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A Flaw in the System

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Shen Yuan has been working in the 99th Precinct for a grand total of three months.

He’s pretty certain he deserves an award for being able to adjust to the absolute bullshit that happens here.

Granted, he only got the job because his cousin’s boyfriend knew he was strapped for cash and offered the position to him. The job as his personal assistant, aka Civilian Administrator. A glorified secretary, basically. Which is fine and all. He’s got a nice desk now, with a few plants to make it look homey and some cleverly chosen decorations that are nods to his favorite anime.

Captain Yue Qingyuan, said cousin’s boyfriend, is pleasant to work for. He’s always very polite, made sure he’s comfortable and never made excessive demands. In fact, he’s hardly ever made demands.

Like. At all.

At most he would just to remind him to return a call. If anything, Shen Yuan had to constantly ask him for work, otherwise, the man would never give him anything to do.

In short, he was getting paid to sit on his ass all day. Which would be nice, if the animal crossing app didn’t make you wait every three hours to do anything.

Also if the detectives employed in the precinct weren’t all fucking insane.

Seriously, how do these people solve cases!?

Okay, he knew how. They were all damn good at their jobs... it’s just ... they were all unique individuals.

___

He’s already at his desk one morning- prepared to do absolutely nothing but grind on a mobage game he just downloaded on his phone- when he overhears Shang Qinghua as he is holding open the gate for Yue Qingyuan.

“Good morning Captain! How was your weekend?”

Kissass.

“It was pleasant, thank you for asking. A-Jiu and I went for a walk in the park one morning.” he laughs, “We both ended up falling asleep in front of the T.V. though.”

Wow. If his cousin knew that Yue Qingyuan talked about their private life in the office, the Captain would single in five seconds flat.

“Oh, that’s nice! I’m glad you both had a relaxing weekend.”

The Captain is flagged down into the meeting room as Shang Qinghua makes his way over to Lieutenant Mu Qingfang’s desk, where Detectives Quinqi and Qingge are milling about.

“So, uh, A-Jiu” Shang Qinghua wrings his hands. “... is that the Captain’s husband or his dog?”

Shen Yuan chokes on air.

Qi Qingqi shrugs. “I think it’s his dog- I mean, long walks in the park, that something you do with a dog.”

Shang Qinghua shakes his head. “You can go on a long walk with a person.” His tone turns wistful, “At sunset... Talking about nothing- and everything.” He as a far off look in his eyes.

Liu Qingge frowns. “Sounds awful.”

“Hey!”

“He hit the park,” Liu Qingge continues. “That’s a dog.”

Lieutenant Mu Qingfang speaks up. “I go on walks in the park all the time.”

Shang Qinghua rubs his hands together. “Alright, we’re doing this. Let’s play Hubby or Dog.”

Shen Yuan pinches his thigh to keep a straight face as the Captain walks out of the meeting room.

“Hey Captain,” this idiot continues, “What do you do at the park with, um, A-Jiu?”

“Oh, we just walk around.” The captain stops walking for a moment. “He, well, he has a lot of spare energy so I like to make sure he gets to let it out in a healthy way.”

Qi Quinqi takes a jab at it. “What’s A-Jiu’s favorite food?”

“He enjoys a good steak, but his guilty pleasure is peanut butter.”

Shen Yuan ducks under his desk to save face.

Liu Qingge shifts feet. “How old is he?”

“Well, if I’m being honest, he likes to think he’s younger than he really is.”

“Oh.”

Shen Yuan puts his face in his hands, desperately trying not to laugh.

“Yes, if you’ll excuse me I need to put my lunch in the fridge before it spoils.”

It’s quiet for a moment. He decides it’s safe to come back up.

Liu Qiugge frowns, “I still don’t know.”

Shen Yuan almost loses it.

___

No one has a clue how Detective Qinghua even got to be a detective. The man is much better suited for desk work- he even offers to finish the paperwork for others to avoid going out in the field.

On day two of his new job, Shang Qinghua was able to identify all his desk references without a blink of an eye the moment he set them out. He almost killed the man when he nearly outed his closet interests to the whole floor. Occasionally, the two of them sneak down to the records rooms to watch an episode of whatever bad show they chose to hate-watch.

The two of them are probably best friends now.

It’s kinda sad, to be honest.

___

Everyone Shen Yuan works with is insanely hot, one way or another. Save for his friend. He’s cute in a ‘trendy to like this ugly’ kind of way. Shang Qinghua knows it too.

