A dozing jaguar cracked open a yellow-ringed eye as the witch's feet met stone, her dress fluttering behind her lithe form as she sauntered into the fortress. It observed her for a moment before losing interest and turning his head away.

She found him in his massive dining room, preceded by a table full of ripe, succulent fruits and vegetables, thick cuts of lamb, and an ancient, beautiful pot of steaming tea. It didn't surprise her that the only thing he seemed to have touched was the small cup of soup in his gloved hands (the contents of which she'd probably met in battle sometime in the past thousand years.)

"Why, hello, Wuya." His eyelashes obscured his gaze as a rogue swirl of steam twisted its way past his face and into his ebony hair.

"Chase." She leaned her weight onto her palm, resting her hip against the table. "How are you this fine afternoon?"

"I'm all right, I suppose." His thin smile disappeared completely. "I've been better."


The witch shifted her weight, blinking her stormy green eyes at the tai chi master. "What could possibly be troubling you?"

"I am not troubled so much as mildly insulted." Chase sat back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. He laid one arm across his chest and waited.

The sudden change in her posture was so slight that an untrained individual hardly would've noticed it. Drumming her clawlike nails on the edge of the table, Wuya forced herself to breathe evenly. "It isn't Jack, is it?"

"I haven't been visited by Spicer in weeks, as a matter of fact."

"Oh," she responded bluntly. The witch relaxed, tilting her head back and blinking at the warrior. The lioness lounging at his side switched its tail idly.

"It puzzles me that you're so relieved. The boy is an insect, not a threat. Why were you so worried that he had paid me a visit?"

"Worried? I wasn't worried. Jack is an irritating little brat - like you said yourself!" She offered a grin that showed her daggerlike canines, her expression not as confident as she had hoped to make it.

Chase placed the hand he had been resting his chin against in his lap. Dusky golden eyes burned into Wuya's as his voice hardened. "Perhaps it is because you feared that Spicer would tell me about your latest attempt to acquire a Shen Gong Wu."

"Why, Chase!" She laughed harshly, cocking her head back a bit too far to look flippant but not quite enough to look genuinely amused. "How could you say such a thing?"

"If my accusation is false, then have you been all afternoon? Out getting your nails done?"

Her sheepish grin was just a beat too late. "H-how did you know?"

Young rose from his seat to cross the room, his arms folded neatly in the small of his back. When he made no move to speak, Wuya hurried after him.

"E-even if I had gone looking for a Shen-Gong-Wu, just one wouldn't give me the power to defeat you. Besides - we make a good team, you and I!"

"You have deceived me one time too many, witch."

The immortal's eyes widened and she stumbled to a halt, the slap of her bare foot against the stone echoing in the silence. "Chase - think about what you're saying-"

"I have," the warlord sneered, his lip curling enough to show the edges of several teeth. "I have thought about it every time you've mustered the combination of audacity and idiocy required to betray me throughout the past five years."

A bark of laughter accompanied the hand Wuya flattened to her chest. "Surely you don't mean that."

"Get out of my fortress before I have my cats escort you out."

The witch closed her mouth and remained silent for a long moment. Young's golden gaze flicked up to hold hers, meeting scorn with a final, silent warning.

"Very well."

Wuya turned away, her hair swishing with the movement. The tattered tail of her robe lapped at her ankles like black flame. "I will leave you, Chase. But when you regret your decision, don't anticipate me being agreeable."

The warrior's stare was hawklike until she was out of his sight. A lean tiger padded up to him, weighing its master's thoughts with intelligent eyes. Chase ran a hand across its broad skull.

Sniffing with amusement, he turned and strode back toward the palace.