to get her to laugh, smile, or get annoyed with him. They were friendly with each other now. Well, mostly. So when he got there, things went as they normally would: him annoying her from the second he was in her vicinity and her scowling at him.
"Meili~♪ Oh, Meili~♪ Look at you, beautiful as ever!"
"Do you not grow tired of harassing me with your nonsense?"
"Of course not! Where else would I go to have this much fun with my favorite griffin?"
"Surely you could find someone else to entertain you far better than I ever could."
"I suppose you're right, but the problem is that they're not you. So let's put a smile on that beautiful face, yeah?"
· · · · ·
They had spent the whole day together with Meili attending to her daily activities and Xu following her, poking fun at her and playing jokes the entire time as always. It was only at the end of day, when the sun was already setting, that things were different. On any other day, she would be pleading with him to leave her alone and to go home. But this time, she asked him to stay with her for a while longer and return to her home. For what, he didn't know, but he was curious to find out why.
He didn't have to wonder for too long though—she made it very clear when they entered her home.
"I... made your favorite foods. To celebrate your birthday."
"You did this all by yourself?!"
"I understand if you are reluctant to eat any of it. I realize you're accustomed to the finer things, and I had to do make do with what I could find, so it probably wo—wait, you don't have to eat that!"
"I love you."
"I mean, I love it! Yeah, it's really great! Love it, love it, love it! Too bad I'm still full from my meal earlier! Anyways, I believe I have to be back by now! I'll see you!"
· · · · ·
Xu didn't want to admit it, but those two weeks without seeing Meili was more miserable than the time his Father punished him for humiliating a noble's son. There was a restlessness that he simply couldn't shake and a fairly new feeling was gnawing at him: guilt. Guilt for basically saying the worst thing he could possibly say to his beloved friend and guilt for actively avoiding her to hide his shame.
Was he ever thankful that she didn't know exactly where he lived or he figured she would have took down the doors out of annoyance at his carelessness. There was simply no way that he loved her. He had never loved anyone outside
Even if the idea of her spending so much time and effort into making him his favorite food made him warm and giddy on the inside, it didn't mean he loved her. It was just his emotions running away with him again. Yeah, that was it.
He would talk to her tomorrow and apologize for his silliness, thanking her properly for surprising him with such a thoughtful gift. He'd tell her to forget the whole thing, and they would go back to normal before he spoke those wretched words. He just hoped he wouldn't lose her.