By Squid


One day, after Gingetsu comes back from work, he sees a small crystal dish on the coffee table, filled with something.

It looks like small pebbles from where he is standing, or chess pieces, and for a moment he wonders whether his charge has suddenly taken up a new hobby.

Lan is in front of him, ready to help divest him of his cloak. Hair pulled back to the right and tied. Large eyes smiling up at him.

"You're back."

He smiles back, a spasmodic quirk of the lips that cannot be supported by his eyes, because they are hidden.

Gingetsu gestures towards the bowl.

"What is that?" He asks.

"Sunflower seeds."

Sunflower seeds? He wonders why Lan had bought them. He asks him that question, trying ineffectually to help him set out the dinner cutlery.

Lan waves him away, and tells him to sit down.

He does so, and eats the food set out before him dutifully, while Lan sits opposite him and watches, elbows braced on the table, hands cupping his chin.

It is an absurdly child-like gesture, and he feels slightly uncomfortable. Since Lan looks to be about the same age as him.

When he is finished, he asks about the sunflower seeds.

Lan shrugs, pushing his chair back and walking over to grab the dish before he comes back, setting it directly in the middle between them, on the dining table.

They're fun, Lan tells him. Try some.

He picks one up, more to humour Lan than anything, and holds it up. It is veined black and white, and it reminds him of an insect.

A mechanical one.

Lan watches him, eyes still shining with gentle curiosity.

He places it in his mouth, and manoeuvres it between his upper and lower molars, bearing down. It cracks with a tiny, audible sound, the seed shell giving way.

It helps if you use your tongue, Lan prompted.

He did so, fishing out the small succulent embryo. He spat out the shell.

Told you it was fun, Lan said.

Crack one for me.

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