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In Abeyance

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It doesn't happen much anymore. Right after the accident, and Shen Wei's subsequent removal from Zhao Yunlan's life, they were pretty frequent. Da Qing would come back to the apartment at least once a week to find Zhao Yunlan in varying stages of distress. Well, of course it wasn't as often. It had been, what, two and a half, three years? Da Qing wasn't sure. His grasp of the passage of time was...spotty at best. So it's been a while since the last time Zhao Yunlan had one of these, so maybe he shouldn't be so surprised.

The most mild of these...spells, for lack of a better word, was when Da Qing would find Zhao Yunlan drunk and crying on the sofa or in the bed. It was the one where he was just...silent and still, staring off into the middle distance, tears just streaming down his face, or just the tracks once the tears had dried up. Those were the worst, because the grief was so plain to see, and nothing Da Qing did helped, even a little. He'd just sit there with his human and wait for it to pass.

He'd shuffled through the unlocked window to find the apartment dark and silent. He sighed and shifted human.

Zhao Yunlan was sitting in the middle of the sofa, clearly in the worst of these spells. So Da Qing sat down in the corner of the sofa, next Zhao Yunlan. He gently put his hand to his human's hair, carding his fingers through it. "Oh, Ah-Lan," he breathed out. He didn't expect an immediate response. He wouldn't get one, either. It usually took a while for Zhao Yunlan to register his presence and then even longer to reply. But not this time.

"Qing-ge?" Zhao Yunlan sniffled. And, oh, it's been ages since the kid's called him that.

"Yeah, it's me, kid."

"I miss him."

"I know, I'm sorry."

"It's just...hard sometimes. I know he'll come back eventually, I know, but I..."

"Hope is hard."

Zhao Yunlan nodded, then changed his position on the sofa, curling around Da Qing's middle, his head on the armrest. Da Qing changed which hand was in Zhao Yunlan's hair. "Yeah, it is. But I'll keep waiting. He waited 10000 years for me, right? What's five or ten? Or 50?"

"It won't be 50."

A huff of a laugh escapes Zhao Yunlan. "Yeah. Old man can't live forever."

"Lao Zhao, I didn't mean..."

"No, I know. But it's other joke about it or keep crying. And I'm tired of crying."

"I'll order take-out. We'll watch one of your dumb sci-fi movies."

"They're not dumb! They're quality family entertainment!"

Da Qing rolls his eyes. "It's weird. And the science makes no sense."

"That's why it's called Sci-Fi, and not Sci-True. Stop watching shit with Lin Jing."

"Whatever. It's a plan then." Da Qing pulls out his phone to order for them both.

"Wait, how do you know what I want?"

Da Qing looked down at Zhao Yunlan, who's changed position again, rolled on his back, and looking up at the Yashou. He rolled his eyes. "Because I raised you, stupid human!"

"My tastes could've changed!"

Da Qing snorted. "Right. So you don't want fried beef noodles with eggs, no veggies, and extra chili oil. I also got some of those doughnuts they have."

A real, actual laugh came from Zhao Yunlan this time, and Da Qing felt himself relax a bit. "Okay, okay, Damn Cat, you win."