aravistarkheena: Tim's Ducati from issue 1 of Red Robin (Comics: Tim's Ducati)
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Title: Five Day Romance
Author: Aravis Tarkheena
Pairing: Steph Brown (Spoiler)/ Owen Mercer (Captain Boomerang II) <-- you guys were getting complacent. It was about time I threw another pairing at you from right field.
Rating: Hard R
Warnings: Graphic descriptions of violence. I mean it. The first 500 words or so are REALLY rough.
Genere: Future Fic. About 4 years into current canon.
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Not mine, everyone's legal
Word Count: roughly 2,600 w
Author's Note: For [profile] shiny_glor_chan's Steph Needs More Love Challenge I'm a jerk and this is late. In my defense, there is currently a pool at my disposal. Which would you chose?

Five Day Romance

10:42 PM

Owen hadn’t even seen it coming. Usually he could sense growing distrust and alleviate his employers’ concerns before they erupted into something unpleasant and altogether violent. This time, he had missed the signs and now he was paying dearly for it.

There was, in fact, a point during a beating where the nervous system over loaded and rather than feeling pain, the mind only registered a cold shock with each blow. Almost like getting hit with a snow ball rather than a steel toed boot. Owen was praying desperately for that condition to set in and for it to set in fast.

He was laying on the floor, curled into a miserable ball in an attempt to protect the delicate organs in his stomach. The men around him rained hard kicks down on him and Owen didn’t even have the presence of mind to moan or beg them to stop.

A kick took him in the side of the head and blood flooded his mouth. Owen coughed, choking as it filled his mouth and nose. He struggled to breathe, shaking his head from side to side in an effort to clear his air passages of the viscous liquid and avoid any more kicks to the head.

Bright lights were flashing across the backs of Owen’s eyelids and his ears buzzed the harsh prelude to unconsciousness. The buzzing was so loud, in fact, that he missed the order for the beating to stop.

The first indication that his punishment was over was the brightening of the atmosphere around him as the men backed off.

Owen groaned in relief, blood bubbling in this throat and nose as he did so.

He was grabbed roughly by the hair and his head was lifted from the ground. The sting of his hair being ripped from his scalp barely registered. The cold numbness had set in and Owen knew he was very close to passing out.

“Let this be a lesson to you,” a dark voice hissed in his ear. Owen didn’t recognize the voice, whether that was because he had never met the man before or because he was too woozy for his mind to process the information was anybody’s guess. Owen just tried to swallow down some blood and bile, not even bothering to open his eyes to face his attacker. “If we see you in our territory again, it won’t just be a beating you’ll get. It’ll be a knife between the ribs or a bullet between the eyes. The only reason you’re alive right now is because we know about those connections you have.”

Owen’s head hit the cold cement floor with a crack that seemed to reverberate through his aching skull. It knocked him unconscious for what could have only been a few minutes.

When he came around he was blessedly alone. It took him longer than he would have liked to pull the cell phone out of his pants pockets and punch in the code. He wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take before help arrived, he just hoped he didn’t bleed to death or slip into a coma before then.

12:32 AM

Tim gripped the steering wheeling with white knuckled fists as he passed the sign welcoming him to Gotham City. He glanced up at it nervously, trying hard to find anything other than the passenger sitting next to him to look at.

Tim pursed his lips and picked up his cell phone, trying Steph’s number for the fourth time that evening. The nervous tension grew in his stomach as the ringing buzzed in his ear. If Tim didn’t get a hold of Steph he would have to call Leslie. He and Leslie hadn’t been on civil terms, let alone good ones, for several years now.

Not since what happened with Steph after the Gang War.

Steph’s line clicked over to voice mail again and Tim let out a frustrated growl before dropping the phone into the corner consol and turning his attention back to the roads.

He had been diving mostly on auto pilot ever since leaving New York City but now that he was back in Gotham he needed to figure out where, exactly, he wanted to take Owen.

Tim had examined him when he found him and while he was bleeding heavily and almost certainly had a concussion, it was clear that his skull wasn’t fractured. Owen would most certainly live.

He would just be very unhappy for a few days.

