It was a normal morning, Zhao Yunlan had breakfast with Shen Wei and Da Qing at their apartment, then he and the cat left for the office, and the professor to the university. He could still feel the lovely touch of Shen Wei's lips against his, in the small kiss they shared before leaving their home, as they had done every day for the past four years.
The day was warm and sunny, and the road to the office in his jeep was equally nice. Again, it was a normal day.
As they arrived, Wang Zheng told them they had a new case. Da Qing started complaining about how they had just entered the building but had to leave again and Lin Jing's yells could be heard from his lab, while Zhu Hong talked to someone on the phone.
Everything was as it should be, which is why Zhao Yunlan couldn't understand why he had woken up with a bad feeling on the back of his mind.
Lin Jing joined them, and they arrived half an hour later to the remote alley where the corpse of a young man was found and reported to the police.
The body was located at the exact end of the alley and his blood painted the wall of the neighboring store, a small shop of plants and agricultural items, as could be seen from the outside of the transparent glass door that indicated its entrance. Along with that, a rather big beauty salon was found, but fortunately, the mess hadn’t reached a single part of it.
Lin Jing had already contacted the owners of the two stores and informed Zhao Yunlan that neither of them had security cameras at the point where the murder was committed.
Da Qing and he approached the corpse and started looking for clues.
And until there, everything was following as always, Lin Jing began with his forensic procedure by looking for the DNA of the victim, while Da Qing and Zhao Yunlan analyzed the crime scene, trying to find anything suspicious.
The cat found something falling out of what appeared to be the man's wallet, which had somehow ended a few meters away from him. On the other side, Zhao Yunlan was intrigued by the small, black stick found at the corner of the alley, half-hidden under a dirty wooden box.
He placed the item on his palm, and thanks to his numerous years as a detective that helped him master the control of his reactions, he put the object in the inner part of his jacket, then proceeded to examine again the box and its content.
The road back to his office was as normal as it could be, considering the situation in which he was found. As Zhao Yunlan drove, he could feel against his chest the black pen he was used to seeing at home, used by a well-known person while grading papers.
. . .
It was a long day, and he was finally home. After work he couldn’t bring himself to go straight to their apartment, so he spent an hour just wandering in the park near his office, trying to collect his thoughts.
When Zhao Yunlan opened the door he could see his beautiful husband reading a book on the couch, probably waiting for his arrival and thinking what to cook for dinner. Even with the walk in the park, he had arrived at almost the same hour as always.
As the door closed, he dropped the facade plastered on his face since the morning.
The sound made Shen Wei raise his head from the book. Only a quick glance at Zhao Yunlan’s state was enough for him to notice there was something off.
"Zhao Yunlan? What's wrong? Something happened?" Of course, nothing could fool the professor, who had become an expert in Zhao Yunlan's entire persona throughout the years (and from everything before that).
The book once originally held in Shen Wei's hands was dropped to the floor, as he stood up and approached Zhao Yunlan.
Zhao Yunlan, with heaviness in his throat and the formation of tears on his eyes, raised his sight to look at Shen Wei.
He took out the pen from his jacket and placed it on the glass table in front of the sofa. Shen Wei followed his every movement and his eyes opened wide in a millisecond, but not fast enough for Zhao Yunlan not to see the reaction.
They both knew the item. Shen Wei always used a special type of ink and brush when writing, but Zhao Yunlan convinced him of trying the personalized ink pens he had ordered online, which were surprisingly well-received by the professor, who started using them for grading papers or writing informal notes. Shen Wei always carried two of them in his pocket.
"How could you do that?" Somehow his voice didn't break in the middle of the sentence and Zhao Yunlan was glad for it.
Shen Wei remained quiet.
In some odd way, that was a good thing. At least he wasn't trying to come up with an excuse or play dumb with him; so yeah, Zhao Yunlan felt a bit proud for Shen Wei's improvement.
He almost exhaled a sarcastic laugh.
But first things first.
He sighed deeply.
"How could you be so careless? Do you know what could've happened if I hadn't found the necklace?" His voice raised up without him noticing, and he continued, "It was totally visible, we were lucky that it was me who saw it and not Da Qing or Lin Jing."
