Emma skipped to the next song on her iPod and adjusted the small earbuds to fit more comfortably. She rhythmically tapped her finger against the seat to the beat of the older pop rock song that blasted through her earbuds. She was thankful that no one else was clued into her choice of music. She wanted to listen to something that felt comfortable to her and ironically her mother's odd choice of music always did the trick.
The train rattled along on its course. It had pulled out of the suburbs and moved into the cities until it would finally reach the heart of Gotham. During the fifteen-hour train ride from Detroit to Gotham, Emma couldn't quit biting her nails. They weren't particularly long to start out with so they were quickly turning into stubs.
Her feet tapped softly against the floor as she stared out the closed window at the passing buildings. Since stepping onto the first train with nothing more than her bookbag and carry-on suitcase, she hadn't paid much attention to anything. Although she was still focused on her immediate departure, she couldn't stop thinking about the one thing she didn't want to think about.
But she had made her decision. For better or for worse, she had left Detroit. She had completed the ten month accelerated program to get her associate's degree in psychology that was offered by the local community college. She now was enrolled in an accelerated five year program to get her master's. And what better place than Gotham to get a psychology degree. Despite the previous track record at Arkham Asylum, Gotham University had the best psychology program in the country. Maybe, if she got lucky, she would get an internship at the infamous asylum.
"Next stop, Gotham Central Station," the automated message called over the intercom.
Emma popped out of her daydream. One of her earbuds fell out as she straightened in her seat. She looked down at the open notebook sitting in her lap. Words filled the pages but she couldn't remember writing them down. Reading the first few lines only intensified her despair and she decided not to continue with the rest at the moment. There was no time to get homesick now. She was almost free.
A stewardess walked through the cabin, smiling at the passengers as she scanning their tickets. Emma had the last seat on the train and the woman was fast approaching her. She averted her eyes, hoping the woman would just leave her be. The last thing she wanted was to talk to a peppy stewardess.
Unfortunately Emma was out of luck.
"Miss," the stewardess said, leaning into her chair.
Emma simply ignored her.
"Miss. Excuse me, miss?"
Emma pulled out the other earbud, shut her notebook, and turned to face the woman. "Yeah?"
"Did you want anything else from the cart before we enter the station?"
"No," Emma curtly answered but then forcefully added, "Thank you."
"Here, let me scan your ticket," she said, reaching out her hand.
Emma bent down to retrieve her bag and then began rifling through it to locate the ticket.
"So, why are you traveling to Gotham?" the woman asked, making polite conversation.
"Just meeting up with a family friend," Emma said.
"That sounds fun," she said. Emma rolled her eyes. Yeah, her uncle was just a bundle of excitement to be around.
When Emma glanced up at her, the woman gave her an even bigger smile. "How long are you staying?"
"Uh..." She murmured, trailing off as if looking into her bag distracted her. "As long as I want, I guess. Haven't really thought that far. I'm coming here for school really. Though I'm probably staying after I'm finished school."
"Wow! You're just picking up and going just like that?" the stewardess asked, surprised.
Swallowing down the lump in her throat, Emma reminded herself that she had made the right decision by leaving. She had to get away. She just needed to keep telling herself that.
"My summer break is over in two weeks and I just left home from Detroit," Emma told her, not sure why she felt like she had to justify it.
"Neat, so you're at a school in Gotham then?"
She finally located her ticket and handed it to the woman. Emma was ready for the woman to leave. "Yeah, Gotham University."
"That's a great school! My son always wanted to go there but we just couldn't afford a private school, you know?" She placed placed the scanner on the ticket and returned it to her.
"Sure," Emma said, not really understanding. She was lucky to have her uncle paying her entire tuition and any other cost that occurred during her stay on campus. She could have gone to any school really but she had set her sights on Gotham for the past few years. Though her mother and father were less then pleased that she was nestling herself in the heart of one of the most dangerous and crime-ridden cities, especially since the retirement of the Batman in 2019. Crime had skyrocketed in just the first six months of his absence.
The train began to slow as high-rises flew past the surrounding windows.
"That's my cue!" The stewardess jumped up as Emma breathed a sigh of relief. "Have a fun time at Gotham University," she called before bustling about through the cabin.
Emma stood and collected her two bags. The passengers were cast into darkness as they rolled into Gotham Central Station. As the train rattled to a stop on the tracks, she pushed her way through the crowd. She was more than ready to be off the train. A man swung his bag backward, catching her in the ribs, and she grunted.
"Sorry," the guy muttered, not even glancing at her.
Emma glared and lightly growled at the man. She knew she was on the shorter side but she wished people would be more considerate. She pushed past him and got off the train, struggling to bring air back into her lungs.
As the crowd headed for the exit, people jostled her on all sides. Relieved to be out of the fray, Emma lugged her bag with effort into the train station. It was white marble in every direction with a high-arch glass ceiling, enormous pillar entrance ways, and benched seating. Standing there to admire it all, Emma thought it was beautiful. Gotham City had really kept the place looking spectacular.
