The majestic and totally terrifying-in-a-sexy way Black Cloak Envoy took one look at Zhao Yunlan, frowned, turned to Zhao Xinci and said “No.” Then he walked out in a sparkling, billowing cloud of dark energy.
Zhao Yunlan blinked. “Did he…did he…was I just dumped ?”
His father, in a very satisfying change of pace, looked as confused as Zhao Yunlan felt. Still, he shook his head. “You cannot be ‘dumped’, you are the Guardian. The treaty is very clear about this.”
He had been promised that it was a ceremonial role only. His father explained that once the very bureaucratic and not-at-all-ever-consummated wedding was complete, the Guardian was not required to do anything more as the Black Cloak Envoy’s consort than show up a couple of times a year for Dixing religious events.
Ten minutes into the opera performance, a man with long, dark hair and a face as pretty as a woman’s stepped onto the small wooden stage and opened his mouth to sing. His voice was delicate, but the tone and tempo betrayed a banked passion all the more powerful for its reserve. He was covered in large swaths of deep pink makeup outlined in black. The ill-fitting clothes revealed every sharp angle of his body, every firm muscle.
Zhao Yunlan strained to hear him over the raucous laughter of the other patrons as they munched on peanuts and swilled cheap beer.
Everyone notices when Shen Wei arrives with Zhao Yunlan at 4 Guangming that morning. They come in together often when Shen Wei has no morning classes, nothing remarkable about that and they don’t make any fuss. However, unlike any normal morning, Shen Wei is clad in a pair of faded skinny jeans that are a little too long, bunching at the ankles, a leather vest that is a bit too tight across his shoulders, and a black t-shirt half hidden under the vest and that is absolutely not his because it has a faded brand name written on it in English. While nothing about Shen Wei’s attire is inappropriate for the lax SID dress code, for the always impeccably tailored Professor Shen or the imposing Black Cloaked Envoy, he looks completely alien.
In addition, every single member of the SID has seen Zhao Yunlan wear this exact ensamble no less than four times in the last thirty days.