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    Lu Changting brought Lu Chang’an to the bar counter, letting him order his own drink from Le An, but he made one request.

    “You can order whatever you want, but you have to tell me why you were fighting.”

    Lu Chang’an was dazzled by the wall full of bottles, and his mood lifted as he discussed his drink preferences with Le An. One moment he wanted something sweet, the next something a bit sour, and he also wanted a hint of preserved plum flavor.

    Shen Li came out from the upstairs lounge and saw Lu Changting at the stairway. As he approached, he noticed the handsome young man sitting next to him. The boy was tall but still had a youthful look with a bit of baby fat on his face.

    “This is my younger brother.” Lu Changting smiled when he saw Shen Li, naturally pulling him closer and introducing Lu Chang’an. “His name is Lu Chang’an, my third uncle’s son.”

    Although Lu Chang’an had never been to a bar, he had heard the somewhat unsavory rumors about them. Seeing the close interaction between Shen Li and Lu Changting, he curiously stared at Shen Li a few times.

    “Hello.” Seeing he was still a young boy, Shen Li smiled kindly at Lu Chang’an. “I’m Shen Li.”

    Lu Chang’an politely nodded, “Hello, Shen Ge.”

    Shen Li sat down next to Lu Changting, his hand being held and played with.

    Lu Changting whispered to Lu Chang’an, “I’ll tell you a secret, this is my boyfriend.”

    As if it were still a secret—Lu Changting had long announced it to everyone, but he took advantage of his brother’s first visit to the bar to tease him.

    Lu Chang’an looked at him in surprise, then glanced over at Shen Li, his eyes widening slightly, “Huh?”

    “A secret for a secret.” Lu Changting pushed the drink Lu Chang’an had ordered in front of him. “Now, tell me, why were you fighting?”

    Lu Chang’an was silent for a while before speaking, “He’s not a good person.”

    He pursed his lips, “He has a girlfriend, but he still goes around telling people about… about…”

    “About what?”

    Pressed by the question, Lu Chang’an’s tone turned a bit sharp and sarcastic, “About his glorious escapades of hooking up.”

    “Who are you standing up for?” Lu Changting took a sip of his drink and asked leisurely, “His girlfriend?”

    Lu Chang’an didn’t reply, just took a couple of gulps of his drink, his clear, bright eyes filled with indignation and injustice.

    Lu Changting suddenly laughed, “You like her, don’t you?”

    “I do not!” Lu Chang’an retorted so quickly that it only made him seem more guilty.

    Shen Li had been quietly listening to their conversation, and from the injuries on Lu Chang’an’s face, he could roughly piece together what had happened.

    Seventeen or eighteen-year-old boys, when they fight, it’s either over love or hatred, with some cases due to a sense of justice. Lu Chang’an was probably fighting for love.

    Shen Li never looked down on any form of affection. On the contrary, he found Lu Chang’an’s naive, even somewhat reckless, admiration quite precious.

    Lu Changting also found it precious. Though fighting was wrong, young people often had clear distinctions between love and hate, which was understandable.

    He patted Lu Chang’an’s back and addressed the core issue, “Can fighting solve the problem?”

    “If you don’t tell her, she’ll never know she’s with the wrong person, and that’s harming her.”

    “She doesn’t believe me,” Lu Chang’an said, looking a bit downcast. “The teacher doesn’t believe me either.”

    “No one believes me,” he added. “His grades are good, he acts all proper at school, and the teachers favor him. Since I started the fight, it’s automatically my fault.”

    “Brother Changxu…” He lowered his head, still trying to appear indifferent. “Brother Changxu protects me, but he must also think I’m in the wrong.”

    “If you like someone, go after them. If you’re misunderstood, explain yourself. The key is to have a clear conscience and no regrets,” Lu Changting said calmly. “Do I really need to teach you such a simple principle?”

    Lu Chang’an looked up at him, eyes shining with the joy of being trusted, though he still tried to act tough, “You never taught me before.”

    Lu Changting took another sip of his drink, his fingers intertwined with Shen Li’s, radiating an indescribable intimacy even in silence. “Liking someone should make you better, not worse. At your age, you might think fighting for someone you like is cool and satisfying, but in a few years, you’ll realize how foolish it was.”

    There were many ways to solve the problem, but Lu Chang’an chose a path where both sides got hurt. Youth can be impulsive, driven by passion, but a person can’t be impulsive forever.

    “You know your grades are poor, your temper is bad, and your popularity is low,” Lu Changting admonished his younger brother without mercy. “You need to work on your grades, your temper, and your social skills if you want to be liked by girls.”

    “Got it…” Lu Chang’an’s face turned bright red, his tone awkward, and he lowered his voice. “I won’t fight anymore.”

    After finishing his lecture and seeing that Lu Chang’an recognized his mistake, Lu Changting nodded, “Go have some fun.”

    The subtext was clear: don’t be a third wheel here.

    Although their relationship had become somewhat distant, Lu Chang’an had always admired his brother. In just this short time, his eyes were filled with trust.

    He carried his drink over to Lu Changyin and her friends, but after a few steps, he turned back, stood in front of Shen Li, and gave an exaggerated bow, “Sister-in-law!”

    Then he ran off, his mischievous spirit fully restored.

    Shen Li was momentarily stunned by the title, then shook his head with a smile, “Your brother is really cute.”

    “What’s cute about him?” Lu Changting pinched Shen Li’s fingertips in displeasure. “He’s in his second year of high school, will take the college entrance exam next year, his grades are at the bottom of the class, and he’s always causing trouble.”

    “When I was in high school, I excelled in everything—ethics, intellect, physical education, arts, and labor. Teachers liked me, I had good relationships with my classmates, and I won so many awards I lost count.”

