Author Notes: This is my second Red Arrow and Cheshire story, so I hope you enjoy! And since the new episode premiered this weekend, I thought it was a good time to upload a fanfic. I hope you enjoy it and please review.

Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice. It belongs to DC Comics and Cartoon Network.

Facing Denial

He was nothing more than a thorn.

He'd dug his way under her skin and he wouldn't get out. He was always on her mind in the most annoying of ways. She couldn't even escape when she was asleep.

Ever since she was younger, she'd had dreamless nights. Most of the time she had slept without being disturbed by any subconscious thoughts. Just silence, darkness, and peace. She was used to it. It was calming.

But now… ever since she'd met him… she could barely sleep. She'd wake up with a shriek at two in the morning, her blood running cold, her hands coated with sweat. Breaking away from her dreams of his strong arms wrapped around her and…

It was infuriating! Sure, he was interesting. He was different. Superman might have been more heroic. And Batman might have been more mysterious. But Red Arrow… He was dangerous. Danger was intriguing, especially in her line of work.

But it meant nothing. She was sure of that.

Arrow Junior was nothing more than an annoyance. She could deal with him. If she ignored the fact that he messed with her head.

Maybe it wasn't easy to concentrate when she was fighting him. But that was because he was strong. He was skillful. That's all it was. He always had some trick that could make her slip up. That was why she couldn't concentrate. It was nothing. A simple thing. A problem that extra training could fix.

Maybe she did look forward to fighting him. Maybe she did enjoy his attempts to stop her. But that was because she liked a challenge. If her baby sister's little team of sidekicks was any match for her, she would look forward to fighting them, too.

And maybe she had enjoyed kissing him that one time… only a little, though. Any girl would have. He wasn't exactly unattractive.

And maybe she did have a thing for redheads. Gingers were hot, after all…

But none of that meant anything!

He was a "hero." She was a "villain." She'd been told that enough times in her life. Everybody had to do something to pay the bills. It just so happened that he saved the people she tried to kill. That's how it was with all the heroes. They didn't ask why; they just saw the blood on her hands and tried to haul her off to jail.

Okay, sure, she enjoyed flirting with Red Arrow. His reactions were priceless. It was fun. It made her job more entertaining. He made it more interesting. After all, even being an assassin could get boring.

And even though he was almost her equal in any match, she always came out on top.

Sometimes he bested her, but it never lasted.

Once, he'd actually been able to pin her to a wall. How? Well, a lucky shot knocked off her mask, and a strategic smokescreen arrow made her unable to see or even breath, really. Then, you know, his arms were ridiculous. Once he'd clamped his hands around her wrists, there was no way she would be able to break free. Fighting back would have been pointless. She knew that. And she never did anything pointless if she could help it.

He towered over her.

In actuality, he was only slightly taller than her. An inch or two at most. But the way he was standing, the way he'd pinned her, it changed her whole perspective. Her knees were bent and she had slid down the wall slightly. He loomed over her.

Maybe she could have just kicked him in the shin and run when he let go. Maybe she could have brought her knee up into his stomach and slipped away when he released her wrists. Maybe she could have crushed his foot and sprinted into the night.

There were a million different ways she could have gone about this. But every one of those plans had at least one flaw, one way that they could all go terribly wrong. A flawed plan wouldn't automatically succeed. She needed an easy way out. It had to be foolproof. It had to be…

It was the oldest trick in the book. The simplest and most reliable plan she had.

No teeth.

No claws.

The Cheshire Cat would play kitten.

She took a slow breath and closed her eyes to calm herself. Her blood was pumping with adrenaline, but she couldn't let that effect her performance. She had to do this right.

She slowly opened her eyes and looked up at him. She forced herself to look weak. A slight film of tears. Just enough to be believable. Her mouth opened slightly, as though she might scream, as though she was having trouble breathing.

She felt his hands stiffen against her wrists. She had his attention.

She looked up at him through her thick, dark eyelashes. She looked scared, hurt, vulnerable… And she knew it. It was all part of the plan.

This always worked for her. These supermen were all the same. They never really cared what happened to her, but they were hardwired to help a girl in need. They let there guard down, loosened their grip, gave her just enough to get away. It always worked.

She blinked once, slowly. The cherry on top. The trump card. The coup de grâce. The endgame.

It was all part of the routine. It was the big finale.

But when she opened her eyes, she was shocked.

Genuine concern lined his face. Just under the mask. His brow was furrowed with worry. He frowned slightly as though he was unsure what to do.

"I'm not gonna hurt you," he whispered.

His grip on her relaxed slightly.

It was a reflex. The moment the pressure on her wrists lessened, she jumped into action.

Slide out of his grip. Move faster! Faster! Run. Dodge his fist. Mask. Smoke bomb. Was that an arrow? There's no way he could get anywhere near hitting me in this smokescreen. No. Keep running! Don't stop. Move. Blood's pumping. Heart's racing. Adrenaline's coursing. Just move! Don't think. Just run!

Her thoughts were racing, but she kept going.

She ran until she hid. She was out-of-the-way, he wouldn't find her.

She could barely remember what route she'd taken to get here. (Was it alleyway, alleyway, fire escape; or alleyway, fire escape, rooftop, rooftop?) But that didn't matter. She was safe… For now. Now, she had time to think.

"I'm not going to hurt you."

What was that supposed to mean?

The adrenaline was wearing off. She had already caught her breath. Running was nothing new. So why was her heart still beating so fast?

He couldn't have really meant it. They never did.

But that look! No one ever looked at her like that. No one was ever that worried. Green Arrow never looked concerned. Neither did anyone on her sister's team. And the police certainly didn't.

It was all reflex. Cause and effect. Simple and base reactions. She looked hurt and they let go. It meant nothing.

But Red Arrow had… he'd paused. He'd thought he was hurting her. Well, hurting her excessively. They both got hurt every time they fought each other; she still had bruises from their last encounter. But this time he'd seemed to think he'd gone too far. She knew the phrase "too far" shouldn't apply to fighting your enemies… Ever.


It couldn't be. There was no way. Hero. Villain. These were defined, unbreakable lines.

This was just one more thing to add to the list of reasons why she hated him:

He cared.

That was a weakness. She could exploit it. A little eye flutter here. A few tears there. And he'd be eating out of the palm of her hand the next time they met.

But, like most plans, this one had a flaw. A crucial flaw.

She cared, too.

Author Notes: So, what did you think? Don't forget to tell me. Reviews are always appreciated. :)