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“Okay, let me get this right.” Zhao Zi raised his chopsticks to point at Shao Fei and made a face as if he had to solve a very complicated math problem. Knowing how good he actually was at math made Shao Fei roll his eyes. Around them, the noise in the restaurant was deafening. They had been lucky to get a grill for the two of them. Next to their little table a bunch of businessmen celebrated the successful conclusion of a business deal and one of them already had his tie around his head.

Shao Fei shook his head smiling and poured himself the rest of his beer.

“So you say that you are going to stop chasing Tang Yi because it will make him want to chase you?” Zhao Zi squinted at him and tilted his head. “I don’t get it.”

“Look,” Shao Fei said and made a sign to the waiter for another round of beer. “It’s psychological warfare.”

“Is it because Yu Qi did that seminar on profiling? Did she put that idea in your head?”

Shao Fei frowned. He was no longer sure about all of the thought processes that had him led to the conclusion to stop chasing Tang Yi. It may have been that Yu Qi had talked to him? It may have been too many beers already.

He decided to shook his head vigorously.

“No… no, no, no. I thought about it myself. It makes sense!” He emphasized sense and almost knocked over the waiter who brought them their beer.

“Sorry, sorry!” Shao Fei jumped up and felt a wave of dizziness. He had to hold onto the man to not topple over. The waiter seemed unfaced and helped him sit back properly on his chair.

Shao Fei bowed in apology and turned back to Zhao Zi.

“It totally makes sense.”

“But… wouldn’t he feel relieved? Those lawsuits aren’t love-letters.”

“No… no, no, no. It’s about his feelings!”

“Yeah, I said that…”

“Because he cares.” Shao Fei tried to take a piece of meat from the grill but lost it before he could put it in his mouth. He stared at the pork on the table and then looked back at Zhao Zi.

“He has caring feelings.”

“He cares?”

“Yes.” He turned his concentration back on the meat on the table.

“About what?”

“About me.”

He felt Zhao Zi’s eyes on him but wanted to concentrate on picking up the meat. It was strangely difficult.

“Okay… wow,” he heard Zhao Zi mutter. “I’m too sober for this.”

Shao Fei nodded. Being sober was bad. Being sober meant he felt an ache in his chest whenever he thought of Tang Yi. If he was drunk it was funny thinking about him. The suits… who wore suits all the time? Also the word! Suit… suit.

“Suit,” he whispered and giggled. A funny word. Maybe Tang Yi even slept in a pyjama which looked like a suit…

“I don’t think so,” Zhao Zi said and Shao Fei realized he had said his last words out loud.

“It’s time for Sake,” he declared and left the table on the search for the waiter, high-fiving one of the businessmen on his way. He didn’t hear Zhao Zi who called his name.


Someone was going to be charged with poisoning him. Shao Fei groaned and tried to roll around because he laid on his side and it hurt him. He was going to arrest whoever had put some drug in his beer, this was torture, this was attempted murder… this…

“You talk out loud again.”

Shao Fei whimpered and hid his head under his pillow.

“What are you doing here?”, he croaked and felt the dip of the mattress as if he was on a tiny little boat at sea in the midst of a storm.

“I have to say, it has been a long time since you got so drunk.”

“Please stop yelling,” Shao Fei begged. The pain was a constant hammering in the back of his head, his throat hurt, his mouth hurt, his eyelids hurt. He was never going to be able to do his job again, because he would die a miserable death here, today, right this minute.

“I forgot how melodramatic you can get. Here… drink this.”

Shao Fei felt something cold on his naked upper arm and tried to remember how moving worked. He lifted the pillow a bit and his eyes focused on a glass that Zhao Zi held out to him.

“Is this the hangover cure form your grandma?”

“Strictly after her recipe.”

“Thank you,” Shao Fei whispered. Maybe he didn’t have to die after all. It took a few attempts to sit up and he was going to promote Zhao Zi to an angel because he put several pillows behind his back so he could lean against them.

He knew grandma Zhao’s hangover cure and had to muster all his courage to down the drink in one go. He coughed and made a face but the drink stayed in his stomach.

“Why didn’t you stop me yesterday?”, he asked and frowned at Zhao Zi who looked chipper and not miserable at all. He remembered that he hadn’t been the only one drinking Sake after Sake. Why was he the only one suffering?

“You know me. I don’t get a hangover that quickly. It’s the genes.”

Fuck my genes, Shao Fei thought and looked around. He was in his bedroom.

“You brought me home?”

Zhao Zi nodded.

“Thank you.”

“I also took your phone even tho you chased me around this bed to get it back.”

Shao Fei couldn’t remember a thing from the night before and frowned. “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did I chase you?”

“You wanted to call Tang Yi,” Zhao Zi answered and Shao Fei had the sudden urge to throw up. Panic raised inside him and he put a hand on Zhao Zi’s arm, digging his fingers into his skin.

“Please tell me I didn’t!”

“Nope, I took your phone before you could do it.”

Archangel, Shao Fei decided. Or god, he was going to promote Zhao Zi to a god.

“Thank you.”

“Yeah, I thought it would be weird to tell Tang Yi about your plan to not chase him any longer so that he would chase you instead because I think the point of the plan is to not tell him about the plan?”

Shao Fei blinked.

“I… what? I wanted to do what?”

Zhao Zi nodded solemnly.

“You explained it to me very detailed. No wonder you graduated on the top of the police academy when you think your plans…” Shao Fei put his hands over Zhao Zi’s mouth and tried to breathe. In and out. An icy fist pressed his lungs together.

He remembered. He remembered why he got so drunk the day before. Why he thought of that stupid play.

He put his hand down, leaned back against his pillows and felt as if his heart was going to burst out of his chest. Not because of happiness. Because of fear.

“Ah Fei?”

Shao Fei stared into the empty space and all the feelings he had tried to suppress through alcohol came back to the surface, accompanied by a headache, a sore throat and a queasy stomach.

He looked at Zhao Zi and swallowed.

“I’m in love with Tang Yi,” he said. The same words he had said to his reflection in the police station bathroom mirror after he had searched through the files to find another excuse to visit Tang Yi. His hands started to shake. The same way they had shaken the day before.

“You… what?” Zhao Zi looked at him like he had confessed a murder.

Shao Fei slid down the bed to stare at his ceiling and repeated himself: “I’m in love with Tang Yi.”

The words felt as painful as the first time. As if he had to drag each letter through shards of glass and they cut his skin again and again.

He felt Zhao Zi’s stare, and the words he wanted to say, and the questions he wanted to ask but instead, he laid down beside him. He was thankful for that but knew that Zhao Zi couldn’t be silent for long.  

“Are you sure? Or do you confuse love with obsession? You’re kinda obsessed with him”, he finally asked and Shao Fei turned his head. Zhao Zi held his hands up. “I’m not the only one who thinks that. Just look at your board.... ohhhh.”

Yeah… maybe he wasn’t as good as a cop as he thought. Or at least he wasn’t very good at reading himself as reading criminals.

“I realized it yesterday.” And what a realization it had been. It had left him shaking.

“That’s tough.”

Shao Fei nodded. It hurt. At first, he had smiled, because he was in love. Because he felt good things when he thought of Tang Yi, but then...

“I want to get drunk again.”

“That’s not a good idea. Drunk you wants to call Tang Yi and confess his love.”

Shao Fei groaned and hid his face behind his hands.

“I’ll be no longer able to be around him! I’ll be so obvious. He is so observant he will notice it the moment he will see me next.”

“I don’t think it will be that bad.”

“You remember the barista two years ago?”

There was silence from Zhao Zi and Shao Fei peeked through his fingers to see that Zhao Zi tried to hide his laughter.

“Yeah. It was bad. We had to change coffee shops. The poor guy had no idea how to handle your affection.”

Shao Fei groaned. He wasn’t able to hide his feelings! It burst from every seam, from the core of his being, and normally he liked it that way. As a police officer, he was used to people lying to him, for them to try to trick him, trying to see if they could take him for a fool. He had never been able to be that way. Some superiors were even frustrated with him because he didn’t lie to suspects, didn’t try to spin a web to get them to confess. They were even more frustrated because his way of interrogation worked and made him one of the best in the force.

“Maybe I could become a police officer in the country. Protect the hard-working folk from thieves and drunk husbands.”

“With your luck, you would uncover a human trafficking ring within two weeks.”

“With my luck, I would fall in love with the culprit.”

Zhao Zi laughed and punched him lightly against the arm. “Oh please, Tang Yi is not comparable with someone like that. You weren’t able to link him to a serious crime in four years. No indications that he deals with drugs or kills people. All we can say is that he makes suspicious much money with his suit shop.”

“He’s still the boss of Xing Tian Meng.”

Zhao Zi turned to his side to face Shao Fei fully. “Nevertheless, you weren’t able to pin something on him. Which makes it easier to avoid him, right? If you don’t actively seek him out, your paths won’t cross.”

“Yeah.” Yeah . Tang Yi wouldn’t chase him. Because he didn’t matter to him. He was just the annoying police officer who collected lawsuits. He rubbed the skin above his heart and made a face.

“What about senior Li Zhen?” He needed to know what happened four years ago, he couldn’t just stop.

“You already are emotionally compromised with this case. What do you think will happen now? With your feelings the way they are? Are you sure you can see this case objectively at all?”

Shao Fei felt the words like needles.

“Look at you being the voice of wisdom,” he said weakly.

Zhao Zi winked. “It’s my grandma’s influence.”

Shao Fei snorted. “Your grandma really was the best.”


Shao Fei had the case files inside a box under his desk. He looked through them and felt the same rage and helplessness he always felt when he looked at the pictures, saw the dead body of his mentor. But maybe Captain Shi and everyone else in the division was right. Maybe he needed to take a break and start to think about other cases, maybe then he would have the breakthrough he needed.

Without bothering Tang Yi.

He closed the box with more force than necessary and asked Zhao Zi to hide it somewhere he wouldn’t find it.

Lucky for his body, alone the thought of alcohol made him sick so he hadn’t had the desire to drink himself stupid that day.

“You should also think about taking down the board in your flat,” Zhao Zi whispered as he took the box and dodged Shao Fei’s kick. “They say cold turkey works best.”

“I’m not that obsessed,” Shao Fei whispered back and tried to kick him again.

“Who is not obsessed?”, Captain Shi asked suddenly and they broke apart.

“Have to go!”, Zhao Zi yelled and power walked away from them. Captain Shi looked at Zhao Zi’s retreating back and sipped at his tea. Then he frowned at Shao Fei who tried to look as innocently as possible.

He made a few steps back. “I’m obsessed with solving cases,” he said. “I have to go and look through files, investigate crime, protect people.” He turned and felt Captain Shi’s eyes like laser beams against his neck. He didn’t tell Captain Shi that he would stop investigating Li Zhen's case because then he would have to tell him why and he didn’t want to get killed by Captain Shi’s daughter because he was the cause of his heart attack.

It was hard. The moment he realized his feelings it had opened a flood-gate of new thoughts and desires. He wanted to draw more pictures of Tang Yi, he wanted to go inside his suit shop to just look at him. He was stupidly pleased about Tang Yi’s desire to reform his gang.

“Of course I should be pleased. I’m a police officer! Gangsters are bad!”

“What are you saying?”

Shao Fei looked up in Yu Qi’s smiling face. He should really try to stop speaking to himself out loud.

“I need something to drink,” he improvised and both of them looked down at his full water glass. “Something sweet. I want to drink something sweet.” He laughed and stood up to go to their kitchen counter.

It was hard. Almost a week was over and he ran into the bathroom every time the desire to chase after Tang Yi became too overwhelming. Every time he looked at the clock he was reminded that he knew Tang Yi’s schedule, that he could tell someone where he was. Nobody asked of course. And every time he caught Zhao Zi’s eyes he gave him two thumbs up. After three days he wanted to throttle his best friend.

Work helped, but no amount of night shifts or overworking himself helped him the moment he closed the door behind himself and stood in his apartment, just his thoughts and feelings laid bare.


“Next case,” Captain Shi announced and shoved a pile of papers in the middle of the table. “Crime division team 5 asked for help. They caught some little fish named Jin Jie Yong. He sold drugs around Wanhua. He doesn’t seem to be connected to a gang, so he’s lucky we got him first.”

“Why does team 5 need help?” Jun Wei asked and Shao Fei picked up the report from their colleagues. The picture of Jin Jie Yong showed a guy in his forties, retreating hairline, and a stubborn look in his eyes.

“After a night in the cell, he wanted to make a deal. Immunity from prosecution and he would make a statement against Xing Tian Meng…”

Shao Fei’s mind went blank. He raised his head. Everyone had turned his way. He felt a kick from Zhao Zi, who sat next to him and forced out a weak smile.

“That’s funny huh? We all know that Tang Yi doesn’t do drugs… It seems like… It seems like this Jin Jie Yong needs a scapegoat for his crimes.“

Captain Shi frowned and squinted his eyes at Shao Fei as if he waited for him to jump up. He wanted to. He had to force his feet to stay on the ground but everything inside him screamed to go and confront Tang Yi with the accusations.  

“Yes… Team 5 asked us to investigate Xing Tian Meng since we know the most about them. They don’t believe Jin Jie Yong and are going to find out who his real associates are. His telephone data don’t show any connections to known members of Xing Tian Meng, maybe if some could get a hold of Tang Yi...” Captain Shi paused and everyone turned towards Shao Fei again.

He raised his finger to point at himself.

“Me? That’s not possible, boss! You know there are three complaints still processing, I don’t want another.”

Pure disbelief was shown on his boss’s face.

“You don’t want another? Since when? Since when don’t you grab the first chance to run towards that guy?” Captain Shi had jumped up and almost crawled over the table to yell at Shao Fei. “What is going on here?”

“Yu Qi should do it,” Shao Fei said and Captain Shi turned his frown to her. She stared at them with an open mouth.

“It’s a good way to gather experience about questioning someone outside of an investigation,” Shao Fei babbled on. His heart rate was through the roof. “Moreover Tang Yi doesn’t know her and will maybe be more cooperative if it isn’t me who asks the questions.”

“That actually makes sense,” Zhao Zi whispered next to him.

“You really never had to speak with Tang Yi?”, Captain Shi asked Yu Qi and sat back on his chair. She shook her head. She looked spooked but only for a second then straightened herself. “I’m the right one for the job boss. I will make a formal request for him to come to the precinct and if he’s going to come with his lawyer we steal his thunder since we’re going to question him in a conference room instead of an interrogation room. It may confuse him enough, to be honest with us.”

Shao Fei stared at Yu Qi because that was a perfect plan.

“That’s actually not a bad idea,” Captain Shi mused. “Partner up with someone and contact Tang Yi…”

“I’ll do it!”, Zhao Zi leaned forward eagerly and even raised his hand. Shao Fei made a face at him. “I’m going to partner up with Yu Qi. We’re the perfect team!” He held his fist towards her and she bumped it with confusion written all over her face.

“Why are you doing this?” Shao Fei asked after the meeting was over. He pulled Zhao Zi away from the others and looked around.

“It’s perfect! You know she was going to ask you to be her partner because you know the most about Tang Yi. That way I can distract her from running to you and you can continue to avoid him.”

Shao Fei didn’t like it. He didn’t like it at all. It prickled along his skin and he actually was jealous of Zhao Zi who was going to speak to Tang Yi and…

“Tell me when you schedule the meeting! I need to be out of the office when he arrives.” Zhao Zi nodded and Shao Fei stomped away.

“Why do I care?”, he asked himself and grabbed his jacket. “Who cares if they are going to talk to him. It has nothing to do with me.” He put his jacket on and walked out of the office. “It doesn’t have to do anything with Li Zhen’s case, it’s about a little drug dealer, a little fish. Stupid.”

He stopped and realized in which direction he was walking. It was the way to Tang Yi’s suit shop. “Stupid,” he said again with a lot of feeling and turned around.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

 

Chapter Text

 

“We should head out.”

Jun Wei nodded, and Shao Fei grabbed the file before he stood up. He wanted to take his jacket but a movement in the corner of his eyes made him stop. 

“Ah Fei!” 

Shao Fei turned and saw Zhao Zi lurking around the corner to the office entrance, shout-whispering his name with big eyes.