    Shen Li teased, “Your brother is just a bit contrary, innocent, and cute.”

    Lu Changting’s eyes darkened, “Praising other men in front of me?”

    “You’re the cutest,” Shen Li laughed softly, “You’ll always be the cutest.”

    Twenty-seven years old and still getting jealous like a kid, Lu Changting really was adorable.

    Only then did Lu Changting smile slightly, giving a satisfied “hmm.”

    Lu Changting took Shen Li to greet Lu Changyin and her friends. They rearranged a few tables and joined them together. Lu Changting and Shen Li sat alone at a separate table. The music in the bar drowned out the voices, and they sat together on a sofa, creating their own little world for two.

    Lu Chang’an was whispering something to Lu Changyu, probably apologizing. After hearing him out, Lu Changyu patted his head, and the matter was considered forgiven.

    Lu Changyin took a sip of her drink, smiling as she whispered to Lu Changge, “Our Chang’an also has a crush now, I never expected that.”

    Lu Changge chuckled and sighed, “A crush, like a jar of wine hidden away. After many years, when you finally open it, even through the long passage of time, it still feels exciting.”

    Upon hearing the words “crush,” Lu Changting suddenly thought of something.

    Shen Li had mentioned he didn’t have a previous boyfriend, so the only remaining possibility for the term “little brother” in his speech seemed to be a crush.

    He glanced thoughtfully at Shen Li, unable to fully agree with Lu Changyin’s sentiment about future lovers being akin to aged vinegar.

    Lu Changge hesitated for a moment, “That… could be true…”

    For many people, the inability to obtain something becomes an enduring attachment. But for future partners, this attachment becomes a thorn that hurts, like a fishbone stuck in the throat.

    Lu Changting looked deeply at Shen Li, jokingly asking, “You didn’t prepare any aged vinegar for me, did you?”

    Shen Li, listening to their conversation about crushes being compared to wine and vinegar, was caught off guard when the question suddenly fell on him.

    His heart skipped a beat, “I’ve only ever liked you.”

    Whether in the past or now, whether it’s a crush or love, his heart has always belonged to Lu Changting.

    Shen Li’s words were sincere, his eyes bright, and for a moment, Lu Changting almost believed him.

    He smiled, not responding, just lifting his drink and taking a sip.

    Suppressing his emotions, Lu Changting reached into Shen Li’s pants pocket.

    Feeling a bit down, he needed something sweet.

    He found chocolate in his pocket, took it out, leisurely peeled off the wrapper, and casually changed the subject, “When did you hide so much chocolate in my car?”

    “You found it?” Shen Li said, “It’s been there for several days.”

    His tone was very calm, as if being nice to him and preparing a little surprise for him was just an ordinary thing.

    Shen Li was always like this, inadvertently hitting him right in the soft spot of his heart.

    The bit of emotion in his heart completely dissipated in the sweetness of the chocolate and Shen Li’s words. Lu Changting pinched his cheek, “You.”

    Shen Li smiled and teasingly asked, “Don’t you like it?”

    “I do,” Lu Changting paused, suddenly having a thought. He said, “It was Changyin who found them, so she ate and took away a lot of them.”

    “I didn’t bring too many with me,” Shen Li said, “I’ll make up for it the day after tomorrow.”

    Lu Changting complained, “Is it only chocolate?”

    Shen Li asked him, “What else do you want?”

    “I’ve been eating takeout for two days, and it’s not good,” Lu Changting gradually revealed his thoughts, “Just take me home directly.”

    Shen Li couldn’t help but tease him, “Go home with me to meet my mom?”

    Lu Changting was stunned, belatedly remembering that Shen Li lived with Cheng Zhao.

    Meeting the parents wouldn’t be a bad idea, but he didn’t want to go home with Shen Li to meet his parents. He just wanted to cuddle with his boyfriend all day and relax, not to mention that.

    After all, sleeping alone at home was a waste of time, but spending time with Shen Li, no matter how they spent it, wouldn’t be a waste; it would be fulfilling.

    “Will you come home with me then?” Lu Changting lowered his voice. “Just accompany me for a weekend.”

    “My mom isn’t home,” Shen Li smiled, “But let’s go to your place.”

    He added jokingly, “My place is small, I’m afraid you won’t be comfortable.”

    After all, he didn’t live alone at home. Although Cheng Zhao hadn’t been home lately, he still worried that Lu Changting might feel uncomfortable. There were many secrets hidden in his room, and for now, he didn’t want Lu Changting to know. Besides, if he wanted to have a long-term relationship with Lu Changting, he needed to slowly integrate into Lu Changting’s life. Staying at Lu Changting’s house for a weekend was a good opportunity.

    “I’ll find a suitable time to introduce you to my aunt in the future,” Lu Changting achieved his goal, his tone relaxing. He didn’t mind Shen Li’s teasing. When Shen Li went home with him and entered his territory, that would be the time to settle scores.

    Lu Changyin and the others at the nearby table had been completely ignored by Lu Changting and Shen Li until they finished their drinks and prepared to leave, bidding them farewell.

    Lu Changyin impatiently waved his hand, “Let’s go, let’s go, hurry up, don’t show affection in front of me, it hurts my eyes.”

    “When love is deep,” Lu Changting pretended to sigh, “it’s hard to control.”

    Lu Changyin smiled good-naturedly, “When you bring your partner home openly, I promise, I’ll give you and Mr. Shen a big red envelope.”

    The tone of this statement seemed a bit grudging, no matter how you heard it.

    Lu Changting cleared his throat lightly, “Hmm, I’ll be waiting for that.”

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