It all started innocently enough.
Or rather, sad. It started off sad, at least for Guo Changcheng. He stood, clutching all that remained of his normal messenger bag. He wasn’t even sure it could be saved. Nearly all the seams of the bag had been torn apart and the strap was in pieces.
Three different pieces.
“Aw.” He said quietly to himself, “This was my favorite bag.”
A shadow loomed beside him suddenly and with a start he clutched the shreds of his bag (and its contents) to his chest, even as his brain identified who stepped close. “Chu-ge. Oh, um, are you okay?”
It was a reflexive sort of question, one he wasn’t always consciously aware he did, a way to make sure the people around him were safe, but also a way for him to gauge what sort of mood a person was in. Visually he could say Chu-ge looked perfectly normal. His black scarves and coat were neat and tidy, his habitual scowl already in place.
“What happened to your bag?” Asked the larger man.
Guo Changcheng automatically looked down at his bag, “We got into a tug of war.”, meaning he and the rogue Dixingren. “It lost.” He said mournfully, gaze still downcast as he stared at the bag.
Another shadow joined the two, but this time from the other side and Guo Changcheng once again looked up. “Oh, Professor Shen. Are you and Chief Zhao, okay?”
Shen Wei gave a small smile, something infinitely gentle in that expression of his, “Yes, Xiao Guo, we’re fine. Thank you for asking.” Then much like Chu-ge, the Professor asked, “Your bag was ruined?”
And once more Guo Changcheng sighed, then bit his lip, “Yeah, but it’s okay. I can find a new one. It’ll be as good as this one.”
The Professor extended his hands, “May I?”
Guo Changcheng blinked several times before he said, “Oh, of course, here.”, and carefully now he handed the destroyed bag to Shen Wei. The contents of the bag he kept in his own arms, mindfully juggling it all so he didn’t drop anything.
“Can you fix it?” Guo Changcheng asked hopefully, and beside him, he heard a noise from Chu-ge.
“Of course, he can. The Envoy can fix everything.”
Guo Changcheng couldn’t stop the look he slid over to Chu-ge, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to ask a stupid question.”
The Professor shook his head, “Not everything.” He said quietly, “But this, I can.”
Guo Changcheng watched as dark energy gathered around the Professor’s hands and with a gasp, the bag began to reassemble itself. The ripped pieces smoothly mended themselves back together, the raggedly cut threads magically becoming whole once again, and the strap reassembling piece by piece.
When Shen Wei was finished, he offered it back. “If it happens again, please don’t hesitate to bring it to me. I will gladly help.”
Guo Changcheng clutched the now repaired bag in his arms, “T-thank you, Professor Shen!”
With one last gentle smile, the Professor stepped away from the pair.
Guo Changcheng started to put all his things back into the bag; his favorite pen, his current favorite journal, his phone and let’s not forget his favorite wallet. “This is amazing, Chu-ge! It’s like nothing ever happened to it.”
Chu-ge grunted a soft noise then lightly cuffed his head, affection in that movement of his, even if it caused Changcheng to stumble two steps forward.
“Come on, then. Let’s get back to work.”
And Guo Changcheng dutifully followed.
Days later, Lin Jing groaned. “Oh man, I forgot to bring extra evidence bags. Now we’re going to have to run back and get more.”
Da Qing, who was idly staring at some scrap of cloth, looked up. “You mean you, right? You’ll be running back to HQ to get some more. Because you forgot them, not us.”
The two began to bicker back and forth, the cat easily settling into tones that while not necessarily caterwauling was pretty close.
Guo Changcheng couldn’t stop his wince, but before he could bring his hands to his ears, he felt the sudden urge to look in his bag. With a frown, the young man opened the satchel and looked inside. “Huh.” He murmured to himself, “I don’t remember putting these in here.”, and from the depths of the bag he pulled out several packages of unopened evidence bags.
Zhu Hong saw it first and she plucked a package from Guo Changcheng’s hands. “Look at this, Lin Jing, Xiao Guo saved the day. Maybe we should give him your bonus.”
Her tease caused the tall scientist to groan, “Zhu Hong, that’s just plain rude.”
“The truth often is.” Said the Snake Yashou, a biting tease to her words.
While everyone laughed, Guo Changcheng couldn’t quite stop himself from going through his bag, to see if there was anything else interesting within, but all he found was his usual stuff. Before he could question it more, Chu Shuzhi stepped over. “Don’t just stand there, dumbass. Come and help.”
“O-oh, right, Chu-ge! Here I come.”
The group was exhausted.