Tim turned on a road that would lead him to Main Street, quickly deciding that getting Owen out of the car and into a bed as fast as possible was the best option. Steph could meet them at the safe house when she came back online.

1:37 AM

Steph flicked her phone open and blinked in surprise when the display told her she had 14 missed calls. She quickly hushed the other girls she was with and dialed into her voice mailbox.

Tim’s voice was urgent and worried when the recording came in over the line. She listened through to the end of the message before turning to her friends.

“I need to go. I’ll catch you guys tomorrow,” she promised, stuffing her school books into her bag before tossing a wave goodbye back to them and running down the library steps to where she had her bike locked up.

It took her less than twenty minutes to get to the address Tim had texted her. She ignored red lights and stop signs glad that traffic was light and that cops rarely bothered with cyclists in Gotham.

She rushed up the stairs and knocked lightly at the apartment door. Tim opened it seconds later and hurried her into the room.

When Steph first saw the body lying on the blood stained bed spread, she had to fight back a wave of nausea. Not matter how many times she saw a bloody battered body, Steph still couldn’t manage to keep her composure. She always went cold and broke out into a sweat as she wondered if the people who had found her in just that state were as horrified as she was in that moment.

Tim assured her that it wasn’t as bad as it looked and Steph girded her loins as she approached the bed.

9:34 AM

The first thing that flitted through Owen’s conscious mind as he came slowly and reluctantly awake, was that he hurt all over. There was a dull ache in his head and an altogether shaper pain in his abdomen and belly. His legs felt stiff and the muscles felt tight and Owen didn’t even want to think about how he looked.

He blinked his eyes open and swallowed hard around a dry mouth. He could feel how swollen his lips were and he wondered how much of it was from bruising and how much was from dehydration.

“Oh good, you’re awake,” Tim’s voice came to him from his left and Owen painfully tilted his head to see Tim walk into the room with a cup full of what Owen could only hope was water. “Steph will be back in about an hour and a half. She can look you over again then. Just rest for now,” Tim instructed him.

Tim helped Owen sit slightly up right before dipping his fingers into the cup and pulling out an ice cube.

“This should help with the swelling and the dehydration,” Tim explained and slipped it into Owen’s mouth.

Owen slanted Tim a grateful look before he closed his eyes, sucked on the ice and waited for the woman he suspected came bearing painkillers.

3:55 PM

He was asleep again when Steph got back to Tim’s safe house that afternoon. He looked slightly better. His sleep was more natural and didn’t have the terrifying stillness of unconsciousness. The bruises on his pale skin were just starting to darken. Several of the more severe ones had turned a deep purple shortly after the beating had ended but more had bloomed across his skin over night.

He stirred slightly in his sleep as she pulled up the shirt Tim had given him and examined his heavily bruised belly. Blood shot blue eyes blinked awake and he gave her a crooked smile with split and swollen lips.

“You must be Steph,” he rasped and the smile he gave her still reached his eyes despite the pain that still hung heavy in them.

“I am,” she smiled back at him. “Tim said your name is Owen.”

He hummed a yes and watched her as she checked the gashes she has stitched up last night.

“You’re a doctor?” he asked tentatively as his eyes followed her movements.

“A nurse. Well, almost a nurse anyway. But don’t worry, I’ll take good care of you,” she gave him her best nurse’s smile and his eyes glinted back at her with amusement.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” he answered in a husky voice. When she flicked her eyes up to meet his she did, in fact, see trust there but it was laced with something altogether different. Something soft and honest that made her belly go warm and her fingers tingle.

She rubbed her hands against the thighs of her jeans to dispel the sensation before moving on to the next cut.

6:24 PM

“So how did you get into this?” Owen asked, reaching for another carton of Chinese food. “Nursemaid to the Caped Community, I mean.”

They were sitting side by side on his bed with their take out dinner in easy reach. Steph tilted her head to face him and widened her eyes dramatically, her mouth still full of food. Owen smiled despite his cracked lips. She had, he had found, a very vibrant way of communicating. She didn’t just talk. She spoke and she gestured and she emoted like no one else Owen had ever met. She had conversations, not just with words, but with her whole body.

Owen couldn’t decide if it was thrilling or exhausting. Probably both.

