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Zhao Yunlan can't help gripping even tighter to the Black Cloaked Envoy. For a moment he isn't sure if there's anything to hold onto at all, as the nowhere inside the portal engulfs them and a series of images flashes through his brain so fast that he doesn't quite have the time to process them. And then they're out, and Zhao Yunlan still can't make his talons let go, even though the effect of the portal seems to be fading already.

He's pretty sure the Black Cloaked Envoy is moving, even though it's a bit hard to tell from how deep inside his hood Zhao Yunlan is hiding. The strands of hair falling against Zhao Yunlan obscure his view even more. He hadn't thought about the Black Cloaked Envoy having long hair. It brushes against him, caressing Zhao Yunlan's scales, as the Black Cloaked Envoy turns his head.

A shiver goes through Zhao Yunlan's body, like a ripple. It feels strange, his body moving on its own. Right, he thinks and then tries to make his talons let go. He needs to find out what's going on, and that's not going to happen if he's hiding in the Black Cloaked Envoy's hood, no matter how nice it might be to just stay there.

Zhao Yunlan is seriously starting to think the dragon part of him has imprinted on the Black Cloaked Envoy somehow. He frowns as he tries to tell his feet to let go already. This is ridiculous he thinks, as he manages to finally loosen his grip a bit. At least he's probably not drawing blood anymore, even if he's still holding on a bit more tightly than he means to.

He chirps quietly, trying to get the Black Cloaked Envoy's attention. After all, there's no way he's getting down from here without help, and he sure as hell doesn't want to find out what would happen if he tried transforming where he is. The Black Cloaked Envoy has been more than accommodating so far, but a full-grown Zhao Yunlan on his shoulder is probably crossing a line.

"Heipaoshi-daren," a voice says and it takes a moment for Zhao Yunlan to realise it's Chu Shuzhi, simply because he's never heard him sound like that before.

Well, he's pretty sure they arrived at the SID then, if Chu Shuzhi is there. No one else seems to be saying anything. Either that means that there's no one else there or they're just too stunned by the sudden appearance of the Black Cloaked Envoy. Honestly, either is about as likely.

Zhao Yunlan chirps a bit louder.

"Just a moment," the Black Cloaked Envoy says, and Zhao Yunlan doesn't know if those words are meant for him, or whoever else is around.

In any case, no one else says anything. And really, is it a wonder? He's pretty sure no one expected the Black Cloaked Envoy to suddenly pop by when he's never done that before.

Then there's a hand touching him, and before he quite realises what he's doing Zhao Yunlan is pressing up against it like a cat wanting to be petted. Zhao Yunlan tells himself to get a grip and then tries to move himself into the hand the Black Cloaked Envoy is holding out for him. He manages to get some leverage by pushing his feet against the Black Cloaked Envoy's shoulder and then… kind of slithering forward. Zhao Yunlan really can't wait for the day he figures out how to actually fly. Right now, he'd settle for figuring out how to get all of his body moving in the direction he wants consistently.

Suddenly, something tugs at Zhao Yunlan's tail and a noise somewhere between a hiss and a chirp comes out of him as he falls against the Black Cloaked Envoy's hand. Thankfully, the Black Cloaked Envoy is quick to react, his fingers gently wrapping around Zhao Yunlan. Zhao Yunlan tries to tug at his tail, but it seems to be… tangled with the Black Cloaked Envoy's hair, he realises as he looks back.

Zhao Yunlan chirps quietly. He's not embarrassed, he tells himself. It's just that the Black Cloaked Envoy will definitely have enough of the disaster that is Zhao Yunlan any moment now, and then Zhao Yunlan will never figure out how to actually do anything as a dragon. The sudden cold feeling curling in his tiny chest definitely has nothing at all to do with the thought that he might not get to see the Black Cloaked Envoy again.

Then there's another hand, carefully untangling Zhao Yunlan, while the Black Cloaked Envoy's other hand holds him, gently, but firmly. Zhao Yunlan does his best to stay still and not make the situation worse, even though it's hard with the Black Cloaked Envoy's hands all over him. His body very much wants to snuggle in against the Black Cloaked Envoy and possibly start purring again.

The Black Cloaked Envoy pulls Zhao Yunlan out from his hood, his fingers firmly, but gently wrapped around Zhao Yunlan's middle. Zhao Yunlan rests the upper part of his body along the base of the Black Cloaked Envoy's thumb, his muzzle not quite reaching all the way to his wrist. It leaves Zhao Yunlan's unruly tail sort of hanging about doing whatever it wants. A moment later he realises that apparently, what it wants is to curl up and try to wrap around the Black Cloaked Envoy's little finger. At this rate, Zhao Yunlan really will accidentally tie himself into a knot.

A moment later Zhao Yunlan is set down on what turns out to be the table in the middle of the SID.

"Boss?" he hears Lin Jing's surprised voice say. Right, he thinks, Lin Jing was the only one who'd actually seen him like this.