Shen Wei looked away, his gaze fixed on his feet, looking incredibly sad; he lifted his sight slowly and Zhao Yunlan could perceive how glassy and bright his eyes looked, but Shen Wei dropped his head again, in a clear depiction of shame.
God, Zhao Yunlan hated Shen Wei's manipulative tactics, but he had to admit that seeing him like that did make him feel a little mad with himself for reprimanding him. Still, this was worse than all the other times Shen Wei hid something, so no, he wasn't going to play nice. His husband needed to learn the lesson, and not forget it .
"Lin Jing didn't find DNA from the murderer, so that's ok, at least you were as careful as always with that. But again, it was at plain sight, for fucks sake! You can't make mistakes like this ever again." His voice once again reached a high volume.
The “I can’t lose you” was implied.
Shen Wei nodded, with his head still lowered, accepting the scolding and vaguely admitting his guilt; that was all Zhao Yunlan could expect from him, so he didn't push more.
He knew the guy understood the magnitude of his mistake.
"What would you have done if the others had found it?" Shen Wei spoke quietly, raising his gaze briefly to look at him in the eye.
He knew exactly what effect those words would cause on Zhao Yunlan, but asked them anyway to see how the other would avoid them this time. They both knew the answer, and they both felt equally delighted with it, but for some reason, Zhao Yunlan would never pronounce it aloud.
So, this time it was Zhao Yunlan who remained quiet.
Then he sighed, as the line of thought that the question left wasn't appealing. "My love, my beauty, my darling, you have to be more careful," he said in a sweet tone. Shen Wei looked away, but Zhao Yunlan softly put his hand on the other’s face, forcing their eyes to connect, then continued, his voice barely more than a whisper, "Promise me?"
Shen Wei felt truly guilty, and tears were forming in his eyes. This time they were real.
With bright eyes that now couldn't take their gaze off Zhao Yunlan's face, he answered, "I promise. I'm sorry." Sadness permeated his face as he remembered Zhao Yunlan's disappointed look when the whole conversation started, as well as the worry stepping out of his words.
He didn't want to see that look or hear those words ever again.
And suddenly, that was all they both needed: a sincere promise and a direct talk.
Zhao Yunlan sighed again, this time in relaxation, and the stiffness of his body disappeared, which impulsed a similar reaction in Shen Wei, who had put both hands over Zhao Yunlan's hips at some moment, resting them in a peaceful posture.
"Come here, I'm not mad or anything; only worried." Zhao Yunlan said as his arms rounded Shen Wei's complete body so that his head was comfortably placed on the other's shoulder. He softly caressed Shen Wei's head, letting him know how real his words were; at that moment, the last thing Zhao Yunlan wanted was to make him sad.
After all, Shen Wei wasn't good at handling his emotions, and the fact that he let Zhao Yunlan see him like this, made Zhao Yunlan's heart flutter and throb excitedly in his chest.
They moved to the bed and Zhao Yunlan hoped they could sleep like that the rest of the afternoon and night, although he was pretty sure that Shen Wei would get up at some point to make dinner.
Still, they both lay down in silence, cuddling and covered by a thin blanket that the professor always left next to the bed in case the night ended up cooler than expected, with Shen Wei's head pressed closely against Zhao Yunlan's chest.
Shen Wei admitted in his mind that he had messed up. And he did feel bad for making Zhao Yunlan worry, so he would do his best to fulfill the promise made. He wasn't good with words, but fortunately, Zhao Yunlan knew him well enough to understand what and how he felt, so peacefulness filled his soul in equal amounts of the safety he experienced in Zhao Yunlan's hold.
Neither of them slept nor talked. They simply enjoyed the company and treasured the moment in their hearts.
. . .
For some reason, later that night Zhao Yunlan dreamed of how they met, with details and all, feeling as if he was living those times again.
They were memories he would always keep safe in his mind.
He had been chief of the Special Investigation Division for two years. Da Qing, Xiao Guo (who was the newcomer at the time), and he had gone to investigate the death of a student at Dragon City University. He met Shen Wei when Xiao Guo fell out of the window.
But that was only the first of many encounters.
He still remembered meeting Shen Wei in the following 5 cases they were assigned.
Surprisingly, no one other than Zhao Yunlan seemed to notice the pseudo professor, who always ended up standing in the crowd when they arrived to investigate, or walking through the corridor where a corpse had been found, or sitting on a bench and reading a book near the crime scene.