She had only been to Gotham once with her parents and brother when she was nine. Bruce Wayne had invited the founders for Thanksgiving, mostly to announce his retirement as Batman and it was also the first holiday he was spending without Alfred. That was the last time she had seen or heard from her Uncle Bruce. She had regretted not getting to see much more of the city when she was younger. Despite its reputation, Gotham City did have some very beautiful sights to see.
She craned her neck, looking around the giant room. Bruce was supposed to be picking her up. Emma wasn't about to try to traverse the Gotham subway system all by herself. Frowning, she turned around and ran smack dab into someone.
"Sorry," she muttered, looking up at the stranger. She only saw it a handful of times but she could recognize that scowl anywhere. "Uncle Bruce?"
"You grew," Bruce bluntly stated.
"Really now?" She sarcastically asked. "It's been nearly eleven years since you last saw me, of course I would've grown."
"You look like your mother."
Emma's frown deepened, "So I've been told."
"And you have her attitude," He gave her smirk as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm glad to see you made it here in one piece though. Shayera made it perfectly clear she would hunt me down like a dog and beat me to a bloody pulp with her bare hands if anything were to happen to you. John also threatened me but not as harshly. It's good to see that neither of them have changed over the years."
"Yeah right," Emma said with disinterest. "You know I'm-"
"Trying to get away from your family by coming here?" He asked as she promptly closed her mouth. "I know. I knew what your intentions were when you decided to come here."
Emma scowled momentarily as they began walking towards the exit. "Then why did you agree to all of this?"
Bruce looked at her for a moment before speaking, "Despite everything that's happened over the years I still consider the founding members as family, even though it may be considered estranged family. Also, your mother didn't make me your godfather for no reason."
"So she and Dad didn't have a good reason when they made the other founders mine and Rex's godparents as well?"
"Smart alec," He murmured. "You must have drove your parents insane."
"More like them driving me crazy," She commented as they now exited the building and headed towards the parking garage. "Why do you think I left?"
"Do you truly know why?" He instead asked her.
"Well I," She began, "I...I guess I really don't. I just wanted to get away from them. Especially my mother, I couldn't stand being near her anymore."
"You damn well know why."
"Thanagarian Invasion didn't sit well with you?" He asked as he saw her face darken. He knew he had hit a nerve. "Get over it. Everyone else has."
"Not everyone," She muttered. There were plenty of people that still hated Hawkgirl for what she had done. She for one hated her mother for what she did. Emma didn't know how Rex forgave her. She certainly couldn't. The earth was nearly destroyed because of her mother. Shayera had lied for years. Emma could never put her trust or faith in a person like that. Emma was convinced that Shayera was bound to betray the Justice League and Earth again one day.
"Need help with anything?" Bruce asked, snapping her out of her train of thought, as they stopped in front of his car.
"No, I only have this," Emma motioned to her bookbag and suitcase.
"Alright put the stuff in the trunk," Bruce told her, motioning toward the back of the car. "Then get in. I don't like wasting time."
"So," Bruce began as they drove down the busy streets of Gotham, "How's Rex been?"
"Fine I guess," Emma monotonously said staring out the window. It was always about Rex. No matter who she spoke to it was always about Rex, the little favorite.
"Care to elaborate?" Bruce asked, merging into traffic without a backward glance.
What does he think he's driving the Batmobile? He's gonna kill himself pulling shit like that, Emma thought as she unconsciously gripped the center console tightly.
Bruce momentarily glanced at her semi-shocked expression. He smirked as he sarcastically stated, "Sorry if I scared you."
"It'll take more than that to scare me," She shakingly said as she exhaled and released her death grip on the console. Bruce looked unconvinced. He took notice that the one thing Emma didn't seem to inherit was Shayera's ability to skillfully lie. "But Rex is doing fine. He's a senior in high school this year."
"So I can expect another Stewart running away to Gotham then?"
"No," Emma shook her head, "Rex wants to go in the superhero business. Dad's not too happy about it. He thinks he's too young."
"He is a bit young," Bruce said idly. "Shayera taught you how to fight though, didn't she?"
"Yeah, mother did," She stated coldly. "Rex and I were taught to defend and handle ourselves in dangerous situations. Unlike Rex, who solely was trained by our parents, I went out of my way to learn different fighting techniques. I practice them in my spare time."
"You're planning on becoming a superhero?" He asked her.
"No, not in the least," She stated. "I just like to fight and, in turn, I want to know how to kick people's asses in as many different ways as possible."
"You plan on starting fights at Gotham University?" Bruce asked with both amusement and nostalgia. It was like he was sitting next to and having a conversation with Shayera. They both had the same bad attitude, same bad temper, and were just as battle hungry. He could only imagine what Rex was like now compared to the one he and John briefly met in the future.
"Only if someone wants to start something. I won't start an unnecessary fight without a good reason but I know how to end them," She then smirked. "I just realized that I can be your personal bodyguard while I'm here. See how lucky you are to have me here Uncle Bruce?"
"Yeah," Bruce responded with a roll of his eyes. "Lucky me."