Authors: black_goose & umberela
Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol, Sehun/Luhan, Tao/Kris, Kai/D.O
Word count: 5,168
Summary: "The Oracle has seen the twelve united. War is coming to the Nations. We must prepare for battle."
A/N: This chapter was originally actually part of the previous chapter, and at the last minute we decided to split them into two. I predict this chapter will continue on with the trend of the last two chapters and make the baekyeol shippers cry again.
Their belongings were brought to them, after they’d been thoroughly searched through. Baekhyun found anything that could be used as a weapon had been taken, but all his snacks remained, as well as the few clothes he had. The others reported similar findings.
Midday came and went, without any other signs of people. After the sun went down several servants delivered a simple but decent meal for all of them.
“I was somewhat worried they were going to starve us,” Chen said from Suho’s floor.
“I am more worried about them poisoning us,” Kris remarked, side-eyeing Tao, who had immediately begun stuffing his face.
Tao spoke through his mouthful. “Tastes fine to me.”
Baekhyun was very hungry, and seeing as Tao hadn’t keeled over, he picked at his own meal. He wasn’t sure they’d get another in a timely fashion. There wasn’t much taste to it -- he found Air Nation food somewhat bland to begin with, and this was even blander than normal -- but it was filling, at the very least.
When the food was half gone, Xiumin asked, “How long do you think they’ll keep us here?”
“It’s hard to say,” Suho sighed.
“One of your generals said that the war was looking hopeless,” Kyungsoo said quietly. “If that’s true, they might release us in desperation.”
“Might,” Kris said. “But we don’t know what’s happening out there.”
“They might decide they only have use for some of us,” Sehun mumbled. He stuffed some bread in his mouth and stared down at the table.
“Not if we’re the Twelve,” Chen said, in a very scathing voice. Yixing poked his arm, looking reproachful.
“I don’t like that bit about the war looking hopeless,” Suho said with a frown. “We got the Phoenix, we--”
“He’s just one person,” Kris said heavily. “No offence, Chanyeol, but you are. We’re still outnumbered.”
“We’ll be even more outnumbered if they kill us all,” Yixing pointed out. He flopped across Chen’s lap, stretching tiredly.
“They wouldn’t kill us all,” Chen said, trying to pitch him off. “Only some of us. Haven’t you been paying attention?”
“Well, they can’t kill me,” Yixing said lazily. “Do you know how many Healers there are? Not enough to be chopping the heads off any.”
“I am practically the last lightning Shifter,” Chen retorted bitterly. “I don’t think that will stop them.”
“I won’t let them kill you,” Chanyeol said stubbornly. “I won’t let them kill any of you. You’re my friends.”
“My hero,” Chen muttered. “Pass me the wine.” Tao passed him the water jug instead. Chen glared.
“With my father here, the chances of our survival have actually increased exponentially,” Kyungsoo said dully. “He’d never let them execute me, and in the spirit of fairness, he won’t let you lot be punished more than me. Not by the Elders, anyway.”
“Why do you sound so glum about this fact?” Kai asked.
“Because he won’t let the Elders execute me simply so he can punish me as he sees fit when he eventually drags me home.” Kyungsoo flopped backwards onto the rug and rolled onto his side.
“It’s interesting that he’d come out to defend you,” Baekhyun mused. “If I were him, I’d be concerned about being taken hostage, to get your people to aid in the war.”
“You don’t know my father, or my people,” Kyungsoo mumbled. “The Elders would have better luck getting blood from a rock.”
“I think they’re a little afraid of him,” Suho said. “That can work in our favor.”
“I think I’m afraid of him,” Tao said simply.
“And they’re afraid of Chanyeol,” Yixing said, a little brightly. “We can just scare them into letting us go.”
“I’m not entirely sure that’s exactly how we should play this,” Suho told him.
“No, for now we should wait this out,” Kris said, and then he looked at Luhan. “And we should seem as contrite as possible.”
Luhan sat up a bit straighter. “I am so contrite,” he said. “I am the most contrite.”
“You’re sitting in Sehun’s lap,” Kris pointed out. “That’s not contrite.” Luhan tried to slink back out of Sehun’s lap.
Suho sighed. “They can’t leave us here forever,” he said. “They’ll have to decide what to do with us before long. We should just wait quietly for the couple of days it’ll take, and deal with their decision when it comes.”
