At seven in the morning, Fang Lei and his colleagues finally broke through the suspect’s psychological defences after a day and night of interrogation and managed to get a confession. The office resounded with quiet cheers; everyone had been working overtime for a week for this case, and many people were living and eating at the police station, including Fang Lei. Now that the case was solved, everyone was elated.
Listening to the cheers of his colleagues, Fang Lei breathed a sigh of relief. He rubbed his bloodshot eyes, poured the cold coffee on the table into the sink, and packed his things to go home. He hadn’t been back for a week and could barely imagine what a fuss Xiaohui would make. Fang Lei was going to send Xiaohui to Lu Lingxi’s place this time, but Xiaohui refused, so Fang Lei had no choice but to fry a large pile of fish and put it in the fridge, asking his neighbour to feed Xiaohui on time.
When he was about to leave, his mind full of Xiaohui, a new colleague stopped him, asking, “Team Fang, why don’t you stay here to sleep before going back?”
Before Fang Lei could say anything, another colleague interjected with a smile, “You think Team Fang is a loner like you? Team Fang has a little beauty at home. If Team Fang comes home late, he is guaranteed to come tomorrow with his face covered in scratches.”
Apart from this new colleague, the other people in the office had all seen the power of Xiaohui and laughed at the colleague’s words.
Fang Lei laughed as well and walked to the door just as he heard the colleague who first spoke up behind him ask in a sympathetic tone, “Team Fang’s girlfriend is so impressive?”
He was answered by another burst of laughter.
Fang Lei shook his head helplessly and drove back to his apartment. When he passed by the morning market, Fang Lei got out of the car specifically to buy two catties of fresh small yellowtails. He reckoned that the fried fish in the fridge hadn’t been eaten yet, but it had been there for a week and was no longer fresh. There was no choice before, but now that he was back, he had to give Xiaohui something good to eat.
Fang Lei returned to his apartment with the small yellowtails in his hand, and as soon as he entered the door, a grey figure pounced on him. Fang Lei nimbly caught Xiaohui with one hand and held him in his arms. “I’m back.”
Meow~ Xiaohui cried out angrily, waving his claws, trying to scratch Fang Lei.
Fang Lei threw the fish he had bought aside and freed his hand to touch Xiaohui’s ears and then pinched the skin on Xiaohui’s neck. Xiaohui’s anger was not as great as it was at the beginning. Fang Lei made his sure shot move, rolling over Xiaohui and rubbing his bulging belly. Xiaohui stretched his limbs comfortably and meowed coquettishly.
Fang Lei laughed and carried Xiaohui into the bathroom. He had been at the police station all week and had to wash up properly when he got home. Especially since Xiaohui hadn’t had a bath for a week either, and Xiaohui particularly loved to be clean, so they just as well could wash up together.
Xiaohui jumped out of Fang Lei’s arms and onto the sink, pawing at his special cat shampoo.
Fang Lei took off his clothes in a few movements, grabbed Xiaohui and said, “You’re not happy when I go to work but look at all the things you use. None of them are cheap. If I don’t go to work how can I feed you?”
Xiaohui discontentedly broke free and squatted aside meowing.
Fang Lei was amused and scratched Xiaohui’s chin, “You mean you caught a mouse last time to feed me? First of all, I don’t eat mice, and secondly, mice are worthless. They can’t feed you even if you sell them.”
Xiaohui waved his paws, proving his status in a stern manner.
Fang Lei immediately raised his hands and compromised, “I know, Xiaohui is the boss in the family, I am dedicated to serving Master Cat Xiaohui.”
Xiaohui was satisfied and waved his tail at Fang Lei, signalling that he could take a bath.
Fang Lei couldn’t do anything about Xiaohui, so he didn’t bother to look for a special basin for Xiaohui and directly turned on the shower, tested the water temperature and stood under the water with Xiaohui in his arms. Perhaps because of the evolution, Xiaohui didn’t reject bathing and even liked it a little, but only if you served him comfortably. After a painful lesson, Fang Lei had learned how to give Xiaohui a bath while scratching him. Xiaohui meowed in enjoyment. Fang Lei mixed some more water with the cat shampoo, rubbed it for a long time, rinsed it off, wrapped Xiaohui in a big towel and put him on the sink.
