Part II - Bismarck Brown

By Squid


Lan tried sprouting beans on the windowsill, in damp cotton wool.

The bean seedlings weakened and died a day after they sprouted, shrivelling up and turning brown from the shoot and root tips.

Gingetsu was not at home at the time. He was on an assignment that required him to stay at the office for a few days.

Kazuhiko dropped by regularly after work; most probably because Gingetsu had asked him to, but he mentioned that being at home alone was boring him to death.

"Anyway," Kazuhiko said, "it's not as quiet here."

Lan genuinely appreciated Kazuhiko's company. It gave him something to do.

He had tried sprouting the beans again, but they died just the same. Kazuhiko flicked at the limp little corpses and muttered something apologetic. Lan left the sprouts in the room and smiled to reassure him that it was okay.

"Must be something in the air." Kazuhiko sniffed suspiciously.

He went back into the kitchen and began to cook dinner. Gingetsu would be coming home in the evening. Kazuhiko must have seen his microscope in his room while Lan was cooking because he came into the kitchen and asked him about it.

"It's a hobby that I picked up." Lan said.

"Strange hobby," Kazuhiko replied, stealing a slice of tomato. "What's so interesting about a bunch of cells?"

"They're alive. Don't steal the tomatoes, Kazuhiko."

He did try to steal more vegetables, and received a tap on his knuckles with a metal spoon for his efforts. He made a big show of how it hurt, and even Lan had to laugh when Kazuhiko mock-cowered before him, exclaiming that it was a lethal weapon.

Gingetsu either left him in peace in the kitchen, or helped by doing everything Lan needed help with, instead of stealing vegetables and asking questions.

Lan missed the easy comfort of working with Gingetsu.

He guessed Kazuhiko understood that he was at best a substitute, a playmate that Gingetsu provided for him when he could not be there in person.

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