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Puppy Love

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It, like most unfortunate and later regretted things that happened in SID, started as a joke. No, it started as the Chief being an ass. Another way a lot of things happened that probably shouldn’t have. Specifically, Lao Zhao was being an ass and trying to punish one of them. Which... was also a trend.

If he thought about it too long, Chu Shuzhi almost wished he had asked if there were any other covert operations to take on before letting himself be planted as a spy, when the group he had to contend with got into so much bullshit that he could amass an itemised list of specific things that constantly escalated to someone’s eventual humiliation or some kind of property damage. Often both.

Surely the Black Cloak Envoy had to have some other dangerous mission in his cape’s pocket that would let him hit more people and worry less about having to sit through another HR disaster. Or at least not end with him having to babysit some stupid kid who he kind of fell in love with and couldn’t figure out how to get out of his head...

Not that it would have mattered anymore, because he was screwed the moment he walked into headquarters one morning to see everyone grouped around one of the couches looking far too happy.

Only Chief Zhao and Shen Wei weren’t in the cluster of people all watching with various levels of amusement on their faces as Lin Jing leaned over Da Qing, poking at something with a shit eating grin.

“Come on! Get it off! Aren’t you supposed to be a smart human?” Da Qing demanded, looking the part of a pissed off cat even in his other form.

“I don’t know…The Chief might get mad at me if I do, and he’s already threatened to deduct my pay three times this month.” Lin Jing said as he stood up and moved away with his hand on his chin, absolutely just making an excuse, even if the pay thing was true.

“I don’t care! It’s undignified! I’m the King of Cats and I will not be humiliated like this!”

“I mean, it’s not like other cats don’t wear collars… Maybe Chief was actually worried about you?” Guo Changcheng piped up from where he was watching with much more sympathy than the others, that benefit of the doubt he gave everyone rearing its head.

It was annoying. And endearing. Which was how Chu Shuzhi saw most of his traits. Also, he knew the kid was definitely wrong, as once he had walked closer, he could see what everyone was gawking at.

There was a collar around Da Qing’s neck. Not his usual chain with the bell charm that was probably older than most of them combined. An actual pet collar with a buckle and what looked like a paw shaped name tag. It even had little rhinestones like something some old lady would pick out for her lap dog.

“Do I even want to know what is going on here?” He deadpanned, feeling a little thrill go through him when, as always, as soon as he heard him Changcheng’s head snapped up and he beamed a wide goofy smile at him.

“Chu-ge! Good morning!” He greeted excitedly before Lin Jing started to talk over him without care.

“Apparently Lao Zhao was in a mood and got tired of Dead Cat getting into mischief. Something about trying to domesticate him since he acts like a feral stray?” He said, dodging the anticipated swipe from the cat without his smile faltering.

“It’s not fair! He put it on me while I was napping! Who takes advantage of someone’s vulnerability like that?” Da Qing pouted. “And he didn’t even put the right thing on the tag...”

Chu Shuzhi didn’t really get why that would have mattered, but he had figured out a while ago that he was the only one of his coworkers without weird ass priorities.

“It says ‘Fat Fuq’!” Lin Jing crowed, as if Chu Shuzhi actually cared and asked, not dodging the smack this time but not seeming to mind, laughing as he flinched away from Da Qing’s flailing arm.

“The contact info isn’t even Zhao Yunlan’s.” Zhu Hong said with a sigh, explaining why she also seemed offended by this a moment later when she continued with a roll of her eyes “The address on the back is Shen Wei’s. And the number is his landline at the university.”

That was actually pretty funny, especially considering the apartment that was mostly vacant these days was right across the hall from Zhao Yunlan’s place.

Though, he didn’t really think the Envoy needed to be bothered by calls about a stray cat that wasn’t even his, if anyone ever did catch Da Qing.

“So why are you making a spectacle of yourself and not just taking it off?” He asked, not understanding why this bullshit was disturbing his morning.

He wanted to finish some paperwork and use training as an excuse to get out of the office for a while with Guo Changcheng, and the likelihood of that happening before this was resolved was pretty fucking low.

“There’s a lock on the back he can’t open.” Wang Zheng answered him, her and Sang Zan the only ones other than Guo Changcheng who looked like they actually felt bad for him.

“Mhm. A very complicated lock that I’m not sure I can open.” Lin Jing said, nodding seriously but then shooting them all a wink where Da Qing couldn’t see to show this was definitely him being a lying asshole.

“Lin Jing! You have to take it off, I can’t run around like this!” Da Qing demanded.

