Assumed Suitor

In which Xiao Yan really should have realised that assumptions are usually wrong.


The professor was – there was no other word for it – staring at her.

Xiao Yan and Zi Wei had arrived slightly early for the first lecture of History of Chinese Arts, since the class was held in a slightly obscure building on campus that neither of them had set foot in before, and they thought it would take time navigating around unknown areas of campus. It turned out, the building and the room was easier to find than they expected and when they sat down, there was still a quarter of an hour before class started.

It was a small hall that would probably hold only about thirty in all, but then Xiao Yan knew it would be a small class. It was an elective, after all, and both she and Zi Wei had chosen it on a whim, when no other really interesting class fitted into their schedules.

The lecturer – Dr Fang Yan, as the course description on the university website had informed her when she read about it a couple of weeks before – arrived five minutes before class started and didn't seem too surprised to see there were only four seats filled in all. The class would most likely be taken by students in the last couple years of their degree, and by then not many would be bothered with showing up early to class. For such an elective that was deemed "for fun", or just to fulfill credit requirements, it would have been lucky that half of them would even show up on time.

He nodded once at the two men sitting in the front row before his eyes moved to the place where Xiao Yan and Zi Wei were sitting. Xiao Yan was about to nodd in greeting when the professor's eyes widened at the sight of her. He blinked rapidly for a moment and clearly did a double take, before realising what he was doing and looked awkwardly away. Xiao Yan couldn't help but feel heat creeping up her neck. She snuck a glance at the two men in front of her and breathed a small sigh of relief when they seemed engrossed in conversation and didn't notice the professor's odd reaction. She turned to Zi Wei beside her and saw that though her friend had the phone cradled to her ear, her slightly raised eyebrow indicated that she saw the odd reaction from the professor.

Xiao Yan glanced at the professor, but he was looking now at the computer at the front of the room, opening up presentation slides which now started to appear on the projector screen. It would have been normal, but his reaction earlier and the way he bent low over the computer made it seem that he was trying to avoid looking her direction.

By now, Xiao Yan was more or less used to the random odd looks that came her way every now and then around campus; it came with the territory, after all. But at the same time, the presence of Zi Wei, Yong Qi and Xiao Yan on campus was entirely normal, so no one was ever really shocked to run into any of them. Most of the professors, thankfully, never seemed to treat them any different, in any case. Also, surely the professor must have seen the class list before that morning, so it couldn't have been a surprise to have her in class; with so small a class, it would have been hard to miss her name. Either way, Xiao Yan couldn't push away the feeling it wasn't that he was shocked to find someone connected to the royal family in his class, as he clearly didn't react at Zi Wei's presence, but rather, he was shocked at Xiao Yan. She had no idea why she should trigger such a reaction and squirmed nervously in her seat, hoping that this wasn't an indication of the rest of the semester would go in this class.

"He's a guest lecturer from the University of Tokyo," Zi Wei whispered, making Xiao Yan turn to her. She didn't know when Zi Wei had opened her laptop, but she turned the screen towards Xiao Yan to show that she had opened up Professor Fang Yan's profile page on the university website. "He's only here for this year."

"But he's Chinese, though?"

"Yeah, but based in Tokyo."

Xiao Yan snuck a glance towards the front of the room and for a split moment, caught the professor's eyes looking her direction, before he turned away again.

By then, the lecture hall was filling up and Xiao Yan was momentarily distracted when one of their friends, Sai Ya, slid into the seat next to her.

"I didn't know you two were taking this class," she said.

"This was the only interesting-sounding class that fitted in our schedule," Xiao Yan answered.

"Though maybe Xiao Yan's regretting the choice a bit," Zi Wei said with a smirk, which earned her a glare from Xiao Yan.

"How come?"

"The professor," Zi Wei said.

"Why? He's gorgeous!" Sai Ya said.

Xiao Yan rolled her eyes. Trust Sai Ya to be the first to point out that there was an attractive male in the room.

"Don't you have a boyfriend? You know, some future brother-in-law of my friend here, named Er Tai?"

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I can't look. But seriously, isn't he?"

From the whispers around her, Xiao Yan knew that more than one girl in the class agreed with Sai Ya's assessment of the young professor, who, now that she really looked, couldn't be older than thirty. If he hadn't been weirding her out with his bizarre looks, Xiao Yan would have to admit that he was easy on the eyes as well.