Baekhyun agreed. For now the best thing to do was wait quietly, even if it took days. He glanced at Chanyeol. This had the potential to be a very long few days. He knew from experience that Chanyeol didn’t deal well with being kept cooped up in one place, and even when they were stuck in the village they had still been able to wander freely.
“The rooms are empty, and all we have with us are our clothes. There’s nothing to do here,” Tao complained.
“So make your own entertainment,” Suho snapped. Then he paused, and glared at Kyungsoo, then Kai. Then he seemed to think for a moment and turned his glare on Luhan and Sehun.
“Don’t tell him that,” Kris said in a horrified tone. “Do not tell him that.”
Tao narrowed his eyes at him, then climbed to his feet. “Goodnight,” he said, in an affronted voice, and flounced out of the room. Kris sighed.
Kai drained his cup and set it down on the table. “Well,” he said. “It’s getting kind of late. Probably time to make my own entertainment.” Suho glared at him so hard that Baekhyun was surprised he didn’t hear Kai’s hair sizzle. Kyungsoo was still lying on his side on the floor, in apparent misery. Kai reached down and hooked his hands under Kyungsoo’s arms, pulling him to his feet. “Up you get, Princess,” Kai said, steadying him until Kyungsoo found his balance on his stiff leg.
Suho watched them go with an extremely sour expression on his face. Luhan jumped up, grabbed Sehun’s hand and left the room too, with many a “goodnight” and “sleep well!” Suho flopped down onto his bed with a loud groan. Chen reached up and patted his shin sympathetically.
One by one, they retired for the night, leaving Suho in peace in his own room. Yixing left with a sleepy yawn, but Chen was talking to Suho about something, and Chanyeol was hanging around, clearly waiting for a chance to talk to him. Baekhyun made a big deal of tidying up the plates and cups onto the trays as an excuse to hang around as well.
Once Chen actually left, Chanyeol trailed after him. Suho cocked his head at Baekhyun, who was the only one left in the room. His face softened when he took in Baekhyun’s expression, a small smile on his mouth. “If you want to talk to him, you should--”
“Goodnight!” Baekhyun blurted out, and ran out of the room.
In the hallway, Chanyeol was staring at Chen intensely. “But if you were a member--” he said seriously.
“I’m not,” Chen interrupted. “I don’t want to be. I know that you -- you like the idea, but I can’t imagine that everything has been leading up to this. All of that pain and suffering, just so that we could save the world?” He dropped his voice. “I’d burn the world myself if it could bring back--”
“Chen,” Chanyeol said quietly, laying his forehead against Chen’s, his hands on Chen’s shoulders. It looked intimate enough for Baekhyun to expect to feel jealous; instead, he just felt small and tired. “I tried to do that. It brings back nothing. You just hurt yourself in the process.”
“Maybe I want that,” Chen said simply.
“There is nothing down that road,” Chanyeol told him. He drew back, letting Chen go. “Nothing but anger and pain and regret.” He looked around and his eyes fell on Baekhyun. Baekhyun shivered under the intensity of them. “So much regret.”
“You don’t understand,” Chen said. Rather than angry, he too simply sounded tired.
“Yes, I do,” Chanyeol said. “More than you realise.”
He shook his head and began to walk to his bedroom. Baekhyun, moving before he knew he was going to, ran forward and snagged his sleeve. Chanyeol turned to him, wide-eyed and shocked. He looked down at Baekhyun’s fingers slowly curling around his wrist and blinked. “I -- can we -- can we talk?” Baekhyun asked, almost mumbling. They hadn’t really spoken since that time in the village, hadn’t had a chance, a moment alone.
“Well,” said Chen. Baekhyun jumped; he’d half-managed to forget Chen was there, he’d been so focused on Chanyeol . “This is somewhat awkward. I’ll leave you to it.” He opened his bedroom door, barely even looking at them as he said, “Goodnight.”
Baekhyun suddenly didn’t know what to say or what to do. “I-- I--” he managed, before he fell silent. Chanyeol’s wrist was very warm under his fingers, and unlike last time, he made no attempt to pull it from Baekhyun’s grasp.
Chanyeol sat down suddenly, his back against the wall. He patted the ground next to him with his free hand. After a moment, Baekhyun sat down too, his knees pulled to his chest. “Thank you,” Baekhyun finally murmured, “for standing up for me when the Elders-- thank you.” Chanyeol seemed more receptive to talking now than he had before, Baekhyun had certainly left him enough time to think everything through, and this wasn’t quite so dangerous a topic.
