Space bounty hunter Jiang Cheng is kinda-sorta dating that cute singer at his favorite bar, forgets to ask important questions, and gets roped into space politics shenanigans, as you do. It’ll be fine. Probably.

Or: The (Syfy) Killjoys-inspired AU.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 5
Words: 56,265

Story Notes:

no knowledge of syfy’s killjoys needed to enjoy the fic! just think of the different MDZS settings as different planets, and it’s set in a sci-fi space dystopia-ish cyberpunk-ish universe. and you’re good to go!

my sweetheart sings out like a devil

Chapter 1

Chapter Notes:

this first part is basically an intro… that got out of hand… because i like writing sangcheng having heart-to-hearts lol


“Four ways to remove all the bad that we do
from the heart and the soul of the city sad and cold.
Four ways to collect what we say and what we save
to discard and discover a brand new way.”



001. hell



The Canary’s Nest is bustling with activity when Jiang Cheng arrives. It’s the usual scene for the quaint watering hole – dimmed lights accented by the green and gold neon, most but not all tables occupied, and loud chatter of people above the muted music.

When he checks, he recognizes Zonghui manning the bar, having the usual small talk with a customer while he makes their drink. Jiang Cheng makes his way there, powering through the pain in his body. He tries not to think about how tender his bruises are, and how his joints complain with every step he takes.

That’s not new. It’s just another night, after a long day on the job.

Zonghui regards him with a nod and greets him a good evening before taking his order.

“The usual.” Jiang Cheng says.

“Rough day?” Zonghui asks casually as he starts to make Jiang his usual drink.

Jiang Cheng only shrugs, then repeats, “The usual.”

Rougher than usual, really, but Jiang Cheng isn’t required to disclose that to get drinks. That’s why he prefers this place.

The bartender chuckles good-naturedly and doesn’t ask any more. Another customer approaches, and he greets them with the same calm smile, this time engaging them in actual conversation. Zonghui is a good bartender, familiar with his regulars’ preferences – in drinks and in company.

Jiang Cheng settles on an empty spot, dumping his pack and weapons on top of the table before sitting down on the cold chair with a muffled grunt. He leans back and sighs, trying to get comfortable as much as he could with his bruises and aching limbs.

He takes his communicator out of his pocket. There are new messages – lots of alerts and job postings from the agency, some reminders for his bills, notifications of payments received and finally his sister asking how he’s doing.

He stares at all of them for a moment before taking a swig of his drink and chucking the gadget on the table along with the rest of his things.

That’s when the Canary finds him.

“There you are! Zonghui told me you were here!”

‘Snitch.’ Jiang Cheng thinks, sighing tiredly into his drink, making sure to glare at the busy bartender’s direction before eyeing his new company.

The man is, as usual, made up and dressed too prettily for the place. Tonight he’s wearing a robe that shimmers black and gold in the bar’s lights, and his long hair is gathered into a careful bun with an ornate hairpin that had shiny stones and jewels dangling from it.

The bar advertises him as its eponymous ‘Canary’. Patrons and regulars call him their ‘little bird’. Jiang Cheng calls him something else.

“Huaisang.” he says, with all the enthusiasm he can muster… which really isn’t much. Sure, he’s a sight to behold, but Jiang Cheng is too tired to even express his appreciation right now.

“My, my! So gloomy!” The Canary grins, not deterred by Jiang Cheng’s demeanor for a second. “Exactly how long were you planning on brooding here alone before you called for me?” he asks with a pout.

“Look, I’m really not feeling up to it right now-”

But that is ignored as the man unceremoniously steps into Jiang Cheng’s space and sits right in his lap.

Jiang Cheng groans painfully. “Ow! Fuck. Of all the places to sit-”

“This is my usual spot, isn’t it?” Huaisang says, smiling innocently.

“What if I have a broken rib or some shit?”

Huaisang blinks at him, momentarily alarmed. “Do you? Have a broken rib?”

“No.” Then for good measure, Jiang Cheng adds, “I think.”

“Good for you.” is all Huaisang says before snuggling close, taking Jiang Cheng’s arms to wrap around and hold him. “So how was work?”

Jiang Cheng, despite scowling, does secure one arm around the slighter man’s waist. “My whole body hurts, I have bruises everywhere, and you’re heavy.”

“But you’re strong~” the Canary half-sings, this time wrapping his arms loosely around Jiang Cheng’s shoulders, peering close to his face. “It did go well, though, right?”

A shrug. “I guess.”

Slim fingers make their way to Jiang Cheng’s hair, stroking loose strands carefully. “Did you catch your bounty?”


Jiang Cheng doesn’t bother elaborating, just gestures for his drink on the table. Huaisang knows better than to ask for more anyway, obediently reaching for the beverage and handing it to him.

As he takes another swig, Jiang Cheng eyes the assortment of elaborate jewelry around the other man’s neck. “Are you singing tonight?”

Huaisang follows his gaze and sighs softly as he fiddles with one of the shiny stones on one of his necklaces. “You just missed it. Like you always do.”

Jiang Cheng studies his face, noting the little pout in the other’s painted lips. With effort, he tightens his hold on Huaisang’s waist, careful not to dislodge him from his lap as he leans forward and presses a quick kiss to the side of his jaw. “I’ll try to make it next time.”

“No, you won’t. You’ll be off-planet doing your job. Like you always are.” Huaisang says, a little too matter-of-fact for Jiang Cheng’s liking, but at least he doesn’t sound upset about it. He smiles and tilts his head so their noses brush. “But that’s okay. My private shows are always more special anyway, right?”

