Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Thirteen: Level:

Thirteen years ago, Wang Yao had business meetings with a powerful man on his level with two advisors at that man's side. Today, he is dealing with a child. Not just a child, mind you. A child with two chaperones. It felt rather embarrassing to meet under these conditions. But, the advisors were confident with her in control.

"Better to have the clan's future in the hands of a child than a crook," they assured him. Ju, Fei, and Hen-to eyed him on the other side of the desk. Good time to study this new clan leader. The girl tapped her fingers to her chin. She looked so little in front of him. If he didn't know any better, he would've assumed that she was at least twelve or thirteen years old.

"So," she said. "What can I do for you today?" Her tone attempts to command some sort of authority towards him. Trying to prove to him in a sense that she can do this without anyone to hold her hand. She too takes this opportunity to study her business partner as much. Yao laced his fingers together.

"I came here to re-supply my order," he said. A man that's not really been taken seriously in his life. He wants to be, though. Maybe she could appeal to his desire to be treated like an authority figure.

"What exactly do you need?" Ju asked. No fancy art on her nails. They looked rather short too. Not really much into high-maintenance with her looks. Yao reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a folded up list.

"Everything right there," he said as he unfolded the paper and handed it over to the girl. Ju opened it up and read over the items. He had nice hand-writing. Very elegant and disciplined. Reminded her of her late father. Only, his writing was much colder. Yao has little traces of glee in them. Why, that was on her "things to figure out about this gentleman" list.

"Let's see here," Ju said. "Wine, eight bottles of. Silk, twelve rolls of. Spices, four kilograms. Silk roses, two dozen of. Bamboo, six kilograms of." Yao couldn't focus on what she was reading. He frowned at the way she wore her hair.

Pigtails?, he thought. You kidding me? The cute little charms that held them place didn't do much for him either. Pigtails held in place with light blue bear bows looked cute on a six-year-old, not on someone being a powerful clan leader. Unless she was secretly working as a hooker that appealed to the creepy Lolita fetishists. Otherwise, too distracting to be taken seriously in a business backdrop. She looked up at him.

"When exactly do you want this?" Ju asked.

"By next week tops," the older man replied. His appearance alone gave the girl something to chew over. At first glance, Yao looked like a woman. Yet, he was hundred percent man. Mind you, he did look rather attractive in a way that was far beyond her mind to grasp. Ju quickly pushed that out of her head. Wang-qianbei is too old for me, she thought. I'm still in high school and besides, we are just business partners. Having an intimate relationship would be bad for us both. She decided to keep things between them as professional as possible.

"Pardon me," she said. "But may I ask what the nature of these items are for?" Yao resisted the urge to talk down to her like a little kid. She may be younger than him, but she was in a higher position too. To say anything rude to her would be, as his Western comrades would say, cutting off his nose to spite his face. Or biting the hand that fed him. Either way, he had to be proper to this child leader. He graciously bowed his head.

"It's for my brother's welcome home party," Yao said.

"Your brother's welcome home party?" Ju asked.

"That's right," he replied. "He's been in the hospital for a month now. He got out three days and I figured that I would do something for him."

"That's nice of you," she said. Maybe he might be a good guy after all. Thoughtful of his siblings and family. Yet, she wasn't done trying to figure out Wang Yao. She only still had tiny pieces of a whole picture with him. She smiled and stamped the list with her father's blood red stamp.

"We will have it ready for you by next week," Ju said with a smile.

"And the price will be the same as it always has been?" Yao asked.

"Of course," she said. Ju handed the list to Hen-to.

"Please take care of this," she said.

"Yes mistress," the older man replied as he bowed his head. Ju turned back to her client. Yao gave her a little smile.

"I hope we will have a long and beneficial partnership," he said. Ju gracefully bowed her head at him.

"So do I," she replied. They bowed once more before Yao departed for the morning. Decent morning meeting for them both. That's only day two of observations. They have to cross paths more often to get a clear understanding of each other.

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