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The Art of Honesty

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Damian knew he was different. 

And while he radiated false confidence and an exaggerated ego… he was actually self-conscious about the very distinct contrast between him and other teenagers.

Where most people his age enjoyed pop or rap… he preferred ambient or indie music.

A majority of his classmates preferred pepperoni pizza and chicken tenders over just about anything else… but Damian was vegan. 

He also found himself wanting to wear styles that were definitely “not in.”

And contrary to popular belief he actually didn’t want to stand out.

When he’d first moved to Gotham, he loved the attention. 

He reveled in being Bruce’s only “blood son” and in being treated like a celebrity because he’d grown up being treated like a prince.

But the older he got… the more he changed and the less he wanted other people’s inputs on his likes, dislikes, and choices.

So when other people were around he’d keep his music choice to himself, he’d wear whatever was “in fashion”, and he didn’t outwardly tell people about being vegan.

He wasn’t a liar.

If someone asked him what music he listened to or if he ate meat; he would tell them… but it was just so much easier to try to blend in.

And that was his plan.

...

Until it went to shit. 

Because once again he’d hit an age where everyone was into something and he just... wasn’t. 

He was sixteen and he wasn’t dating. At all. 

He just wasn’t interested. 

He’d skirted past the comments of him not going after girls when he started high school because as Dick put it he could be a “late bloomer.”

Thankfully, Tim didn’t seem to care much nor did Jason, Bruce, or Alfred. 

But that was then... and now he was getting questions from what felt like everyone. 

“You know Dami, you don’t have to be shy around girls. You have a great personality AND you’re more attractive than most people your age. I don’t see why anyone would say no.” 

He knew that Dick meant well... but he wasn’t scared of getting rejected. He just didn’t feel any attraction to girls. Not like everyone else talked about. 

He wasn’t star struck by a female walking past him. He didn’t stutter out compliments or blush when a girl spoke to him. 

“He‘s probably asked girls out and they’ve said no. I mean not everyone finds homicidal teenagers attractive.”

Tim made comments like this when anyone was talking about his dating life... and he was also false. He just didn’t see the point in asking someone for an outing... “a date” if he had no attraction to them. 

Jason assumed he was in a secret relationship with a girl and not telling anyone. When they were on patrol together it was near constant, 

“I’m not gonna go tell big bird or daddy bats... I just want to know what she looks like? Blonde? Brunette?”

“No.”

“You’re into redheads?! Guess you take after Goldie.”

He may have been able to handle his siblings being extremely annoying and nosy but even his father had jumped in. 

Except that he figured Damian wasn’t bringing anyone home for a different reason. 

“Damian, I want you to know that... you can bring people home. I mean— if you wanted to start dating... Dick started dating at fourteen.”

“Yes, father. I know.”

“Okay, good. Uhm— good. Because you know that we— I know that growing up Talia was very strict and had specifications about who you would marry to continue the “Al Gul” line. But whoever you like Damian... they don’t have to be— I’m trying to say that it’s whoever you like. Don’t let your mother’s judgments affect things. I don’t know many sixteen year old‘s that are masters in martial arts or speak more than five languages.”  

“I understand, father.”

The difference was that his father was half right. Things were a specific way in the league. Damian didn’t even learn about the LGBT community until he’d moved to Gotham because the only introduction he’d had was his mother murdering two men for being together when he was seven. 

And still, he didn’t think it would ever be a large part of his life. 

Until he was fifteen and caught himself gazing at a guy across the classroom. 

He was repulsed with himself. 

Immediately his mother’s voice filled his head calling him disgusting names and insults. 

He felt like he was going to be sick. 

It took him six months after that to even admit to himself that he was into guys and still he refused to use the word “gay.”

He wasn’t homophobic. He believed that gay people should be able to get married and adopt kids and be equal but he felt differently about himself. 

He knew his family would be supportive. 

Dick had been the one to explain the LGBT+ community to him in the first place.

The others were also supportive. Or they’d never said anything bad about it. 

But anytime he went to say “I’m not into girls” or “if I had a secret anything it would be a secret boyfriend” he froze. 