Jiang Cheng allows himself a small chuckle as he feels the other’s soft, lithe body press flush against his as Huaisang leaves fleeting playful kisses on his face.

Someone in the bar whistles and cheers.

Jiang Cheng is about to tell them off, but he is distracted by the hand wandering down his chest – under his coat but still above his shirt-

‘Whatever.’ he thinks, ‘It’s nothing they haven’t seen before.’

With that, he abandons whatever’s left of his drink to the table to free his hand, so he can cup the other’s chin and lead him into a proper kiss-

-and he would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for someone coughing right beside them.

“Da-ge!” Huaisang exclaims, leaning back but not disentangling from Jiang Cheng completely.

Jiang Cheng looks up to see the man he only knows as The Owner – and Huaisang’s big brother.

The Owner… owns the Canary’s Nest. Jiang Cheng doesn’t know much about The Owner, or even sees the man that often. In fact, he only ever saw The Owner walking around managing things, carrying heavy barrels and crates, breaking up fights, or hauling hopeful smitten men away from his younger brother.

Jiang Cheng had never heard anyone mention the man’s name either – and at this point he’s too afraid to ask. Jiang Cheng is pretty tall and has a sturdy build – he is a bounty hunter and therefore a decent fighter… but he looked like a baby next to The Owner, who is a full head taller than him, built like a tank and looked like he could take an entire platoon on a fight.

“…Sir.” he says now, out of a lack of any other form of address.

He doesn’t know what to call him, really. The others call him “boss”. But Jiang Cheng will die before calling a man “boss” while he is kissing said man’s precious little brother.

The Owner ignores him, glare only reserved for the aforementioned brother – “Didi.”

Huaisang grins innocently. “Yes, da-ge?”

“There’s a perfectly functional chair right there.” the older points out.

“I can see that.” Huaisang says, being every bit the cheeky little brother he is, as he refuses to get off Jiang Cheng’s lap.

Jiang Cheng wants to groan in pain, but he keeps quiet. Maybe if he keeps quiet enough, The Owner will keep ignoring him and he’ll get to live his life normally and not get banned from his favorite drinking establishment.

“Stop that.” The Owner heaves a long-suffering sigh. “See, this is why people have started asking me how much they have to pay for you.”

Huaisang tilts his head and blinks. “Like, my talent fee?”

Okay, Jiang Cheng kinda understands why The Owner always looks like Murder.

“Sure, just call it that.” the man says with a roll of his eyes. “Just… go play with your toy somewhere else. We don’t do aftershows.” With that, he walks off.

He really just straight up didn’t acknowledge Jiang Cheng, huh. Okay.

“Ugh, fiiiiine…” Huaisang pouts after his brother, but eventually he gets on his feet and stands. He turns to Jiang Cheng, pulling at his hand. “Your place or mine?”

The answer is quick. “Yours.”

Huaisang patiently watches him haul his bags and weapons up from the table. “Because it’s just upstairs?”

“Yep.” he says, picking his communicator up last and tucking it back inside his coat pocket.

When he’s done, Huaisang clings to him and begins to pull him towards the stairs leading up to the Nest’s living quarters and rooms for rent. “When will I get to see your place?”

“Stop asking. It’s not as cozy as yours, anyway.”

“It’s a spaceship, A-Cheng.” Huaisang points out. “I would love to see a spaceship. And make out on a spaceship. And fu-”

Jiang Cheng quickly shuts that down. “Yeah, no. You’re not getting on Zidian.”

“It has a name?!”

“Yes. And it was my mother’s, so if we fool around in there, I’ll just think about her judging me and shit. That’s too weird.”

“But you live there. So do you just think about your mother judging you all the time? That’s very sad.” Huaisang says, looking genuinely concerned. Then he blinks. “Wait, why am I surprised? I knew that.”

Jiang Cheng takes a moment to glare at his companion, but it doesn’t last long as Huaisang opens the door to his room and pulls him inside.

They’re kissing as soon as the door closes behind them, Jiang Cheng letting his bags fall to the floor so his hands can trace the other’s slender figure. Huaisang is soft and pliant in his arms, enjoying the attention, returning every kiss with sweet enthusiasm.

Sweet. He’s always sweet, no matter what mood Jiang Cheng is in.

It doesn’t mean that he’s all delicate, though – as when he finally pushes back, it’s to sit Jiang Cheng down on the bed so he can straddle his lap.

Jiang Cheng gets to watch as the Canary strips off his robe of shimmery black and gold, followed by his fancy necklace of shiny, probably cheap gemstones, and then his sheer lace top. Huaisang’s skin is fair, smooth and unblemished, save for the tattoo of a little bird low on his hip.

“Okay, it’s unfair that you’re the only one having a good time here.” Huaisang says, grinning as he reaches forward and tugs at Jiang Cheng’s jacket.

Jiang Cheng leans back and lets him strip the clothing off him. “I thought it was a private show.”

Huaisang snorts, throwing the jacket somewhere behind him before proceeding to pull at Jiang Cheng’s shirt. “It is, but I’m all for audience participation…”

The shirt goes off, and then Huaisang stops.

Jiang Cheng wonders for a moment, and then understands when he follows the other’s gaze. He watches the Huaisang take it in – the familiar scars, the new patches and cuts, and finally the fresh and ugly bruises.

“Are you really okay?” he asks softly. “You never… looked this bad.”

Jiang Cheng rests his hands on the man’s waist, tugging lightly. “It’s just a rough day. I’ve had worse.”

Huaisang frowns, worrying at his lip. “Like, you’re sure? Because there’s a doctor literally next door. I can wait. I can even sit with you in the waiting room.”

“I’ll be fine.” Jiang Cheng sighs. “Besides, she’d just as well kill me.”