The point is, he was always there.
He wasn’t hiding, in fact, he always appeared in visible and public places, where he could easily be seen, but was also able to pass as a random person in the crowd.
Still, it was always Zhao Yunlan who saw him. And Shen Wei always looked back at him.
One day, he got tired of their weird dynamic.
Hell, even if Shen Wei was a murderer that just wanted to grab his attention he would honestly be happy with it. He was probably using his only brain cell at the moment, but in all those times they silently saw each other he did notice that well, the man was damn handsome, so it was pretty logical for him to see what the other was planning. Also, if the man were an actual serial killer he wouldn’t seek Zhao Yunlan the way he did, right?
He definitely didn't expect the outcome of their first date.
“Zhao Yunlan, from the case at the university.” He said as a greeting as he sat next to Shen Wei on the bench, causing the other to put down his book.
“Good morning chief Zhao. I'm professor Shen Wei.” He said with a polite smile and a controlled look on his framed eyes.
“I remember you. And I think you also remember me.”
“Ah, what makes you think so?” He tilted his head, as if looking for a better angle to observe the man next to him.
“The fact that you've followed me in every case since that first encounter. So, anything you want to say to me?” Zhao Yunlan imitated the action, moving his entire body towards the other, looking at him expectantly.
“You're quite direct, chief Zhao.” He smiled again, but this time in a dark way that somehow made Zhao Yunlan feel alert.
He almost flinched at the image, either in surprise or in something else.
“And you're not, professor. You've been following me and now that we finally talk you don't want to answer my questions.” If he pouted, well, no one could blame him, it was just one of his numerous tactics to catch criminals.
Shen Wei was taken aback, but the action was quickly replaced.
“May I invite you to lunch? There's a nice place across the street.”
“Ah? And why would I accept going for lunch with an incredibly suspicious man?” He arched his brows and asked in a low, half-sarcastic, half-serious voice, “How do I know you're not dangerous?”
Shen Wei pretended to reflect on that, as if not knowing what to answer, then talked again. “You'll accept thanks to your curiosity. Answering your last question, I'm afraid that's something relative and that only you can discover personally.”
“Oh! You're truly a scholar, aren't you? Sure, sure, please lead the way.”
They walked up to the cafeteria that was across the street, and Zhao Yunlan texted Da Qing saying he would be back later. No matter how dangerous Shen Wei could be, he wouldn't hurt Zhao Yunlan in such a public place. And so, he excitedly sat down on a table and ordered a coffee.
"Y'know if you wanted to ask me on a date there were plenty of easier ways to do so." He said in his usual shameless way, feeling strangely in charge of the situation.
"While unusual, my method still worked, which is what matters the most." Shen Wei gave him a shy smile as he looked at Zhao Yunlan in the eye.
And ok, Zhao Yunlan didn’t expect that.
(He would never admit that he felt a bit flattered after hearing those words.)
"Aren't you afraid that I'll go to the police and just... I don't know, tell them that a suspicious person approached me on a date?" He changed the topic.
"I know you won't. Zhao Yunlan, I think we have more in common than what you may think." While in their small conversation at the park it seemed that Shen Wei wasn’t as confident as Zhao Yunlan, his display at the cafeteria told the detective otherwise.
"Is that so?"
(It was at that moment that things started getting interesting.)
(And they only improved from there.)
“So, what do you want?” He asked.
“I just want to talk.”
“Do you have a specific conversation topic in mind?”
“I want to talk about a November night, in an abandoned house at the outer part of Dragon City, where a known criminal resided. A house that was unknowingly set on fire.”
Zhao Yunlan froze in his seat. The waitress arrived with their orders but Zhao Yunlan couldn’t hear a word from the girl; he could only look at the man sitting in front of him, who seemed completely at ease and even murmured a brief “Thank you” after the waitress left, with a polite smile on his face.
He should've known that Shen Wei wouldn't be as inoffensive as he seemed.
° ° ° ° ° °
Zhao Yunlan woke up in his comfortable bed, with that same man from his dreams, pressed closely against his back.
He smiled and turned around to say the good mornings to Shen Wei.
. . .
