Title: slumber party
A/N: For the Bats and Birds zine! I wanted to write my fav trio, Stephanie, Tim, and Cassandra.
Summary: The Wayne Manor was the perfect place for a slumber party—Alfred's cooking, a big screen, plenty of room, and the best blankets money could buy. At least, that was the plan for Stephanie, Cassandra, and Tim. The only thing: they forgot to factor in Damian.
"Yep. Doing it here was the right choice," Stephanie Brown confirmed, crossing her arms and nodding her head slowly as she surveyed the living room. A wide, expansive area, it was as big as the first floor of her house. Hell, the TV mounted on the wall was bigger than all the screens in her house combined. "No, it was the only choice."
"Over-dramatic much?" Tim rolled his eyes, but the smile on his face said otherwise. Sitting in front of the TV in a mess of wires, he started connecting several game consoles to the TV. "Your house would have been fine."
"It would have been only fine. Wayne Manor? Now that's great." With a snort, she gingerly picked up a free HDMI cord. "And you have what, five different consoles for us to play? In one night? And I'm the over dramatic one?"
"We could switch games part way," Tim argued, untangling a controller. His tongue was stuck to the side, his brow furrowed as he concentrated on unravelling the messy pile in front of him. "I knew I shouldn't have let Jason use these."
"Is it possible to use…" Perched awkwardly on one of Bruce's leather couches, Cassandra paused as she struggled to find the right word. Correcting herself, she continued, "to play a game in a night?"
"Depends on the game!" Delighted by the question, Tim immediately looked over his shoulder. "With the party type games—"
"Less talking, more doing!" Stephanie interrupted, before a huge spiel about time could occur. At the rate he talked, it'd be morning before they could play and Gotham probably couldn't survive them taking two nights in a row off.
"Yes, yes," Tim grumbled, puffing his cheeks as he hurried with set up.
Stephanie chuckled. Honestly, he was so ridiculous sometimes. Turning back to Cassandra, she winced. Cassandra didn't look like she knew how to sit on a comfy couch, let alone relax, and maybe they should have done this earlier. She couldn't even remember the last time Cassandra took time off. At the rate she was going, she'd turn into a mini-Batman. And they already had enough of that with Damian running around.
"What are you doing?"
Speak of the devil. Forcing a smile on her face, Stephanie turned around. "Heya, Damian."
Damian gave her a pointed stare and she tried not to shiver. Sure, he was only ten, but in demon years, he'd be like sixty. Or was that dog years? At least there wasn't bloodlust in his eyes. Or a weapon in his hands. "Don't you have work to do?"
"Not tonight." Stephanie grinned, hand on her hip. "We're having a sleepover."
Damian crossed his arms, raising an unimpressed brow. "So you're slacking off."
Part of her wondered if Bruce was rubbing off on him or vice versa. Her smile strained as she tried not to frown. "No, we're taking a well-deserved break."
"He doesn't understand what that is," Tim snipped, setting down the Switch. Finished untangling, he turned on the system and flipped on the T.V. When the screen stayed black, he frowned and fiddled with the controller. "Talk to him like you'd talk to a five-year-old."
"I suppose she would have a lot of experience, dealing with you." Damian casually strolled over to Tim.
Tim opened his mouth to argue, but there really was no going around that burn. It was almost impossible to get the last word with Damian; she would know. No, there was only one way this could end. Tim's hand was already curled around a controller, his weapon of choice, and while Damian looked unarmed, she wouldn't be surprised if he had at least ten knives hidden in his dress pants. Eyes darting from one boy to the other, Stephanie wasn't sure if she should separate them before they stained the carpet with blood or run to the kitchen to get popcorn.
Damian pressed a button on the side of the screen and it flickered on. Lips curling into a smirk, he sneered, "Can't even manage this much, Drake?" And just as suddenly as he had entered the room, he left.
"I hate that kid," Tim muttered grumpily.
Stephanie patted his back consolingly. "I know. I know."
