It's Christmas eve! As a "gift" here is a bonus chapter of 'When Did I Fall' since many people wrote me asking to continue. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Stephanie Brown paced back and forth, frustration clouding her normally cheerful face. It was three days before Christmas and she still no idea what she was going to buy for her boyfriend of one year. It had to be the perfect gift, something that would really show him how much she loved him. Her best friend, Cassandra Cain, lay sprawled across her bed sharpening some throwing knives. She looked over at her blonde friend and raised an eyebrow. "Really Stephanie it is not that difficult. Just buy something sexy and surprise him." She mumbled under her breath, "I don't see why you waited so long to get him one."
Stephanie rolled her eyes. "That's what I did for his birthday! I want to actually buy him a gift this time...and I heard that!"
Cassandra set the knives down and said, "Get him socks; men are always in need of new socks."
"Cass, I am not getting Damian socks! Gosh, can't you take this seriously?" Stephanie flopped face down on the bed beside Cassandra and let out a muffled moan.
A slight smile touched Cassandra's lips. "And then you wonder why I haven't 'settled down' yet. I do not have time to waste on things like this."
Stephanie turned her face to glare at her friend. "Oh give me a break." She paused letting out a dramatic sigh. "I guess I should just go to the mall again. Alone."
Immediately Cassandra picked up her knives and gave her friend a sidelong look. "I am not going to the mall with you. Last time was terrible."
A grin spread across Stephanie's face. "Hey, it's not my fault that crazy soccer mom tried to take you down for grabbing the last blanket on sale." She pouted slightly. "C'mon it won't be so bad; besides you're my best friend. This is part of your best friend duties."
Standing in the crowded mall Cassandra gave her friend a dirty look. "I shall remember about the best friend duties when I need help on a mission."
Stephanie smiled and slid her arm through her friend's. "Oh hush, its not that bad. Come on let's go into this store." She dragged Cassandra into a male clothing store and the two of them spent about thirty minutes inside. Finally Stephanie sighed and set aside an ugly sweater. "Is it me or are the clothes in here kind of ugly?"
"It's not just you." Cassandra said flatly, pushing aside an abandoned cart.
The two women exited the store and began walking. Stephanie caught sight of a jewelery store across the hall and her eyes brightened. It had been a year since she and Damian had begun their relationship and although they hadn't had the talk yet it was obvious that it was serious relationship headed in one direction; marriage. The prospect of marriage made Stephanie nervous, especially since Damian was younger than her, and she had no desire to saddle him with a life he wasn't ready for. But she loved him and the excitement of becoming Mrs. Damian Wayne killed the nerves. Stephanie tugged on Cassandra's sleeve and pointed towards the jewelry store. "Hey let's go in there."
They forced their way through the other mall shoppers and made their way into the shop. Stephanie sighed dreamily thinking about engagement rings. Eagerly she walked over to some displays. They were beautiful. Cassandra peered at the rings and rolled her eyes. "Aren't you supposed to be getting a gift for your boyfriend?"
"I am!" Stephanie said defensively. "I just wanted to see the engagement rings..." Her voice trailed off as an overly enthusiastic store worker came over to them.
The woman's smile seemed to light up the entire area. Taking Stephanie's hand she gushed out, "Welcome to Gotham Jewelers! How can I help you two ladies? Are you looking for commitment rings? We have supplied the rings for many gay and lesbian customers who are looking to take that next step."
Cassandra snorted and turned her back on the woman. Stephanie blushed and pulled her hand away. "
Actually I have a boyfriend...I was just looking for a gift for him."
Looking slightly disappointed the woman nodded. "Ah yes I see. Then perhaps you would like to take a look at the watches we have here?" She paused looking doubtful. "Unless you were planning to propose to him then I could show you some of the male engagement rings."
Stephanie shook her head feeling slightly embarrassed, "Ah, no. The watches would be great."
As they two of them walked further into the store several people outside in the mall hallway began screaming. Stephanie caught Cassandra's eye and the two of them nodded at each other before rushing to the store entrance. Outside was total mayhem people were running by screaming and it didn't take long for the two girls to realize why. Behind the shoppers, on giant playing cards, came flying Ten and Jack from the Royal Flush Gang.
Shoppers dropped their packages in their haste to get away and the Royal Flush Gang would follow close behind snatching the bags of purchases. Stephanie's eyebrows pulled downwards in furious frown and she snapped, "You have got to be kidding me! Are things really so bad for them that they've resorted to robbing a mall?"
Cassandra slid into a shadow reappearing within seconds dressed in her outfit. Touching her mask lightly to see if it was firmly in place she replied, "I suppose coming to the mall was not such a horrible thing after all." Without waiting for a response the young woman ran forward, leaped upward and tackled Jack off of his flying card. The giant card crashed into a cell phone kiosk and Stephanie groaned. Removing her coat and hat Stephanie tossed it at the jewelery store worker who hovered just inside the entrance of the store; too scared to leave the mall but too curious to hide.