“I dreamed about us, about our first meeting.” He said during breakfast, with food in his mouth. Shen Wei passed him a napkin but didn’t sit down with him.
“Which one?” He asked from the kitchen as he poured a portion for himself.
“The one in the cafeteria.”
“It wasn't exactly normal, was it?” Shen Wei gave him that sweet smile of his that showed how calm he felt and Zhao Yunlan was instantly happy to see that.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that.” To say that their date wasn't normal was an understatement.
At that time, Shen Wei had brought the topic of the man responsible for Zhao Yunlan's mother's death and further family separation. He remembered that some months after they got together, Shen Wei explained how he discovered that Zhao Yunlan had set on fire the house where that bastard hid.
It turned out that Shen Wei had witnessed Zhao Yunlan's crime.
And it turned out that he had shot Shen Wei during his escape (of course, he remembered shooting someone that was near but didn't give much thought to it because he had missed, or so he believed). Then Shen Wei followed him for a while to kill him and bla bla bla.
After following him for a while, Shen Wei said that he noticed “how interesting” Zhao Yunlan was, so he approached him.
And the rest is history.
When did Shen Wei’s intention to kill Zhao Yunlan transform into love for him? None of them were sure.
Although Zhao Yunlan always thought that the moment he fell in love with the man was when he asked "and why couldn't we have one or two normal dates and then drop the news of you being a criminal?" and Shen Wei answered, "I was tired of pretensions, so I concluded it would be better for both to be frank," then, as if realizing the meaning of that comment, he talked again, ashamed and slightly flustered, "That was a selfish thought, I apologize for that." So yeah, he concluded that Shen Wei was a surprisingly polite and cute criminal, and a man he wouldn’t be capable of letting go.
He wasn’t wrong when he concluded that Shen Wei was definitely something else.
“Y’know, I still remember that on our third date you literally said ‘I‘ll always carry you with me’ and I thought you were being romantic but then you said that you referred to the scar that the shot left on you.” He laughed, savoring the memory and remembering that, in fact, that scar looked really nice on Shen Wei's left arm (especially when they were both without clothes and he could kiss and appreciate it as much as he wanted).
And Shen Wei blushed in the exact same way he did back then, with his usually pale face now covered in red colors. He sat down in the chair in front of him as he talked, “Sorry to disappoint you at that moment. Although now I can say the same thing without referring to the scar.”
Zhao Yunlan screamed internally.
“Ah, Shen Wei! How can you be so cute?” He stood up and pushed away the chair where Shen Wei had sat down a moment before, to have enough space to sit on his lap, he then surrounded Shen Wei's neck with his arms.
Shen Wei wasn't even a bit bothered by Zhao Yunlan's antics, even if they had interrupted what was supposed to be the most important meal of the day (he actually enjoyed them as much as the other man loved doing them), and held the body over him from the hips, securing his position and preventing the man from falling down.
He lifted his head to kiss Zhao Yunlan, and the action was clearly welcomed.
Some kisses were shared and Zhao Yunkan ended with the usual forehead kiss that he knew was one of Shen Wei's favorite ones. The professor smiled, his face radiating an incredible amount of happiness and fondness that made Zhao Yunlan feel proud, knowing he had been the one to cause them.
He was about to point out how handsome Shen Wei looked that morning and maybe improvise some poetry to admire him, when Da Qing interrupted them by opening the door without permission, as he usually did.
“Why do I always have to see you two being all lovey-dovey? Ew.” He turned around and went to the kitchen, looking for his breakfast.
“It's in the oven.” Shen Wei said to Da Qing, not really pulling Zhao Yunlan apart.
“Y’know, if you didn't enter the room like that, you would save yourself, and us, many problems.” Zhao Yunlan also said to Da Qing, who somehow had the not-so-lucky ability to find them in most romantic situations. Even though both Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan had gotten used to it by the fifth time Da Qing found them having sex, the remain of uncomfortableness would never be erased.
In the end, they finished their breakfast together and left for their respective jobs.
This time, Zhao Yunlan had a good feeling for the day.
° ° ° ° ° °
The days passed without any other interruption and so, almost two weeks after that crime scene, Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei found themselves on the roof of an abandoned building, in a pair of makeshift chairs. Shen Wei was wearing the usual black outfit accompanied by his long black cloak and that ugly mask that covered his whole face, while Zhao Yunlan wore a similar black set of clothes with his favorite dark green robe. It turned out that wearing a robe made cleaning easier, something Shen Wei was thankful for.
