As Daken hangs out on the streets of New York, Norman Osborn asks his fellow Dark Avengers where the hell he is at. Venom (Spider-Man) replies that he’s probably messing with his moth… Osborn warns him not to say it and Venom proceeds to finish his thought with the word ‘around.’ Bullseye (Hawkeye) asks Osborn how badly he’s Jonesing for him. Osborn replies that he was supposed to meet him for an evaluation. Venom quips that sounds kinky. Osborn tells them that they are all disgusting and then asks if they have any idea where he is at. Bullseye remarks that he’ll find him but Moonstone (Ms. Marvel) tells him that he has no clue where he is at. When Bullseye asks and she does, Moonstone gives him a smile and walks off. As she does, Venom asks if he thinks…
As Moonstone leaps out her window, she thinks to herself: Little mysteries. We’re filled with them. From birth to death we live in our own precious heads. Isolated. Sometimes, too isolated. People hardly know themselves. All those walls. We build the maze and make our home there. Some of us know the paths through our minds, and sometimes we need a map. A guide.
I used to be a guide. I used to help people find their way. Many people. Men, women, children. But no one like him. He’s a fascinating study. Brilliant, devious. I can’t tell what part of him is real or an act. Maybe all of it or nothing. A mystery. And yes, I admit it. I’ve been following him. Trying to, anyway. Slippery man. Like a ghost. I always lose him. Not that I mind. I like hunting. I like how it makes me feel. You only learn about yourself by seeing your reflection in another person’s eyes. You can’t see your true face in a vacuum. You don’t love in a vacuum. You don’t suffer, or kill, or feel joy. You’re not tested when you’re alone. You just drift in the illusion of your best self. Who you think you are. Without a single person or action to show you otherwise.
I always wonder what people see when they look in the mirror. I wonder what he sees. I can’t read him. I’ve played the game. I’ve smiled and laughed, because I wanted to. Because he’s the kind of man who is charming enough to make you want to. But I always knew what I was doing. Beware charm. Beware smiles from men. Look for those daggers on the tongue. I always look for daggers. I look for truth. And I’m going to find his.
As she flies around the city, Moonstone witnesses a couple engaged in romantic liaisons, an elderly woman in a wheelchair being taken care of, a husband smacking his wife while their kids hide in fear, a man attempting to leap off a building and commit suicide, and a mugging in process in an alleyway.
After landing and changing into plain clothes, Moonstone and Daken enter a restaurant where they begin to drink tea and talk. Moonstone proceeds to ask Daken why they are there. After Daken asks her why does she think, Moonstone replies that his mother was Japanese and he was raised there. But that, she thinks, might be too easy an answer when it comes to him. Daken asks ‘that so?’ Moonstone tells him that she doesn’t presume to guess what drives other people, not without hard facts. She can form an opinion based on what little she knows but opinions have a way of becoming obsolete. Which is her long-winded way of saying… you tell me.
When Daken tells her he has a question first, Moonstone says ‘cheater.’ Daken proceeds to ask her why she cares about why he is there. Because, if she’ll forgive his impertinence, as well as his formation of a possibly obsolete opinion, it seems to him that she might be interested only because she thinks there’s something between them – chemistry possibly, things that require further investigation. Moonstone replies maybe she’s just nosy. Daken says he’s sure of it but she does have a cute nose.
After sitting there in silence, Daken asks what she thinks. Moonstone tells him she told him, she… Daken tells her, Karla, that he was talking about the tea, she should try it. Seeing as how that is the only reason he’s there. Sometimes the answer isn’t complicated, just the expectations. Taking a sip of the tea, Karla tells him it’s good. She then tells him that she doesn’t buy it. He’s hiding something. He’s always hiding something behind that smile, those eyes.
Daken replies say she’s right. He asks her to tell him what she thinks he’s hiding. Tell him who he is. Karla informs him that she doesn’t know what to think, she made that clear. And only he knows who he is. Daken retorts that what she said was that she doesn’t like to form opinions. But not liking something, and not doing it, are two different things. She’s made an opinion; she’s assumed things about him. Peering at him, Karla replies fine, everyone does. With his hands covering his face, Daken tells her not everyone.
Daken recalls years ago when he was a boy. He happened upon an old woman sitting in a hut drinking tea. As he hid in the reeds, the old woman told him that she can feel him watching her. She then tells him not to be shy, she doesn’t bite. As Daken enters the hut, the old woman tells him that he has nice eyes and invites him to have a seat. Once he does, Daken asks her if she knows why he is there. The old woman asks is it not obvious? He is there because she asked for him so that they might drink tea. Taking a cup, Daken tells her that he is supposed to kill her. The old woman responds that she is an old woman and her death is already coming. It does not matter whether he does as he is told, the result will be the same. Surprised, Daken asks that she is not afraid? The old woman tells him that she cannot fear what she does not know. Standing up, Daken bows to the old woman and leaves.
Karla proceeds to ask Daken why he was sent to kill the old woman. Daken replies he doesn’t know, an exercise maybe. But he came there to that restaurant because it’s the closest he’s ever tasted to the tea he had that day. Upon hearing that remark, Karla looks into her tea and her face begins to show signs of concern. With wild eyes, Daken asks Karla what she saw. Who is he? When Karla replies that he’s a liar, Daken tells her good call. He savagely killed the old woman.
Daken proceeds to tells Karla that she should have stuck with the superficial. She should have let herself be satisfied with flirtation and smiles and chemistry, his gift to her. Karla asks that all this time he’s been toying with them, with her? Daken replies simple answers. Best tea in the city, never crossed her mind that he came there to be alone, and now he has to find somewhere else to go. As Daken stands up to leave, Karla tells him that he doesn’t scare her. Daken bluntly informs her that he doesn’t care, he never did.
As he walks away, Karla thinks to herself: He told me once that we all wear masks. That no one shows their true face. Ever. Masks hide reality. But I already knew that. I thought I knew that. I made a mistake. I forgot what happens when you look too deep. So look for daggers. Search for truth. But only if you can handle what you find.