They’d been following the man for more than an hour, through busy market streets, narrow alleyways, and into at least four different stores. Tang Fan had been complaining about the ache in his feet since the first market, and Sui Zhou was quickly becoming tempted to just leave him at one of the food stalls and come back for him later. Unfortunately for that particular plan, Tang Fan was the only one of them who had actually seen the face of the man they were looking for, and was the only one who could confirm that the man they were following was the same person.
“How about we just wait here in case he comes back again?” Tang Fan asked, tugging gently on Sui Zhou’s sleeve. “We could just wait here for, say, long enough to have some food...”
They were standing in the alleyway between two buildings, Tang Fan tucked in behind Sui Zhou, who was leaning around to watch their target. Tang Fan was breathing a little heavier than he should be, as though he’d been running the whole time, instead of walking at a relatively sedate pace, and Sui Zhou had to bite his tongue to avoid suggesting that maybe Tan Fan could do with a little more exercise in his life.
Sui Zhou turned around to face him. “Sure. Of course we can just stay here. I mean it’s not like this guy might go and snatch another woman off the street if we’re right about who he is.”
Tang Fan at least had the decency to drop his head and look a little ashamed. Predictably, Sui Zhou felt instantly guilty – it was like making a puppy whimper. “If we can’t get a confirmation soon, we’ll try again tomorrow,” he conceded.
Nodding eagerly, Tang Fan lifted his head and looked over Sui Zhou’s shoulder to look for the man. He gasped, his eyes widening, and hissed Sui Zhou’s name.
Sui Zhou spun around, just in time to see the man approaching them. If he was the man they were looking for, and he spotted Tang Fan, he’d either lash out, or run. Neither was a good option. He glanced around for a decent hiding space – it didn’t have to be big enough for both of them as long as he could keep Tang Fan out of sight – but there was nothing except a small pile of rotting vegetables. Even if he thought Tang Fan would willingly be hidden there – which Sui Zhou knew full well he wouldn’t – the pile was far too small.
He had another idea, albeit one that definitely wasn’t in the standard rule book. “Runqing. Do you trust me?”
The speed at which the reply came made Sui Zhou’s stomach clench. Without thinking too hard about it, he grabbed Tang Fan around the waist and pressed him against the wall. He put his hands on the wall on either side of Tang Fan’s head, bracketing him. He moved his body as close as possible to Tang Fan, using his larger mass to keep the smaller man hidden as much as possible. While the man might not see Tang Fan’s face from this angle, Sui Zhou knew they would still attract attention if they just continued to stand like that. There was only one reason two people would be hiding in the shadows like this. He leaned his head in closer, until their lips were all but touching.
“I’m sorry about this.”
Kissing was a sure-fire way of detracting attention from them, Sui Zhou knew. Most people avoided looking too closely out of either a sense of proprietary or embarrassment, and he was relying on that fact to keep the man they’d been following from paying too much attention.
Sui Zhou knew all of these things, but he’d not expected how soft Tang Fan’s lips were, or how he would smell, or what his hands would feel like as they grabbed at his waist. He’d not expected the taste of Tang Fan to make his head swim and or his body to become aroused. He hated himself for taking advantage, and for getting pleasure out of something he’d done out of necessity, but struggled to find the strength to pull away, especially not when Tang Fan’s hands were working themselves around to the front of his robes, as if searching for a way beneath the fabric.
He closed his eyes, forcing his sense of awareness further outside the pair of them and the way that Tang Fan was pushing against the wall to increase the points of contact between their bodies. He listened for footsteps instead of Tang Fan’s breathing, and was relieved when he heard none. With every bit of self-control he could muster up, he pulled out of Tang Fan’s embrace and looked around.
The man was gone, and Sui Zhou couldn’t bring himself to care that they’d lost him, although he knew he’d feel guilty as hell once the blood in his body redistributed back to his brain.
“Can we go home now?” Tang Fan asked, looking up at him through lashes that seemed impossibly long. His hands were still clinging to the front of the Sui Zhou’s robes, and his lips were swollen and pink, and Sui Zhou no longer gave a damn about anything except kissing Tang Fan again.
He didn’t trust himself to open his mouth, lest a declaration of love spill out without permission, so he simply nodded and grabbed Tang Fan’s hand, leading him home as quickly as possible.
He’d come back out looking for the man later. He had more important things to deal with now. Or more important people, at least.