The sun is struggling to break through rain heavy clouds the day Shen Yuan sits Shang Qinghua down outside some cheap restaurant and puts an equally heavy folder on the table.
Shang Qinghua doesn’t do much more than blink down at the offending folder, stuffed to the brim with papers threatening to break free and spill. It looks worn and well used and it piqued his curiosity of what’s inside that could make Shen Yuan look like he’s a garled veteran private investigator Shang Qinghua hired. Specifically one to find dirt on a cheating spouse, if Shang Qinghua had one of those.
Before he could ask anything though, Shen Yuan opens the folder and glares down at the offending papers stuffed inside. There’s lines upon lines of handwritten notes scrawled onto mismatched sheets of paper tucked away, some frayed around the edges while some look crisp and new.
“I am asking, politely. Please help me with this.” Shen Yuan speaks through gritted teeth, not very inviting to Shang Qinghua to say the least! He switches between looking like he wants to set the papers on fire to setting Shang Qinghua on fire, which, bro, you’re the one who invited him in the first place!
“...With what exactly?” Shang Qinghua feels a bead of sweat start to drip down the back of his neck when Shen Yuan levels his killing intent glare back onto him. “‘Cause I just see a pile of notes..” He continues, because he apparently no longer has any self preservation skills.
“With! Ugh- These!” The taller man pushes the stacked folder across the table and towards Shang Qinghua, “These f-fudging letters! I need help with these.” Shen Yuan’s face colors as Shang Qinghua pokes at the closest note in one of the piles, which is written on a pink sticky note and has a -frankly- very cute sticker of a cat on it.
“Like, grading them..?” Shang Qinghua is still thoroughly confused on what Shen Yuan was asking for. He knows his friend often browses forums where he critiques writing (something he unfortunately is all too familiar with) so maybe he bit off more than he could chew? But then again, Shang Qinghua thinks to himself, Shen Yuan is pretty adamant at all times that his kindergarten class has higher standards of literature than Shang Qinghua. So maybe this was a discarded folder of children's letters that Shen Yuan forgot about till the last minute and is pulling his good buddy and best friend in for a long haul grading.
Which seems plausible until Shang Qinghua skims the first line of the sticky note and it mentions something about Shen Yuan’s milky thighs wrapped around- and yep! He sure hopes this isn’t from a 5 year old!
“No you idiot- just-” He hisses and snatches back the folder. Shen Yuan’s face is a healthy shade of pink now that he’s laid bare his secret stash of literature pornography. He takes a deep breath and sighs, and Shang Qinghua almost feels bad for him. “I need help with figuring out who’s writing these, and you’re the only one I can be sure isn’t the one sending them.” He rushes out like he’s scared if he stops he won’t be able to ask again. Which to be fair, Shen Yuan probably wouldn’t.
Shang Qinghua makes a little ‘o’ with his mouth as the lights start to string together in his mind, “These are all those notes you were talking about!” He exclaims, bringing the attention of the other occupied table nearby. He gives Shen Yuan a sheepish grin in lue of an apology, now that the blush has creeped up again on his friend’s face.
“This many?” He continues, head inclining over the folder and pulling a few of the larger papers out from the middle of the pile. Shen Yuan sighs loudly again and rubs his forehead, clearly already done with today.
“Yes. It’s been going on for a while now.”
“I can tell, bro.” Shen Yuan glares at that.
Shang Qinghua elects to be graceful and ignore the looks he’s getting from the other man and reads over the first letter he pulled out, one this time written on printer paper with red ink. He can’t help but notice that most of the letters in view have some sort of shade of red to pink on them.
The letter itself is nothing more than simply hoping that Shen Yuan had a good day on the 16th of April, the date of the letter. Shang Yuan frowns at that, because it’s deep into the winter months now, so his buddy really wasn’t exaggerating that it’s been some time. The second letter is more forward, calling Shen Yuan beautiful (debatable) and that no man on Earth could hold a candle to his beauty (again, debatable).
“Wow, this dude is… this guy’s down bad.” Shang Qinghua lifts his eyebrows as he continues shifting through the letters, all of them have similar handwriting and sentence structure, and all of them center around the man sitting across from him. “I can’t imagine someone wanting to fuck you this bad bro.”
“Well, surprise, some people have taste.” Shen Yuan huffs but doesn’t snatch back the papers. “It started around January. The letters. I think I told you around a month after?” Shang Qinghua nods in affirmation, he remembers Shen Yuan’s offhand comment about some prank letters he was finding underneath his door. He only got random updates here and there since then, so he had no way of knowing his friend would be having this magnitude of an issue he was dealing with.
“A straight stalker, huh? Well shit.” Shang Qinghua pushes the papers away and leans back in his seat, crossing his arms and thinking. “Did you call the police?” He asks, biting the inside of his cheek. He has no idea how Shen Yuan hasn’t had a nervous meltdown yet, cause he sure as fuck would have after the first letter, much less almost a whole year of letters.
“I did, and they said they couldn’t really help. No one was breaking into private property by shoving notes under apartment doors and no one has threatened my life in them, so.” He shrugs. “Like I said, you’re the only one I’m 100 percent sure wouldn’t do this, especially not this long.”
“Yeah that’s true, you’re not really my type...” Shang Qinghua mumbles and rubs his chin, “And I know it’s not Mobei Jun cause, well, I don’t even think you knew each other?” He narrows his eyes at Shen Yuan in thought, and scoffs when the other man just makes a face at him.
“Plus I doubt I’m Mobei Jun’s type if he’s attracted to someone like you of all people.” He rolls his eyes and starts packing back up the scattered paper on the table.
