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Gender: Female

Age: 20
Country: United States

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August 14, 2018


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07/15/2020 02:59 PM 

[Ghosts of the Underground {part one}: Drabble]

attention: | mentions: Ghosts of the Underground {Part One}www.roleplayer.me/DorkKnight
"Leslie. I can't take it anymore. I gotta go back to school. I love you like a mother, and I appreciate everything you've done for me, but I need social interaction."

It wasn't the first time this had come up. It certainly wouldn't be the last.
Not with Stephanie Brown.
Sighing heavily and pinching the bridge of her nose under her glasses, Doctor Thompkins shook her head slowly.

"I understand that, Stephanie. But why do you want to go back there of all places? You're going to get swept back up in everything all over again."

Putting her hand to her chest, the other upright, the blonde stood tall, great strides in progress from months previously, where she was, well, clinically dead.

"Scouts honor, no Bats, no caves. I don't even have a costume anymore."

Leslie stared at her blankly, not for a second believing the tale of desperation being spun by the teen desperate to return to some semblance of civilisation.

"You were never a scout. And I've seen you make a costume out of nothing on the spot, mid gun fight Katavi."

Breaking into a sheepish grin, Steph lowered the raised hand, scratching at the back of her head with it.

"Listen… we both know I'll fall back into masks and capes somehow. I always do. You can't keep me from it forever, Leslie. Or Gotham."

A long silence between the two, Leslie's eyes searching the sixteen year old for some sort of answers, something that made sense to her.

"And when they find you?"

A pause, the grin fading as she looked at Leslie, her foster mother's arms folded across her chest.

'Why did they all do that? Crystal, Leslie… Babs used to do it too... Arms folded, over the top of the glasses glaring. Do they think that's gonna change my mind somehow? About anything? That I care about disapproval?'

"If they do, I'll handle it. But they'd have to find me. And care enough about me to do something about it."

Stephanie responded flatly, with blunt honesty. As far as she was concerned, she was just more guilt to Bruce that he offloaded to Leslie, and no-one else cared. Why would they? They all told her this would happen, and now they were rid of a nuisance.
Leslie's steely attempt at a  parental glare faltered for long enough for Steph to press the matter.

"You really think they're going to pay attention to a common name like 'Brown'. Hell, there's  another Rogue in Gotham with that name, and he isn't even related to me! They won't even notice. Bruce, for all the talk about him being the world's greatest detective, would miss his nose in the mirror half the time. He didn't see me when he came to threaten you, and I was in the tent, Leslie! I know how to get around the city without getting busted by the Bats. If they couldn't find me when they were meant to be looking for me, they won't find me when I'm a ghost."

Sighing, realising that there was no winning here, Leslie hung her head slightly.

"Fine. But I'm coming back with you."

"But–"

"Yes, I know. Bruce said he would end me should I enter the United States. I'll come as far as Canada. That shouldn't trigger anything on you. And I'll be closer if anything inevitably goes pear shaped on you."

Breaking into another grin, Stephanie wrapped her arms around Leslie, squeezing her in a bear hug, the physician letting out a groan.

"At least your strength is back…"

Snorting a laugh, Steph let go, a wide grin set across her face.

"I'm so excited! I don't think you understand. Being homeschooled for a year and a half sucks, Leslie. Yeah I know, life choices, but I miss people."

"We need to work out which school, where you'll be staying, how you'll be caring for yourself–"

"Gotham High, no choice. It's all that's left after the quake. I'll find somewhere to live. And I'll get a job. I'm resourceful like that. I'm used to taking care of myself…"

Squeezing the blonde's shoulders, Leslie's face grew concerned again.

"If I didn't liquidate all my assets and set them up in a fund for your daughter–"

"It's fine. I know where there's always jobs in Gotham. Not a problem. Don't worry."

Steph answered quickly, starting to pace their tent excitedly. Leslie eyed her sceptically, trying to ignore how shady everything about that felt.

"You'll be in the same year as…"

"Tim, yeah, I know. I won't be in any of the same subjects, don't worry about it."

"What makes you so sure?"

Blankly staring at her, Steph raised a brow, before blinking a few times, raising her hands like a set of scales.

"Boy Genius that hasn't been home schooled for having a baby and dying – Dumb Blonde. Gee, I dunno, Les… tough to say."

Shaking her head, Leslie swatted both of the raised palms.

"The only thing dumb about you is wanting to go back to Gotham. You could go to Metropolis. That would be nice…"

Sticking her tongue out, Steph moved to her permanently packed bags, double checking them.

"That sounds boring."

"Of course you'd say that… not happy unless you can be in trouble or there's some danger…"

"Hey, you're the one that brought me to AFRICA to heal up. You should be grateful I haven't gone to fight a lion or something. That actually sounds pretty fun right about now..."

"Oh God, alright, I'll sign your enrolment papers already. Don't start fights. With anything."