“Nah. Miss Wen’s too decent of a person to refuse to help someone who needs it.” Huaisang smiles fondly. “Even when they’re a bit of a jerk.”

Jiang Cheng has had a really, really long day. “If I go to her, will you shut up and let me kiss you?”

“Hmm…” Huaisang pretends to think about it, but he doesn’t let it last long. “I guess so!”

“Fine. I’ll ask her to check if that one rib’s really broken.” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. Then he tugs at Huaisang again. “But for now, just come here.”

Huaisang laughs, and he is still sweet as he lets himself be tugged forward and kissed, and held, and touched… and more.





The first time Jiang Cheng accepted the invitation to “go upstairs”, he had gone as far as pinning a giggling Huaisang to his soft bed and kissing him breathless before the latter sheepishly confessed that he’d never done “this sort of thing” before.

He had pulled back from kissing the other to ask, “Wait, what? Like, uh- You’ve never… slept with anyone?”

Huaisang – the Canary , as Jiang Cheng suddenly becomes all-too aware – blushes and shakes his head fervently.

“Ah, no, I have! I- uh, I just meant… I’m not allowed-… Well, Da-ge doesn’t like me-… y’know, with customers of the Nest.” He laughs nervously. “But it’s not like-… Don’t worry, I have experience! That’s, um, before I came here, I guess.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Then it was awkward, because suddenly Jiang Cheng has a lot of questions.

Questions and concerns .

He starts with the first one that came to mind. He withdrew a little, putting some space between them.

“So… are you gonna get in trouble for this?”

The answer came with another giggle. “Kinda. But it’s fine, Da-ge won’t stay mad that long. And you’re not some murderer I let into my rooms, right?”

Jiang Cheng nodded at that – no, he’s not a murderer – then he took all that in. So The Owner doesn’t like his delicate baby brother… fraternizing… with customers. He knew that, to some extent. But he thought it was only while Huaisang was performing. He didn’t think that also applied to the singer’s… private life.

Then he realized that he ’s in this too. Jiang Cheng sat up, while Huaisang looked over at him but remained on his back on the bed, shirt halfway undone.

“I’m not gonna get banned from this place, though, am I? Because it’s the only decent watering hole on this side of the shitty planet. And I like how Zonghui makes my drinks.”

“Is that the only reason you’re always here?”

“I mean… yeah.”

At this, Huaisang finally sat up as well. “ Not me? ”

A shrug. “Yeah, I actually don’t care much for the singing. You’re good, though.”

Huaisang pouted. “Maybe you should be kissing Zonghui , then.”

“Well, he didn’t ask me. You did.” Jiang Cheng replied with a scowl, then looked over at his companion again. “Are you serious? You don’t… do this often?”

Huaisang considered the question for a moment. As he answered, he propped one leg up and hugged his knee to his chest. “I’m the Canary of The Canary’s Nest. I’m supposed to be just sitting pretty and singing every now and then, and absolutely not sleeping with every hotshot bounty hunter that comes by our humble little tavern.”

Jiang Cheng nods. Yeah, that was the impression that the Canary gave him, pretty much. But that was when the Canary was still the tavern’s ‘little bird’ to him.

But that was before .

Before the Canary sat at his table for the first time and smiled sweetly at him, greeting, “Hi, you’re new here, aren’t you?”

Before the same man smiled in delight and dropped whatever he was doing whenever Jiang Cheng came by. “Ah, you’re back! How was your day?”

Before they spent several evenings dancing around each other, until finally the mysterious singer leaned over and whispered in Jiang Cheng’s ear, “Call me Huaisang! But don’t go tellin’ everyone, okay?”

Jiang Cheng had to admit that he never thought to be curious, before. He just saw Huaisang as the flighty, flirty muse of the little tavern, always performing, on and off the stage, his real thoughts and personality kept private for his protection.

“You’re fine with that? Just being the Canary?”

“I’m safe, and comfortable.” Huaisang answers. “Besides, most of our customers are either bounty hunters, or agents, or officers. They might be hot, but they’re all very prone to temper tantrums… and full of themselves… and apparently, most of them don’t even tip well! My friends told me. That should say something about them, I think.”

“Your friends.” Jiang Cheng repeated, recalling the people he had seen around the Canary on the few times he’d seen him hang around the bar. “The prostitutes.”

“Our tenants. My neighbors.” Huaisang said, squinting slightly at his guest. “But yeah, that’s their job. Do you happen to… have a problem with that?”

“No.” Jiang Cheng answered, frowning as if offended that Huaisang would think he’d have a problem with that . “It’s their job. You gotta have one. I just don’t indulge in their services, is all.”

“Oh.” Huaisang smiled, relieved. Then he tilted his head, curious too. “That’s why you’ve been turning them all down, then?”

“They told you?”

“They’ve been having a bet on who could… seduce you.” Huaisang admitted, looking away. “I kinda joined.”

That made Jiang Cheng glare at him suspiciously. “Wait. This is a dare? For a bet?”

“Yes- Wait, wait! It’s not just that!” Huaisang laughed, throwing his hands up and shaking his head. “Okay, it was that, but also, I really wanted to try, even without the bet! Actually, even before the bet!”

“You wanted to try what, exactly?”

“Asking you out. I mean, in. I mean, upstairs- You know what I mean!” Huaisang answered, almost flustered – far from the confident Canary who Jiang Cheng had always seen flirting with his admirers at the Nest. He looked away, sheepish as he continued, “The bet was just… y’know, an excuse… to… have a go at it.”

Jiang Cheng didn’t quite know what to say after that.