Zhao Yunlan opens his mouth a bit, and then just huffs because if he's going to chirp at them he'll probably never hear the end of it. He looks up at the Black Cloaked Envoy, who hasn't even stepped away from the table. Zhao Yunlan feels his tiny heart warming at that.

Then with a bit of concentration, he turns into a human, crouching on the table. Huh, not exactly as intended, maybe. He grins at the Black Cloaked Envoy. He's pretty sure changing is getting easier every time he does it, he'll figure out how to end up where he wants sooner or later.

"Are you well, Chief Zhao?" the Black Cloaked Envoy asks solemnly, and Zhao Yunlan feels disappointed at suddenly being Chief Zhao.

"Fine," he says, jumping off the table and ending up very close to the Black Cloaked Envoy. To Zhao Yunlan's delight, the Black Cloaked Envoy doesn't step back. "I don't know what the cat was complaining about," he adds, rolling his shoulders back.

He grins at the Black Cloaked Envoy and then has to remind himself how uncomfortable he had gotten when Zhao Yunlan had touched him in this shape the last time and doesn't sling an arm around his shoulders.

He turns to look around at his underlings who've apparently been stunned into silence. He's close enough to the Black Cloaked Envoy that his arm, entirely inadvertently, brushes against him. He can feel the Black Cloaked Envoy stiffening at his side, and there's a small sad sting in his heart.

He grins brightly at everyone and then lifts an eyebrow in Lin Jing's general direction. "Didn't you tell everyone what happened?"

Lin Jing is not someone to let valuable gossip like that go.

Lin Jing grimaces and then shrugs. "They didn't believe me," he says, and then casts a quick questioning look in the Black Cloaked Envoy's direction, before hastily turning his eyes away. In fact, no one is quite looking directly at the Black Cloaked Envoy, their eyes cast down, in what Zhao Yunlan is generously assuming is respect.

Zhao Yunlan huffs and then pats the Black Cloaked Envoy's arm, before remembering he wasn't going to do that.

He lets his hand fall down to his side.

"So, come on. What's going on with our rogue Dixingren? Let's not keep Hei-laoge waiting, people," Zhao Yunlan says, clapping his hands together.

It does seem to snap everyone out of it, enough that they get on with updating them about the case at least. They're far more efficient and polite about it than they ever manage to be when they're talking to Zhao Yunlan. He almost feels jealous.


Mostly what ends up happening is that they tell the Black Cloaked Envoy where they think the Dixingren in question is and then the Black Cloaked Envoy leaves them to go catch him.

Zhao Yunlan huffs as he flops down on the couch, jostling the cat lying there, who'd arrived at some point after Zhao Yunlan and the Black Cloaked Envoy. Da Qing looks balefully at him.

"I could have changed into a dragon," Zhao Yunlan says to no one in particular. He'd tried to convince the Black Cloaked Envoy to take Zhao Yunlan, at least, with him. He'd promised that he wouldn't get in the way, but the Black Cloaked Envoy had refused to listen.

"And what? Gotten tangled in his hair?" Da Qing asks pointedly. "I heard what happened."

Zhao Yunlan glares at him. It's hard to argue when Da Qing has definitely seen how clumsy Zhao Yunlan is as a dragon.

"Heipaoshi will handle things," Chu Shuzhi declares, sounding like he very much intends for that to be the last word on the matter. Zhao Yunlan glares at him too, just because he can. He gets an angry glower back.

"I don't doubt Heipaoshi's capabilities," Zhao Yunlan says after a moment, just in case anyone is getting the wrong idea here. "I just don't like the SID being sidelined like this." That and Zhao Yunlan is maybe just a bit worried for the Black Cloaked Envoy. He's supposed to be more than capable, but Zhao Yunlan has never actually seen him in action, and it's just… no one should be without backup.

He gets a few noises of agreement at that at least. Chu Shuzhi just glowers a bit harder and says nothing. Zhao Yunlan sighs and lets his head fall back against the backrest.

"Well, just… keep doing your jobs. In case Hei-laoge doesn't find him," he orders them. Zhao Yunlan will get up and do something useful himself, any moment now.


There's a noise that sounds alarmingly like the roll of thunder, and a sudden smell of ozone. It makes everyone startle, turning to look at what's happening. The next moment there's a very distinct portal and a moment later the Black Cloaked Envoy is standing in the middle of the room.

Zhao Yunlan practically jumps up from the couch. "Hei-laoge," he says in obvious delight.

There's a muffled groan or two, at his reaction most likely, not at the Black Cloaked Envoy, and he thinks he can feel Chu Shuzhi's glare at the side of his head. Zhao Yunlan ignores them and hurries closer to the Black Cloaked Envoy.

"We weren't expecting you back," he says, his eyes quickly roaming over the Black Cloaked Envoy's form, trying to ascertain that he's okay. "Is everything okay?" he asks, and maybe some of his worry comes through because he thinks the Black Cloaked Envoy's look softens just a bit as he gazes back at Zhao Yunlan.

