Ten years have passed but Damian still refers to them all by their last names. Grayson. Todd. Drake. ("Wayne," Tim always insists. Just saying 'Drake' can still kick off an argument even after all these years.) Brown. But, unbeknownst to his predecessors, Damian feels he has a more than satisfactory excuse.
When Damian is seventeen, he takes in his first cat. It's the aftermath of a crime scene. All the residents have been safely evacuated but their homes are completely destroyed. In the end, they're all forced to relocate. A few days after the dust has settled, Damian goes back to collect samples and that's when he spots the black-and-white cat. The cat has a flea collar, but no tags and no microchip.
It's clearly a domestic cat and, by the way it hangs around the area, Damian is pretty sure it lived somewhere in the now incinerated apartment complex. Damian takes it in and does his due diligence with posters and ads. Weeks pass without a response, Damian has to admit he's relieved. He's grown accustomed to having the feline around.
The cat is not only well trained but also independent, both traits which Damian appreciates. The feline is also remarkably perceptive to his moods. The cat tends to go out at night but he's always back by morning, lounging on the front steps of the apartment, waiting for Damian's return. Although Damian's reluctant to admit it, it's hardly an unpleasant way to be greeted each day.
Inside the apartment, the cat loves to perch on narrow surfaces like the back of the couch or closed, crowded windowsills but never once looks like falling. It isn't until the black-and-white decides to make the top of the fridge into his favored spot that Damian finally decides on a name.
The little silver tag hanging off the simple black collar reads 'Richard'.
Jason's acquisition is an interesting ordeal. The orange tabby has recently shown up in the neighborhood. It forages for scraps and gets into fights often, but never once looks like backing down. Damian isn't blind to the numerous times Richard returns with missing tufts of fur and scratch marks.
One day, Damian comes home to find the two cats howling loud enough to draw the attention of the entire neighborhood. Damian merely observes the proceeding, curious to see who would end up victorious. The two cats are more-or-less evenly matched but the tabby tends to be more aggressive than Richard. Damian often finds himself lecturing the black-and-white-- "You shouldn't let him dictate the pace."-- as he tends to his cat's wounds.
About three months later, Damian comes home to find the stray unmoving on the stone apartment steps and bleeding heavily. Richard hovers nearby, both attentive and protective. Judging from the deep gouges in the cat's side, Damian assumes the tabby had come across a dog or another sufficiently large animal and hadn't come out the victor.
It isn't until after the stray has been whisked away by the vet for immediate care, leaving Damian to stare at the sign in sheet that the tabby finally receives a name. The sheet asks for both owner's name and pet's name and Damian writes the first thing that comes to mind. Despite his misgivings, the parallels are all too obvious and in that veterinarian's lobby, Jason officially joins the family.
Luckily, the tabby keeps to himself. He goes out often, disappearing for days on end, only to eventually resurface, pouncing on Richard each and every time he comes home. Damian prefers Jason's independence if only because the cat has an unpleasant habit of attacking his feet whenever Damian twitches in his sleep.
(Damian also promises himself that if the cat ever tries to suffocate him in his sleep, he'll have no problem getting Jason neutered.)
Damian doesn't want another cat. Two is an adequate number. Two cats can entertain each other (if by entertain, one means engaging in cat fights) and they're both reasonably independent. Damian doesn't want to go through the trouble of raising a kitten. A third cat is not only unnecessary but it also delves into the realm of unwelcome implications. Damian firmly insists he has pets. His pets do not have him.
However, Damian's feeling on the matter do nothing to discourage the British Blue kitten from stalking his black-and-white. The truly vexing and irritating thing is that Richard seems to enjoy the attention and Damian swears his cat encourages it.
Damian can see all the signs, the missing food that conveniently makes its way outdoors and there's even been moments when Damian found gray cat hairs on the couch or bed. He gives Richard a stern lecture and tries to assure himself that the cat can discern the meaning of behind his words through tone of voice alone.
Each time Damian leaves the apartment, he makes sure all the windows are shut and all the doors are secured. Unfortunately, there's nothing to be done about the small landing on the fire escape. At least, not without violating city ordinance. Damian manages to convince himself that these precautions are more than sufficient and if his cat wants to play mother to every neighborhood stray then Richard will have to do so on his own cognizance and do so outside of the apartment.
It works until October when an early snowfall blankets the city. Damian comes home one morning to find the British Blue perched on the fire escape, looking in with wide kitty eyes. Damian looks impassively back. The Blue doesn't mew at him for attention but it does curl up tighter in a bit of black cloth which Damian suspects might somehow be his sweatshirt.