When the silence got awkward, he coughed, trying to grasp at something else to think, or talk about. “For the record,” he said, looking around the room for the first time, at anywhere but his companion. “Had I… humored one of your friends’ invitations… I would have tipped them properly.”

That made Huaisang chuckle. “Yeah, yeah. You’re not like other bounty hunters. I get it.”

Jiang Cheng frowned. “That’s not what I’m saying-”

“Sure, of course, you’re just a decent person-” He stopped when Jiang Cheng glared . Hard. He looked away again. “Sorry. I just-… Did you really… think I just slept with anyone I fancied around here?”

“I guess so. You flirt with everyone in the place.” Jiang Cheng said. It came out a bit grudgingly, to his dismay.

That made Huaisang squint at him. “I’m a performer, and a member of the staff. It’s called entertaining our customers, Jiang-xiong.” Then he smiled, rueful. “Is it so difficult for you to just believe that you’re special?”

At that, Jiang Cheng scoffed. “I’m already in your bed. Why are you still trying to butter me up?”

“I am not! I don’t know, okay? I just like you. You’re nice.” Huaisang insisted, hugging his legs again and hiding his face in his arms. “And you looked sad. You always do, but you look sadder tonight. So I thought I’d try to help.”

Jiang Cheng almost got sidetracked by ‘you always do’ – because just how much has this man been watching him, really? But he pushed past it, trying to keep himself distant, still.

“And you thought you’d do that by sleeping with me?”

“By distracting you.” Huaisang corrected. “This just seemed like the most effective- I mean, the only other thing I can do is sing to you, and that would probably just put you to sleep.”


“Is it working?”

“I am plenty distracted, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“You’re so mean. And sassy.” Huaisang said, shaking his head, looking amused. “And funny.”

“I’m not funny.”

Huaisang laughed.

Jiang Cheng legitimately thought he’s insane. And so easily amused. Wow.

Then Huaisang looked at him again, but the amused twinkle in his eyes was gone, replaced with guilt. “I’m sorry. I ruined the whole mood, didn’t I?”

Jiang Cheng just looked at him. He should leave, he knew that. The whole thing had gone nowhere. He didn’t even know what he was thinking, in the first place, responding to those advances – Huaisang’s advances, in particular – among all the others he’d gotten.

Was he that sad? Maybe he should have just considered the prostitutes, if he was really that sad – though he never really found that sorta thing effective, anyway. It was not for him. But that business transaction would still be preferable to… this.

This not-a-business transaction. This… personal…. weirdly intimate thing.

Instead, he found himself rolling his eyes and then lying back down on the bed and staring at the ceiling. “It’s fine.” he said, for the first time noticing the paper birds hanging on a handmade structure from the ceiling. “Your bed’s soft, so there’s still that.”

Huaisang uncurled from his little ball to peer at him. “Does that mean you’re staying?”

“Maybe.” Jiang Cheng muttered. “Until you annoy me into leaving.”

He grunted when Huaisang practically fell half on top of him, snuggling close.

Too close for comfort.

Too warm for what Jiang Cheng’s been used to, for the past few years.

“Did you make that?” he asked, pointing lazily at the ceiling decoration.

“Hm? Oh, yeah. What do you think?”

“I think you’re going pretty hard on the bird theme.”

Huaisang laughed. “I like birds, okay?”

“Sure. Have you even seen one in person?”

“Hey, of course I have!” Huaisang insisted, sounding more and more offended at this conversation. “Back at home, we have lots of birds!”

“Huh.” Jiang Cheng blinked.

Idly, he recalled something Huaisang said earlier. He said ‘before I came here’ – where was he before?

“And where is that?” he asked.

“Home?” his companion blinked. “In Qinghe. Born and raised!”

Jiang Cheng paused. “No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am! Do you want to ask da-ge to double check?”

“No, shit. Qinghe? As in, with all the mountains and stuff?”

“Yes.” Huaisang said. “That Qinghe.”

“Then why the fuck would you move here ? On this shitty planet?”

“For… profit?” Huaisang answered with a shrug. “Da-ge wanted to start a business. The Nest is doing good here, don’t you think so?”

“I guess.” he said, not entirely convinced.

Who in their right mind, living on a green planet, would choose to move to Nightless City? It’s not even a proper planet at this point, it’s more like a space port, a hive for bounty hunters, illegal traders, gambling dens and all sorts of underground businesses. They’ve destroyed it so much there was hardly any green in the whole surface, the seas have turned to deserts, and, four times out of ten, the rain is acid.

Then, damn it all, he decided to say, “I’m from Yunmeng.”

“Oh! Fellow green planet citizen!” Huaisang said, rising just a bit to look at Jiang Cheng excitedly. “Yunmeng, that’s the one with the lakes, isn’t it? And the… lotuses? Am I right?”

“Yeah.” Jiang Cheng sighs. “Lotuses.”

“Sounds like a beautiful place.” Huaisang smiles. “Wow, you’re so grumpy and you fit right in with all the scary-looking hunters around here – more handsome, of course – but who would have thought you’d be from a green planet? What made you move here?”

“Alright, technically, I don’t live here. It’s just where I park my ship.” Jiang Cheng said.

Huaisang nodded, listening. “So you still go home to Yunmeng?”

“Not… recently. No. I… don’t… live anywhere. I live on my ship.”

Huaisang blinked. “Oh. I see.”

Jiang Cheng will never know what possessed him that night to keep on talking.

“Two years ago, on this day, my home burned, and my parents died.”

The room fell into quiet, save for the muffled noises coming from the tavern downstairs, and the sound of crowds and engines outside.