"So why don't you like him?" Sai Ya asked.

"It's not that I don't like him, I don't even know him. It's just…he's been looking at me weird."

"Maybe he just likes what he sees," Sai Ya giggled.

"I'd believe that, if he didn't look at me like he's seeing a ghost," she whispered, just as the professor called the room to attention and prevented Sai Ya from replying.

Granted, he was a good lecturer. He managed to keep the attention of the students at 8am on a Monday morning by walking around the room, making jokes and drawing pop culture references that probably made him seemed cool. All in all, the only real complaint that Xiao Yan had about the entire class was that he either avoided looking at her entirely or simply stared directly at her for a few intense seconds before averting his eyes in a not-so-innocent way. She was surprised that no one except Zi Wei and Sai Ya beside her noticed.

"You know, I do have to admit it got a little creepy by the end of the class," Sai Ya said as they walked out of the room later.

"For you to say this means that I didn't imagine all that."

"Maybe you should just go ask him what his problem is," Sai Ya said.

"That would be an awkward conversation," Zi Wei said, chuckling.

"He can't spend the entire semester staring at me, can he?"

"Hey, don't tempt it, it might actually happen," was Sai Ya's reply before she left for her next class.


"So…someone other than my friend here finds you attractive, huh?" Er Tai asked her a few days later when they were having lunch with Yong Qi.

"What?"

Xiao Yan simply glared and tried to wave down Yong Qi's question. "Nothing. Er Tai, shut up."

Er Tai didn't seem fazed and just grinned even more widely. "Sai Ya tells me me that their History of Chinese Arts professor spent an entire lecture staring at Xiao Yan."

"Not the entire - "

"Hah! So you deny the 'entire lecture' part and not the staring part."

"Will you shut up?"

Er Tai simply gave her a wicked grin while Yong Qi looked on with fascination. "No, I think I need to get to the bottom of this."

"Did your girlfriend also tell you that she thought he was hot?"

"Hey, I'd be worried if she wasn't capable of appreciating other attractions, just as long as she doesn't act on them. But you're changing the subject."

"So what if I am?"

"Come on, Xiao Yan, cheer up. He might not like you at all. You might just remind him of his great aunt or something."

"What?" she shrieked.

"I'm just saying that, no offense or anything, unlike girls in cliched paranormal romance novels and fairy tales that people like to equate you to, you're rather ordinary and you don't exactly have guys falling at your feet…"

"Is any of that supposed to make me feel better or something?"

"…Then again, considering the claim on you, not many guys would want to try to compete."

Xiao Yan turned to Yong Qi with a frustrated groan. "Will you please say something already? When you're silent like this it's never a good thing."

Yong Qi laughed. "What do you want me to say? 'Oh good, some weird, creepy man who may or may not be old, considering you've told me nothing about this class and only now I understand why, is staring at you'?"

"Nah, if he was a creepy old man then it would be less interesting," Er Tai said, grinning. "What is interesting is that, he is young and not bad looking, according to Sai Ya at least. And you know Sai Ya is only attracted to men who are irresistibly handsome."

"Then why is she going out with you?" Yong Qi asked.

Xiao Yan laughed.

"Hey, I am irresistible, my friend, and on my own merit, unlike you. If we were lesser friends, I would have even gotten Xiao Yan here to go out with me if I wanted."

"Yeah, sure, dream on," Xiao Yan said.

"You would have fallen for my irresistible charms if I turned it your direction."

"But I wouldn't have fallen for your irresistible vocabulary," Xiao Yan shot back.

"No, seriously though," Er Tai said after they've stopped laughing, "what are you going to do about it?"

"Ignore it," Yong Qi said, shrugging.

"Not go to class," Xiao Yan said at the same time.

Er Tai gasped. "You? Ditch class? Scandalous!"

Xiao Yan resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "It's an elective, it has no exams, the only assessments are in handing in papers that all could be researched without actually going to lectures. It's not as if I can't pass without the lectures, and besides, there's always Zi Wei."

"Wouldn't it be easier to just drop it and take something else?" Yong Qi asked.

"The only other subject that fits with my schedule is Dystopian Literature. I don't think I want to spend an entire semester reading and analysing nuclear disasters, murder, rape, depression and suicide."

"Isn't that what literature is, in general?" Er Tai asked, amused. "I used to think it couldn't be considered great literature if it didn't contain at least one of those aspects."