Detective Qingge usually strides into work with a cup of coffee in one hand and his motorcycle helmet in the other. He walks with power, confidence, and an overall badass image.

How he manages to make it to work without helmet hair is apparently the source of a betting pool that’s been ongoing for the past two years.

He’s caught himself drooling over Detective Qingge’s arms more than once. Which is fine, because with the sleeves rolled up to his forearms, the holster straps hugging his waist while pinching his shirt so it hugs his pecs- well... it’s a very nice view and he’s not the only one looking.

Shen Yuan is very unprepared to see those muscles put to use when day three on the job comes by and Liu Qingge suplexed a random officer in the office.

This becomes an every other day occurrence.

The suplexing, not the drooling.

Okay, so his wrist is getting a little sore. That’s not completely his fault.

They don’t talk much until a month in when Shen Yuan hears a string of cursing in a corridor followed by some concerning slams. He rounds the corner of an isolated hallway and pauses to blink.

There’s a packet of dried jerky stuck in the glass of the far corridor vending machine. As well as Liu Qingge’s arm.

They stare at each other.

He really wants to take a picture. No one would ever believe him.

Liu Qingge looks away with a pinched expression.

Shen Yuan sighs. Blackmailing hot coworkers is more of his cousin’s thing anyway.

It takes all of his skills learned from tampering with gacha machines to get him out of the damn thing. He helps Liu Qingge stand upright, tugs on his sleeves to fix them- maybe let his hand linger a second longer than strictly appropriate. Then he does an about face to the machine. After a quick one-two hit on the glass, the packet of meat slides down and into the slot.

Shen Yuan grabs them, handing the food to the detective with a smile.

Liu Qingge starts to stop by his desk with a spare cup of coffee in the mornings.

___

“Captain.”

“Detective Qingge.”

“Er... how’s A-Jiu?”

“He seems to be adjusting quiet well to our move. He even went to get the paper this morning.”

“That’s, uh, good.”

___

Lieutenant Mu Qingfang seems to be the most normal one of the bunch. Except he’s got a strange obsession with essential oils, crystals, and drinking green tea.

Especially the green tea.

There’s an industrial sized box in one of his drawers that he always runs through by the end of the week.

Shang Qinghua said he asked him about the tea thing once. But then his friend suddenly had a faraway look in his eyes, so he figures it’s not really his business.

Shen Yuan does strike up a conversation with the Lieutenant about the oils on one particular day when he comes into the bullpen and the overpowering smell of eucalyptus greets his nose.

He asks to see if his hunch about the aromatherapy is correct and is given a very nice smile from him alongside a short explanation about managing stress at work. The two of them talk for a good while and the conversation ends with Shen Yuan reassuring Mu Qingfang that he really wouldn’t mind helping out with paperwork and errands- yes, he’s positive. Yes- they can keep this between the two of them.

Internally, Shen Yuan fist pumps. Now he doesn’t have to deal with the captain anymore. Seriously, it’s very weird working for your cousin’s boyfriend who doesn’t actually give you work to do.

The next day Mu Qingfang gifted him a bottle of Jasmine oil that smelled heavenly so he figures he’s not all that bad of the bunch.

It really does help him relax anyway.

___

“Good Day Captain. Does A-Jiu, by chance, enjoy essential oils?”

“Ah, my A-Jiu has a very sensitive nose. I’ve tried with some candles before and he just, well, snarls at me if it’s not to his liking.”

“I see.”

___

He gets properly introduced to Qi Qingqi when she starts laying into one of the officers- Ming Fan was it?- in the middle of the precinct one morning maybe a month and a half in.

Shen Yuan and Liu Qingge drink their coffee in the break room, watching the poor man get murdered from the doorway.

Mu Qingfang walks up with his cup of green tea and drinks with them.

Shang Qinghua walks over just to feel included.

The captain quietly closes his office door.

A few minutes pass until Officer Yingying drags Officer Fan’s body out of the bullpen as the woman finally screamed herself hoarse. Qingqi pivots on her high heel, stalking up to their little group.

The Lieutenant silently holds out his cup to her, she downs it like a shot in one go.

She hands it back to Qingfang, “Any piss?”

Shen Yuan chokes on his coffee. Liu Qingge thumps his back.

Mu Qingfang shrugs. “Not that I saw. But, you still have a few days until the month is over to win the bet.”

“Then I better get back to work.” She turns around and starts yelling at her next victim.

Shen Yuan then gets a quick debriefing from his bro. Qingqi and Qingfang make absurd monthly bets with each other. Just to spice things up a little in the office. One of them has to complete a task given by the other within a month’s time. It usually involved some sacrifice at the expense of an officer.