Watching people get executed for someone they love at a young age stuck with you. 

He also didn’t want to have another thing setting him apart from everyone else. 

He just wanted to be... normal. 

For once.

XXXX

He was in the library reading. He’d taken to going somewhere other than the manor because it felt like everytime he was at home someone was asking him about his love life. 

So when he felt like reading, he drove to the library, went to the top floor, and sat in the corner. He liked the solitude and the silence. 

Except that on that specific day someone had sat at the table next to his. 

Where no one ever was.

He stifled the urge to growl and sat down figuring they wouldn’t even have to communicate given that the top floor was the quiet floor. 

The guy was attractive. He looked about Damian’s age and an inch or two taller. He had what could be described as dirty blonde hair and his skin was lighter than Damian’s. He had more of a lean build but was definitely not scrawny either.

Damian forced himself to look away and down at his book. 

This only lasted a few minutes though as the boy reached into his bag and pulled out a container of gum. 

The sound of him obnoxiously unwrapping the piece gained Damian’s attention but he quickly took a deep breath and got back to his book. 

Again though, his concentration was interrupted by the sound of him smacking his gum. 

Damian’s eyebrows furrowed and his eyes went wide as he tried to calm himself down. He really didn’t want to make a scene. 

But the smacking didn’t stop. So Damian let out a growl and looked up at the boy to see him looking back at him with an annoyingly white smile. 

“If you’re going to chew your gum like a barbarian; go to a different floor.” Damian whispered but in the quiet room it sounded like a scream. 

“Look dude... you’re the one talking. I’m just trying to read my book.”

Damian’s right eye twitched as he bit the inside of his cheek. 

Injuring civilians is wrong. Injuring civilians is wrong.

Instead of replying Damian just glared at the guy and turned back to his book. 

It was silent for a few minutes until another sound of something being unwrapped filled the area. 

Damian’s eyes darted to the boy and he gave him a scandalized look as he unwrapped a childish frosted cake. 

Do you mind?” Damian spat. 

The boy looked towards him and then moved to the seat in front of Damian at his table.

“Where are my manners? Want a bite?”

Damian’s mouth dropped open in disgust at the behavior. 

“No, I do not want a bite. I’m trying to read and you are being a pest.”

The boy let out a laugh, “Would you believe it if I told you that’s not the first time someone’s called me that today?”

Damian was about to respond when a librarian shushed them loudly and sent them both an evil eye. 

With a sigh, the sixteen year old tried to get back to reading but the blissful silence only lasted a few minutes before the random boy started crumpling all of his trash up loudly.

“GENTLEMEN!” The librarian bellowed, “SHHHHH. LAST WARNING!”

Damian continued to look down at his book but said very quietly, “If you get me kicked out of this library... I will kill you and no one will ever find your body."

And he couldn’t help but smiled at the silence that followed.

...until fifteen minutes later when the boy got up. 

Somehow, he’d managed to get his foot caught on the loop of his backpack which was also connected to the leg of the chair. 

He tripped forward and grabbed a stray chair to catch himself but that just fell over with him. At the same time the chair he’d been sitting in tipped over as well.

Damian looked up with a glare and the boy had the nerve to look sheepish and somewhat afraid as the librarian came over, “Both of you. Out! Now!”

Angrily packing his bag, Damian stormed out while the other kid followed more calmly and apologetically. 

The previous assassin quickly headed straight for his car; not wanting to lose control and then have to explain why he’d been arrested for strangling another person.

“Hey, hey wait up. Wait. I’m sorry. It was an accident. Honestly, I didn’t mean to get us thrown out.” The teen apologized; trying to stop Damian from leaving. 

“All I wanted to do was come here and read my book to escape the never ending probing of my family. But you had to ruin it by being idiotic enough to get me kicked out of the library.”

“Look, I honestly didn’t mean to get you kicked out. If it’s peace and quiet you want I know this really nice place... if you like nature.”

Damian eyed him with a suspicious look and the dirty blonde thrust his hand out, “I’m Elliot by the way. What’s your name?”