“Are they always like that?” Chanyeol asked softly. “Even before? When you came to them with information?”
Baekhyun nodded. “It doesn’t bother me so much now, to be honest. It just grated on me in the moment.”
“They called you a slave,” Chanyeol said, shaking his head wonderingly. “I don’t understand -- all those months and they treated you so badly, how did you not--”
“They were helping me get you back,” Baekhyun said quietly. “They could have done anything they liked to me, so long as they brought you back to me, safely.”
“And after all that I--” Chanyeol choked. “I tried--”
Baekhyun reached up and slowly reached out, until he could run his fingers down the side of Chanyeol’s face. He didn’t want Chanyeol to go down this road again, wanted him to stop blaming himself. Chanyeol closed his eyes, his face twisting in some emotion, something raw and fragile. “I’ve told you before, it’s okay,” Baekhyun said. He was so quiet he was practically whispering. “You didn’t know.”
Chanyeol reached up and took his hand, pressing it in his own, shaking his head. “I should have known,” he said, voice thick. “I should have -- how could I have ever thought--”
Baekhyun shook his own head. “Everything is obvious, in hindsight. It doesn’t matter now,” he said.
“I don’t understand how you could-- how you could ever forgive me for it. You said you have but I don’t understand.”
“There’s nothing to forgive,” Baekhyun said, meaning every word.
Chanyeol shook his head in agitation. “I cannot forgive myself, Baekhyun-- I tried to kill you.”
“Well,” Baekhyun responded, trying to make his tone light, “you didn’t, so.”
Chanyeol let out a sob. “I wanted -- I’ve been trying to work out how to make it up to you, how to atone for my actions, I’ve been trying to think and think and nothing has ever seemed enough.”
“You said it before,” Baekhyun said. “My place is by your side. Just-- just keep me there. That’s all I ask.” He swallowed thickly. “Please, Chanyeol, stop pushing me away. That’s all I want-- if you want to make up for everything, if you want to atone for what happened, that’s all I ask.” Baekhyun was so tired. “I just want to be by your side again.”
After a long moment of silence, Chanyeol brought Baekhyun’s hand up to his mouth, and he kissed the scars on Baekhyun’s palms, the ones that he had put there. “Always,” he murmured against Baekhyun’s skin. “I’ll never-- if that’s what it takes-- always.
Baekhyun’s breath caught. He tugged his hand out of Chanyeol’s hold. Chanyeol looked at him in surprise, his eyes wary, like he thought he’d stepped too far, like he’d done something wrong. Baekhyun shook his head. If he wasn’t careful, he would start crying, he found. And he’d promised himself no more crying.
He leaned in, and pressed his mouth to Chanyeol’s. It was gentle, soft, like he was slightly afraid Chanyeol might crack. He began to pull back when Chanyeol made a noise, the noise of a man waking up from some awful dream, and then his hands were cupping Baekhyun’s face and he’d pulled Baekhyun’s mouth back on his, kissing him with all the desperation of a drowning man.
Baekhyun laughed suddenly, breathlessly, gasping as he reached up to place his hands over Chanyeol’s. “I don’t -- I can’t--” He was cut off by Chanyeol kissing him again.
“I’m sorry,” Chanyeol said hoarsely, when he pulled away some time later. “I’m so sorry, I love you, I never meant for this--”
Baekhyun silenced him with another kiss. When he got to his feet, he tugged on Chanyeol’s hand to make him stand too. Then, without a single word, he laced their fingers together and pulled him to Baekhyun’s bedroom.
Kris rapped his knuckles quickly on Tao’s door, trying to not shuffle his feet as he waited for a reply. He wasn’t nervous, he told himself, he wasn’t worried or anything like that. He was too old for such silly mind games. He was the adult here, and so he needed to start thinking like one.
They had only been in their makeshift prison for a day now but Kris was already feeling the strain. It had been different in the village, where he’d been able to avoid Tao and his angry, sullen looks quite easily. He couldn’t do that here, cooped up inside, all on top of each other. The space was too limited, and after that morning where they’d once again piled into Suho’s room to talk about what was likely to happen to them, the way Tao had refused to look at him had filled Kris with a strange sort of guilt that refused to go away.