Loser treats the winner to a night of free drinking.

This month’s bet involved Qingqi making a policeman so scared that they pee their pants.

Shen Yuan just takes a long sip of his coffee in response.

These detectives are so fucking weird.

___

“Afternoon Captain.”

“Ah, hello Detective Qingqi.”

“Hm, tell me- What does A-Jiu like to do in his spare time?”

“Well, it’s spring so right now he enjoys long walks in the park. I think it’s because he enjoys smelling the flowers.”

“You don’t say.”

___

Jump forward three months and there is a semblance of a routine at the office.

Liu Qingge beats someone up, his bro makes valiant efforts to avoid field work, and occasionally Mu Qingfang and Qi Qingqi come in with sunglasses nursing hangovers. Even outside of their monthly bets. Shen Yuan has ice packs set aside for Liu Qingge’s fists, fanfic recs for his bro, and aspirin for the other two. They all kinda seem to get along for a period.

None of them can figure out if ‘A-Jiu’ is a person or a pet and it’s far too entertaining for Shen Yuan to want to step in.

Then it all gets thrown off track.

Two undercover detectives get recalled after so-called ‘Special Agents’ blow their covers in a raid. This means that he gets to meet two of the most dangerous looking men he’s ever seen in his life. They’re also really fucking hot- god, and he just got used to Liu Qingge too.

Luo Binghe and Mobei Jun went into a deep cover for about 3 years for the precinct to help take down a crime syndicate that Shen Yuan is not allowed to know about at his pay grade. His pissbaby of a cousin naturally lets a few details slip in a rage-induced rant at their Friday morning brunch in his apartment.

Shen Jiu is the assigned psychiatric evaluator for their precinct. After working through some of his own problems he just stuck with it.

The two of them did some nasty stuff to get accepted into the group and maintain their covers.

Shen Yuan is pretty sure that several laws were just broken, silly things like confidentiality agreements and whatnot. Shen Jiu viciously stabs at his fish insulting Luo Binghe especially, calling the man a “Mongrel”, “Beast” and “That one fuck-wad.”

He starts brainstorming ways to kick his cousin out of his apartment after the first five minutes.

Shen Yuan ends up leaving his own apartment.

___

Mobei Jun reclaims his desk across from Shang Qinghua, who’s anxiety seems to just shoot through the roof. The man starts dropping stuff, running errands for Detective Jun, and disappears from Shen Yuan’s life for a solid week as he establishes himself as Mobei Jun’s errand boy. Mobei Jun is an intimidating cold beauty that prefers to be out in the field and somehow gets partnered up with his bro more often than not.

Shen Yuan quietly says a prayer for his spineless friend’s sanity.

Luo Binghe reclaims his own desk, which happens to be right in front of Shen Yuan’s. Which, also, isn’t very healthy for his own heart. Because Christ- he can’t keep his gay in check.

Shen Yuan throws himself at the work Mu Qingfang passes along in a desperate attempt to distract himself from his new desk neighbor.

His very hot, new desk neighbor.

His unfairly stunning, new desk neighbor.

His totally gorgeous, new desk neighbor- who’s looking his way.

Shen Yuan ignores the stare in favor of answering the phone. It seems to work for a bit, but then it happens again. And again. And again- fuck he must have some egg from breakfast stuck on his face.

He does a quick check when the Lieutenant approaches Luo Binghe. No nothing. After a short discussion, the Lieutenant goes back to his own desk. Luo Binghe also appears to get back to work too.

Shen Yuan feels some tension he didn’t notice leave his shoulders. Maybe he should apply some jasmine to his wrists as the Lieutenant had suggested.

Okay, maybe now's a good time to sneak a peek.

Shen Yuan glances over.

Luo Binghe meets his gaze head-on. Well, that’s not unnerving at all.

He quickly looks down to his desk, wow those washi tape patterns sure are lovely this time of day. Maybe he should get a new one for spring?

Liu Qingge saves him, marching up to his desk. “Come on, I owe you lunch.”

He certainly doesn’t. Still, god bless Liu-shidi for the bailout. He grabs his things and tries to maintain a reasonable pace as piercing red eyes follow him the whole way out.

The elevator door closes.

“Why is he glaring at you?”

“I don’t know.”

___

“Excuse me, Captain-”

“Please, there’s no need for such formalities between us-”

“We are at work, Captain.”

“Oh, alright. What can I do for you, Shen Yuan?”