“He’s not very subtle, mhm?”, Jun Wei commented and at least five other detectives were looking over to Zhao Zi who made weird gestures towards Shao Fei. Jun Wei raised an eyebrow. 

“I’m going to ask him what he wants, we’ll meet at the car, okay?” He gave Jun Wei the file who just waved with it. They were about to go for another round of interviews for the Jin Jie Yong case and Shao Fei looked forward to the noodle stand which they would pass on their way to their destination. 

“What’s going on?”, he wanted to ask but was only able to say ‘Whaaa’ as Zhao Zi pulled him close. 

“You should go!”, he whispered urgently, and Shao Fei looked at the fingers around his upper arm. 

“I was about to go,” he pointed out, “you’re holding me back, literally.” Zhao Zi, however, didn’t listen to him and instead stared at something behind Shao Fei. 

Shao Fei rolled his eyes and pulled Zhao Zi’s fingers away. 

“What is going on? Aren’t you supposed to go through some paperwork with the Captain?”

Zhao Zi didn’t seem to care or hear what Shao Fei said because he spotted something and dug his fingers in Shao Fei’s upper arms again.   

“I’m so sorry,” Zhao Zi whispered, and Shao Fei was about to turn around when…

“Officer Meng.”

Everything inside him froze. 

“He changed the date five minutes ago,” Zhao Zi stage-whispered and Shao Fei tried to tell him with his eyes that he couldn’t turn around. He really couldn’t. His body was frozen to the spot.  

Zhao Zi continued to stare at him with big eyes while Shao Fei prayed for a wonder to make him disappear. It was obvious that they couldn’t stay like this, so he slowly turned around. 

His heart beat so loud it drowned almost every other noise out. He tried to point his eyes at something else other than Tang Yi’s face and ended up looking at his chest. He felt a rush of heat as he saw the blue suit Tang Yi wore today. Classic, it fitted Tang Yi like a glove and Shao Fei had never known this about himself, how a throat, hidden by the collar of a white button-down, could arouse him so much. He wasn’t sure if he liked that knowledge about himself and it confused him. 

And he knew it would be written in his eyes. He had never learned the art of being subtle, he just wasn’t and had no idea how he could learn it in the seconds he had to look Tang Yi in the eyes if he didn’t want to come across as impolite. 

He thanked every god who might float around in the precinct for Tang Yi’s lawyer who stood behind him. A little flicker of his eyes to the general area of Tang Yi’s nose should be enough, he decided.

“Tang Yi,” he said and suppressed a twitch because his voice sounded rough and out-of-breath and not like his own. He quickly turned his attention to Tang Yi’s lawyer, a woman with bright red lips and a quirky smile as if she knew every thought of Shao Fei. He tried not to flinch. 

“I’m here for the ‘questioning’”, Tang Yi said and even without looking at his face Shao Fei knew that there would be a sarcastic smirk around his lips, always on the thin line between polite and insulting. Shao Fei reached behind him and got hold of Zhao Zi. He pulled him in front of his body and they clearly made a pitiful picture: Zhao Zi, trying to climb into Shao Fei’s body to get away from Tang Yi and Shao Fei, looking everywhere but in Tang Yi’s face holding his colleague in front of him like a shield. 

“Officer Zhao is responsible for this case and…” The police gods had heard him praying and Shao Fei pointed at Yu Qi who had come closer with a notebook and an expression on her face he had never seen before. It was a mixture of intention and stubbornness and Shao Fei knew that if Tang Yi made the mistake and underestimated her, she would get all the answers they wanted. 

“Officer Zhao and Officer Huang, I’m about to go. Crimes to solve.” He gave Zhao Zi’s shoulders a hard squeeze and turned around and if the precinct wouldn’t already know who he was they would attempt to catch him because he was on the run.

“What happened?”, Jun Wei asked the moment Shao Fei appeared in the parking lot.  

“Zhao Zi just…” Shao Fei had no idea how to answer the question and waved vaguely with his hand. Jun Wei nodded as if he knew exactly what Shao Fei wanted to say, and maybe he did. Team 3 worked together for a long time now and everyone knew how Zhao Zi could get sometimes. 

“You’re driving?”, Shao Fei asked and threw the keys towards Jun Wei. His whole body felt… weak and he knew he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the traffic or the navigation system. 

For the first ten minutes of their ride, he just stared out of the window not able to comprehend what had happened back in the department, then, the embarrassment kicked in. 

How stupid had he behaved? What kind of picture had he and Zhao Zi displayed sprawled against the wall like some idiots? He, who had looked down guns and wielding knives, hadn’t been able to look Tang Yi in the face! Pathetic! 

He suppressed the urge to knock his head against the window of the car and fisted his hands in his trousers instead. The pain cleared his head a little bit. 

“You okay?”, Jun Wei asked, and Shao Fei nodded. He grabbed the file from the backseat to have something to do with his hands. 

“Ah Zhi is still sick?” 

“He caught a stomach bug after his cold was over. The guy has nothing but bad luck currently,” Jun Wei snorted, and Shao Fei smiled. 

“We’re going to question the residents of Jin Jie Yong apartment complex again?”, he asked and groaned when he saw how many apartments they had to cover. 

“I’m not sure if Team 5 isn’t messing with us. As if they still remember something. I’m a police officer and I wouldn’t know what my neighbour did at the weekend.” 

Jun Wei continued, but Shao Fei's thoughts travelled back to Tang Yi and that he wanted to know how his questioning was going and… he snapped the file shut. Damn, why had he admitted his feelings? The moment he had spoken them out loud they had broken a dam. Or as if they had summoned the Jin Jie Yong case to bring Tang Yi closer when he had decided to stop chasing him. 

Maybe he needed a curse-breaker…

He opened his mouth but remembered that he didn’t have Zhao Zi next to him, who would play along with his plans. Jun Wei wouldn’t know a curse-breaker anyway, Zhao Zi was the one who was friends with old ladies who had ‘interesting’ hobbies. 

“Seriously, I don’t even know how many residents live in my house… do you?”

Shao Fei stared at Jun Wei and tried to remember what they had been talking about. 

“We have a residents party every six months,” he said, and Jun Wei just stared at him for a minute. They were lucky the lights were red. 


As predicted, most of the people the questioned were either not home, had no idea who Jin Jie Yong was or what he did most of the time. Shao Fei leaned against the car and ate some of the noodles he had bought as a reward because he was already through with his part of the questioning. 

“Officer!” He startled and almost poured the noodles down his shirt. An older woman stood in front of him and he had no idea where she had come from. 

“Yes?”

She held out a piece of paper and he took it bewildered while balancing his noodles with one arm. 

“Jin Jie Yong got picked up a couple of times in the middle of the night. I wait for a call from my niece some nights because she lives in Europe, so I saw them. They acted very suspiciously.”

“Suspicious?”

“Who doesn’t have his car lights on in the middle of the night? I wrote down the licence plate, my eyes are very good.”

“Oh… that’s helpful, what’s your name so we can…”

“I don’t trust tall men”, she interrupted him. “Like your colleague. Jin Jie Yong was also very tall.” She turned her nose up and walked back to the building as Jun Wei came out of it. 

“Hey, that’s the lady from 12B, what did she want?”

“She saw Jin Jie Yong getting into a car some nights.”

“She told me she didn’t see anything!”

Shao Fei grinned at him. “She doesn’t trust tall men.”

Jun Wei threw his hands up. 


Shao Fei sent Jun Wei off to investigate the licence plate number and report to Team 5 before he would tackle down Zhao Zi who had made the mistake and had asked how their investigation had been going. 

“What’s going on with him?”, Zhao Zi asked and made a face towards Jun Wei’s back. 

Shao Fei just shrugged and looked at Zhao Zi who looked back. 

“So.”

“So?” Shao Fei squinted at Zhao Zi and shook his head vigorously. “I don’t want to know,” he decided and went to his desk. 

“Why not? I stayed in the department to wait for you. You could act a little bit more interested.” 

“And you could support me more in my… emotional distress.”

Zhao Zi snorted at that. “Yu Qi was good though, she handled him well.”

“Yeah?” Shao Fei tried to remember his password to unlock his computer, but he couldn’t concentrate. 

“His lawyer was there for show, obviously, but it was pretty interesting that he didn’t really care about this Jin Jie Yong guy.”

“No?”

“He looked at the door as if he expected someone crashing through it at any moment.”

“I did that occasionally,” Shao Fei admitted. “He thought I would come and take over the questioning?”

“It seemed like it. He got more and more irritated as the time went by and then he gave his lawyer a sign and she ended the conversation. Something about coming as a gesture of goodwill but they can’t waste their time chatting with the police.”

“So, he either knew we would ask about Jin Jie Yong or he really has no idea who he is.” 

“We have to dig up a connection otherwise he won’t talk to us again I think.”

Shao Fei nodded and leaned back in his chair. It had been surprisingly enough that Tang Yi had come to the interview in the first place. It had been nice of him to… 

“No,” Shao Fei said to himself and shook his body to get rid of the fond feeling about Tang Yi. 

“No?”, Zhao Zi asked but Shao Fei waved his question away.

“Nothing. We have to wait for what the licence plate will bring and if Team 5 even informs us.” It looked like the entanglement with Tang Yi was over. It was the case of another team and he had avoided being in one room with Tang Yi if everything went according to his plan, he would… he wouldn’t see him for a long time. 

Which was for the better. 

“We have enough cases to solve, we need to focus on them,” he said and pointed towards the tower of files on the edge of their desk. Zhao Zi grimaced but nodded and when Shao Fei went home that night, he drank a glass of water and leaned against his tiny kitchen table. He had put away Li Zhen’s case files, but the board still stood in his flat. 

His eyes travelled over the pictures, the connection he had made, the interview of Tang Yi in the hospital and he had to laugh when he looked at the painting. He really wasn’t good. 

He took a shower and let the heat and pressure of the water wash away the day. If they really found a connection between Jin Jie Yong and Tang Yi it wouldn’t be his case anyway. Another team would investigate, and he would just hear through the police grapevine about it. Maybe this had been the last time he had seen Tang Yi and…

Why him? Why now? Why couldn’t he fall in love with a fellow police officer or someone who wasn’t connected to Taipei’s underworld? It didn’t matter if Xing Tian Meng stopped with drug dealing, they probably did enough other illegal stuff to make them a sore spot in the eye of the law. 

Clad in comfy clothes Shao Fei began to put everything on the board in a box. Zhao Zi had been right. He couldn’t find justice for Li Zhen if he was clouded by these feelings. He wanted Tang Yi to be the good guy, to change, to not be a gangster boss. But he was. 

The last piece he folded was the drawing of Tang Yi and maybe he should tear it apart and toss it away but if he ever opened that box again it was better to be confronted with his non-existing artistic skills. He slid the box under his bed and the irony of it feeling as if he was putting away stuff of an ex wasn’t lost on him. 

He rubbed his head dry when his phone rang. 

“Officer Meng?” It was a voice he didn’t recognize but he said “Yes?” anyway. 

“There was a robbery at the Metro Business Hotel, your presence would be greatly appreciated.”

Shao Fei took the phone away to look at the caller information in confusion. What?


“Officer Meng?”

Maybe he had landed in a parallel universe, Shao Fei thought and frowned at the secretary who picked him up at the foyer of the Metro Business Hotel. He had expected the building to be swarmed with police because more than one big business with connection to the mayor or other politicians of Taiwan had their offices in this hotel. It was almost midnight and he wondered who worked at this hour? 

“If there is a robbery you should call the police,” he said to her when they entered the lift and he saw how she smiled through the reflection of the elevator door. 

“Aren’t you the police?”, she asked and when the door opened again, and he saw on which floor they were he knew from whom she had that sarcastic cheek. 

Oh no.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said to her and searched in his pockets for his phone. He was going to call the department… he wasn’t going to deal with him alone.

“Please refrain from any unnecessary actions until you speak to my boss,” the secretary said, and Shao Fei might be a police officer but her posture made it perfectly clear that he would be the loser in any kind of fight. Why did Tang Yi only hire terrifying woman? He put the phone away and even though he knew he would find Tang Yi in the office the secretary opened for him his heart nonetheless made a leap. 

Tang Yi stood on the side of his desk and went through what seemed like a bunch of contracts. Only two lamps, one on his desk, one on a sideboard illuminated the office and maybe Shao Fei dreamed all of this because it looked surreal. 

“Officer Meng,” Tang Yi said, put the papers on the desk and Shao Fei was embarrassed about the tiny sound which escaped him when the door closed behind him. 

“I was informed there was a robbery?” Stick to the facts, Shao Fei said to himself and crossed his arms in front of his chest. This was good, it was better than fidgeting with his fingers because Tang Yi had changed from his suit to a turtleneck sweater and the sight made things to Shao Fei’s insides which weren’t normal. 

“There was, but that’s not what is important right now.”

Shao Fei blinked. 

“And what is important right now?”

Tang Yi leaned back against his desk and the material of his sweater highlighted his broad shoulders which made Shao Fei to stare resolutely on something behind Tang Yi. 

“By now, or I suppose it depends on how fast your lovely police procedures are, but the investigators of the Jin Jie Yong case will find out that the license plate belongs to a car registered to one of the members of Xing Tian Meng.”

“What?” It felt like someone had pulled a carpet out from under his feet. “The car belongs to Xing Tian Meng?” 

But Tang Yi wasn’t even acknowledging Shao Fei’s agitation. He raised a hand to stop Shao Fei’s onslaught of questions and said: “No worries, Officer Meng. The car was reported stolen six months ago, this is about the implication that someone tries to frame me and Xing Tian Meng for crimes we didn’t commit.”

“Okay… wait—”

“And I need your help to find out who it is.”

Shao Fei stared at Tang Yi and a horrifying thought occurred to him. Had Tang Yi figured out that Shao Fei was in love with him? Did he think he could use his feelings to make him help him, to investigate illegally? Why was he here in the middle of the night, and Tang Yi asked this kind of thing of him?

His fingers felt numb and he had the intense wish to sit down. 

“What you need to do is to report the robbery to the police,” he said slowly and then turned around to go. He couldn’t look at Tang Yi anymore. “You need to get in contact with the Captain of the investigation team and talk to him about—”

“For every hour of your time, I will tell you something about what happened four years ago.”

Shao Fei froze, and his hand slipped off the door handle. He only turned his head and stared Tang Yi directly into the eyes as he had come up behind him. 

This had to be a joke, right?

 

Chapter Text

 

„This is a joke, right?” Shao Fei asked and turned fully around. How dare Tang Yi use this against him? For years he had practically begged Tang Yi to reveal what he knew about Li Zhen’s murder and now? Shao Fei closed his eyes for a second and repeated himself through clenched teeth: “If you have a robbery to report, please call the police.”

“But you are the police,” Tang Yi answered and had the nerve to tilt his head. He took something out of his pocket and dangled what looked like a USB stick in front of Shao Fei’s face.

“I thought this had been stolen, I found it moments before you arrived, a mistake on my part.”

“Tang Yi!”

“You give me one hour of your time to find out who's framing Xing Tian Meng and for every hour I will tell you what I know.”

Shao Fei took a deep breath and put his hands on his hips. This was…

“One hour,” Tang Yi repeated, and he was… he was too close. Shao Fei walked past him, deeper into the office and had no idea what he should do. He should walk out, right? Ignore what Tang Yi had said and severe every tie, maybe even report him for abusing police resources… but.

“Are you going to take this seriously or am I getting helpful hints like: the sky had been blue that day?”

“The sky had been a bit cloudy actually,” Tang Yi answered, and Shao Fei couldn’t believe how audacious Tang Yi was. How could he make a joke about this? Shao Fei felt Li Zhen’s loss like a wound who wouldn’t heal, as if something scraped at it, day and night and it had cost him much to leave the case behind and accept that he wasn’t going anywhere with his approach. And now? Now he stood in Tang Yi’s office in the middle of the night because the man apparently smelled when the best time was to throw Shao Fei off his feet.

Why did he even like this man, he asked himself for the thousands time.

He could lose his job… but. But he was officially part of the investigation team and he had certain competences on how he wanted to handle a case.

Shit, he was thinking about doing this! How could he even think about doing this?

“You have no idea who Jin Jie Yong is? You have never met him? He has no ties to Xing Tian Meng?”

“I heard his name for the first time when your lovely colleague questioned me about him. Even before Lao Tang’s death Xing Tian Meng stopped doing business with drugs, you can believe me or not, but that’s the truth.”

