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A Fat Cat's Tale

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Da Qing has been around for a long time, and lately he feels that the days just blend into each other. He doesn't remember how he was born, has no memories of his parents, and doesn't even know if he has any siblings.

The first thing he remembers is Lao Li, and how the guy was kind enough to offer a hungry Yashou some food. He always feels the most when he's hungry, and whenever he's famished, it always itches at something at the back of his mind - as if he has felt this way before, has felt this gnawing ache in his stomach - and so whenever he tries to recall his past, the first memory that comes is usually always very hazy, just snatches of deep hunger, and flashes of him gobbling up desperately at whatever Lao Li was feeding him.

He doesn't like to feel that way now though, so as soon as the first pangs of hunger hit him, he always scrambles to find food before it becomes an ache.

His first most important connection in this world is with Zhao Yunlan. He doesn't know if he considers him more as a friend or as his master (depends on which form he is in) but there's this strong pull that he feels for this messy, hot-headed, unruly, impetuous guy and he just knows that this human is important and he must protect him at all costs.

So when Professor Shen comes into their lives and seems hell bent on protecting him too, Da Qing could almost kiss him, he is that elated and relieved. (He obviously won't, else Zhao Yunlan would butcher him, still it's the thought that counts)

At first, Da Qing is suspicious about him. And the way Lao Zhao just goes gaga over him doesn't help at all because he's always been a goner for a pretty face. And wow, is Shen Wei pretty. Even if Da Qing isn't the slightest bit attracted to humans, he can still see the appeal because Professor Shen is the whole package - he is whip-smart, he can keep calm in situations where a normal person would completely lose their shit, he is much-loved and respected by his students and faculty alike, and most of all, he can make Zhao Yunlan stop behaving recklessly. Still, there's just something about him that unexpectedly raises his hackles at times, almost as if there's a force around him that he keeps deeply suppressed but it comes out at times and the intensity of that is such that it leaves Da Qing floundering. There's got to be something fishy about him, else how would he fit in so perfectly into their lives at the SID?

He has his reservations, and he initially stuck to them. But then, the one thing which could potentially win Da Qing over completely is revealed about the professor and it is the fact that Shen Wei can cook.

Lao Zhao P.S.W (pre Shen Wei, as Da Qing has dubbed in his mind because the periods pre and post Shen Wei are so markedly different that he needs to distinguish it in caps even to himself) was a guy who solely subsided on take-always or he would skip his meals entirely if he became too involved in a case. He would either drink himself to sleep at times or just smoke and smoke and cough himself to sleep. If not for Lao Li feeding him when they were at SID, Da Qing is sure he would've starved to death, as Zhao Yunlan had barely any idea how to care for himself, let alone for a pet who's stuck with him. He has never learnt how to cook - their kitchen is bereft of any utensil that is not a takeaway container or a pan which can just be used to boil water. No one has ever cooked in that kitchen, and Da Qing weeps at the fact at times.

So when Da Qing comes home one morning, sneaking in through the window left open for him, he notices something strange. To his intense and tremendous shock, he’s hit with a divine smell first, and when he cranes his head around the corner tentatively, he finds Shen Wei in the kitchen, cooking.

(Lao Zhao, who wakes up due to the frantic clawing from Da Wing calms him down and whispers to him that last night, Professor Shen found him sitting at the curb, curled up with gastritis pain, and brought him back home and put him to bed and apparently even watched over him the entire night as he slept and cleaned up the apartment while he was creepily watching over a sleeping Zhao Yunlan and when he woke up, mildly scolded him to take better care of his stomach before announcing that he was gonna cook breakfast for him).

After he hears the story, Da Qing is sure for a second that Shen Wei is finally reciprocating the constant flirting Lao Zhao subjects him to, because who does that for a mere stranger who's just slowly started to become an acquaintance? That guy wants in Zhao Yunlan’s pants and his idiot master would be all too happy to let him in. But strangely, Shen Wei just cooks breakfast for Zhao Yunlan, and he also makes a special chicken dish for the cat, and then just leaves them with a polite smile to go get ready for his classes at the university. He doesn't even eat with them.

Stumped, it takes a hot minute for Da Qing to scramble over to the table where Shen Wei has thoughtfully left the food uncovered for him. The first taste leaves him reeling because it's honestly the best thing he's ever eaten in however long he’s been alive. The shock must have been visible on his face because Lao Zhao, who'd finally deigned to get up from where he was slumped on his bed, staring wistfully at the door Shen Wei left through, bursts into laughter as he sees Da Qing frozen in place, his paw half in the dish and mouth hanging open.

"That good huh, fat cat?" Zhao Yunlan asks, a smug smile firmly in place on his insufferable face.

Da Qing swipes at him angrily, and he dodges away, laughing harder. Tentatively, Da Qing dips his head to take another bite and as he chews, he realizes that no, he isn’t dreaming, this mouthful is just as delicious as the previous one. He's so lost in enjoying food (after what feels like ages, he's finally eating something that’s not dried fish, he could almost cry with happiness) that when Lao Zhao speaks, he ignores it. But Zhao Yunlan is Zhao Yunlan, and he pesters him, poking at his side and forcing him away from the greatest meal of his life. "WHAT?!" he finally snaps at him, hunched protectively over the dish. Unfazed, and grinning widely now, Zhao Yunlan asks him, "Isn't Shen Wei the greatest?"