“I just wanted to drop off these forms, they’re from the 15th Precinct.”

“Ah, yes thank you.”

“Of course- uh, huh, are you two considering adopting a dog?”

“What, no- heavens no. Our new apartment doesn’t allow it. I was just looking...at...”

“At... collars?”

“...Yes.”

“...”

“...”

___

Luo Binghe stops staring at him. Which would be good, but it’s not. No, now the man is straight up ignoring him. It does hurt, just a little bit. Oh well, can’t be friends with all of your co-workers.

Besides, the man proves himself to be an admirable detective, closing eight cases in a week.

Which is fine and all- like good for you dude.

Okay, maybe he’s a little bitter about it.

The two of them have only ever had one real conversation and it was back on Luo Binghe’s first day back. Shen Yuan had given him a compliment or two on his work ethic- because come on, three years undercover is incredible dedication- and how nice his lunch looked.

Now the man could hardly look him in the eye.

On the flip side, he and Liu-shidi seem to have developed a rivalry of sorts when it comes to working at least. If Liu-shidi takes a case, Luo Binghe accepts two. If Liu-shidi is asked to talk to in a meeting, Luo Binghe volunteers to speak at the next debrief. It’s healthy workplace rivalry.

Maybe.

The two of them are in the middle of some passive aggressive argument over a fucking stapler- “Use the red one” and “Everyone knows the red one is crap” followed by “It suits you” and a “You ponytailed prick”- when Shen Yuan decides to intervene to save the office. And possibly get a free meal out of it.

He places a hand on Liu Qingge’s arm- and the tension seems to seep out of him when he looks back and sees it’s just him.

He smiles, “I was under the impression that we were going out for lunch today Liu-shidi.”

He’s met with a blink. “Oh.”

Shen Yuan nods, “Did you bring your spare helmet?”

“Yes. The green one.”

“Ah, you know me too well. I do prefer that one when we ride on your bike. Are you almost ready?”

“Keys,” is all he says before walking back to his desk.

Shen Yuan looks back over at Luo Binghe.

“The stapler is all yours.”

“A-ah, thank you.”

“Oh, so you are able to speak.”

There’s a wince but considering the man had blown him off for a week, Shen Yuan can’t bring himself to feel bad about it.

It’s quiet and he starts to think that’s all he’s gonna get from the man when Luo Binghe makes a face like he’s pulling teeth.

“You ride together on a bicycle?”

“Don’t be silly, it’s his motorcycle.”

“...In a sidecar?”

He can’t help but laugh as he walks away. “Okay, now you are being silly.”

Liu Qingge makes his way over to the elevator, his own sleek helmet in hand.

“What do you feel like eating Shidi?”

“Barbeque.”

“Mmm, not Jerky?”

The side eye he gets promises pain and yet he can’t help but laugh. He hears a chuckle as Liu Qingge smiles; it’s a small one. Still a good one.

Liu-shidi rolls his eyes. “For that, you’re paying.”

“That’s fair.”

They both know he won’t end up paying.

_

The next morning, there’s a meek-looking Luo Binghe hanging around Shen Yuan’s desk. Liu-shidi is standing by the breakroom, holding the two to-go cups of coffee.

Coffee before Binghe- so he approaches Liu-shidi. The two of them exchange a look, and it says something to his and Liu-shidi’s relationship when they walk together to his desk.

Luo Binge’s eyes flicker between the two of them as they approach, and the two boxes he’s holding.

They come to a stop before him and Luo Binghe clears his throat.

“I’d like to apologize. To both of you, that is.” Liu Qingge opens his mouth. Shen Yuan elbows him.

“It’s been difficult, to say the least, to get back to a normal life after living one that wasn’t really mine. Liu-Shishu, I shouldn’t have tried to antagonize you when you were only helping me get reacquainted to the office.”

Liu Qingge takes a sip of his coffee.

Luo Binghe looks to Shen Yuan now and his heart did not just skip a beat at those puppy dog eyes- nope.

Denial time.

“Shen-Shishu, I apologize for my behavior towards you as well. Being shown kindness... is not something I’m familiar with. I’ve had paranoia ingrained in me to stay alive and when you were just being polite... I was unsure of how to react.”

He holds out the boxes. “I hope that the two of you accept this meal I've made you both as an apology.”

Well.

Shen Yuan was always terrible at holding a grudge. The free food is an added bonus.

Liu Qingge just looks vaguely uncomfortable.