The sound of footsteps approaching the door reached Kris’s ears, and he straightened his spine, pulling back a bit as the door swung inwards. The open, curious look on Tao’s face immediately darkened when he saw Kris outside the door, and he made a sharp movement that suggested he wanted to close the door right in his face.
“Hi,” said Kris. He wanted to kick himself.
“What do you want?” Tao asked, voice cold, aloof. It made Kris wince, mostly because he could tell how forced it was.
“We need to talk,” Kris said. “Can we? Talk, I mean.”
Tao’s nostrils flared. “No,” he said sharply, moving to shut the door, and Kris stepped forward to stop him. That just made Tao glare even harder.
“We-- we need to, Taozi,” Kris softly. “We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to you,” Tao fairly shouted as Kris stepped into his room, shutting the door behind himself. Tao backed away so Kris wasn’t touching him, hands rising as if he was going to lunge at Kris and strangle him. Instead he just stood a few feet away and seethed, eyeing Kris like he found his presence particularly disgusting.
“This is hardly convincing me of your maturity, you know,” Kris said casually, eyebrow raised pointedly at Tao’s raised hands.
“I can decapitate you with my mind,” Tao snapped, “but do go on.”
“You’re acting like a--” Kris stopped, stuttering. He didn’t really want to finish that thought. It was too close to the truth for comfort. “Like a brat,” he finished weakly.
“Well I am no longer trying to, what did you say? Convince you of my maturity. That ship has apparently sailed, and I am forever eight in your eyes.”
“I never said that,” Kris said heatedly. “I never said the ship had sailed, I just--” He stopped, suddenly, taking a couple of deep breaths. He didn’t want to say something he would regret. He’d played their last argument over and over in his head and had found plenty of things that he regretted saying.
“You just what?” Tao asked, almost taunting him.
“You are sixteen years old, Taozi,” Kris bit out.
“And I’ve been to war,” Tao said. “I’ve fought in battle, I took up the mantle of Head Shifter when I was fourteen, and I was damn good at it, until, well--” He motioned around himself. “I am sixteen, but I am not a kid anymore, and you need to get off that high horse.”
“You don’t understand--”
“I am sixteen and that’s old enough to potentially die in battle, but not old enough for -- for this?”
Kris jerked, his stomach suddenly in knots. That was true, he had to acknowledge that Tao had been to battle but -- the thought that after all he talked about protecting Tao and looking after him, caring for him, he hadn’t been able to stop Tao being marched into battle, almost killed him. “Don’t -- don’t talk about -- dying, that’s--”
“But it’s true,” Tao said, apparently on the offensive now that he had Kris rattled. “I could die. You could die.”
“Are you trying to hurt me?” Kris asked angrily. “I don’t want to think about that, Taozi, the thought of you dying, that’s more painful than you can imagine, so don’t use that as a club to batter me over the head with to try to score points in an argument.”
“I’m just trying to work it out,” Tao said. “If it hurts you so much, then why do you keep pushing me away?”
“You already said that!” Tao screamed. “You keep saying that you care, that I don’t understand but you -- you don’t understand. You don’t -- you don’t love me as much as I love you, you can’t act like you do, it just makes it so hard.”
Kris’s mouth had gone dry. “I do love you,” he said hoarsely. “I do. Tao, we’ve been friends for so long, so many years--”
“That isn’t the kind of love I mean,” Tao cut him off, voice cracking a little.
“I--” Kris tried to gather himself, tried to work out what he wanted to say. He was never good at this, and this was all so complicated, had all gone so wrong. He’d been looking after Tao since he was young, still truly a child, and all he’d ever wanted was to protect him, to help him grow into someone who was happy, healthy. He’d been aware, in recent years, that Tao’s feelings towards him had been different to what Kris would have expected or liked them to have been, but it had been easy to ignore them, to put it down to a hero worship type of crush. But Tao had continued to grow, and his feelings hadn’t gone away, and Kris didn’t know how to deal with the little boy he’d used to play hide and seek with growing into a young man that was head over in heels in love with him.
