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To Help People At All Times


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Saturday, February 6th, 2016


An email appeared in Robin's school inbox earlier that week.



Hi Robin. I know we haven't seen much of each other on campus since you came to school, but I still think about that bus ride we took into the Fens all the time. It was wrong of me to force myself along, and I'm embarrassed about how I reacted when I got there. I want to go back with you, if that's okay, but this time with a plan.


I made a promise a long time ago to do everything I could to make the world a better place; I know white girls always say they want to change the world, which probably gets annoying, but I mean it when I say it.


I still have a lot to learn about Freedom, and I was hoping you could teach me. You set up the plan: in costume or out, night or day, fixing stuff or kicking butts. I trust you know what help people in the Fens need better than me.



Casey B.


p.s. sorry I'm such a huge dork.


Edited by Heritage
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There was no response until Robin herself showed up outside of Casey's dorm after classes on Friday, looking much the same as she always did - her clothes worn and her ever present backpack slung over one shoulder. The only really noticeable difference between now and the day she'd arrived at Claremont was her cheeks looked a little less hollow and although she remained muscular under the thin shirt with little discernible body fat, she no longer looked too lean as she had when she'd arrived. 


Robin was apparently content to wait, quiet on her sneakered feet as she leaned one leather clad shoulder against the wall and skimmed her book. As the door opened, she glanced up with inscrutable grey eyes before a faint smile softened her somber expression, "Got anything you need to grab?" Robin asked by way of greeting.

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Casey was starting to think Robin was going to blow her off, that is until she appeared outside her dorm room clearly ready to hit the road. "Uhh..." She looked down at herself, wearing an oversize Denver Broncos jersey, sleepy pants and her favorite bumming-around Tevas; clearly she'd been planning to spend the night in. But then her eyes lit up and her smile became huge. "Give me two seconds."


There was was a whoosh of air as the blonde powerhouse vanished back into her room, practically leaving a Casey-shaped cloud in her wake. Sounds of furious activity lasted for all of four seconds before she returned dressed in a well-worn pair of light hiking boots, a paint-stained pair of jeans, and a denim jacket over an Air Force hoodie; pretty much her standard wear for any sort of volunteer work. Her hair was pulled through the back of a Broncos cap, and her big hemp bag was over her shoulder, holding her costume and a tool belt. She grinned as she adjusted her glasses; she was ready for anything!


"Sorry, that took longer than I thought; forgot I had to do my homework. Let's go!"

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"No worries," was Robin's laconic reply as she at least was starting to get used to life at a super-school. As Casey appeared once again, Robin's lips quirked into a small smile, "You ready then? Figured we'd run but you'll probably have to slow way down to keep pace. I'm not speeding bullet."


Robin led the way out of the school, shouldering her backpack onto both shoulders and checking to make sure it was zippered before she set off at an easy run along side streets once they were out of the school. The agile Fens native skipped the bus, altering course into street running, leaping from the cement at the first convent perch to take a more acrobatic - and direct - run across the city towards the neighborhood she'd grown up in. Robin might not be as fast as Casey - or any other speedster - but she was past what even a well trained gymnast could do, taking flying leaps from rooftop to rooftop that no normal sixteen year old would have managed. She didn't sound especially winded as she picked up their conversation easily. "So what all did you have in mind for learning more about Freedom, Casey?"

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"Oh, we're running? I've got better shoes for that." Casey blurred for a second, and was suddenly wearing a pair of Nike trail running shoes, and her hemp bag was traded for a daypack. "Okay, let's go!"


Casey was visibly delighted to have a running partner, even more so once they hit the rooftops. It was easy for her to hold back and keep pace, because group runs were one of her favorite Scouting activities, and being so tall she'd usually been one of the faster girls. She easily matched Robin's jumps without even having to resort to flying, and likewise barely seemed to be even winded. If nothing else came out of the day's activities, getting a potential roof-running buddy alone would be worth it.


The blonde heroine shrugged as the other girl's question. "Well so far, I've pretty much just done touristy stuff in the city. But back home, I was always working on some sort of project; Habitat for Humanity, food drives, volunteering at homeless shelters. Now that I'm here and am getting a little more comfortable, I want to do more then just take classes and punch bad guys in the face; I want to make a difference."

