... Oops? I knew I said I will update in June in my profile, but things just kept coming up! I am so sorry!!

Cheshire's sounded normal in the past chapter because she was thinking and not speaking., but her speech pattern will be somewhat strange from now on, taking her Asian heritage and loner, isolated personality into consideration. However, I am aware that most Asian Americans speak normally(I am one of them), and many Asians from HK speaks English fairly well.

WARNING! PLEASE READ (sorry for the capital abuse... ):

Once again, I will remind everyone that English is not my native language. If anyone is uncomfortable, you are welcome to stop.

Also, some of you may start to notice issues of sexism in the story. This is intentional, and I sincerely hope that it would not cause discomfort. Due to the realism of an extremely violent world and Cheshire's traumatic past, some issues are unavoidable. Everything really just happens because of how the character and the setting is. The action and thoughts of the characters does not necessarily represent my opinion of people.

Thank you for reading and a special thanks to those who reviewed. I hope you have fun reading this chapter.


Curious as a Cat

Cheshire looked down at Arsenal and offered him her hand.

"No, no, I can get up." And he did. He patted off some invisible dust on his back. "No reason to trouble you." Arsenal winked at Cheshire with one of his best smile.

She may had kicked my ass, but she's my peers now. Connections, Speedy, connections - get as much good connection you can get, and Cheshire is no doubt one of the best.

Cheshire tilted her head and let her hand dropped back down to her side.

Do that idiot realized that most people can't see him winking behind a dark red sunglass? Men are idiots.

"I am assuming that you are taking the elevator to the fifth floor, yes?" Cheshire said in a gentle, lady-like voice.

"Yea, if I can find it first." Arsenal, finally standing, answered.

There was a moment of silence as Cheshire stared at Arsenal.

"... But the elevator's right behind you."

Idiot? Double checked.

Arsenal blinked from confusion for the Nth time. "Huh?" He turned his head toward the storage room. "Madam Rouge told me it is between these two rooms, but it's a storage room."

Cheshire chuckled while bringing her right hand up to her mouth, even though no one can see her smirk with the mask. "When have things been the same as one see them in this mazed world This is, after all, the Brotherhood."

Cheshire walked pass Arsenal. Her familiar raven hair and the scent of soft jasmine danced in the air as she passed. Arsenal found himself slightly enchanted.

Cheshire gripped the door handle firmly and opened it without hesitation.

...

So that's where the elevator was.


Arsenal, seeping his coke, peeked at Cheshire. The metallic room was deadly quiet, disturbed only by the slight mechanic buzz of the elevator.

The mask girl stood calmly in front of the door, her eyes focused on the number that indicated the floor levels. Her position was straight, but not rigid. Her hand hanged loosely near her waist. Arsenal could not see her face, but there was a aura of calm authority around her .

How should he put it? A ballerina? A princess? No, a queen is more fitting.

At the same times, Arsenal also sensed a slight but deadly coldness around her. It was light and well-hidden. No one else would really notice, but Arsenal could sense a slight apathy and coldness leaking from from her gentle, well-mannered facade. Curious person, curious person indeed.

While Arsenal was observing Cheshire, Cheshire was doing the same thing.

Feeling the awkward effect of the dead silence within the room, Arsenal was about to speak when the elevator made a dreadful squeaking sound.

The elevator's light flashed for a moment, then the two teen villains felt the gravity changed as the elevator made an unexpected stop between fourth and fifth floor.

Both teens inside froze for a moment along with the elevator, then they glanced at each other with knowing looks – the elevator was stuck.

Sighing in helpless and slightly tiring manner, Cheshire moved to the control panel and pushed the emergency bottom .

"Don't worry, this happen very often." She said with a calm, casual tone.

In fact, so often that I am tempted to struggled the stupid, moronic boys who caused this!

"... It does?"

"They – the others – has quite the... talent, shall we said, for disaster. The boys have a particular liking for the mechanic and water parts of this... place."

She looked up to the roof. "Help should come in a minute. If not, the roof has a door us can open."

Th place just kept getting stranger. But then, the Titans Tower was not much better anyway. The Titans created lesser damages, but the people were just as insane as the ones in the Brotherhood.

"You trying to say?"

"Huh?" Arsenal, snapped out of of his thought, looked to Cheshire with a confused expression.

"You going to say something before elevator stopped, no?"

"Uh... Yea!" Arsenal thrust out his right hand with a friendly grin on his face. "The name's Arsenal, specializes in weaponry. You're Cheshire, right?"

Cheshire stared at his hand for a second before answering. "Yes, please to meet you. I would shake hands, but my poison tip is still wet." She greeted by a simply, light nod in the head. "Do forgive my rudeness."

Overly-proper, much?

"Oh, it's fine." Arsenal waved his hands in a dismissing gesture.

"You are most welcome." Cheshire nodded again, before turning her head back to face the elevator door. Once again Arsenal found themselves in an awkward silence – for him anyway.

Cheshire merely stared at the elevator door, calmly waiting for the elevator to recover.

Arsenal continued his observation from the side. Cheshire was a mysterious villain. Information concerning her has been difficult to obtain, even for the Titans. She rarely spoke during battle, and always operate behind the scenes. The Titans' impression of her is a emotionless, masked villain of silence and rational - as a criminal in the shadow, she has been a truly professional assassin. Even now, at close distance and as an peers, her exterior manner was not much different.

Helpful and polite, but cold and aloof.

She was a high class assassin - unlike the normal, everyday criminal that stole and created disaster for the heck of it.

