Usually, Ling was safe when his mouth was running
Ran Fan's fist impulse in response to the hand that was suddenly clamped over her eyes was to draw her sword and disembowel whomever had managed to get so close. Her second impulse, after catching a hint of clove, cinnamon, and mint in the air, and drawing the connection between who those smells usually belonged to (that also being the only person she knew with the skewed sense of humor that would lead him to playfully blind a highly trained guard) was to step rather forcefully on one of Ling's esteemed feet, drop her sword, and wrap him in a most undignified hug.
What she ended up doing was freezing in place. One didn't just hug their prince, no matter how long he had been missing, or how bad things had looked. It wasn't...proper. And stepping on his foot was completely out of the question.
It made her blink, that slightly hoarse apology. It was so completely out of place Ran Fan tried to turn and get a good look at her errant prince, just to make sure he was alright, but found the movement foiled by the fact he was holding her far too tightly. Tightly enough that she could feel every staggering heartbeat, feel every ragged breath.
"You know, there was at least one time where I didn't think I was coming back." Ling almost pulled off a pleasant nonchalant. Almost. "I got myself into a pile of trouble, and really thought that was the end of it."
Ran Fan drew in a breath to protest, but was distracted by the feel of Ling's breath against her neck as he sighed.
"I was willing to give everything to reach my goal. Losing was impossible, after all. I am Ling Yao, the man would will be Xing's emperor. How could I lose?"
Ran Fan had the uncomfortable feeling that Ling was smelling her, inhaling the scent of her neck like some creature parted too long from its caretaker. A second later she found herself wishing he had stuck with the slightly uncomfortable sniffing, as the sensation of his lips on her skin was highly distracting and almost distressing. Her body was trying to decide between fight and flight, neither of which, technically, were acceptable options. A third faction was trying to determine whether or not swooning would be proper. It avoided the inclination to beat some sense of propriety back into her prince, and it definitely would destroy the urge to twist away and run until things went back to making sense.
"I almost did, really. Not the whole immortality thing. I gave my all for that. But, you know, I had someone share a fairly frightening observation with me along the way. Damned if I wasn't running the risk of losing some very important things in my struggle to succeed."
Usually, Ling was safe when his mouth was running. Currently though, Ran Fan found herself in a rather baffling predicament; Ling's words were as dangerous as his wandering mouth, and the left hand that had taken to tracing random little patterns on her shoulder.
"Don't interrupt your Prince when he is trying to express something important."
Ran Fan could feel Ling's scowl against her neck, and it made spastic butterflies scramble for safety somewhere in the depths of her stomach.
"What I am trying to say, in a typically round about sort of way, is that I shouldn't have left you like that." Ling finally let her go, arms dropping to his side as he finally ran out of verbal steam.
It was one of those long silences in which both parties tried desperately to find something to fill the conversational gap with, and failed miserably as nothing seemed quite appropriate. They were on the verge of an understanding, but both were too nervous to say anything, too uncertain to draw attention to it.
Of course, Ling wasn't known for his patience. "Well, I find myself in need of a bodyguard."
"Master, I am crippled..."
"And I am immortal. Rather takes the stress off of the whole bodyguard position, doesn't it." His lopsided smile was back firmly in place, and it took Ran Fan a moment or two to fully absorb what had just been said.
"Yeah, I did it. There were...are...a few complications, but I did it. We did it."
Ling's grin was so infectious Ran Fan decided to ignore the severe breach of protocol that was Ling's hand taking hers, Ling's fingers twining with her own. Now was a time for celebration. She could scold him later.