Steph’s not sure how she got Damian to go Christmas shopping with her, but she’s not about to question it. Especially not when he’s already grumbling under his breath, face twisted into that scowl she’s sure is becoming his default facial expression. Even so, he’s carrying half the bags without too much complaint. A little voice tells her not to push her luck, but who would Stephanie Brown be if she did everything she was told?
As they pass the pet store, two kittens press their little faces into the glass display window. Steph almost doesn’t catch the brief pause in Damian’s stride. But of course she does. And of course, the second she does, she comes to a full stop in front of the kittens and just grins down at Damian’s bewildered face.
“What is it now, Brown?” She can hear the eyeroll in his voice, even though he doesn’t actually roll his eyes at her. A great restraint on his part, she’s sure.
“Something catch your eye, Boy Wonder?” She raises an eyebrow and directs a pointed look at the two furballs staring up at them with their wide kitten eyes.
With barely concealed amusement, Steph watches Damian’s brows furrow as he struggles to not turn and take a peek at the tiny creatures like she knows he wants to. Instead, he just frowns at her, and this time he really does roll his eyes.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You know I don’t have time for pets.”
“Uh-huh.” There’s an undeniably mischievous smirk on her face when she ignores him and swings open the door to the shop anyways. She knows she’s gotten better at this detective thing, because all she hears is Damian not denying that he wants one, or that he thinks they’re cute. Maybe Damian realizes this too, because he opens his mouth to speak when she gestures for him to enter the store first, but ultimately looks upwards with a quiet, defeated sigh.
Once they’re inside, Steph makes a beeline for the kittens. Damian wanders aimlessly through the small space and seems to pointedly examine everything in the store but the cats. He’s grumbling to himself again, arms stubbornly crossed over his chest as he leans against the wall. Kittens, how silly. What gave her the idea that he would be interested in a creature so tiny and defenseless? He barely had time to make sure Grayson didn’t fuck up his father’s legacy, and animals needed to be fed and paid attention to. Not to mention the litter box.
Or so he’d heard.
“Oh, um.” He doesn’t notice that he’s picked up a catnip-filled mouse toy until Stephanie’s hovering beside him with that damn smile plastered on her face. Now the toy’s on the floor. How annoying. He bends down to pick up the thing and the next he knows, there’s a little ginger kitten stuffed in his face.
“Soooooo,” she’s using that awful sing-song voice she only uses when she’s sure she’s winning an argument, “what’re you going to name him?”
A million names are already running through his mind before he stops himself and stares blankly at the girl. “What?”
She’s laughing now. God, why is she so infuriating anyways? It’s her turn to roll her eyes at him, and when she finally speaks, he can still hear the bubble of laughter in her voice.
“You must be really zoned out. How late were you out on patrol last night, baby bird? Didn’t you see me at the cash register? This little kitten is all yours now. Merry Christmas! Don’t worry about reciprocating.”
He doesn’t know whether to believe her for a second, but when it’s clear she’s not kidding, all he can manage is, “Tch, Brown. If I wanted a kitten I would have bought one. On my own.”
The smirk never leaves her face as Stephanie hands over the kitten. “You’re welcome, kid. Are you going to buy that or not?”
Even he can’t explain why the tiny gray mouse toy is still held tightly in his grip, so he grunts indignantly and heads to the checkout with the kitten in one hand and the toy in the other. He decides he’ll probably need a crate to take the ridiculous thing home in too, and it might as well be the best, most secure one money can buy. Not that he actually wants it or anything; he just might as well. He can feel Stephanie’s smirk burning into the back of his head as he pulls out his wallet to pay.
When he gets back to her, her smile seems even bigger than before. Damian scowls, steeling himself for the teasing that is sure to follow. But when she doesn’t breathe a word as they exit the store, he exhales slowly and allows himself a private smile at the weight of the crate in his hand.
Steph waits until they’ve walked at least three blocks away from the pet store to speak again, but her amusement is audible.
“So, what’s his name?”
Damian growls. Why is he not surprised?
“Come on, I promise I won’t laugh. Is it Batcat? No wait, I know! His name is Colin, isn’t it? Oh! Oh! Don’t tell me it’s Robin, ‘cause that would be hilarious.”
“No, it’s not.” He glares at her.
“Then what is it?” she chirps, undeterred by his tone.
He presses his lips together, clearly struggling to decide if he should speak up. Making the mistake of looking into her clear blue eyes, he groans in frustration before giving in.
There’s a long silence before she snorts. He glares up at her again, “Don’t you dare.”
She covers her mouth for a second, composing herself, “No, sorry. That’s very… creative.”
And Damian already knows he’s going to be up all night coming up with a better name. One that won’t make Steph laugh like he’s still some silly child.