When it rains, it pours, and bad luck seemed to keep coming when one was already down in his luck; there was no avoiding it. Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan were in just this situation and they’d just escaped pursuit but it was now raining.
Afghanistan was a country with an annual rainfall of 240 ml but it seemed to be the amount of monthly rainfall in this basin. Raindrops as large as beans fell from the clouds and through the canopy of the dense forest. The ground soon turned muddy. Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan would leave fairly obvious footprints in these conditions, even if they controlled their movements and stepped their lightest. If anyone discovered these footprints, then it would mean another chase when it turned light tomorrow.
They didn’t dare to use the previous method of jumping from tree to tree in the rain either because the rain had wet the canopies and there were also moss and other things which made the branches more slippery than butter. If they continued, Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan would probably need crutches in under ten minutes.
Xia Lei used a tree branch to clear the ground of footprints as they walked but gave up after walking for just a bit. He threw away the branch in his hand and complained, “Forget it. I won’t get far even if I tire myself out walking like this. This damned rain… When will it stop?”
He only had a thin sweatshirt on and the temperature was already low at night in Afghanistan because of the altitude. Add the rain and Xia Lei could feel his teeth chatter a little when he spoke. Cold easily drained him of energy and if he did not have the calories to make up for it, then he was sure to fall sick before daylight.
Tang Yu-Yan looked at Xia Lei and suddenly asked, “You want your clothes back?”
Xia Lei paused. She had just a jacket on her and if he took it back she would have to run about in this forest topless.
Tang Yu-Yan then reached to pull the zipper as high as it could go and rolled her eyes at Xia Lei. “What are you looking at? Don’t even think about it. I’m not going to give you clothes unless you give me a fleece-lined waterproof jacket.”
Xia Lei laughed dryly. “You think we’re doing outdoor exploration? A fleece waterproof jacket… Why not ask for a star hotel while you’re at it? Better to think of a solution. Rain like this won’t stop soon. We need to find shelter or we’ll get sick.”
“Let’s head to the mountains. Maybe we’ll find shelter from the wind on a hillside. Or a cave or something if we’re lucky,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
Xia Lei looked at the closest mountain, then went in front of Tang Yu-Yan to lead the way. They left their footprints behind but he couldn’t be bothered any longer. It was more dangerous to fall sick than to fall into the hands of the women of the White Hun Tribe in a primitive forest like this.
“Do you regret coming with me on this mission?” asked Tang Yu-Yan.
“No. I have no regrets because I’m here,” said Xia Lei.
“And if you die?”
“If I die, I die. The day comes for everyone.” Xia Lei laughed. “I’m contributing to the nation here and I don’t think that there’s anything unacceptable about it. Besides, I have you for company.”
“Up yours. I don’t want to die here.” Tang Yu-Yan patted Xia Lei on the back. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you. I’ll get you out of here alive.”
Xia Lei twisted his lips. “We can’t be certain who is taking care of whom. You’re wearing my clothes - that’s me taking care of you.”
“I just know that you’re longing for your clothing! I’ll take it off! Have it!” Tang Yu-Yan unzipped herself.
Xia Lei looked back quickly to stop her but contrary to his expectations, Tang Yu-Yan had not unzipped the jacket. She had unzipped halfway and zipped herself back up again. He saw a tightly-zipped Tang Yu-Yan by the time he looked back at her.
“Ha ha!” Tang Yu-Yan laughed like the cat that ate the canary. She pointed straight at Xia Lei’s nose. “Peeeervert. You’re a peeeervert.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Looking at her charming smile, Xia Lei could not help comparing her to Long Bing. They were both section chiefs in Bureau 101 and gorgeous women, but Tang Yu-Yan and Long Bing were two completely different women. Long Bing was as cold as ice and felt unapproachable. She never joked and what she said was rather literal. Tang Yu-Yan was an outgoing, lively woman. She loved to joke around and was quite open. There was no lack of laughter when she was around, and it was rather enjoyable.
If he compared these two women of Bureau 101 to aquatic creatures, Xia Lei would say that Long Bing was a shark while Tang Yu-Yan was a dolphin. Even if she was a dolphin, she was a man-killing dolphin and very dangerous because she was surnamed Tang.
After a series of bad luck, their luck seemed to be taking a turn for the better. A small shack appeared in the forest before they got to the mountain to look for hillsides or caves. The shack was built of wood and hay. It was small but enough for two people to get in and out of the rain.
The shack also had a very simple bed made of wood and a thick mound of hay atop it. Being able to stumble upon a shack like this in a harsh environment, and with a bed too, was like discovering a luxurious swimming pool in the desert.
Tang Yu-Yan rushed in without needing Xia Lei to call her in and burrowed straight into that bed.
Xia Lei bent too and went in. He looked around and discovered some small things - rope, arrows, some animal bones, a small bag of grain and a few pieces of dried meat. It was obvious that this was a supply point for a White Hun hunter.
This discovery made Xia Lei relax a little. “See those things? They’re hunter supplies. What does this tell us?”
Tang Yu-Yan wiped the rainwater from her face and asked, “Tell us what?”
