Gui’s Question
by Ilsasya


“Prince,” Gui began suddenly on a previously unremarkable day in the Infinite City, “are you gay?” Gui, though having an IQ greater than two-hundred, seemed to lack the common sense to ask this question in a more private setting. At least it was only the Odd Squad that was there. The entire room went silent in shock, though Prince could clearly see Lolidragon holding back laughter (actually he could hear it too since she was PMing it to him).

“What kind of question is that, idiot?” Prince cried, advancing on Gui. Gui rasied his arms to act as a meager defense to the blows that were sure to follow. The rest of the room calmed as they watched the scene with amusement. Lolidragon was rapidly losing the battle to hold in her laughter.

Prince was irritated. Gui’s question had irritated him more than any of the bard’s previous antics but what irritated Prince the most was that he couldn’t figure out why. He wasn’t gay. Yes, it was true he liked guys more than girls but Feng Lan was a girl. It didn’t matter that her avatar was a guy.

But Gui had asked Prince the question and not Feng Lan. Prince was male. Prince liked guys more than girls, therefore, Prince was gay. But Feng Lan was straight. Feng Lan was Prince which made Prince straight. But Prince wasn’t attracted to girls…

Gui lowered his arms slowly to peer at the elf in front of him. Prince was not beating him up or yelling at him, instead he seemed frozen with an almost glassy look in his eyes. The rest of the room had quickly changed from amusement to confusion and then on to concern. There was silence as they all—except for Lolidragon who had finally stopped laughing and was wiping the tears from her eyes—watched Prince.

While he was frozen, Prince’s mind whirled through the paradox that was his own sexuality. Did liking a guy make him gay? With no other option open, Prince made the highly risky move of asking Lolidragon. As he explained his thoughts it was even clearer she was laughing at him. She made no attempt to hide it this time and began literally rolling on the floor by the end of his PM.

This is why Second Life doesn’t allow trannies,’ was all she said in reply.

Prince threw his hands up in the air and rushed from the room to log out. The only sound that was left behind him was Lolidragon’s laughter.

“Prince,” called a tentative voice outside his door, coupled with a soft knock. Prince was lying on the bed in his chambers and trying not to think about Gui’s question. He had not succeeded in the slightest.

“Come in,” he called tiredly, sitting up. The door opened to admit the person Prince least wanted to see just then (well, maybe second least because Lolidragon was having way too much fun with this situation).

“What do you want, Gui?” Prince asked the bard who was still hovering in the doorway. Gui jumped a little upon being addressed. He entered the room and closed the door behind him with slow and hesitant movements.

“You never answered my question,” Gui reminded him, slowly approaching the elf. Prince sighed and flopped back down on the bed.

“Oh, that.” Prince could not have sounded less enthusiastic. Gui frowned and waited for an answer that was not forthcoming.

“Don’t you think I have a right to know?” Gui questioned him seriously. Prince gave a noncommittal grunt.

“What about… Wicked,” Gui cringed as he said the name, “doesn’t he have a right to know?”

“Wicked knows,” Prince said simply without taking his eyes from the ceiling. Gui’s eyes involuntarily shut and his body tensed. Wicked. Gui had never really hated that man before but he could feel resentment brewing inside him. Why was it that Wicked knew so many things about Prince—including his real identity—while Gui only had the chance to see the elf online? It just plainly wasn’t fair. Gui took a long, deep breath.

“Prince,” he said as he sat on the bed near Prince’s stomach, “do you understand my feelings at all?” Prince finally lifted his head and looked at the bard.

“Huh?” Gui was staring at him with intense and remarkably serious eyes. Prince felt almost as if he was shrinking under the scrutiny.

“You do know that I love you?” Gui asked a bit shakily. Prince snorted and dropped his head again.

“Yeah, you only say it every day,” the elf said thoughtlessly. He flicked his eyes to examine his companion’s expression. It was difficult to tell if Gui’s face was clouded by anger or sorrow. Either way, Prince didn’t like it. He sighed lightly.