“You’re right about that at least. Looks way too suggestive to anyone who doesn’t know you’re a cat. It would be unprofessional at a crime scene, make people think Special Investigations hires perverts.” Zhu Hong scoffed.

There was a wave of snickers at that, even the ghosts giggling though they probably barely understood the implication. Only Guo Changcheng was innocent enough to flush and look slightly panicked and confused, like he did anytime someone dropped a lewd comment in the office that he didn’t seem to get.

It was something Chu Shuzhi thought about a little too much, wondering if he was actually all that innocent, or if it was just an extension of his constant awkwardness. He was pretty sure he would never get the chance to find out, but he had about as much luck shutting down that kind of thinking as any of the other helpless idiots in SID had shutting down their feelings for the people they… Well, not that he was going to lump himself in with the others. He had dignity at least.

“I could maybe try?” The boy in question piped up, which was stupid, but he had a habit of taking one for the team whenever the others were being bastards.

“Excellent idea! There’s no way Lao Zhao will dock your pay for helping out the deputy.” Lin Jing was quick to agree and push Guo Changcheng over to the cat.

Well, he wasn’t going to let the newbie take the fall for this, even if he did actually manage to get it open, which he was sure they all had doubts about. With an irritable growl he stalked forward and shoved over Da Qing, who predictably started yowling, using one of his strings to yank at the small lock keeping the collar in place.

The lock was definitely not sophisticated, it looked one step up from something you found on a diary. Not Guo Changcheng’s diary because the idiot didn’t have a lock on it, and just left the thing lying around. It didn’t hold up against dark energy and popped open with a choking noise from the person it was attached to.

“There. Now will you all shut up.” He deadpanned, spinning on his heel and going to his desk, which regrettably wasn’t actually all that far from the idiots.

“Thank you, Chu-ge!” Guo Changcheng called after him, earning a dismissive wave of his arm but also a smile he hid by ducking his head down.

“Well, he could have been a little more gentle about it…” Da Qing complained, rubbing at his now freed, if sore, neck.

“He could have just taken your whole head off.” Zhu Hong shot back with a tilt of her head.

“What should we do with it? Should we hide the evidence or do you think Chief will… want to keep it for something else?” Lin Jing asked, picking up the collar and looking it over with an uneasy expression.

“I don’t even want to know what you are trying to imply there.” Da Qing said, wrinkling his nose.

“It doesn’t really look like it’s for a cat. It’s more like a dog collar.” Wang Zheng remarked, thankfully diverting the subject away from something that might end up with Chu Shuzhi hitting someone, because he wasn’t going to sit there and listen to his stupid coworkers speculate about the Lord Envoy’s personal life like that.

“Well, I’m not a dog! Obviously.”

“No, the only puppy here is Xiao Guo.” Lin Jing snickered, 

Chu Shuzhi silently agreed but felt a little bad about it when Changcheng pouted. He turned away to pretend he was actually getting some work done, unlike anyone else. This was a mistake, because he should have known better by then to turn his back on potential disasters.

There was a sound of laughter, a brief scuffle, Guo Changcheng yelping “Hey, no, stop that!” and then an almost inaudible click noise followed by complete silence.

Chu Shuzhi closed his eyes in a silent plea for his sanity before opening them again and slowly spinning his chair to see everyone looking at Guo Changcheng, the collar now locked around his neck.

“Did one of you idiots just do what I think you did?”

The silence continued, everyone’s face ranging from held in laughter to guilt.

Guo Changcheng was pawing at the back of his neck with his mouth hanging open in shock, the tag on the collar clinking merrily as he tried to get a hold of the lock. His defeated expression a moment later said sure enough, it was stuck.

“Which one of you was it?” Chu Shuzhi growled, clenching his teeth at the fact he hadn’t even made it all of five minutes in his chair before having to get up again.

There predictably was a wave of accusations and pointed fingers that implicated literally everyone except Sang Zan and Guo Changcheng himself. He put his odds on it being Lin Jing or Zhu Hong, but he knew actually trying to find out was a lost cause and decided at some point to just enact some kind of karma on all of them for good measure. 

He walked over to Changcheng to take a closer look, and realised to his disgust he was actually getting turned on by the sight of the dark collar around his pale throat, the little gems making it hard to look away from as the boy stared up at him with wide eyes, pleading for him to once again save him.

Well, that’s a kink I didn’t know I had. Chu Shuzhi thought, outloud lamenting “Just one morning. That’s all I want, can we just have one fucking morning where you people manage to act like you have any sense?”

