Title: Xingese oranges
Characters: Gracia, Ling (slight hints of Ling/Ranfuan)
Gracia Hughes both enjoyed and loathed them. Loved them for the variety they offered, but loathed them for the headaches it caused. She was grateful that Schieska took care of Elysia when she went to the market, otherwise she might get even more of a headache chasing after her darling daughter.
She stopped at a fruit stall, weighing up the apples and pears. They were a bit off, maybe she would get some of the oranges or plums, they were in season in the south and they were almost the same price as the apples and pears.
"The oranges should be good. They're from Xing." A voice came up behind her, scaring her slightly.
"Really?" She picked one of them up before turning to face the speaker.
He was smiling broadly, and the tilt to his eyes told her that he did know what he was talking about as he was from Xing himself.
"Are they sweet ones?"
"We export only the best." He grinned, eyes not quite closed. It made him look a bit creepy, Gracia thought, but I haven't seen that many people form Xing have I?
"I'll take you word for it then." She attracted the stall's owner and paid for a dozen, patiently listening to their spiel about how Xing oranges were only the best.
The Xing man also paid for a few and left when she did, following her.
"Do you mind?" She turned to him, slightly anxious about him following her.
"Oh, I do beg your pardon. Am I making you nervous?" His face seemed to be locked in a perpetual smile, though his eyes remained open to look at her. "I was only looking for similar company. I seem to have lost my travelling partners." He started peeling one of his oranges, managing to get it off in one piece.
"You lost them? How did you manage that?" Gracia stopped for vegetables, carrots, fresh beans and new potatoes.
"Oh, I suppose I went off and did my own thing and they gave up on me." They continued walking through the market, Gracia getting all her groceries and the Xing man slowly eating his orange.
"Do you know," he started as Gracia was looking at buying a pie for dinner, "in Xing, we often name hairstyles after food. We have ones called meatball, pork bun. It seems silly, but they look exactly like their names."
"Do they have any named after fruits?" She decided not to get one, she would make a casserole instead when she got home.
"A few, no oranges though." He tossed the remainder of his fruit's skin to the ground and started peeling another one. "Tell me, do you think a singular bun at the back of the head should be called a pork bun or an orange?"
Gracia paused, thinking for a moment. "An orange. Why?"
"It's just one of my companions had a hairstyle like that and she insisted that it be called a pork bun hairstyle. I always insisted it looked more like an orange to me. I'll be able to say that other people agree with me when we meet again." His eyes snapped shut as he grinned. "I'll be in the right this time." His smile seemed less creepy when he had his eyes totally shut.
"I'm sorry, I've got to go now." The Xingese man interrupted as they walked to another stall, Gracia almost finished with her groceries.
"Are you going to try finding your companions? I hope you find the one with the orange hairstyle." She smiled back.
"Maybe. Maybe she'll like my discoveries." He turned his back to her, grinning with his eyes open again and tossing his last orange backwards and forwards, squashing it to a pulp as he stepped into an alleyway.