With her fork re-clenched in her hand—she didn’t want to drop it, it’d be mortifying to ask for a new one—Lin Songmei tilted her head as her eyebrows furrowed. “Wait what? What happened to your old group Wang Taigang?”
A couple of agreeing, echoing murmurs of confusion coming from Yan Mingqing and Han Youhong, Wang Taigang waved his hands, assuaging the worries. “Don’t overreact, it’s fine, it’s fine. After the last conflict, the whole plant blooming thing, several of the people in my group decided to leave and join Liu Liping’s group, the other direct disciple from Pavilion of Radiant Shadows.”
“From my side, the Pavilion of Extinguishing Shadows, by the way,” Youhong added, his mouth still half-full with food.
“Yeah, what Youhong said,” Wang Taigang reiterated before continuing, “Then, because my group was originally founded with some direct disciples of another sect and because we had lost a fair few members, we just decided to dissolve the group.”
“I... see, I see,” Songmei mumbled, she was glad. It was a little regretful to hear about the group dissolving, but at least sunboy over here wasn’t in dire straits. Though, if there were conflicts between him and the people who used to be in his group, Songmei was pretty sure that she wouldn’t be able to do anything.
Unless it was a competition on who could lift the least amount of weight...
“Anyway, those were my plans,” Wang Taigang shrugged before motioning towards Songmei. “Mingqing said her plans were just going to be whatever yours were, so... what are yours?”
Freezing up after making a sound closer to a duck than a human, Songmei did recall Mingqing saying that but... She didn’t have any plans. Coughing, Songmei reached over to the complimentary glass of water (provided in addition to the drinks they had ordered, wasn’t this restaurant nice?), taking a long sip of water before stammering, “I-I... I don’t have any plans...”
With Mingqing drowning in giggles next to her as a flush of embarrassment climbed her cheeks, Songmei stuck a finger in Mingqing’s general direction trying to shush her while confessing, “I was just going to follow what Mingqing did...”
With an awkward silence falling on the table as the other three tried to suppress their laughter watching Songmei spill water on herself due to her shaking hand, Songmei cleared her throat once more. “Anyhow... y-yeah, I don’t mind joining a team with you two... You two are pretty cool people... Also, Mingqing and I have already been working in a team so, uhm, we’re kinda a package...”
Snapping her mouth shut the moment she finished, Songmei sat back into her chair, staring down at her pasta with a heated stare—maybe if she stared hard enough, not only would they forget about the fact that her hand was not wet, the pasta would also start cooking on her plate.
Well... and hopefully they wouldn’t notice the ‘kinda a package’ comment. Songmei wanted to crawl into a hole, preferably while folding herself and becoming a coconut. That comment made her feel warm and fuzzy inside, but was it too early?
What if Mingqing got creeped out? She didn’t want to make Mingqing uncomfortable and all, that sounded like a good idea to not only have this whole crush thing not work out, but the friendship thing to also sink like a ruptured sea vessel.
Of course, Mingqing, Youhong, and Wang Taigang didn’t care a smidge about the water or the stammering—in particular, Mingqing thought it was cute.
On the other hand, they all noticed the ‘package’ to the utter mortification of Songmei (not that she knew), but they didn’t care too much. Mingqing felt a small giddy laugh escape under her breath, while Youhong and Wang Taigang resisted the urge to roll their eyes and say “No shit.”
Seeing Songmei pink and wanting to throw herself off the patio and into the river below, Mingqing grabbed her hand under the table, giving it a gentle squeeze before changing the topic. “So... it’s official, we’re a team! Well, it’s not official until we go register, but we can do that tomorrow if you two want? We should probably then also spend a day all together in the training halls, familiarizing ourselves with each other’s techniques.”
“Sure, sounds good,” Wang Taigang affirmed with a nod, picking his utensils up before freezing, “Wait, can we do it the day after instead? I’m busy tomorrow, I’m meeting up with my master who’s coming into town.”
“I’m also meeting with my master,” Youhong added, twirling a fork in his hand, “so I think the day after might be better?”
“Ah... Well it’s probably smarter to do it the day after then,” Mingqing agreed, “Is there like a master-disciple meeting day or something?”
Huh. That just felt like parent-teacher conferences from school... well maybe this would be considered a student-teacher conference...
Would Xueli do it?
Tapping her chin, Songmei couldn’t help but feel that if Xueli held one of those conferences it wouldn’t be much of a conference...
Maybe an hour or two spent talking about random stuff? Maybe Mingqing and her would get yelled at for watching that TV show without Xueli... It wasn’t their fault though, they couldn't watch it with Xueli if Xueli wasn’t in the city.
Yeah... that was a good enough reason to not get chewed out.
“How’s your master then?” Songmei asked Wang Taigang, putting her fork down and reaching for the small plate of bread in the middle of the table—as a side note, the bread was somehow also heavenly. It wasn’t the bread Songmei was used to, it was... so soft, and also flavorful.
Had the waiter brought it out before the rest of their food, everyone at their table probably—no, almost guaranteed really—would’ve gouged themselves with it, Songmei included...
It was just so good...
Getting dragged out of her food-induced stupor once more by Wang Taigang, Songmei nodded along as Wang Taigang explained, “My master is pretty nice. She’s a very elderly lady, old enough that like... I don’t know, probably saw the formation of modern society.”
Huh... That did give an idea of how Wang Taigang’s master was, but also, knowing Xueli, Songmei wouldn’t be surprised if she had also seen the formation of modern society...
She really did wonder how old Xueli was.
“Oh yeah, well, though my master is really old, wrinkles, gray hair and all,” Wang Taigang continued, “she’s also really tech-savvy. She loves buying the newest tech, so uhh... yeah, don’t be surprised if I show up to our meetup all decked out with some new gadgets.”
“Ah, okay, I mean it’d be funny to be honest,” Songmei shrugged, reaching over for another piece of bread, breaking it and offering half to Mingqing. “Our master is like... tech-incompetant, so maybe we should send our master to yours to do some learning...”