“The answer you want…” Prince trailed off slowly. He hadn’t thought before speaking so he had no idea what he should say next. After all, he still wasn’t sure what the answer was, himself. But he could see Gui immediately perk up and he knew that he had to say something.

“It’s… complicated,” was what he came up with. Then he returned his eyes to the ceiling, not exactly satisfied with his answer. Suddenly Gui’s face replaced his view of the ceiling.

“I’m serious. I do love you. And, right now, I don’t think I am asking a lot. Please, I just want to hear your answer,” Gui pleaded. Prince no longer had anywhere else to look so he stared back into the bard’s far too serious eyes.

“I’m not,” Prince said slowly with reluctance. Gui didn’t move.

“Are you just saying that?” Prince’s eyes shot to the left and he didn’t answer. Growing ever more frustrated, Gui’s reason flew right out the window. His hands held the elf’s face as he closed the small distance between their lips.

Prince’s eyes flashed back to look at Gui’s now closed ones. He was far too surprised to remember that he had superior strength and could easily push Gui away. In fact, Prince was so stunned that Gui ended up being the one to pull back. They stared into each other’s eyes both waiting for the shock to dissipate.

“Well,” Prince said with a shaky breath, “definitely not gay.” Gui jumped back from him and rushed to the door. At the doorway he looked back once and Prince thought that he could see traces of tears but it was too quick to tell for certain. Then, Gui was gone.

For his part, Prince could hardly move. The kiss had excited him more than he had felt before. Who knew being kissed by a guy could feel that good. He had even forgotten he was Prince and had momentarily thought that he was Feng Lan. Which was the reason for his declaration… Prince sat up abruptly. After Gui had kissed him, Prince had decided then he wasn’t gay. No, Feng Lan had decided it, Prince had just said it. But… since Gui thought he was a guy clearly he must have thought Prince felt nothing from the kiss. The whole ordeal had turned once again into convoluted mess.

“It’s his fault for kissing me,” Prince decided a bit childishly.

Feng Lan was highly reluctant to attend class the next day. After last night’s events she would have happily taken the day off. She could stay in bed all morning before having the afternoon to play video games or read. Wrapped up in her warm blankets and dreams of laziness, Feng Lan unconsciously smiled.

“Sis, get up already!” Heavy footsteps accompanied this shout as her brother burst through her door without so much as a knock. Feng Lan burrowed deeper into her bed. Her dreams of freedom were momentarily crushed.

“I’m sick,” was her mumbled lie. Yang Min was unmoved. He ripped her blankets away.

“Liar. You just want to skip,” he told her. Feng Lan groaned. Sometimes—all times—she really hated her brother. “Look, I don’t care if you go or not,” he continued, scratching the back of his head, “but you still have to make breakfast.” Feng Lan pushed herself up so she was sitting and sleepily glared at him. Seeing she was up, Yang Min dropped her blankets (far enough away that she’d have to get completely out of bed to retrieve them) and strolled out of her room. Feng Lan flopped back down on the bed but knew she’d never fall back asleep. When she began to shiver she got up with a sigh. After going through the trouble of making breakfast, Feng Lan resigned herself to attending school.

As she made her way to class she found herself in a singular state of mind. She wanted to drag her feet and move as slowly as possible, yet she also needed some answers or at least someone to talk to. She could only think of Jing and Yun, making her also want to hurry. She was thankful that Gui’s class was not until after lunch.

Much as she would have like to, Feng Lan found no time to discuss last night’s events with her friends until lunch. Her morning had been filled with rigorous tests and overly strict teachers. Even in the time between classes she couldn’t talk for fear of being overheard. A secret identity was a lot of work!

Finally the three of them were able to secure a secluded table in the corner of the cafeteria.

“So,” Jing began “Let’s hear it.” Feng Lan was momentarily surprised.