Today was a special day.
If a decade ago someone had told Zhao Yunlan that every two weeks or so he would go out with his husband in the middle of the night to accompany him to blow some steam off, he would have never believed it.
But well, things had changed a lot in the last six years, hadn’t they?
It wasn’t particularly a secret that Shen Wei was a murderer, it’s not like he ever pretended not to be one in front of Zhao Yunlan, which was a really honest decision appreciated by the latter.
He was aware that Shen Wei started that type of life from a very young age, just after his brother died and his adoptive parents left him to survive on his own. “Life is very tough on the streets,” Shen Wei told him once to justify his bloodthirst; Zhao Yunlan always thought that was half a lie and half true, but never commented on it.
This is why, after they got together and Shen Wei had no intention of changing his lifestyle and becoming a respectful citizen that contributed to society, Zhao Yunlan proposed the idea of taking out his anger on other criminals (y’know what they say, if you kill a criminal, the number of criminals stays the same, but if you kill five criminals then it's better, right?).
After that, Shen Wei started having his special nights , and then it became a routine.
Zhao Yunlan always said that he couldn’t remember when he had decided to accompany him on the journey.
Both of them knew it was a lie.
. . .
They both knew that Shen Wei sometimes had his slip-ups and the ones that ended up paying the consequences were the random people that had come across his way.
So here they were now, trying to avoid precisely that.
And they found a viable alternative to that, on the house at the corner, a few streets apart from where they stood, on a man dressed all in black who was packing some items that although they weren't able to identify, it was clear as water that the owner didn't have a good intention for their use. The man packed everything in a small bag and proceeded to begin his walk towards his objective.
“Come on, love.” Zhao Yunlan said to Shen Wei, with a wink and a smile, as excitement ran through his entire being, and aware that Shen Wei felt in a similar way.
He received a nod as a response, and even through the mask Zhao Yunlan had always hated (he proposed some new designs but the professor refused, saying that the people who saw him with the mask on would never care about how nice or ugly it looked like; Zhao Yunlan still insisted but got nothing), he could see Shen Wei's eyes bright darkly in that particular manner of them. Zhao Yunlan loved seeing that look on his husband.
Both felt incredibly happy.
Descending the stairs of the building and following their suspects was an easy task; the “I exercise a lot” excuse Shen Wei had once said turned out to be true and was always put to good use during these times.
Unfortunately, the man approached a neighborhood they recognized all too well, at some streets near the SID’s headquarters which led the way to the local plaza. Being the late hour, the whole place and its surroundings were empty and dark, with only the useless light provided by the occasional light posts guiding their way.
Zhao Yunlan smiled at the realization and concluded that things would be getting better that night.
Shen Wei, as usual, didn't care in the slightest, only focusing his whole attention on the actions performed by the unknown man, who had suddenly stopped his tracks and was now looking for something in his bag, facing the wall in the exact spot where the light from the public luminaire didn't reach the upper part of his body.
The man had probably noticed he wasn't alone.
Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan looked at each other, the time had arrived.
The professor slowly approached the man, but before he was able to touch him in the back, the man turned around, knife in hand, directing the sharp object to his face. Expecting the action, Shen Wei simply pulled himself back and surrounded the man in a practiced motion, securing him with an arm around the neck and throwing away the knife used before, but when he was about to ask Zhao Yunlan for his favorite weapon, a glaive he had acquired years ago, the man didn't waste more time and pulled out yet another knife, fortunately, smaller than the previous one, directing it at Shen Wei's leg. He had no other option but to release the man, both of them ending separated a meter apart.
Zhao Yunlan, who had originally planned to only admire the view at least in the first part of the night, was then standing in front of the man, blocking his way.
“What do you want?” It was evident that the man, who was now under the dim light and had a visible face, was furious. He was wearing a dark trench coat over a black hoodie, with black gloves covering his hands; the only visible part of him being his face, where long, black (and purple?) hair laid on the top, along with a nasty scar that ran from the upper part of the ear to the nose.
He was easily recognizable.
He should have put on a mask or something , Zhao Yunlan concluded.
Still, neither of them knew who the man was.