“Excuse you, there’s plenty to be attracted to me about!” Shang Qinghua pouts, but helps Shen Yuan clean up anyways.
“Well uh. I guess we’ll just have to start with those closest to you. The ones you interact with every day, that sort of thing.” Shang Qinghua nods to himself. He’s starting to get into the idea of helping Shen Yuan figure his stalker out, like he was on some sort of murder mystery crime show.
“Like how? Getting handwriting?”
Shang Qinghua waves his hands, “That and you know- see if anyone seems interested in you than what is socially acceptable! Which is where I can come in, because I can watch people while they’re watching you! I’ll take notes and all that jazz.”
Shen Yuan looks skeptical about his claim to observational skills but doesn’t say anything. He sighs one last time and looks around the outside of the restaurant to the other patrons, like in some weird twist of fate his stalker would come out right now and reveal themselves to the object of their affections.
“Class is out by 3:20.”
“Great, we’ll start Monday then!”
Shang Qinghua waddles through the entrance of the elementary school Shen Yuan works at, bundled in a large sweater and coat to fend off the cold December air. He mumbles Shen Yuan’s classroom number over and over again under his breath, cutting through the flow of small children leaving with their parents for the day.
When he finally reaches it Shen Yuan is still inside, with a few of the straggler kids still waiting on their pick up or packing their bags slowly. His friend currently has one tugging on his shirt to drag him over to a small desk and chair and is covered with scraps of colored paper and glue.
Shang Qinghua awkwardly shuffles his way inside and shifts on his feet. He feels like he’s six years old and waiting on the teachers attention all over again.
“So what did you have in mind?” Shen Yuan interrupts Shang Qinghua while he’s looking over the cork board on the wall full of child’s drawings.
“I was thinking I could like, shadow you?” Shang Qinghua turns to see the other packing his own bag with papers. “To just watch and listen.”
“I don’t really do much after school is over though.” Shen Yuan frowns. “I interact mostly with the other teachers while school is in session, except for meetings but there’s none till next week.”
They put their conversation on hold when the final parent comes to whisk away their child, Shen Yuan being genuinely the nicest Shang Qinghua has ever seen him act. No wonder why someone could be attracted to him if this was how they met him.
“Do you think it’s a parent?” Shang Qinghua blurts out, once they’re alone again and there it is- Shen Yuan’s huffy attitude is back to normal.
“I sincerely doubt it, most of the parents are either married, dating, or if they’re single they’re men. So…”
“Way to be homophobic bro! Bi men exist!” Shang Qinghua waves a finger in front of Shen Yuan’s face. “Never assume!”
“Well I’m not- not ga-!” Shen Yuan chokes and his face colors.
“It was really straight of you to watch Magic Mike three times in a row! I remember! Because I was there too!” Shang Qinghua holds up three fingers to empathize his point. He would really appreciate it if Shen Yuan could ever find it in him to pull his head out of his ass! One of the many reasons this man was so goddam infuriating!!!
Shen Yuan opens his mouth to retort with something on the lines of ‘I love pussy I’m so straight and heteronormative.’ when a politely strained cough comes from the doorway. Yue Qingyuan is standing halfway inside, looking like he would literally rather be anywhere else in the world.
“Sorry, ah, did you need something sir?” Shen Yuan barely recovers, face still a deep red. Shang Qinghua takes the opportunity to look at Yue Qingyuan closely, he’s only heard of the principal in passing but had never seen him before today.
The man looks relatively nice, giving off a gentle vibe with his soft eyes and shoulders, thick eyebrows and warm brown hair. He doesn’t really spare a glance to Shang Qinghua, which would be something he would mark down as suspicious if it weren’t for the fact Yue Qingyuan doesn’t seem to spare Shen Yuan any glances either.
“Oh yes, sorry to interrupt, I was just hoping you could deliver something for me.” Yue Qingyuan smiles, which could be considered handsome if it didn’t seem so forced.
“For Shen Jiu again?” Yue Qingyuan does look at Shen Yuan at that, smile morphing into something more genuine and sheepish.
“If you would be so kind, I made extra. Of course you can help yourself to some if you would like.” He adds like Shen Yuan wasn’t the obvious afterthought that he is and hands over a plastic covered plate of cookies. Shang Qinghua mentally adds that to the suspicion tally against Yue Qingyuan. Some of the letters did mention cooking meals for Shen Yuan, what if this was some weird roundabout way of feeding his poor gullible friend.
“I’m sure he’ll like these.” Shen Yuan lies through his teeth. Shen Jiu likes nothing. Except maybe being fucking evil. Shang Qinghua is pretty sure his only joys in life are being petty and pretty. He’s still bitter about the pretty part.
Yue Qingyuan nods and thanks Shen Yuan, giving a small wave and disappearing out the door. Shang Qinghua’s total potential stalker points for the principal: 35/100. Doesn’t actually seem interested in the Shen twin currently being stalked, but still weird for cooking and being interested in the other one.
Shang Qinghua says as much after he’s sure Yue Qingyuan is nowhere near and in earshot of his scathing review. Shen Yuan just scoffs at him.
“Okay maybe a very very slight chance, if there wasn’t my brother to distract him with.” Shen Yuan waves off his assessment. No wonder why you haven’t figured out who’s been sending letters to you for a year bro!!! You give everyone an excuse and question nothing!!!!
Shang Qinghua can feel the years of his life slowly being drained by Shen Yuan’s obliviousness. This was going to be harder than he thought.