Who knew Paws could be so bad at directions… At least this lets me get away from that maddening, incredibly sexy, man with wings.

Acqura idly walked through the forest, looking for the tallest tree. Her mind, obviously, was not completely on finding said tree. Often she found her thoughts roaming back to Zaldae. More than thrice, she caught herself pondering, almost wistfully, what his hands would feel like buried in her hair. At times like that, she would grab a tree and shake her head as violently as she could, trying to dislodge the threatening thoughts.

At last she found a tree of respectful height, just barely peaking a few feet above the others. Biting her lip gently, she looked up into it and sighed. With surprising smoothness, she transformed herself into her white tiger form. Now she looked at the very tall tree, with a few low branches, and twitched her whiskers in a tiger smile.

She took a step back before launching herself up the trunk. Her claws dug into the bark, her muscles rippled under her furry skin, and she adored the feeling of absolute power this form gave her.

It did not take her long before she came to a branch. She rested for barely a moment and leapt from branch to branch, making her way up the tree. As she reached the canopy, she turned back to human, keeping claws in her hands in case she needed them. Finally, she pulled herself onto a branch would hold her weight that peered above the other branches. The sight that met her made her stomach drop. No matter which direction she looked, all she could see were more and more trees. The only thing she was sure of was which way was west, and that was only because the sun was still in the process of rising.

Clicking her tongue nervously, she turned to make her way back down. To her very intense loathing, her way was blocked by a woman.

"Devi." Acqura growled low. She glared into the moss-green eyes of the demi-goddess. "Tell me; is it possible to kill you?"

Devi's fangs clicked together as she laughed at her charge. "It is. But I don't suggest that you do so." She waved her hand, dismissing the topic. "I came here to talk civilly to you. Not to fight you."

Acqura crossed her arms and leaned against a few branches that were at her back. "So talk. I'm pretty sure if one of us doesn't say anything a fight won't break out. Besides, I know how much you love to hear yourself talk."

"You are a little brat you know that!" Devi snapped. "Do you show respect to anyone?"

"Nope. Didn't you have something to say to me?" She reminded the 'goddess in training.'

The divine being glowered. "Yes. Firs of all, I need to tell you that you and your company are going in the wrong direction." She scowled. "You are going north east. The place you want is dead south west."

"It would help if we knew where we were going!" Acqura started, but Devi smacked her.

"Shut up! This is called a divine intervention, be thankful. So, tell Paws that I told you which direction to go and all will be well."

"So you get the credit?"

Devi smirked. "Of course. We wouldn't want your head to get too big."

Acqura rolled her eyes. "As you say." She started to turn to go down the tree when the look on Devi's face made her freeze. "You…aren't done yet are you…"

"No, I'm not." She pulled Acqura back onto the branch and set her down, trying to draw out the torture for as long as possible. "Remember when I told you not to fight fate?"

Acqura gave her a look she could only assume was 'yes', or it was an 'I have no idea what you are talking about so leave me alone' type of face. Either way, she continued.

"I told you not to find it, yet you are denying every single little thing it tells you."

"Fate has told me nothing!" Acqura snarled, never enjoying anything that came out of the woman's mouth.

"Oh yes it has!" Devi leaned forward, grinning from ear to ear. "All those little butterflies you get when he is around. Those dreams you get when you fall asleep looking at, or even thinking about him. Just now, the thought of his hands running through your marvelous hair. His hands moving from your hair to your…"

"Stop it!" Acqura screamed, looking away from the maddening creature in a feeble attempt to hide how pale she had gone, and how deep her blush went.

The demi-goddess burst out laughing. "See! I told you!"

"Fate does not depict what goes on in my mind! Those are my thoughts and only mine!"

"Yet you used to be able to look into Paws' dreams." Devi pointed out.

"That was not my fault." Acqura countered.

"Possibly, but when it stopped you got incredibly upset."

"There were other reasons behind that!" Acqura's voice had become a soft whimper. By the time she had stopped being able to get into Paws' dreams she was missing her friend terribly.

Devi rolled her eyes. "My point being, by fate or not, you have known the man for almost two weeks. I think it is about time you give him a chance."

Like an incredibly spoiled child, Acqura crossed her arms and simply stared at the woman across the branch from her.