Not that it mattered, of course.
“What do you want? What are you doing?” That was Zhao Yunlan's answer. He didn't care what the man was up to, but a little chit-chat would never be denied by him.
“You're not from the police.” The man stated after looking closely at them, first Shen Wei, then Zhao Yunlan.
Zhao Yunlan laughed, “Actually, I am.” The strangest thing in here was that he was saying the truth.
The other didn't believe him in the slightest.
The man looked at him from head to toe, reaching a conclusion. “Is this some type of local gang? Look, I don't want problems.” As he said so his shoulders relaxed a bit, and neither Shen Wei nor Zhao Yunlan could understand it.
“We're not part of a gang, ok?” Zhao Yunlan was offended by the other man's words; it was true that he looked like a gangster (literally everyone said so), but Shen Wei? He was better than that. Even with the mask on it was obvious that the guy wasn't a random criminal, come on! “What are you doing here?” He ended up asking.
“You're not? Ah, I just want to steal that store,” he pointed to the boutique a few blocks away, “so, let's just have everyone go their own way.” The man gave what was probably supposed to be a smile as he looked at him.
Zhao Yunlan nodded slowly.
“Then I wonder why you need a rope and an antifreeze.” Shen Wei mentioned from behind in a serious voice that revealed he wasn't impressed an inch by the latest discovery; he hadn't wasted time paying attention to the exchange of words and instead opted to watch from afar the objects found in the bag previously carried by the man. A rope and a spray bottle could be seen from where he was standing.
“Oh, well, that's for…”
The man didn't finish the sentence, for he instead decided to throw something at Shen Wei and immediately throw himself over Zhao Yunlan, making the other fall down in a loud thud. Said man, who was then closely pressing Zhao Yunlan to the ground and had taken out a penknife from the back pocket of his jeans, looked actually younger than Zhao Yunlan himself, which explained the amount of force he was using in trying to bury said weapon in Zhao Yunlan's chest.
While Zhao Yunlan struggled in the grip he was being forced into, he wasn't actually worried. He knew he wasn't in danger if Shen Wei was around.
That proved to be correct, as Zhao Yunlan noticed the decrease in strength from his opponent. He blinked a few times, as something had landed on his eyes and had started fogging his sight. When he could see in a normal way again, he noticed he was free; the man was no longer trying to kill him.
Of course, the guy was probably an amateur who didn't know how to improvise on the road. Still, even if he had had some type of ability to defend himself, the victory of the fight was determined since the beginning of the encounter.
Shen Wei had sliced the man's throat.
Zhao Yunlan was helped to get up from the ground and by the horrified expression on Shen Wei's face after looking at him, he concluded his face was probably dirty with an incredible amount of blood. He was correct because the next thing Shen Wei did was take out a handkerchief and start wiping Zhao Yunlan's face.
After the worst part was wiped off, Zhao Yunlan murmured, “It’s ok, it’s nothing. Not my blood.” He then held Shen Wei by the wrist in a soft way, kissing his hand briefly, just giving a small caress to let the other know he was safe. Shen Wei visibly relaxed with the gesture.
Simultaneously, their gazes shifted to the dying man on the floor, who only had a few moments to live.
Neither of them moved.
Shen Wei loved watching his victims in the final moments, so he removed his mask; Zhao Yunlan could understand the fascination in the sight, although not in the same intensity as his lover did.
They watched together.
After a moment, Zhao Yunlan leaned on the floor, thinking of the best way to clean it all. Ah, this was the part he didn't like about the whole thing. “Shen Wei, how—,” he was interrupted.
How do we start cleaning? He meant to ask.
“C-Chief?” A voice behind them said. The panic underlining the words was palpable.
The couple turned around at the mention of that.
He tried to think how the situation might look to another person, with some traces of blood still decorating his face, Shen Wei’s red hands holding the also red glaive, and even worse, the dead body by their feet.
They were quite the image, he guessed. Even Shen Wei comprehended why Lin Jing looked so damn scared.
Apparently, the scientist misunderstood what was in front of him, as his trembling hands tried reaching Zhao Yunlan, with his feet still stuck to the ground. “C-Chief?” He repeated, “I-I’ll call the others, I— don’t worry. Y-You’ll be safe.”
