Mei was up with the sun, as usual. She was dressed, as usual, in a long white skirt and a pink top, and was out in her garden barefoot before an hour had passed. Breakfast was a pair of plums picked from her favorite tree, as she weeded and pruned and watered her personal plants. Not long after, she was in her greenhouse, tending to those plants there, and cutting the ones she would take to add to her stock at the shop.
Soon, she was riding the airbus to the trade district, two baskets and an armful of flowers in her possession. As soon as the bus landed, she stepped off and wound her way through the people on the streets, careful not to let anyone touch the fragile blooms. When she reached her shop, she unlocked it and propped the door open - as usual, when it wasn't raining or cold enough that the air would damage the flowers.
She gently placed each flower into the buckets at the back of the shop, ones with single and double blooms on the stems - those, she could either use for arrangements, or for single-blossom purchases. And then the routine for the morning at the shop commenced; watering the potted plants, checking the levels in the vases, and pruning the plants that needed it. All the while, she was humming softly, singing random nonsense words that she'd never remember later. (And as soon as she noted company, she'd stop. She never sang in front of others if she could help it.)
An hour later, and she was done, and had settled behind her work bench to fiddle with a small bonsai tree. These required more attention than the usual pruning, so she left them last on the days she tended to them.
Last Edit: Sept 19, 2011 20:13:25 GMT -5 by xiaomei
A few minutes after that, a creature made his way into the shop. He let out a soft growl, knowing exactly where to go. He'd been here before for his owner.
Ning-Wei made his way over to the counter, looking at the girl who was working here. He was carrying a basket, and holding a small pouch with gold with his fangs. "Rrrrr......." He grumbled slightly, nudging her side. This was normal. He would give her the pouch, the girl would find the flowers and pack them for him, and he'd be on his way back to the guild again with his owner's order.
Nobody knew that Yao loved flowers. At least not his guild. He kept the flowers in his bedroom, and nobody was allowed in there, except Ning-Wei. And his current flowers were withering, so he needed new ones.
Always white and pink peonies. Every time. They were his favorites.
Mei looked up as the light dimmed slightly in the doorway, immediately silent. Upon seeing her favorite (and only) panda customer, she smiled and sat her pruning shears down. "Hello, Ning-wei." She slid off the stool and hugged the panda's head lightly, since she could still reach it, and took the small pouch. "Wait just a second. I have something for you, and then I'll get the flowers for your owner." Her voice was light, happy. She hadn't seen the panda in at least a week, and had honestly been concerned that he wasn't going to come back - a concern she felt every time.
She slipped to the back and came back with a small pot of bamboo, the shoots still green and tender. Several more of these were growing under her careful supervision - she'd asked around, and made certain that bamboo was what pandas liked best. After all, he was a customer, sort of, and she took care of her customers. "Here. This is all yours." She sat it on the floor near him, and hugged him again, burying her hands in his fur. "I hope you like it." No, it wasn't weird to her to speak to him like he would understand. It was just... right.
Rather than go for the flowers immediately, she settled on her stool to watch him eat. She wanted to see if he liked it. Besides that, he was friendly, and careful in here among all her flowers - something she couldn't say every human was.
The best about these trips was definitely the cuddles and bamboo treats. Ning-Wei loved being cuddled, so he was more than happy to snuggle Mei back, and the bamboo always tasted delicious and fresh. He got a hold of it and sat down on his bum, munching on it.
He was in heaven.... Wow... Of course Yao fed him bamboo and all kinds of goodness he could imagine, but Mei was so cute and such a nice girl! If Ning-Wei had been a human, he'd definitely fall in love with her and want her to himself. The panda hoped he could do this forever, she was so sweet to him. His favorite human next to Yao.
Maybe if he got them to marry, he could do this every day. That would've been amazing. "Rrrrrrr!" he whined in happiness, leaning forward and resting his head in her lap while eating slowly, savouring the taste.
Mei giggled, watching him. Ning-Wei was always so cute when he came. She did wonder why she never saw him out in town, but wrote it off as her being tied to the shop unless she was on her way here or home - or at home. Sometimes she shopped on the way back to the bus, but most of the time, she just went directly back and forth. She had no reason to linger, or browse through the stands. Almost every extra coin she made, she put back into flowers, buying supplies for them or new seeds to try to grow new plants.