“Luo Binghe.” His eyes snapped up and Shen Yuan can feel himself smile. “We should have considered your circumstances as well. Empathy has always been something I thought it was good, but it seems I’m also lacking. Thank you, for speaking with us.”

Luo Binghe looks at Liu Qingge. “Apology accepted.”

The tension leaves Binghe’s shoulders and he smiles at the two of them- and WOW this is so not good for his heart.

“Thank you for listening.”

Liu Qingge shuffles his feet. “Will you be eating with us?”

Shen Yuan can feel his smile grow. Ah, Liu-shidi is being considerate. “Yes please, you cooked for us, you should join us.”

“If that’s alright, I’d like to.”

The day seems to fly by, yet the three of them end up taking a late lunch in the breakroom. Liu Qingge shuts the door behind him, cutting off the sounds of integrations and ringing phones.

Luo Binghe removes the covers off the lunch boxes and Shen Yuan can feel his saliva pooling in his mouth because holy shit. It looks amazing. There’s crispy, golden chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and chives, paired with white rice so fluffy it looks like it could be a cloud and a side of sauteed cabbage. He takes a picture.

Liu Qingge wastes no time, going for a piece of glistening sesame chicken.

Luo Binghe shifts nervously in his seat, his own lunch looking just like theirs.

“Is it to your liking?”

Liu Qingge moans, deep and long.

Luo Binghe chokes. Shen Yuan freezes. It may or may not go straight to his dick.

He quickly brushes aside the noise- It will haunt him though, straight to bed, goddamn- the food can’t be that good. He picks up his chopsticks putting some of the chicken in his mouth.

It is.

It is that fucking good.

In fact, the moment he tastes the food is life changing. He never truly understood that movie Ratatouille with the flavors and the colors until this very second. The outside of the chicken is crispy, yet the inside is tender and juicy. There is a light sauce on the chicken that’s sweet with a hint of ginger. It balances the salt and pepper flavoring of the fried chicken. Nothing has ever tasted anything so blissfully delicious.

Shen Yuan swallows his food. “I think I just came.”

Luo Binghe fumbles with his water bottle.

Liu Qingge is staring off into the distance. “Same.”

Luo Binghe drops his water bottle.

___

“Captain?”

“Yes Detective Binghe, how may I help you?”

“Why did you email me a link to singing lessons?”

“O-oh, oh my god- I’m so, this is embarrassing- god. I’m so sorry. I meant to send that to my home email. Um, I was considering taking lessons.”

“Oh, that’s fine.”

“Yes, you see, I’ve been told singing to others can help relax them.”

“...Do you know someone with a lot of stress?”

“Yes, my A-jiu. Yet, I know if I tried to blindly sing to him... it wouldn’t end well.”

“... Best of Luck then.”

“So I’m going to attend-”

“Sir, my phone is ringing-”

“-I hope that it will help him sleep-”

Sir.”

___

Things with Luo Binghe go smoothly from there. Liu Qingge comes in with three cups of coffee in the mornings and Luo Binghe proves lunch for the afternoons.

Shen Yuan gifts them with unlimited patience. Between Binghe intimidating the crap out of every single officer in the bullpen and Liu-shidi routinely beating the hell out of the staff on the Bai Zhan team; there’s a lot of incident reports. Which means he often sneaks off to the copy room to shred said incident reports.

He does go out for the occasional drink after work with Mu Qingfang and Qi Qingqi but that’s neither here or there.

Shang Qinghua occasionally waves his way, still glued to Mobei Jun’s side. The two are always moving about. His bro is certainly looking thinner too, in a haggard way. Shen Yuan makes a note to bring him little protein shakes to keep him fed. Maybe some candies too.

Another week passes in this fashion.

Then Shen Yuan starts noticing some things. The way Mobei Jun’s ears turn red whenever he and Shang Qinghua brush hands exchanging papers. How he’ll leave granola bars on Shang Qinghua’s desk, how he looks fond when Shang Qinghua starts one of his ramblings of details on a case, how he always opens the door for Shang Qinghua.

It’s interesting.

He finally manages to have second to speak to Shang Qinghua when Mobei Jun is pulled into a meeting one afternoon. Just to be safe, he drags him out of the office to have lunch. Which takes a lot of willpower with Luo Binghe’s hurt puppy look and Liu Qingge’s pout, which he vehemently denied was even a pout.

But come on, it totally was.

“Bro! Long time no see! Well, speak I guess.”

“It says something about how I missed you if I’m turning down Binghe’s cooking for eating at McDonalds with you.”

“Hey, it’s our guilty pleasure and you cannot deny it.”

