He hated the forest in the dark. In the day time it was just pretty boring, some animals making noises here and there. But at night like now, along with the stupid birds making noise were the shadowsall over the place. He didn't have any high-tech weaponry or goggles with him either, making it even harder to tell between an actual figure or just the light messing with him. Sometimes he'd just pull out a flash arrow to light the way in front of him. But he'd always turn back quickly whenever he thought he saw something, or someone behind him.

But no, it was always just the shadows.

"Stop whining Speedy we've got a mission to complete." Speedy spoke to himself in a high-pitched voice, his eyes narrowed. Sure, Bumblebee could be confident in traveling in a forest at night, she had a teammate with her. Even though Aqualad probably wouldn't be much use in a forest anyway...

The sound of something snapping behind him caused Speedy to whirl around. He brought the flash arrow into the bow, pulling it back on the string. Strands of light danced off the head of the projectile, pointing to the place where he had heard the sound come from. It took him a few minutes to recognize what was there.

"Just a squirrel..." Speedy said, bunching his shoulders up while the creature raced off after recovering from it's initial shock. The Titan sighed and lowered his shoulders, relaxing his grip. This was a stupid mission. Some two-bit criminals ran off from Steel City with payoff from the city's bank system, and now they had to go chasing off after them. Where the cops for this sort of thing? Weren't they supposed to be stopping actual villains?

Whatever, the sooner he got this over with, the faster he could just get back to the tower and relax. Maybe play a couple games with Aqualad against the twins. Always won and got out of cleaning duty, always, although they were getting better...

Speedy rested on his bow for a few minutes, swaying on the balls of his feet a bit. Maybe he should just find contact Bumblebee and meet up with them. Anything would be better than this, actually. Maybe just calling off the search completely and saying the robbers drowned in a river or something--

Speedy suddenly spun back, turning his head side to side quickly. Nothing there, just trees and the dirt path in front of him.

But... he could've sworn... something... something had been watching him. Speedy felt his skin pick up in goose bumps, and shivered.

"Just the cold. Come on Speedy, keep it together..." he said in a low voice, the eyes under his mask still going back and forth. After a few minutes though he took his flash arrow in one hand, and started walking forward again. His feet made a soft crunching noise on the dirt, and listening to it helped him calm down. Just sounded... normal, every-day sort of thing.

He continued to walk down the dirt path, with no other sound than that going into his ears. He straightened up a bit, and kept his bow between his side and right arm. The flash arrow provided him enough light to see several feet in front of him, which was always a good thing. Couldn't be too sure of anything at this time of day.

Something caught his eye ahead, right in the middle of the path. Something... big. Speedy immediately raised his bow and strung the flash arrow,. Whatever it was just kept standing in front of him. He let go after a few seconds, already giving enough time to whatever it was to get out of the way. The arrow whizzed through the air, striking the shrouded shape. Speedy grinned and covered his eyes even as the arrow exploded in a painful flash of white light upon collision. If it had been a human, he'd only be blinded for a while, no permanent damage done. He waited a couple seconds before moving over to whatever he had struck.

"What?" Speedy said confused, staring at what was now lying in the road. He bent down next to it, and rested a hand on whatever the object was. It was... rough, like a... a bag. Speedy put a grim look on his face as he hit it, seeing what was inside. From the feel... just a lot of compacted leaves, or something similar. What was this? Some set-up? Couldn't be those crooks from earlier. They didn't seem really smart, considering they robbed a bank in a city guarded by several superheroes.

Definitely out of their league. No... if this really was some sort of dumb trap, what was it doing out in the middle of here? And who'd do it? Speedy stood up, pushing the bag out of the path with his foot. Probably just a stupid prank by some local kids trying to mess with people.

But still... something didn't feel right, and he couldn't really put his finger on it. He immediately tensed up, feeling cold again.


Speedy straightened at the sounds of clashing blades behind him.

"Aw crap."

He spun as fast as he could, bending at his midsection as he went for an arrow. But too slow, whatever was behind him flew straight into his body, throwing him back. Speedy crashed into the dirt, letting out an involuntary yell. His back burned from the impact, but he tried to get up quickly, looking up first. He stared forward, and saw his assailant.

"You again!" Speedy shouted incredulously. The masked girl did not make a single noise in response, instead bringing both hands up near her face. Her legs spread out a bit, the green kimono around her body stretching at the bottom. Speedy stared at them for a second before trying to get back up and take an arrow back out of his quiver. The girl charged at him, arms spread from the sides of her small frame a bit.