It didn’t do him any favours that Changcheng obediently tipped his head back to bare his throat when Chu Shuzhi took him by the chin to get a better look, hoping to god he seemed anything near practical instead of it being obvious he was drinking in what he was sure was going to be a sight that would be stamped into his memory for the rest of his life.

Continuing his no doubt unintentional performance of being a well trained puppy like the others had teased, Changcheng let him push him around to face the other way, giving him a better look at the lock which definitely was clasped again.

Chu Shuzhi narrowed his eyes and put a hand to the base of his neck to angle his head forward more, and told himself sternly it was only because he was working so hard to keep himself breathing normally despite all the things he suddenly wanted to lean in and do to that neck, that he thought for a moment he heard a quiet gasp from Guo Changcheng.

With the clearer view he could see what happened; when he yanked open the lock he damaged it, making the catch looser so it would slide closed on its own. So whoever put it on probably had only locked it completely by accident. Not that that would change his decision to make them pay for ruining his morning.

“Can you get it off, Chu-ge?” Guo Changcheng asked, sounding strangely timid in a way he hadn’t been with him in a while.

It made him pull back, realising all of a sudden how much he had been manhandling him without any kind of excuse, like them currently being in mortal danger, the usual reason he got to put his hands on Guo Changcheng.

The boy wasn’t exactly averse to touch, when Chu Shuzhi risked laying a casual hand on him or bumping his shoulder he actually seemed pleased, and he had his own habit of crowding into his space and tugging on him when he wanted something or was scared. But even without realising he was being a perv, what Chu Shuzhi just did probably made him uncomfortable. 

“No, deal with it yourself. I can’t always be solving your dumb ass problems for you.” He spit out before even realising he was going to say no.

It earned him some odd looks from the peanut gallery, who had been silently watching their exchange already, at least Zhu Hong and Da Qing looking like they had an inkling what was actually going on.

He huffed in irritation and swept back to his desk, aware there was nothing he could do about it. Denying he was getting hot and bothered by their intern in a collar would just clinch it for anyone who suspected, and tip off anyone who hadn’t.

“But Chu-ge…” Guo Changcheng said in something close to a whimper that definitely wouldn’t keep him up at night.

“Lin Jing, are you sure you can’t get it off? If Lao Zhao gets back and I-”

“Oooh my ears are burning. What exactly are we trying to hide from the boss, Xiao Guo?” A cheery voice sounded from behind them, and they all turned to see Zhao Yunlan strolling in with his hands in his pockets and a lollipop in his mouth, Shen Wei by his side looking amused as always by him trying to mess with his subordinates.

“Wow, does no one actually work here except the spy? I’m disappointed, do I need a nanny cam or something for when I’m not in the office?” Zhao Yunlan drawled as he walked over.

Shen Wei chuckled, the only one willing to show what they were all thinking, that if they slacked off it was only because they learned well from their boss.

“Seriously though, what are you guys up to?”

It was obvious the moment he spotted the collar, too hard to miss even when Guo Changcheng was cringing in on himself, his shoulders by his ears, doing everything but actually covering it with his hands.

“Uhh… That is not where I left that.” Zhao Yunlan said with a tilt of his head, eyes cutting between the boy and Da Qing, the cat staring in the other direction like if he ignored what was going on it meant he wasn’t implicated.

“It was an accident?” Guo Changcheng spoke up.

Zhao Yunlan actually rolled his eyes at that, looking up toward the ceiling with his hands on his hips like the answer to why his team was like this was written up there. It wasn’t. Chu Shuzhi had checked.

He looked back down, and his gaze seemed to catch on him for a brief moment, and Chu Shuzhi saw that that goddamn detective brain he somehow actually had, somehow could tell in those two seconds exactly what current fucking problem he was having, and was both amused and already done with the situation.

“Sometimes, with all the strange shit I walk in on, I really question if you guys are just unlucky or just that bored. Either way I give up, and I don't even want to know what’s actually going on.” He said in a long suffering voice that was pretty ironic considering this whole thing started because he decided locking a collar on someone who was asleep was an appropriate thing to do.

“Do you have the key?” Guo Changcheng dared to ask, what looked like the very last bit of hope he had flickering in his eyes.

Zhao Yunlan blinked at him for a moment before visibly deciding to be an asshole and turning on his heel to head toward the stairs, Shen Wei trailing behind him with a fond expression like his partner wasn’t an actual gremlin.

