Less than seven seconds gone and Raz knows he's being followed. It takes three seconds before his finger lands on the nozzle, and two for the stranger to drop to the concrete.
No time at all is necessary for the paint to burst out from the actuator.
The man was already on the ground. Before he'd even touched the can.
A haze of red paint arcs across the unconscious stranger's left cheek and Raz checks his pulse. He can barely feel the blood knocking against the walls of the man's artery. Heroin? His thumb nudges at an eyelid. Pupils dilated.
Not an overdose, at least. Perhaps exhaustion?
His thoughts break as the man on the ground shudders into consciousness. Those eyes, choosing to be open, Raz thinks, are so different. It's like he can see the echoes of the brain that's buzzing behind them.
The man stretches his tongue to brush the outer boundary of red. There's a heavy, ill-used sort of noise and then the man opens his mouth and says something that could be "zinc" before flicking his gaze back to Raz's face.
"When did they take you in for questioning?"
The voice is deep and torn, riddled with pockets of air. Raz squints. "What?"
Even through exhaustion and malnutrition, his skin slicked in street grime, the man on the ground projects an air of effete boredom that wouldn't be out of place at an exhibition of 19th century Finnish painting.
The man, Raz decides disgustedly, is fucking bourgeois.
"The Met," says the man. "London's finest. When?"
The hell? "You a copper?"
He snorts. The man actually snorts. "Folds in the lining of your pockets," he says, seemingly by way of explanation.
Raz feels the man's forehead and knows before the first touch that he's burning with fever. If he doesn’t eat soon, the git will pass out again. Lining of his pockets. Right.
And Raz nods, which settles it, and drags the man into a sullenly upright position, and they limp to wherever Raz calls home.