“Barely two months later, the person I considered my brother walked out on what was left of our family and I haven’t heard from him since. Then I practically sold my sister into marriage to some rich family. It’s not as bad as it sounds – the guy was in love with her and she was in love with him, for some reason, and I guess he’s the most bearable of his stupid rich family, so, y’know, she’s happy and comfortable. ”

He felt Huaisang lay down again, a warm, solid weight on his side. He had nothing to say, for once.

“Jiejie wanted me to come live with them. I… turned her down. But we still talk. Sometimes. She’s good at keeping in touch. I’m… not. I’ve been hunting ever since. It’s fine, I guess. Keeps the ship afloat. And I’m not dead yet.”

“No, you aren’t.” Huaisang said, voice soft and quiet. “Good job.”

“Thanks.” he replied, just because he had nothing else to say.

“Ah, Jiang-xiong, how do I follow that?”

That made Jiang Cheng laugh, just a little. A low, bittersweet laugh. He shifted, leaning over to bring his face close to his companion’s. “Hey. Come here.”

Huaisang raised his head to look up at him, only for their lips to meet. He let Jiang Cheng kiss him hesitantly at first, a slower and gentler pace than when they had started that night. When he felt a rough hand tease the skin under his shirt, he inhaled, drawing back slightly.

“What do you want to do, Jiang-xiong? A-Cheng?” he asked in a whisper.

“What we came here to do.” Jiang Cheng answered, still so close his breath tickled Huaisang’s lips. “Get distracted.”





After the fact, Jiang Cheng complains about his bruises again.

Huaisang looks him over as he pulls his now messy hair into a less messy bun, pinning it in place again with one of his hairpins.

He stoops down to pick up some of Jiang Cheng’s discarded clothes from his floor. “That’s it, we’re having Doctor Wen look you over.” he declares, tossing the shirt at his guest.

Jiang Cheng sighs, but relents easily when Huaisang heads over and helps him into his shirt.

Huaisang throws a less shimmery robe over himself as well, then practically drags Jiang Cheng with him to knock on the room two doors over.

“Oh, good, there’s no line.” he says when they get there and see the usual benches empty.

They didn’t have to wait long after knocking, because the door opens and reveals an annoyed Wen Qing, ready with a statement before they could so much as greet her a good evening – “For the last time, I don’t sell birth control pills- Oh.”

She pauses, realizing who they were. Then she takes in their disheveled state, eyes the obvious lack of a shirt under Huaisang’s robe, and repeats, “I don’t sell birth control pills.”

“You really should consider it.” Huaisang says. “Half of our tenants are sex workers. You’ll make a fortune.”

“I don’t want to make a fortune.” Wen Qing says. Then she tilts her head towards Jiang Cheng’s direction. “What is this ?”

Jiang Cheng is starting to think people around here think he is Huaisang’s property first and a person second.

He won’t complain, though. He’s got his pride, yes, but he is very aware that he is technically homeless, and being, err, Huaisang’s… gives him freebies in the establishment.

This is an injured man, Doctor Wen.” Huaisang finally answers, gesturing to Jiang Cheng with a flourish. “He thinks he might have broken a rib or something today, and I worked very hard to convince him to get it checked out. So please please please check it out?”

Wen Qing looks at him with judgment. “You really thought that having sex first before getting your injuries checked was a good idea? You deserve that broken rib.”

“It didn’t feel that broken earlier.” Jiang Cheng finally says, and he knows it sounds stupid now, but what can he do at this point?

“Gods, I want smarter patients.” Wen Qing mutters, but she does step aside and lets them in.

The rib wasn’t broken, it was just hit quite badly and so it feels very sore and tender. Wen Qing does check him up properly, gives him pain medication and even some vitamins for good measure. She also advises him very strongly against drinking and recommends a healthy diet, all while sporting an expression that tells them she knows he won’t follow those instructions.

That is wrong. Jiang Cheng has a pretty healthy diet. When he’s not on the job. Which is rare. But he always tried his best! As for the drinking… well… he’s currently hanging out in a tavern, so-

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he drinks lots of water and eats a full meal!” Huaisang says.

Jiang Cheng does drink lots of water and gets to eat at least one full meal when he stays over.

So he figures this means he is staying over tonight. Okay. Cool.

Wen Qing actually looks like she believes in Huaisang. Which is-… okay, fair .

With business done, she shrugs, tells them she’ll send him the bill and then practically kicks them out.

Jiang Cheng lets Huaisang drag him out the little home clinic, resigned to being made to rest for the rest of the night – maybe to eat something first, then sleep-

“Ah~ It’s Mister Canary!”

He knows that voice. Jiang Cheng stops in his steps the same time Huaisang does, but only one of them breaks out in a smile to greet the newcomer.

“Oh! Hello, Wei-xiong!” Huaisang gives a little wave. “Visiting the good doctor?”

Jiang Cheng stares. Because right in front of him is a familiar man clad in familiar blacks and reds, who is looking back at him with just as much shock as he feels.

Huaisang catches on the tension quickly, blinking as he looks to one and then to the other. “Uh… Jiang-xiong, this is-”

“Yeah, I know him.” Jiang Cheng grits out.

That seems to snap Wei Wuxian out of it. He chuckles hesitantly, raising a hand. “A-… A-Cheng, hey. Long time no see-”

Jiang Cheng cuts him off. “One year and ten months, to be exact.”

Wei Wuxian looks like he’s been shot, but he just powers through with a guilty smile. “Oh, wow, you counted.” he laughs, awkward. “Ah… it’s… it’s nice to see you? What- Oh, you came to see the doctor.” he nods, catching sight of the little packet of medicine in Jiang Cheng’s hand. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Jiang Cheng says, still glaring. “What are you doing here?”

