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how long before you tell the truth

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“so,” wally says, sitting on the computer desk and swinging his legs. “when were you going to tell me?”

dick stops glaring at damian’s back and squints at wally instead. “tell you what?”

“c’mon, dick, you don’t have to worry. you know i can keep a secret.”

he wracks his brain trying to think of what wally’s referencing. “i’m bi?”

“that’s not a secret.”

“what? why not?”

“you’ve hinted at it before. and you told me a month ago,” says wally and dick frowns.

“i did?”

“you were hopped up on painkillers.”

“oh.” he can kind of remember that day. he’d bruised some ribs and they’d given him something to ease the pain for a little bit and wally had sat with him as he rambled.

“it’s cool. very proud of you, bro.”

“thanks?”

“love who you wanna love and all that.”

“this is the weirdest coming out conversation i’ve had,” dick says after a moment. “and that includes the conversation with bruce.”

wally shrugs, kicking his legs faster. they’re a blur now, the only sign he’s not as relaxed as he’s trying to make himself seem. “did you want me to react differently? we can redo this conversation.”

“nah, it’s good. just weird. thanks for your support.”

“anytime.”

“i don’t know what secret you’re talking about now.”

wally heaves a sigh, like it’s the biggest chore in the world to say whatever’s about to come out of his mouth. “i am talking,” he announces, always one for dramatics, “about the vampire in your family.”

dick freezes, very carefully not looking at where tim’s practicing on the mats. “vampire?”

“i can’t believe you thought i wouldn’t be able to tell. it’s pretty obvious.”

“i--”

wally talks over him, lips pushed out into a pout. “for all the talk about being the world’s greatest detectives and secret identities, you guys are terrible at hiding things.”

“that’s easily proved false.”

“there’s a vampire in your family and you don’t even try to hide it,” wally says loudly and it catches tim’s attention. he comes over, a towel swung around his neck.

“what’s going on?” he asks, a little suspicious. dick chews on his lip.

“wally’s convinced we have a vampire in the family.”

tim’s eyes go wide. “oh.”

wally points his finger at both of them, still pouting, still kicking his legs. “again, it’s really obvious. pale, hates going out in the sunshine, never seems to sleep, freakishly good at everything, creepy as fuck, turns into a bat.”

“wally--” dick starts but wally doesn’t listen, just keeps talking over him. tim looks like he’s about to bolt out the room.

“it’s like damian just walked off the wikipedia article for vampire and you guys aren’t fooling anyone.”

“i don’t-- wait, did you say damian?” dick says. his brain feels like it’s stalling. it’s a new sensation for him.

“of course i said damian. who else?”

tim’s face is frozen somewhere between fear and confusion but the corners of his mouth are twitching.

“i… don’t know,” dick answers faintly.

“see? you can’t even deny it.”

“wally, damian isn’t a vampire.”

“yes, he is.”

“he’s not.”

wally narrows his eyes at dick and tim both. “then explain why he’s always wrapped up in a cape.”

“he thinks it makes him look distinguished and dramatic.”

“or he’s a vampire.”

“he’s not--” dick pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes his head. “damian is just like that. he’s not a supernatural creature.”

wally’s eyes narrow even more, an unconvinced look all over his face. “he hissed at sunlight yesterday.”

“i don’t think he’s left the batcave in a week.”

“i would hiss at sunlight if i was inside for that long too,” tim tells wally with a straight face. dick bites back a laugh.

“hmm,” is all wally says, resuming his kicking. dick throws his hands up in the air.

 

“it’s hilarious you didn’t think anyone would make the connection,” wally says a few days later as he ducks dick’s punch. dick grunts, focused on trying to figure out where wally will move next. he swings his legs out and makes a hit, sending wally toppling.

“what connection?”

wally peers up at him, entirely too smug for someone who was just knocked on his ass. “the vampire connection.”

dick sighs as he reaches down, giving wally a hand up. not that wally really needs it, but it’s the thought that counts. “are we still on this?”