Ah? Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan looked at each other in confusion, asking themselves the same question: What’s going on?
Zhao Yunlan took the initiative by taking a few steps in Lin Jing’s direction. The other remained in the same place, looking at him in the eye.
“It’s not what it looks like.” Yeah, he wasn’t able to come up with a more decent answer, but hey, that had to work.
Lin Jing glanced briefly at Shen Wei in alertness, causing the professor to put down the weapon, he then stepped closer to Zhao Yunlan, moving his robes and looking for injuries. “Are you injured? Chief, did he hurt you?”
That was a ridiculous question.
Zhao Yunlan still played along.
“I’m not injured and no, he didn’t. In fact, he protected me.”
The answer didn’t calm down the other, who had a troubled expression shaping his face. Meanwhile, Shen Wei watched them from behind in expectancy.
“Why are you dressed like that? What happened?” It seemed that after a brief moment of thought he was now taking into account the evidence presented. He was analyzing the crime scene the way he did whenever they had a case.
“It’s a long story, ok? The guy wanted to attack us and we defended ourselves, that's all.” Zhao Yunlan tried to convince him.
It took a while for the other to come up with a response. “Why are Shen Wei's hands covered with blood?”
“He wanted to kill us. I had to fight.” Shen Wei talked for the first time, his voice without any modulation in the tone, sounding as soothing and composed as always.
Lin Jing walked past them to see the body closer, sinking on the floor to examine it; the cause of death was evident: the deep cut on the man's throat.
But there was something not so evident in the wound: the length of the cut, which began at the left side of the neck, right below the ear, and finished in the back of his neck, right in the middle.
It reminded him of a case they had encountered before, of a middle-aged man whose death had been experienced in the same manner.
When Lin Jing didn’t answer after an entire minute of silence, Shen Wei slowly walked towards him, surrounding the body. His right shoe left dark footprints in the pavement from where he had accidentally stepped over the pool of blood left by the unknown man. Once Lin Jing took notice of this, he immediately stepped back, stopping when he felt a trash can behind him.
Shen Wei stood still at the other’s reaction. After that, he looked at Zhao Yunlan and their gazes met, a silent conversation flying through them; when Shen Wei identified Zhao Yunlan’s mild nervousness, he placed his hand over his shoulder, which earned a controlled sigh from Zhao Yunlan.
“We’ll get out of this.” Shen Wei tried saying through his touch. Zhao Yunlan nodded and the frown on his face softened.
Lin Jing covered his mouth with his hands as not to yell, swallowing the sound. Shen Wei’s hand had traces of blood on its fingers, but neither Zhao Yunlan nor Shen Wei noticed it.
They were sickly calm. As if the pool of blood and the stained hands were meaningless.
And they were, not quite how Lin Jing imagined, but in some disturbing way.
Realization hit the scientist's mind.
“Chief, what have you done? ” He was convinced that Shen Wei had forced his chief in some way, so he asked again, “Why did you let him do this? I-Is he making you do this?”
There had to be something wrong, some logical explanation to whatever was going on.
“It’s not that. Look, it’s a bit difficult to explain but—” Zhao Yunlan was interrupted again.
“It is! I—” His voice was going up in volume, but not quite yelling, “Both of you can get help. Just— I don’t know, let’s just talk to the others, I-I’m sure they’ll also help—”
After the words were cut, Shen Wei began to talk as he removed the hand over Zhao Yunlan’s shoulder and moved one small step to the front, “Lin Jing, I don’t think that’s the best—”
“Don’t! Don’t come any closer!” He walked backward again.
Shen Wei stopped his tracks, “Lin Jing, look at me. Do you really think we would harm an innocent man?” The scientist stopped his movements, his gaze fixed on the professor’s. “Can you please let us explain what happened?” Shen Wei talked again, his entire body language adopting that of a man trying to calm down a child.
Lin Jing looked at him, observing those warm and comprehensive eyes. Shen Wei would never do such a thing, right? There was no way this nice man could do such a wicked thing…
His sight landed on the pool of blood in front of him. Then on Shen Wei’s red, red hands.
Those hands were used to grading tests, to cooking, to caressing Da Qing, to helping him with research at his lab.
Why wasn’t Shen Wei shocked to see said hands stained with blood?