“What…?” she asked helplessly.

“You’ve wanted to tell us something all day but have been holding back. Tell us,” Jing insisted. Feng Lan composed herself and nodded. Quickly she filled in her friends on everything that had happened last night.

“Wow,” Yun said exhaling deeply. “Too bad we missed that!” Feng Lan smacked him on the back of the head.

“I don’t see the problem,” Jing said.

“You don’t?” Feng Lan demanded. Jing looked over at Yun who shrugged his shoulders.

“Did you enjoy the kiss?” Yun asked. Feng Lan turned all kinds of red.

“Did I—did I—enjoy…. What!?” Feng Lan spluttered, her voice rising in volume to match her confusion and frustration. “That isn’t the issue,” she said once her composure was regained. “I’m confused about his question.”

“Unless there is something you haven’t told me about, as your best friend I have to tell you: you’re straight.” Jing’s response was conversational without much thought behind it. She and Yun both thought this a problem easily solved. They were doing their best to humor her.

“He didn’t ask me; he asked Prince!” Feng Lan replied. Yun and Jing sighed.

“You are Prince,” they both told her. They would have said it louder but they were aware of their surroundings.

“Prince is a man. Liking men would make him gay.”

“Then he’s gay.” Jing replied simply.

“Feng Lan’s a girl though. Might make him straight.” Yun remarked. They looked at each other. Feng Lan expected them to start an argument over their differing perspectives but they seemed content to leave it at that.

“You guys are no help,” Feng Lan moaned.

“Don’t know what else to tell you,” Yun said with a shrug.

“I just want to know if I’m gay or not,” Feng Lan yelled out in frustration. Yun and Jing began to laugh at this outburst, but their amusement was cut off by a slight scraping noise behind them. In a flash they all turned to see Gui standing just behind them. He had bumped a chair with his foot as he past and had frozen, staring at their table. Feng Lan caught his eye and hurriedly turned away. Once she heard him travel away she dropped her head into her hands. Jing and Yun began laughing again, all the harder.

Of course it would have to be Gui’s class that followed lunch. Feng Lan desperately wanted to skip but he had seen her and running away would only increase the embarrassment. Briefly she considered going to him to tell him that she wasnot a lesbian but ultimately decided it was too much work and far too embarrassing. With heavy and dragging steps, she allowed herself to be pulled to class.

Perhaps it would have been better for her to skip, however, as she could not bring herself to pay attention. Her eyes gazed unseeingly out of the window. She was back in Second Life. The professor’s voice washed over her but she comprehended none of it.

“… Lan? Miss Lan? Miss Lan?” Feng Lan started and took a moment to notice that every eye was on her, including Gui’s.

“Good,” he said, conversationally when she met his eye. “Thank you for volunteering, Miss Lan.” The rest of the class broke into giggles.

“Volunteering?” she asked him.

“Yes, as I mentioned before,” he laid an unfair amount of stress on those last few words, “I need someone to stay after to help me grade some papers.”

“I have class…” she started.

“Then I shall see you after.” Clearly that was the end of discussion.

Feng Lan forced herself not to look out the window and tried to focus on the lesson. When that failed she instead focused on Gui. Circles, dark and deep, hung under his eyes and declared his lack of sleep. His hair appeared neat until he turned and she saw the tangled and knotted hair at the back of his head. Clearly his grooming this morning had been automatic and half-hearted. Though he was making an attempt at normality, it was clear that he’d had a rough night.

And—thought Feng Lan, a trifle guiltily—she knew why.

If it was possible, Feng Lan was even less enthusiastic on her way to the classroom than she had been before. Seeing Gui in class was confusing enough but spending alone time with him was awkward beyond comprehension.

He was at his desk and a vacant chair sat across from him with a pile of papers before it. Feng Lan assumed this was her seat. She sat without ceremony. The work began.

