01 - Da Qing, maybe a few days post series.
Da Qing doesn't have a master anymore. And that was fine. For years he had been an independent cat with no need for a master. He wandered where he wanted to, left when it was time. Compared that to the short few years he had spent with Zhao Yun Lan it shouldn't matter. But it does.
Zhao Yun Lan was alive, if you can call the breathing husk, laid out on the hospital bed, alive. Da Qing had curled up on top of his chest the first two days until Director Zhao had visited and told them that their Lao Zhao was gone. That his spirit has left his body, to protect them.
Da Qing had left then. Wandered off, let his feet carry him to where he wanted. He ended back at home. He had let himself in with the key in his collar, and curled up in Zhao Yun Lan’s bed, on top of his favourite jacket. He will shed all over it, that will teach him for abandoning him.
He woke up to a large hand on his head, slowly scratching his ears. For a split second everything was perfect, he was warm and a human was doing their duty to him. But then memory returns and Da Qing moves away from the hand.
“You have to eat,” Lin Jing shoved a small plate of dried fish in front of his face. Da Qing wanted to claw Lin Jing’s hands and was on his way to doing so when he realised that Lin Jing’s voice sounded off. He looked up and saw tear tracks on Lin Jing’s face.
Da Qing retracted his claws, and gently shoved his head into Lin Jing’s hand.
02 - Zhao Yun Lan, a short time after Shen Wei wakes up
They needed a place to live once Shen Wei woke up from his Sleeping Beauty routine. Zhao Yun Lan wasn't letting Shen Wei out of his sight, and Shen Wei during that first month mostly just slept. So, in between tests to see he wasn't going to keel over, being hugged by the crying kids, and the minor detail that now the world has two Zhao Yun Lan; him and his old body, now the host of his part time dad. Zhao Yun Lan started house hunting.
“You can move back into your old place.” Da Qing offered, round body curled up in Zhao Yun Lan’s lap. The dead cat has been extra cuddly since his return, and could be seen curled up on or cuddled next to Zhao Yun Lan.
“Thanks but I need something bigger. Shen Wei need a large kitchen and a study for his books.” He could see it in his mind, Shen Wei cooking in a large kitchen with amenities he would ever need. The two of them having meals at the dining table, living in a world of two.
He smiled and continued to scratch Da Qing’s soft furry head.
03 - The family dinner
Zhao Yun Lan kept on grinning, he could feel his facial muscles going numb but he wasn't a quitter, and scientists kept on saying smiling lifted a person’s mood.
“Shen Wei, have some more pork.” Zhang Shi dropped a piece of pork and some chicken into Shen Wei’s bowl. Shen Wei kept his meet-the-normals face firmly in place, and nodded in thanks. There was a bit of strain as his eyes kept on sliding away from Zhang Shi’s face. Considering he was wearing Zhao Yun Lan’s face Shen Wei’s slight discomfort could be excused.
Zhao Yun Lan wondered if they are the type of couples who take on each other’s ticks as they grow old together. Giddiness bloomed inside of him.
“Yun Lan, have you thought about what you are going to do now?” His dad asked from the opposite side of the table. The old man hasn't a cracked a smile all night, even though by all reports from the kids he could do it.
“Ah.” Zhao Yun Lan let out a small laugh, “We are not sure yet. Shen Wei wants to get back into teaching.” He made his grin extra large and sharp, “I'm thinking of being a house husband!”
Sounds of choking could be heard.
04 social media, set a year or so after Professor Shen is Back.
“Upper management wants us to have a modern and engaging social media presence to humanise SID.” Lin Jing looked like he had just been told that all of his future bonuses were axed.
“What does that actually mean?” Da Qing looked perplexed, a hand silently grabbing another dried fish treat from the jar that was supposedly hidden.
“Well, they thought your cat photos was a great start.” Lin Jing spun his laptop around to face Da Qing.
Indeed, the photo on the official SID Weibo account that seemed to have garnered the most attention was Da Qing curled up on top of folders.
“I do look fantastic!!! I'm a natural model. Do you need more photos of me?”
“Not now. The marketing department think we should have more ‘personal’ photos of Chief and Professor Shen.”
Da Qing took several steps away, hand still holding the jar of fish treats. “I'm not telling Lao Zhao about this! You know how protective he is of their privacy.”
“Not like that!” Lin Jing made a shushing gesture and looked around the office to make sure no one was paying attention. “They just want photos of the Chief kicking back when not working on a case. And I think they just want Professor Shen photos because everytime the SID account mentions him we get a spike of mentions.”
“I'm still not telling Zhao Yun Lan, and I'm not taking the photos!”
“I already have got some. I just need you to sign off on them as the second in command.” Lin Jing pushed a form toward Da Qing.
Da Qing looked at the form carefully, and then looked at Lin Jing. “I just want it to be noted that this was not my idea.
Two days later the SID Weibo account had its highest recorded traffic. The photo that had the most likes and comments was of Zhao Yun Lan and Shen Wei eating; Zhao Yun Lan was stretched almost completely across the table, right hand reaching out towards Shen Wei’s face. Shen Wei was looking directly at Zhao Yun Lan, a soft smile on his face.
Lin Jing spent the week fielding calls and emails from the marketing department and upper management. No, he didn't have any more photos of them eating. No, it was not meant to be indecent or implying anything.
He also spent the week hiding in the labs hoping nether Zhao Yun Lan or Shen Wei would ask him to explain ‘Welan’ and ‘Lanwei’.