"Everything is fine, Chief Zhao. You don't need to be concerned about this particular Dixingren any longer. He has been returned to Dixing," the Black Cloaked Envoy says politely, but firmly.

Zhao Yunlan opens his mouth and then closes it again. He knows he's not supposed to ask, the Black Cloaked Envoy's authority is absolute when it comes to Dixingren and Zhao Yunlan has no place to interfere. But this isn't some distant, unreachable Black Cloaked Envoy anymore.

"What's going to happen to him? I mean, he didn't really harm anyone," Zhao Yunlan says, a bit more subdued than he'd been earlier. Maybe, he's still just a bit nervous about challenging the Black Cloaked Envoy's authority. But what he's saying is true, the guy might have caused a whole public ruckus and a street had been a bit damaged, but Zhao Yunlan was the closest he came to hurting anyone and he'd been chasing the guy at the time so… He can probably be forgiven for that.

The Black Cloaked Envoy looks at him quietly for long enough that Zhao Yunlan feels like squirming. "He will stay in Dixing," the Black Cloaked Envoy says at last, in a way that sounds very final. It doesn't sound too bad, Zhao Yunlan supposes. He really should just let it go.

"It's just… there's no reason to jail him for it," Zhao Yunlan says, and then curses himself quietly. It's none of his business, he's relinquished all their other prisoners to Dixing custody without argument. It's a bit late to question things now.

But Zhao Yunlan has never had anyone to actually question before. And the Black Cloaked Envoy is… not who Zhao Yunlan had expected.

The Black Cloaked Envoy's jaw tightens a bit. "I'll keep your words in mind, Chief Zhao," he says stiffly.

And that really is Zhao Yunlan's cue to back off. At least in front of others.

"Good. Thank you, Hei-laoge, for letting us know," he says, managing to smile slightly.

There's an awkward little silence that no one seems too eager to break. Apparently, the rest of the SID is more than okay with leaving talking to the Black Cloaked Envoy up to Zhao Yunlan.

Well, if they're not saying anything, then they have no room to complain about what comes out of Zhao Yunlan's mouth.

"So, now that that's done. Do you want to take me back home, Hei-laoge?" Zhao Yunlan asks, hardly even waggling his eyebrows at all.

There might be an actual growl out of Chu Shuzhi in the background, but really Zhao Yunlan was probably imagining it. Chu Shuzhi is far too respectful towards the Black Cloaked Envoy to do that in his presence.

"Are you sure? I'm not certain it's the best environment, you might stumble over something," the Black Cloaked Envoy says calmly.

There are definitely muffled snickers from his traitorous underlings. Well, from Zhu Hong and Wang Zheng, Lin Jing is off doing… something in the lab and Chu Shuzhi definitely doesn't snicker.

Zhao Yunlan is pretty sure the Black Cloaked Envoy is teasing him, despite that ever solemn tone. And he has a point about the mess he supposes; dragon Zhao Yunlan doesn't need more than his own feet to stumble over.

He grins at the Black Cloaked Envoy. "I'll go wherever Hei-laoge wants to take me," he answers shamelessly.

There's a small pause from the Black Cloaked Envoy. "Very well," he agrees and then just—waits.

It takes a moment for Zhao Yunlan to quite catch on. "Oh, I should…" Zhao Yunlan says making an indistinct gesture in the air in front of him, which doesn't really spell out 'turn into a tiny dragon so you can carry me?' in any meaningful way.

The Black Cloaked Envoy just waits quietly, saying nothing. Well, fine, Zhao Yunlan thinks and transforms.

He's promptly caught mid-air by a pair of careful hands. Zhao Yunlan would smirk, but actually, that moment of almost falling is still not any fun. He's very small and it's a long way to the ground.

"Zhao Yunlan," the Black Cloaked Envoy says very sternly. "You need to be more careful."

Zhao Yunlan makes a small chirp, forgetting entirely about the other people in the room until he actually hears someone cooing.

"Oh, he's so cute," Wang Zheng says. Zhao Yunlan looks up from the Black Cloaked Envoy's hands to see that she seems to have decided that the Black Cloaked Envoy isn't that intimidating after all and has gotten a lot closer.

The Black Cloaked Envoy actually holds him out towards her. Well, once he first gently nudges all of Zhao Yunlan's parts into the palm of his hands, making sure his tail is curled securely and not trailing off somewhere it shouldn't. Zhao Yunlan gives up and makes a grateful little chirp, rubbing his muzzle against the Black Cloaked Envoy's fingers.

There's another coo from Wang Zheng. She doesn't quite try to reach out and pet him though, and Zhao Yunlan is pretty sure that has more to do with the Black Cloaked Envoy than some kind of respect for her boss.

And then the Black Cloaked Envoy steps back, lifting Zhao Yunlan up to his hood. Zhao Yunlan knows what this is about already and wriggles himself carefully onto the Black Cloaked Envoy's shoulder, trying not to get himself tangled in anything or to grip the Black Cloaked Envoy too tightly.

"Ready?" the Black Cloaked Envoy asks.

Zhao Yunlan chirps firmly.