“Be good and wait, I’m going to take a shower.”
After taking a bath, Xiaohui calmed down and squatted on the sink with his head tilted, watching Fang Lei unblinkingly as he took a shower. Fang Lei washed quickly, and after he was done, he casually put on a pair of shorts and left the bathroom half naked with Xiaohui in his arms. After wiping and blow-drying them both in one go, Fang Lei pinched Xiaohui’s nape, put away the hairdryer and asked him, “What flavour of fish do you want to eat?”
Ever since Xiaohui had shown his dislike for canned cat food, Fang Lei’s skill in handling fish had improved by leaps and bounds. Deep fried, crispy, steamed… all sorts of flavours were at his fingertips. During the New Year, Fang Lei went home and showed his cooking skills to his relatives. Of course, he didn’t dare to say that his skills were practised on Xiaohui.
Xiaohui shook his fur and cried out softly.
“Crispy? No problem.”
Fang Lei skillfully handled the yellowtails he bought in the morning, and Xiaohui squatted beside him contentedly, meowing every now and then. When the processed yellowtails were in the pan, Fang Lei grabbed Xiaohui and moved him away from the frying pan. After the last time when Xiaohui was naughty and almost got burned by the oil, Fang Lei always remembered to keep Xiaohui at a distance from the frying pan. There was an aroma coming from the pan and Xiaohui meowed excitedly. Fang Lei looked at him indulgently. It was a rare moment when Xiaohui would act like a cat, not Master Cat. Fang Lei flipped the yellowtails in the pan over and his phone rang.
“Mom?” Fang Lei cocked his head and pressed the phone with his chin while staring intently at the yellowtails in the pan.
“Leizi, you have a day off today, right? It’s just as well that Mom has made an appointment for you with a girl, so go and meet her. The girl is a teacher, very polite and gentle, good-looking, and does not mind your profession. I’ve made an appointment with her, at noon at the steakhouse near your work. She’s wearing a floral dress and has long hair, remember to go!”
Fang Lei: “……”
He didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh. “Mom, I have something else to do today.”
“What to do? Don’t tell me you’re going out with Xiaohui to fight and grab territory? Look at you. Xiaohui is a cat who doesn’t understand anything, do you not understand anything either? You’re following him when he fights!” Fang Lei’s mother was also a policeman before she retired, but unlike Fang Lei, who was a member of the criminal police force, she used to belong to the street police, so she was very eloquent.
The old lady’s mentioning of this matter completely undermined Fang Lei. The last time the old lady arranged for Fang Lei to go on a blind date, the result was that Fang Lei was late, giving the reason that he had lost his cat and had been looking for it for a long time. Only later did the old lady realise that it was not Xiaohui who had been lost, but Fang Lei who had followed Xiaohui into a fight. During that time, Xiaohui had not yet consolidated his position as the king of the cats in the neighbourhood, and every now and then a wild cat would come and pick a fight. Fang Lei was worried, so he followed Xiaohui every time he fought. Fang Lei was happy when Xiaohui won, but when Xiaohui lost, he would come back and scratch Fang Lei to vent his anger. The old lady remembered this incident very well, and every time she talked about it, she had to embarrass Fang Lei.
Fang Lei felt a bit helpless. In fact, he had nothing to do, he just subconsciously rejected blind dates. In the past few years, Fang Lei had been busy with work and had never had a real girlfriend. It was not that he was not serious, but the nature of his work was special and he would often forget everything when he got busy. Sometimes he had to go on business trips that were confidential and no one could contact him. After a while, the girls who were interested in him couldn’t accept his work and all backed out.
In the past, the old lady didn’t care; men after thirty are still as fresh as flowers. But when Fang Lei passed his 30th birthday, not only did he become more and more indifferent to having a family, but he also got a cat and behaved as if he wanted to live his life with Xiaohui forever. The old lady couldn’t sit still any longer and started to introduce Fang Lei to some girls. Fang Lei’s time off was basically wasted on blind dates, but none of them worked out. After a lot of failures, Fang Lei got a bit repulsed by dating. Besides, Xiaohui was very concerned about his territory; once he realised that a stranger was trying to encroach on his territory, he would be alert and furious. It could be said that half of Fang Lei’s previous blind dates failed due to the nature of his work, and half failed due to Xiaohui.