Da Qing pauses again, this time in contemplation. He is still suspicious about the new guy, and he has expressed his concerns loudly to Zhao Yunlan already, but really, if you think about it, how can someone who can cook this good, with barely any ingredients at his service, and barely any utensils too, dear god, not be a decent guy? You rarely hear about chefs who have done crimes right? So for now, Da Qing is totally willing to give him the benefit of doubt. (And nope, the way to a cat's heart is not through its stomach ahhahahha what are you saying, shush)

Since that day, Da Qing is officially on Shen Wei's side. He argues for him when Lao Zhao and Lin Jing question his appearances on the scenes of all their cases, lobbies for him to be allowed to help them out (even if he, as Zhu Hong strongly insists while glowering at an oblivious Shen Wei, as a normal human, should not be involved so much in SID matters), and fiercely agrees when Shen Wei tentatively makes attempts of wanting to take care of his stupid master. He conveniently ignores the fact that he and his Zhao Yunlan are a combined pair and taking care of one automatically means taking care of the other as well.

They settle into a quiet routine since Professor Shen now lives right across their apartment (when Da Qing thinks of how he and Lao Zhao broke into his apartment to snoop around he feels guilty, but hey, at least they're both pro-Shen Wei now). The professor has a habit of waking up early and going to buy fresh groceries everyday and Da Qing in his cat form starts to join him on his excursions. Early mornings are already pleasant, but it's even better to have a human carry you in his warm arms.

Da Qing has recently, very very slowly, become comfortable enough to allow other people apart from Lao Zhao to pet him in his cat form, especially under his neck (apart from Lao Zhao, he only likes to be touched by Guo Changcheng but that kid is a beacon of joy and is soft). But somehow, since the first time he met the professor and he had thoroughly pet him and gently scratched under his neck too, while also making googly eyes at Zhao Yunlan, he is relaxed enough around him to allow him to touch and pet him freely.

After they started interacting more (and Shen Wei starts feeding him more, always having some treat out for him in his office or in his home where Da Qing sometimes goes to curl up against a warm thigh and gentle head scratches when he needs more human contact and Zhao Yunlan isn't there) it has come to the point now that he starts to purr each time he even senses Shen Wei. Zhao Yunlan would be jealous normally, but this time he just grins like an idiot in love every time he hears Da Qing purr at SHen Wei, and proclaims loudly that everyone should obviously fall in love with HIS professor. Da Qing scoffs at him, even as he allows Shen Wei to pick him up and cuddle him in his arms.

So now, Da Qing and Shen Wei bond even more over buying fresh vegetables and poultry that Shen Wei will later whip into a delicious, filling meal. He points out the good, fresh stuff that he can smell with his superior nose, and Shen Wei indulges him.

While the professor goes to pay for the groceries, leaving him in the cart, Da Qing finally starts to plot.

In the entire time he's spent with Zhao Yunlan, never has he dated anyone who's even remotely half as good as Shen Wei is. Sure, the dude's suspicious and obviously has secrets of his own, but in this day and age, who doesn't? Zhao Yunlan would be lucky to have this epitome of human perfection as his life partner, and Da Qing decides loftily that he is going to help them get together.

He knows his master is already head over heels for the professor, and he instinctively knows that it's not a passing fancy this time like it usually is. Zhao Yunlan has had many partners (and Da Qing doesn't know why he's quite happy about that, he can never understand humans, ever) and there were few where Da Qing thought it might become something more. But somehow he was never surprised to come back home and see Zhao Yunlan lazing around on the couch, totally unconcerned about breaking up with his latest squeeze. In the back of his mind, he knew they were not the right one for Lao Zhao.

Zhao Yunlan has always been content to be alone, and till date, he had never even shown the slightest bit of interest in settling down. Da Qing had tried very hard to understand him, because humans need companionship, they weren't meant to be alone like the mighty cats could- but he had failed and then he had given up after many attempts. If his human wanted to be alone, then he could be alone, why should he care.

But then came Shen Wei, and suddenly Da Qing could see Zhao Yunlan's entire thought process shift, he became that transparent. He sees how much Zhao Yunlan pays attention to anything the professor says, how much he hangs onto his every word, how desperately he wants to protect him, how happy he becomes when Shen Wei cooks for him and stays for dinner and how wide he smiles whenever Shen Wei looks softly at him. It's different this time, and it's there to stay because by God, the professor is just as equally whipped too. But they are both so dumb, as they do not realise this how much they both are gone for the other and keep miscommunicating and then being jealous and sad of random strangers who never mean anything. He is so done with the human race at times, it is not even funny.

So, now he has to take matters into his own majestic hands. Da Qing is going to try and get these two knuckleheads to stop dancing around each other and finally confess. He knows it would be disgustedly sappy once that happens and that Zhao Yunlan would become even more insufferable. But he wants that. If anyone deserves to be loved the way they should be loved, it is Lao Zhao.

(And he won’t ever admit it out loud, but in his heart of hearts, Da Qing wants it too. He wants to come home and know that there's someone who cares about both him and his master, who genuinely adores them, who will be there to feed them because they’re both hopeless at that, and also because it makes him happy to see them eat well, who will not allow his master to pull insane stunts and stop his crazy plans, who will knit this loose bonds they have into a tighter one, who will become their family.)

Da Qing has a plan to hatch successfully, and he has no time to waste. He needs to get started right away cause the fate of True Love (and his stomach too) depends on it. He cannot leave it up to Fate though (she’s a capricious witch) so the mighty Fat Cat, the loftiest of all the Yashous, is going to make sure no one fucks this up. (And maybe, in the future, Shen Wei will be comfortable enough with them to share all his secrets, and then Da Qing too can freely shape-shift in front of him, and get his daily cuddles in either form. He would be free at home, amidst the people he has grown to love and thinks of as his family.)

Yes, this tale of the Fat Cat will indeed end happily, he will make that happen.