When he rested his head in her lap, she gasped and giggled again, and immediately started to pet him. He was so soft. And he was never grumpy, which some of her customers had warned her about. After all, he was a wild animal, and they were unpredictable, right? She'd never had any trouble with him, though, and doubted she ever would. If only she could keep him. She'd give him cuddles and bamboo every day. Every second of every day that he wanted them. But that wouldn't happen. He already had an owner, after all.
And he had to return to said owner soon. But first he needed to finish this last piece of bamboo. Yao never minded that Ning-Wei stayed for a bit, and he'd figured out that it was because Mei was being such a kind girl to him. It only made Yao happy that people treated his best friend well.
Alright, time to return with the flowers. "Rrrr...." he didn't want to leave, but he couldn't linger for too long, he had a job to do. So he lifted his head gently and looked at her after finishing his treat. She probably knew what was waiting now. He shifted and showed her the basket. Time to go back with pretty peonies~
Mei was glad that nothing bad had ever come from Ning-Wei lingering. She'd hate for the panda to get into trouble, after all - then he couldn't come back. She continued to pet his head until he lifted it, grumbling. A soft giggle left her before she could school it back. "I know, I know. I wish you could stay longer, Ning-Wei." But she slid off the stool and headed for the back, returning a few moments later with an armful of her best peonies. Not just the usual pink and white, this time, either. There were a few blossoms that she'd worked on hybridizing; ones with pink candy stripes on paler pink, almost white.
"I hope he likes these..." She showed the panda the new blooms. "These are free, too... He'll actually be the first to see them besides you and me." A light, almost nervous laugh escaped her. "Of course, if he doesn't... well... I don't have to give them to him next time." She really hoped he did, though. After all, it wasn't often she found someone with her shared love of peony flowers.
Ning-Wei saw the flowers. They were indeed pretty, so he believed Yao would like them. Mei didn't know this, but she was the only florist in Granor that Yao trusted would give just the best quality flowers. They'd never met before in person. Ning-Wei had just started showing up. The first time he brought a note and the pouch with money and the basket. The note simply said: 'I would love to buy some pink and white peonies from you. The panda's name is Ning-Wei. Don't worry about him, he's harmless, and the flowers can be put in the basket. The gold is in the pouch around his neck. He won't hurt you at all. Yao.'
He'd also sent her a couple of thank-you letters, thanking her for the flowers and also letting her know he'd recommended her to more people, wanting her to be more known for her store.
The panda sniffed the flowers a little and nuzzled her again before it was time to be on his way.
Mei carefully packed the flowers into the basket, settling them into a vase with enough water to keep them fresh until Yao retrieved them and arranged them to his liking. As he'd never asked her to arrange them, she'd never done so... more than arranging them in the vase. It was habit to make certain that they were safe, and looked good when he received them.
"I... I hope he likes them. Um..." But she fell silent, tucking the flowers in the basket carefully. "Walk slowly, Ning-Wei. Carefully. You know how it works. Oh, but..." Motioning for him to stay for a second, she slipped around the back of her workbench and quickly penned a note. 'Yao, I hope the new peonies are to your liking. They're a gift, from one lover of flowers to another. Mei' This she rolled up, tied with a pink ribbon, and slipped into the basket alongside the peonies.
"Thank you, Ning-Wei." Another quick cuddle and a few more pats, and she stepped back. "I'll see you soon."
The next time, a couple of weeks later, Yao showed up instead. Ning-Wei had gotten sick, so he'd been and bought medicine for him at the vet's. After that, he went to the florist to get his flowers. He was dressed so nobody could really see, but he took down the hood after coming in. Nobody was there, at least not any customers. He looked around, taking in the beauty of all the flowers that were here, and smiled slightly. The scent was amazing...
Ah, there she was. Mei. Yao had to admit, she was as beautiful as the flowers in here, she fit right in... But he was here to get flowers. Not a girlfriend. "Excuse me?" he said, coming closer. "I wanted to thank you for those peonies. They were lovely." he said.