Shao Fei took a deep breath and turned around to look at Tang Yi. He was a good liar, he knew that, or rather: he was good at hiding his feelings. He had never been able to crack Tang Yi’s icy disposition and he needed to stop looking at Tang Yi’s face because he got flustered by it. Something was seriously wrong with his heart when he fell in love with a man he hardly knew. Maybe he had to find a fortune teller who could tell him if his destiny was heartbreak.

“One hour of my time,” he repeated. “Okay. That’s… okay.” It was crazy, that’s what it was, and he already felt Captain Shi’s hands around his neck, strangulating him.

Oh, he was going to regret this, he felt it in his bones. Maybe there was a cell free next to Jin Jie Yong’s for him.

“Thank you,” Tang Yi said and walked towards him and Shao Fei raised his hand to stop him from saying anything further and escaped his closeness with a sidestep towards the couch. He sat down on it.

“Your first hour starts now,” he said and couldn’t hide the satisfied feeling when Tang Yi seemed surprised. He pulled out his phone and started the timer.

“You have to ask your subordinates again if they know Jin Jie Yong. Not only his name but show his photo around too, he’s a drug dealer they often use different names.”

Shao Fei opened his mouth to say more but Tang Yi was cheeky enough to interrupt him.

“I need your phone number then.”

“What?”

“I don’t assume Jin Jie Yong has a Facebook account with pictures, where should I get his photo from?”

Oh, you little… Shao Fei rattled down his number and when Tang Yi called, he took pleasure in the vicious stab against the red decline button. He then sent the picture.

“Thank you, Officer Meng,” Tang Yi said meekly, and Shao Fei tried to get back into the headspace of a detective and not getting tangled up in the wish of knowing if there was a smile hiding in the corner of Tang Yi’s mouth. A very kissable mouth… dammit.  

“If Xing Tian Meng hasn’t dealt with drugs for over four years why is a lowly drug dealer now trying to connect you to it again?”, he said. There had to be a connection between Xing Tian Meng and Jin Jie Yong, he couldn’t envision someone throwing a dart at a board with all of Taiwan’s gangs and then deciding that wherever the dart landed he would try to frame them for a crime.

“Your legal business,” Shao Fei continued and couldn’t stop himself making air quotes around legal business just to annoy Tang Yi and it worked because he saw Tang Yi’s jaw tighten, “Can you imagine it has something to do with your firm rather than Xing Tian Meng?”

Tang Yi hesitated and Shao Fei knew there was something.

“What? What happened?”

Tang Yi actually cleared his throat and broke eye contact to look down at his shoes.

Oh no, Shao Fei thought. He had the feeling he wouldn’t like what Tang Yi was going to tell him.

“Twenty minutes are already over; you should start talking.”

Tang Yi put his hands on his hips, raised his head and Shao Fei saw how he pursed his lips while he stared at something on the ceiling. At this moment Shao Fei wished Tang Yi would maintain his icy attitude and wouldn’t create an atmosphere of suspense making Shao Fei’s inside shrivel up.

“We decided to branch out into construction.”

Shao Fei stared at Tang Yi for a second.

“Construction?”

“Yes!”

Shao Fei threw his arms in the air.

“Are you serious? Who doesn’t know that the construction industry is the most corrupt of them all? Did you win a tender instead of some of the established construction companies? Did you buy a property even though another company had its eyes on it?”

Construction! Team 5 was going to get an aneurysm if they found out that was the connection between Xing Tian Meng and Jin Jie Yong.

“We haven’t made any moves yet, we just listened around.”

“Even that could bring some serious trouble. Okay. Maybe this information will help us. Maybe we can find out if Jin Jie Yong is tied to any gang or business which are working primarily in the construction industry.”

“That is good, right?”

Shao Fei snorted. “It means politicians which means trouble.”

He rubbed his hands over his face and realized how freaking tired he was. He would be able to sleep on this couch for eight hours and he wouldn’t even care that it was in Tang Yi’s office. A look at the timer told him they had twenty minutes to spare.

“You need to make a list for which projects you have listened around,” he told Tang Yi and was pleasantly surprised when Tang Yi walked to his desk and opened his laptop. Maybe Tang Yi really wanted to find out why Jin Jie Yong tried to frame them and this wasn’t an elaborated plan to drive Shao Fei insane. It could still be both though.

Tang Yi started to tap on his keyboard and Shao Fei forced his eyes to look away from Tang Yi’s fingers because that was a rabbit hole he didn’t want to fall into. In contrast to all the other holes he had already fallen into. Captain Shi was going to kill him.

He yawned and almost got a heart attack when the timer went off.

“Good timing,” Tang Yi said and came towards him with some papers. It was probably for the best if he wasn’t going to mail a list to Shao Fei, so he stood up and took the sheets.

“Thank you. I will see what I can find out.”

Maybe this was over faster than he had thought, and he could wrap this all up without anyone finding out what Tang Yi’s proposal had been. He turned around but a hand on his shoulder stopped him and he had almost forgotten how his brain emptied when Tang Yi stood to close.

“For every hour of your time I will tell you something about what happened four years ago, that was the deal, right?”

Shao Fei’s mouth dried out and he suddenly wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear what Tang Yi had to say. He could choose anything. What car they had driven that day, what he had worn, who he had called that day. And in the end, his information wasn’t important, and Shao Fei was the only one who had risked everything, making himself bleed out.

“I saw the killer,” Tang Yi said, and his words fell like bombs into the silent room. Shao Fei could only stare at Tang Yi, his eyes scanning over his face like he had done a thousand times already and searched for any clue if what Tang Yi said was the truth. His hand disappeared from his shoulder, leaving a weird cold feeling behind.

“I heard the shots; I ran up to the platform and saw a man standing by the bodies of Old Tang and Lee Li Zhen.”

“Did you--?”

“I remember that he wore a black jacket, maybe something alike to a windbreaker, the hood was pulled over his head, when I arrived he turned and then he shot at me but that is only the logical conclusion to my injury.”

Shao Fei looked down to Tang Yi’s hand, laying on top of his chest, over his heart, clenching the fabric of his sweater and it seemed like an unconscious move because his eyes stared into nothing.

“I saw this man standing over the bodies; I remember I yelled and then he had to turn around because I can’t remember anything else, except a hot pain.”

Shao Fei remembered how Tang Yi had looked like, in the hospital room after the surgery. He had never told him that he had been there, after he had identified Lee Li Zhen’s body, but he remembered the sounds of the machines which had breathed for Tang Yi, the stark whiteness of the bandages around his torso.

He had to swallow, and his tongue felt foreign in his mouth and he had no idea what to do with himself. Why weren’t they in the precinct, in a neat interrogation room where he knew what to do, and what kind of questions to ask?

“Thank you,” he said at last, because yes, he wanted this information, but he was aware of the pain it caused Tang Yi and that it had to be difficult.

“I will inform you what I find out about the construction clue, good night.”

He left and even after he walked out of the Metro Business Hotel into the cold night, he couldn’t get the image of Tang Yi in his sparsely lighted office out of his head. He started to walk until he remembered that he had used his car to get here and that yes, he was bone-deep tired, but his bed had to wait.

There were still lights on in Zhao Zi’s bedroom when Shao Fei arrived at his house, so he didn’t feel guilty ringing. He heard him stomping down the stairs and waved when Zhao Zi peered through the living room window.

“Ah Fei!”, Zhao Zi exclaimed loudly in no regards of his sleeping neighbours and Shao Fei was too tired to comment on the Pikachu onesie he wore.

“Do you still have that bottle of Kaoliang your grandma made?”

Zhao Zi blinked at him and then nodded.

“Yes, why?”

Shao Fei sighed and walked past Zhao Zi into the house.

“Just open it!”


Zhao Zi stared at him after he a downed the first shot of the liquor and gosh in burned all the way down from his mouth to his stomach and felt like a punishment for every of his life choices.

“I have decided that neither drunk you nor sober you should be allowed to make any kind of decisions.”

“I toast to that,” Shao Fei said and poured himself another shot. He knew he was going to sleep on Zhao Zi’s couch tonight and his back already ached when he thought about it, but he didn’t deserve a spine-friendly mattress anyway.

“I can’t believe that you, of all the people, you made a deal with a gangster.”

“Ex-gangster,” Shao Fei said but it was a lifeline for himself, reminding him that hopefully, maybe, this wouldn’t totally blow up in his face.

“Whatever you find out about Jin Jie Yong and a possible connection to the construction industry you can’t tell Tang Yi about it.”

Shao Fei made a face.

“My plan is to inform Team 5 and they hopefully wrap the case up quickly and when I talk to Tang Yi it will no longer be illegal to talk about the case.”

Zhao Zi mouthed a ‘wow’ at him, and they wrestled silently for the bottle until Zhao Zi slapped his fingers and Shao Fei let got.

“Not more alcohol for you,” Zhao Zi decided and put the bottle back into the cupboard. “And here I thought you would one day arrest me for doing something stupid but now it’s the other way around.”

Shao Fei frowned but then he remembered that Zhao Zi had his grandmother’s genes so it wouldn’t have been so far-fetched for him to do something stupid in the future. He groaned and bumped his head against the table.

“I wasn’t able to reject when he made the offer to talk about Li Zhen’s case.”

“It was kind of an arsehole move of him to use that as leverage,” Zhao Zi agreed, “but what he told makes sense? We all know that he wasn’t the culprit because his gun hadn’t been used and the distance, and memory loss after such an event is common, too.”

“He can’t remember the face so, in the end, he’s just recurring what we already know.”

“The killer is male, that’s something we didn’t know before for sure.”

“He could just project his experience with gang-life onto the killer’s gender.”

“Now you search for a flaw.”

 Shao Fei turned his head to look at Zhao Zi and maybe it was the alcohol, but a wave of tenderness flooded through him. He had known that Zhao Zi would be here for him.

“Thanks for not ratting me out to the captain,” he said, and Zhao Zi made a peace sign at him.

“We’re partners. I’m going to rat you out to the captain when he himself finds out what you have done.”

Shao Fei smiled. His eyelids got heavier and he was so tired that it felt like a good idea to fall asleep on the table.

“Come on, up with you. The couch is waiting, and we really should think about getting an exorcist for you. I have the feeling when you declared your plan to stop chasing Tang Yi to the universe you put a curse on yourself.”

“I thought so too,” was the last thing Shao Fei remembered saying.


“I’m going to order our food now, put your wishes on the note, I’m not going to pick up my phone when I’m there and you suddenly decide you want more fries!”, Shao Fei yelled and winced at his own voice. Grandma Zhao’s Kaoliang hadn’t left him with a hangover but now and then something like a pain-flash struck his brain and he wished he could curl up on the floor and lay there until it was over.

“Shao Fei?”

“Put your order on the note, Ah Wei,” Shao Fei said and waved towards the writing pad on his desk. Yes, everyone knew he was going to pick up his phone when he was picking up their lunch for any kind of special requests, but it couldn’t hurt to pretend he wouldn’t.

“I already wrote my order down,” Jun Wei said, “I just want to know where you have your notes about the woman from the apartment where Jin Jie Yong lives? The one who told you about the car?”

Shao Fei looked up from the report he wrote and frowned for a second. He had made notes and then they had driven back to the precinct and then… he rummaged in the pocket of his jacket and unfolded some pieces of paper.

“Here, but don’t you have the report of--,” but Jun Wei had already snatched the piece of paper out of his hand and stalked away.

It looked like the comment about the tall guys really got to him.

“Zhao Zi! Are you coming with me?”, he asked and put on his jacket.

“I can’t!” Zhao Zi’s voice came from somewhere and his words were followed by a crash. Shao Fei felt another pain-flash through his brain and decided he didn’t care. He needed something greasy like a cheeseburger and whatever mess Zhao Zi had made it could wait until that graving was satisfied.

His phone vibrated nonetheless when he was on his way to his car and he sighed. His heart stopped for a second when the number wasn’t the police department but Tang Yi. He had almost forgotten that they had exchanged numbers and for a moment he contemplated to ignore the call but what if it was something important?

“Yes?”

“Officer Meng, I almost thought you would ignore my call.” The drawl of Tang Yi’s voice sounded so casual as if their meeting this night hadn’t happened.

“What can I do for you Tang Yi?”, he asked and suppressed a sigh. He needed distance and not his pounding heart as a reminder that he was in love with a gangster.

“I would appreciate it if you would look to your right, Officer Meng.”

Shao Fei did so and let his sigh free when he saw Tang Yi on the other side of the road. He leaned against his car and waved towards Shao Fei.

“What are you doing here?”, he asked into the phone and then felt stupid. He disconnected the call and jogged over the street.

“I want another of your hour,” Tang Yi said when Shao Fei reached him.

“I don’t have time; I need to pick up lunch and…”

“I can drive,” Tang Yi offered and opened his car with his key and a peep.

“I don’t have time for a full hour and…”

“Then half an hour now and half an hour later. I will even give you your information after the first thirty minutes.”

Why was Tang Yi so good in baiting him? Shao Fei was convinced he should fight against this, but he was so damn weak! He wanted to know more about the murder and Tang Yi wore an after-shave that made him want to rub his face all over Tang Yi’s jaw and that was…

“Fine. Taipei City Mall, please.”

It was a petty thought but getting the greasy smell of fast food all over Tang Yi’s expensive car felt good.

“Don’t you normally have a chauffeur?”, Shao Fei asked and fastened his seatbelt.

“I have special cargo today, so I’m driving myself.”

Shao Fei almost asked what kind of cargo but, fortunately, it clicked before he could open his mouth. Special cargo… nothing of the sort, just a police officer he blackmailed.

Tang Yi wore a blue chequered suit with a baby-blue button-down and no tie. As always it looked good on him, forbidden good and Shao Fei crossed his arms in front of his chest because he didn’t trust himself and his hands. Tang Yi was the perfect poster child for his own suit shop, and he wondered often why he hadn’t built onto the suit business for his plan to go legal. But that was a question In-Love-Shao Fei wanted to ask and In-Love-Shao Fei was forbidden to ask any questions.

“Is the investigation turning towards the construction industry angle?”, Tang Yi asked, and Shao Fei realized they had been silent for almost ten minutes. The traffic was slow and Shao Fei worried that they would be stuck together in a car for more than half an hour.

“I spoke with Team 5, yes. I can’t dictate their investigation strategy, but they took my information seriously.”

Shao Fei saw out of the corner of his eyes how Tang Yi put a hand over his mouth as if he needed to physically stop himself from saying something, but Shao Fei was able to imagine what he wanted to say. He never had thought about him as a good detective. Which hurt but now he needed Shao Fei so suppressing any kind of sarcastic comment was appreciated.

“I already told all my subordinates to show Jin Jie Yong picture around, we will know by tomorrow the latest if someone has seen him around.”

“Good,” Shao Fei answered and the pressure on his chest eased when their destination was in sight. He almost jumped out of the car and entered the fast-food restaurant as if someone was chasing him. Their order was already prepared and when they handed him the bags full of burgers and fries, he had no hand left to pick-up the drinks.

“Let me,” came Tang Yi’s smooth voice from behind him and he brushed against Shao Fei’s side to grab the drinks. Shao Fei almost jumped three metres to the side and shared a forced smile with the restaurant employee before he trusted himself to walk.

The drive back was quiet, and Shao Fei wondered why Tang Yi wanted his hour when he wasn’t going to make use of it? But that suited him just fine, the less they talked the less he was self-incriminating himself.

Back at the police precinct he climbed out of the car and piled the bags up in his arms, cursing Zhao Zi in his head for whatever he had done in the department which made it impossible for him to accompany him.

“Are you serious?”, he asked when Tang Yi put the drinks on top of the bags.

“I think it’s not the best idea if I follow you into the police station.”

That was true but Shao Fei was loaded up with food and the strawberry milkshake was pressed against his cheek and he had the fear that everything would fall down the moment he moved.

“I trust your exceptional abilities to bring your fellow police officers their food.”

Shao Fei had never wanted to kick anyone so bad and when Tang Yi came closer and took the lapel of his jeans jacket between his fingers, he couldn’t even evade him without risking his cargo.

Tang Yi looked at him and Shao Fei had no idea what he searched for on his face.

“Thirty years ago, Old Tang and Lee Li Zhan had been lovers,” Tang Yi said.

