“I did it! I told you, I’m the best at this.” Jack waved a piece of paper in front of Tang Yi’s face, who furrowed his brows in annoyance.
“No way. You went in there ten minutes ago, you can’t have cracked him that fast,” Tang Yi replied. Instead of saying anything back, Jack handed the paper over, like it was a religious artifact, for him to read.
Although Tang Yi didn’t say anything, it was obvious to Jack that he was impressed. Even though Tang Yi had spent four hours with the criminal, he hadn’t gotten even close to a confession, but all Jack had needed were ten minutes and that great smile of his.
“He even signed it...” Just as Jack was about to say something that undoubtedly would annoying Tang Yi, his name was called.
He turned around and saw a short, dark-haired man smiling at him, while waving adorably. It was Zhao Zi!
Jack waved back and walked towards him, ignoring Tang Yi completely. “Shorty, you came. I’m so happy to see you!”
Just a few days ago, Jack saved Zhao Zi form a mugger. He’d asked him to come by the station to give his statement, since he’d need it to build the case against the attacker. However, he had another reason to invite him: he wanted to see Zhao Zi again.
From the minute they met, he had been intrigued by the man’s peculiar behavior. While it was normal for a civilian to thank the police men that just saved them, he’d never met someone like Zhao Zi before.
Instead of expressing his gratitude in words, Zhao Zi had immediately hugged him as soon as the criminal was cuffed. After that, he’d gone on to feel Jack’s chest and compliment his physique, while talking about how he’d never be able to get such a body, even if he never stopped working out. Then, he’d suggested they’d go and get some ice-cream together. “It’ll be fun!” Zhao Zi had said.
What made all of it even more peculiar, was that Zhao Zi was an alleged criminal. He was a suspect in more criminal cases than Jack had solved, but somehow still didn’t have a criminal record. He’d never even gotten a speeding ticket.
Despite never being arrested, he had a reputation of being malicious and merciless. They said his bullets never missed and his knife always twisted; where he went, death followed.
Yet, his smile melted Jack’s heart and he carried innocence with him in every way. He didn’t understand how someone like that could ever fire a gun, let alone kill someone. And he decided he wanted to understand.
Something else very surprising about him, was that Zhao Zi hadn’t taken any reaction to his status as a police men whatsoever. Everybody always had an opinion on his profession, whether good or bad. Some thought it was honorable, others called him a slave of the government.
But Zhao Zi? There was no judgement from him. Not disgust when he talked about criminals he arrested, not anger when he mentioned he’d done undercover work, nothing.
They talked for long; Jack even cooked for him, at his house. He told about his grandma, who had passed away a few years ago. He also told about his best friend, Meng Shao Fei, the gangleader. It had felt weird to hear someone talk positively about him, but refreshing, too.
It reminded him that he became a cop not only to arrest those breaking the law, but so that the violence of police men towards others could stop. So that he could show others that even the worst of beings had humanity to them.
Jack had felt something strange he’d never felt before that night, when he was at home and laid in bed. It was a form of calmth and happiness he couldn’t quite place. He had looked forward to seeing Zhao Zi again.
“Didn’t you say you’d be here at 1 PM?” Jack asked, starting a conversation. “It’s not that late already, or is it?” He had made sure he had at least half an hour left when he started the interrogation, and quickly checked his watch. It showed the time as 15 before 1, but when he looked at clock on the wall in the department, he realized his watch was wrong. It was 1 PM, exact.
“Silly, did you forget the time?” Zhao Zi said, teasingly pushing him with a smile. Jack grinned and let himself get pushed, then moving closer and putting an arm around Zhao Zi’s shoulder.
“I’d never forget the time if it’s concerning you!” He flirted, “but my watch was wrong. I’ll have t-”
“Jack, what the fuck!?” Tang Yi interrupted them. He stared at Jack with wide eyes and anger. Oh, shit, Jack thought.
Tang Yi’s loud voice had startled Zhao Zi, who leaned closer to Jack for protection.
“Stop it, you’re scaring him!” Jack looked at Tang Yi with furrowed brows, not happy about the way he was treating his friend, hiding his light fear of his friend's anger.
“Scare him? Are you fucking-” Tang Yi broke off his own sentence, staring at Jack with angry eyes. He pointed at Jack’s friend, seemingly wanting to say something, but no words came out.