“Sorry, Xiao Guo. I threw away the key because a certain cat was supposed to be the one stuck with it. Guess you’ll just have to live the rest of your life like that, so sad, my condolences. Everyone else, how about you actually act like you have jobs?” He called over his shoulder, faux sympathy turning into a clear order at the end, and Chu Shuzhi realised that by refusing to help he somehow had actually gotten away with no one helping the poor kid, at least for now.

He wasn’t sure if he was actually glad or felt like a creep. Both. Either way, he knew he was probably going to regret it.

The others scattered like cockroaches, leaving a pathetic looking Guo Changcheng on the couch, hand tugging on the collar and desperate expression begging someone to say sike and come help him. Obviously, no one did.

In fact, somehow, Guo Changcheng ended up going the entire shift without anyone helping him, and he was apparently too scared to get some tools and start messing around with the back of his neck on his own. So he was stuck.

And, so was Chu Shuzhi. After Zhao Yunlan showed up everyone started acting like it was a completely normal work day, going about with what they did when there weren’t any active cases, doing everything in their power to pretend nothing unusual was going on.

It wasn’t actually surprising, because Guo Changcheng could have been on the team years and they would all still be assholes who had the same exact amount of enthusiasm for hazing him as they did his first day.

And usually he wouldn’t actually count himself that far from being the same. Even if he had grown all kinds of gross warm and soft feelings for the kid, he was still pretty fun to mess with. But this time he was not in on the joke. In fact, as the day went on, Chu Shuzhi started to feel like he was the one really being fucked with.

Obviously, after all that, he couldn’t go along with his plan and abscond with their newbie for an afternoon training. For one, if he did it would make a lot less sense to still refuse to take off the collar. Which, for some reason he felt like even if he wanted to, he couldn’t go back on that and needed to commit.

And he knew if he ended up on the receiving end of Guo Changcheng’s now very ironic puppy eyes, he would either relent and take it off, or do something else that he most definitely should not do, on pains of ruining their friendship and maybe getting a sexual harassment complaint filed on him.

Not to mention, he knew for sure several members of the team would definitely draw conclusions if he intentionally got the kid alone. With the fact he had been at least rocking a semi for most the day, try as he might not able to keep his eyes off Changcheng as he did his usual lowest-on-the-food-chain running around for any task no one else wanted, they wouldn’t even be wrong.

He liked to think he was a strong man, not just physically, but when it came to mental strength. He was a warrior after all, he understood self control and patience and all those other things that should stop him from thinking of increasingly elaborate situations that involved Changcheng in that collar, all alone with him, preferably somewhere with a bed.

It was just a really rough fucking day, and the fact he was pretty sure Guo Changcheng actually noticed he was being weird was the last nail in the coffin. He was pretty sure there was no way he would guess that when Chu Shuzhi appeared to be glaring at him from across the office, it wasn’t because he was pissed off at him, but because he was silently wishing his shirt was looser so he could see the collar better, and picturing hooking a finger into the ring on it to reel him in close and…

Yeah, the only good thing about it was he was pretty sure the kid was clueless. He was just big brother Chu, who looked after him in an innocent way and had never discovered any new fetishes simply because of him.

Actually, it wasn’t a good thing, it was depressing. But he could at least take advantage of it.

Thankfully all things must come to an end, and eventually the end of their shift came. The others left first, as he was one of the few people who actually cared about not leaving work undone and didn’t have better things to spend his night doing, but eventually he got to close the folder of the last fucking report he had and sat back in his chair with a sigh, ready to go home and spend the night regaining the tatters of his sanity before coming back tomorrow to a hopefully freed Changcheng.

“Lao Chu! Just the man I was looking for!”

Somewhere, wherever he was, the Black Cloak Envoy must have suddenly felt like Zhao Yunlan was in mortal danger and maybe he should come get him from work before something bad happened. Something violent. And creative.

“What do you want.”

“Great response to your boss needing something, love the enthusiasm! So here’s the thing,” Zhao Yunlan said, leaning against his desk with a smirk, an ominous folder in his hands.

“I may or may not have totally forgotten I need you to fill this report out, some acquisition-use-of-resources-payroll BS, that kind of stupid stuff. And it’s due by tomorrow, dang upper management. You know how it is.”

“Really.” Chu Shuzhi deadpanned, not even a little trying to pretend he wasn’t glaring.

“Sorry, but when the bosses need something, and in this case my bosses need something so your boss needs something.”

Chu Shuzhi sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, spending a good minute wondering what the Lord Envoy would do if he tried to kill the Chief, or maybe maim him, before holding out his hand for the folder.

