Work Header

Microbes in Foreign Countries

Work Text:

When Tadayasu first applied for school he hadn't intended on going abroad. It's expensive, and Tadayasu figured he'd have enough to work on what with all the crazy antics of his first year. But even if not all the programs were as crazy as Muto's fermenting trip, the university had some really interesting options. Tadayasu would look at them, not really intending to go, just to look. Professor Itsuki had other plans though it seemed.
"it's necessary for any good education. Now that you've chosen to devote yourself to this department, whether or not you can see microbes it's important to look at them outside of the classroom."
"I look at them outside of the classroom all the time"
"Hm…well, it's expenses paid, so you should go." And that was how Tadayasu found himself on a plane at the beginning of the semester.

It's interesting to be outside of Japan. Tadayasu took English in high school, but he doesn't remember much. The signs aren't in Japanese most of them are translated into english. Itsuki has no problems, Tadayasu just nods politely at customs, it wouldn't be practical to declare the handful of brewing yeast microbes he's bringing with him. The yeasts are just as interested to see this new place as he is. Tadayasu has already noticed new and interesting things, peaking around corners and hoping along the railings of the airport. Tadayasu stuffs his hands in his pockets.

The car ride from the airport to the city is nice enough. Tadayasu's too exhausted to really appreciate the view out the window. It is different but beyond that Tadayasu's brain fails to function. A place to sleep, that's what he needs. Tadayasu had never flown on a plane before this afternoon. Thankfully it's evening and Itsuki promises that as soon as they've eaten Tadayasu can go sleep. The food is good, and even tired eating after an international flight is refreshing. They walk from their temporary hotel to a local restaurant and Tadayasu considers the menu with some nervousness before ordering the same thing as Itsuki. At least it isn't fermented this time. Not that fermented food is bad, but working in the department, well, Tadayasu has less apatite for science experiments.

The next morning is easier. Time changes none-the-less Tadayasu wakes up feeling rested. their plan today is to drive out to the local farming area. They've been invited onto a farmers land to take soil samples and have Tadayasu look around. It's not real research yet but comparing crop growth and soil practices with local microbial life and plant growth. Of course, like with anything at the department, a club meeting breed new strains of influenza, picnics bring e.coli, and visiting farming areas in foreign countries logically leads to calling the equivalent of a decontamination squad. Tadayasu's never seen Claviceps purpurea before, but whatever that is it isn't good. Itsuki's as talented as ever though.
"What do you see?"
"Well, it's definitely a fungus, and it's dark." Tadayasu says, they don't look particularly friendly either.
"Hmm…" Itsuki says and takes some samples.

The farmer isn't happy to be told his field has been infected with ergot of rye, but he shakes Itsuki's hand and thanks him for catching it.
"We would have strained it out."
"Ergot floats where as normal rye sinks in 30% potassium chloride." Itsuki explains. Tadayasu feels sorry for the poor guys, but upon reading the books Itsuki gives him, Tadayasu doesn't feel quite so sorry. Not one of the 5 asian food poisoning microbes, C. purpurea is still frightening.
"In 1951, a French town had an outbreak of ergot poisoning, or ergotism, which ended in 200 cases of alkaloid poisoning, thirty two cases of insanity and four deaths." Itsuki says. The rest of the trip isn't nearly as exciting, but Tadayasu is happy to be out of the country, sane, and continuing to enjoy the practical application of things he's learned in class. Even when poisoning prevention isn't necessary there's still more to learn, about agriculture, things growing, and the world that only Tadayasu, and the microscope see. Tadayasu is happy he's chosen this. For the rest of his life, Tadayasu will be *doing* something.