The exasperated doctor collapsed to a seated position on her cot, burying her head in her hands. God help Gotham.

"I will not start them. If they're started though…"

"If you had not long saved my life, I'd kill you myself…"

Grinning at Leslie, knowing the threat was hollow, Steph tilted her head.

"See. What do I need the Bats for. I got you."

Shaking her head slowly, exhausted, Leslie took her glasses from her face, to wipe a hand down her face.

"How'd they put up with you again?"

"They didn't, remember? Fired a billion times. Died because I was trying to prove I was worthy of not being fired?"

Steph snorted, her attention on her bags, as if she was leaving right this second. Replacing her glasses, Leslie sighed softly, studying the blonde silently for a moment. Deciding she needed to say what had been nagging at the back of her mind, she spoke suddenly.

"Stephanie. Promise me something."

Looking up from the bags, raising a brow, Steph said nothing, but indicated for Leslie to continue.

"You aren't going to try to get revenge."

Letting out a sharp, reflexive bark of a laugh, before clapping her hand over her mouth, and shuffling over the floor of the tent on her knees to Doctor Thompkins side, both eyebrows raised, Stephanie couldn't help but laugh.

"Revenge? On Black Mask? I don't wanna go anywhere near him. I still get nightmares, Leslie. I'm good not seeing him, thanks."

Squeezing Steph's shoulder, Leslie looked her square in the eyes.

"It's not just him I'm worried you'll go after… I've come to know a bit about you, Ms Brown… you hold grudges…"

Shifting her gaze from Leslie's, her jaw tenses slightly.

"I'm undecided on the Bats. I'll decide whether I hate them or not if I see them."

Leslie squeezed tighter, eyes still on the blonde.

"That's not exactly reassuring, Stephanie."

"You get what you get. I'm not going to walk up and punch Bruce in his stupid face. There, that make you feel better?"

"Oddly, no. But it'll do."

After a heavy sigh, she shook the shoulder she still had a death grip on.

"Let's see about setting up enrolment and getting tickets. I think Geneviève  has her satellite phone. She shouldn't mind letting us borrow it."

"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
{One week, a Transatlantic flight, an uneventful Canadian layover and an exchange to New Jersey later}

There was a visible difference out the window when they hit Gotham air space. The pollution of the city that gave the nights their bloody glow.
It was hideous. God she had missed it.
She was home.
No sane person should have missed a city like Gotham.
No sane person should have missed a city like Gotham that they half destroyed and died in.
No sane person dressed up like a Bat's side kick and did those things she used to do either, but here she was.
A little bit insane, apparently.
The wheels touched down. The people fought each other to get off the plane.

'Typical Gothamites…'

Steph smiled softly to herself as she watched them shove and bicker, just waiting her turn.

She was most definitely home.
Job one. Find a place to crash for the night, stash her stuff.
Job two. Get some money. Then get some sleep to get back on US time.
Because school. She never thought she'd be excited about school, but these were new and exciting times. Anything could happen. She could even be a good student. With good grades!
While waiting for her luggage at the baggage carousel, running through the list of places she used to hide out she could check, the ever present droning news on the terminal televisions caught her attention.

"–violence continues in Gotham amid gang turf war struggles following the death of notorious Mob Boss and mass murderer, Roman Sionis–"

Grabbing the arm of the airport security guard by her reflexily, her legs weak, the rest of the broadcast tuning out.

"Are you alright, miss?"

The guard, unusually kind for a Gothamite, one of the good ones, steadies her. Steph nods weakly, the lie on her lips before she can help herself, the city already getting it's claws back into her.

"Yeah… just a long flight and not enough food…"

After a pause, she asks the inevitable question.

"Who got him? Bla-I mean, Sionis."

Seeing she was now steady, the security guard retreated slightly, looking to the TV, frowning slightly.

"You been under a rock or something? The Catwoman did."

Letting out that reflexive bark of a laugh, Steph shook her head slightly, turning to collect her stuff as it came around.

"Of course. Bet she's not locked up, either… thanks.

Dragging her bags outside, she let out a heavy sigh, starting her walk into the city.

"Maybe I should send her flowers or something. Oh! That's where I can crash. Holly's place. They won't even notice for the night…"

After dragging her sorry self back into the city, dropping her bags on Holly's fire escape, Steph went to find word on where she could make some money. Sure, she could go back to her pizza delivery job, but it might be a little hard to explain to them that she wasn't, in fact, dead.
You know who would have job openings without question though… that slime Penguin.

Granted, last time she saw him up close she was breaking his beak for using a kid in a gun running scheme, but… desperate times, right?
Maybe she should have changed into something flashier. Used her assets.
Oh well. Apparently her plan was just walk in and talk to him.
Great plan. Brilliant, Stephanie.

"I'm almost fifty percent sure nothing could go wrong."Stephanie Brownwww.roleplayer.me/DorkKnight

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