“Sorry for making you do this,” Gui said after a few minutes of awkward silence. Feng Lan looked up at him.

“Sorry for spacing out in class,” she replied. He looked up too and caught her eye. They both smiled.

“You are always a good student so I didn’t take it personally,” Gui told her, still smiling. After saying this he turned back to the pile of papers.

“I have a lot on my mind lately,” she said, more to herself than him. With a light sigh she went back to work too.

“If you want to talk, I’m here,” Gui said mildly, not looking up from his work. Feng Lan’s head shot up in surprise. It was more consideration than she had been expecting, especially given what happened last night.

“Thank you,” she said at last with a fond smile. The silence between them as they worked was now comfortable.

“Professor,” she began slowly some time later and then sighed. He paused his work to look up at her. “About what you heard earlier…”

“Ah,” he said, setting his work aside. “I figured that was what you were thinking about.” Feng Lan was at a bit of a loss. She couldn’t quite figure out how to tell him she wasn’t a lesbian. Plus she also wanted to hear what he was going to say.

“What caused this sudden confusion? Is there someone…?” He asked when she offered no further information. She tilted her head as she looked at him.

“Maybe,” she said with a smile that said she knew something her professor didn’t (well, she did after all).

“Over the years we become infatuated and fall in love many times,” Gui began with the air of an old, wise man. “But when those feelings make us question even something as basic as our sexuality I feel it becomes something even more special. If nothing else I believe that being scared or hiding those feelings will just bring us regret.” He had stopped looking at her and began staring past the window at something Feng Lan couldn’t see. “That’s why you shouldn’t give up.” Feng Lan remembered what she had cried out after he had kissed her—Prince—and suddenly felt her heart lurch. But, as she observed him, a thought popped into her head.

“Are you taking about me or yourself?” Feng Lan wondered aloud. Gui started and broke from his reverie to stare at her with wide eyes. After a moment he began to smile. A soft, heart-broken smile.

“I’m sharing what I’ve learned from experience,” he said softly. A moment later he looked down and frowned at the paperwork before him. Feng Lan took that as a hint and began to work as well.

“Were you talking about Prince?” said Feng Lan after a few moments.

“Yeah,” he said simply without looking up. She paused her work a moment to take in the implications. Gui had been talking about falling in love with someone regardless of his orientation so, did that mean Gui wasn’t gay? Until falling for Prince, Gui had been straight!

“You can’t choose who you fall in love with,” Gui said sagely, breaking her from her thoughts. Feng Lan pondered this a moment.

“Do you wish you could?” Gui glanced up at her again with a searching look. It took him several minutes to answer.

“Wouldn’t that be nice,” he reflected. “I could have found a nice, safe girl and settled down by now without any fear.” Gui tone was highly satirical. He went back to his work. Feng Lan found herself just a little disappointed. They were surrounded in awkward silence again.

“But,” Gui continued after his elongated pause, “I wonder, would that be any fun?”

“Fun?” Feng Lan asked with confusion. She knew next to nothing about romance, her only knowledge coming from movies or comics. It had been called painful and terrible as well as wondrous and uplifting, but never had she heard love described as fun.

“Prince has done more for me than anyone else,” Gui replied. Feng Lan barely contained a snort. She quickly searched her memory for anything she had done for Gui but the list was so short it barely existed.

“He introduced me to the Odd Squad, you know,” Gui supplied. “Without him I would still be on my own. I would be a wandering bard, unknown and mostly unwanted. I would still believe I was happy.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Feng Lan wondered aloud. Gui shook his head.

“As a wandering bard I believed I was happy. With the Odd Squad I am happy. There is a difference.” Feng Lan looked back down at the papers and feigned industry. For some reason she couldn’t look at him anymore.

“Is that the only reason? Because he introduced you to his team?” She asked him without looking up. She didn’t quite understand why but she felt that there was a lot riding on his answer to this question.