He can’t.

The conversation is casual and light, flowing freely between the two friends as though no time has passed since the last time they spoke. Shang Qinghua mentions he was able to successfully pull for a seasonal alt of a character in a mobage game. Shen Yuan complains because another character pity broke his draw percentage.

“Oh bro, that sucks.”

“Fucking tell me about it. I fed him to my half demon character out of spite. Now he’s got a 80% physical counter so that’s nice.”

Shang Qinghua whistles, “Damn, that’s super high. I’m so glad I have you to help me on raids.”

“If I feel like it.”

“Bro.”

They order, and after eating their simple burgers, end up picking at the fries for a bit.

“Still,” Shen Yuan starts. “Kinda sucks that Detective Jun drags you everywhere with him.”

“Ehhhh, it’s not so bad.”

Shen Yuan raises an eyebrow. “Bro, you hate field work.”

“I do, but my partner usually just does everything.”

The other eyebrow goes up. “Really?”

“Yeah, if anything I get to slack off a little more now. We make a good team. He handles the down and dirty stuff, while I take care of the paperwork. Plus! One time he told me that I’ve got a good eye for details! Man, no one’s complimented me since my days in the academy.”

That’s a little sad.

“Soo... he’s not overworking you?”

“Oh, it’s definitely more than I’m used to. I’ll adjust to it eventually. I think he likes to keep busy, hard memories from undercover and all that. So I just let him pick up the cases. Plus, I don’t know if I told you this, but I was Luo Binghe and my partner’s informant if they needed info while undercover.”

“Shut up.”

“No- it’s true! If they needed me to check someone or something; they had my number to get the info. I think it’s the reason Mobei Jun is so sticky with me. I’m familiar to him.”

Shen Yuan thinks back to the noodles Mobei Jun shoved at Shang Qinghua yesterday when he worked through lunch.

“Actually, I think it’s because he trusts you.”

Shang Qinghua blinks, then bashfully rubs the back of his head. “Aw, you really think so.”

“I mean someone has to.”

“That’s hurtful bro.”

They eat some more fries.

“But hey, now I have my own beautiful male friend!”

“Excuse me?”

“Bro, you’ve already got two. You can’t say shit.”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, Luo Binghe and Liu Qingge literally hang off your every word. If you guys are taking a break, I just have to look for one of you to find the other two. The three of you are practically married.”

“That’s not true and you know it.”

Shang Qinghua makes a face, “sure Jan.”

The walk back to the office consists of stopping to pet three dogs and Shang Qinghua making a request for more expo markers and some post-it notes.

“Oh yeah,” he friend starts as they step onto the elevator. “Did you buy any more washi tape lately?”

“This is me you’re talking to.”

“So you’re back on your bullshit?”

She Yuan scoffs, “when was I off of it?”

“What’s the pattern?”

“Rose gold foil cherry blossoms.”

“Oh that sounds pretty.”

“It's absolutely lovely-”

“-and you’re never gonna use it. Are you?”

“Nope.”

They laugh as the elevator opens up to the floor of the 99th bullpen.

There aren’t a lot of people in the office. Luo Binghe and Liu-shidi are visible from the windows into the break room. They seem to be arm wrestling over what would have been Shen Yuan’s lunch.

Mobei Jun walks out of a hallway, with a stack of files in his arms.

“So,” Shang Qinghua starts. “You say he trusts me right?”

“Yeah.”

“You think if I run and jump at him, he’d catch me?’

“What-”

“Like a trust fall?”

“Don’t.”

“I’m testing your theory.”

“No-”

Shang Qinghua takes off at a sprint.

“Coming in!”

“-NO IM HOLDING FILES.” Paper scatters everywhere on the floor was a resounding smack. Somehow, after a blur of motion, Mobei Jun is in fact holding Shang Qinghua bridal style in his arms.

Shen Yuan expects the detective to get upset at the mess, but then from his arms Shang Qinghua throws his head back and laughs. It can only be described as a delighted, gentle laugh and he subconsciously tightens his arms around Mobei Jun’s neck.

There’s nothing shy of pure adoration on Mobei Jun’s face. Holy shit, he totally has a crush on his bro.

A bell chimes and Qi Qingqi steps off the elevator. She pauses, her heels clicking to a stop.

The room is silent.

“I’m too sober for this,” she sighs.

Qi Qingqi gets back on the elevator.

___

“Detective Jun.”

“Sir.”

“Tell me, will your affections get in the way of your work?”

“I would die for him.”

