"You're never intruding." He said, a small smile on his lips as he straightened a little. "I hope you like duck with rice and steamed vegetables." he said. He'd wanted that dish for a few days now and had finally bought the necessary stuff for it. He would surely enjoy this meal and Mei as company didn't exactly hurt.
"Just make yourself comfortable and I will be quick." Yao then disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the dinner, but first gave her another cup of tea and a snack bar, giving Ning-Wei a little look telling him too watch Mei in the meantime. He liked Mei but he didn't want her wandering off to the back and find the secret door to..... down there.
She didn't know about 'never,' but it was a nice sentiment. After he'd described the meal, she smiled and nodded. "That sounds delicious, Yao." Better than whatever she would have picked up on the walk back to the shop, for sure. Especially as she still didn't know what she would have gotten. "Are you sure there's nothing I can do to help?"
But as it didn't seem like he'd let her assist him, she took the tea and the small snack with a smile. "Ning-Wei and I will keep each other company, then." She settled on one of the bar stools... though that didn't last long. She was too curious about the tavern itself. So once she'd finished eating, she stood again, leaving the teacup on the counter as she began to wander the front of the tavern aimlessly, looking at anything and everything.
As she explored, touching random things here and there, tracing her fingers along the wall and then abruptly taking a turn to go look at something interesting on one of the bar tables, Mei kept up a running commentary to Ning-Wei. Whether he could talk back to her or not didn't matter to the girl - what mattered was that he was a willing ear to her chattering.And he couldn't laugh at her for anything, or tell anyone else what had been said.
"It's a nice place, he's got, don't you think? Of course... the location is a little teensy bit iffy, but it is the docks after all... and I'm sure that it helps business, rather than hinders it... shame I've never had a chance to come here before. Oh, these lamps are different... Hm... I wonder where he found them? One of these would do nicely instead of a candle at home for reading... like I really have time to read who am I fooling?" And so on.
Until, tracing her hand along a pattern in the wood, she came across part of the wall that moved. A faint frown crossed her lips as she gently placed her hand on the wall again. "Ning-Wei... what is this...?" She queried, even as she began to gently push the 'wall' harder. Did Yao know that his walls were acting strangely?
Ning-Wei nudged her, trying to pull her away from it. Yao had ordered him not to let anybody through here.... Mei shouldn't go through, she didn't need to find out this part about her new friend.
A few feet down below, after going through and down a set of stairs, Mei would find people. Mostly settled around tables, playing cards, drinking alcohol and just having a good time. Some would be taking care of all the stolen goods, cleaning them and such.
Mei stared at the opening the moving wall had made. There were stairs here. Why were there stairs behind a wall? Hesitantly, she stepped onto the top stair, and paused. Ning-Wei's nudging only encouraged her... "What is this, Ning-Wei...?" She whispered, looking up at the panda. She'd gone down another few steps by now, and could hear voices.
As soon as she saw the people, however, she froze, watching wide-eyed for a moment. What was this? She... she wasn't sure she wanted to know. And so she turned to creep as quietly and quickly back up the stairs as she'd come down them, intending to completely forget she'd ever seen it. Even if that necklace looked pretty-nonono. She wasn't going to think about it any more. She'd go up and find Yao and pester him about recipes or something... and forget this. That is... as long as none of the others noticed her.
Yao came out with two bowls of food now. He saw Mei. "Is everything alright?" he asked, noticing she seemed a little out of it. Ning-Wei looked like he wanted to say something but unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for Mei, he couldn't speak human tongue.
"Let's eat." Yao said with a smile, sitting down and giving her her bowl.
Mei shut the wall-door-thing behind her again, and moved back to where she'd been sitting before, looking at Ning-Wei. Her eyes were wide - and widened further still as she heard Yao's footsteps. But by the time he entered the room, she'd settled herself on the stool again and gulped down the remainder of the tea - doing so helped settle her a little bit.
"Is everything alright?"
"Oh, yes. Of course! I just looked around your lovely building... I hope that's okay..." She spoke, attempting a smile. He couldn't know that she'd seen his moving walldoor, right? And seen what was behind it... that necklace... no. No no no.
"It smells delicious." She took the bowl gingerly, and began to eat.
She was such a sweet girl. Yao smiled for himself. He wouldn't steal from Mei, she was too sweet and friendly for that. Besides, she was already letting him have those gorgeous flowers, there was nothing else he wanted from her than that anyway.
He cast a glance over at the wall, then at Ning-Wei. The silly panda was napping by his feet. Lazy thing... Yao smiled again and shook his head, eating his food. He had business to attend to after the meal. Even if he'd love to let Mei stay longer, he was sure she had more fun things to do than sit around with him, and he had things he had to take care of.
After they were done eating, he looked at her. "I'm sorry to cut this off, Mei, but I have business to attend to. And I'm sure you'd rather be out in the nice weather than sit around in an old, dusty tavern anyway." he said with a chuckle before getting up and putting away their empty bowls.
Mei looked up as Yao announced that he'd things to attend to. Unwittingly, her gaze darted to the walldoor, then quickly back to him. "Don't be silly, Yao... I didn't see a speck of dust while I was looking around~" She chirped. Had he seen her look? She hadn't meant to - but he'd looked during dinner - she knew he had! Did he know? If he knew... was he going to be angry with her? If he hadn't known before... did he know now? She... she hoped not. She'd miss Ning-Wei terribly much if Yao didn't let the panda visit... if she wasn't allowed back to the tavern... if he never wanted another thing to do with her.
Hesitantly, she stood, brushing off her skirt. "But I'll go so that you can attend to your business... Thank you for dinner. It was delicious."