“I don’t think we have enough work here if you want to hear the entire list,” Gui said but Feng Lan was surprised that he was only half joking. “But that really is one of the most important parts. As a child I was always in advanced placements and was bombarded with pressure from, not only my parents but, everyone around me. Prince has given me friends and the opportunity to be myself. To me there is nothing greater he could have given me.” He sighed before adding in a strained voice, “That is why I cannot ask for more.” Feng Lan had never really considered Gui’s feelings before. Somehow she had always discounted them. But, right now, there was no way for her to ignore them. He was in love with her.

Could she love him back?

“Prince isn’t gay,” she said, breaking the silence at last. Gui looked up at her with a soul-searching stare. Feng Lan hadn’t really thought before making this comment. There were many questions Gui could have asked about how she could make such a statement. Still, he asked none of them.

“I know,” was all he said.

There were only a few sheets left to be done. They finished in silence. Feng Lan neatened her pile and stood. Gui was still finishing the last sheet.

“Thank you, professor. You’ve given me a lot to think about,” she said with a smile. He wrote one last thing on the paper before putting it on his pile and turning to her with an answering smile.

“Just, next time, do your thinking outside of class.” Feng Lan laughed lightly.

She turned to the door but halfway she stopped.

“I think you’re wrong, by the way,” she said with her back to him. She could not see his expression but she had little doubt it was one of shock. “It isn’t that you can’t ask for more, you are just afraid to. He may have given you a lot but I suspect you’ve given Prince more than you realize. Even if Prince isn’t gay, that doesn’t mean he won’t fall for you.” She walked the rest of the way to the door and opened it but didn’t step through it. Instead she turned.

“You can’t choose who you fall in love with,” she said in parting. A few seconds later the door closed behind her leaving Gui, still stupefied, in her wake. After a moment he smiled. The smile grew larger progressively until it became a full grin. The previously dreaded notion of Second Life became lighter and full of hope.

Just outside the classroom, Feng Lan was leaning on a wall as she sorted through her thoughts. The Gui she had sat with for the past two hours was nothing like the Gui she was online with. But her time with Professor Min had helped her understand Second Life’s Gui. Somehow the two personalities fit together and she found she liked them both quite a bit. No matter how much he annoyed her or how many times she beat him up, Gui had been a friend from the beginning. And, he was in love with her.

Could she love him back?

Yes, yes she could.

Prince wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when he logged into Second Life. He had been expecting Gui to avoid him but after Feng Lan’s conversation with him Prince wondered if that would still be true.

It wasn’t.

Gui wasn’t just not avoiding him but, Prince quickly found, actively searching him out. Since Gui still had duties in the planning department, several hours passed before they could meet. Finally Gui caught him alone in the kitchen. By the time Prince turned to greet him, Gui was already on his knees.

“Forgive me, Your Worshipfulness!” Gui cried, eyes closed and hands clasped in front of him. Prince couldn’t help but smile.

“It’s alright. There was nothing wrong with what you said.” Gui had been prepared to first be beaten before he could then be forgiven. He was slightly disconcerted at such easy forgiveness. Still skeptical he cracked an eye open.

“I’ve never really considered your feelings,” Prince said as he began to pace. Gui opened both of his eye and lowered his hands. He couldn’t help being afraid of where this was going.

“I shouldn’t—I can’t keep this from you any longer. It just isn’t fair.” Prince seemed to be talking to and convincing himself rather than Gui.

“That’s why…” Prince trailed off. Gui desperately wanted to know what Prince was saying but he couldn’t bring himself to utter a sound. They remained there, Prince pacing and Gui still on his knees, in a very awkward silence. Finally Prince spoke again but it was not a continuation of his pervious thought.

“Do you know the coffee shop across from the university?” Gui nodded his mind still too blank to wonder at the randomness of that question. “Would you like to go there, tomorrow? With…with me? Well no, not really with me. I’d meet you there. Well, the real me and not… you know…” Prince realized he had been babbling and promptly shut himself up. Gui mouth hung open as he stared up at Prince. There was no other reaction.