"Most of the time, yes, but at least not exclusively. There are the odd comedies and Austen romances."

"Well, it's healthy to skip class every now and then. You'll tell me how that works out, won't you?"

"How what works out?"

"Not going to class and the staring professor."

"Why are you so interested?"

Er Tai grinned. "Maybe I'm just concerned for Yong Qi."

"I think that makes one of us," Yong Qi said, laughing.


"So Professor Fang asked me after class why you weren't in class today," Zi Wei told her a few weeks later.

"It's mid-term week, how many actually came to probably the only class that didn't have a mid-term exam?"

"That's the point," Zi Wei replied. "He looked pretty resigned to half the class not showing up and even made a joke about it being mid-term week and how he should have set a mid-term for this class to ensure people would actually show up. But then he held me back after class to ask why you haven't been coming for the last couple of weeks."

"And you told him what?"

"I just said that you've been busy with a project for another class."

"Did he believe it?"

"Probably not, and normally I don't think it would matter as long as you do all the assignments but to be honest I'm starting to think there's something funny about his attention to you."

Xiao Yan stared at her friend. "Only now do you start to think that? Why do you think I haven't been going to class? I really haven't been that busy with any other project, you know. Actually, I really planned to do use today's class time to study for my Interpreting mid-term but it was too early and it's Monday morning and I couldn't be bothered so I just went and wasted two hours on fanfic dot net."

"No, I just meant that yes, it was weird that he seemed to can't take his eyes off you when you are in class, but the fact that he actually approached me to ask about you just takes it to a whole new level. Actually he looked like he was going to start asking more but then he didn't."

"Now I'm starting to get paranoid that he might be stalking me."

Zi Wei laughed. "I think between the time you spend with me and the time you spend with Yong Qi, one of our security people would have noticed if anyone was stalking you."

"True. I guess this is when I am grateful for the security that surrounds you guys."

Xiao Yan had to admit that, Zi Wei did have a point in saying that all this was taking things to another level. Though they've always talked about the professor's bizarre attention to her in a half-joking, half-serious manner, silent unwanted attention was one thing, but to be subtly (or not-so-subtly) asking her friend about her when such enquiries were clearly out of place was definitely something else to consider. It couldn't just be because she hadn't been going to class. She knew for a fact that Sai Ya skipped as many of his classes as she did, for all her vocal proclamation that he was attractive, though her reason for ditching was entirely rebelliousness than anything else. There were plenty of people like Sai Ya who ditched class simply because they could, whether they could afford to or not (Sai Ya could, she seemed to pass with flying colours no matter how infrequently she went to class). How did Professor Fang know that Xiao Yan wasn't the same? Most her other classes were a lot bigger and the professors wouldn't care or could even keep track of whether you went to lectures or not so it wasn't as if he could ask other professors of her attendance record to their classes (and the idea that he might do that was really creepy).

It had gone beyond the possibility that he might just fancy her. The very idea of that was already weird in the first place, not because he was either too old or because he was a professor, but simply because she wasn't even used to that kind of attention. Her relationship status was more public than it could ever be even if she advertised it on Facebook. If decent guys did take a fancy to her, they probably gave up on the idea of expressing it the moment they knew her name or recognised her face. She had met not-so-decent guys and received unwelcome propositions, of course, but never quite this odd, intense scrutiny followed by investigation like this.

"You do have to come to class next week anyway, to get your paper back. You could hand it in online but he specifically said that he would only hand back the essay in person," Zi Wei said, breaking her out of her thoughts.

"It's one class, and what's the worst that can happen, right?"

"Do you know that Er Tai and Sai Ya have a bet going about whether he'd ask you out?"

"What? You can't be serious."

"It's true."

"Now I'm not sure whether I should be offended or not. It just seem like Er Tai was more serious than joking when he said he was worried for Yong Qi, which just shows what he thinks of me."

"You know Er Tai, he's just being a good friend and sometimes I think Er Kang's job rubs off on him so he thinks he needs to protect Yong Qi when Er Kang isn't there, though if it makes you feel better, Er Tai is convinced that he would ask you out but you wouldn't say yes."

"Let's hope he's convinced of that!" Xiao Yan retorted. "Though why he should care so much is beyond me, Yong Qi is not worried, actually I think he thinks it all kind of funny that I would resort to skipping classes because of this."