Devi threw up her arms in exasperation. "Fine! Be a brat! See if I care!" She pointed a wicked looking finger with a claw at the end at Acqura. "His attentive affection will get harder to ignore far sooner that you believe!" Without another word, she vanished.

"Finally." Acqura snapped as she started her easy and swift decent down the trees. She made it to the lowest branch without difficulty but froze. The drop was a lot further down than she thought it would have been. She was just about to shift into a tiger when a strong wind blew the branch she was on, making her loose balance and come crashing down to earth. She waited for her body to break on the ground from the fall, but just before impact, she was caught in a pair of very strong, very bare arms. At once, the startled and confused woman clung to whoever grabbed her but when she looked into the dark blue eyes of Zaldae, she had to groan.

Curse the fate! And that sorry excuse of a goddess! Acqura raged in her mind as Zaldae put her back on her feet. His face was in a frown, which confused her even more. He had just saved her life, shouldn't he be smiling.

"What's wrong?" She asked; the concern in her voice could not have been faked.

He glanced at her. "You growled at me for catching you. So I thought I did something wrong. Like…maybe you wanted to fall from the tallest tree and die under it."

Acqura blinked for a moment and grinned at him. "No… no, I wasn't growling at you. Just before I fell I had a… a divine epiphany. I was growling at how right it was." And how infuriating it was. She added to herself.

Zaldae looked a lot happier to hear this, but she could still tell he was nervous about something. She also noticed how good he was at hiding his nervousness. He looked like he was born to be randomly standing in front of the woman he had been trying to get closer and closer to for the past week and a half.

"Why are you out here Zaldae?" She asked, leaning against a tree with her arms crossed.

"I'm looking for a trial." He lied at once.

"Yea, nice lie." She drawled. "What are you really doing out here?"

Zaldae's eyes narrowed at her and he too crossed his arms. To Acqura's dismay, her mind raced to moment ago when those arms were around her, and the feel of his bare flesh against hers.

"Why are you interrogating me, Acqura?" He countered smoothly.

"Why are you turning this back to me?" She purred, falling into step perfectly.

He smiled and stepped towards her. "So I could distract you from why I came out here." He took another step.

Acqura's heart raced when she realized she was pinned against the tree, there was no way out, and Zaldae was the one pinning her. Stubbornly, she kept her arms crossed.

"That doesn't answer my questions." She breathed, quickly losing control of her breath and other functions, such as heart rate.

"Very true." Zaldae whispered softly, his hands gently running over her arms in hopes that she would uncross them. "If you must know, I came out here looking for you. I heard you and Paws talking about you going to figure out where we are going. I told Paws I would go look as well and after that the birds informed me where you were."

Acqura was shivering and cursing herself. In the back of her mind she figured Paws did the same thing in one of her dreams with the guy. At that realization, Acqura was too stunned to keep her arms crossed. They fell to her sides and Zaldae took advantage of it to put his arms around her waist.

"You wouldn't do this." She hissed at him.

He smiled impishly. "I would, actually. I've been pursuing you this whole time. I wanted to do this the moment you asked me where to find grain."

"And now you finally are."

"Yes." He frowned. "Unless I repulse you so much…"

Acqura laughed weakly, kind of sickened by herself at her reaction to this.

"Zaldae, I've been trying to think of what a kiss from you felt like from the moment I fell into your arms."

Now he smiled brilliantly at her. "Only that long?"

She laughed, and this time she could feel herself come back into her body. "I didn't mean today." She ran her fingers over his arms, and then through his hair. "I fell into your arms awhile ago."

Zaldae looking into her eyes, gently stroked her hair, bent and pressed his lips to hers.

Of course, by that time, a gentle kiss simply was not good enough.

Acqura stepped back into camp, hoping her face did not show signs of anything different. She and Zaldae agreed that she would go back to camp and he would look for a trail they could follow that went south west. The moment she saw her, Paws offered her a bowl of oat meal. Apparently Tayten, Taiyls, and Koray all left to do some chore or another and Selene and Vipin had yet to return.

"Life is cruel." Acqura sighed to Paws as she set next to her.

Paws blinked at her. "Why? Because you got kissed by a guy?"

That was the last think Acqura expected from her friend. "Were you spying on me?!" She said, choking on her food.

"Yes." The witch said, thinking that was obvious.

"Since when!"

Paws grinned. "Oh if only you knew. Eat your food."