“We’re talking. Now.” He said after dropping his hand. He turned around and started walking towards the hall.
“I’m sorry, shorty. I’ll be back in a few minutes, I promise.” Jack said while slowly letting go of shorty’s shoulder and following Tang Yi. He waved and smiled apologetically, but that dropped and was replaced by an almost teasing smile as soon as they turned around the corner.
When they were out of sight, Tang Yi shoved Jack. It wasn’t an aggressive push, but it still surprised him.
“Jack! Have you gone insane?!” Tang Yi yelled. Jack looked back, hoping Zhao Zi wouldn’t hear them.
“Ah Yi, calm down, calm down! He’s the one I saved the other day. He’s my friend now,” Jack stated, as if it was up for no discussion. He knew Tang Yi’s anger was nothing to play with, but he refused to give in to it.
“He can’t be your friend, you damn idiot!” He scolded Jack, “That’s Zhao Li An! THE Zhao Li An! Right hand man of Xin Tian Meng, he’s a suspect in over 80 murders! He’s the most feared hitman of all time! He’s-”
“Absolutely adorable,” Jack interjected, and as a response Tang Yi hit him on the back of his head. This time, Jack expected it, and just smiled. That only made Tang Yi more frustrated.
“Adorable? Adorable!? He’s dangerous! He’s terrifying! He could probably kill you with a toothpick!” Jack chuckled. Tang Yi was exaggerating, and they both knew it.
“Ah Yi, he didn’t even fight off that mugger when we met,” he smiled with calmth, asif he had it all figured out. “He’s a good person. I can see it in his eyes.” Tang Yi took a moment to breath before trying to say something, but Jack already continued. “I want to spend more time with him. And I won’t let you stop me.” Although his smile didn’t falter, there was something unsettling behind his eyes.
For a while, Tang Yi stayed silent. They stared at each other.
Then, he sighed. “Fine. It’s your life you’re ending.”
Tang Yi looked at Jack, but his eyes didn’t truly meet him. A
It was as if he didn’t even register Jack, not as his friend, at least.
Jack knew, if he walked away now, their relationship would forever be over.
“Tang Yi, you’re not just worried I’ll get hurt, are you?” His smile wasn’t there anymore, but had been replaced by a look of concern. Tang Yi didn’t answer, but turned away from Jack.
“You’re worried I’ll switch. You’re worried I’ll do what Meng Shao Fei did.” Jack voiced the fears he didn’t want to face. Tang Yi flinched at the mention of the ex-police men, turning back to look at Jack with his lips curled in disgust.
He knew of Tang Yi’s past, having both heard it from him and from others. He hadn’t been part of the team when Meng Shao Fei betrayed it, but he could feel how it affected everyone to this day. You didn’t get over something like that, not easily. He could barely imagine how much it must’ve hurt them.
And although Tang Yi never gave away much about the nature of his relationship with Meng Shao Fei, he’d said enough for Jack to understand that he was hurt at the time, too.
Tang Yi still didn’t speak, but he nodded lightly, with a tense jaw and balled firsts. That was enough for Jack.
“I won’t. I promise you, I’ll stay on the right side of the law till my dying breath.” He put his hand on his heart.
He could see Tang Yi was looking for something inside of Jack’s eyes. Maybe it was for a sign that he was lying, maybe the opposite. Whatever it was, he stopped looking and let his shoulders drop.
“Okay,” Tang Yi said, taking a deep breath. His face relaxed, and his shoulders dropped. “I believe you.” Jack could see in Tang Yi’s eyes how much it cost for him to say those words, how hard it was to mean them. But he knew he did.
“Thank you.” A silence followed his words, but air between them, which was previously filled with tension, felt light and kind.
“You should get back to Zhao Li An,” Tang Yi interrupted their silence. Jack smiled and nodded.
Jack opened his mouth, but closed it again. Instead talking, he hugged Tang Yi. It was a short hug, but Tang Yi still looked surprised. Jack patted him on the back, and then walked away towards where he’d left Zhao Zi behind.
When he got over his initial shock, Tang Yi yelled, “be careful!” after him. He could hear Jack yell “never!” back.
He’d be fine, Tang Yi thought. It was Jack, after all.