“This tells us that the White Hun Tribe is far away from here. They wouldn’t need to build a supply point like this here if it’s close to their tribe. The further away they are from us, the safer we will be,” said Xia Lei.
“Long Bing said you’re the smartest person she’s met and I thought she was just saying that. I know that it isn’t the case now. You really are clever, and meticulous,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“You believe what she says? You’ll kill cats for food one day.” Xia Lei changed the topic with a joke. He did not want her to discuss his IQ. He actually had no idea himself how high his IQ had gone.
As he spoke, he removed the sweatshirt he was wearing and wrung it with both hands. It was uncomfortable to wear a wet sweatshirt in the cold night.
After wringing the rainwater out of the sweatshirt, Xia Lei took off his socks and trousers and wrung them too. He was left with just the underwear which had been torn by rock.
Xia Lei had treated Tang Yu-Yan like air during the entire process. He did not put his clothing on again after wringing but hung them out to dry.
Tang Yu-Yan frowned. “You punk. Am I invisible? How can you do that? Are you really a pervert?”
Xia Lei glanced at her. “This is a battlefield. What use is there for courtesies?” He then smiled. “You keep calling me a pervert. Fine, I admit that I’m a pervert. So since I’m a pervert I won’t mind you looking at my body, huh? I’m not naked anyway - I have my underwear on.”
“You’re hopeless.” Tang Yu-Yan lost to Xia Lei’s straight gaze and turned her back on him.
Xia Lei climbed onto the hay-bed too and sat with his back to Tang Yu-Yan as he sneakily wrung his underwear.
The atmosphere in the shack became heavy with awkwardness.
“Achoo!” Tang Yu-Yan could not stand the wet fabric on her body any longer after a few minutes. She sneezed, and her body started trembling.
“Hey, you should do what I did. Take your wet clothing off or you’ll get sick,” said Xia Lei.
“In your dreams, pervert!” Tang Yu-Yan’s face grew redder.
Xia Lei shrugged. “Whatever you say.”
“Achoo! Ah…. CHOO!” Tang Yu-Yan sneezed two more times.
Xia Lei turned over and felt her forehead. He frowned. “You’re burning up!”
Tang Yu-Yan trembled uncontrollably but her mouth stubbornly said, “So what if I have a fever. None of your business.”
Xia Lei paused, then suddenly reached out and pulled down the zipper of her jacket.
“You…” Tang Yu-Yan was stunned. She didn’t dare believe that Xia Lei had actually did that - actually dared to do it.
A slap landed on Xia Lei’s face a second later. This was a heavy slap and half of Xia Lei’s face swelled up. A bit of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.
Xia Lei took no notice. He grabbed the wet jacket on Tang Yu-Yan’s body and started wringing.
“You… What are you doing?” Tang Yu-Yan was frightened and she held tight to the jacket, stubbornly not letting him remove it.
A single man and woman in a shack, and the underwear-clad man had suddenly pounced on her and grabbed her clothing - it was no wonder she thought such thoughts. In that instant, Xia Lei was no longer a pervert - he was a beast!
Despite her fierce retaliation, the feverish Tang Yu-Yan lacked the strength to fight Xia Lei and she was quickly pressed into the hay by Xia Lei. Her wet jacket was removed.
Xia Lei did not stop there. He undid her belt and removed her trousers.
Xia Lei released her only after removing her jacket, trousers and socks. Once Tang Yu-Yan regained her freedom, she immediately snatched up the handgun next to the hay and pointed it at Xia Lei’s head.
Xia Lei acted like he didn’t see the gun. He lifted the jacket he had thrown to the floor and started wringing the rainwater from it.
“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll… cough cough…” Tang Yu-Yan only managed to speak after coughing for quite a bit. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll shoot and kill you?”
“Shoot if you want to shoot. I’ll die in those White Hun women’s hands if I don’t die by your hand anyway. If you kill me you’ll be guilty and burn incense for me on Grave Sweeping Day next year to beg me not to blame you. What’s so bad about that?” Xia Lei continued wringing.
“You…” Tang Yu-Yan was so angry she could not speak but she knew well that Xia Lei did not want to take advantage of her and only wanted to get her out of her wet clothes. If he had not insisted and forcefully done it, she would have stayed in her wet clothing even if she died.
Tang Yu-Yan put the gun down and hugged her chest. She put her chin on her knees and shivered uncontrollably. She didn’t care what Xia Lei did at this point. Her head was dizzy and her thoughts fuzzy.
Xia Lei wrung the clothes dry, then drew close to Tang Yu-Yan’s back. He reached out to hold her in his embrace, to warm her with his body heat.
Tang Yu-Yan froze in that instant but she quickly quieted down.
“I’ll kill you if you get that type of reaction,” she said fiercely.
Xia Lei’s reaction to that was to snore.
“Hey! Are you taking me for a clueless girl who hasn’t studied physiology? I’m talking to you!”
The cold wind blew outside the shack and the wind howled, but Xia Lei was sweating.Previous Chapter Next Chapter