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Robin gave a soft grunt of acknowledgement as she landed on worn sneakers, "D'you really think that stuff makes a difference though?" She wanted to know as she straightened up to keep jogging along. "I mean, sure, I guess it makes a difference in the moment but like, long term. We get lots of folks showing up in the Fens to open low cost clinics an' food banks and all of that but, well, people still need 'em and more help than they can provide a whole lot of the time. It keeps people hanging on but its not like folks get the help they need to not need help anymore. You know?"


Robin paused as the hit the edge of where the city started to get a little more rough; the porous border of the part of the town known as the Fens, standing on the ledge of the apartment building they'd paused on, "And if you don't wanna end up in the system as a kid, you gotta watch where you show up. Legit places will call social services super fast and then you're back in foster care. So, you learn to make do - or end up needing to use less legit means of getting food. Slim pickings."

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Casey shrugged; she'd heard these and similar arguments before. "I know it's just a drop in the bucket, but I can't do nothing; besides, I can do more now than I ever could. I can could clean up an entire city park in minutes. Do needed repairs at a shelter in the time it takes to make a pot of coffee. And I think knowing that someone gives a damn, that not everyone is just going to ignore you and move on has value, too."


Despite her optimism, the blonde heroine wasn't naive; she knew even on the increased scale she could operate on now, it was ultimately still just a bigger band-aid. Her real value would probably be more symbolic than anything else, but symbols are important, too.


And not judging was important as well; as she stood next to Robin and looked over the Fens, something occurred to her, and she turned to the other girl. "Have you ever broken the law to help someone? I wouldn't say anything if you did."

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Robin continued to watch 'her' city for a long moment, her profile faintly aloof before she finally turned her head towards Casey. She gave a small shrug of her shoulders, "Sure," she said easily, before tucking her hands in her jacket, "Even just to help myself when I was new to living out on the streets. Hunger's a powerful motivator. But, I mean, I'm a runaway, technically, so doesn't really matter. If I get picked up for even truancy, I'll go to juvie."


Robin's tone was even, as if she were talking about someone else rather than her own past. "I'm still not real sure how legal my punching of drug dealers an' thieves is regardless, so..." She gave a small shrug, the leather of her jacket creaking, "I think doing the right thing is more important in the end. The law falls short an awful lot. So does the system."

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The blonde teenager nodded to herself; she'd suspected as much, but couldn't bring herself to judge a girl who'd grown up in a world so completely different from her own. Casey knew it was very easy to talk about doing the right thing when you lacked for nothing, and hadn't she punched her share of bad guys in the face?


Maybe it was best to change tactics and reconsider the problem from another angle. "If you could change one thing about the Fens, what would it be? It's got to be something concrete and tangible, not like...a philosophy or ideal; something you pick up or see with the naked eye." She crossed her arms and shrugged. "What would you change?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Robin heaved a deep sigh, it sounded frustrated although not, perhaps, with Casey. Folding her arms over her chest until her leather jacket protested, Robin frowned down at the alley below, her grey eyes fixed on some point on the ground. "There's a lot, Casey, but I don't have anything like money, or skills. I mean, every family's got its own thing. Some folks need pipes fixed, or groceries, or their dad to just get off the drugs. Everyone's got problems and in the Fens there ain't a lotta solutions. I don't think I can fix the world. I don't think I can fix the Fens - not even if I had all the powers of the Freedom League. Maybe especially then."


Her chin tipped up then, "I just got one goal and I ain't come close to managing yet. Probably never will. Everyone in my city gets home to the people that love them. No one waiting at doors for people that ain't gonna ever come home. If I ever manage that, maybe then I'll come up with another one." 


Robin didn't glance back over at Casey, tension coiled in her tight frame as she stepped off the roof to drop like a stone towards the alley below. Four stories would have broken most teenager's legs - if not their neck, but Robin landed on silent feet in the alleyway, shielded from any passerby by the clutter of trash cans and refuse. 

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