One should think by now that Zhao Yunlan would have learnt not to walk home alone at night. However, one should probably admit that Zhao Yunlan was stubborn and had a complete disregard for his own vulnerability.
Be as it may, he was walking home alone at night. And a mysterious shadow, darker than darkness, had been following him unnoticed for a while.
He took a wrong turn —or did he? This was the way he always took to get home after all— and ended up in a dead end street. That’s when he noticed the shadow. He turned around slowly, appraising how the shadow enveloped everything, climbing up the walls and covering the sky, until the only thing Zhao Yunlan could see was himself.
‘Well, hello there’, he ventured.
There was no answer but, in a way he didn’t really understand, he felt the space around him shrink moment by moment.
‘All dressed in black, uh? Somewhere to go? I hope it’s something fancy and not a funeral. Or a robbery. Because then I’d have to arrest you and I was just done for the day. Nobody likes to work after hours, you get me?’
Another thing one could affirm about Zhao Yunlan without fear of being mistaken is that he babbles . There are many different circumstances that can inspire Zhao Yunlan's babbling but one notable instance is when he is in a pickle and he doesn’t have a plan.
Zhao Yunlan was in a pickle. And he didn’t have a plan.
‘You’re a quiet one, you. Some people these days talk too much, but not you. You’re what they call eerily quiet. I like that in you’.
A flash of light stopped Zhao Yunlan from launching in a pitiful flirty tirade. He covered his eyes until the light subsided and, when he uncovered them, he found the Black Cloak Envoy, looking as solemn and pissed off at Zhao Yunlan’s existence as always. The Envoy gave him a nod and disappeared with whatever had been pestering Zhao Yunlan.
Zhao Yunlan had barely taken two steps in his home direction when he heard someone running on the cobblestones. Around the corner, a breathless Professor Shen appeared with his little teacher suit and his cute little glasses.
‘Oh!’, he said when they met.
Zhao Yunlan laughed:
‘Again! Something weird from Dixing happens and you are nearby’
Shen Wei stammered:
‘I— Zhao Yunlan, I was walking home and heard your voice. You sounded distressed so I was coming to help you’.
‘I’ll believe you this time, Professor Shen, but you have to tell me what you heard’.
Shen Wei looked down, trying to remember:
‘To be honest, it sounded like Zhao Yunlan was trying to flirt his way out of danger’.
‘Enough, enough, you were too far away, you couldn’t have heard right. Come, I’ll buy you a drink’.
Zhao Yunlan put his arm around Shen Wei’s shoulders and stirred him towards the main avenue, where some shops might still be open.
It was true that whenever something dangerous happened to Zhao Yunlan, Shen Wei happened to run to the rescue.
One could think Zhao Yunlan had this penchant for walking home alone at night just to see if something dangerous happened, and he could buy Shen Wei a drink.