“until you admit it, yes.”

“for the last time, damian’s not a vampire.”

“he literally turns into a bat at night!”

“he turns into a robin, and it’s not the same thing.”

“is that why bruce decided to become batman? because he was a vampire too?”

“wally.”

“oh my god, i thought he was a vampire because of his mom but it’s because of bruce.

dick counts backwards from five. “neither bruce nor damian are a vampire.”

“well, if the cape fits…”

“wallace.”

“m’just saying,” wally whines and sets his feet. “spar again?”

 

wally comes out with them on patrol and comes back to the manor because it’s closest, joins in with the post-patrol meal. he eats double what everyone else does. it’s a good thing alfred knew he was coming.

bruce doesn’t eat with them. he shoves a piece of toast in his mouth and disappears back down to the cave, preoccupied with something or other. wally watches him carefully and dick rolls his eyes.

“do vampires eat?” he asks conversationally. tim snorts, takes a bite of his cookie. “i always assumed they existed on blood alone but i’m beginning to suspect.”

“why do you ask?” alfred asks mildly and hands damian a glass of juice.

“i was just think— what the hell is that?”

damian frowns and looks at the glass in his hand. “a drink?”

“why does it look like that?” asks wally incredulously, his eyes nearly falling out of his head. damian’s frown gets bigger and dick bolts upright as he realises what’s going on.

damian’s drinking his favorite kind of juice. it’s cherry, for some fucking reason. it had taken a while to weasel out damian’s favorite kind and it ended up being sour cherry, of all the flavors possible. still, alfred had added it to the grocery list. they ordered it special from an online retailer.

sour cherry juice, thick and sweet and red as blood.

“i don’t know what you’re talking about, west,” says damian and tim lets out a groan, burying his head in his arms.

“oh my god, wally.”

“are you seriously going to tell me i’m wrong?” wally demands, more of dick than tim. “with him drinking that.”

“it’s cherry juice,” dick argues halfheartedly.

“likely story.”

“what’s going on?” damian demands. he’s largely ignored.

“i swear it’s just cherry juice!

“we can go get the carton and prove it,” tim adds, slightly muffled in his arms.

“what would it be if it’s not cherry juice?” asks damian.

wally snatches the glass from the table and peers at it, holding it up in the air. “tell me i’m wrong!” the liquid in the glass sloshes a bit. “tell me that isn’t blood!”

tim groans again and alfred presses a hand to his mouth, trying hard not to laugh.

“why would i be drinking blood?” damian says, snatching the glass back and glaring at wally.

“you know why,” wally replies hotly. he leans back in his chair and folds his arms. “i can’t believe you won’t fu-- freaking just tell me already.”

“you have got to stop arguing about this,” says dick and it sounds desperate, even to his own ears. “it’s a ridiculous argument.”

“he is a vampire—”

“oh my god,” tim repeats and pulls his head up to peer at him. “wally, okay. there is a vampire in the family, you were not wrong about that, but it’s not damian.”

“he’s drinking thick red liquid in front of us,” wally says around the half of a cookie he shoved in his mouth. “and you’re telling me he’s not a vampire?”

“you think i’m a vampire,” damian says incredulously. he’s got red stains around the corners of his mouth. “are you an imbecile?”

if wally was standing, he’d stop his foot. “all the signs point to vampirism! everything about this makes sense!”

“damian’s not a vampire,” dick almost yells. “we’ve told you this so many times. alfred, is damian a vampire?”

“not to my knowledge, master richard,” alfred says with a barely-suppressed smile. “all signs say he’s a perfectly normal human boy.”

“-tt-”

“a boy who’s the son of the batman,” amends alfred. damian looks a bit mollified.

“there are too many coincidences for me to believe that.”