A spark of confusion dusted Damian’s features before the annoyed exterior came back, “You don’t know who I am?”

“Bit of an ego, much? Should I know who you are?”

Damian’s eyes slanted for a moment before responding, “My name is Damian. What place are you talking about?”

“Well Damian , it's a bit of a hike. Think you’re up for it?”

“Are you?”

Smirking, Elliot responded with, “There’s a park a few blocks from here... then there's some trails. You have to go a bit off the path but there’s this really nice spot with an amazing view.”

“Lead the way.”

They walked for about two minutes in silence before Damian spoke up. 

“I haven’t seen you around Gotham Academy.”

“You go to Gotham Academy?! I should’ve known you were a rich kid. You’ve got that prep-school attitude.”

Damian opened and closed his mouth twice before his eyebrows furrowed, “Tt, I should have realized you were a public school kid given your brutish behavior."

Despite his jab, Elliot just smiled brightly. 

“I’m seventeen. How old are you?” 

“Sixteen. Another thing we don’t have in common.” Damian spat as they passed the sign leading into the park. 

“Hey, don’t be so hasty... clearly we both like animals.”

Damian frowned, “What makes you think I like animals?”

“Well you have a pin on your backpack that says “I torture scientists that torture animals.”

The shorter of the two pulled his backpack around in a moment of confusion before remembering the pin he was talking about. Dick had bought it for him a year or two ago.

“Yes, well... you can read. Congratulations. I wouldn’t have expected such advanced knowledge from someone who's grown up in a public school environment.”

Elliot laughed and pointed ahead, “You’re hilarious. That’s the trail by the way.”

“I wasn’t attempting to be humorous.”

Both of them made their way into the woods. 

“You seem to have an awful lot of faith that I’m not a serial killer luring you out here to kill you.” Elliot stated randomly.

Damian looked contemplative and smirked, “Perhaps I have more faith in my ability to defend myself if you attempted an attack.”

“Uh huh okay... what are you a ninja or something?”

“Or something.” 

And despite the overwhelming annoyance Elliot had been causing him less than an hour prior… Damian found himself smiling and smirking earnestly.

“Mysterious. I like it. That probably kills with the ladies.”

Damian frowned and shook his head with, “Tt.”

And suddenly his irritation was back.

He already got the never ending slew of questions and comments at home. He didn’t need them from some stranger

“I mean your whole vibe seems like catnip. Mysterious, tortured, super intelligent, kind of an ass... yet you’re an animal lover which means deep down you’re a good person... I bet you’re like a vegetarian or something too.”

“Vegan.” 

“Ha! See I was close!”

“Well, I can tell that you’re clearly overly confident. Probably somewhat of a narcissist and if I had to guess... lonely.” Damian responded coldly.

But despite his observation, Elliot didn’t let the comment bring him down, “What makes you think I’m lonely?”

“You approached the most unapproachable guy in a library and now you’re hanging out with him.”

“Maybe I approached you because you piqued my interest.”

Damian paused and looked over at him, “How? I sit in the same place everyday and I don’t speak.”

“Well you’ve read The Catcher in the Rye twice in five days... so obviously you have good taste in books.”

Damian sighed, “Maybe you’re right.”

“Well yeah I like that book and my taste is—“

“I meant you being a serial killer. Apparently you’ve been stalking me for at least a week.”

Elliot scoffed, “Not stalking. Observing.”

“Sure.” Damian rolled his eyes but couldn’t help but smile slightly against his will. 

Suddenly he felt this buzzing feeling in his stomach…

...and he was not a fan.

“We veer off the trail here. Be careful.”

“Please, I’ll be fine.” the younger of the two scoffed.

They climbed up the hill, grabbing onto branches and roots to pull themselves up. 

Damian was ahead of Elliot which means unfortunately he was the one to grab onto an unsteady branch. 

It broke without much warning and Damian went to topple backwards. If it hadn’t been for Elliot catching him, he would have. 

Both of them let out a breath of relief at having avoided the fall.

“Told you to be careful.”

But the only response he received was a  growl and leaves and dirt being kicked into his face.