“I see. Well, trying living for him instead.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, I’ve found it makes the relationship work a lot better.”

“...the relationship.”

“Yes, with A-jiu.”

“...With your dog?”

“With my what?

___

Everyone knows that Shang Qinghua is a bit of a slut for gossip. Which is why he’s the only one that perks up next Tuesday morning, when Liu Qingge walks into the bullpen with a cast on his arm.

Shen Yuan immediately panics. “Oh my god, Liu-shidi what happened?”

Luo Binghe is suddenly hovering with a glass of water and painkillers.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m fine.” He strides into the break room. Luo Binghe is looking sadly at the water in his hand. Shen Yuan pats his arm, but it’s still looking in Liu Qingge’s direction.

Shang Qinghua makes a gather round motion with his hands. “Yeah geez, give the guy some space-” He looks over his shoulder into the breakroom. “Okay he’s gone, huddle up.”

Qi Qingqi crosses her arms as their usual group gathers around the gossip monger.

“So,” Shang Qinghua is practically glowing. “He wouldn’t say what happened which can only mean one thing.”

“Fight club.” Mobei Jun suggests.

“No- but ‘A’ for effort,” he amends at the icy glare he gets. “He did it doing something he’s embarrassed by. Like showing emotions.”

Shen Yuan frowns, “rude.”

“No it’s true,” Mu Qingfang leans on the nearest desk.“I’ve been working with him for years; trying to get Liu-shidi to smile is awkward at best.”

Shen Yuan’s frown deepens. “I make him smile all the time.”

“I've seen it too,” Binghe adds.

“Huh, well you two are outliers.” Shang Qinghua waves away the comments. “So, what are we thinking put him in a cast?”

Qi Qingqi uncrosses her arms, “It could be a sports injury, I once threw out my back playing baseball in college.”

The Lieutenant raises an eyebrow. “You play baseball?”

Officer Fan approaches the group, holding a file.

“Played, but you accidentally send a guy to the hospital one time! Ugh, well, it wasn’t an accident so they got me there.”

Officer Fan pivots on his heel, walking away.

“Hey.” Everyone freezes. Liu Qingge’s scowling face pops out of the breakroom. “I can hear you talking.”

The group has the decency to look ashamed.

“I tripped.” His eyes narrow, “what does it matter?”

Everyone disperses back to their own desk.

“Shang Qinghua.” The man flinches and looks over to Liu Qingge, who beckons him to the break room with a glare. He holds open the door.

Shang Qinghua enters the room like a man marked for death. The door closes behind him.

Liu Qingge steps in front of him. “Do you want to know what really happened?”

Shang Qinghua blinks, “is this a trick question?”

“I was posing as a figure model.”

“Ohmygod.”

“My sister enjoys drawing erotic boys love manga. I usually pose for her if she asks for a reference. I’ve been on my knees, tied up in bondage rope, and eagle spread before-”

“Ohmygod-”

“This time, I slipped and fell on my wrist wrong after arching in a crab position for so long.”

It’s quiet.

“W-why are you telling me this?”

“Because,” Liu Qingge stares him right in the eye. “No one. Will ever believe you.”

He leaves him standing there.

___

Shen Yuan says goodbye to the long running dog joke when he sees his cousin Shen Jiu strut into the precinct like he owns it.

The weather has been getting colder as Fall begins to come around. Three months of working at his new job slowly turning into the fourth.

Shen Jiu is dressed in what’s probably a designer coat and turtleneck with black slacks, contrasting Shen Yuans sweater over his collared button up and khakis. The man is wearing Louis Vuitton heels to his own slip on loafers. He probably stopped traffic on the way here, looking like a model that walked right out of the catalogue. It kinda makes him feel inadequate.

Shen Yuan glances over to Liu Qingge’s desk, where he and Binghe are discussing their latest case. The two of them don’t even look at Shen Jiu, just turn their chairs to face the other direction.

Holy shit.

That really helps his own self esteem

His cousin stops at his desk in front of the Captain’s office.

“Is he in?”

Not even a hello, wow what a prick. He loves him anyway, well... actually let’s not unpack that right now.

Shen Yuan waves him in. Shen Jiu slams the door shut behind himself.

God what a drama queen.

He gets up to give Mu Qingfang the paperwork he finished up a few minutes ago. Somehow, walking over to the Lieutenant’s desk is an open invitation for their whole group to losely congregate over there.

Qi Qingqi leans in, “who the hell was that?”

“A-Jiu,” Shen Yuan buts in, just wanting to get this over with.