Tao was standing with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting, and Kris steeled himself, taking a deep breath. “When we met, you were eight years old, and the biggest brat I had ever encountered.” Tao sucked in a breath, like he might interrupt, but Kris ploughed on. “And you wouldn’t listen, constantly prancing about the halls after dark, climbing up trees and refusing to come down. There are worse things to deal with, when you’re a member of the guard, but gods, most nights I wanted to throttle you.” Kris paused, trying to collect his thoughts. Tao looked less likely to interrupt now, seemingly a bit curious as to where this line of babbling was headed. “But somewhere along the line, I grew fond of your bratty self, more so when I realized your family was-- was the way they are.” Negligent, at best, cold and apathetic, at worst. They had paid next to no attention to Tao until he was made Head Shifter, and had used his position as a way to further climb their way up the ladder of society.
Kris paused again, a beat too long, and Tao said, “What does this have to do with anything?”
“You don’t understand,” Kris grumbled, “so I am trying to explain.”
“You’re not doing very well.”
Kris continued on anyway. “You were, you are, the closest thing to family I’ve ever really had. And you came to trust me, to rely on me, like no one ever had before. My low blood status doesn’t make me someone worth trusting, it’s a miracle my father was able to convince, or rather, bribe, the guard into taking me. You were like a little brother to me, and you were-- you’re so important to me, Taozi. All I’ve done through the years, all I’ve wanted, is to help you grow up in a way that wouldn’t end up with you being too maladjusted. I’ve tried so hard to protect you.” He took another deep breath. “I know I’ve fucked up a lot. I couldn’t stop them making you Head Shifter, all I could do was watch you take the weight of that and try to prevent it from crushing you.”
“It worked out fine,” Tao said tersely. “I adjusted. I’m stronger than you think. I am not a baby.”
Kris swallowed thickly. “I know. I saw that, then, I saw that there was steel in you, and-- and I saw the way you started looking at me after that.”
“You’ve known all this time,” Tao said flatly, not a question, something in his expression Kris couldn’t place. Kris nodded, and Tao swallowed, looking down at the floor. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he finally asked softly.
Kris chuckled, no real humor in it. “I didn’t want to embarrass you. But I also didn’t know what I’d say, either. I sort of thought it was a crush and would fade, and also I-- I was still bent on keeping you safe. You were all I had, and in many ways, I was all you had, and I didn’t want to push you away, not like that.”
“Because you didn’t love me back,” Tao said hollowly. Kris made to argue but Tao beat him to it by adding, “You didn’t love me back, not the way I loved you. I know, I know, I am like a little brother to you.”
Kris didn’t like the way Tao was looking at the floor, didn’t like that he couldn’t see Tao’s face, didn’t like that this conversation wasn’t conveying what he wanted it to at all. “You were fourteen at the time,” Kris said, slightly desperate now. He began to pace. “I was supposed to be a big brother to you, I was supposed to help you, and protect you, and teach you, and be your family. That’s what was supposed to happen.” He stopped pacing in front of Tao, suddenly just tired. “But then you fell in love with me and I-- I fell in love with the person you became.”
Tao sucked in a breath, and Kris wasn’t sure what he expected, but it wasn’t for Tao’s hand to come whipping around, backhanding his cheek. Kris yelped, stumbling back, staring at Tao, who looked terrifying. More terrifying than usual, at least.
“How dare you?” Tao yelled, raising his hand as if to hit Kris again. Kris pulled back out of danger. “What the hell, Kris, you can’t just -- you fell in love with me? After everything, you’re telling me this now? You pushed me away and all this time, for as long as I’ve been in love with you, you’ve known and have been in love with me?”
“I wanted to wait,” Kris said desperately. “I needed -- you were so young, you’re still so young, I wanted to wait until you were older--”
“I could kill you.” Tao’s hair was ruffling, his anger getting the better of his control. “Do I get no say in this? Am I supposed to just follow along behind you, doing whatever you decide is best for us?”
“I didn’t want to take advantage of you,” Kris said numbly. He hadn’t expected this level of anger.
“It’s not taking advantage of me if we both feel the same way, you dumbass,” Tao yelled, stamping his foot on the ground. “All you ever wanted was to protect me? Well, guess what, I can protect myself, I can look after myself, I’m not a dumb child who doesn’t understand his own feelings, and all I’ve wanted for the past two years was to be with you. You’re not taking into account what I want.”
“I know what you want,” Kris retorted. “You made that quite clear when you tried to stick your hands down my pants in the village.”
Tao gaped at him. “You think that this is just about sex? Do you really think that the only reason I kissed you that night is because I just want to have sex with you?”
Kris sighed. “I don’t know what you want, Taozi.”
