Gotham was the city of nightmares. Where people died, everyday. Whether it be from famine, or the brutality the desperate people of the slums inflicted upon one another. They were all fighting an endless battle to survive, and in their minds, a little bloodshed meant they could live another day. It went as noticed as if someone had simply swatted a fly.
But she saw it, everyday. She would clutch the strap of her book bag a little tighter while scurrying across the underground roads; the eyes of the poor watching her. She tried not to look, but the sudden harsh cries of an infant made her swift strides falter. She glanced at the mother, adorned in filth covered rags who attempted to hush her baby. Even from here, she could see the smudges of dirt and grime that stuck to the child's sallow skin.
She wanted to comfort her; to hand the elderly lady all the cash in her wallet. But she had learned, from her previous effort of aiding the people. The last man she had given money to had been beaten; black and blue from head to toe, by the other victims of homelessness. How could a world be so corrupted, and unfair? Where was the justice?
Why couldn't the Justice League do anything about this? They rescued people from hostage situations, fires, and floods, but why not from their everyday struggles? Weren't those problems important enough?
The baby began to cry again.
Artemis cried, too.
She often pondered what it would be like, to be on the upper-end of Gotham City; to have money to spare.
Money to give.
It made her sick to her stomach, that someone as rich and powerful as Gotham's Prince did nothing to assist the hungry, and the individuals without roofs over their heads. Surely with that kind of money, he would be able to provide a couple of shelters, at least. Some place warm, dry, and clean.
She was starting to lose faith in the world's righteous system.
"Artemis, hey, c'mon."
Her eyes fluttered open and all at once she was leaping up from the sofa, disoriented but ready to attack. The ghostly little cackle her movements sparked made her grip on the handle of her bow loosen, and Robin stared at her behind his dark glasses, smirking slightly. "Sorry, but you were starting to drool on my shoulder."
She could feel her face flush slightly as Robin rubbed the shoulder of his black sweatshirt. She couldn't even begin to recall when she sat down on the couch, let alone when Robin had showed up, and she'd fallen asleep on him. "Um-"
He chuckled. "Don't worry about it. You earned it; tonight was rough."
Artemis nodded awkwardly. "Well, I guess I should head home..."
"I guess so." He seemed much too amused. "Back home to Gotham?"
Her back went rigid. "What? No-!"
"I thought you were visiting your cousin?" He had a full blown smug-ass grin, now.
"Oh. Right. My cousin." Troll.
The seconds tolled by; her peering blankly at the black lenses of his shades, with him looking back just as intently.
She wasn't entirely sure what had been her breaking point. Whether it was the unhappy cries of the baby, or the fact that every time she passed the concrete slab under the overpass it seemed to be housing more and more suffering people. Whatever the catalyst, she was a gun with a trigger that had just been pulled, and the words spilled out in a pathetic, desperate rush.
"You have to help me!" Her voice even cracked, as she fell back down onto the plush green sofa next to the boy, who's eyebrows strung together in what could have been confusion, or worry.
"Um, sure, what's the problem?"
"Gotham," Her voice shifted into only a breathy whisper. "It's people."
The crease between his eyebrows only deepened, as did his frown. "What are you talking-"
"You and Batman patrol Gotham all the time! Don't you notice all the citizens that are dying? I'm not talking about the rich socialites, or the democrats. I mean the poor, starving people without homes. Don't you care about them? Doesn't Batman?"
Robin understood, all too well, the same feelings of anger and bitterness when he'd first taken up the role as Batman's sidekick. He saw the trash-ridden streets of Gotham, the tall, boarded up warehouses and the sheer blackness of it all. How even in the daytime, it felt like a fortress that radiated darkness.
He'd been eight, at the time. Only his second time out on patrol. He'd found a toddler in the streets; one who couldn't have been more than three years old. She was so skinny. So ill. He had brought her back to Bruce as fast as his legs would carry him, trying so hard to keep her warm with his cape.
"She was just sitting in an alley! We have to find her mom! She's so sick, and cold, we-"
"Put her back where you found her, Robin." Batman's tone had that ring of finality; one that couldn't- shouldn't be argued with. But Robin was new, young, inexperienced, and had yet to learn his place.
"No! I won't abandon her! I can-"
"Robin, put her back, now!" He bellowed, making the boy cringe in fear, and hug the baby to his chest. She was making barely audible whimpering noises, and he could feel her bony fingers lightly grasping at the cloth of his outfit.
The silence was long and stony; neither budged from where they stood on the rooftop of a rundown motel. Bruce took three deep breathes, before exhaling in a loud gust, and turned to face his ward. "Dick, listen to me. There's nothing we can do. There's nothing I can do, and there isn't anything you can do, either. She's going to die, no matter what course of action we take. The best thing you can do is put her back where you found her, and stop torturing yourself like this."
Robin felt the first couple of tears roll down his face, escaping in the small openings of his domino mask, and slithering down his cheeks. "I thought we were supposed to be superheros. I thought we were supposed to save people."
Batman laid a hand on his shoulder, squeezed it once, and made sure they were eye-to-eye when he finally spoke. "Dick..."
"We can't save everybody." Robin recited the exact words Batman had spoken to him all those years ago, before taking his leave, and allowing Artemis to stare after him mutely.
The following week, four new homeless shelters were built in Gotham City.