"Jump!" Stephanie yelled, pressed up against Cassandra's left side. When her friend gave her an owlish blink, she shouted, "X. HIT X."
"Right." Cassandra quickly pressed the right button, bouncing on her seat slightly. On the screen, Mario jumped to safety as a black bullet smashed into the wall beneath him. A narrow escape. Too narrow.
"Safe," Stephanie sighed, slumping over and resting her head on Cassandra's shoulder. Man, it was more stressful than she'd expected, watching Cassandra play. For someone who picked up every way to kill a man just by watching it once, she was an unexpectedly slow study on video game controls.
On Cassandra's other side, Tim gave her a curious look. "Are there too many buttons to remember?"
"No, not that…" Cassandra stared at the little controller in her hands, her fingers lightly brushing over the various buttons. The tracking pad. Mario shuffled in spot, waiting to move. "I just want to do it myself."
Stephanie looked up, eyebrow raised. "You mean, run through the forest fighting off bullets and bombs and weird turtle guys?"
"Yes." Cassandra paused, then shook her head. "No. I want to…I want to jump. To run. To do that action. When you say 'dodge', I want to dodge."
"Oh!" Tim hit his fist on his open palm, realization dawning on his face. "Is that why you keep bouncing in your seat?"
"Yes." Cassandra nodded. "I tried to…keep it still."
"Doing a terrible job of it." Sitting up, Stephanie stroked her chin. "Oh, is it like when I play foosball and just want to tear out the sticks and force the guys to hit the ball?"
"Kinda." Tim shot her a deadpan stare. "But that's mainly because you're bad at it."
"…them's fighting words." Plucking the controller out of Cassandra's hands, she brought up the home menu. Opening Smash, she turned to Tim with a challenging smirk. "Ready for a beat down?"
"Don't go home crying," Tim retorted, picking up the second controller. He pushed his hair back, out of his eyes, turning on his serious mode. "What was our score? 40 to 17?"
Gritting her teeth, she swiped a finger across her neck, execution-style.
"I'm sorry." Cassandra wrung her hands apologetically, her cheeks red with embarrassment. She hung her head shamefully, her back hunched as they headed toward the kitchen.
"It's fine!" Tim reassured quickly, patting her back awkwardly. "We can always get new controllers."
Arms crossed behind her head, Stephanie looked over her shoulder at the pair. "I didn't think you could break them like that."
"It could happen to anyone." Tim shot her a shut-up glare.
Stephanie had never taken a hint before and she wasn't about to start now. "No, seriously. What kinda workout do you give your fingers? Those buttons look like they were hammered in."
Still a little flustered, Cassandra curled her fingers in and out. "Push ups. Finger bands. I use a lot of. Uh. Methods."
Push-ups. Stephanie cocked her head, remembering their work-outs together. Remembering Cassandra's finger push ups. An entire human body supported by a single finger. Her mouth made an 'o' shape. "Riiigghhht. Got it."
"I could teach you," Cassandra offered, looking more enthusiastic now. She curled her hand into a fist, punching the air ahead of them. "Just like before."
"Uhhh…." Stephanie suppressed a shudder, remembering how their first time around as teacher-student had gone. Vomiting. Bruises. Bones that felt like they should have been broken but were miraculously not. Sure, she was better now: faster, quicker, stronger, all of that jazz. Part of her feared that would make Cassandra's spartan training even worse, that she'll kick it up a notch thinking she didn't have to hold back now. "I'll…think about it."
"Chicken!" Tim teased, chuckling.
Cassandra turned to Tim hopefully. "To make up for the controller."
He froze mid-laugh. Like a deer in the headlights, he was only able to blink and nod.
"Fraidy cat," Stephanie muttered, rolling her eyes. Falling back to walk apace with Cassandra, she bumped shoulders with her. "Honestly, with the allowance you guys get, I bet Tim won't even notice the controllers." As they entered the kitchen, she leaned forward, shooting him a questioning look. "How much do you guys get again?"