He sputtered and squinted as Damian laughed honestly before continuing to climb.

Reaching flat ground, Damian smiled and dusted dirt off his clothes then he turned around and helped Elliot up. 

The blonde took his hand gratefully and then didn’t let go as he hurried past Damian and led him a little bit farther. 

“Annnnnd weeeeee arrrrrrrrrrre here!” 

He smiled brightly as they made their way into somewhat of a clearing that looked out over all the trees. You could even see a lake. There was a log that sat in the middle for someone to lean on.

“Wow.” Damian smiled at the view. It really was beautiful. Everything was green and blue and it was so clear that the breeze was perfect. 

It was so… “Un-Gotham.”

“Told ya it was great. And it’s secluded cause no one ever goes off trail. So there. My sanctuary is your sanctuary.”

They locked eyes with smiling faces and Damian seemed to only then realize that they were still holding hands. 

The feeling he’d gotten in his stomach earlier came back but at 10x the strength. He quickly pulled away and felt his face heating up as he scratched the back of his head. 

“Uhm uh... so how did you find this place?” He asked as he sat down and put his backpack beside him. 

“I like hiking with my dog. Normally she’s pretty well behaved but I think she saw a squirrel or something. She darted up the hill after it and I had to chase her. She ended up up here just sniffing around the area. Now it’s my favorite spot.”

“So you like animals as well?” He asked. 

“Why? Think that’s sexy?”

Damian gaped at the comment and his face heated up again, right as it was starting to regain its normal color. 

Elliot just laughed and sat down next to him, “I do. My dog’s name is Alice. She’s a Dalmatian.”

“I have a Great Dane named Titus.”

“Well Alice is usually good around other dogs. Maybe they’d be friends.”

“Perhaps.” Damian smiled. 

They sat there talking and sharing and even laughing occasionally until Damian glanced at the time and realized they’d been there for almost three hours. 

“Oh... it’s nearly five. I should head back to my car.”

“Yeah I probably should too. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.”

“That is the saying.”

They looked at each other for a minute before Damian turned around and started to walk back the way they came. 

“Wait, I don’t get your number? Or an email? Not even a last name? How am I supposed to see you again?”

“I guess you’ll just have to hope.”

He kept walking with a smirk and Elliot ran up beside him. 

“Fine. But I’m walking you to your car... hate for you to get kidnapped...“

“Once again you’re underestimating my ability to defend myself.”

“Maybe I just want to be your hero.”

Damian was starting to have a love-hate relationship with the buzzing feeling in his stomach.

They started slowly heading down the steep hill and Elliot reached out and grabbed Damian’s upper arm to steady him. 

And the sixteen year old rolled his eyes but didn’t shrug the older teen off.

“I still think you should at least give me something .”

“You already know that I go to Gotham Academy.”

“It’s the middle of the summer.” Elliot laughed as they made their way onto level ground again and back onto the trail. 

“That it is.” Damian responded.

“I want to see you again.” He smiled and instead of letting go of his upper arm; Elliot connected their hands.

The usually stoic teenager blushed and fought a smile, “You will.”

They talked a bit more until they reached the library again and they said a final goodbye before each of them left in their cars. 

“How was the library?” Bruce asked once he got home. 

“It was fine.”

XXXX

“I waited at the library for 6 days!” Elliot exclaimed when he found Damian reading To Kill a Mockingbird at “their spot.”

“It’s that public school education. You should have come here first.”

“Ha. Ha.” He mocked before sitting next to Damian, “Have you read it before?”

“My first time actually.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s... interesting.”

Elliot waited a moment and took in the view with a smile before he turned back to Damian. 

“How long have you been here? Are you hungry?”

”A few hours. I suppose I could eat.”

His eyes gleamed as he ducked into his backpack bringing out a blanket. 

At Damian’s confused glance he elaborated with, “Lucky for us, I packed a picnic.”

And Damian wouldn’t own up to the brief flutter in his chest when he saw vegan-friendly food only.

XXXX

“You did NOT! ” Elliot yelled; smiling brightly. 

“He was being annoying. Drake just never knows when to stop.”