The only good thing was, he was pretty sure Changcheng was gone, since he wasn’t hovering around some corner of the office looking awkward anymore.

“Thank you so much for your cooperation, and don’t worry! It’s not like you’re the only one on overtime tonight. Xiao Guo also had some filing to catch up on so he’ll be here to keep you company.” Everything about his tone and the relaxed slope of his shoulders said casual, the twinkle in his eyes and the wink he gave Chu Shuzhi said he knew exactly what the fuck he was doing.

“Wait a goddamn-”

“Anyway, gotta go! Date night with someone tall, dark and cloaked if you know what I mean. Just leave it on my desk, alright?” And then he spun on his heel and walked away, pulling one of his stupid lollipops out of this pocket with a self-satisfied smile.

Chu Shuzhi watched him go, feeling like he had somehow been thrown to the wolves, which might have been over dramatic since he had actually just been left alone with their most harmless coworker.

He spent a moment very sternly telling himself this didn’t mean anything and he would get through all his work the same way he survived the past eight hours. Nothing was going to happen. Changcheng probably wouldn’t even be around him.

This of course, was the kid’s cue to walk in, the collar still in plain damn sight, with his arms full of books which he was only holding onto out of some kind of divine intervention, and promptly said intervention ceased as soon as he spotted Chu Shuzhi and called out to him with a grin.

“Chu-ge! I didn’t realise you were still here- oh, oh no!”

He was only half way across the room by the time the entire pile was on the floor, Changcheng scrambling to catch any of it and completely failing, but at least it was funny watching him. It stopped being fun when Chu Shuzhi reached him, and the kid abruptly slid to his knees, hurrying to gather everything back up and looking up at him with a nervous grin.

“Sorry, it’s fine. I got it, you can go back to your own work.”

He definitely wasn’t going to do that, but mostly because he wasn’t sure he could move at that moment, and was worried if he did it would make Changcheng notice that he had a rapidly growing... problem, due to the person he had spent the day ogling now kneeling before him, that fucking collar on full display and a flush across his face from embarrassment.

“Uh… Chu-ge?”

He shook himself out of his sexual-frustration-induced fugue and dropped down to help gather the books with a scowl. “Idiot. Why did you try and carry this all at once?” He scolded, internally chanting If I’m grumpy enough he’ll neve notice a thing.

“I know, but I wanted to hurry. The Chief said he absolutely needs it all done tonight!” Changcheng said with a seriousness that was frankly adorable, and also confirmed his suspicions that Zhao Yunlan had decided to bounce back from his little prank on Da Qing not working out by fucking with the two of them instead.

“If you needed help you should have just asked, dumbass.” He said through gritted teeth, aware it wasn’t exactly going along with his gameplan but fuck it, at this point helping the kid when his head was going underwater was just instinct.

“Thank you! But I should be able to handle it.” Changcheng said with a grin that faltered a moment later. “I was actually wondering… You seemed upset today. If it was because this morning, I’m sorry. I know I ask you for help too much… Was really stupid to get this thing stuck on me.” He apologised, looking now like a kicked puppy, one hand coming up to tug at the black leather band.

It was maybe a miracle that no one had used that metaphor before, because the hits just kept coming with how well it fit. With his wide fucking eyes and his hair flopping across his forehead and the way he always looked at Chu Shuzhi like he would trust him with his life in a heart beat (which he actually had, and wasn’t that the fucking worst?) The collar was just icing on the cake.

And apparently it was also the end of his patience, because suddenly it seemed way more important to make a fucking point than hide how he was feeling.

His scowl deepened and he set the books he was holding down with a slam, turning and tugging away the books the now cowed-looking Changcheng had as well and adding them to the stack.

And then he did what he had been wanting to do All Fucking Day, and snagged a hold of Changcheng by the ring of the collar and steered him back against the nearest desk, crowding in until their noses were almost touching, only just resisting pushing a thigh between his legs.

“Do you honestly think that the reason I haven’t been able to act normal today, is because you asked me for something, and not because you ran around with a fucking collar on like you were just begging someone to take advantage?”

Changchang’s eyes had somehow gotten even wider, and he made a choking noise that was more shock than a reaction to the pressure of Chu Shuzhi still holding onto the collar.

“Umm- I, I mean. I don’t really know what you mean by that, Chu-ge.” He floundered to say.

Chu Shuzhi raised an eyebrow and decided there was no going back at this point, and he might as well take pity on the kid and spell it out for him.