Cheshire was classified as a more dangerous criminal than the Hive Academy teens. In fact, she never attended the Hive Academy and often operated alone with very little contact with the Hive. On of the few exception... was Jinx, the undeclared leader of the Hive in the past. Jinx was one of the very few friends that Cheshire had, both being the minority of self-made female immigrant villains.

Jinx once mentioned that Cheshire probably realized she was at a rank closer to the adults in the ranking system unwritten but known in the criminal world, and thus unwilling to work with foolish underling with the ambition of a hungry kindergartener.

A rank closer to someone like Madam Rogue.

The rank rare among teen criminals.

A rank he needed to accomplish.

Infiltrate the system.

At any cost.

Deceit.

Ally.

Lies.

The scent of trickery.

Without knowing it, Arsenal's eyes turned dark with thought behind the mask of his sunglasses.


Cheshire's face was masked, but she glanced at Arsenal from the side.

She knew he wa staring at her, even with his eyes hidden behind the dark crimson tint of his sunglasses.

He flirted and acted casually with people, but he had an unique aura that said he was much more. He hid himself well, but not well enough to escape her eyes - nor Madam Rougue's eyes. Cheshire had heard much about him.

There were many criminal in the world, but very few of them were world-class. Only a small amount of people can put themselves on the same ground with world-class heros like the Teen Titans and Justice League.

But then, the society of world-class hero was small too - compared to the world population anyhow.

News, therefore, traveled quite rapidly in the small circle, with the speed of a scandalous rumor spreading in a junior high school.

The women's circle was even smaller, and it was easier for the women flock to obtain and discuss information anyhow.

Cheshire was one of the extremely few teens to obtain a more... trustful position with Madam Rogue, and sometimes the masked girl gets some rather interesting information.

Arsenal.

Teen villain rookie of the year, appeared out of nowhere a month ago in Jump City.

Stabilized in the Steel City a week ago, which was a city known for its production of fine machinery and weapon.

Considering his fighting style, which consisted mostly of acrobatic martial arts and weapon, the city's trademark production was probably Arsenal's reason for staying in the dark, smoky city.

Operation wise, he worked alone and planned meticulously ahead. His strategy was simple and used the easiest and most unnoticeable path and time. He infiltrated and took his targets, with no desire of glamoring his thievery like some kids in the Brotherhood does.

Such care and elegance in his art, sometimes the thievery was not even discover until days later.

Yet, while his plans were unpredictable, his M.O. was so uniquely professional that anyone would know it was him.

For the same reason, he had became one of the hardest villains for the Titans to handle.

He rarely created any damages to people or property. His only concern seemed to be the jewels of his choice. He spoke little, but always in a low but clear voice. He spoke casually, with a hint of sarcasm.

Always a gentle smile, with elegant yet quick movement.

Calm.

Collected.

Rational.

A villain gentleman.

Within a month, his presence had been caught by the criminal world in the US. He even went so far and took the jewel that Madam Rogue had been eying.

Accident? Or an attempt to grab their attention? If it's the later, he had succeed.

Most of the teen villains will only see him as a new addition, but Cheshire knew better. If he continued to play the right card, he would raise above most of the current teen villains and into the more inner circle of the rank.

To her level.

Or even further.

But what was his intention?

An person of curiously high level of skill, raising out of no where in an surprising short amount of time.

No special background. No mentor.

A rebellious teenager with parents in the industrial engineering field.

Ran away a year ago to a ghetto near Jump City, and eventually learnt to steal small stuff in order to live. Small thievery indeed, until a month ago that is.

He then began to steal at a high class style. He stole expansive, historical art works and fine jewelry in highly secured locations with the grace and touch of an expert.

Thieveries with choice style, difficulty, and skills beyond normal.

Thieveries that caught the interest of the upper class of criminals.

Thieveries that is certainly not by an mere teenage amatuer.

Who was he?

Madam Rogue had watched him with both expectation and suspicions, especially after their small encounter. Now that Cheshire has seen him in person, she had to agree that he was indeed not normal.

Like her, he was masked. His eyes hidden behind his masked glasses, his hair pulled back by a visor of the same shade, and his sharpness and calculated mind hidden by an sarcastic flirtatious character. But unlike her, his face is not completely cover by a mask.

Not caged.

She can see his eyebrow and mouth shape in a way that showed his concentration.

Darken by society, forced to mature beyond their years.

Both of them.

Trapped by the need to survive in the harsh, cold world.

Darkness

Coldness.

Distrust.

In a world that never revolved around them.

Faces hidden behind their own mask.


They stood in the elevator, waiting for it to move.

They observed and thought.

Both realized that neither was as they appeared.

Both realized that they were hidden behind a mask.

The "4" changed to a "5"

Cheshire turned to Arsenal and pulled his visor down, nearly knocking his glasses off. The action forced him to bow his head down slightly.

"Stop staring, the elevator is moving now." She returned to her position before. "If you are so interested in seeing Asian girls, go to Chinatown, or a get a girl's magazine." A hint of sarcasm in her voice.

With his head toward the ground, Arsenal smiled in a dark yet understanding fashion. "You were staring, too."

"Hmph." Cold, but slightly warmer.

They both knew that the other wasn't staring at a girl or a guy.

They were observing, calculating, evaluating.

For an possible ally.

An possible enemy.

Cheshire stepped out of the elevator in all her elegant posture. Arsenal, with on hand in his pocket and the other hand holding a can of coke, followed behind with a casual manner.

In the simple interaction, a unspoke deal was made. They were both smart, and they both knew it.

For now, they would work peacefully with each other.

For now.

The elevator closed as they stepped into a dimly lit, grayish concrete meeting room.


TBC