Still laughing, “So you replaced all his coffee with decaf?? Poor guy probably had the headache of his life if he’s as much of a coffee addict as you say he is.”

“Oh he is.”

“At least you were doing it for a good cause though... he threatened your... your cow?”

“Yes, my cow.”

More laughter. 

And Damian couldn’t stop the small chuckle that escaped him at Elliot’s reaction. 

“I like your laugh.” Elliot smiled as he gazed at Damian with almost dreamy eyes. 

His heart was pounding... and the feeling in his stomach (that he’d researched and found to be “butterflies”) was back.

He felt his cheeks heating up as well. 

“I- uhm- you’re— thanks.” He stuttered out, feeling his cheeks turn red, now in embarrassment.

He felt a pressure on his hand and glanced down to see Elliot’s resting gently on his. 

Looking back all he can do is cringe at the school girl reaction he had of letting out what could only be described as a giggle. 

Of course, once realizing he ducked his head away and tried to get his reactions under control. 

“So... now can you give me more information about you? Social media? Your number? You know... if you gave me your address I could come pick you up myself."

Well... address was definitely out of the question being that he still hadn’t realized he was Damian Wayne

He also didn’t want to do social media either...

“I suppose I could give you my cell number as long you promise not to send me unnecessary and pointless messages.”

“Me?! Unnecessary and pointless?!” Elliot gasped dramatically. 

XXXX

And that’s exactly what he did. 

Damian wasn’t even the whole way home when his phone dinged with a message from Elliot that read, “Cactus.”

With any other person the antics would’ve made Damian angry. 

But for some reason it caused him to smile and respond, “Perfect example of unnecessary and pointless.”

He was turning his car off and getting ready to get out when his phone buzzed again. 

I think cacti would take offense to you calling them pointless and unnecessary 

Damian rolled his eyes, a smile still on his face, “Cacti don’t have feelings.” 

It took enough time for him to slam the door shut for Elliot to respond. 

But I do... for you *wink*

And again with the uncontrollable smile and laugh.

He leaned against his car and responded with, “Somehow I doubt that you have the brain-muscle coordination to wink.”

Closing his phone out and sticking it in his pocket, he walked into the house where he saw his family gathered around the table (clearly waiting for dinner). 

“Hey Little D! How was the library?”

“Pleasant.” Was his response as he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. 

XXXX

The next few weeks went by much the same except that Damian and Elliot were planning to meet at “their spot” rather than continuing to run into each other by accident. 

They’d meet at the library and walk to the park together. Then they’d either talk or read as they each snacked on small things they brought. 

There was more hand holding, more butterflies, more moments that made Damian feel like a schoolgirl and despite what was clearly going on between them... Damian didn’t let himself think too hard on it. 

Because he wasn’t gay... and Elliot was just a friend. 

Because Elliot was a boy. 

And Damian couldn’t be with a boy. 

XXXX

They’d hit almost the two month mark since they met when Elliot brought another picnic. Except this one was fancier somehow. 

He brought it in an actual picnic basket and had it all set up with plastic champagne glasses and sparkling water in a bucket of ice by the time he got there.

Damian couldn’t deny the bright smile that engulfed his face as he brought his hands to cover his mouth. 

“I’m surprised that public school provided you with the time management to pull this off.” 

And to anyone else it would have sounded rude or entitled or insulting. 

But Elliot’s smile only grew wider as he grabbed Damian’s hand and excitedly led him to the blanket before pouring him sparkling water and pointing to all the kinds of food he brought. 

They talked and laughed and ate and by the time they were done, Elliot stood up and held his hand out for Damian to take it. 

“Dance with me.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I want to dance with you.”

“There’s no music.”

Elliot gave Damian a look before quickly pulling up a clearly romantic song on his phone and holding his hand back out to him.. 

And after a moment's pause, Damian took it. 

He found himself swaying to the music as Elliot held him close. 

His heart was pounding in his ears and felt hot all over... but in a good way?

Elliot’s scent was all he could smell and Elliot’s body pressed into his was all he could feel. 

Their eyes met. 