For a moment all Shao Fei heard was the sound of the traffic, the cars rushing by, some honking in the distance.

“What?”

Tang Yi let go of his jacket and smoothed some none-existing wrinkles out of his suit jacket.

“I will tell you more at our next meeting.”


“They have been what?”

Shao Fei took the milkshake out of Zhao Zi’s hand because the cup tilted dangerously to the side as Zhao Zi stared at him in shock.

Shao Fei had dragged him down an empty corridor in the precinct and looked around carefully for any kind of ears that could hear what they were talking about.

“But we didn’t find any kind of clue that hinted at that,” Zhao Zi said and took a huge bite out of his burger.

“I know.” They had searched thoroughly, or so they thought. After Tang Guo Dong and Li Zhen had been found together, they had searched frantically for any kind of proof that showed what sort of connection there had been between them. Nothing.

“Thirty years ago? That was when she worked as a regular police officer, she hadn’t been appointed detective then,” Zhao Zi said with his mouth full and Shao Fei gave him his milkshake back to wash down his food.

Could this really be true? He had turned Li Zhen’s life upside down after her death, had found diaries, had found that she liked to do embroidery, something he hadn’t known before but nothing as earth-shattering as the fact that she had been the lover of a gangster.

“She must have destroyed everything that reminded her of her relationship with Tang Guo Dong if Tang Yi’s declaration is really true.”

If it’s true.”

“Are you going to meet him?”

Shao Fei showed Zhao Zi the message from Tang Yi who had written him to come to his house after his shift had ended.

“You can’t visit him at his house,” Zhao Zi hissed. “It’s bad enough that he came to the precinct, anyone could have seen you going into his car.”

And he couldn’t ask him to come to his apartment. Shao Fei thought about the possibilities and then wrote Tang Yi back: ‘We have to meet somewhere else.’

 

Chapter Text

 

Tang Yi slid the photo over the table and for a moment Shao Fei wasn’t sure what he was looking at. He couldn’t connect the two people in the picture with the people it told them they were. It was a couple’s photo, made with an old film camera, so the angle was wrong, and Tang Guo Dong’s face was almost cut off. He held Li Zhen close and used his free arm to prevent Li Zhen from hiding her face with her hands. They laughed, they looked young and incredible alien.

He turned the photo and stared at the date. He had never thought that Li Zhen had been born the fifty-year-old woman he knew when she had died. He knew she had to have been twenty at some point and lived a life he knew nothing about before they met.

“You can take the picture and examine it if you want to do an authenticity check.”

Shao Fei looked up and his heart did a leap because he had forgotten who was here with him.

“No,” he answered, “I know about a photo that was most likely made with the same camera.” They had found it in Li Zhen’s nightstand, and it had hung on a special board in the department for a long time, reminding everyone for whom they were investigating so diligently. Li Zhen wore the same top in that picture, the same hairstyle and the same smile and now Shao Fei knew that Tang Guo Dong had made that photo.

There had been evidence about their relationship, but Li Zhen had hidden it well. Shao Fei felt how his throat closed up and he had no idea why, but he felt tears prickle in his eyes. He leaned back and took a deep breath, the weight on his chest almost unbearable.

“How did they--?”, but he was interrupted by a voice from the counter and he stood up to pick up the tea trays.

All of this felt surreal. He was in his favourite teahouse together with the man he was in love with, who was also a gangster (ex-gangster a voice in his head reminded him) who had just told him that his senior officer had had a relationship with a gangster boss in the past.

“Officer Meng?”

He almost walked past the counter and smiled at the teashop owner in apology.

“That’s a nice-looking man you have there,” the shop owner said to him with a conspiratorial wink and Shao Fei stared at him until it clicked what he was talking about.

“Oh no. No, no, no. This isn’t a date,” he whispered urgently. That was the last thing he needed, that his favourite teashop talked about how Officer Meng brought a handsome man for a date here. It was in the district he had grown up in and it was almost two hours away from the city centre and the police department, and he fervently hoped it was far away enough so that no gossip would reach any of his colleagues.

“Business,” he said but the shop owner just nodded with another wink and Shao Fei gave up.

“Thank you,” Tang Yi said when Shao Fei put the tray down in front of him. “Oh, that is one of my favourite blends. How did you know?”

Shao Fei forced a smile on his face and wanted to pinch himself because of course, he had learned what Tang Yi liked and had unconsciously tried to please him.

“Lucky guess,” he answered and tried to deflect, “How long did you know about Tang Guo Dong’s and Li Zhen’s relationship?”

Tang Yi took his time answering and Shao Fei had to watch how he poured water over his tea leaves in what looked like a very dramatic usage of the teakettle. Shao Fei liked tea and his grandmother had loved the tea ceremonies, but he was too impatient for the whole ritual and it itched in his fingers to snatch the cup out of Tang Yi’s hand and make him stop.

“I put two and two together when I found the picture, which was after their death,” he finally said. “I always suspected that he had gone through a break-up that left its mark because he never pursued a relationship as long as I knew him and when he talked about love it had a… melancholy feeling?”

Shao Fei had never talked with Li Zhen about love. She had shared her wisdom especially when they had been cases about relationships, but it had never sounded as if she talked about a painful experience. He had never heard her talking about dates or men in her life and he had never asked.

“So, they wanted to reconcile after such a long time and that’s why they had to die?” Why would she want to meet a man she had broken up with three decades ago?

Tang Yi shrugged and ate a tea cake and Shao Fei had to witness how he brushed crumbs off his bottom lip with his thumb and he should have done what his grandfather had wanted him to do and became an accountant.

“Something must have happened to make them speak to each other again after thirty years. People change, they wouldn’t have been the same after such a long time, so why would they meet?”, he asked almost more to himself than to Tang Yi and frustration started to bubble up in him.  

“Boss Tang called it a ‘meeting’,” Tang Yi provided, and it told Shao Fei nothing. What kind of meeting? Had they come across each other by accident and decided to meet but then why a remote location?

He rubbed his hands over his face and tried to make sense of his thoughts.

“I just can’t believe that Li Zhen went corrupt, that goes against everything I knew about her, but I had no idea about her connection to Tang Guo Dong, so what did I really know?”

“It was thirty years ago. The Lee Li Zhen you knew was the real one. Things we did in the past are just that; things we did in the past.”

Shao Fei looked up at that and was captured by Tang Yi’s eyes. He had the feeling he missed some subtext and when he felt a blush rising up his neck, he quickly took a sip from his tea. It was disconcerting that Tang Yi had two modes: either he was intense and the way he looked at Shao Fei made him all hot and bothered or he was a smirking tease which made Shao Fei want to kiss and punch the smug smile from his face. Neither was good for his heart.

But what was the truth now? Had Tang Guo Dong and Li Zhen never lost contact? Had they died because they had started to see each other again, or was their meeting unrelated to the reason they have been killed?

“The one thing I can assure is that it had nothing to do with Lee Li Zhen being corrupt. Three months before their meeting we established our legal business. Boss Tang wouldn’t have done anything to jeopardize that.”

And Shao Fei had to believe that. He tried to hide the grimace on his face, and he itched to drive home and bring the board out of retirement to have a visual overview of his thoughts. He needed to reign in his obsession, or he would break into the archives to look over the case files again and then Captain Shi would definitely smell that something was fishy.

He jerked when Tang Yi knocked on the table with his knuckles to get his attention. His fingers were only inches away from were Shao Fei had interlaced his own and he quickly pulled his arms back to cross them in front of his chest. Tang Yi smiled at that and the uncomfortable thought that Tang Yi maybe knew about his feelings made itself known again.

“I told you more than just one fact today,” Tang Yi said.

“And I gave you more than one hour of my time,” Shao Fei answered. He hadn’t kept track of the time and it was late already, they were the only guests in the tea house. “I can’t tell you more about Jin Jie Yong’s case when the other team hasn’t shared more information about their investigation.” And that would be his excuse until the case was solved.

“You imply that I’m talkative?”

Talkative. Shao Fei snorted. As if he didn’t have to tear the information out of Tang Yi. He was only telling him the facts he wanted to tell him, and he shouldn’t pretend it was different.

“I will tell you more when I know more.” And when the employees started to tidy up, they paid for their tea and walked out.

“Do you want a ride?”, Tang Yi asked him outside and Shao Fei was reminded of the shop owner and his wink and hastily said: “No, thank you.” Tang Yi didn’t have to know that he hadn’t used his car to ride here but had used public transportation and he had the feeling he needed the time it would take him to ride back to his apartment to process everything Tang Yi had told him.

He raised one arm in a goodbye when Tang Yi drove away and stared after the departing taillights of Tang Yi’s car.

Four years he had chased this man who had been able to avoid him, had drowned him in lawsuits and now he wasn’t able to turn a corner without bumping into him.

What a mess. He breathed in the sweet night air and started to walk.

Tang Guo Dong and Lee Li Zhen. Had she known he had been part of a gang? Did they break up because he wouldn’t leave or did he lie to her about what he did for a living? Endless possibilities and not much to work with.

And why did it feel like history was repeating itself? But no, Tang Yi and he weren’t a pair, so there was no tragic love story happening even though he had the suspicion that something was going on with Tang Yi, but if it was a game of the heart or something else he couldn’t say. He wasn’t experienced in flirting or that kind of back and forth he saw in movies. If Tang Yi ever asked him upfront if he had a crush on him the only possibility for Shao Fei was to run away. Maybe being a police officer in a remote area of Taiwan wasn’t so unappealing.

After Tang Yi had told him everything he knew about Li Zhen’s murder.

The metro was almost deserted at this time of the day and he leaned back in one of the seats and watched the skyline wash away past him. The streetlights blurred together to one line of light and he had no idea how he should proceed. He could only hope that Team 5 was pulling through and Jin Jie Yong had grasped at straws when he had connected himself to Xing Tian Meng.


Shao Fei woke up thirsty and disorientated. He felt a tug on his abdomen, and he couldn’t focus his mind on a thought. What had happened? His head hurt and he felt loopy and he knew that feeling. He always felt like that when they gave him the good stuff in the hospital.

Was he in the hospital? But he had been in the metro on his way home and…

“Don’t move.”

Shao Fei tried to turn his head towards the voice and it never felt more complicated to move his head. It felt like someone had put it between two concrete blocks and when he looked to the side he was sure that he dreamed. A soft light illuminated Tang Yi who sat next to the bed.

Shao Fei blinked.

“What?”, but his throat felt scratchy and dry and when he raised his hand to take the glass of water Tang Yi passed him, he saw the needle access on the back of his hand.

“What happened?”, he was able to ask after he sipped from the water glass.

“You got stabbed on your way back home,” Tang Yi answered, and Shao Fei tried to make sense of his words, but he couldn’t. Stabbed? Who would stab him? But he felt the tenderness on his belly, and he knew the bedsheets from his last visits to the hospital and gosh he felt so tired, but he couldn’t fall asleep again because what was Tang Yi doing here? Why wasn’t Zhao Zi here or someone else from the police department?

“I’m here because otherwise I would be out there killing someone,” Tang Yi answered as if Shao Fei had said his thoughts out loud. His eyelids got heavier and he felt Tang Yi’s fingers around his and how they took the water glass away before it could spill on the bed and then nothing…

He woke again with a start and stared at the ceiling and his mind was clear and he knew immediately that he was in the hospital. He had been stabbed.

“Nice! You are awake!”

Zhao Zi stood in front of his bed and smiled at him. Daylight poured through the curtains and despite the clarity in his head Shao Fei still felt like in a dream.

He sat up slowly and lifted the blanket to get a look at the bandage on his stomach. That was reality.

“The doctor said the knife didn’t hit anything vital, that’s good right?”, Zhao Zi said and put a bag that smelled like it contained something sugary on Shao Fei’s legs.

Shao Fei remembered that he had seen the attacker out of the corner of his eyes and that he had moved on instinct. The knife had been long enough to do some serious damage, but he had been lucky to ward him off before he could drive in the knife completely.

“I have questions,” he said because he saw that Zhao Zi wanted to say something and he still felt a bit out of it. He was on the verge of freaking out if he was honest with himself.

“Who helped me?” He had no memory of how he had ended up in the hospital. No idea if an ambulance had driven him if he had talked to paramedics.

“The security guard from your apartment building. He heard your fight during his tour and said your attacker ran away when he came closer, he was also the one who called an ambulance.”

Shao Fei frowned. He remembered that he had fallen against the wall because of the attack and he remembered the burning sensation of the stab wound. What kind of painkiller had they given him that he felt like he had forgotten months of his life?

“I was attacked… yesterday?”

Zhao Zi raised an eyebrow at him and opened the bag to take out a cinnamon bun.

“Around midnight. It’s almost six in the evening now.”

He opened his mouth to ask if Tang Yi had really been sitting at his bedside or if it had been a hallucination, but he decided to keep that to himself. When Zhao Zi took another bun, he snatched that out of his hands and ate it himself.

“I need to see a doctor and then I need to get out of here.” The memories came back slowly, and he remembered that he had talked to a doctor already in the morning hours during the rounds and the bump on the back of his head explained his confusion. He had fallen against the wall, but his head had gotten the highest share of it, no wonder that he had trouble recollecting what had happened.

Nothing had been stolen, he still had his phone and his wallet, and he couldn’t say if his attacker had demanded money or if he had said something else. His colleagues told him that he was ambushed in a part of the area where there were no security cameras and now he fretted over if this had been a random attack or if someone was targeting him. Which didn’t make his return to work on the following Monday easier because Captain Shi spotted him the minute he came through the door.

“You!”, he yelled and pointed a finger at him, and Shao Fei put on his most pitiful face.

“I’m hurt, Captain,” he said and bend a little over and let his hand hover over his bandage. Only five stitches and it made no difference because the Captain pulled his ear.

“Who allowed you to get stabbed, huh?”

“No one, Captain.”

“That’s right! We are understaffed and the files are piling up on your desk, how dare you get stabbed and make me sick with worry!”

Shao Fei put his hands together in a pleading gesture and mouthed at everyone in the room: “Come on.”

“He’s as good as new, Captain,” Jun Wei said, and the familiar smell of an incense stick tickled Shao Fei’s nose.

“And he didn’t need surgery like the last time,” Zhao Zi added and handed the Captain his tea.

“You don’t have to remind him of that,” Shao Fei hissed and pushed Zhao Zi away. But the little sigh Captain Shi let out wasn’t a I-will-strangle-you-sigh but more of a I-will-let-you-sort-out-the-archive-sigh, so Shao Fei was out of the woods.

“At least we have Ah Wei here who is able to solve cases! The thing you all should be doing!” He gesticulated widely with the teacup in his hand and Shao Fei took a step back to not add a second-degree burn to his injuries when he caught on to what Captain Shi had said.

“What case?”, he asked.

“The Jin Jie Yong case,” Jun Wei answered and sounded incredibly pleased. Shao Fei was sure that he had misheard.

“What happened?”

“The woman who gave you the tip about the licence plate. She’s his aunt.”

“The one who didn’t trust tall men?”

Jun Wei nodded and frowned. He still wasn’t over that comment.

“I compared her statement to what she had said to Team 5 where she had said that she had no relatives. She had been very insistent about being completely alone so her comment about a niece oversees was suspicious.”

“She’s involved in the drug dealing Jin Jie Yong was arrested for.”

Jun Wei nodded. “She seems to be the mastermind behind it and Team 5 is trying to unravel everything about them currently because they live in Taipei under false names. They are in some deep shit as it seems.”

“Wow,” Shao Fei said and was a bit miffed that he had been deceived by that lady. But…

“Wait,” he shouted after Jun Wei who walked away, “what about the connection to Xing Tian Meng?”

“They try to go to the bottom of that,” Jun Wei yelled back, “but it looks like it was a total random attempt to deflect from their true identities.”

There was no connection between Jin Jie Yong and Xing Tian Meng? Shao Fei sat down on his chair and had to think about that.

“That’s good right?”, Zhao Zi whispered but as always, his whisper was as loud as his normal voice.

Shao Fei just nodded. It was good. He could tell Tang Yi that Jin Jie Yong was no longer a threat to him and they could stop meeting up… yeah… that was good.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Are you having a mental break-down?”

“I don’t have a mental break-down,” Shao Fei said from his position against the locker but had to admit to himself that the jury was still out on the mental break-down.

