Hisako’s old enough where if she were to drop something, someone else usually picks it up for her. It’s nice, especially when the rain about to come makes her back hurt more than usual. It’s not so nice when the young man who picks up her dropped bag makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up, even if he’s smiling politely.
She didn’t get this old through being stupid.
A lack of a sword strapped to his side means he’s not a samurai.
A lack of a travelling cloak or bag means he’s not a merchant.
No, this young man, who’s barely out of his boyhood by the looks of it, is most assuredly a shinobi.
There’s only one shinobi she cares for, and that’s her sweet child Tobirama. Who, coincidentally, she’s out in the market for. See, her tea leaves this morning arranged themselves just so, and along with her intuition, means her boy is going to be coming by.
She also heard from Takao last night that he heard from his cousin Keikou that a messenger was seen delivering a scroll tied in red cords in the town over.
Which explains why the merchant who came in yesterday was so skittish; he knows there’s someone after him.
It’s not Hisako’s place to judge who gets to live or die, nor whether they deserve either.
“Thank you, young man.” She says with a dip of her head, not yet taking her bag.
“My pleasure!” The foolish boy says in reply.
“Good, good, then let’s go.” Hisako cackles internally as she starts walking away. Now she has a young man to carry her purchases.
“Now, now, didn’t you just say it’s your pleasure? Surely you wouldn’t leave an old woman to carry so many purchases by herself.”
“The ones I’m going to make!”
Hisako smiles genially at the poleaxed expression on the other. She doesn’t make small talk with anyone, and the boy should feel grateful for that. Her knees thank her that she was able to pull a fast one on the other; not having to carry all the vegetables and other food is wonderful.
She saves the most important purchase for last: the daifukumochi.
(Oh, how her poor boy looked close to tears when she had handed him one on his first night! It’s like he’d never gotten one before!)
“Say now, young man—”
“Yes?” He sounds so pitiful! Pah! Her Tobirama wouldn’t sound so tired after a day at the market!
“Which one of these would you give to someone truly special?” Hisako points to the display of rabbit daifukumochi and waits.
It says volumes that the boy simply doesn’t point at the nearest one, but truly takes his time to think about her question—meaning he’s thinking about a certain person while doing so.
“The blueberry one.”
Ah, that’s the one that Tobirama likes best, not that he’d ever tell her that to her face. But the lack of even the sugar dusting on the plate when she sets out a blueberry one speaks to his preferences. It’s not a flavor one would traditionally pick, and her eyes narrow as she watches the boy get lost in thought.
Perhaps they’re thinking of the same person, then. The young man blushes, and suddenly Hisako understands. Better set out two cups tonight, she thinks.