Part IV - Aniline Yellow
Lan began to take naps in the afternoon.
If Gingetsu noticed that Lan tired more easily than before, he never said anything about it. Furthermore, he was usually at work anyway.
But now he worked nights less often. That was how Lan knew he knew. Gingetsu would come home by late evening, and they would have dinner together.
Usually, Gingetsu would have paperwork he needed to read or approve, so he'd do it in the living room, spreadsheets in neat piles all over the coffee table, arranged by type and urgency.
Lan would sit opposite him, sitting across his armchair (he had begun to think of it as his), with his back propped against one of the overstuffed arms, his knees resting on the other.
His shoes dangled from his feet as he tinkered with mechanical components, or listened to music from his earphones. Sometimes he hummed along, particularly if the song was one of his favourites, but he always tried to do it softly so as not to disturb Gingetsu.
Today he was reading. Gingetsu had bought a few books on microscopy and slide preparation for him, even though Lan had not asked for them. Gingetsu had passed them to him in a brown paper bag saying, "I thought these might come in useful."
Lan had thanked him, and resisted the urge to rip off the plastic wrapping covering the books until after dinner.
The other two books still lay inside the by-now slightly crumpled paper bag, propped next to the armchair. Lan shifted, and continued reading. He brought the book closer, then farther, and squinted at the tiny caption beneath a photograph of a slide of thyroid cells.
"I think I need glasses." He said, when he noticed Gingetsu looking at him. "I can't see very well now."
There was a pause.
"I'll bring someone home to fit you with a pair tomorrow."
There was a rustling of paper. Gingetsu set a file down, and picked up another, a black one. Lan went back to his reading.
It was some time later when Lan stopped reading, and got out of the chair. Gingetsu was still working, and he tried to be quiet, even though his back had gone numb. He took his books to his room, and came out to ask if Gingetsu wanted anything.
"No." Gingetsu answered, a little distracted by what he was reading. "I'm fine."
Lan knew better than to disturb him further. He took the books out of the bag, and placed them carefully in his drawer, before he went to bed.
Even though he had closed the door, there was light seeping in through the edges from the living room, a pale yellow that illuminated narrow vertical slices of his bed.
The light was still on when he fell asleep.
Lan did not notice when it went off, nor did he hear Gingetsu when he opened the door a bit to check on him.
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