"Watch this for me will you?" Stephanie grinned at the terrified looking woman before grabbing onto a pole used to close the gates on mall stores. She used the pole to bang Ten, who had been trying to sneak up behind Cassandra across the back. Ten cried out and fell off her card landing inside a trash can. Stephanie placed the pole against her neck and asked sternly, "Where's the rest of your little group?"
Ten groaned and said, "As if I'd tell you! Who the heck are you?"
"Just your average citizen." Stephanie said innocently as she turned to block a punch from Ace. The android growled angrily and one of his hands began to glow. Stephanie threw herself to the left as an energy blast came from it. Ace blocked her escape by kicking her legs out from under her. Stephanie fell to the ground with a thud and she cried out as he slammed a foot down onto her stomach. He pointed his hand at her again and Stephanie struggled to free herself.
Suddenly Ace went sailing over her. Stephanie stared wide eyed up into the familiar glare that made Batman famous. She blushed deeply as the masked man leaned over and grabbed her hand, pulling her up easily. Once she was on her feet he said sternly, "Stay. Put." He ran to help Cassandra leaving behind an annoyed Stephanie.
"Stay put?" Stephanie repeated with a growl. "As if I was some helpless little kid getting in the way! I'll show him stay put!" She stormed over to the jewelery store and grabbed her things from the store worker before leaving.
An hour later found Stephanie in her apartment sipping a glass of wine as she watched the news. A scowl covered her face as the reporter eagerly recounted the story of Batman and Blackcat saving Christmas.
"If you keep frowning like that your face will stay that way." Damian's deep voice startled Stephanie and she gasped as she dropped the wine on the floor.
Stephanie whirled towards the window and found Damian standing just inside, still in uniform, with the cowl hanging down his back. She glared at him and snapped, "I have a front door for a reason!"
Damian shrugged and closed the window. "Where's the fun in that?" He walked past her and disappeared into her extra bedroom, reappearing once he had changed into some comfortable clothing he had left there. As he sat down beside her, Stephanie immediately leaned into him but remembering his "Stay put" comment she stiffened and pulled away.
"What's wrong?" Damian asked warily. "You're not on your period are you? Ouch!" He winced as Stephanie punched him hard in the arm.
"No I don't have my period you...you neanderthal!" Stephanie stood up and went into the kitchen, putting the wine glass in the sink.
She turned around to find Damian standing near the counter, his arms crossed with a scowl on his face. "What's wrong with you?"
"I don't know Damian! Why don't you just ask me to stay put again and we'll see what's wrong!" Stephanie said matching his scowl.
Instantly Damian looked surprised. "You're upset because I asked you to stay put at the mall?"
Stephanie shook her head and said, "You didn't ask me Damian, you ordered me to stay put like I was some idiot who was getting in the way. In case you forgot I was Batgirl for several years; I can take care of myself!"
Damian snorted, "Yeah you did such a great job that Ace was about to blow your head off."
"That's not the point Damian!" Stephanie cried out. "The point is that I am a grown woman and I'm not going to let anyone boss me around. We're in a relationship, we're supposed to be partners!"
Damian opened his mouth to defend himself but Stephanie barreled onwards. "Look, if you're one of those possessive and controlling guys then you better tell me right now." she looked down and crossed her arms. There was no point in continuing the relationship if he was going to be a dictator. Damian's hands touched the side of her face and she looked up into his eyes.
His thumbs brushed her cheeks gently and Damian said firmly, "Now you listen to me, I know you can kick ass, but seeing you in any type of situation where there's danger drives me crazy." His eyes darkened. "If anything happened to you..." He pulled her close and pressed a kiss against her forehead.
Stephanie felt her anger melting away and she slipped her arms around Damian's waist. "It's all right to say I'm sorry." She paused, kissing the side of his neck, "You might find yourself enjoying it."
Damian chuckled and brushed his lips across hers. Clearing his throat he said teasingly, "Batman formally submits an apology to Stephanie Brown."
Wrapping her arms around his neck Stephanie pulled Damian's head back down and swiftly kissed him on the mouth. "See?" She said, "It wasn't that difficult."
"Anything to make you happy." Damian replied sliding his arm around Stephanie's waist and leading her back to the living room. "Since it's Christmas I think its time I gave you your gift."
Stephanie laughed and settled against him on the couch. "Christmas isn't for another three days Damian. Has all that time in the batcave distorted your perception of time?"
Damian shifted reaching into his pocket and pulled out a small box. It took Stephanie a moment to realize what it was and when she did she gasped and sat up straight. He flipped the box open and inside was a sparkling diamond ring. Tears clouded Stephanie's eyes as he said, "I know it's only been a year but I...well...do you want to marry me or not?"
The tears began to drip down Stephanie's face and she managed to let out a strangled yes. Damian slid the ring onto her left hand and she looked up at him, eyes brimming with happiness. Wiping her cheeks she said, "I really love you."
"Well let me show you how much I love you." Damian said huskily, leaning over and nibbling on her neck.
Stephanie slid her arms around her brand new fiance and kissed him. Christmas was definitely her new favorite holiday.