It felt like they all had just ran for eight miles after a rogue Dixingren, who was now on their way back to Dixing courtesy of Professor Shen. The professor had promised to return shortly and while they all knew they should get moving and trudge back to the cars, none of them moved.
The only sound that could be heard for long minutes was the heavy breathing of several pairs of burning lungs, then, “I’m thirsty.”, whined Da Qing, “And hungry! Lao Zhao, you better buy us lunch when we get back. We all burned forty-thousand calories today. It’s only right.”
Zhao Yunlan snorted or tried to, but at best it was mostly just a wheeze. “Damn Cat, exercise is good for you.”
“Screw exercise!” Da Qing muttered.
A small chorus of agreement greeted those harsh words from the feline.
Finally, Guo Changcheng felt that same urge to look in his bag, and with trembling fingers, he pulled it open. There he found a few small bottles of water, but more importantly two packets of Da Qing’s favorite fish snacks.
His brows furrowed at the bounty he found within, but to be honest, Guo Changcheng was too exhausted to care. He’d figure it out later. “I have some water.” He said, sitting up from the sprawl he had fallen to once the Dixingren had been captured. “And some snacks.”
Da Qing carelessly rolled closer to Guo Changcheng and extended his hands, making grabby motions at the slimmer man.
Guo Changcheng passed one of the snack bags and water over. “Here you go, Deputy Chief.”
“You’re the best, Xiao Guo. The best.”
Only after they all had returned to the SID bullpen, and when Guo Changcheng had a moment to himself, did he frown thoughtfully at his bag. With a quick glance around the bullpen to make sure no one was nearby Guo Changcheng reached for his bag.
Carefully he placed both hands on his bag and leaned close, “Are you making things appear all on your own?” The bag, of course, didn’t answer and when Guo Changcheng looked inside there was nothing new that he could find.
Again, with cautious movements, Guo Changcheng closed his bag but didn’t let it go. Instead, he leaned even closer and whispered. “If you are, thank you.”
Several more incidences happened, but it wasn’t anything Guo Changcheng could really complain about.
He often found the occasional snack, sometimes a small tool needed for an investigation, and other times something totally unrelated to work. Like an extra scarf when Chu Shuzhi’s favorite one wasn’t available.
Soon enough Guo Changcheng stopped wondering just what his bag was up to and accepted that it was being helpful.
So very helpful. It was nice, honestly. He wasn't going to complain.
Guo Changcheng and Chu Shuzhi were on a very low-key stakeout. The two were loitering outside while they watched a particular rundown-looking business. Heavy gray clouds rode low in the sky, blotting out much of the sunlight except for the occasional stray sunbeam that would peak between the clouds.
They were standing at a nearby bus shelter, just like two normal people would, obviously waiting for their bus to arrive. Yes, that’s what they are. However, their cover didn’t stop Guo Changcheng from fidgeting as the two of them unobtrusively watched the building while also keeping an eye out on the few other people at the bus stop.
Occasionally, as the traffic increased or decreased, the two would shift their spot. Sometimes beneath the bus shelter, sometimes behind it, and (like right now) next to it.
“Do you want a snack, Chu-ge?” Guo Changcheng asked quietly, his hand already reaching for the satchel that sat against his hip. “Or a drink?” Because Guo Changcheng totally packed for an extended stay outside. He sure did.
A monosyllabic grunt was the answer from Chu-ge, and Guo Changcheng frowned. “Are you sure? I even brought some of your favorites.”
This only caused Chu Shuzhi to shake his head, gaze flitting around the area in a watchful sort of way.
He couldn’t deny his own feelings of hunger, but if Chu-ge wasn’t going to eat, perhaps he shouldn’t either. Maybe it would look odd? Guo Changcheng frowned thoughtfully, but before he could determine the correct course of action a sudden rumble of thunder caused him to look up. As he did so, a fat drop of rain splat right there upon his forehead, “Oh no! Wait, I packed an umbrella!”
However, when Guo Changcheng looked in his messenger bag, he couldn’t find the aforementioned umbrella. “What?” He muttered to himself, frowning as he dug through it. “I swear I packed one! Chu-ge, you saw me, didn’t you?”
Chu-ge offered a snort of disbelief, “Obviously you didn’t.”
“I really did!” He said earnestly, and by now the large drops of rain were starting to fall even faster. The two turned to look at the little bus shelter but already everyone was clustered beneath it and there was no room.
Then came the second crash of thunder and with it the clouds burst open.
“Oh no.” Whispered Guo Changcheng, “Chu-ge.”
But before the rain could soak Guo Changcheng completely through, he found himself suddenly jerked closer to Chu-ge, and even more surprising, was the place Chu Shuzhi made for him within his very own coat. Their height difference was enough that all he had to do was raise his arm to keep Guo Changcheng dry.