“Err, I just have some… stuff for Qing-jiejie.” Wei Wuxian answers, looking down at the little crate he’s carrying.

“Wei-xiong always drops by, he brings supplies for Doctor Wen.” Huaisang says, tone light and unassuming, though he does stand a bit closer to Jiang Cheng. Then, still careful, he tilts his head questioningly at Wei Wuxian. “But he’s coming in later than usual today.”

“Yeah, I got a bit tied up with other… stuff.” Wei Wuxian says. “Just-… yeah. That.”

Stuff . Jiang Cheng bites his tongue before he could tell the other man that he’s used that word twice now.

“I see.” he says, after it’s made clear that Wei Wuxian is done sharing.

He wants to ask Wei Wuxian a hundred questions.

‘Where have you been?’

‘How have you been?’

‘What have you been doing all this time?’

‘Why are you here, really?’

‘Why didn’t you try to reach out sooner?’

‘Why did you leave?’

But he keeps quiet, because he knows that if he starts asking, he’ll start to care. And he’s not ready for that – not yet. He just wants to be angry. It’s always easier to be angry.

“So you’re alive. That’s at least one question answered, I guess.” is all he says. He grabs Huaisang by the wrist and drags him away. “Let’s go. I’m starving.”

“O-Oh! Sure, um-…” Huaisang is too surprised to resist, and he just turns a bit to wave goodbye to Wei Wuxian. “See you around, Wei-xiong!”

“Y-yeah!” Wei Wuxian nods.

Jiang Cheng doesn’t look back.

“Fuck.” Jiang Cheng says, after taking his first bite of his meal.

He said it with such feeling that Zonghui had looked over questioningly from his post in the now mostly empty bar. “Is the food okay?”

Jiang Cheng quickly shakes his head at the man. “Sorry. No. I mean, this is good. Thank you.”

Huaisang, sitting behind the bar across from him, muffles a giggle with his hand.

Jiang Cheng frowns at him, then eyes his little plate and slice of cake dubiously.

He never saw cake on the menu. It’s pretty much a luxury item. Was it from Huaisang’s own stash? Whatever.

He stabs his food and mumbles. “You didn’t tell me fucking Wei Wuxian came here.”

“Aw, don’t do that – I hardly know him…” Huaisang says in defense. “He’s the delivery guy, that’s all I know! Why would I talk about him?”

Okay, he has a point. And he said it all with such disappointment that Jiang Cheng believed him.

“Fine.” Jiang Cheng sighs, though he’s obviously more frustrated than resigned. “How the fuck did I not run into him before? I’ve been coming here for months.”

Huaisang shrugs. He reaches his fork over to steal a piece of meat from Jiang Cheng’s plate. “He usually comes over during the day. You’re only ever here in the evenings.”

That’s another good point. Dammit.

Jiang Cheng focuses on eating his food for the next few minutes. Huaisang lets him take his time.

He has almost licked his plate clean when he says, again, “Fuck.” He side-eyes Huaisang, but doesn’t let his look linger. “I can practically hear you dying. Go. Just ask.”

“Okay, okay!” Huaisang says, almost bouncing off his chair. “So? How do you two know each other?”

Jiang Cheng closes his eyes and takes a deep, bracing breath before saying, “He’s… family. Or was , I guess.”

“You’re brothers?!”

A bitter huff. “With the way he just up and left? Probably not anymore.”

“Oh…” Huaisang looks down, poking at his cake gingerly. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah. Sure.” is all he says, not really listening much at this point. It’s just been a very long day, and he is too tired to really process all of it past his surface level default modes – bitter and angry.

Then, of course, his communicator rings, alerting him of a call.

It’s his sister.

He takes a deep breath. Huaisang reaches out to him – and Jiang Cheng doesn’t know what he intended to do, but he moves quickly, grabbing the insistent little device on the table. “I should take this.”

Huaisang frowns. “If you’re not feeling up to it, you shouldn’t-”

Jiang Cheng cuts him off as he says, “It’s fine.”

Huaisang withdraws, looking back down at his cake as Jiang Cheng walks away, finding a quieter, more private part of the tavern to take the call.

Jiang Yanli asks her usual questions – How are you doing? Are you eating well? Are you safe, is your job treating you well?

Jiang Cheng answers his usual answers – he’s fine, he’s well, she has nothing to worry about.

It’s five straight minutes of pretending to be okay and knowing he’s not fooling anyone – but his jiejie gives him space. She always does, but he dreads the day she will get tired of giving him space. and really demand that he finally tell her that he hasn’t been completely okay.

Then, she tells him that she’s pregnant.

Later, Jiang Cheng will regret not being able to sound happier, more enthusiastic about the good news. But he manages to congratulate her, and tell her he’s happy for her.

“I know, A-Cheng.” she says, and she sounds like she’s about to cry. “I wanted to tell you in person, but you haven’t visited in a while, and I don’t know when you’ll do.”

“I know… I’m just-” – he sighs, and then stops himself. No, he sounds too resigned – “Sorry, it was just a long day today, I’m a bit tired. But I’m really, really happy for you.”

“Thank you…. Will you drop by soon? Just try, please? I just miss you so much.”

“Okay.” he says, because how can he say no, really? “I miss you too, jiejie.”

When he comes back, their dishes have been put away, and Huaisang has transferred from behind the bar to the seat directly next to Jiang Cheng’s.

When Jiang Cheng sits again, Huaisang takes his arm, hugs it, and perches his chin on his shoulder. Huaisang says nothing, no joke, no flirty or witty remark – he just snuggles close.