The skin around his wound itched like crazy and he felt bereft? For what it was worth he thought that they would find out what the connection was between Xing Tian Meng and Jin Jie Yong and he had hoped it would be over quickly but now it was over, and he hadn’t even had a part in that.

Now Tang Yi didn’t need him anymore.

“Are you sad now?”, Zhao Zi asked and really, he needed to find the strength to kick him because he had too much fun poking at him. Shao Fei opened his eyes and satisfied himself with a glare.

“If he doesn’t need me anymore for the Jin Jie Yong case I will lose the only source of information about Li Zhen’s murder.” It was the truth. Or… it was one truth. He would be back to chasing Tang Yi because he had no other choice now that he knew that Tang Yi had withheld information all these years. And Tang Yi would go back to communicate via his lawyer and he couldn’t even tell Captain Shi what he knew about Tang Yi’s knowledge because then he had to admit that he had made a deal with Tang Yi and why had he even became a police officer? He was clearly not made for this job.

“Did you remember when I said your crush isn’t that bad because Tang Yi hadn’t been linked to a crime for over four years now?”

“Zhao Zi…”

“While you went on almost dates with your beloved—” Shao Fei had to laugh at that, “I had to check every member of Xing Tian Meng. Do you know what I found?”

Shao Fei made a ‘go on’ gesture because he had really no idea. He had the feeling he was out of the loop for weeks now, not only because of the stabbing and the knock against his head but because everything that had happened seemed so surreal. Time was no more.

“I found nothing. Every member of Xing Tian Meng doesn’t even have a fine for illegal parking. They pay their taxes on time, nothing about missing a rent payment or notes in their files that they were seen in a brothel, gambling hall or the establishments we know are used for money laundering. They are clean, Shao Fei. Every one of them, including Tang Yi.”

And there was the ache again. And it wasn’t because of the wound.

“Why are you telling me this Zhao Zi?”

Zhao Zi poked him lightly against the forehead.

“Because you need to stop beating yourself up about your feelings. You are allowed to pursue him; you are allowed to have feelings for him. Think about Judge Yu’s wife or the fiancé of Captain Shi’s daughter. You know what Ah Lan had done before he became a police officer, why are they allowed to move on from their past, but Tang Yi isn’t?”

“You are awfully invested in my love life,” was all Shao Fei could say, his chest stuffed.

“What can I say? They discontinued my favourite drama.”

Shao Fei huffed and pushed his fringes back from his sweaty face. He felt hot and knew that he shouldn’t have come back to work after only two days rest from a knife attack. He should lay in bed and think.

“Help me up,” he said and made a face when the tender skin of the wound tweaked and burned.


Showering with a bandage on his stomach sucked. It sucked big time. Shao Fei stared at the showerhead and then the white patch on his belly and sighed. Did he have plastic foil in his kitchen?

Captain Shi had allowed him to go home for a couple more days but had given him homework, so he had to write a detailed report about the stabbing (and the threat that it was Captain Shi’s decision what detailed meant). Which, hopefully, distracted him from thinking about Tang Yi and that his skin itched and he really just wanted to rip off the bandage and scratch but he wasn’t allowed to do that so he took his frustration out on his kitchen drawer which stuck and when he had it finally open there wasn’t even any plastic foil in it. He could just put a bigger band-aid over the original one or burn down his apartment he felt like that would satisfy his feeling of being backed into a corner.

His doorbell saved him from making a decision and he walked to his door, barefoot and only in boxer shorts. He pressed the buzzer to let Zhao Zi in who had promised to come over with take-out noodles and opened a few more drawers to see if they – magically – contained plastic foil.

“That is a nice outfit you have there,” a well-known voice drawled from the door and Shao Fei turned around with what he could only describe as a high-pitched shriek.

“Tang Yi!”, he yelled. “What are you doing here?”

Tang Yi pointed to the door which Shao Fei had opened so that Zhao Zi didn’t have to put in the code.

“The door was open.”

“How do you know where I live?”, Shao Fei asked next and searched frantically around for something to wear, but, of course, not only did is kitchen lack plastic wrap but also clothes. He would have to move past Tang Yi who wore a turtleneck sweater that hugged his broad shoulders and a far too amused face.

“You have a file on me, don’t you think I would have one on you, too?”

Shao Fei felt his eyes on his back when he shuffled past him and into his bedroom and of course, of fucking course, Tang Yi would appear when he hadn’t showered for three days and was half-naked. He dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt as fast as possible and hurried back.

“Which still doesn’t explain why you’re here?”, he asked again and was relieved when he saw that Tang Yi hadn’t moved from his position at the door. He cleared his throat because he sounded breathless and he felt a flush over his whole body. Tang Yi had seen him half-naked!

“I wanted to check on you,” Tang Yi said, and he looked at Shao Fei’s middle and oh…

Oh!

That hadn’t been a dream!

Tang Yi had really been there in the hospital. The more he had thought about it the more he had convinced himself it had been a dream.

But.

“How did you learn about the stabbing?”

“I have my sources,” Tang Yi answered, and Shao Fei squinted at him. That sounded a lot like he kept taps on Shao Fei’s whereabouts and that was worrisome. As worrisome as him standing in his apartment.

“Do you know who attacked you?”, Tang Yi asked, and Shao Fei didn’t like how he eyed his interior and how he tried to change the subject.

“No. I have almost no memory of the event because I injured my head.”

Maybe it was his willingness to answer Tang Yi’s questions, but Tang Yi suddenly slipped out of his shoes and pushed them away and the sight of his feet in socks was strangely intimate.

“That explains why you were so out of it in the hospital.”

Tang Yi took steps inside Shao Fei’s kitchen area and he had always known that his apartment wasn’t that big but with Tang Yi in it, it felt even smaller. Shao Fei put his little kitchen table between them. He tried to remember more about Tang Yi’s visit, but only the feeling of his fingers around his to help him hold the glass of water, played inside his mind.

Wait. He had been angry.

And there it was again. His heart beat faster because of the thought that Tang Yi might care.

“Out of it, yes, you could say that, but I’m fine now. The stitches will come out in another seven days.”

“Do you think your attack has something to do with Jin Jie Yong?”

He really shouldn’t talk with Tang Yi about an ongoing investigation, but he was tired, without a shower and Tang Yi looked weirdly approachable with his feet in socks and the soft-looking turtleneck.

“I don’t think so. As one of your sources has definitely told you already, Jin Jie Yong was proven to be a liar about his connections to Xing Tian Meng or any other gang he wanted to frame for his drug dealing. I’m a cop, so yes, maybe someone wanted to target me specifically, but it could just as well be a coincidence and the attacker just thought I would be an easy target.”

It never looked good when someone from the police force was the victim of a crime, so Shao Fei knew that Captain Shi was already pressured from the DA office and the mayor to get to the bottom of this. If a police officer was getting attacked what did it say about the security of an ordinary citizen?

“It’s good that you aren’t an easy target,” Tang Yi said, and it was the first time that he said something like that without it sounding like a tease. It made Shao Fei feel shy.

“Yes. Well, sometimes my fighting skills come through.”

They went silent and Shao Fei had no idea what to do. Should he offer Tang Yi something to drink? Should he just throw him out?

“Zhao Zi will come over soon, he wanted to bring me food,” he said after their silence got too uncomfortable.

Tang Yi nodded. He walked over to his shoes on silent feet and slipped in them. He supported himself with a hand on the wall and it occurred to Shao Fei that this might be the last time he would see him in this kind of relaxed setting. Zhao Zi might be right that Shao Fei could pursue Tang Yi but Li Zhen’s murder sat like a huge trench between them and how could he seek out a romantic relationship with Tang Yi when the other half of him wanted to shake Tang Yi so bad for information?

“Ah…”, Tang Yi said. “I almost forgot, I wanted to give you one more information as a thank you for solving the case.”

“What?”

“Lee Li Zhen wanted to meet Boss Tang because she needed his help to find out if there was a mole in the police department.”

“What? Tang Yi dammit!” Shao Fei walked around the table and cursed when he knocked against the edge of it with the uninjured side of his stomach.

“Did you hurt yourself?”, Tang Yi asked, and Shao Fei swatted his hands away.

“That’s not important! What did you say? I thought you had no idea for what they were meeting?”

“I said I know that Lee Li Zhen wasn’t corrupt not that I had no idea why they were meeting.”

Shao Fei could only gap at Tang Yi.

“What kind of bullshit is this? And now what? You drop this bomb and walk away?”

“That was the plan, yes.”

Shao Fei threw his hands up and then had to breathe away the pain because he had forgotten about his stab wound.

“Careful,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei wanted to growl at him.

“Can’t you see that the best course of action would be to be honest about what you know so that we can open the case again and start investigating? Especially when there was a police officer involved?”

Why was Tang Yi so stubborn? Why couldn’t he just trust Shao Fei to do his job and to it well?

But any other thought vanished when Tang Yi took another step forward and lifted Shao Fei’s shirt on the hem, exposing his stomach to the air. Shao Fei was only able to stare at Tang Yi who looked down on his bandage, a little frown between his eyebrows.

When he used his thumb to touch the edge of the band-aid Shao Fei sucked in a breath. Then his touch travelled away to the patch of skin he had hit against the corner of his table and every feeling left Shao Fei’s bottom apart from the nerve endings connected to Tang Yi’s thumb. They were humming.  

“You need to be more careful,” Tang Yi said, and his words fell soft and intimate between them. “It isn’t part of my plan for you to get yourself killed.”

“Your plan?”, Shao Fei asked in a whisper, his voice rough and breathless. Tang Yi looked up at that and Shao Fei was captured by the swirl of emotions he saw in them. Deep and warm and so different from the ice he had found in them in the past.

“The plan got a bit derailed and I had to adjust a few parts but now I think that wasn’t such a bad thing.”

Shao Fei had no freaking clue what Tang Yi was talking about, but he felt the heat from his body, and his thumb was still on his skin and he might risk it all for this short moment.

“Take care, Officer Meng,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei’s brain only started to work again when he was almost through the door.

“What plan?”, Shao Fei yelled but the door closed, and he was left with a thousand more questions. He still stood between his kitchen and his entrance area when Zhao Zi came to bring him food.


“Case review!”, Captain Shi yelled, and Zhao Zi and Jun Wei dumbed a huge amount of files on the conference table.

“Every team is obligated to invest a few hours in the Jin Jie Yong case. We have to find out how many aliases they used and if some cold cases can be linked to Jin Jie Yong and his aunt. She is still refusing to talk to anyone, even her lawyer.”

“Where is Ah Zhi?”, Zhao Zi asked, and everyone looked over to Jun Wei who just shrugged.

“He had this stomach troubles but now they admitted him to the hospital because they think it’s something like an ulcer?”

“Wow, he really doesn’t get a break,” Shao Fei murmured and grabbed some of the files. Zhao Zi followed him and almost pushed Yu Qi to the ground in his haste.

“You still don’t want to talk about it?”, he asked and slid as close as possible next to Shao Fei’s chair with his own.

“There is nothing to talk about,” Shao Fei answered and started to stack up the files as a wall between him and Zhao Zi.

“Please! I see Tang Yi coming down the stairs and you are standing in your kitchen all flustered. You want me to believe he visited someone else?”

“I don’t care what you believe,” Shao Fei said and pushed Zhao Zi, together with his chair, away.

He had enough to do with his own thoughts he didn’t need Zhao Zi’s too. He should feel rested after the days he had off but even though all he had done had been sleeping, eating and more sleeping Tang Yi had kept him awake.

What plan? And why was Shao Fei obviously part of it? And why the sudden tactile attacks?

“He’s flirting with you.” Shao Fei jerked away and glared at Zhao Zi who had whispered in his ear and then walked away snickering.

There was no flirting. Okay, Tang Yi had sent him food, apparently homemade and some kind of ointment for his wound but he was just Tang Yi which meant he wanted to confuse Shao Fei as much as possible.

He was a very good cook though.

Was his plan to find Tang Guo Dong’s killer on his own but Jin Jie Yong had upset that plan because it had refocused their attention on Xing Tian Meng?

He opened one of the files with an impatient flick of his wrist and tried to focus on the task at hand. It seemed to be time to bring back his board to find out what Tang Yi was planning and if there was any evidence supporting his claim that Li Zhen had found out about a mole in the police department. How could he say something like that without backing it up with evidence? He should have known that Shao Fei couldn’t let that go…

Shao Fei stared at the sentence on the report he had looked at for more than five minutes and sighed.

If it was Tang Yi’s plan to drive him crazy he was on the right track.

When his phone buzzed, he accepted the call without looking at who the caller was and frowned when he recognized the female voice.

“Officer Meng?”, Tang Yi’s secretary said, “I was asked to inform you that my boss has been admitted to the hospital.”

Shao Fei lowered the phone to look at the caller details, but he had already put the number in his contacts as Tang Yi’s terrifying secretary.

“Tang Yi is in the hospital?”, he asked, and his heart started to beat faster.

“Yes. He only has minor injuries due to a car accident and he asked you to come to the hospital if you’re able to.”

“Come to… yes, yes, of course, I am.” She had already ended the call and he stared at his phone and then at the police department at large because he had the feeling he was living in a parallel universe. With an unsettling feeling in his gut he grabbed his jacket and went to find Zhao Zi.

“You have to cover for me,” he asked him when he found Zhao Zi.

“What, why?”

“I will explain it later, just say to the Captain I’m investigating or something.”

“Oh, yes, I will tell him you are doing your actual job?”

“Thank you,” Shao Fei said and flipped Zhao Zi against the ear.

Shao Fei couldn’t remember how long the drive to the hospital actual took, if it felt long or short because his head was full of swirling thoughts and when he stopped his car and bought a parking ticket he asked himself if he shouldn’t have stopped for a moment and thought it through. But he was already here, and worry made his stomach churn.

Tang Yi’s secretary waited for him at the entrance and she didn’t have to say a word, but he saw it in the slight rise of one eyebrow that she thought he was late. Maybe Tang Yi and his employees should hold a seminar for the police department on how to be terrifying without needing to speak: it would definitely increase their interrogation successes. She took him through the hospital to the wing for private patients and if someone knew how to make everything dramatic it was Tang Yi because two men in black suits stood in front of a wingdoor and opened it when the secretary nodded at them.

And then they entered a room and Tang Yi sat on a hospital bed, clad in comfy clothes and Shao Fei’s eyes glued themselves to the little cuts on his cheeks, the bruise on his jaw and for a moment he had to breathe, just breath. He had believed the secretary that Tang Yi’s injuries were minor but…

“Officer Meng,” Tang Yi said, and he sounded as smooth as ever but relieved. Had he thought Shao Fei wouldn’t come? The click of the door made Shao Fei aware that they were now completely alone and gosh he was still so confused.

But he couldn’t restraint this… he couldn’t act like he didn’t care or that he hadn’t been terrified when he had heard Tang Yi was in the hospital. His heart was still beating wildly, his palms sweaty and like everything in his life he followed his own impulse and walked over to Tang Yi.

The bruises and cuts looked even worse up front and Shao Fei just wanted to make it all better. He cupped Tang Yi’s head carefully and brushed one thumb over an uninjured part of his jaw.

Then he had to huff because Tang Yi, even with a swollen and bruised face was the most handsome man he had ever met and what was one mistake more in this overall mess? He leaned forward and kissed Tang Yi.

 

Chapter Text

 

Shao Fei stared at the ceiling.

“I’m incredibly sorry about my unprofessional behaviour.” He was sure he would forever be beet-red; his skin was actively on fire.

“What a sight, Officer Meng. Molesting one of my patients.” Dr Jiang tsked at him and Shao Fei wished for the ground to just open up and swallow him. What had he thought? Nothing, that was the answer. He had thought nothing because Tang Yi had the gift to empty his head.

Wait.

He lowered his head and stared at Dr Jiang who examined Tang Yi’s bruises.

“Weren’t you one of the doctors who treated me?”, he asked and he might have huge holes in his memory but he remembered the doctor’s visit on his last day in the hospital and Dr Jiang had definitely hovered in the background. “You are the source?”, he asked, and Dr Jiang swatted the accusatory finger Shao Fei had raised away.

“What are you talking about? If I call one of my best friends and tell him I have a patient, then I just tell him I have a patient. I am a doctor, of course, I have patients.”