“You don’t have to…” Prince began but Gui jumped up quickly with several vigorous shakes of his head.

“I’ll go!” he cried. “I’ll go!”

Feng Lan saw him easily long before she entered the coffee shop. He was sitting conspicuously in the window, clearly wanting to be seen. It was obvious to any passerby what he was doing. His eyes darting around the outside crowd and his left fingers, wound around a cold cup of coffee, proved he was waiting for someone. But not just anyone, it was clear by his expression he was waiting for a lover and one who he feared would jilt him. The few more observant members of the crowd regarded him with sympathy.

Feng Lan paused in the crowd to observe him a bit better. He was definitely agitated and tense. She wondered how long he had been sitting there. She may have been a few minutes late, but he gave the appearance of having waited at least half an hour. Feeling a bit guilty, Feng Lan took a moment to compose herself before walking to the door.

The chime that accompanied her entrance caused Gui to whip his head around to look at her. He turned away almost immediately before doing a quick double take when he recognized her. She tried to catch his eye, but he had already lost interest in her. With a quiet sigh, she approached him.

“Hello, professor,” she said with false cheeriness. He jumped and turned to her.

“Oh, Miss Lan,” he said in greeting. He gave her a tight, distant smile before returning to his vigil, clearly dismissing her. Understanding his emotions, she did not resent him.

“Do you come here often?” she asked him, at a loss of anything else to say. He neither looked nor responded. Only the chatter of customers and the constant drumming of his right fingers on the table broke the silence. She waited for a few more minutes but got nothing. It was only when she sat that she gained his attention.

“Excuse me, Miss Lan, I don’t mean to be rude but I am waiting for someone. I would prefer it if you left,” he said, still glancing nervously out the window. He was worried that Prince would see them together and misunderstand.

Feng Lan nodded absently and hailed a passing waitress for a cup of coffee. Gui grew progressively more agitated by the second. By the time she received her coffee, he had returned to staring out the window though he did glance her way every so often.

“Please, Miss Lan. This is very important to me. I don’t want him to think—.”

“He isn’t coming,” she cut him off. For the first time she had his complete and unquestioned attention. His right fingers had even frozen mid motion, leaving three still hovering in the air. He could make no reply.

“Prince,” Feng Lan continued. “He isn’t coming.” Gui began to redden and he even seemed to shake with repressed emotion. Feng Lan calmly took a sip of her coffee, having prepared herself for this.

“He promised,” Gui near yelled at her, causing a minor commotion in the small shop. “He said he would come!” Feng Lan sighed and added a sugar to her coffee as she waited for him to calm down.

“He can’t come,” she told him simply. Gui’s hostile expression melted to one of concern. He waited anxiously but she offered no further explanation. She idly stirred her coffee and looked out the window.

“Why?” Gui asked at last, slowly and heavily. “Why can’t he come?” Feng Lan finally returned her gaze to him but didn’t answer right away. Instead she securitized him with a slightly cocked head.

“Why do you want to meet him so much?”

“I love him,” Gui remarked without hesitation. She sighed, hoping for an answer a bit deeper than that.

“Well, what do you expect from him?” she asked him sharply. He started.

“I don’t expect—.”

“Clearly you do,” she interrupted him. “How else could so easily discount the people who entered here?” She swept her hand in a broad gesture drawing his attention to the other patrons and the employees. He swallowed but made no response. His eyes continued to trail over the people until she spoke up again. “I think you are expecting Second Life’s Prince to walk through those doors in all his simulated glory, complete with white hair and red eyes.” She stared deeply into his eyes. He could only look back silently. They sat like that for some minutes, a kind of silent and still war waging between them.

“What will you do,” she began, “when you find he’s nothing like how you imagine?” She continued to look him in the eye and they held the gaze and silence for several more minutes.