“There.” He growled.
“But Chu-ge! You’ll still get wet!”
Water already soaked the other man’s very short hair as he tipped his face down enough to look at Guo Changcheng. “Not like water’s going to hurt me.”
“Well.” Guo Changcheng said bravely, his fingers tight around the strap of his messenger bag, “Me neither!”
A noisy breath of air left Chu Shuzhi, “Don’t be stupid. Stop arguing.”
“I-I fine!” Guo Changcheng managed, “But if you get sick, I’m going to be really mad at you.”
A noise of amusement rumbled through the man, and in that moment, Guo Changcheng realized just how close the two of them were. There was only a hairsbreadth between him and Chu Shuzhi and something about that made him feel even more jittery than normal.
He tried to focus on something other than the nervous energy within himself, but there wasn’t much else to see. Chu Shuzhi’s scarves, the inside of his coat, his shirt.
Oh, a glimpse of his neck and collarbone above his shirt, and also his arm and shoulder just before they disappeared within his coat sleeve. When the other man shifted his stance slightly, Guo Changcheng couldn’t help but notice how that seemed to pull Chu Shuzhi’s shirt a bit more tightly across the hard plains of his chest.
That feeling of jumpiness seemed to increase tenfold, and he couldn’t quite deny a certain itchiness to his fingers. His hands wanted to reach up to touch the shirt and the chest beneath it, but he didn’t.
But he very much wanted to.
“Changcheng.” Came Chu Shuzhi’s gruff voice.
Guo Changcheng started in surprise not expecting Chu Shuzhi to call his name, especially when he was caught so openly staring at the other man's chest. Hesitantly he looked up at his partner-in-crime and found Chu Shuzhi already looking down at him, his expression holding an intensity to it.
Though not its normal scary intensity, but something more.
“We need to focus.” Chu Shuzhi said, voice rough.
“O-oh, yes. Sorry, Chu-ge.” He stammered, face and neck turning hot.
Then before Guo Changcheng knew what was happening, Chu Shuzhi reached up and gently brushed a droplet of water from his face.
The two stared at each other for a long moment until the noise of an approaching bus startled them from their thoughts. Chu Shuzhi grunted and looked to the bus, then back to the building.
Guo Changcheng couldn’t stop himself as he bit his lip, but resolutely he turned his attention back to the task at hand.
Only afterward, once Chu-ge was dry and warm, and they were back at SID HQ did Guo Changcheng turn to his bag. Furiously, for Guo Changcheng, he whispered, “Did you do that on purpose? That wasn’t nice!”
The bag just sat there, innocent in all of its satchel-goodness.
“Don’t do it again!!”
“Xiao Guo?” Came the voice behind him and Guo Changcheng squeaked, as he whirled around to find Zhao Yunlan behind him.
“Are you talking to your bag?”
Guo Changcheng looked startled, “N-no! Of course not!”
Zhao Yunlan gave him a look then grinned. “Right, well, Lao Chu is looking for you. Better hurry and find him.”
He couldn’t quite stop the flush that prickled to life across his face. “O-ok! Thanks! I’ll go find him now.”
An amused, “Yeah, you do that.”, could be heard from behind him as Guo Changcheng scurried away.
It was during that same evening that Zhao Yunlan caught Shen Wei idly tracing a pattern upon Guo Changcheng’s bag. The team was elsewhere, divvying (fighting over) up the food that Shen Wei had brought, and when Zhao Yunlan realized Shen Wei had disappeared he went hunting.
“Ahh, what is my Xiao Wei doing?” Inquired Zhao Yunlan as he silently stepped into view.
Shen Wei’s hand paused in its movements and the man had the good grace not to startle, nor look anything but calm as he turned to face Zhao Yunlan, “I was making certain Xiao Guo’s bag was still in good condition.”
Zhao Yunlan raised both eyebrows. “Is that so?” He asked, a grin flirting at the corners of his mouth, “Magically working condition? Don’t think I have noticed how Guo Changcheng seems to always pack whatever might be needed by the team.”
Shen Wei huffed a small noise of amusement, “Xiao Guo has always had a good head on his shoulders.”
“Mm-hmm, if you say so, if you say so.” Zhao Yunlan agreed, “I still have this funny feeling that somehow someone has been helping with that.”
Briefly, Shen Wei glanced down, then with the smallest of smiles, he said, “Come, let us eat.”
Behind them, as the two left, the bag momentarily glowed before settling back to looking all the world like what it was supposed to be; a normal everyday messenger bag.