“Jin Tang,” Tang Yi said and there was something meaningful in his voice and Dr Jiang just huffed and went back to move Tang Yi’s head back and forth.

“Nothing broken in your face, the x-rays confirm that,” he says, “your pretty face will look like someone had used it as a punching bag for a couple of weeks, but it will heal up, no worries. Up with your shirt, I want to look at your ribs.”

Shao Fei turned around when he heard the rustling of fabric and even if he couldn’t see it, he would swear on his grave that Tang Yi shot him an amused look.

“Your ribs look fine, too. You will get a nasty bruise on your chest because of the seat belt, so use up that ointment I will prescribe you. And use the painkillers, you need rest and sleep, there is no use to suffer through the pain just because you think you have to.”

Shao Fei frowned and wanted to turn around to see if Tang Yi was nodding to Dr Jiang’s words. There had been an implication in Dr Jiang’s voice that Tang Yi wasn’t good at looking after himself after an injury.

“Alright,” Dr Jiang said, and Shao Fei felt save to turn towards Tang Yi again. “I know you will want to leave the hospital against doctors’ advice so I will get the paperwork ready. Don’t be responsible for more grey hairs on my pretty head, okay? And…” he suddenly was in Shao Fei’s space, wiggling his forefinger in front of Shao Fei’s face, “no hanky-panky!”

Shao Fei spluttered but Dr Jiang was already sauntering out of the room, so he just groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. The best course of action was to confess everything to Captain Shi who would safe him from this embarrassing situation. He would kill him, yes, but a corpse could not feel the horrifying realization that he had, in fact, kissed Tang Yi. His heartbeat was still geared into overdrive and he stopped his hand and pretended he had to scratch his chin when he had wanted to touch his lips. It had been a chaste kiss, nothing wild or deep, but it had ignited a fire in Shao Fei and if Dr Jiang wouldn’t have appeared, he would have… No, he told himself. He needed to stop thinking about it. It was not going to be repeated.

He cleared his throat and ignored Tang Yi’s amused face.

“So, what exactly happened? Did your car malfunction?” Asking about the accident felt safe, he decided.

“Someone pushed us from the road,” Tang Yi said and the way he said it, calm and matter-of-factly, made Shao Fei just stared at him for a moment because he wasn’t sure if he had heard right.

“But…” Someone had tried to push him off the road? Shao Fei turned around to check if he still was the only one in the room together with Tang Yi. If there had been an attempt on Tang Yi’s life the hospital should be swarmed with police. Or, at least, Shao Fei should have encountered one of his colleagues who had questioned Tang Yi. When he looked back to the bed it dawned on him. For a second, he had forgotten who had been the one injured.

He wanted to voice his displeasure about Tang Yi’s refusal to accept help, but Tang Yi stood up and Shao Fei hastily stepped forward, hovering beside him awkwardly to prevent him from falling. He saw the strain around Tang Yi’s eyes, wrinkles of pain and he wanted to smooth them out with his thumbs.

“We noticed someone following us and my driver was quick enough to realize they most likely wanted to push us down a slope. I guess my injuries would be more severe if they would have succeeded.”

“Tang Yi, you have—”

“Can you please help me with my jacket?”, Tang Yi interrupted him, and Shao Fei wanted to scream in frustration but got the jacket and put it around Tang Yi’s shoulders.

“Tang Yi, you have to report this to the police,” he said as gentle and non-demanding as possible and carefully brushed a piece of dirt off Tang Yi’s shoulder. Maybe, if he didn’t pressure him, he would see reason.

“Aren’t you the police?”

“Tang Yi!”, Shao Fei whined, and he threw every ounce of self-respect out of the window. “Could you please, please go to the police and make a proper report? Yes, I’m a police officer, yes, I’m part of the police but that’s not an invitation to use me as a private investigator. Just, go to the precinct and fill out a report?”

“Not when I know there might be someone working as a mole,” Tang Yi answered and the tension around his mouth screamed stubbornness. Why had he never realized how stubborn Tang Yi was?

“Then what is your plan? Waiting until something similar happens?”

They stood so close that Shao Fei could see how Tang Yi’s gaze hardened.

“Tang Yi…”

A knock interrupted them and one of Tang Yi’s men entered the room. Quickly, Shao Fei took a step away from Tang Yi.

“The car is ready, and we have the documents from Dr Jiang,” the man said, and Tang Yi nodded.

Great, Shao Fei thought. Another moment where it was up in the air if and how he was going to see Tang Yi again. They couldn’t just continue to meet each other in the hospital, injured. Eventually one of them wasn’t going to survive this. He followed hastily as Tang Yi walked out of the room and frowned when he saw how he straightened up with every step until only his face was the visible proof that he had been in an accident. His whole body had to hurt and throb. Shao Fei’s wound had been on his stomach, but he hadn’t been able to walk without a limp, the skin had burned and itched with every step. How disciplined and in control of his body had Tang Yi to be to appear as if nothing had happened?

Two more of Tang Yi’s men came out of nowhere and escorted him out of the hospital. They didn’t seem to be faced with Shao Fei’s appearance, acting as if he was invisible. A car was waiting for them and for a split second Shao Fei had the terrible feeling that this was the final opportunity to talk sense into Tang Yi and he stepped forward, his name on his lips, and when he saw how Tang Yi’s face twisted as he had to bent his body to climb into the car, he moved to shield Tang Yi from prying eyes and helped him. Tang Yi’s grip on his arm was bruising, sweat on his temples, and tension around his eyes, but he made no sound. Shao Fei waited until Tang Yi’s breathing evened out and he didn’t look like he was going to faint.

“You really should take the pain killers Dr Jiang prescribed you,” he murmured before he gave Tang Yi room to close the car door if he wanted to. Tang Yi looked up at him, pupils blown wide out of pain. “Get in,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei was already around the car when it occurred to him that he should think about his actions instead of grasping at every opportunity to be by Tang Yi’s side. Another time, he decided as he fastened his seatbelt. The car started to move, and Shao Fei tried not to stare too hard at how Tang Yi’s fingers were clawed in his tights.

“Could you please get me a water from the centre console?”, Tang Yi asked when they drove onto the main road, every word crisp and precise and Shao Fei almost ripped the console out but then he discovered the opening mechanism and smiled sheepishly as he unscrewed a bottle from the hidden compartment.

“That’s a neat thing to have in your car,” he said and watched as Tang Yi took slow, deliberate swallows. He still sweated too much, and Shao Fei hoped that Tang Yi’s men were trained enough to have the medication ready when Tang Yi came home. Why hadn’t he taken some right in the hospital? Was this about control? With the way he had reacted to all of Shao Fei’s suggestions he appeared to be in the clutches of deep paranoia.

His phone vibrated and Shao Fei took a discreet look at Zhao Zi’s message.

‘How is everything?’

‘Tang Yi is out of the hospital’, Shao Fei replied.

‘Are you on your way back?’

Shao Fei’s fingers hovered over the screen and he had no idea how to answer Zhao Zi’s question. He definitely wasn’t on his way back to the police department. With a silent apology to Zhao Zi he put the phone back in the pocket of his jacket. That was a conversation he had to have at a later time.

A glance to the side confirmed that Tang Yi had his eyes closed and his head was resting back. Shao Fei took the bottle carefully from his hands and couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer. While Tang Yi rested, he slowly and silently investigated what kind of interesting things the car was hiding next to the little cooler in the middle console. His own car was old and battered and only two days ago had decided that you were only able to open the trunk manually instead of automatically. Shao Fei just waited for the moment he had to climb through the window onto the driver’s seat.

The windows in Tang Yi’s car felt like they were bulletproof, and even though Shao Fei hadn’t been at the side of the accident and hadn’t seen the damaged it was most likely that this kind of car had prevented more serious injuries.

Tang Yi opened his eyes and moved away from the headrest as they arrived at the mansion, passed the gate, and slowly made their way up the driveway. As always, the sheer size of the property made Shao Fei ohhh and ahhh internally. Really! Who needed that much space? Did Tang Yi bury his enemies in the huge garden spreading behind the house? Was the pool just for show? He couldn’t believe or imagine that someone was swimming in that pool regularly. Did Tang Yi’s men hide colourful swimming trunks under their sharp black suits?

Before he could be caught staring at everything around him he quickly unfastened his seatbelt and followed Tang Yi inside the house. No men or women in a black suit were visible, it seemed like they were alone. Shao Fei saw stairs leading up to the upper floor and almost forgot to slip out of his shoes in his haste to follow Tang Yi.

“You should sit down,” he suggested but Tang Yi just put his jacket onto the couch and walked on. Shao Fei frowned at the jacket as he crossed the living room. It felt like it was uncharacteristic of Tang Yi to not put it away, but the thought vanished as he saw how Tang Yi was eying the white pill bottles on the kitchen counter.

“Oh, I know those,” Shao Fei said and took one to read the information. “They will knock you right out, but you won’t have trouble with pain for at least twelve hours. Is there a cream for your face? It will swell up badly if you don’t watch out.” He felt Tang Yi’s eyes on him.

“What?”

“You are very familiar with painkillers.”

“You aren’t?”, Shao Fei asked back. He had imagined Tang Yi had to deal with a lot of fights in his days as a gangster. He pushed a bottle to the side. “I won’t recommend this one. You will get nasty heartburn as a side-effect.”

Tang Yi raised a brow at him and opened a bottle to get two pills out. “I like this one.”

What a bonding moment, Shao Fei thought with a wry smile. He poured Tang Yi a glass of water and looked around while he took his medicine. The furnishing of the house was warm if a bit minimalistic. No dust, no things which were just laying around. Shao Fei had to think back to his bedroom and the little bench he had there that was overflowing with stuff. Was this just an extension of Tang Yi’s personality or also a tool to have control of every aspect of his life?

He glanced at Tang Yi whose complexion hasn’t improved during their ride. The need to put ice on the bruises on his face made Shao Fei’s fingers itch and he contemplated how silent he had to be so that Tang Yi wouldn’t notice that he rummaged through the fridge. Maybe he could twist it like it had been Tang Yi’s idea all along? He was halfway at the other end of the kitchen when Tang Yi sighed, and it sounded like he had looked long and hard at his life and found it lacking.

“I need to change and lay down,” he said, and Shao Fei nodded at that. He was in favour of that plan. They looked at each other for some time until Tang Yi raised a hand to press his fingers carefully against the bridge of his nose.

“I will need your help,” he said, and Shao Fei refrained from saying ‘Oh’ because that had been obvious.

“Sure, I can help,” he said and had no idea why, but he felt the need to raise his hands and wave with them a little.

Tang Yi just turned, and Shao Fei followed quickly. They took the stairs and Shao Fei had no time to look around because Tang Yi was already unbuttoning his shirt and Shao Fei almost run into the wall next to the bathroom door. He had snatched the anti-inflammation cream from the kitchen and held the tube in front of his chest like a barrier between him and the slow reveal of Tang Yi’s chest.

It wasn’t really sexy, and he didn’t feel turned on because there were already bruises forming on Tang Yi’s upper body and it was obviously painful for Tang Yi to move around. It wasn’t sexy but Shao Fei hadn’t been mentally prepared to stand in Tang Yi’s bathroom, a room that smelt of his aftershave and had a blue bathrobe hanging on the door. He felt like he was witnessing the places Tang Yi was most vulnerable in and a tiny voice in his head told him that his presence wasn’t exactly from a voluntary place, that Tang Yi, for reasons unknown, thought he was better than one of his subordinates.

“Let me,” Shao Fei said when Tang Yi made another face and carefully put a hand on his arm to let him know he should lower it. He put the cream next to the sink and opened the sleeve buttons for Tang Yi. The lights in the bathroom were bright and illuminated every scrap and bruise on Tang Yi’s body. It was already visible where he had jerked against his seat belt. Shao Fei wanted to put his fingers on the marks, carefully, as if he could make the pain go away with his touch. He felt Tang Yi’s eyes on him, like a burn on his face but he refused to look up, instead, he concentrated on the shirt.

“Okay, the first arm, that’s the worst part, then it’s easy,” he told Tang Yi, lowly, almost a whisper. It still echoed through the room and made it sound like everyone in the house was able to hear what they were saying. Which was nothing, just their breathing, and Tang Yi’s painful hisses as he rolled his shoulder back so Shao Fei was able to pull his hand out of the sleeve. Shao Fei waited and let him breathe. He stared at the move of Tang Yi’s back muscles and asked himself what their relationship would be like after this.

“Carry on,” Tang Yi said and interrupted his thoughts. Shao Fei nodded, and the rest of the shirt was easy to remove, nevertheless, Tang Yi leaned back against the sink when they were finished, and Shao Fei made a half-hearted attempt at folding the shirt. Sweat was rolling down his temple and his fingers trembled slightly.

“Do you need help with…”, they both looked down at the buttons on Tang Yi’s trousers and Shao Fei didn’t dare to finish his sentence.

“I think I will manage,” Tang Yi answered, and the familiar teasing drawl was back in his voice. Shao Fei still blushed and fiddled with the shirt in his hands.

“Okay… okay then.” Okay, what? Shao Fei had no idea what to do but got a glimpse of the cream and quickly grabbed it and held it up for Tang Yi’s inspection.

“You need to put that on your face. If you don’t ice it today, good, but this will help to keep the swelling down.”

Tang Yi looked from the tube in his hands up to his face and then his stance against the sink changed to something that only could be described as slouching.

“Sure,” he said and tilted his head, prompting, expectant. Shao Fei frowned because he suddenly looked like a very pleased cat and Shao Fei had the feeling he had walked into a trap. Tang Yi’s hands were still hanging on his sides, no sign in sight that he would take the cream anytime soon.

Oh.

Shao Fei huffed. As if he was afraid to put cream on Tang Yi’s face. He had faced down knife-wielding gangsters, but his heartbeat still went into overdrive as he, more or less, stepped between Tang Yi’s legs and unscrewed the tube. The ointment tingled on his fingertips as he smeared it on the skin around Tang Yi’s eye. Tang Yi jerked back when he touched a tiny cut on his cheekbones, and they stared at each other, a heartbeat, and Shao Fei’s wish to just hug Tang Yi and make the pain go away made him step back.

“This should do it,” he murmured and screwed the top back on the tube. He still had Tang Yi’s shirt, weirdly wrapped around his wrist, and was it stuffy in here? “I will leave you to…” Shao Fei moved his arm to indicate Tang Yi’s state of undress as a whole, “if you need something just yell.”

The door clicked quietly when he closed it behind him and Shao Fei stood there for a minute, maybe longer, he had no idea, then he looked down at the shirt, and asked himself what the hell was he doing?

Was he going to wait in front of Tang Yi’s bathroom and waited until he came out? Why was he even still here? Was he going to tuck him in? The bathroom was connected to the bedroom… was Tang Yi just going to sleep while Shao Fei was still in the house, wandering around like a lost ghost?

He needed to go!

He was already on the ground floor when he stopped and took a deep breath. He strained his ears to hear if Tang Yi was fainting and put the shirt to the jacket on the couch. Then he sat down on it and tried to rub the confusion and worry from his face. He had no idea what to do? They didn’t cover ‘patching-up-a-gangster-you’re-in-love-with-but-who-kinda-blackmails-you-emotionally’ in the police academy.

Apropos police.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled Zhao Zi’s number.

“Partner of mine,” Zhao Zi greeted him. “Where are you? Did you get my message?”

“I did get your message,” Shao Fei said to stall.

“Good… where are you?”

“I’m… I’m at Tang Yi’s house.”

“What are you doing at Tang Yi’s house?”

“He made me climb in his car and then I helped him a bit because he’s injured.”

There was silence at the end of the line and then Shao Fei heard Zhao Zi’s snort followed by a bad-muffled giggle.

“God, Shao Fei, this sounds like Tang Yi kidnapped you to take care of him, do you even hear what you’re saying?”

“I just helped! I’m helpful!”

“Oh, so are you already on your way out of his house as we speak? Are you already in your shoes?”

Shao Fei puffed up his cheeks and his silence apparently spoke volume because Zhao Zi laughed at him again.

“He’s injured,” Shao Fei argued, “I helped him get home and now… there’s no one around. It’s my duty to make sure nothing happens to him.”

“Doesn’t he have like… almost a hundred subordinates? Oh wait, he does have a sister, doesn’t he? Where is she, she can take care of him.”