“What?” Jiang Cheng finally asks. “Use your words. I’m too tired to try and read you.”

“I know.” Huaisang says. He leans up and presses a short, sweet kiss on Jiang Cheng’s cheek. “Take me to bed?”

Jiang Cheng knows it’s not the best idea – to give in so easily, to spoil him…

But he’s just absolutely spent – done – for the day.

He nods. “Let’s go.”



Jiang Cheng sleeps in Huaisang’s too-soft, too-warm, too-fluffy bed, an arm wrapped around his lover’s waist, his nose buried in long, dark brown hair that smells of flowers and rainforest.

He vaguely remembers waking up when Huaisang gets up in the middle of the night, but Huaisang shushes him and reassures him there’s just someone at the door. Jiang Cheng only stays awake enough to hear the door hissing open and Huaisang’s brother’s voice, inaudible but familiar.

It should be fine, then. Jiang Cheng goes back to sleep, and soon he feels the bed dip and Huaisang return to his arms.



Usually, Jiang Cheng wakes up very very early, before sunrise, and then sneaks out. He always makes sure to let Huaisang know, of course – and Huaisang is always too sleepy to argue and so just lets him go with a kiss.

This time, he wakes up with the crowds outside already bustling, the planet’s artificial sunlight streaming through the window, and without Huaisang on the bed.

There are people talking just outside the room, he can hear the telltale clinking of dishes, and the smell of breakfast.

“Fuck.” he mumbled against the pillow.

He overslept.

And now he has to face Huaisang’s brother – The Owner – in the morning after. And here he thought today was gonna be better.

Jiang Cheng counts to ten and braces himself, then finally gets up, grabbing his clothes and trying to bring order back to his hair. He’s in the middle of putting his pants on when Huaisang opens the door and peeks in, grinning when he sees Jiang Cheng awake.

“Ah, you’re up! Good morning! Come have breakfast, okay? Da-ge already put out the extra plate.”

Jiang Cheng looks at him, half-squinting because he is too bright , even for the morning. “Are you… sure?”

Huaisang blinks. “Uh… yes? Just come eat, before the food gets cold.”

Then he’s gone again.

Jiang Cheng tries to look his best when he turns up at the small dining room, which is difficult, as he’s covered in healing bruises and he hasn’t showered since the day prior.

Huaisang has finished eating, but he is holding a big mug of coffee as he reads the news in the small holo-projector on the table. The Owner-… err, his brother – is also sitting there, idly sipping coffee while he swipes through what looked like accounting stuff in his tablet.

Jiang Cheng should really get his name already.

Jiang Cheng sits down quietly, trying not to intrude on the siblings’ quiet morning as much as possible.

“Thought you’d sleep ‘till noon.” The Owner says, but doesn’t look up from the tablet. “Go eat. You look terrible.”

“Sorry.” Jiang Cheng replies automatically. Then he pauses. “I mean, thank you. I mean-”

“Don’t mind da-ge.” Huaisang says, smiling at him before going back to the news. “He’s trying to scare you because it doesn’t work on me anymore.”

Jiang Cheng won’t say anything to that. He only bows slightly. “T-Thank you for the food.”

The Owner just huffs, but obviously thinks there’s better use of his time than bullying their guest. Namely, starting to draft a particularly aggressive sounding message to some poor individual who Jiang Cheng is lucky not to be. He gets a call then, and he excuses himself from the room to pick up, leaving Jiang Cheng with an oddly focused Huaisang.

He doesn’t mind it, much. It’s quiet for once. And it’s a comfortable silence, too. The food is delicious. It’s been a while since Jiang Cheng has had actual, warm, home-cooked breakfast.

A little while later, Zonghui enters with groceries, bustles around the kitchen, and then pours Jiang Cheng a cup of coffee. Huaisang, without looking away from his reading, pushes the sugar and creamer towards him.

That’s nice.

Maybe Jiang Cheng should stay until the morning more often.

Then his communicator beeps.

Ah. Right.

He checks his messages.

One from his sister, again, just reminding him to eat well. That’s covered – he actually won’t have to lie this time.

Wen Qing’s bill. He marks that for later – he’ll send her the payment when he gets back to his ship.

And then a couple of job alerts as usual, but one is marked “urgent”, sent to him personally by a high-ranking official in the agency.

It’s a job for him specifically, which is not new, just rare. The agency usually lets the handlers… well, handle things. But it isn’t unheard of that they bypass handlers altogether either.

Except it wasn’t his usual job…

He grunts before he could stop himself, and that catches Huaisang’s attention. Right. He forgot that he’s not alone.

“What is it?” Huaisang asks.

“Nothing. It’s just this job.” he shrugs, moving on to the other listings. “It asked specifically for me, but I don’t do those kinda jobs. I’m a bounty hunter.”

“Your profile says you’re a freelancer, though. Don’t you do simple escort jobs?”

“Yeah, but I told my handler I only do tracking and retrieval jobs.”

Tracking and retrieval of specially elusive individuals for a price, aka bounty hunting.

“I don’t-” he starts, then quickly stops, realizing something.

He stares at Huaisang, who only blinks at him.

“How did you know it’s an escort job?”

Huaisang hides behind his giant mug. “Oops.”

Quickly, Jiang Cheng swipes at his communicator to go back to the previous job listing.

An escort job. Number of passengers: one. Pick-up location: one, view coordinates. He taps to view said coordinates of the pick-up location and finds that he’s already in there: The Canary’s Nest.

He looks up with a narrowed glare at Huaisang, who is humming as he swirls the contents of his mug.

Huaisang smiles. He’s so pretty. He’s so annoying – “I told you you’ll let me into your ship eventually.”