"Finished with your games, are you?" A formal, clipped tone interrupted their discussion. Alfred Pennyworth stood in front of the counter, whisking briskly in a plastic bowl. "I am afraid you will have to wait a little longer for the waffles."
"Alfred! You remembered!" Stephanie gave Alfred a side hug. He was even wearing the frilly apron she gave him last year. "It's been so long since I had one of your waffles!" Excited, Stephanie pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat on it backwards. Resting her chin on the chair's back, she grinned cheerfully. "Best food ever. This is why we had to do this here."
"The curtain's why we have to do this here," Tim mocked, rolling his eyes as he sat next to her.
"Didn't you ask for the waffles?" Cassandra asked. She stood next to Alfred, watching curiously as he stirred. "For Steph."
Tim coloured at that, turning away when Stephanie gave him a questioning look. "Cass! You weren't supposed to say that!"
"Ooohh?" Stephanie grinned, looping an arm around his shoulders. He covered his face, but she could see his ears and they were as red as a tomato. "Did someone miss me?"
"Vey much so, Miss Stephanie." Alfred smiled kindly, cracking an egg and adding it to the batter. "I dare say the house had been too quiet with you gone. It is good to have you back."
"Aww, Alfred." Stephanie could feel her own face flushing now, her skin warm, and she blew him a kiss. "I missed you too."
"I have to apologize, though, for the state your waffles are in." Alfred wiped his forehead with a handkerchief, before folding it neatly and returning it to his pocket. "I had created a batch with blueberries earlier but Master Damian consumed them."
"He ate them," Stephanie replied flatly. Her hand curled into a fist and she looked up at the ceiling, in the direction of Damian's room. That little punk. There was no way he wanted those waffles—they weren't 'elite' enough for him. She narrowed her eyes. "He's just messing with me."
"That's just…" Thinking about it a little more, Tim rubbed his neck. "He is. He definitely is."
"We should do the party game," Stephanie suggested, scrolling through Tim's game list. It was simple enough—throwing a die and hoping to land on the right tile. Just like Monopoly! Most importantly, it sounded like something she could win. "Pure luck."
"You'll still lose." Tim picked up an old Gamecube case. "Maybe Starfox. Or Sonic."
"You trash talking me?" Stephanie glared at him. "I beat you before and I'll beat you again."
"That's like one out of—Cass?" They watched as Cassandra re-entered the living room, calmly walking over to her bag. She gave them a short nod as she reached in and pulled out a rope. "Uh…what's that for?"
"Damian," Cassandra replied, her voice eerily flat. She coiled the rope around her arm and headed to the door.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Stephanie dropped the Switch and a frantic Tim dived to catch it. Quickly, she ran in front of Cassandra, her arms spread wide. "What are you doing?"
"Catching Damian," Cassandra explained, as though it was the most natural thing.
"With a rope?" She tugged the rope, trying to pry it free. "What'd he do?"
Setting the Switch down carefully, Tim stood back and crossed his arms. "Did he attack you?"
"No." Cassandra paused, an uncharacteristic frown on her face. "He…complimented me."
"Huh? Damian Wayne? Mr. Snobby Brat himself?' Stephanie tried and failed to keep her jaw from dropping. Sure, she highly suspected Damian would like Cassandra; with her assassin-like skills and taciturn behaviour, she was almost everything Damian wanted to be. It was still another thing to hear it. "Then why're so angry?"
"…he insulted you." Cassandra walked around her, pushing open the door.
They watched her leave, Tim giving a low whistle. "Three strikes, and he's out."
"Do you think we should, uh, follow?" Stephanie bit her cheek when it was clear Cassandra wasn't coming back. "It might get...bloody."
"Oh definitely." Tim grinned, practically skipping out the door. "I only wish I had popcorn."
