Today had been slow. Yao was a little bored, so he was entertaining himself with cleaning the tavern and reading a book, with a nice cup of tea of course. Not a day went by without a cup of tea or five.
Ning-Wei looked at his owner, relaxing in his favorite spot behind the counter on a soft rug. He always made sure to stay hidden, not all customers were too happy to see a big panda when they came in, tired and hungry from their trips and adventures.
The man sighed and stretched, cracking his back a little. Today had really been the slowest day in his thieving career..... Nobody with anything valuable. Anywhere...
Today had been a good day. She'd sold several arrangements, created several more, delivered to one, made another contact on the way there, and now was on her way to visit Yao, a vase of peonies tucked against her side. It held both plain pink and white, and more of the striped flowers he liked so much, as well as a few sprigs of bamboo, for color contrast, and some lacy, leafy ferns for fullness.
And as she couldn't forget Ning-Wei, a bundle of bamboo was in her bag, the leaves just barely poking out of the top. She didn't care that she was likely very much out of place here. She never really cared. Instead, she focused on the tavern, and on getting there so she could give Yao his flowers, and maybe visit with him for a while, if he wasn't too entirely busy. And if he was, she could always play with Ning-Wei.
Gently, she pushed the door open, and entered, looking around to see if she could spot Yao. When she did, she smiled brightly and waved with her free hand. "Yao-gege!"
The man looked up when he heard someone call his name. Gege? Really? As far as he knew he had no younger siblings... But when he saw who had called for him he smiled a little, putting his book away and looking at Mei.
"Hello, Mei. What brings you to a crappy tavern like mine?" he asked, yawning slightly and finishing his tea before getting up from his chair, trying to look more awake and proper. Slouching wasn't good for him, he knew that... It was really nice to see Mei, she was like that tiny ray of sun that lit up a boring day.
Mei all but bounced in place, watching Yao put his book down and stand. "Your tavern isn't any such thing..." She protested, then smiled. "I brought you something!" She stated cheerfully, holding the peonies out for him. "See? And don't let Ning-Wei eat that bamboo... it's for the arrangement." She giggled, and patted her bag. "I've got some here for him instead."
Had he been slouching in that chair? It wasn't good to slouch... it would cause all sorts of back complaints later on in life. Silly Yao. "You aren't too busy, are you?" Well, it certainly didn't look busy... but if he'd had plans to enjoy his book and the silence, she didn't want to keep him from those.
He had indeed been slouching. Luckily he rarely slouched, but it was uncomfortable nonetheless. When Yao saw the peonies his face lit up even more, and he came over, looking at them and her. She was as pretty in here as she was in her own shop. It was just fine, his tavern needed something nice anyway... Maybe he should paint a picture or two and hang them up on the walls...
"No, it's been a slow day. You can stay for as long as you wish." he said with a bright smile, happy to have some nice company. Ning-Wei had been napping behind the counter, but when he noticed new voices and the sound of feet walking around, he woke up and peered around to check. When he saw Mei, he got excited and came over, nuzzling her leg and giving the dorkiest grin a panda could possibly manage.
Mei giggled and pressed the vase into his hands. "For you, Yao." A sudden thought struck her, and she tilted her head, suddenly a little unsure. "... Do you like it?" She hadn't ever tried using bamboo in a floral arrangement... Sure, she'd had it in with plenty of greenery, but this was something entirely new. And now that she was here, and giving it to him, she wondered whether she should have just stayed with more tried-and-true arrangement techniques.
Hearing that she could stay as long as she wished set her a little more at ease, though most of her energies were till dedicated to fretting about the bamboo in the arrangement. It was odd... It seemed that she was testing a lot of new ideas in arrangements for him. Maybe she should ask if he minded...?
But all those thoughts were pushed to the back of her mind when Ning-Wei nuzzled her. She giggled and wrapped her arms as far around the panda as she could reach to hug him. "And how are you, Ning-Wei?" She cooed, kissing his nose. She'd give him the bamboo momentarily.
"I love them, Mei." He smiled, obviously enjoying the sight and scent of the flowers. He set them down on the counter for now and watched Ning-Wei snuggle and nuzzle their friend. "I am surprised he hasn't abandoned me for you yet." Yao joked, chuckling lightly.
The panda let out a light roaring noise, being his cute self as always, staying close to the girl. If Yao had a camera he'd be taking pictures... It was too precious to watch them together. "How is your shop going?" He asked, pouring a cup of tea for Mei and holding it out for her. "It's strawberry tea." he smiled.
"Oh... I'm glad!" Mei chirped, set completely at ease by his admission. When she heard his next statement, she peered up at him, her eyes wide, then giggled. "He'd never leave you, Yao... he loves you too much." Even so, she continued to snuggle the panda. She certainly loved Ning-Wei... he was her favorite animal she'd ever met. (And his spot would only be taken by a tiger... they were her favorites. But Ning-Wei would always be the favorite panda.) She pulled the bamboo shoots from her bag and offered them to Ning-Wei.
"Oh, my shop? Business is going well, thank you... I've gotten several repeat orders." She stood and brushed off her skirt - though why she was bothering, really, she wasn't sure... there were so many different dirt and grass stains on it that a little panda hair wouldn't really make that much of a difference. "Thank you..." Carefully, she reached out for the tea and sipped it gingerly. "Mmm~ It's delicious..."
He noticed her dirty skirt but said nothing. A smile appeared on his face when she complimented the tea. It was indeed delicious and he made sure to drink lots every day. "That's good to hear." he said, sounding happy.
Ning-Wei greedily munched on the bamboo, sitting on his butt while holding the bamboo with his paws. It was so delicious... Mei was the best friend he had next to Yao, and this bamboo really put her high on his list. "Don't choke on it now, Wei-Wei." Yao said to the panda, smiling and rubbing his ears softly. He looked at Mei again. "I hope I'm not being too forward, but... It's dinnertime soon and I wouldn't mind your company. If it's alright with you, of course."
Mei smiled, just sipping her tea. It was nice to visit him here... she ought to do it more often, as long as he truly didn't mind her company. And how could he? He sought out her shop often enough for peonies... she'd taken to making sure she had extra in stock for him to be safe.
Listening to him admonish Ning-Wei for eating so quickly, she fought back a giggle. It really was cute, to watch the two of them interact. His next statement to her, though, caught her slightly off guard. Dinnertime... was soon, wasn't it. Odd how her afternoon had disappeared on her while she made her deliveries. Odd, but unexpected. "Oh..." Had she plans this evening? No, none that she could recall. And certainly none involving dinner. Had she even planned what she'd have for dinner? No... well... then... "As long as I'm not intruding... I'd love to join you for dinner."