Changcheng has been with the SID for a month before he really feels like he’s beginning to learn. When he first started it was a sensory overload of situations he would never have thought to imagine, let alone expect to ever see with his own eyes. The first days bounced from ghosts and people that turned into animals, to others with supernatural powers, and that was just his own team. He hadn’t come to terms with that before the dead bodies started turning up.
He knows he spent far too long being fearful of both the people he worked with and those they were trying to stop, too afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. While he’s not comfortable per se, he’s getting used to everyone and they don’t seem to mind that he’s now lifting his head to observe.
The first time he sees Da Qing lean over and kiss the top of Chief Zhao’s head, he thinks he’s seeing things. He leans over the back of the sofa, kisses Chief Zhao’s hair while he’s reading case notes, before he shifts into cat form, walks along the length of Chief Zhao’s legs where they’re propped on the table, and promptly stretches out and falls asleep.
Changcheng stills, not sure if this was something he should have witnessed, but Chief Zhao makes no comment on it other than to complain about Da Qing’s excessive weight on his shins, and as Changcheng looks around he realises no-one else seems surprised or is paying attention to it. Changcheng leaves it out of his journal, and decides it’s probably safer to not ask.
It takes several more occurrences before Changcheng realises it’s just something the Chief and Deputy do. Usually it’s Da Qing kissing Chief Zhao, more often than not when they’re both sprawled across the sofa… or the table. Sometimes when food is exchanged. But he also sees Chief Zhao press kisses back on Da Qing’s head when the Deputy is leaning against him at the end of a long day.
In a way Changcheng is envious. There’s a long-standing relationship there that is so obviously deep and familiar, and yet each time he feels like he wants to ask about it he bites his tongue. The kisses seem habitual, given without intent or need for reciprocation, and Changcheng has spent enough time observing now that he wonders if they’re even aware they’re doing it.
He worries for them both when it looks like Chief Zhao is starting to date Professor Shen. He has a speech mentally prepared to defend them, to convince the Professor that he doesn’t need to be concerned about their friendship. So when the time comes that Da Qing kisses Chief Zhao as he hands Da Qing food, Changcheng is nervously watching Professor Shen for his reaction.
In the end it seems like he needn’t have worried himself. Professor Shen’s smile is soft when he dips his head to try to hide it, and when he hands Chief Zhao a container of food he gets his own kiss in return from the chief. Chief Zhao doesn’t make a big gesture of it, and Changcheng wonders if that was just an habitual reaction too.
He’s too caught up in his thoughts when the hit to the back of his neck comes. He yelps, and his sudden movement causes him to juggle his bowl of rice; only Chu-Ge’s steady hand under his prevents him from spilling its contents. He turns his head warily, but there’s a soft, almost indulgent, smile on Chu-Ge’s face, and he makes no move to take the hand away from Changcheng’s neck, his touch warm and solid. Changcheng can feel his face heat as he goes back to eating; a mixture of embarrassment at being caught watching, and the warm flush Chu-Ge’s attention always causes.
He still feels like he’s a little out of his depth here at the SID, but the acceptance he has from the people around him means he doesn’t mind at all.