"You know, it's too bad Damian didn't want to join us," Stephanie sighed, selecting her car for the race. It was a hard choice between something purple and semi-good, and something ridiculous. She went with ridiculous. Baby Daisy in a Flame Ride.
Tim snickered, pressing start. "I know. I can almost hear him now, begging to join us."
"I think he is cursing us." Cassandra looked over her shoulder curiously at the strung-up Damian. Strung upside down like a turkey, his face was red as he continued to shout. Or tried to shout. The cloth muffled most of his words. Squinting, Cassandra tried to read his body language but even with her skills, it was an impossible task. "I think he is…angry."
"I'm sure he is." Stephanie nodded sagely, before gently turning Cassandra's face toward the TV. It was just like her to miss the point; they were supposed to be ignoring the jerk. "We're also in the middle of a race."
Doubt colouring her expression, she looked uncertainly over her shoulder at Damian's struggling form. He swung side to side, outraged. "Should we take him down?"
"That's what got him there in the first place," Tim quipped. He laughed when Damian growled. "I never knew how much I needed to hear that."
"Me neither." Stephanie sighed blissfully. "Should have done that ages ago." Watching as Cassandra hesitantly selected Mario, she raised a brow. "Really? Him? He's like, the most stereotypical choice."
Cassandra stared at her like she was crazy. "How can the others drive? They do not have thumbs. Or a license."
"It's…part of the game." Well, when it was put like that, Stephanie couldn't really argue. Giant gorillas, toads, and babies; none of them made sense as drivers. "They're not actually—well, they are actually gorillas but…um…cartoon gorillas? Real life doesn't really mean anything to them." When Cassandra still looked at her questioningly, she moaned and pressed 'x'. "Look, let's just start the game, okay? It'll make sense later."
Three matches later, Stephanie wasn't sure if it made any more sense, but it certainly hadn't stopped Cassandra from branching out and becoming a flower monster, an elf, and a turtle. Lying on the floor, she turned her hands left and right with her car, as though she were speeding down the track with it. Not that Stephanie was much better—honestly, there was just something about a racing game that made you want to veer with it. Sitting on Cassandra's back, she gritted her teeth as Princess Peach slammed into a tunnel wall. "That's cheating, Tim!"
"It's in the rules, Steph!" Tim growled back, his hip bumping into her arm as he tried to keep Link on the tracks.
"Interference!" she shouted, hitting buttons wildly. One of them would make her go faster. Or shoot down Tim. Or burn down the racetrack. "You hit my arm."
"And you spilled my drink!"
"See? Damian's on my side!"
"Ah, Miss Stephanie." Alfred exited the kitchen, a tray in his hands. Three glasses of pop sat on them, looking far more expensive than the coke she found in the supermarket. Even the chips she brought looked elevated in a ceramic bowl, and she wasn't sure if that was Alfred's magic or if it was just how expensive everything else was. "I was just bringing snacks."
"You're the best, Alfred." Stephanie tried to take the tray from him but he smoothly stepped out of her reach. "Alfred?"
"Allow me to perform my duties." Alfred smiled, lowering the tray in front of her. "Drink?"
"…alright, but I'll bring the dishes back, ok?" With a grumble, she took a glass. "My mom would kill me if she found out I did nothing."
"I'm sure we can find something for you to do." Alfred approached the living room, peaking in. His eyebrow raised at the sight before him. "Is that Master Damian?"
"Yeah…" Stephanie admitted sheepishly. "We'll untie him soon. Promise."
"When you do, I would advise Master Timothy to hide his games. I do not imagine this has made Master Damian any fonder of them." Alfred's smile didn't drop, amusement colouring face. "I am surprised you managed to catch him."
"Cass, it was all her." Stephanie shivered, not sure what would have happened if she hadn't been around. Death. That was probably it.
"That would explain it." Alfred chuckled softly, turning to her. He smiled fondly. "Truly, it is good to have you back."
Something about how he said it made it all feel official. That she was finally home, after everything. Giving him a one-armed hug, she smiled. "Me too."