Richard ignores him for hours, finally slipping out of the front door when Damian goes to retrieve the mail. From there he rounds the building and joins the kitten on the rusty platform and once there mews constantly outside the window. Damian can only take it for a half hour before he gives in.
He wordlessly opens the apartment window and watches as Richard nudges the kitten inside and damned if the kitten doesn't walk in like it owns the place. (And by the way the kitten doesn't investigate things, Damian knows it's not his first visit.) Richard shakes the snow off his coat, guides the kitten to the food bowl, then curls up in Damian's lap giving him appreciative little licks.
Damian names the British Blue 'Jackson' out of spite.
Damian doesn't want to adopt the calico kitten. He really doesn't. She's a loud cat that's constantly crying for attention. Damian has agreed to cat sit for a few weeks while his classmate (Amanda, long blonde hair, good at science, horrible at history) goes on vacation with her parents. Fifteen days into the arrangement, Amanda calls saying her father got a suddenly offer from LexCorp and they have to move to Metropolis right away.
Amanda goes on to say that LexCorp has agreed to relocate them but had found an apartment rather than a house. An apartment which doesn't allow pets, not even cats. Maybe, Amanda, asks hopefully, if Damian can't find a new home for her, then maybe he can keep the kitten?
Damian makes a mental note to look up what Amanda's father does for work, just to keep tabs on whatever insanity Luthor's working on today and tells Amanda that he'll take care of everything.
The cat's name is Bubbles which Damian finds insipid. In fact, he hasn't called her by that name the entire time she's lived with him. And insipid isn't a bad description of the calico either. She's horrible at sparring. She purrs and rolls over, showing her stomach whenever the others try to bat at her. She's also embarrassingly clumsy, unable to jump to the top of the fridge without landing in the fruit basket.
And she's preoccupied by his clothes. She sheds on Damian's sweatshirts and cape alike and he's even caught her napping in the laundry bin. (She also curls up at his side while he sleeps and while Damian would never admit it, the kitten does look particularly adorable.)
Despite everything she tries and fails at, she never seems to get discouraged. Even when Damian squirts her with the water bottle, she just shakes it off and continues doing whatever perplexing habit she's attempting this week. Damian supposes he could find her another home but doing so would be akin to admitting defeat. If he can't train this one kitten...
Once he decides to keep her, Damian renames her 'Stephanie'.
"You realize this is weird. Even for Damian." Tim gives the British Blue a sidelong look.
"Well, that's obvious." Stephanie and the calico are playing with her hair ribbon. The kitten is so excited that it often misses the mark and ends up sliding across the kitchen floor. "But it's also kind of cute."
"It seems pretty harmless," Dick adds, although he's not really sure what to make of all the felines running around with their names. (He spent ten minutes trying to get the orange cat to come out from under the sofa and only to get clawed repeatedly for his troubles.)
"If you say so." Tim doesn't sound convinced.
In fact, Tim's really unnerved by the British Blue. The cat's been watching him for five minutes straight and Tim's not even sure it's blinking. He's convinced that Damian has specifically taught the cat to do that for no reason other than to personally irritate him. (He also can't decide if he feels grateful or insulted that Damian used his middle name instead.) Eventually, Tim decides to ignore the Blue altogether and goes back to idly stroking the black-and-white who purrs under his touch.
"You know," Stephanie says, smiling up at the both of them just like the cat that got the canary. "He's missing one of the Robins."
Three days later, Damian comes home to find a cardboard box on his doorstep. It has big, round holes and is moving slightly. It takes him two seconds to determine it's not a bomb or a trap and he doesn't even need to read the card to know who sent it.
When he attempts to lift the Persian/Siamese mix (a truly awful combination) from the box, the kitten scratches him. Damian doesn't bother to wince. He's gotten more injuries each night and a few scratches is nothing compared to the time he took Jason to the vets to get his shots.
The kitten does not look impressed with him and the feeling is mutual.
With a sigh, Damian cradles the cat in one hand as he opens the door to his apartment. He kicks the cat box inside. Damian frowns as he realizes that if he wants to express his displeasure he'll probably have to discuss his unique feline naming system and that's something he would rather avoid.
Damian sighs. He knows exactly what they expect of him. They made their intent pretty obvious with their choice of breed. (And to say nothing of Brown's colorful doodles on the box.)
Damian lifts the kitten up and looks it in the eye.
"I don't share," he explains curtly.
Damian names the cat 'Bruce' instead.