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He could feel their eyes on them the moment they walked into small, family restaurant. In all honesty, it wasn’t the type of restaurant Zi Feng was used to but Ya Nuo really liked their food so who was he to complain? The fine hair on the back of his neck standing up was the first sign that something was wrong and the tingle that went down his spine had Zi Feng glancing around. He caught sight of them immediately; a group of middle-aged women eyeing their clasped hands in distaste while leaning towards each other, speaking in low whispers.

Zi Feng had a pretty good idea what they were thinking. After all, despite the fact that Ya Nuo had already revealed her true gender to him—or rather, he had overheard her non-confession—she had still spent almost three decades of her life living as a guy. After getting over her initial excitement of “finally being a girl,” Ya Nuo seemed to revert back into business-casual suits and masculine strides.

And while Zi Feng didn’t mind, the group of women certainly did. Fake pearl necklaces and green jade bracelets jingled and clanked against each other as they shook their heads and clicked their tongues in disapproval. Ya Nuo—still oblivious to the attention they’re receiving—continued, chattering on about the restaurant, which was honestly more like a food stand with a dining area than an actual restaurant. “The beef noodle soup here is so good, Zi Feng,” she said excitedly. “You really have to try it.”

He rolled his eyes; Ya Nuo had said the exact same thing about the last five dishes she told him about. “Of course,” he agreed instead. “That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?”

Ya Nuo looked up at him through her lashes, eyes squinting just the slightest at the corners and lips curling. “That’s right,” she said softly and Zi Feng felt his heart clenched at the sight because he wanted her to look like this forever.

Happy.

As she took her seat, Zi Feng looked across their table at the group of gossiping woman whose tongues were still wagging and eyes still judging. He raised his eyebrows defiantly and pulled his chair around until it was right next to Ya Nuo and sat down. Normally, Zi Feng wouldn’t give a damn about anyone else’s opinion on his relationship with Pi Ya Nuo but she was happy. And they were judging. How dared they?

Ya Nuo startled and looked at him questioningly, knowing that Zi Feng preferred sitting across from her—unless, of course, he needed someone to peel prawns for him—but he only smiled in response and tapped a finger against the single page menu. Her attention diverted, he reached out and covered her hands with his own; the pad of his thumb tracing lazy circles on the back of her palm. Zi Feng looked up again and was unsurprised to see that they had stopped talking. Instead, they were gaping openly with varying degrees of disgust.

Next to him, Zi Feng felt Ya Nuo tensing suddenly, noticing the group of tongue-wagging women for the first time. Her hands clenched underneath his own and her eyes darted around, as if mentally debating with herself on what to do. Zi Feng tightened his hold on her hands and squeezed, silently telling her that he didn’t mind.

And of course, Pi Ya Nuo didn’t really either. But she knew of his less than happy relationship with the media and their portrayal of him and his family; the last thing Ya Nuo wanted to do was to give those rags something to talk about. He could almost hear her thoughts: this would have never been an issue if only she had chose to dress up like a girl and—

Zi Feng squeezed her hand again.

Ya Nuo paused and looked up into his eyes, which were glittering with the slightest hint of mischief and smiled. That’s right, he could hear her thinking. They had been through so much together already. What’s another hurdle?

He watched as she lowered her lashes for a brief second before her gaze snapped back to his, a determined expression etched on her face. Ya Nuo tilted her head and leaned up, pressing her lips against his own. She brought her hands up and cupped his cheeks, pulling them together until they were practically molded against each other. It took him another second to respond and then they were kissing, nips and licks and tongues and all.

When they finally broke apart, Ya Nuo was breathing hard and Zi Feng could see the beginnings of a flush gracing her face. She blinked rapidly, as if trying to cool her head and get herself under control. Then she turned to face the women and flashed them an amused, cocky smirk Zi Feng didn’t know she was capable of.

They gasped audibly.

Later, as they were leaving, Zi Feng considered going up to the group and leave them with: “By the way, Pi Ya Nuo is a girl.” just to see the look on their faces before ultimately deciding against it. Ya Nuo was Ya Nuo and she was happy; in the end, that was all that mattered.