"I think Yong Qi would be a lot more bothered, just on principle more than for lack of trust in you, if he was actually witnessing this," Zi Wei said, chuckling. "And it's not as if Er Tai trusts you less, but you know how Sai Ya is prone to exaggeration."

"I wasn't aware that Sai Ya was going to class either."

"She wasn't, but she did go to that first one. As laid back as Er Tai could be about some things, there are other things that don't take much to get him wound up."

"It's incredible how what seemed like such a simple decision at the time could end up causing so much drama in your life," Xiao Yan sighed. "I can't wait for this semester to be over and get out of that class."


The dreaded class was not as bad as she anticipated on the whole. Her essay had received a decent enough grade, considering she worked it off Zi Wei's notes. The professor seemed to pay her not much more attention than anyone throughout the whole class. If it wasn't for the fact that he had specifically asked Zi Wei after her the week before, Xiao Yan would have been almost convinced that she had imagined the odd attention of the first couple of weeks.

And then came the end of the class.

"Miss Xia Xiao Yan, would you stay for a moment, please?"

She held back a sigh and silently hoped that he only wished to discuss her essay. She could feel both Sai Ya and Zi Wei pause in their progress of packing up their things and glance at her. She turned to give them a "I'll be fine" sort of smile and watched them leave the room.

Xiao Yan approached the desk at the front of the room where the professor was sitting but he seemed determined to wait until everyone was out of the room before speaking. He only shook his head slightly when she asked whether he wanted to speak to her about her essay.

Finally, when the door closed behind the last person, he spoke.

"I know this is going to sound really weird and insane, but will you have dinner with me today?"

Xiao Yan stared at him for what must have been a full ten second. She wasn't sure why it was so startling to hear these words. After all, hadn't she and her friends half-joked, half-expected something like this? Then again, she didn't quite think such an invitation would come so suddenly without any preliminaries like this.

Finally, she managed to stammer, "Er…you know I'm engaged, right?" She held up her left hand to demonstrate the point.

It was now his turn to look shocked. "You are?"

Xiao Yan blinked. "Clearly you don't read the tabloids," she muttered, more to herself than to him.

Then again, he did live in Japan. Xiao Yan was sure she didn't know the name of the Japanese crown prince's wife.

"Why? Why would your engagement be in the tabloids?" He was looking alarmed and genuinely confused.

"Never mind. If you don't know, it's none of your business."

It was probably slightly rude, but if he didn't know, she was sure she didn't want to be the one to tell him exactly who she was engaged to. If he didn't know, then he didn't need to know.

He looked at her for a moment, before nodding. "Ok. So will you have dinner with me?"

She raised an astonished eyebrow. "I just said I'm not single."

"What does that have to do – "

"What does that have to do with going out with you? Are you kidding?"

He looked at her for a moment, then promptly burst out laughing. She didn't know what else to do but purse her lips in annoyance. What exactly did he find so amusing about this situation?

"You think I'm asking you out on a date?"

"Are you saying that you're not?" she asked in annoyance.

"No!" he said, still laughing.

She suddenly felt defensive. "I'm sorry if I read all the normal social cues in your behaviour – "

"No, no, it's not that at all. Look." He took out his wallet and showed her an aged photo, leading her to the first row of seats to sit down. "This is my mother when she was young."

Xiao Yan took the photo and found herself looking at someone who looked…almost exactly like herself. The shape of the face was slightly different, but the person in the photo had the same eyes and nose as herself. Her heart seemed to skip a beat as she looked at the photo. Sure, in this country of a billion people, there were people that looked like each other, but this resemblance was uncanny.

"What does this mean?" she asked, looking up at him. She didn't want to come to any conclusion herself regarding this photo, not when she wasn't sure she could take the emotions that might come with such conclusion.

"I have a younger sister, the same age as you. She was kidnapped when she was barely a year old and my family never managed to find her."

Xiao Yan bit down on her lower lip to stop emotions from overtaking her and struggled to beat down the wild hope that was threatening to rise in her heart. She wasn't quite ready to believe all that he seemed to imply just yet.

"And…?"

"I have to admit, I did a search of your information on the university database and you didn't have your parents listed. Usually they are listed even if deceased."

She looked up at him and found that he had a sort of desperate look on his face, as if he was as unwilling as she to speak out loud the inevitable conclusion from all this, for fear that it might not be true.