“No, no.” Lin Jing said as he denied with his head; Shen Wei tried moving once again, but before his shoe could touch the ground in the minuscule step he meant to give, Lin Jin’s yell stopped his action. “Stop right there, you… you…!”
“Ok everyone, let's calm down, shall we?” Zhao Yunlan intervened, extending his arm to block Shen Wei's path.
Lin Jing heavily sighed. His entire body was tense and the glasses were askew on his face; his mind was a mixture of emotions he didn't like, the confusion being the main one, along with a strong sense of betrayal and disappointment. What the hell was going on?
They, Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei, everyone, were supposed to be the good guys, right?
“Why? Chief, why would you uncover his... actions?”
He needed to understand.
Zhao Yunlan was confused, he thought the answer was really obvious.
“I love him the way he is. Maybe I love him because of what he is.”
“And what is he?” Lin Jing asked. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer.
“The same as me.”
His eyes filled with tears. Denial took over his entire being, even as the man who pronounced the words looked like the man he had seen every day for the past eight years.
Zhao Yunlan smiled, proudly. Shen Wei felt his heart filled with joy.
They loved each other with an infinite depth.
Disappointment changed into contempt and anger, as Lin Jing pronounced in a low voice, “You're a psychopath.”
He didn’t know to whom the statement was addressed.
“Psychopath seems a strong word.” Shen Wei replied in a mildly defensive manner, standing closer to Zhao Yunlan, as his shoulder touched the other's back. [*] When Lin Jing looked at him again, there was no trace of the kind man he had seen a few moments ago.
Zhao Yunlan laughed briefly; Shen Wei had always hated when people said something like that to them, especially if the words were directed to Zhao Yunlan.
He turned his head slightly to look at Shen Wei sideways. The professor held Zhao Yunlan's arm with more force than necessary.
“Zhao Yunlan…” He shook his head.
“But my love…” Zhao Yunlan turned around his entire body to observe his husband.
A moment later of silence, Lin Jing took out his phone with shaking hands and started to dial Da Qing’s phone number. If anyone knew how to control Zhao Yunlan (other than Shen Wei, that is), was the cat.
The action was interrupted by the strong grip against his neck.
When he glanced down he found the source of strength pressing and not allowing him to breathe. A long whip was surrounding his neck, while someone pressed the object from behind.
He could guess who was the man holding the whip.
“Is… this… because of him?” He managed to obtain enough air to pronounce the words.
“It isn't.” Zhao Yunlan answered, as his arms applied even more force to the grip.
He wasn't doing Shen Wei a favor, he was doing himself a favor.
The pair of black glasses fell to the floor. Shen Wei picked them up and cleaned them; he had always loved collecting them.
Zhao Yunlan sighed in fatigue, releasing his grip.
Once again, they watched together the bodies on the floor.
They were beautiful.
° ° ° ° ° °
“Ah, where's that crazy scientist?”
“He hasn't arrived yet, I'll call him.” Wang Zheng said as cheerful as always, as she opened a file on her desk.
“Good, tell him to hurry up, otherwise I'm gonna cut his bonus.”
“A-Again, c-chief? You've already cut it twice this m-month.” Guo Changcheng talked from where he sat on the stairs to write things in his notebook, not able to look at them while saying the words aloud.
“Xiao Guo is right, you shouldn't be so severe with him.” Ah, Shen Wei once again tried protecting his subordinates.
“You should listen to your husband, chief.” Wang Zheng intervened again, with the warm smile she usually offered to them.
“Ah, you're too good to everyone, my dear. Can I have some of your generosity so that they also respect me as much as they respect you?” Zhao Yunlan surrounded Shen Wei with his arm, pulling him closer and talking in a not really low volume.
“Don't act like you don't have it already. You're way better than me.” Shen Wei’s smile was genuine, and Zhao Yunlan felt happiness instantly fill him as he admired it. He smiled back, as brightly as Shen Wei.
“Mn, true, true. Now come here, I need a kiss.”
Chu Shuzhi rolled his eyes and ignored them, while Da Qing went to the kitchen and Sang Zan arrived at Wang Zheng’s desk. Zhu Hong talked on the phone with someone and didn’t even raise her gaze to look at the others.
It was a normal day, maybe the only thing that changed was that Lin Jing never arrived.