Damian’s heart beat faster. If possible. 

Elliot licked his lips. 

Damian couldn’t tear his eyes away from said lips. 

Elliot’s started to lean in. 

Damian didn’t move a muscle. 

Elliot’s lips met Damian’s.  

And it was better than he imagined. 

Damian pushed into the kiss and the taller’s hands wandered as it became more intense.

Instantly he understood why everyone seemed to be so obsessed with dating and why everyone was so confused as to why he wasn’t doing it. 

And with that thought suddenly everything started to unravel. 

Elliot is a boy. 

I’m kissing a boy. 

What would mother say?

What would mother do?

What am I doing?!

Elliot was startled as Damian shoved him away and turned around; quickly picking up his stuff. 

Damian had never been an emotional person. He’d been raised to stay calm and emotionless in high stress situations. 

But in this moment all his training went out the window and he felt himself truly panicking as he tried to get all of his stuff into his backpack. 

It took Elliot a few moments to catch up to speed before he shot forward and up to Damian. 

“Wait wait wait what’s wrong?”

Damian didn’t respond and didn’t look at him just continued to quickly get all of his stuff together. 

“Talk to me! What’s wrong!?”

Damian just grabbed his shoes instead of waiting to put them on and went to turn around but Elliot grabbed his wrist; stopping him. 

“Look at me! Tell me what I did wrong!”

Damian did look at him.

He was shaking and tears had gathered in his eyes. He was breathing heavily and his cheeks were red. 

Elliot hadn’t ever seen him look this way. 

Hell, Damian hadn’t seen himself look that way. 

“I’m not gay!”

Confusion was brief on Elliot’s face but Damian didn’t give him time to say anything as he jerked his arm away and took off running down the hill. 

Which was a mistake. 

The absence of shoes, height of his emotions, and blurred vision due to the tears in his eyes caused him to misstep and fling forward down the hill. 

Damian briefly heard Elliot yell his name but he could only focus on the near constant incoming of leaves and dirt. 

All Elliot could do was chase after him when he saw Damian pitch forward and start tumbling fast down the hill. 

The angle of the ground gave Elliot an insane amount of speed which would normally be good... but Damian seemed to right himself just as they made it back to the trail.

However, with the speed Elliot was going, he didn’t have enough time to stop himself before he rammed right into Damian and both of them went tumbling down another hill. 

They didn’t know how far they’d fallen down but it had to have been far because it felt like it took an insane amount of time for them to finally find some more even ground. 

It took Elliot a moment to right himself. The first thing he noticed was the pain radiating from his forehead. 

Gingerly, he reached up and felt the spot, coming back with bloody fingers. 

Fuck .”

Damian shook the dizziness away and tried to check himself for injuries. He had minor cuts on his arms, one or two on his face, and he was pretty sure he had a broken ankle. 

He was about to curse when he heard a curse to his right. 

Looking over, he saw Elliot looking at a bloody hand. 

“Are you okay?” Damian called. 

The blonde just looked over to him and got up, dusting himself off, “Yeah I think I have a concussion but I’m okay. Are you?”

Elliot’s mouth dropped at Damian’s ankle, “You’re not! Your ankle! Oh my god your face!”

Elliot reached out and gently stroked Damian’s cuts. 

“I’m okay. I think I broke my ankle though... and my shoes— I must have dropped them.”

“Can you walk?”

Damian nodded, “Tt of course. I have a high pain tol—“ he stopped midway to yelp in pain as he tried to put full pressure on his foot. 

“Perhaps I could use minor assistance?”

Elliot immediately reached out; gripping Damian around the waist. 

“I’ll call an ambulance.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone only to curse again. 

“What?”

“No service.”

Looking around, Damian asked, “Where are we?”

“Somewhere far from the trails.”

Damian huffed, “Well we still have…” He cut off; searching for his phone, “Damnit, I think I dropped my phone when I was falling.”

Shaking his head, he grabbed Elliot’s.

“We still have about an hour till sunset… I’m sure we’ll be able to find our way back to the trail by then.”

XXXX

Damian was wrong. Oh so very wrong. 