“I have no idea, it’s not like he has a phone book lying around. Look…” Shao Fei had no idea what he wanted to say and drummed nervously with his fingers on the worktop. He just knew that he didn’t… couldn’t go just home now. The house was eerily quiet, and he had the suspicion that there were bodyguards around the house, but no one was inside. Next to him and Tang Yi.

“Something is off. Someone is stabbing me; someone is trying to push Tang Yi off the street. I just have the feeling it’s not a coincidence that those things happen so quickly after another.”

“I can ask the traffic police if they are willing to share the information on the accident. They won’t press much with Tang Yi not willing to talk to them and the other car doing a hit and run.”

“Yeah, do that.”  

They ended the call after Zhao Zi made him promise to appear at work the next day and Shao Fei leaned back with a huge sigh. He turned his head and looked at the jacket. It was the grey one. He liked the grey one. A patch of fabric was stained dark with blood at the collar and the fear came rushing back. The fear he had felt as he had gotten the phone call from Tang Yi’s secretary. The fear he had suppressed until now and he put his shaking hands under his legs and breathed in and out.

Chapter Text

Shao Fei woke with an ache in his neck and as he straightened himself up his back protested painfully. He was too old to fall asleep upwards on a couch his body told him grouchily and made alarmingly loud popping noises as he stretched his arms above his head.

He had really fallen asleep on Tang Yi’s couch, he thought, a bit of disorientation still clinging to his mind. It was already dark outside, and he saw that the pool was illuminated in soft, yellow light. It raised the question, again, for whom or what this pool was actually being maintained for? That issue was an itch in Shao Fei’s mind.

With his hand, he tried to locate his phone and fell sideways onto the couch, the bright light of the screen blinding him for a moment before he cursed whole-heartily. It was almost 3 am in the morning and he still was at Tang Yi’s house instead of his own apartment. He needed to go home, needed to sleep for a couple more hours and not feel like someone had run him over. Which reminded him of the man, hopefully, sleeping without much pain, a floor above him. Should he text Tang Yi that he would go home? Wait… he needed to call a taxi, right? Or was there a driver available for this household at any time of the day or night?

He stood up with a groan and lit his way with his phone to the kitchen. Maybe he should just leave a little note and go on his way?

Surely someone was going to care for Tang Yi while he was recovering. Right? He opened the fridge. It was well filled with all sorts of vegetables and glass containers full of prepared food. He had no idea why he even had opened the fridge if he was being honest with himself but took the carafe with cold water to pour himself something to drink. The little light above the stove poured dim and gloomy light into the room and as he took a huge gulp of water, he realized that he stalled.

But. He didn’t really want to be here. Tang Yi was injured, it had been a normal reaction to make sure that he got home alright and took his medicine. He hadn’t lied to Zhao Zi. It wasn’t like he had forced himself onto Tang Yi or had jumped into his car and had refused to leave. If anything, Tang Yi had practically forced him into the car.

He sighed. All of this was a huge mess.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh shit!” Shao Fei flinched so hard that he poured water all over his shirt. Tang Yi was standing in the open arch that led into the kitchen and Shao Fei needed to know how he had been able to be so silent on naked feet. He put the glass away - his fingers shook a bit - and took a kitchen towel to dab at the water stains.

“What are you doing?”, Tang Yi asked again, and Shao Fei looked up when he heard how he slurred his words. It hadn’t registered before, but the way Tang Yi talked was…different.

He looked… out of it? His eyes seemed unfocused. The swelling around his eye didn’t look that bad but the colouring of the bruises was now much more prominent than before, and it wasn’t only the low light of the kitchen making them appear darker.

“I drank water,” Shao Fei answered slowly. Tang Yi blinked at him then looked at the glass between them on the worktop and nodded.

“You couldn’t sleep?”, he asked and came closer and Shao Fei had no idea why, but Tang Yi took the glass in his hand.

“I actually was about to head home.”

Tang Yi stared into the glass, then up and looked offended?

“You don’t like the guest room?”, he asked, and Shao Fei knew that he was most likely high from the painkillers, but he had no idea what Tang Yi was talking about.

“What guest room? I slept a bit on the couch,” he explained. Did Tang Yi really have a memory of him showing Shao Fei a guest room after they had a very confusing and emotional stirring meeting in his bathroom?

Tang Yi frowned at him and it was such a familiar look of confusion and disapproval that Shao Fei was on the verge of apologizing. He had no idea for what. Maybe because Tang Yi had fabricated a wrong memory?

“Didn’t I offer you the guest room before?”, Tang Yi asked, but it sounded like he was talking to himself. Shao Fei shook his head. Tang Yi continued to look at him as if he couldn’t believe that he had forgotten about the guest etiquette 101 while Shao Fei had spread cream on his injured face. He put the glass back on the worktop, half on it, half over the edge and turned around while Shao Fei dived forward to save the glass from shattering on the floor. Tang Yi really wasn’t in his best form. Shao Fei wanted to wrap him up in a blanket and walk him back to bed but Tang Yi was already halfway up the stairs and Shao Fei hurried after him.

They ended up in a guest room down the hall from Tang Yi’s bedroom, a room fully furnished and ready for anybody to move in. Hangers in the open closet, throw pillows on the bed and a vanity in the corner. All Shao Fei had for a guest who would stay overnight was a blanket and the floor.

“Here,” Tang Yi said and made a grand gesture with one arm. He really was high on pain killers Shao Fei decided because with his injuries he wouldn’t be able to move his arm around like that without wincing in pain.

“Thank you,” Shao Fei said and walked past Tang Yi into the room who didn’t move an inch to make it easier for Shao Fei to not brush him by accident.

“This is nice.”

It was nice. The carpet felt soft under his toes and the covers of the bedsheet looked like the threat count would make it feel like he was sleeping under a cloud. He turned to try and make Tang Yi think it would be his idea if Shao Fei would follow him and make sure that he was finding his way back to his own room but Shao Fei could only stare at Tang Yi’s shoulders who disappeared as the door banged shut behind him.

Shao Fei blinked. “Alright then,” he murmured but couldn’t pretend he didn’t care and tiptoed to the door to open it again and peeked around it to see, with relief, Tang Yi walking back into his bedroom. That had been nerve-wracking and maybe he was the one on painkillers because all of this felt like a fever dream.

A voice that sounded suspiciously like Zhao Zi cackled in his mind and mocked him for not leaving Tang Yi’s house to sleep in his own bed and mind his own business.

How could his plan to stop chasing Tang Yi go so wrong?

But it wasn’t his own fault, he reminded himself. Tang Yi held the answer to Li Zhen’s murder, so he was going to sleep in his house to gain strength to persuade him to talk to the police about his accident and then they would solve the case from four years ago. He just had to believe very hard.  

He dressed down to his undershirt and boxer shorts and checked his phone. He had enough batterie left to make it through the few hours he had before he had to wake up and quickly dived under the blanket.

Oh, this was nice. His whole body sighed. He was asleep seconds after he closed his eyes.


Shao Fei’s face was squished deeply into the comfortable pillow as he slowly woke up, again on this day, and as he squinted around, he saw light coming through the windows. He rolled around to check his phone to see if he had overslept, but a soft knock on his door stopped him. Another knock and with a sleepy rasp he called ‘Yes?’.

“Are you up?” Tang Yi’s voice came through the door and Shao Fei straightened up immediately and tried to untangle himself from the blanket. Halfway through the room he turned around to tidy up the blanket, so it wasn’t as obvious how much of a blanket hog he was.

He opened the door, slightly, and bent his body so Tang Yi couldn’t see his naked legs. Which was weird, but apparently those were the new terms of Shao Fei’s comfort with nudity around Tang Yi. Who didn’t seem to mind in what state of undress Shao Fei was seeing him because his own state of dress was apparently called: an effort had been made? Tang Yi was dressed, but it looked like he had given up on dressing himself properly. Shao Fei knew he stared to long at Tang Yi’s collarbone and the way his shirt was buttoned only at the bottom and then, he realized how Tang Yi’s hair fell softly into his face, not styled, a few strands were still wet and he forgot to breathe.

“Yes?”, he asked after being silent for too long, and Tang Yi looked sullen. A heavy frown on his face but this time Shao Fei had the feeling it wasn’t because of him.

“I need help in the kitchen,” he said after a while through clenched teeth and Shao Fei took another, closer look. The bruise peeking through the half-buttoned shirt told Shao Fei enough. With an injury on your chest, you suddenly realize what kind of muscles and nerves are being used when you want to raise your arms.

Shao Fei hid a smile behind a cough. It was almost cute, Tang Yi being in a huff because he couldn’t cook.

“I’m washing up and then I’m coming down,” he promised, and Tang Yi nodded, the scowl heavy on his face. Shao Fei looked after him and couldn’t function for a whole minute because Tang Yi had dressed in the easiest to-get-into trousers he could find, which were a pair of grey sweatpants.

Shao Fei retreated with a shake of his head. He had seen Tang Yi in suits as sharp as a knife, almost painted on but the cosy sweatpants were the one undoing him.

Tang Yi was waiting for him with a knife in one and an apron in the other hand and Shao Fei raised an eyebrow at the ingredients on the counter. Was this meal prepping or did Tang Yi really assume normal people ate that much for breakfast?

“What can I do to help?”, he asked after he put the apron on. Tang Yi made a grand gesture that seemed to say everything, and Shao Fei decided to not tell him that he had no skills in the kitchen whatsoever. He could cut, he could to that, and he hoped that was the only thing Tang Yi wanted him to do. Wait, he almost forgot that he was able to pour hot water on noodles.

“Cut the vegetables into thin slices,” Tang Yi ordered and if Shao Fei wasn’t used to people looking over his shoulder, be it weapon’s training or filling out reports, he would start to sweat with the way Tang Yi scrutinized his every move.

“Were you able to sleep?”, he asked while he cut the bell pepper and saw Tang Yi’s tiny nod out of the corner of his eyes.

“The pills helped but now I’m feeling sore all over.”

No word about his nightly trip to the kitchen. Had he forgotten about their encounter? It would match the way Tang Yi had acted in the night, though. Shao Fei wanted to tease him about it, it was already on the tip of his tongue, but he also had a knife in his hand and needed to concentrate to cut the carrots instead of his fingers.

Tang Yi guided him through stir-frying the vegetables and then searing the meat and suddenly they had a bunch of bowls on the table and Shao Fei was getting the rice from the cooker. The last time he had such a lavish breakfast he had still lived with his grandparents, he thought.

He sat down, on the long side of the table, while Tang Yi sat at the top and Shao Fei sighed in relief when Tang Yi took a bite and nodded approvingly. Being used as a kitchen tool was exhausting, but when he took a piece of meat and tasted it he had to admit that Tang Yi knew what he was doing in the kitchen even if he was just the one telling what needs to be done.

They ate in silence for a while. Only them made sounds in the house and Shao Fei glanced through the windows to see if at least bodyguards were walking around. Should he ask Tang Yi about his sister? Or was Tang Yi so stubborn that he would go to work today?

“Why are you frowning so hard?”, Tang Yi asked suddenly, and Shao Fei realized that he did, in fact, frowned hard. Instinct told him that Tang Yi would be stubborn about it if he brought up the topic about his injuries and the need to take it easy, so he quickly tried to think about something else.

“I’m just thinking,” Shao Fei said and picked up another piece of meat with his chopsticks. “How long ago was it that Tang Guo Dong bought this house?”

“He already owned it when I met him, which was twenty years ago, why?”

Shao Fei shrugged. “Maybe Li Zhen had been here?”

Maybe they had picked out that house together? Maybe she had wondered how he could afford such a mansion? Maybe the picture had been taken here?

Tang Yi looked around and then back to him and Shao Fei felt the impact of his assessing gaze on his face. Was it difficult to imagine that Li Zhen had stood in this kitchen, had used the stove, or had come down those stairs to leave the house? Had she sat, cross-legged, in front of the table in the living room, eating the food Tang Guo Dong had made for her?

There was a before they would never know. Not even if Tang Guo Dong would have told Tang Yi about Li Zhen or if she had told Shao Fei about her past lover. Even now, with the evidence for their relationship on his mind, Shao Fei couldn’t put the image of the Li Zhen, his senior police officer, over the image of Li Zhen, lover of Tang Guo Dong.

Had she thought she could change him and his “job”? How long had they stayed together after she had found out what Tang Guo Dong did for a living?

“Her name isn’t on the contract, so I guess she didn’t pick it out with him.”

Shao Fei nodded. But… he could see it, how she would have loved this house. He had been to her apartment often and it was the same style. All clean, sharp lines, almost no doors, as open as possible. This house suited her.

Shao Fei quickly emptied his bowl because he had the nagging feeling that he was already running late.

“Let it be,” Tang Yi said as he was about to stand up and take the dishes with him. “I’m going to clean up.”

Shao Fei made a face because Tang Yi had eaten slowly and with stiff movements but the daring eyebrow told him that Tang Yi might have been defeated by the sword but he wasn’t going to bow down to the dishwasher.

“Thank you,” Shao Fei said and hovered over the chair awkwardly. “And thank you for letting me crash in your guest room.”

“Don’t mention it,” Tang Yi replied and he may have said that he was okay with cleaning the breakfast table but it went against Shao Fei’s upbringing so he quickly took his bowl and chopsticks and walked with them into the kitchen.

“I will go now,” Shao Fei yelled after he washed his hands and jerked back when he turned and Tang Yi stood in the open arch, again as silent as when he had been full of painkillers in the middle of the night. Maybe Shao Fei needed to bring their special task force in contact with Tang Yi and his silent feet.

“I have a driver ready,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei nodded. It would have been a hassle to get a taxi or try to use public transportation.

“Okay,” he said when Tang Yi didn’t move and continued to stand there, looking at him. Expectant.

“I’m going to get my shoes,” Shao Fei said slowly and walked past Tang Yi to get his stuff. Tang Yi’s jacked and shirt still laid on the couch and the drive from the hospital and their encounter in the bathroom almost felt like a memory from long ago.

“No more words, Detective?” Tang Yi had followed him slowly, his eyes like those of a hawk, on every move Shao Fei made. Shao Fei felt a bit silly slipping into his shoes under that watchful gaze and turned around, wiggling with his food a bit.

“Have a nice day?”

“Mhm,” Tang Yi made, “I thought you would lecture me on the importance of my safety again?”

“I wanted to,” Shao Fei said and straightened up, “but you’re stubborn and I would waste my breath with that. You have a bunch of security people on your back and call, even though I have no idea where they disappear the moment I turn my head, but I hope they will at least make sure that you don’t make something stupid while injured.”

Tang Yi made a face and Shao Fei felt a little bit light-headed. Tang Yi’s mask was so irrefutable it always felt like a punch to the gut to see him emotional… human.

“I don’t like them in my private space.”

“What about your sister?”, Shao Fei said and almost thought ‘Gotcha’, but Tang Yi’s smile was pitiful, pitiful for the detective who had no clue.

“My sister isn’t in Taiwan at the moment.”

Shao Fei threw his hands up.

“Looks like you have to look after yourself, and don’t engage in harmful behaviour, like refusing to go to the police after someone tried to push you off the road. We would be able to assign some officers for your safety.”

But this was wasted breath, wasn’t it? Shao Fei patted down his trousers, looking for the familiar feeling of his phone and wallet in the pockets when he saw out of the corner of his eyes how Tang Yi stepped closer.

“How about,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei stopped. Oh, he knew that tone. It was the same one Tang Yi had used when all of this had started when he had suggested they shared their knowledge.

He turned, slowly and for good measure, frowned.

“How about,” Tang Yi repeated. “It would make sense to have someone here to make sure I don’t do something… rash. Someone who is interested in my safety.”

Shao Fei wanted to answer that he wasn’t so sure anymore if he or anyone else was interested in Tang Yi’s safety. Which would be a lie, of course, but Tang Yi game had too many twists and turns for Shao Fei’s peace of mind.

“You,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei really shouldn’t have been as surprised as he was. It felt like a natural development. It felt like every word, every situation they had found themselves in had led to this. To Tang Yi standing in front of him, a battered face, hurt eyes, sneakiness in the way his mouth smiled.

Who else than Shao Fei, who knew almost everything, should look after Tang Yi?

