Da Qing found Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei sitting on a bench not far from SID headquarters. It wasn't hard to follow their scent trail. But it was VERY hard to get their attention.
They were sitting and relaxing in the sun, an activity of which Da Qing thoroughly approved. He twined in and around their legs, which brought no response. Then he made some soft "prr-ip" noises, which they ignored.
Finally, patience lost, he launched himself into Zhao Yunlan's lap. He landed awkwardly and steadied himself by digging his claws into Zhao Yunlan's jeans. "Oof," said Zhao Yunlan. "Fat Cat! I swear you're getting heavier. How is Little Guo?"
"How is Little Guo?" Da Qing repeated in disbelief. "Whatever happened to, 'Hello, Da Qing, how are you?'"
Shen Wei leaned over and scritched the top of Da Qing's head. "Forgive him, Da Qing," he said. "Last time we saw Little Guo, his life force was ebbing away. We weren't sure he was going to make it."
Da Qing accepted the apology by tilting his head to redirect Shen Wei's scritching behind his ears. Then he rolled himself over and looked up at Zhao Yunlan, who sighed and began rubbing Da Qing's belly. Da Qing stretched his front paws over his head and relaxed.
After a moment, Da Qing said, "Little Guo is fine. Old Chu used the Longevity Dial to save him."
Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan exchanged knowing glances. "Of course he did," said Zhao Yunlan.
"After I told him specifically not to!" groused Da Qing. "He has no respect for the dignity of the Deputy Chief."
Shen Wei smiled more openly than usual. "You're in no position to talk about dignity," he said, lifting a hand and gently batting one of Da Qing's front paws.
Da Qing batted back at him, velvet-pawed. "But we don't know what will happen to Chu Shuzhi from using the Dial."
Zhao Yunlan nodded. "No, we don't. But whatever it is, I think he'd prefer it to losing Changcheng."
"I suppose," said Da Qing reluctantly. He righted himself and jumped down. "Well, if you two don't need any supervision, I'll head back to SID."
"Da Qing," said Zhao Yunlan. Da Qing turned. "There are fish snacks in the third drawer of my desk, behind the business cards."
"There were," replied Da Qing, smirking. Zhao Yunlan groaned.
"Have you looked in my briefcase, under the student exams?" asked Shen Wei.
"In your briefcase?" Da Qing repeated, horrified. "Of course not!"
"You have my permission now," said Shen Wei. "I think you'll find something there you like."
As he scampered off, Da Qing heard Zhao Yunlan saying, "He won't go into your briefcase but he'll paw through my desk??!!!" and Shen Wei murmuring something conciliatory in response. He briefly considered turning and telling them not to flirt until he was out of earshot, but ... whatever. He was on the hunt for snacks—living his best life—and everyone else could do what they wanted.