“I already have a hard time concentrating and keeping my hands off you. With this, ” He punctuated the word with a sharp tup on the collar, some part of him purring in satisfaction when it made Changcheng’s breath hitch and his eyes flutter shut for a moment. “Do you have any idea the kinds of things I spent the whole day picturing doing to you?”

Thankfully, he didn’t seem to need any further explanation, a strangled noise in the back of his throat showing Changcheng definitely got his meaning. And thankfully, he didn’t leave Chu Shuzhi wondering for long if he was about to be landed with the mother of all HR complaints.

“No… I didn’t know. Can I-” Changcheng’s bravery seemed to falter for a moment, but then his eyes flickered with a rare appearance of that steel spine he always had when it mattered, the sight of it even better with how his pupils had blown wide at Chu Shuzhi’s words.

“Is there anyway that I can help with that, Chu-ge? If I… distracted you, I should help, right?” The smile he gave him was too sweet to be coy or flirtatious, but it was all Changcheng through and through, so it still made Chu Shuzhi melt, and sent a burst of heat through his stomach.

He grinned, knowing it probably looked beyond predatory, and finally pushed his thigh between Changcheng’s legs, pleased to feel an identical hardness at the front of the kid’s jeans.

“Are you sure you want to do that, Xiao Guo? ” He said, voice low and somewhere between inviting and threatening.

Changcheng gulped. And then he nodded.

And then he very deliberately tilted his head back to expose his neck, the collar jingling quietly with the movement and the little rhinestones sparkling at Chu Shuzhi in the light.

When Zhao Yunlan strolled into work the next morning, he found that it was strangely quiet, the people already there seeming to be staring at their work with slightly red faces, like if they didn’t look up, then they wouldn’t have to think about the various disturbances currently around the office.

Zhu Hong’s desk was a mess, looking like something had swept most of its contents onto the ground and only haphazardly replaced them, the snake in question not yet at work to see and correct the disarray.

Da Qing was in his cat form and sitting on top of a filing cabinet, somehow looking traumatised even though he couldn’t really make facial expressions at that moment.

He was matched by Lin Jing, who later that day would come to Zhao Yunlan’s office to stutteringly say he had been reviewing the night before’s surveillance footage and due to a... Technical error, it seemed everything from the time most of the team left had mysteriously been erased, and no he definitely did not think it would be necessary to try and restore it.

The only two who seemed immune to the strange atmosphere of the office, were Chu Shuzhi, who looked completely normal, but did have a self-satisfied air about him, and Xiao Guo, who was just as red in the face as the others, but it was accompanied by a beaming smile and a giddy happiness.

The collar was gone. In its place, was an unmistakable purple marking peeking out of the boy’s shirt, and throughout the day, with absolutely no subtly, Chu Shuzhi would brush a hand over the mark or the back of Guo Changcheng’s neck anytime he walked by him.

Of course, Zhao Yunlan was not one to let things go easily, or resist an opportunity to torture his subordinates, especially when the reports he asked for weren’t even on his desk, so he waited until most everyone was in the bullpen and turned to their newbie with a innocent smile that fooled no one.

“Xiao Guo! I can’t help but notice, your little accessory from yesterday is gone. I guess someone must have finally helped you get it off then? Who was it?”

He sat back and enjoyed Guo Changcheng’s panicked look, his wide eyes bouncing back and forth from him to Lao Chu like he was begging for help. Predictably, he found it.

“I did. Was annoying me.” Chu Shuzhi said gruffly, absolutely missing the mark, much to everyone’s discomfort.

“Oh really? It was?” Zhao Yunlan poked, like he couldn’t possibly imagine why. “Well, where is it? It actually cost a good bit of money. I might try and return it.”

He enjoyed the resulting flushes across the new couple’s faces, almost as much as he enjoyed the distrubed looks of the rest of the team.

He sighed dramatically and waved a hand. “Alright, I guess you must have thrown it away. Afterall, it’s not like you have a pup to put it on, do you?” He ended making direct eye contact with Chu Shuzhi, and the glare he got back made him genuinely wonder for a minute if Shen Wei would protect him if the puppet master decided to get retribution.

But he figured, somewhere deep, deep down, maybe they were a little grateful, since they might have kept dancing around each other for another damn six months otherwise. And even if they weren’t. It was still worth it, because it might have been the funniest fucking thing that had happened around there in ages.

Though, he actually didn’t really want to think about the fact that they definitely didn’t throw away the collar.

Chu Shuzhi just would never let anyone see Xiao Guo wearing it. Anyone other than him, that was.