The most majestic of all mammals. Its speed, intelligence, and rather sublime tastes in food, explain its high position in the hierarchy. A skilled predator, cunning investigator and a wise companion, all contained in a powerful, feline body.
This black, imposing big cat is an extraordinary specimen.
It’s black, glossy fur and its intelligent eyes, paired with its confident strides show without question – this cat is a proud member of the Yashou tribe.
As it goes inside the Special Investigation Department headquarters, an interesting ritual can be observed – the human guarding the door, Lao Li, gifts the cat with dried fish right upon the entrance.
Not every cat receives such treatment but this one is, indeed, special.
The gleaming yellow eyes of this seemingly cuddly animal belong, in fact, to a ten thousand years old King of Cats.
It deserves the respect.
With the treat gracefully accepted, the cat goes inside the building. It remains undetected by the rest of the people present inside, all of them busy with documents on the table.
The King of Cats is merciful.
It jumps on the table without scattering the papers around, and begins to eat his offering in clear view of his subjects.
As it consumes the fish, the rest of the SID acknowledges its presence with enthusiastic shouts. At first glance, they might seem hostile, insulting even, but the cat is not fooled – it accepts the barbs as what they are – reverent greetings of loyal admirers.
However, the cat is still yet to be welcomed by its human.
The human worthy of such creature is rather extraordinary himself, but he has neglected his companion recently.
As he leaves his office with a smile on his face and a spring in his step, it becomes clear why.
Dressed in a loose, white shirt and a well-loved leather jacket, paired with tattered jeans, Zhao Yunlan is trying to attract a mate.
Surprisingly, despite his charm and occasional interest in other humans, Zhao Yunlan is very picky in his choice of mate. Though it is not clear at first glance, this handsome man is aiming to mate for life.
And after a long time waiting, it seems that a worthy candidate has finally appeared.
And though it seems rather unlikely, he is also extraordinary.
As Zhao Yunlan joins his employes at the table, sharing his suspicions, he feels the air around them change. Already used to this feeling of reality distorting, Zhao Yunlan waits.
His intuition proves to be correct. A portal opens right next to the table, and his chosen mate steps out of it, sending all of his co-workers into a state of panic.
Instead of joining them, Zhao Yunlan smiles and begins the mating dance.
He has to tread carefully.
If he messes up the intricate ritual of smiling, winking and flirting with the newly arrived Heipaoshi, his intended mate will start ignoring him, trying to save his dignity. To complicate matters, the mating dance is not easy – Zhao Yunlan not only has to perform it while briefing Heipaoshi on the case, he also has to do that with a lollipop in his mouth, for amplified effect.
For a few minutes, Heipaoshi observes him warily.
Then, despite his better judgment, his eyes start to follow the movement of the lollipop.
It seems that Zhao Yunlan is in luck.
Though far from being completed, the mating ritual seems to be favourably received once more.
However, Heipaoshi himself cannot return the gesture, not yet.
Covered all in black, he is ill-suited to communicate his interest.
He will make an attempt nevertheless. After consulting on the case, Heipaoshi cannot resist – he assures Zhao Yunlan of his high regard of the man, stupefying everyone present.
As he disappears in the portal again, he silently vows to return and do better.
He also pretends he doesn’t see Zhao Yunlan winking at him.
A moment later, Shen Wei arrives at the SID.
Now, where Heipaoshi and his dark, flowy plumage make it almost impossible to properly accept Zhao Yunlan’s dance, his current, grey one is much better.
In fact, beautiful suits are just a part of an intricate, complicated mating ritual of a Shen Wei.
Just like Zhao Yunlan, Shen Wei is determined to choose one mate for life. Once he gets him, he will shower him with unrivalled devotion: provide meals and protection, he will also be willing to make many sacrifices for his mate’s happiness and well-being.
But before that, he has to woo Zhao Yunlan – a mate he has already chosen as a youngling, and awaited for ten thousand years.
The suits, mostly in blue and grey, serve a purpose – not only do they show Shen Wei as a respectable, not at all suspicious, eligible mate, they also highlight Shen Wei’s physical charms. Dressing smartly telegraphs Shen Wei's respect towards Zhao Yunlan but also makes it easier to properly entice his interest.
In a white shirt, grey waistcoat, and with strategically placed sleeve garters, it seems that today, Shen Wei has chosen well – Zhao Yunlan cannot stop looking at him.
However, Shen Wei’s suits hide a secret – there, hidden under his collar, there is a token. A proof of his devotion. Interestingly, it was not received from his mate, but crafted by Shen Wei himself – a rather unusual, but touching gesture, carved by his hand ten thousand years ago, cementing his bond with Zhao Yunlan. But for now, it has to remain unseen.
Though Zhao Yunlan doesn’t know it yet, time-travel is still ahead of him.
As the other members of the SID give them a wide berth, pretending to be busy with work, the two love-birds continue their dance.
Today, Zhao Yunlan’s efforts are particularly rewarding – bent over the photos of the case, unnerved by his proximity, and a little intimidated by his verbal prowess, Shen Wei sits down and takes off his jacket, revealing the sleeve garters.
It helps to level the field – Zhao Yunlan loses his train of thought, too caught up with the view of Shen Wei’s arms, accentuated by the garters.
Once again, the suit has served its purpose.
Unfortunately, Shen Wei cannot let down his guard just yet.
There, a few desks away – a rival observes him in silent anger.
A young snake, hoping to win Zhao Yunlan’s affections.
She has also tried her hand at attracting Yunlan with herbal teas and high-heels, but her attempts remain unsuccessful – despite his reputation as a playboy, Zhao Yunlan’s heart is set. The young snake has no chance.
Unbeknownst to Shen Wei and to the rest of the SID, despite their early stages of courtship, Zhao Yunlan has already started looking for an appropriate locum for them both. Though his courting might seem light-hearted, it is anything but – Zhao Yunlan is committed, and will remain devoted to his chosen partner.
At the desk closest to the table, disgusted by the performance, Chu Shuzhi watches his boss court their consultant and silently disapproves.
He doesn’t notice the small, shy attempts at comfort performed by Guo Changcheng – the youngest member of the SID. Even if for now he doesn’t recognize Guo Changcheng’s behaviour as mating practices, he will still protect him if the need arises.
A curious thing – though it’s Chu Shuzhi who belongs to the same species as Shen Wei, it is Guo Changcheng who exhibits the same mode of choosing their perspective mate: by imprinting on them like a duckling.
Ever since their first meeting, Guo Changcheng has followed Chu Shuzhi loyally, and will continue to do so in the future – slowly, patiently winning him with kindness.
Above Chu Shuzhi, two ghosts continue their lessons on modern language – even death is not enough to separate them for good. When they are not involved in cases, they spend their time together, enjoying their closeness. A bond all of the pairs present here aspire to.
The cat watches it all with a kind eye.
Though not interested in romance itself, it enjoys watching its humans indulge in it. They are amusing in their awkward stumbling and the cat doesn’t usually play favourites - or so it claims- but it has a particular interest in the courtship of Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei.
Many would say that it’s because of the cat’s sentiment for its human.
The truth, however, is much more pragmatic.
In his perpetual quest to keep Zhao Yunlan well-fed, Shen Wei also pays a handsome tribute to the King of Cats: the living quarters the cat shares with his human are now clean, the fridge – sterile and full of food. Shen Wei even wisely remembers to buy more fish.
And so, the cat magnanimously allows this courtship to continue.
Even if all the humans are confusingly bad at it.