notes: I legitimately don't even know what this is.
title: every cold and bitter morning
summary: The Why The Fuck Are You In My House, Damian, It's Two A.M. mix. — Damian/Steph.
"Brown. Brown. Wake up, Brown."
"Early," he says.
Steph snarls out a sound that is both incoherent and not entirely human. Her bedroom is dark, but not dark enough to cover up the fact that there is a nineteen-year-old Damian Wayne standing at the side of her bed and staring down without blinking at her. She can't remember if it's illegal to kill people this early in the day, but she was pretty sure that no jury would convict her if she did—the sun was not even up yet.
Clearly, this day is going to be shit, and she is not about to face it yet.
"Brown. Brown," Damian says again.
Steph reaches out blindly for a pillow. She was thinking about stuffing it over her head to block Damian's word-vomit out, but smacking him with it sounds like a much better idea.
Also much more satisfying.
The sound he makes when she slams the pillow into his stomach is the most perfect thing ever. Stephanie resolves to think about it in the morning—her dreams are getting whack, yo, this is a thing that needs to change—
He shakes her, and Stephanie swears to every god she knows that she is going to throttle him.
The red glow of her bedside clock is blurry for a moment as Steph blinks away the sleep.
It is 2:14 in the morning.
"Damian," she says very slowly, "I am going to kill you."
"That is very nice, Brown. But I am bleeding," he says. "It hurts."
"I don't care that you—wait, what," Steph says.
"Bleeding, Brown. Are you deaf?" he asks, and she can practically hear him rolling his eyes.
God, he is so predictable. Steph sits up, reaches for the lamp. Her fingers find the knob, and the flush of light nearly blinds them both—it takes her a minute to blink the spots out of her eyes and adjust.
And there is Damian, bleeding all over her fucking sheets.
She is just going to kill everyone.
"C'mon, up," she grumbles, and shoves the blankets off. "Up!"
"What," he says.
"We need to get you cleaned up, stupid," she sighs. "How old are you, again? Don't you have a home?"
He mutters something that Steph can't quite hear—honestly, she doesn't really want to know whatever he's on about this time. Damian is at his best when he's saving animals and reducing her to eating nothing but rabbit food, and he's at his worst when he can't sleep and decides that patrolling the city is a thing he needs to do.
He always ends up in so much trouble.
"If you get blood on the carpet, I'm never going to forgive you," Steph says conversationally. "Here, bathroom, there's a bit of a step—"
He nearly falls on his face anyway.
Steph catches him on the downswing, and just sighs. "You are wreck."
"I am not," he huffs, actually huffs, at her.
"Would you shut up and sit down," she orders.
He grumbles again, but acquiesces.
In the sharp antiseptic bathroom light, he looks even worse than she'd given him credit for. There are dark purple shadows beneath his eyes—did someone punch him out, because that is exactly what those shadows look like—and a thin line of blood trails from the corner of his mouth. All of his knuckles are bruised, broken, or bloody, and she has a terrible feeling that he's mottled black and blue all over.
"You are a wreck," Steph says again. "Shirt off."
She's right, too. He is black and blue everywhere.
"Oh my god, what even did you do? Did you get into a fight with a steel door?" she asks. She can't keep the incredulity from her voice; couldn't even if she tried. So she doesn't, and she sits there with tiger balm and disinfectant and three rolls of clean bandage that she didn't even know she had. "Did you lose a fight with a steel door?!"
Instead of replying, he hisses through his teeth. The disinfectant must burn horribly, Steph thinks, and swipes it a little harder for good measure.
"When are you going to learn?" she asks.
"Why do you always ask that?" he asks in reply.
Steph has to restrain herself from punching him and possibly causing more damage. She wraps up his knuckles, and very seriously does not look at his abs. What kind of nineteen-year-old is he, anyway? Shouldn't he be off doing stupid things and hanging out with stupid people and listening to bad music? Isn't that the whole teenager thing? She'd done that when she'd been nineteen, for god's sake!
When she rubs the tiger balm into his bicep, she is not gentle.
"You can't keep doing things like this, Damian, you're going to get—"
He cuts her off by pulling her down sharply into his lap. Her knees land spread. Damian curls around her rather like a cat, and Steph thinks you are such a moron, irritable. It is too early and she is grumpy and unhappy and he is a terrible boyfriend for putting her through this all the time.
"Quit that, it's not going to—"
He does something very interesting with his mouth that involves her throat and for a minute she goes quiet and a little bit goofy. The tiny squeak that falls from her lips is not appreciated by anyone, Stephanie least of all.
This does not last.
Steph pulls back, and tries her very best to glare at him. "Damian, you little cretin, you can't—"
The breath leaves him then, all of it at once. His head drops forwards and down to rest against her collarbone, and she thinks stupid, you're still just a kid no matter what anyone says.
She runs her fingers through his hair. It is black as night, and getting long.
"You need a haircut," she murmurs.
"You need to stop being so nice," he says, but there's no bite to it.
"Dork," she says, fond.
"That's not even an insult that makes sense. Be nice, or I'll hurt you."
He doesn't say anything. Just sits there and breathes.
Gotham's changed him, twisted him, pulled him guts-out-innards-spilled-across-the-floor. Not ruined, but changed, and something in Stephanie's heart twinges and pulls. She loves him, twisted and changed as he is. She tips his head up with a finger, and kisses him.
They are both probably insane.
"Come on, Dee," she says. "Let's go back to bed."
He is still bloody and broken, stupid as ever. Gotham's leaked inside him, she knows, hollowed and emptied him out just the same as it did to his brothers. He is never going to learn, and she knows this is not even close to the last time she is going to have to stitch him up.
Bed is close.
She still has to practically carry him the entire way.
When he wakes up, Stephanie thinks Damian's pride is going to send him skittering. It's a close thing, though, and she's just so tired.
He kisses her again. He tastes like metal bars and seedy rap sheets and sewer water, somehow. He tastes like how—like how insanity would taste. Just an edge of panic, and Steph thinks he came because he needed someone to smooth it away. Alfred could have sewn him just as easily (better, probably, he's had practice), but…
"You went to Arkham, didn't you," Steph says. It is not a question.
He doesn't reply.
He was never going to learn.