She got cocky.
She'd love to say it wouldn't happen again, but that would be a dirty lie.
She would definitely get caught out like that again, and it would absolutely be her own fault, again, as it always was.
She owned it, at least.
At least Bruce was out of town, so she would be spared the lecture, this time.
Dragging herself to the Ricochet, slowly slumping into position, she activated the recall protocol, with her left eye already swelling shut under the cowl, vaguely aware of herself muttering through the comms
“Alfred, I'm gonna need a hand getting to the medbay…”
Before slumping backwards in her seat.
The next thing Stephanie remembered, Alfred was talking to her, as he was half dragging her across the Batcave from where the Ricochet is programmed to return to, to the medbay.
“-this time, Miss Stephanie.”
Blinking, or more accurately, winking, with her left eye swollen completely shut at this point, she turned her head gingerly to him, trying to take her weight off him and take steps on her own.
“I missed most of that, Al, I'm sorry.. what?”
Her words were slow, sluggish. She frowned at herself, suspecting a concussion, reaching a hand up to drag the cowl from her head.
“I said, what sort of shenanigans did you find yourself mixed up in this time.”
Alfred repeated calmly, Stephanie clearly not the first bat to need this treatment, easing her onto the ready and waiting clinical bed, in the medbay, Stephanie chuckling absently.
“I love that word… Shenanigans...”
“I'm well aware, that's why I used it. I gathered it would get a response from you. Now that I have your attention, what happened.”
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too."
Typically, Stephanie wasn't fond of rehashing screw ups, but Alfred wasn't about to judge or lecture her, simply work out where he needed to examine. Sitting back and sitting down her cowl next to her, pointing to her face, as the Swiss Army Knife of a man they almost insultingly called a butler pulled on a set of surgical gloves.
“I found the Steel Unicorns trying to get a foothold back in Chinatown. Before the Ghost Dragons caught wind of them again I hit them. Full Bat routine. There was one problem… You know how I like to run my mouth..?”
Her voice rises as she trails off, a sure fire tell that she knows she was in the wrong, Alfred's lips pursing slightly in an unimpressed, disapproving manner, yet saying nothing as he shifts a stand light into a better position to examine the swelling, lightly prodding as Steph winces, but continues.
“I asked them how they liked it being run outta town by the little blonde one, not even one of the good, important bats or birds, and next thing I know, everyone is swinging table legs, and chairs, baseball bats, and god only knows what else at me. The good news is they all look worse than I do. And I did remember to call it in before I got in the bike. Dunno whether dispatch took the call serious or not… am I babbling? I feel like I'm babbling…”
She scowls at herself, or at least, as best as she can, with half her face swollen now, Alfred shifting his eyes from the swelling to her open eye for a moment, offering a small smile.
“Just a tad, Miss Stephanie, but it's better than you being unconscious on us again with a concussion. Congratulations, your first of the year.”
Pantomiming throwing confetti from her belt, Steph groaned, and let out a slow sigh.
“Yay me! I’m gonna need a better cowl… can we get Lucius to work on that?”
“Perhaps work on not getting hit in the head so often in the meantime, Miss Stephanie, however, I'm sure it can be arranged. You don’t appear to have a fractured orbital bone, just quite a bit of swelling. How are your ribs?”
She hadn't even noticed she had been hunched over the entire time. Slowly sitting up straight, she hissed slowly, as Alfred watched like a hawk.
After a few moments, and a battery of tests, it was concluded that the blonde was lucky, this time, only ending up with bumps, bruises, and her concussion.
“Alright. You are free to go. Perhaps consider taking a night or two off while recovering with the concussion…”
Turning away as he snaps the gloves off, Stephanie snorts a half laugh, slowly getting to her feet.
“It doesn't work on him, it won't work on me. Nice try, Al…”
“Perhaps not. But I'm sure you'll rest up if you don't want Master Bruce finding out about your tests.”
Narrowing her eye, Stephanie walked past, lightly jabbing a finger into Alfred's side, a half smirk on her lips.
“Blackmail? I approve, Alfie… you win this round…”
If she didn't know better, she would have sworn Alfred was also smirking, as she left the cave for the manor above.