When Ye Zun hits Zhao Yunlan with his staff the first time, Zhao Yunlan barely registers the pain. It's a sharp, quick blow across his face, and it's only after a few seconds that Zhao Yunlan realizes that his lips are bleeding. Then it's a mild stinging - and Zhao Yunlan just pulls his bloodied mouth into a grin.
"Ah, is that it? You hit like Xiao Guo," Zhao Yunlan says. "I was expecting worst from the mighty, fearsome Ye Zun."
Ye Zun meets Zhao Yunlan's steady gaze, and he smirks. A slow, careful, arrogant smile that looks nothing like Shen Wei.
Even behind his white mask, there's a bright cruelty in his eyes. The Black-Cloaked Envoy's eyes are deep, dark, swirling, and expressive behind his own black one. But, here - here, there's something different.
"What does," Ye Zun says, "what does my brother see in you? A fragile human."
And he strikes Zhao Yunlan again. Zhao Yunlan - who has been bound by black fog conjured by Ye Zun, coiled around him like chains - can only bear the blow again, the staff cracking against his shoulders. This time, it isn't just normal strength, but the staff is glowing black with energy, and it slices through the fabric of Zhao Yunlan's jacket. Bruises bloom on skin, and he hisses.
Again. Again. Again. The staff flashes with power, lands on his skin and bones like it's doing its utmost to shatter him.
Zhao Yunlan's vision is white with blinding pain - or maybe it's just that bastard's showy snow white suit and mask - and he thinks he's about to pass out, except that there's that old stubbornness of his that keeps him conscious. His clothes are in tatters; there are cuts and bruises across his body.
He smiles at Ye Zun, shakily, biting his bloodied lips as he does so.
"Five - five hits," Zhao Yunlan says. "Good - I could go to a hundred, but I think your arm might get tired before then at this rate."
"You're a hardheaded one, aren't you?" Ye Zun says. "Perhaps I could try another tact. What you don't understand, Chief Zhao, is this isn't about you. It's about my brother."
"You don't hurt him," Zhao Yunlan says immediately, because he remembers, vividly, Shen Wei chained to the pillar in Dixing, his face pale, more weak than Zhao Yunlan's ever seen him before. "You're here to play with me right now, aren't you? So play."
Ye Zun laughs. A light chuckle that sounds unhinged - that sounds mad - and he says, "Yes. That is my intention. I want to break something that's his. Poor, pitiful human Chief Zhao of the SID - the Black-Cloaked Envoy's beloved -"
And his appearance changes into the spitting image of Shen Wei. Maskless. He's wearing spectacles and the coat Zhao Yunlan gave Shen Wei, his hair parted carefully, and his body language relaxing into something less regal, less arrogant.
Zhao Yunlan jerks in surprise but the black fog chains keep a tight restraint on him - and Ye Zun puts his hand on Zhao Yunlan's face, and gently kisses him. Red, cruel mouth pressed against Zhao Yunlan's, his tongue running against blood. His other hand curls around Zhao Yunlan's hip.
Ye Zun says, "I wonder how you'll feel the next time he touches you."