“I used to be one. A cape, that is,” she told him after she had swallowed her mouthful of food and when he widened his eyes in surprise she nodded brightly at him. “Yeah, this was years ago. Back before you started up.”

“You quit?” he asked, still slightly surprised. Most capes had an air about them. It was hard to describe and impossible to pin point but they all had it.

Steph didn’t.

She hesitated before answering, fiddling with her food and gazing blankly at the wall in front of them. Her eyes had lost the glint of easy companionship and they were deep and serious now as she thought.

“I didn’t quit so much I just eventually stopped. I mean, I started for a reason and then that reason was gone. Then I tried to find another reason and that didn’t work. Eventually the cost outweighed the gain and I just…” she trailed off and shrugged elaborately.

Owen wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her into a sort of half hug. She dropped her head to his shoulder and he tried hard to ignore the deeply protective impulses that were swirling around in his gut.

8:37 PM

He had fallen asleep with the food carton in his hand and her head on his shoulder. She probably shouldn’t have leaned on him but his injuries were, for the most part, superficial. He had been lucky, bruises and cuts and slight contusions were the worst of it.

Plus, it felt nice to lean against him. He was warm and solid and sometimes he got this gentle aura around him that she couldn’t help but bask in.

Tim used to get that way too, back when they were first dating. Back before his life had gone to hell. It was what had drawn her to him despite their conflicting personalities.

She liked that feeling, being confident in the knowledge that someone loved or appreciated her no matter what she did was a comfort. She sometimes wondered if it appealed to her so much because she hadn’t gotten it much when she was a kid. Her father was too self absorbed and her mother, while she loved Steph, was too self medicated to be able to convey that feeling to her daughter.

Steph hadn’t felt that gentleness in several years. Not since Tim had changed.

Now, as she sat in a fake apartment, eating terrible Chinese take out with a former Super Villain, she felt it again.

It was just as nice as she remembered.

4:37 PM

Owen was getting restless. He could move around now without the pain threatening to knock him unconscious. His bruises were turning a horrible, but promising, shade of yellow around he edges. His stitched up cuts and lacerations were a healthy pink shade and his abrasions stopped leaking tissue fluid and scabbed over nicely. His head aches had stopped, he was sleeping less, his appetite was coming back and now that he was feeling more human again he was thinking.

He was thinking about the gang members who had identified him as a mole. He was thinking about the repercussions this might have on his career. He was thinking about plans and damage control and where the hell he was going to live.

All the while, at the back of his mind while he plotted and planned and connived, were Steph’s deep blue eyes and bright blonde hair. He tried hard not to think about her, but he didn’t really succeed.

Owen knew there was something between them. He also knew he had to leave and attend to of the lose ends he had left when he went into her care. He also knew that things between them needed to come to head before he left.

It was only fair.

Steph came to remove his bandages that evening, pronouncing him fit enough to take care of himself. When she looked up at him with what he had come to think of as her nurse’s smile he saw a hint of regret in her eyes.

She patted him lightly on the shoulder before giving him a stern look and informing him that he was not to try and salvage his operation alone. If he felt the need to, he was to get in touch with Tim. Or else.

He never found out what she planned to do to him if he didn’t listen to her. Owen just gave into the impulses his battered an exhausted body hadn’t allowed him to succumb to over the past few days.

He took her into his arms and kissed her.

Her mouth was warm and her body was soft and she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back without hesitation.

“Is there any way I can thank you Doc?” he whispered to her. She smiled against his mouth.

“There is,” she assured him and kissed him again.

8:36 PM

Steph was hungry but far too warm and satiated to work up the energy to do anything about it. Owen was asleep beside her, naked and exhausted and smiling softly in his sleep.

He would leave. He had to.

They all left. It was part of the job.

However, Steph knew, in that part of herself that she couldn’t quite name but that she always trusted, that he would come back. She also knew that when he did he would hold her close, kiss her softly and she would feel that gentle peace all over again.

That was all that mattered.

A/N: I did something different with the literary style. I made it short and choppy so you only got a glimpse of what they were doing and how they were feeling. I thought it was fun and rather a neat exercise. What did you guys think?



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