His phone vibrated in his jacket and he knew it was Zhao Zi. Zhao Zi who wanted to know if he was coming to work today. 

“I will think about it,” he said and the little tension around Tang Yi’s mouth told him that he didn’t like that answer.


Shao Fei still had the conversation on his mind as he sat on his desk in the police department. Tang Yi wanted him to play bodyguard? Why? When Shao Fei had left the mansion, he had seen at least three men in black suits guarding the house… why did Tang Yi need another one? A voice told him that he knew the answer, but it was an answer that hurt. If Tang Yi suspected that the mole from four years ago was still in the force, he could use Shao Fei to find out who it was. Shao Fei had no idea how, but he had the feeling Tang Yi was always planning ten steps ahead. He felt a bit dumb if he was honest with himself. Tang Yi’s request to exchange information couldn’t be something that he came up with on the spot as they had met in Tang Yi’s office that day.

He heard Zhao Zi’s chair before he saw him and tried to look as annoyed as possible when he turned his head and was confronted with Zhao Zi’s wide smile.

“You are wearing the same clothes as yesterday,” Zhao Zi sing-songed, and Shao Fei rolled his eyes.

“You already know that I slept at Tang Yi’s place.”

“And he didn’t offer you new clothes? That’s harsh.”

Shao Fei shook his head and turned off his computer. “Weren’t you the one who said there is nothing wrong with pursuing Tang Yi? Why are you teasing me?”

“It’s called friendship. First, I tease you about your crush, then I support you, then I tease you again. Keeps you on your toes.”

“That’s why the noodles are on you today,” Shao Fei said and stood up when Zhao Zi complained.

“Hey! Wait. Does that mean you are pursuing Tang Yi? A Fei!”

Chapter Text

The noodle stand they were sitting at hadn’t many customers at this hour of the day but Shao Fei, nonetheless, had the feeling that there was a deafening noise making his thinking harder.

“So, you have to move in with him.”

Or maybe it was just Zhao Zi’s voice.

Shao Fei almost lost his grip on his chopsticks. He tried to swallow down his noodles to answer, but Zhao Zi was quicker.

“You have no choice, really.”

“What?”

“Are you going to protect Tang Yi in the time you aren’t at work and then find the time to go home to shower and change and sleep?”

Shao Fei stared at Zhao Zi.

“Who even said that I was going to play bodyguard?”

Zhao Zi blinked at him, slowly, and then tilted his head.

“But you are, aren’t you?”

Shao Fei tried to stare Zhao Zi down, he really did. He even put one elbow on the table to have more momentum, but Zhao Zi just blindly heaped another portion of noodles in his mouth and looked at him while he chewed. Unimpressed. Without blinking.

Shao Fei had no other choice but to groan in frustration and hide his face in his arm.

“I can’t do it. I really can’t do it. If the captain finds out I’m dead.”

“But you are going to…”

Shao Fei quickly moved his head up and hissed at Zhao Zi: “Do you know how long the list is of things I have to hide from Captain Shi, otherwise I’m dead, arrested or fired? It’s long Zhao Zi, long!”

“But…” Zhao Zi paused and took a sip from his soda, “you are going to.”

Shao Fei’s chopsticks clattered on the table and he put his head in his hands, massaged his temples, and tried to inhale the soothing smell of the noodles, but it was clear that nothing was going to be soothed on this day, least his nerves.

He was going to.

Who did he want to fool? He had gone to Tang Yi when he had phoned him, had agreed to his plan, had met with him to exchange information, had rushed to the hospital…

And now he was going to play bodyguard. He really couldn’t excuse his behaviour with love anymore… he was just an idiot.

When he told Zhao Zi that, his supposedly best friend and partner just took another sip from his soda and didn’t say a word.

Great.


Tang Yi didn’t say a word, too. The smugness radiated from him like cheap perfume and Shao Fei just pursed his lips and crossed his arms because kicking someone who had been in a car accident wasn’t nice.

“This is a temporary solution,” he repeated himself. He had said the same when he had entered Tang Yi’s house with his little suitcase and backpack a few minutes ago. This had to be a temporary solution because Captain Shi was like a bloodhound and would sniff out where Shao Fei spent his nights.

“You know the way,” Tang Yi said, the satisfaction lurking in the little uplift of his mouth. He was on the verge of grinning and Shao Fei huffed. He passed Tang Yi with his head held high and ignored the glance that was following him.

The room was still the same; only the bed had been made.

He felt a bit silly as he put his suitcase next to the closet and eyed the hangers there. Should he even bother unpacking? What kind of sign would that send to Tang Yi… if Tang Yi would ever go into this room and snoop around in the closet?

Which he wouldn’t.

Shao Fei was almost sure of it.

He sat down on the bed and allowed himself to just bury his head in his hands.

A knock interrupted the inner discussion he had with In-Love Shao Fei and police officer Shao Fei about how much he was allowed to enjoy this new development.

Tang Yi stood in the door after Shao Fei told him to come in and Shao Fei hadn’t had the time to look him over before. They hadn’t been separated for a long time, but it looked like the bruises on Tang Yi’s face were fading already. His eyes quickly darted to Tang Yi’s chest, but he wasn’t going to ask how his ribs were doing. He wasn’t prepared for something like: “You want to take a look?”

“I made dinner,” Tang Yi said, “you can take a bowl, I have some work to do and will be in my office.”

“The office with the big windows on almost every side, good for whoever wants to hurt you to see you bright and clearly?”, Shao Fei said just to be obnoxious. He felt a bit bereft of the opportunity to refuse to eat with Tang Yi and he still couldn’t believe that he was exactly where Tang Yi wanted him.

“I have a bodyguard now, haven’t I?”, Tang Yi replied and the smile he sent Shao Fei was a real smile, with teeth showing and crinkles around the eyes. He left and Shao Fei fell back on the bed.

Tang Yi had cooked… Was he already well enough to cut everything by himself? Or had he finally asked one of his subordinates to help him out? Was Shao Fei supposed to help out? He was good at chopping stuff and following orders which the delicious breakfast they had made proved, but it wasn’t like he wanted to be used as a kitchen knife…

He groaned as his mind jumped to other things he could be used—

“Stop this,” he told himself and quickly jumped up. He had to find Tang Yi and tell him how this bodyguard business was going to go. He didn’t have the time to cater to his every whim, so it was best to tackle that discussion heads on.

“It’s open,” Tang Yi said when Shao Fei knocked on his office door, and when Shao Fei entered, he saw how Tang Yi wasn’t sitting on his desk but standing before it with a folder in his hands.

Instead of the comfy trousers he had worn when Shao Fei had been in his home the first time, he was now wearing suit trousers and, again, a turtleneck which was far too tight for Shao Fei’s comfort and have Tang Yi’s shoulders always been so broad?

“What can I do for you?”, Tang Yi asked and closed the folder, “have you eaten something?”

“I want to continue investigating the case,” Shao Fei interrupted him because Tang Yi was too good at tangling him up in meaningless conversation. “The quicker we find the mole and whoever wants to hurt you, the faster I can go home again.”

“Sure,” Tang Yi said.

“Sure?”

“Sure.”

Shao Fei blinked.

“What is that?”, Tang Yi asked, and Shao Fei saw how he eyed the paper in his hand. He had almost forgotten about that Shao Fei realized and cleared his throat.

“My schedule,” he said and laid the piece of paper on Tang Yi’s desk. “You should organize your appointments around my schedule so that I will actually be able to protect you. My shifts are decided by Captain Shi and I have not much wiggle room to argue with him about them.”

Which was a lie. They all argued with the Captain about their schedules. The hour after the Captain put the new schedule up on the notice board and they started to swap shifts while promising all kinds of favours was sacred.

Tang Yi moved back to his desk and studied the schedule.

“What does the green colour on Thursday mean?”

“Paperwork,” Shao Fei answered with a sigh, “once a week we are encouraged to finish our paperwork.” This was most likely the Captains revenge because they argued about their roster all the time.

“Do you have to be in the precinct for that?”, Tang Yi asked, “I have to be in the office for a few hours on Thursday.”

Shao Fei blinked. That sounded like agreement. He had thought that Tang Yi would argue with him about the schedule. He had been ready… with arguments.

“Ehrm… I can take my laptop and work in your office.”

Tang Yi nodded. “Good, that’s decided then.”

A few seconds later Shao Fei was out of the room and wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

Just for that, he decided, he was going to eat everything that was left over from dinner.

Which was, as he had predicted, delicious, and as he scrapped the last bit of rice out of his bowl, he felt stuffed, but the empty plates felt like a victory. Maybe he would get heartburn later, but that was worth it.

The evening went on and as it got darker and darker outside Shao Fei walked across the property and nodded towards the men and women clad in black, who tried their best to ignore him. Tang Yi had bodyguards en masse, so why did he insist on having Shao Fei close?

He looked up when he was at the pool and saw the lights in Tang Yi’s office. He sighed. Really. He had seen the heavy curtains, but they were apparently just for decoration when Tang Yi didn’t close them. Someone just had to find a high enough spot, point their weapon at that room and Tang Yi would be the perfect mark.

He needed to tell him that he decided and walked back into the house, put off his shoes impatiently, and was ready to storm the office when, as he stomped over the soft carpet in the hallway, the office door opened and Tang Yi appeared as if summoned. Shao Fei stopped short, but Tang Yi didn’t leave his office, he just waved towards Shao Fei.

“Come in, I have something to show you.”

Shao Fei stayed rooted to the spot.

“What do you want to show me?”, he asked, and it felt a bit silly to almost shout that over the hallway towards the office. Tang Yi just waved again.

“I found a board for you,” he said before he disappeared back into his office and left the door open.

A board?

An investigation board? Tang Yi had listened when he had told him that he wanted to continue working on Li Zhen’s case while he played bodyguard?

He stepped closer, his curiosity stronger than any kind of self-preservation skills. The carpet swallowed the sounds of his steps and he slowly, very slowly peeked inside the office.

There really was a board. Where had Tang Yi found a board that quickly? Shao Fei hadn’t heard him leaving his office for the whole evening.

“What is that?”, Shao Fei asked, slowly, carefully. He was afraid to go deeper into Tang Yi’s office because for whatever reason he was convinced he would see his investigation board.

“You said you wanted to work on our case when you’re here. So…” Tang Yi made a broad gesture with his arm and Shao Fei, still rooted to the spot, blinked nervously. His eyes went back and forth between the bord and Tang Yi and he tried to figure out what he would see if he went into the room without actually needing to go into the room.

“Take a look,” Tang Yi said, and Shao Fei was a detective for a reason, which meant that he was curious, so he tentatively took step after step until the board got into his view. It wasn’t his board he realized relieved and took a closer look.

On the left side of the board Tang Yi had pinned the picture of Tang Guo Dong and Li Zhen, under that, an article with the phantom picture Tang Yi had provided after the attack. Other pictures were on the wall as well. Shao Fei recognized a drug lord and wanted to ask about that, but the way Tang Yi had arranged everything was an immediate itch in his mind.

Shao Fei frowned. “That’s not going to work.”

“Why?” Tang Yi asked.

Shao Fei’s frown deepened, and he took the picture of Tang Guo Dong and Li Zhen and pinned it in the middle of the board.

“It’s about the visuals. You have to do it right or it won’t work,” he said and rearranged the other clues. He saw how Tang Yi looked at him. Then he hid his mouth behind his hand, pretending to cough, pretending not to laugh. Shao Fei didn’t care. This had to be done right! When he was satisfied with his work, he took a step back and admired his efforts.

“This is how an investigation board should look like,” he said. Tang Yi came closer and even the brush of their shoulders couldn’t shake Shao Fei because he had missed having that kind of visual representation of his mind.

“Say, Officer Meng,” Tang Yi started, and Shao Fei knew that something was going to happen because he had realized that every time Tang Yi called him Officer Meng, it was the beginning of internal…trouble for Shao Fei.

“Do you have such a board about me?”

Shao Fei pressed his lips together because he was on the verge of sputtering nonsense to deflect from the current topic, and that never had worked well for him.

“No,” he said, stared hard at the board, leaned forward, and then he flicked a non-existent spot of dirt from one of the pictures.

“Such a bad liar,” Tang Yi murmured, more to himself than for Shao Fei’s ears to hear and Shao Fei couldn’t disagree. He really was a bad liar. Or a half-bad liar because he had a board with Tang Yi no longer. But still, even the fact that he had had a board about Tang Yi in the past wouldn’t come to light no matter how much Tang Yi would pry.

“I have to go through everyone who worked closely with Li Zhen before she contacted Tang Guo Dong,” Shao Fei said, because he had to say something, and it wasn’t like the reason for this board was a silly little thing. They investigated murder and most likely a mole in the police force. He was still shaken about that information.

If she had found out about a mole it had to be connected to a case she had been investigating.

“Wouldn’t that include you?”, Tang Yi asked, his voice all silky-smooth and Shao Fei refused to turn his head because Tang Yi stood entirely too close for comfort and he wasn’t going to risk being caught staring at Tang Yi’s mouth when he looked at him.

Instead, he frowned at the board.

“Theoretically, yes.”

“Then who is investigating you?”

The old question. Who investigates the investigator? He could tell Tang Yi how, after Li Zhen’s death and the way she had been found, their team had been under scrutiny and intense interviews, but… it wouldn’t mean much, wouldn’t it? If the mole was still out there, it didn’t matter how much the internal affairs department had questioned them. Someone had come out of those interviews with a clean slate.

“Aren’t you the one?”, he asked and had to look at Tang Yi. “Or why else am I here?”

That was the reason, right? Yes, Tang Yi needed someone inside the police department Li Zhen had worked at, but he also needed him close to make sure he wasn’t the mole. It was a fight between needing to trust Shao Fei to a certain extent and not trusting him at all because, in the end, he was still a cop.

Tang Yi looked at him. And as if someone had suddenly burned down a barrier in front of Shao Fei’s eyes, he realized that the ice he normally found in Tang Yi’s eyes was gone. Only the deep dark pools of a man, looking at him, with warmth and intent… and desire?

Tang Yi moved his hand slowly. Shao Fei saw how he reached up and he could have taken a step back, out of reach. It even seemed like Tang Yi was waiting for it because he got even slower, but Shao Fei didn’t move and then he felt Tang Yi’s fingers around his jaw, warm, calloused and Tang Yi’s eyes wandered away to stare at his on hand on Shao Fei’s jaw.

It was different this time. While Tang Yi’s fingers on his stomach had felt like they had a direct connection to every nerve in Shao Fei’s body this time all the sensations gathered on this one spot on Shao Fei’s jaw.

Shao Fei couldn’t think, or rather, the way his brain was still processing the investigation board made no way for processing what was happening now. He swayed a bit, he realized, and then as if a flash had hit him, he saw the strain around Tang Yi’s eyes, the implication that it must hurt to hold his arm that way.

He quickly stepped back, and Tang Yi’s arm hovered in the air for a moment and then fell to his side.

They stared at each other, just stared and Shao Fei waited for the inevitable excuse Tang Yi would make. A joke maybe, something about why it hadn’t been on purpose staying so close, touching him. But there was nothing. He just looked at him as if he wanted to dare Shao Fei to try and find an excuse and yes, Shao Fei had been the one who had kissed Tang Yi on that day in the hospital and had buried the memory in the furthest corner of his mind and…

“I have to go,” he said, and he wouldn’t even try and made this anything else than him running away.

He closed the door behind him and leaned back against the door, his hand on the handle and he never had been as happy about a door that he could close as now.

What?

Had Tang Yi wanted to kiss him?

He fell, face first, on the bed and almost got a heart attack when his phone on the nightstand vibrated.  

‘How are the lovebirds?’, Zhao Zi had written, and Shao Fei huffed at the message. He wasn’t going to answer that and put the phone back onto the nightstand.

But… how was he?

Troubled. Confused. Aroused.

He could still feel Tang Yi’s breath against his lips, the way his fingertips felt on his jaw. Warm and a bit rough. The way he felt them twitch as if Tang Yi wanted to put more pressure in his hold.

His eyes.

Shao Fei wasn’t sure if someone had ever looked at him like Tang Yi had looked at him in that moment. Heat had been there, desire and warmth. And he couldn’t…

With a huge sigh, he fell back on the bed, his hands over his eyes, rubbing, trying to stop thinking.

 

to be continued.