"Why aren't your parents' information listed in your file?" he asked when she didn't say anything.

"I never knew who my parents are," she said slowly. "I grew up in an orphanage."

"So…"

"You can't know that I am – "

"What I know, is that you look too much like my mother for it to be a coincident."

Her mind and heart felt overloaded and she hardly dared to look at him. But for all that she had avoided him these few weeks, his face now seemed etched in her mind, and she couldn't help but start to recognise certain familiar features, but was that all her imagination, wishing things into being? Could it be true, that they might somehow, miraculously, be related? Could he really be what he was suggesting: her brother? And was it possible that she had simply been lost to her family and not abandonned at like she had always believed? She wasn't sure she could believe it. How could you suddenly in a moment sweep away the belief that you've held all your life? That belief had allowed her to depend on herself her whole life, and she wasn't sure how she could take the possibility of the opposite.

"What if it is a coincident?"

"That's why I wanted to ask you to have dinner with me, so we could maybe talk and find out whether it could be a coincident or not."

The idea that he had been staring at her all this time and asked her out because he fancied her seemed now absurd and silly. But the idea that he wanted to ask her to have dinner with him because of this was even more insane. It made her almost paralysed with fear. She wasn't sure whether she wanted something like this to be true. Perhaps that was a stupid thought, for how could she not want to know whether she had a family? But someohow, at the same time, the very idea of a family that she never knew that made her terrified. Then there was the letting in the possibility and then finding out it wasn't true after all. She didn't think she could deal with that.

Before either of them could say anything else, her phone rang. She pulled it out and saw that it was Zi Wei. She was probably in here for too long and Zi Wei was worried. She shot an apologetic look at Fang Yan, but decided to answer the call. The world seemed to have been pulled out from under her feet and she needed to hear something reassuring at that moment, and nothing was more reassuring than Zi Wei's voice, even if she was asking:

"Are you all right?"

"Yes," she said in a shaky voice that betrayed the opposite. For a moment, she could practically hear Zi Wei's disbelief. "Actually, no. Can you come in here please?"

She didn't think to wonder whether Fang Yan cared for Zi Wei being there right then, but she needed Zi Wei's comforting presence. She wasn't sure anything in her head made sense at that moment, and only Zi Wei could help sort it out for her.

"Sorry, I should have asked whether you have anything after this." Fang Yan said.

"No, I don't have anything. I just need – " she trailed off as the door opened and Zi Wei walked in.

"What's going on?" she asked as she approached them and sat down beside Xiao Yan.

Xiao Yan looked hopelessly at Fang Yan and he seemed to understand, as he proceeded to tell Zi Wei what they've suspected so far.

"So let me get this straight," Zi Wei said when he'd finished, "from the beginning of the semester, all those stares and odd looks and attention was all because you thought you might be her brother?"

Fang Yan nodded and Zi Wei looked like she was holding back a smile.

"It's not funny," Xiao Yan said, though she could see how it kind of was. If things weren't so horribly confusing right now, she'd see the humour as well. Thankfully, Zi Wei didn't contradict her.

"You know there's a relatively straight forward way to figure out whether you're related or not, right?" Zi Wei asked.

"What's that?" Xiao Yan asked faintly.

"Xiao Yan, you were there. Huang Ah Ma didn't exactly just take it all on faith that I was his daughter, you know."

"Oh, that."

"Yes, that." Then, apparently for Fang Yan's benefit as he was looking between them in confusion, she elaborated, "DNA test."

"I – well, I guess it could come to that eventually, just to make sure, but for now, I'm just saying that we should just…for lack of better word, get to know each other first."

Xiao Yan could see the merit in that suggestion. Now that the possibility had sunk in a bit, she suddenly realised if he had suspected a connection between them from the first time she had attended his class, and then she proceeded to avoid his class for weeks, then it meant that he had to carry this suspicion around with him for weeks without being able to even discover more about it. She had unknowingly made the entire situation even more confusing and probably painful for him by avoiding him. For all that he endured, it was a wonder that he didn't seek her out more actively.

The last time she had experienced such mind-blowing misunderstanding was when the Emperor nearly mistook her for his own daughter. Could it be possible that it could happen a second time, and somehow this was all a grand misunderstanding after all? Or was the fact that she misread his intention was the misunderstanding in itself?

