disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: I am an asshole, and I am not ashamed.
notes: no fuq u dc. fuq u.

title: a crush like an empty soda can
summary: No, wait, what. — Damian/Steph.






The problem with Damian, Stephanie Brown thinks, is that he is an entitled obnoxious little shithead who would not be swayed to see sense no matter how hard someone tried to pound it into him.

Given that he's Bruce Wayne's son, she is not altogether surprised.

"Damian, it's three in the morning. What do you want?"

"I… need somewhere to—will you just let me in, Brown."

He eyes her critically, up and down. In the flush of the porch light, he looks even younger than he actually is—he looks about eight, and that is a terrible thought, because at eight he was probably killing people. And also probably adorable. Steph is not ashamed of her pink bath robe, no, she is not. Nor is she at all impressed with the way he kind of shuffles his weight from foot to foot, because it just makes her want to wrap him up in blankets and pour hot soup down his throat.

He is a magnificent disaster.

This is a very bad idea.

Stephanie does it anyway.

"Oh my god, fine, come in. But I swear to god, Damian—"

She does not expect him to throw his skinny little arms around her and bury his head in her chest.

"WOW OKAY PERSONAL BOUNDARIES, DAMIAN. PERSONAL FUCKING BOUNDARIES," Steph half-screeches—or at least she thinks about it. He is small and fragile and strangely sweet, shaking a little as he holds on to her. And she thinks: you are so pathetic.

"I am not thanking you, Brown," he says.

This is muffled by her boobs, and should not even be near as close to cute as it is.

Steph just sighs, wraps her arms around his sharp little shoulders, and holds him there. Damian trembles a little, burrows into her, and wow, this is kind of uncomfortable because they are basically in the middle of the fucking street. There are probably people watching and wondering what the hell a kid in an ugly shirt and slicked back hair is doing in front of Stephanie Brown's house with his nose in her cleavage.

Oh, god, Damian probably doesn't even know anything about cleavage.

Stephanie refrains from punching herself in the face.

"C'mon, Dee," she says gently. "Come inside."

He does. He takes off his shoes, leaves them in a perfectly aligned pair next to the three pairs of shoes she's left carelessly on the front carpet. Steph would have shaken her head if he had been anyone else.

But this is Damian.

Of course he's got to be anal about shoes.

Only you, Damiam, she thinks, fond, and then she ushers him into the kitchen. He stands there awkwardly, like he doesn't know what to do with himself, and he fidgets.

Steph snorts. "Jeez, sit down. I'll make some tea, and then you can tell me why you're not at home in bed."

He sits. Stephanie has never seen someone sit so stiffly in her life, and she figures that he's trying to collect himself—it is three in the morning, and no one is collected at three in the morning, not even Damian Wayne. She flutters around the kitchen like an airbrain, not settling on anything.

The kettle whistles.

And she thinks Okay, buddy, you've had enough time. Talk to me.

"So spill. Was Dick being… a dick, for lack of a batter word?"

"No, this is not about Grayson, although he is—"

"Okay, if it's not about Dick," she cuts him off with a roll of her eyes (because, yeah, she's totally had that conversation before, and she's so not in the mood to have it again). "Then what is it about? You don't do this, Damian. So what's up?"

"I like you," he says.

"Yes, Damian, friends do that," Steph says patiently.

"No," he says. "I like you. Make it stop, Brown."

She stares at him for a full thirty seconds.

And then she bursts into ugly laughter.

Because there is no way—no way—that Damian Wayne just admitted to having a crush. No way. It is not a possible thing. He is shitting her, and she is going to call him on it.

"Okay, Damian, let's still the jerk for a little bit and be real, here."

"I am being real, Brown," he says, and it is so pained and raw that she realizes he is being a hundred percent, totally, completely, entirely, every-other-adjective-she-knows honest.

This is very not good.

Stephanie thinks she is going to have to handle this very delicately. She is going to be all up in that delicacy. She is going shit delicacy, and Damian is going to goggle at her wisdom and her grace. Yes. That is definitely what is going to happen.

"You're kidding, right," is what she says, and that is not delicate at all.

Damian flinches, just a little.

Stephanie feels bad.

"Okay, um, that came out wrong. But you don't actually like me, Damian. You spend all your time insulting me, remember?"

And I'm like twice your age, she doesn't say.

He actually has the audacity to sneer at her. "That's how it goes in the books."

Steph goggles. "What. No. What have you been reading. Who let you read—scratch that, what are you thinking, Damian Wayne."

He flinches again.

This time, Stephanie does not feel bad at all. She rubs her temples, and thinks about all the hundred-and-three ways that this is illegal. The fact that Damian has a crush on her should be creepy, too, but once again: Damian Wayne. He would like older women.

He is also ten.

She is just going to kill everyone.

Where is Barbara when Steph needs her.

"Look, Damian," she says, slowly. "You can't have a crush on me."

"I do not have a crush," he insists.

Stephanie raises an eyebrow. "We could do this all night, kid. I'm not in the mood."

"I don't. You're just—more interesting than everyone else—"

"Damian, that's exactly what a crush is," she explains. "But, look, it's okay. Crushes are okay. Except, um, not in this case, because—well, because people in like usually kiss each other, and that's just not happening—"

"Kissing? Who would want to kiss you?"

Stephanie squints at him.

"You really don't get it, do you," she says. It is not a question.

"This is not about kissing. Just make it stop," Damian says. "It is distracting. You are distracting, and I can't do my job when you're flouncing around. This is all your fault, Brown."

Steph stands from the table slowly. Her 'com is at her wrist, and she pushes the button for Wayne Manor. It crackles to life.

"Yes, Miss Brown?" Alfred says.

"Come and get your monster," she says. "He's giving me a headache."

"Which one, Miss Brown?"

Damian looks very offended. "Brown, didn't you hear me? Make it stop! Calling Alfred is not making it stop!"

"The littlest one. And make sure you lock him up at night. I don't ever want this happening again," Stephanie says for good measure.

"Of course, Miss Brown," Alfred sighs.

"I love you, Alfred," Stephanie says.

"Yes, Miss Brown," he says. The 'com clicks off.

Damian is not impressed. "LISTEN TO ME, BROWN."

Stephanie smiles.

"No," she says, and then she wrestles the little monster to the ground. "You're going home."

"This is not making me like you less," Damian says into her shoulder.

"Oh, yeah? How about this?" Steph asks, and shoves his face into her armpit.

The sound he makes is incredibly unmanly. Stephanie smiles blissfully.

Crush? What crush?