“I want you to stop acting like you’re the only adult here, the only one capable of making decisions. I want to be able to get close to you without you freezing up like you’re terrified of touching me.”
I am terrified, Kris thought, because sometimes I think I might not stop.
“What I want,” Tao finished quietly, “is just to be with you, Kris.”
Kris stared at him. He felt exhausted down to his bones. Tao’s chest was heaving, and there had been a rawness in his confession that Kris knew he could not have achieved himself. He would never be able to put himself out there like Tao did, and perhaps it wasn’t a sign that Tao was more of a child than he was, that he didn’t understand the reality of the situation like Kris did. He understood, that much was obvious. He just didn’t care.
Kris stepped forward, feeling the fight wash out of him as he did so. Tao eyed him warily but didn’t back away, didn’t flinch, standing his ground. He was stronger than Kris ever gave him credit for being, ever wanted to acknowledge, because that strength was the whole reason that Kris was in this position anyway, the whole reason he’d been unable to stop himself falling in love.
Kris reached out, slowly, so Tao wouldn’t try to maim him again. He gently let his hand come to rest at the juncture of where Tao’s neck met his shoulder, fingers cupping around his nape lightly. Tao’s eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring, like he was preparing for Kris to say something stupid, waiting for Kris to spout out more excuses. But Kris really didn’t have any more, Tao was right, and Kris needed to stop pretending.
Kris tugged gently, stepping forward as Tao swayed toward him, caught off guard. Tao’s lips parted, his brows hitching, and before he could whine about this or Kris could think better of it, he leaned down and pressed his lips to Tao’s parted ones. It was soft, and the angle was a little awkward, the set of Tao’s shoulders gone stiff. Kris might have pulled back but then Tao was tilting his head, just slightly, so their mouths aligned a little better, Tao’s bottom lip caught between Kris’s. Kris pulled him that bit closer, kissing him a little harder, and Tao made a soft, sweet little sound, that somehow Kris felt almost as a physical pain in his chest.
Kris sighed, letting himself linger for a few beats, before pulling back slowly. He wanted to see the expression on Tao’s face, but by the time he blinked his eyes open Tao was ducking down, his arms wrapping around Kris’s middle as he buried his face in Kris’s shoulder. Kris let his hand slide from Tao’s nape to his back, rubbing soothingly. Tao’s breathing was sharp and heavy, puffing against Kris’s skin.
“You can’t do this to me,” Tao whispered, voice gone hoarse, and Kris knew he was crying. “I kissed you, and you pushed me away. You pushed me away. And then you yelled at me.” He paused, his inhale shuddery. “I love you and all you’ve ever done is push me away and then you yelled at me.”
“I know,” Kris said softly, gently pressing along Tao’s spine. “I’m sorry, Taozi. I’m sorry for everything.”
Tao didn’t reply to that, and for a while there was only the sound of their breathing. Kris turned his face so he could press his lips against Tao’s hair. Tao eventually started hiccuping, which made Kris smile, despite everything.
“So what now?” Tao murmured, punctuating it with a little hiccup.
“I don’t know,” Kris said truthfully. “I’m-- I’m in love with you, I am, I’m not going to pretend like I’m not anymore. But I don’t really know what to do about it, about any of this.” He loosened his hold on Tao, arching back, trying to prompt Tao to look up at him.
Tao sniffled, blinking up at Kris slowly. His eyes and nose were red, face puffy, but when he sniffled, he made it sound elegant, somehow. “If you tell me you want us to go back to being-- whatever we were before, I really will decapitate you.”
Kris shook his head. “No, I think it’s too late for that.” He wiped at Tao’s face, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “I don’t know what this is, but we’re-- we’re together. I know that much. There may not be a way to describe it, but we are together.”
“You’re not making very much sense,” Tao said, “but I think -- I think I know what you mean.”
“Good,” Kris said, letting out a sigh of relief that ruffled Tao’s hair and made him pout.
Tao tightened his hold, stepping up close. Kris let himself hold Tao, revel in the warmth of him, instead of trying to disentangle himself from Tao’s arms like he always had done. When Tao’s hands slid into the hair at the back of his head, Kris expected to be pulled down into another kiss, but Tao seemed content to just press their foreheads together.
“If we’re together,” he mumbled, his gaze on Kris’s mouth, “does that mean that next time I try to put my hands down your pants, you won’t get angry?”
Kris frowned at him. “Don’t push it.”