“What will you do when you find he’s not a prince?” she continued. “When you finally meet him and you are forced to realize that he’s just…” Feng Lan’s voice grew quieter. She could no longer hold his eyes as she said the last word. “Ordinary.” He was silent. The air between them seemed to die in the steadily lengthening silence between them.

“Prince isn’t ordinary,” Gui said at last. Feng Lan looked at him a moment before shaking her head at him in clear disappointment.

“You just say that regardless—”

“He is not ordinary,” Gui insisted more loudly. Feng Lan was momentarily taken aback. “Maybe to everyone else he seems that way but, no matter what he’s like in real life, remember that I love him. He can’t be ordinary.” Gui took his first sip of his stone-cold coffee. He grimaced.

“He will always be special to me,” Gui whispered quietly, more to himself than her. Feng Lan opened her mouth to rebuke him but was at a loss of what to say. Instead she found herself fidgeting. With nothing better to do her fingers found their way to the packets of sugar and added another to her coffee. They were left with another five minutes of silence; this one seemed neither comfortable nor awkward. It was expectant.

“I suppose he isn’t going to come, though,” Gui said with a slow glance at his watch. “An hour late already,” he remarked with a slightly bitter chuckle. “Should have known.”

“Maybe he got lost,” Feng Lan said desperately, for some reason feeling the need to reassure him. Gui shook his head.

“If he isn’t here now, he isn’t coming.” Feng Lan opened her mouth to argue but he cut her off. “You said it yourself. He isn’t coming.”

“Maybe I was wrong.”

“You weren’t.” Feng Lan stopped protesting and examined him. She expected him… well, she didn’t know what she expected. He should be angry for being stood up. He should love Prince so much that he’d be willing to stay there for hours. He should…. Feng Lan shook her head. He should be anything except complacent. That this outcome did not surprise Gui hurt her deeply.

“Why aren’t you mad?” she asked him, unable to come up with a reasonable answer herself.

“Because I love him,” he replied. She had forgotten for a moment that this was Gui. There was no reasonable answer. She said nothing, simply watched and waited as he waved over a waitress. They both paid (he offered once to pay for her but she quickly declined) and Gui stood up. Feng Lan knew she couldn’t let him go like that.

“Prince isn’t coming,” she said again, more quietly. Gui looked at her again but this time his eyes were filled with hurt.

“I know,” he said as he made to leave.

“He isn’t coming,” Feng Lan repeated, “because he’s already here.”

“What?” he whispered, coming to a stop right next to her. She thought he might have cast a frenzied glance all about the shop in search of Prince but, instead, he kept his gaze fixed on her. She smiled self-effacingly.

“I told you it was complicated,” she said simply as she rose and walked past him. He was still frozen in place as he watched her go. She stopped at the door and looked back at him in a silent invitation to follow. He would have been a fool not to.

They were walking around the campus grounds. For a while they walked in silence. Then Gui began stammering and stuttering in confusion making Feng Lan explain the whole story of Prince. Once that was done, they fell back into silence.

“You still never answered my question,” Gui said finally. Feng Lan looked at him in confusion.

“Which question?”

“Prince, is he gay?” Gui asked, wringing his hands nervously. She had told him it was complicated and it really was. Gui wasn’t quite sure which answer he wanted anymore.

“Prince might be gay… or he might not be, I haven’t decided,” she told him. Gui looked at her a little impatiently.

“Please put some thought into it. It is important,” he said, a little desperately.

“I thought about it. Couldn’t decide. In the end, I don’t think it matters.”

“It matters to me,” Gui muttered. Feng Lan smiled.

“Prince might be gay or might not,” she repeated. Gui pouted. “All that really matters is that he likes you.” Gui tripped over thin air at that remark.

“He does—I mean, you do?” Feng Lan smiled at him.

“Yeah, I think I do.”


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