"All right," she said finally. "Clearly, we do need to sit down and talk properly. But does it have to wait till dinner?" She wasn't sure that she could wait until that evening to have some more concrete understanding. She would be undone for the entire day as it was. Somehow, he seemed unnervingly calm considering all things and that intimidated her even more. But then again, perhaps he'd had the practice after all these weeks.

"Yes, unfortunately," he said. "I have another class in half an hour and then classes and meetings for the rest of the day." Then, he smiled. "And unlike you, I don't have the luxury of skipping any of it."

She tried to look regretful, but couldn't manage to.

"I wouldn't have this talk in a public place though," Zi Wei said.

"No, I think that would spell disaster," Xiao Yan agreed. "I guess you could come to ours because I don't think I take any of it in an unfamiliar place."

"Where exactly do you live?" he asked.

Xiao Yan and Zi Wei exchanged looks. She had gathered that he was quite in the dark regarding her relationships and probably would only be familiar with her friendship with Zi Wei. She wondered whether she should really let him in so deep, though if he was in any way related to her, he would eventually know anyway. Then again, it wasn't as if anything she was about to reveal now was a national secret. If he wanted to find out, it was easy enough anyway.

"You could dig out lack of information about my parents but couldn't find my address?" Xiao Yan asked dryly.

"There are things on the student database that is restricted."

"I suppose you won't be able to just walk up and ring to doorbell," Xiao Yan said slowly.

"Why not?"

"Because I live with her," she said, nodding towards Zi Wei.

"As in, in the palace?"he asked, astonished. "I mean, I knew you two were friends, but I didn't think you actually would, or could, for that matter, live together."

They let that commend slide and didn't explain, because he would understand soon enough. Arrangements were simply made for them to meet at the end of the day and he would go home with them.

Zi Wei, on the other hand, apparently felt that Xiao Yan wasn't giving enough information because she felt the need to drop this comment:

"I guess we can expect Yong Qi to be over tonight too? He might as well know, right?"

Xiao Yan gave her friend a sidelong glare. This wasn't exactly how she planned to drop this information.

"Your brother Yong Qi?" Fang Yan asked before Xiao Yan could say anything. Well, at least he wasn't totally clueless as to who was being talked about.

"Yes."

"Why would he be there tonight?"

Xiao Yan sighed. "Because that's who I'm engaged to."

Of all the probably shocking things that Fang Yan had just learnt about her, somehow, he seemed flabbergasted by this news. In fact, he gaped at her for a moment, looking even uncomfortable about the idea.

"You are engaged to the Fifth Prince?"

"Yes," she said.

"Seriously?"

"Yes."

"This is going to be interesting," he murmured, more to himself than to her.

"How so?"

"Did I say that out loud?"

"Yes."

"Well…if you must know, and I suppose you should, our family is very…anti-monarchy. Actually, we moved away from China because of that."

Xiao Yan stared blankly at him for a moment. Then, "To Japan?"

"Yes," he answed, apparently not seeing her point.

"Where it's also another constitutional monarchy with another emperor."

"It's…complicated," Fang Yan said, glancing at Zi Wei. "Can we talk about this later?"

Xiao Yan considered the strangeness of his sudden wariness, since he hasn't before this seemed uncomfortable around Zi Wei before. Whatever political issues he had with the monarchy, she at least hoped that he wouldn't come to have personal problems with Zi Wei and Yong Qi. It occurred to her that he hadn't yet expressed any pleasure, either for her or otherwise, at the news of her engagement. But then again, with how confusing their entire acquaintance had been, she supposed she could give him the benefits of the doubt. Perhaps it would be good for him to meet Yong Qi so soon, so that he could be used to the very real idea of Yong Qi's presence in her life.

"All right," she said finally.

Whatever his issues, this was hardly the time to get too worked up about them. They barely knew each other (which, she supposed, was partly her fault). She should just get that first date, for lack of better word, over first and determine whether they really could be related before moving on to other endlessly more complicated issues.


A/N: It's been ages, I know. But I'm getting there. I was going to keep going with this, but then realised to write the meeting after this would take way too long, so I thought I would just update this much first.

You can tell how long it's been since I wrote this story by the fact that I called her Xiao Yan Zi a couple of times (including in the chapter summary) and posted it like that and then had to go back and edit it. I wonder whether anyone managed to catch that unedited version.