They’d figured they’d start up hill first and see when they ran into the trail. But they tried going uphill and even though they were slowed down (due to Damian) they still hadn’t reached anything in an hour and a half. 

At that point Elliot figured they should go right and see if they met some even land. 

That took about 20 minutes of walking right and then going down some before they found some more even land... but it wasn’t the trail. 

That was when Elliot climbed a tree to see if he could spot the trail from the height. 

He couldn’t. 

And with how dark it was… he wouldn’t be able to see it anyway.

Then he tried to get service from his height in the trees. 

...another failed idea. 

They’d avoided all serious discussions; just focusing on finding a way out... but as Damian watched Elliot climb down from the tree with a sour look, he realized they’d be there longer than he’d hoped and that they were out of ideas. 

“I guess we’ll just sleep here tonight? There’s no point in wandering around in the dark when we’re already lost.” Elliot sat next to Damian so that their arms and knees were touching, “How's your ankle?”

“Fine. Barley noticeable.”

“I doubt that, my cousin was screaming when he broke his wrist.”

“Well, I have a high pain tolerance.”

“So you said.” 

There was a silence as Damian looked down and Elliot looked towards him. 

“So...can we talk about what happened?”

Damian didn’t respond. 

“Okay... then I’ll talk.”

More silence. 

“I like you. A lot. You’re attractive and funny and you’re not afraid to tell me what you think. Hell, you’re not afraid to tell anyone what you think. You give off this... indifferent vibe but you care deeply about certain things... like animals... and books... I just─ I really really like you... and I think you like me too.”

Damian looked towards him but remained quiet so Elliot continued.

“I think you’re still in the closet. Maybe you’ve never been with a guy before? And I think you’re scared to branch out... but I also think that if you hide who you are... you’ll never be happy.”

They were both looking at each other and Damian took a deep breath and switched his gaze ahead of him. 

“My mother... She's... my mother taught me that men laying with men and women laying with women is wrong...She wants—needs me to be perfect. I need to— I’m expected to have an heir— and I can’t if— it's not what people expect from me.”

Elliot laid his hand on Damian’s, “What do people expect from you?”

There was a brief pause as Damian considered the question. 

“To be emotionless... to be alone.”

“That’s hardly fair.” was Elliot’s heart felt reply. 

“If you knew my mother... or even my father.”

“You’re not your parents. If they have a problem with it... then it’s their issue. Not yours.”

“It’s not just that. My mother— she’s a criminal. She’s— she’s killed people. I saw her kill a gay couple once...” 

Damian didn’t know why he was sharing such personal information with someone he met a few months ago. He knew that wasn’t something you just told people… especially normal people but he just put it all out there.

Maybe he was hoping that it would scare Elliot off.

So that he wouldn’t have to be the one to break it off.

So that he couldn’t blame himself for not pursuing whatever it was they had.

“So if you want… whatever is going on between us to stop…  I understand.”

Elliot reached out and turned Damian’s head towards him and then leaned in and kissed him gently. 

Damian didn’t lean in this time but he didn’t pull back either; just closed his eyes and let Elliot kiss him. 

Too soon, Elliot pulled back and looked Damian directly in the eyes.

“Nothing would make me want what’s going on between us to stop.”

“I just told you that my mother is a murderer.”

“And I wouldn’t be living in Gotham if I couldn’t handle the idea of family members of people being criminals.”

There was another moment of silence before Elliot spoke up again, “Have you ever experimented with guys before?”

“No. H-have you?”

“I’ve pretty much always known that I wasn’t into girls. I kissed my best friend when we were 12 and that kind of confirmed the gay thing for me but I haven’t been in a serious relationship with a guy. I’ve dated but... never met someone that I’ve really clicked with... till recently.”

Damian blushed and Elliot smiled brightly. 

“Well my family has probably assumed I’ve been kidnapped.” Damian responded after a moment's pause. 

Elliot let out a breath, “Yeah... I bet my mom is freaking out right now. She doesn’t have the night shift tonight so we were supposed to have late night ice cream.”

“Late night? ... what?”