Jiang Cheng goes back to the job details – Destination/s: one. He views the coordinates and it shows him a planet and its name: Qinghe .

“The fuck is this.” he says.

Huaisang replies happily – “I need a ride home!”

Jiang Cheng scowls. “I’m not a cab!”

That’s when The Owner steps in again and looks at both of them. “You’re still here? I assumed you’d wanna go early to avoid the rush.”

Jiang Cheng looks at the man, back at the job details, and asks, “You’re Nie Mingjue?”

“You didn’t know my name?” Nie Mingjue blinks. Then, he ignored Jiang Cheng as usual to glare at his brother.  “This punk doesn’t know my name?”

“Well, you never introduced yourself.” Huaisang says with a shrug. “You can’t blame him.”

Jiang Cheng now looks at Huaisang. “Your last name is Nie?”

“Oh! I didn’t tell you?”

Nie Mingjue then glares at Jiang Cheng – and boy does Jiang Cheng wish the man would just ignore him again. “ You’ve been sleeping in my house, with my brother and you don’t know-”

“Anyway!” Huaisang cuts him off. “I’ll go pack! Don’t worry, I’m not bringing much-”

Jiang Cheng shakes his head. “Wait, no- I haven’t accepted the job yet.”

“But it’s just me, you’re just dropping me off to a planet!” Huaising pouts.

“You’re just messing with me.”

“I’m not. Tell him, da-ge!”

Nie Mingjue sighs. “Something came up at home.” he tells Jiang Cheng. “A family thing. Someone has to take care of it. I can’t go because I have the Nest to look after. So A-Sang’s going.”

Jiang Cheng takes that in, and he vaguely remembers how Nie Mingjue did wake Huaisang up the previous night. So it must be true.

But still- “There are transport ships to Qinghe.”

“Those take days, with many stops in between.” Nie Mingjue says. “This is kinda time-sensitive.”

“There are lots of others who can do escort jobs-”

Huaisang – Nie Huaisang, now that he knows that bit – whines at him. “Aaaahhh~ You really should take it!”

Why? ” Jiang Cheng demands.

“Have you looked at the offer price?”

Jiang Cheng hasn’t actually. So he looks at the offer price.

What the-



“Did you accidentally add an extra zero here, or are you actually rich?”

“No, we just have a rainy day fund.” Nie Huaisang says. “Anyway, look, you’re still beat up – you really ought to take it easy on the going-after-criminals gigs for a bit.”

“It’s a one-way deal.” Nie Mingjue adds. “When you drop him off at Qinghe, you’re done and you can leave and go wherever you want, a bounty job, whatever.”

Jiang Cheng groans.

Is this why they were nice to him all morning?

There’s something going on here – he’s sure of it – no one will shell out that much money unless it’s something really fucking shady , but.


Man, that’s a lot of money.

“Fine.” he says. “Go pack your shiny robes or whatever.”

Nie Huaisang actually squeals , and Jiang Cheng almost spills his coffee when the man throws himself at him and hugs him – tight – has he always hugged this tight?

“Yay! Oh, we’ll have lots of fun!” Nie Huaisang screeches excitedly, then drops a kiss to Jiang Cheng’s cheek before running off to his room.

Nie Mingjue calls after his brother. “Hey, don’t you forget to bring your knives again!”

“Okay, da-ge!”

Jiang Cheng does spill his coffee this time. “W-What? Knives? Why would he need-”

“Don’t worry about it. Just get him there.” Nie Mingjue says, refilling his coffee. “Oh, and if your ship gets damaged in a fight, don’t worry – we’ll cover the repairs.”

“Why would my ship-”

“Drive safe.” the man says, as if he’s just seeing them off to a school dance or something.

Jiang Cheng stares after him as he walks out. Then, after a moment, he finally stands up and runs after the younger Nie.

Nie Huaisang! What did you just make me agree to?!”

And of course he gets no answers, just ‘Don’t worry about it’ and ‘Da-ge is just scaring you again’ and ‘To my knowledge I’m not being tracked anyway’ followed by ‘…yet’ .

He watches Huaisang stuff a couple of casual clothes on his luggage, and then he also includes a case that, when it rattled, sounded just a tiny bit like there could be something sharp and dangerous inside. Like, you know, blades. Just a tiny bit. Jiang Cheng is not sure.

(As a disclaimer: Jiang Cheng is also trying to be enthusiastic at the moment.)

Jiang Cheng should have known. He really should have known – cool, badass tavern owners are always involved in some shady business or another. Especially one who can scare off even the biggest bar brawlers, who has an in-house doctor, who is respected and adored by his tenants who range from struggling artists to sex workers, and who just let his pretty younger brother wander around the place seducing poor homeless bounty hunters.

Yeah. Whatever. Fuck it.

He’ll do it for the money – he could use some extra funds – repairs on Zidian, a visit to his sister in Lanling, new weapons…

Or maybe he’ll die on this job – that will solve all his problems.





//end of pt. 1


Chapter Notes:

*gives jiang cheng a kit-kat*

anyway!! hi!!! pls pray that i actually write parts 2 and 3 of this past the outline hahahaha BELIEVE ME I WANT TO GET TO THE FUN SPACE ADVENTURE PARTS AS MUCH AS YOU DO

p.s. yes i am aware that there is already a DC character who is a singer who is also codenamed Canary but leave me be it’s a cute stagename ok, and a neat nod to nie huaisang’s little pet canary in the drama hehee

comment to show love & moral support!!

fic title is from “yellow” by tegan and sara. chapter title is “hell” by tegan and sara. this whole fic is powered by tegan and sara.

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