Liu Qingge gives him a side eye, “No way.”

“Excuse me?”

Luo Binghe cuts in, “What Shishu means to say, is that there’s no way the nice captain would ever date that vile of an asshole.”

Shen Yuan sputters while Shang Qinghua leans in closer, “Oh my god do you know the mysterious sexy man?”

Mobei Jun frowns. “He’s a mental health evaluator for the precinct. He gave Luo Binghe and I tests to clear us for work again.” He doesn’t look happy about the ‘mysterious sexy man’ comment.

Luo Binghe cracks his neck, “He’s one of the most shitty people I’ve ever met.”

Seriously, what’s the drama there?

Liu Qingge nods, “he’s horrible.”

Oh my god, there’s history there too?!

Qi Qingqi shrugs, “okay so that’s not A-Jiu then?”

Shen Yuan gets an idea, “Ten bucks says that’s A-Jiu.”

Everyone immediately starts placing bets.

Mu Qingfang is the only one who bets with him. Which is fine, the two of them will probably end up splitting the cash over drinks anyway.

It’s another five minutes before the captain’s door opens again.

His cousin walks out, dragging Yu Qingyuan behind him by the hand. He still looks as impeccable as ever. The captain, on the other hand, looks slightly frazzled, with a few hairs out of place and a new hickey on his neck.

Yu Qingyuan looks their way as he’s dragged past them. You can practically see the hearts in his eyes.

“Lunch break with A-Jiu.”

His voice is hoarse.

The elevator opens just as they approach. Any occupants flee it. Shen Jiu flings Yu Qingyuan against the back wall of it with a slam. The door doesn’t close fast enough for them all to pretend they aren’t making out.

There’s a ding as thee doors close. Silence hangs in the precinct for a few seconds.

Shen Yuan clears his throat, “Pay up.”

___

That Friday night sees both Mu Qingfang and Shen Yuan having one too many shots of whiskey with the bet money.

It’s a great night.

Somehow their whole group is there, indulging in one too many beers. It’s also a good thing the precinct is closed for renovations the next day.

Somehow he doesn’t get black out drunk.

What does happen though, is that both he and Liu-Shidi go to Luo Binghe’s place for an after party.

They all end up breaking a few rules.

Which is how the three of them find themselves quietly sitting in condo’s kitchen. No one has a shirt on. There are various marks and bruises on their bodies that tell a story of what happened late last night.

And early morning.

Shen Yuan is rubbing his eyes with his palms. Vivid memories flash in his mind’s eye. Someone panting into his mouth as another mouth murmured encouragement into his ear. Those two mouths kissing right by his ear.

He, unfortunately, remembers running his tongue down Liu-Shidi’s arm. And then his dick. This one definitely was not one of his many fantasies. The taste of sweat and scent of musk were too sharp to be fake.

He remembers laying down on Binghe’s pecs as someone, could be either of them -probably Liu-Shidi- fucked into him from behind. Letting out a mewl as Binghe spread his cheeks.

Then watching the two of them go at it before making the decision that he definitely could go another round. Because watching Binghe roll his hips into Liu-Shidi’s mouth, all the way until his balls hit his chin, was definitely hot.

A lot has happened.

And now it’s very, very awkward.

Shen Yuan takes a deep breath.

Before he can even say anything though, Binghe rushes to say, “I don’t regret anything.”

The other two occupants of the room look at him.

He clears his throat. “I don’t. But if either of you two has any grievances with me entering your relationship. Then, I’ll back down.”

Liu-Shidi speaks what Shen Yuan thinks. “We aren’t dating.”

Binghe stares at them, “what.”

Shen Yuan speaks now, “W-we aren’t dating.”

“The whole precinct thinks you two are dating.”

“Oh.”

Liu-Shidi hums.

Binghe looks down, “Shang Qinghua told me not to interrupt your relationship.”

Liu-Shidi frowns, “You didn’t interrupt it.”

Binghe doesn’t look up.

Shen Yuan runs a hand through his hair. “If anything, you enhanced it.”

Red eyes met his. Liu Qingge blushes, then nods.

No one speaks as the coffee maker continues to brew.

Then, “we should go view the cherry blossoms.” Liu Qingge and Shen Yuan look at Luo Binghe. He’s got a megawatt grin on his face. “Before spring ends. We can make it a picnic. I’ll cook for us.”

Liu-Shidi and Shen Yuan look to each other.

Liu Qingge smiles, a small one, but a good one.

Shen Yuan laughs, “it’s a date.”