Speedy took several steps back, dodging each of the slashes brought his way. The girl stopped momentarily before bringing both of her arms together and striking. Speedy moved his own hands and grabbed his bow by both sides, bringing it up. He slammed it into the girl's oncoming hands, stopping the attack. He smirked at her as she stood completely still, staring back at him.

"Not on the offensive now, huh?"

What came next took him by complete surprise. The girl seemed to actually lift into the air with her hands still on the bow, before delivering a painful kick to his midsection again. He let go of it and fell back, the wind knocked out of him. The opponent landed only a few feet away, her cat-like mask turned slightly to the side. Speedy turned his head, seeing his bow in her hands.

'She grabbed onto it and used it like a rope!' he thought to himself, cursing as he tried to get up. 'Now I just need to get it back now..."

She suddenly let go of the bow, and moved her arms in a flurry around it as it fell. Speedy's mouth dropped open as his weapon hit the ground, sliced into dozens of pieces.

... Not good.'

The girl looked back up at him and ran forward. Speedy tried to get ready for her, thinking through his possible counters. His opponent wasn't willing to give him that choice however. She reached an arm forward, extending her claws as far as she could. Speedy yelled as the weapons scratched across his chest, ripping throughhis clothing and quiver strap. He took a step back to steady himself.

"Ahh!" he said, covering the exposed skin with his hand. He felt a trickle of something go down his chest, and onto his arm.

'Just great, bleeding now!' Speedy thought to himself as he tried to focus back in on the girl, whoever she was. She had disappeared though, back into the shadows. Tree branch after branch jostled, the leaves rustling. He twisted his head, following each one with his eyes. He could barely make her out... catching a foot or leg with each glance. He gripped his gloved fists, feeling his nails dig into the rough leather.

'Wait for it...'

The noises around him suddenly stopped. Speedy stood still, taking in deep breaths. He closed his eyes, and tensed his body. Had to be patient, had to be--

Speedy looked up and threw a hand forward. He grabbed onto the girl's sleeved arm and pulled her in. She jerked back in surprise, but Speedy held onto her in a tight grip. He kicked with his right foot into the girl's abdomen, letting her go as she fall back. She planted both claws into the dirt to stop herself, the cloth on her kimono hanging only inches from the ground.

"Not going to be as easy as last time," Speedy said, spreading his legs out beneath him. He raised one of his arms out in front, keeping the other at his side.

The girl pulled her legs to her chest and used the claws to swing her body back. She set them back down and pushed herself out of the dirt in a quick fashion. Speedy's mouth dropped open a little at the manuever, but he quickly shut it.

'Not the best time to really get distracted by that sort of thing...'

The thought no sooner came as the girl launched herself at him again. Speedy threw up his left arm and hit her thin wrist from below, ducking his head beneath her claws. He moved his torso to the side as the other hand came at him, the claws passing right by his right armpit. He tried to grab her arm again but she kicked before he could, throwing him back. He slammed into a tree behind him, letting out a yelp from the pain.

The girl took the moment to attack him. Speedy dodged another fast kick; the bark on the tree flying forward as her foot slammed into it. She pulled the leg back just as quickly as she had attacked with it. He could feel his heart beat speeding up, but not in an enjoyable way.

'Gotta' stop her from doing that again.' he thought to himself. He noticed her shifting her stance. the weight shifting to the right leg, the one she had just struck with...

She kicked with her left leg almost immediately after. Speedy stood completely still, keeping his arms at either side. Just a little bit closer--

He lunged out with both arms, and wrapped them around her leg. The teen held on tightly, not letting her pull it back. Speedy bent his neck a little more down, and smirked.

"Black, nice..."

Speedy felt the resistance from her stop suddenly, and her leg seemed to go limp. He watched as she stood there for a few seconds, not doing anything. He did hear a distinctive "skrit" noise however, but her claws were already out, so--.

Suddenly the girl reared back and flung her fist forward. Speedy had no time to duck, and the clenched hand slammed straight into his left cheek. He let go of her leg and fell to the side. He felt the impact of the hardened floor even as specks of light spun in front of his eyes. He let out a low groan.

'Good job Speedy, comment on her... clothing... and let yourself... get whacked..." He tried to raise his head, but it didn't do much good. Still could barely see... the shadows were intermixing now with everything... could make out though a green blur coming closer and...

'Well, this is it then, I guess. Ah well, at least I didn't go down... without a... fight. But just... who is she?' He could see what he recognized as his opponent almost standing right above him now, maybe just a... foot or two away. Speedy swallowed; he felt a lump in his throat. He heard the noise again, and saw... even in the darkness the claws... extend back out. His eyesight was getting a bit better, but now was too late to do anything.