The old lady also knew Xiaohui’s destructive power. After successfully suppressing Fang Lei’s resistance, she warned him, “Don’t take Xiaohui with you. I told the girl that you have a cat, and she also likes small animals. Her family has a dog. I heard that it is an evolved animal just like Xiaohui. Although cats and dogs don’t get along well, those things can be considered in the future. You need to meet the girl and coax her to stay first.”
Fang Lei: “……”
He was distracted for a moment, and the little yellowtails in the pan were burning. Xiaohui waved his paw angrily and meowed to remind Fang Lei.
Fang Lei hurriedly turned off the fire and took out the fish to soothe Xiaohui.
The old lady couldn’t hear Fang Lei’s voice for a long time, so she tapped the microphone, “Leizi, say something, are you going or not?”
“Yes, I’ll definitely go. Mom, I have something to do, I have to hang up now. It’s that steakhouse near the office, isn’t it? I’ve got it down, at noon sharp.” He hung up the phone quickly as he said it, then touched Xiaohui’s ear and apologised, “It’s a bit mushy. Now it’s too late to go out and buy fish, Xiaohui, you eat the side that is not mushy and not eat the other side.”
Xiaohui waved his paw unhappily but still ate the fish in a picky manner.
Fang Lei looked at the time. It was only eight o’clock; he could still sleep for a while. He waited for Xiaohui to finish eating the fish, washed the plate, cleaned up the kitchen, grabbed Xiaohui and went to the bedroom.
“Don’t make a fuss, Xiaohui, be a good boy, I’ll take a nap for a while.”
Fang Lei had set his alarm clock for 11 o’clock and fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. Xiaohui squatted by the pillow and looked at Fang Lei with his head cocked, then jumped off the bed with Fang Lei’s phone in his mouth, hid the phone behind the sofa in the living room and finally pressed a small pillow on top of the phone to make sure the alarm clock on the phone didn’t sound too loud.
After doing this, Xiaohui jumped back onto the bed, crouched down by the pillow and licked his paws. He tilted its head, his golden pupils reflecting Fang Lei’s sleeping face, and a moment later Xiaohui curled up into a ball and slept next to Fang Lei.
The alarm clock went off at 11 o’clock. With a pillow and a door between them, Fang Lei didn’t hear it at all. Xiaohui wagged his tail a little smugly when the landline at his bedside suddenly rang and the old Mrs. Fang called over specifically to urge Fang Lei to go out.
Fang Lei: “……”
He hung up the phone, grabbed Xiaohui and said helplessly, “Where’s the phone? Where did you hide it?”
Xiaohui meowed angrily.
Fang Lei helplessly took Xiaohui in his arms, turned him belly up and rubbed his belly, patiently coaxing, “I’m just going out for a meal. I’ll be back soon, it’s not that I’m leaving Xiaohui behind. You see, even if I find a girlfriend, it’s just one more person to serve Master Cat in the future. Someone to fry little fish for Xiaohui while I’m away, wouldn’t Xiaohui like that?”
Fang Lei had a bit of a headache. Choosing between Master Can Xiaohui and the old lady was troublesome. But no matter what, he had to go to meet at noon. Success or failure was another story, he couldn’t leave the girl alone at the restaurant.
“I’m going to go, Xiaohui, I’ll be back later. I’ll keep frying you fish in the afternoon.”
He looked at the time and saw that it was getting late and there was no time to coax Xiaohui. Casually changing his clothes, Fang Lei fished out his phone from behind the sofa, stroked Xiaohui’s head and closed the door before Xiaohui could swing his paw.
Xiaohui yelled angrily, grabbing the pillow and biting it for a while. From under the pillow, a green pendant carved into the shape of a kitten that Fang Lei had bought on his last business trip to Kunnan fell out and somehow rolled to Xiaohui’s side. A faint green light flashed, and Xiaohui on the bed was gone. Instead, a young man who looked seventeen or eighteen, naked and fair-skinned, with grey cat ears and a cat tail, was lying there biting the pillow.