"I don't know how you can drink that stuff!"

Paulo took another sip from the tall, thin thermos before laughing. "I don't know how you don't like it. It's actually pretty good!"

Daisy gave a look of wry disapproval. "But it tastes like roots!"

"Pfft, you taste like roots."

Daisy frowned. "Ha ha, very funny."

The only sound beyond their voices and the soft, chilly wind was the crunching of the snow under their feet.

"Aww, don't be that way. You know I'm only kidding!" Paulo laughed.

"Hmf, sometimes I wonder!"

It had been a while since their last walk. Daisy enjoyed the time with Paulo just as much as he did with her, but she spent so much time on schoolwork and with Abbey. They didn't have many opportunities to hang out anymore.

It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Abbey didn't harvest such an intense dislike for the all-too-edgy Somali, but there wasn't anything Daisy could do about it. If she forced them into the same room, she knew Paulo wouldn't be himself, Abbey would be too up-in-arms, and the entire thing would quickly become a disaster – most likely ending similarly to the way Abbey's debate with Sue did during elections. It was a cat-tastrophe waiting to happen.

Daisy stole a glance at Paulo's smiling face, catching him just on the dismount of a candid laugh. Maybe it didn't matter. Maybe having anybody else around, whether or not they got along with Paulo would have taken away from the whole situation. She liked having him for herself.

"Brrrr! It's so cold out here!" Daisy frowned again and hugged herself.

"Heh, yeah, maybe doing this during winter wasn't such a good idea…"

"Mmm, well, I don't mind! As long as I get to spend the time with you! No matter how frigid it may or may not be…"

"Heh," Paulo blushed. "I feel the same way…"

It was one of those rare, awkward moments between them. One of the quiet ones, where they were both blushing and fervently scrambling in their minds for something to say.

"You know," Paulo began, his voice uncharacteristically uncertain. "If you're cold we could, uh… Well, I hear that, uh, bodies give off a lot of warmth so we could, um, I don't know? Huddle up? Just for a bit, I mean!"

"Paulo…" Daisy blushed and looked away.

Paulo hit on every girl he came into contact with. He tried to flatter every woman he possibly could – even teachers. But never before had he ever been so blunt with her. Never before had he laid his feelings out so clearly and openly. That was why Daisy liked their walks together so much, alone. She got to see a side of Paulo that was saved only for her. A side she often wondered if his girlfriends or even Lucy had ever seen. It was him being himself - the trusting, vulnerable person he really was deep down.

"Uh, heh," Paulo was blushing intensely. "I was just kidding!" He laughed and scratched the back of his head. "Yeah, just joking! You wouldn't want to do something like that anyway!" He swallowed hard and bit his lip. He was learning the hard way that rejection hurts a lot more when coming from someone you reall-


Paulo inhaled and held the air for several moments. He felt his face turn warm, even against the icy breeze. He could feel his heart starting to beat faster.

"Oh, y-you want to?"

"Uh, yeah…" Daisy looked at the ground and played with her fingers. "I mean, if you want to."

"Y-yeah, of course!" Paulo cleared his throat, trying to correct his embarrassing over-enthusiasm. And then there was another awkward moment. One of the quiet ones, where they were both blushing and fervently scrambling in their minds for something to say; except this time, Paulo was scrambling for something to do. He wanted to… do it, but he didn't know how.

"Maybe we should, sit down?" Daisy tentatively suggested.

"Uh, yeah, we'll do that."

Paulo wasn't used to such nervousness, especially with women… Just, when it came to Daisy, everything was different. He could call most girls "hot" and "sexy" without a second thought, but he could barely utter a simple "you're pretty" to Daisy without curling up into a ball of fur and hiding.

Paulo scanned the area for a good place to sit down, but they were in the woods, not a park; there were no benches. So instead he found a tree. He kneeled down and pushed as much of the thin layer of snow out of the way as he could. He then sat down on the moist grass.

Daisy was still playing with her fingers, a light blush across her face, thoughts of adultery being too easily dismissed with the simple consideration of close friendship. Paulo waved her over. She looked at him a bit confused for a second before approaching him, kneeling down, and pushing the snow next to him out of the way.

Paulo stopped her.

"I was uh, actually thinking you could sit… here." He patted the small, matted down grass in front of him – just between his legs.

Daisy giggled, and Paulo blushed harder. She crawled over and sat in the spot. Paulo spread his legs a bit more to accommodate her. She laid back, her head against his chest and her entire back against his stomach. Paulo wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly against him.

"Feeling any warmer?"

Daisy smiled. "Among other things."

*The shitty 'cat-tastrophe' pun was done for Purin, the person who commissioned this story. I figured he would like it.