Just take whatever he got, and get it over with then. Hey, maybe it'd even be quick.

The girl stared at him for a little more, before taking a few steps forward. Speedy felt one of her boots rub against his side. She was... right on top of him? What was she trying to do, dig the claws right into his face, scratch his eyes out? He just wanted it over with, couldn't she at least do that?

Her next move took him by completely by surprise. The girl suddenly fell onto both knees, digging them into the ground. Speedy felt a light weight press against his stomach. She moved a hand to the back of his head, and brought it forward. His eyes opened wide even as she took a hand, and put it to the bottom of her mask. She lifted it up slightly, and brought her exposed lips to his.

After a few seconds she lifted her face away from him, letting his head fall slowly back to the ground. He simply stared, looking up into her face. At this distance, he could almost completely see it, even without light. She had a... round and soft face, with a tannish coloring of skin. A few locks of hair hung loosely over her face, touching his. His heart continued to pound away; his stomach feeling like it was flopping back and forth. He swallowed the uneasy feeling in his mouth, and continued to look up.

The only thing he really couldn't see of hers was... her eyes. The mask was up enough to expose them, but the shading acted as another concealment. He cursed his luck. Cute girl about to slice him up, at least he could get to see her eyes after a kiss.

He felt another weight on his left shoulder as she pressed her hand on it, pushing him completely against the ground. She leaned forward once more, as if she was about to kiss him again. Her face floated only an inch or two away, making light no longer a problem. He focused in, catching a glimpse of her face fully.

Green, but... a bit lighter than that. More like... jade.

"Just so you know, the name's Cheshire." she said in a soft voice, almost not seeming to fit the persona Speedy had fought. She playfully poked an index finger into his shoulder after her last word. Speedy smirked a bit, a single bead of sweat going down the side of his head. Wasn't much else now she could do to him, had him pinned basically in every way, although he wasn't exactly upset by it completely... For some reason though, the thought of the encounter ending how Speedy thought it would become less and less. But she had claws, and had him pinned! He was basically defenseless, and she could kill him in any manner she wanted to! Right now even!

But she hadn't.

"Speedy, are you out there?" A shout came through the trees only yards away from them. Both Speedy and Cheshire turned their faces in that direction. He could see outlines of darkened figures moving through the brush and foilage. He recognized them, and cursed silently.

'Great timing, Aqualad.'

He looked back up at the girl on top of him, but she had already stood up, becoming tense. Cheshire pulled the mask back over her face, and her claws reappeared from her sleeves.

"We'll see each other soon." she said, just as Speedy heard several branches break underfoot. She leaped up before he could protest, and a blink of an eye disappeared back into the tree tops. He let out a low sigh, and lowered his head to his chest a bit. Just perfect timing...

"Speedy, you alright? What happened to your shirt?" Speedy picked his head back up, turning it to his right. Bumblebee was floating nearby, with Aqualad and the twins running up to her. He sat up, staring at them. Mas and Menos flew right past him, stopping on his other side in a flash.

"¿Rápido, está bien usted?" One of the twins spoke. Speedy rubbed the back of his head with a hand. His chest stung, noticing it for the first time after a while.

"I... guess."

"Well that's good. Listen Speedy, we found the crooks and locked them up, so if you're done with your nap we're going back home." Bumblebee said, crossing her arms. Speedy glared back at his leader. Napping? Napping! He'd just been attacked on his lonesome, and nearly killed! Where did she get off? If it wasn't for her anyway, he wouldn't have even have been on his own. He wouldn't have even been--

.. wouldn't have been kissed.

Speedy dropped the angered look before it had even fully registered on his face. He shrugged as he stood up, and began walking back onto the path. Aqualad and Bumblebee parted, allowing him to walk past them. They both flashes confused looks at each other, before following after him.

"Uhh, Speedy, you sure you don't want Bumblebee to lead the way with her stingers? You don't seem to have that light-up arrow with you." Aqualad said, catching up to his teammate. Speedy kept going forward, shrugging again.

"Eh, doesn't really bother me." Bumblebee flew behind Aqualad, with a smirk on her face.

"You telling us you're not afraid of the dark anymore?" she said, slightly teasing now. Speedy shifted his sight to the right a little, as a distinct noise caught his ear.

It was almost as if something was... jostling one tree branch after the other. Speedy thought he spotted a small, dark shape in the distance doing just that, blending in with foilage along the way, long... sleeves trailing behind her. His heart gave a little jump,before settling down again.

He curled his lips into a small smile, turning his head back to the others.

"Eh, once you know what's out there, it's not too bad."