“bro, you’ve got to stop watching conspiracy documentaries,” says dick. wally crosses his arms and takes a bite out of yet another cookie. dick’s lost track of how many he’s eaten at this point.

“tim said there was a vampire.”

“yeah, i’m the vampire,” tim says loudly, slamming his palms onto the table. “okay? it’s me. not bratboy over there.”

there’s a beat of silence as everyone stares.

there are a lot of secrets in their house, in their family. a lot of secrets they’re all prepared to die for, to take to their graves-- secret identities, locations of hideouts, that time when bruce forgot that indiana was a state and argued his case for a good five minutes-- but tim’s undead status is maybe the biggest of them all. not even damian would be willing to spill that one, no matter how much he hates tim.

“you’re a vampire?” wally clarifies and tim, looking the tiniest bit dazed, nods.

“it’s me.”

there’s another beat of silence as wally processes this information.

“no, there’s no way. you can’t be the vampire; you’re too normal.”

tim stares at wally, eyebrows disappearing under his bangs. “i-- what?”

“sick joke, but you can’t throw me off the trail that easily.”

“i don’t understand,” says dick slowly.

“tim’s too nice to be a vampire. damian’s a demon, so i can see it. no offense, kid.”

“no offense, west?”

“damian, hush,” dick tells him and there must be something in his tone because damian shuts up.

“i can’t believe this,” tim mumbles to himself. “all this time worrying someone would figure it out and wally does and he doesn’t believe me.”

wally pokes him in the side. “up your creep factor by like two hundred percent and then maybe it’ll be believable. maybe get a little paler too.”

“it’s too late for this,” dick says to no one in particular. “i can’t process anything that’s happened. i’m going to bed. damian, you too.”

“i’m not tired!”

“too bad.”

“i still have to yell at west for his slight earlier!”

“you can yell in the morning when you won’t get in trouble for yelling while people are trying to sleep.”

begrudgingly, damian slips from his chair and stomps out of the room, muttering under his breath about duels at dawn and old grudges.

“technically, it is morning,” wally says helpfully. dick glares at him. “better shuffle off to bed before the sunlight hits his skin and burns him away.”

“that’s a myth,” tim says, tired, and wally waves a hand. “it’s more like a minor sunburn.”

“how would you know?“ he asks and tim doesn’t bother answering.

“i’m going to my room,” he tells the room at large, scooping up his coffee mug as he goes. “if anyone needs me, i’ll be hanging upside down from the ceiling and dodging sunlight so i don’t sparkle.”

“don’t forget your blood bag as a bedtime snack,” wally yells and tim gives a half-hearted salute, ducking into the kitchen and coming out with just that. there’s a straw sticking out of the top.

wally doesn’t see him; his back is to the door and he’s not twisted around in his chair anymore. dick sighs.

“you’re not going to let this go, are you?”

when he smiles, it’s a gleeful thing, tired at the edges but so full of mischief that dick can’t help but smile back.

“not a chance, bro.”

“that’s what i thought. do you need anything for bed?”

“nah, i’m good. same guest room as last time?”

“mmhm. damian’s taken to practicing assassination techniques in the morning recently, just so you know. watch your back as you leave the bedroom.”

“thanks for the heads up.”

“sleep tight.”

“don’t let the vampires bite,” wally fires back and laughs all the way to his bed. dick shakes his head, and makes sure the curtains are pulled shut as he goes down the hallway.

damian watches from the doorway, wrapped in a blanket so it hangs around him like his cape.

“you know, when you act like that, i can see where wally is coming from.”

“-tt-“ says damian. “as if i’d let a vampire get close enough to bite me.”

dick thinks about it for a second and shudders at the thought of an undead ex-assassin vigilante running around for the rest of time.

“yeah. better not risk that, for everyone’s sake. night, dami.”

“goodnight grayson,” he says and silently disappears into his room, his blanket flaring behind him. if dick didn’t know better, he might’ve thought it was an impression of dracula.