“We have ice cream at nine when she doesn’t have a night shift... it’s not late late at night but...”

“What time is it?”

Elliot opened his phone and cringed, “it’s 10:02.”

“Okay well... we know that the path is up the hill. Perhaps we should just continue up?”

“Can you walk? On your ankle?”

“I may slow you down.”

“I could carry you. You could be my damsel in distress.”

Damian glared half heartedly, “and to think you almost had me considering it before that remark.”

“Wait seriously? Okay then I retract my damsel in distress comment... for the moment.”

“...”

“Look I would call you my lad in distress but that just doesn’t sound as smooth.”

“You were going for “smooth?”

“Ha. Ha. Come on, the sooner you let me be your hero the sooner we can get out of here.”

There was another pause as Damian thought it over and eventually responded with, “You better not drop me, Elliot.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, madam.”

He rolled his eyes at the taller boy's antics but didn’t make another comment as Elliot helped him up and moved to crouch down in front of him. 

“Hold on tight.” 

Damian connected his hands around Elliot’s neck and jumped onto his back fully. 

And with that, Elliot stood up completely and moved to start heading to go up the steep incline.

“I know that hand-eye coordination isn’t your strong suit but if you trip and send us tumbling again and by some miracle you don’t die on the way down... I will murder you.”

“You know... Rapunzel didn’t really like her knight in shining armor at first either.”

“Rapunzel’s love interest was a thief... which you would know if you read.”

There was a pause before Elliot awed loudly. 

What ?”

“You read fairy tails! Oh my god, I swear every time I talk to you, you get cuter.”

“You’re intolerable.”

“And you’re adorable.”

Damian rolled his eyes again and tried to ignore the blush coating his cheeks by changing the subject, “How much battery do you have left?”

“Umm... 33%”

Both of them cringed at the idea of the flashlight going out; being that it was the only light they had because the trees were obstructing the moon.

They continued walking for a few more minutes before Elliot sighed, “What are you afraid of?” 

Damian’s face scrunched up, “You feel the best time to talk about our fears is when we’re stranded alone, at night, in the woods?”

“Why not? Are you scared?”

“Tt please.” Damian scoffed. 

Elliot laughed in response and asked, “Well, if you’re not scared then answer the question.”

Damian rolled his eyes for what felt like the hundredth time of the night and thought about his answer as Elliot hoisted him up again, “What are you afraid of?"

“Pshhh and you say you’re not a damsel in distress. This is a conversational “you go first into the haunted house” type of situation... but never fear. Your hero is here.”

Damian groaned loudly, “I feel that attempt at humor has expired by now.”

“What am I scared of? What am I scared of?” Elliot thought out loud, “Okay, besides the obvious like alligators and zombies—“

“Zombies don’t exist.”

“Not that we know of. Or not yet!”

“Why do you fear alligators?”

“Uhm they can kill you? But whatever, that’s not the point. If I had to choose a serious fear it would be— unfulfilled potential.”

“That’s… surprisingly deep. Why?”

“I just have so much that I want to do and experience… and I can’t think of anything worse than me working in an office doing mindless tasks and not making a difference.”

“Hmm.”

“So… what are you afraid of?”

“...showing someone who I really am and being met with disappointment or fear.”

There was a moment of silence as Damian held his breath; fearing he’d crossed the line on sharing personal information but then Elliot spoke.

“Well I think who you are is amazing.”

“How can you say that? You don’t even know my last name.”

“Because your last name doesn’t make you who you are, Damian. Your parents… your family… they aren’t the reason you like classic novels. They aren’t the reason you’re vegan. I don’t have to know who you’re related to to know who you are.”

And that was something Damian had never been told before.

He felt his chest heat up considerably and he relaxed in Elliot’s arms, “Hey, Elliot?”

“Yeah?”

“I like you too.”

And Elliot turned his head back enough to peck Damian on the cheek and then they continued heading up.

Another 20 minutes went by with them walking until Elliot gasped dramatically.

“Is that what I think it is? PLEASE tell me that’s what I think it is!”

And Damian couldn’t help his own smile as he saw the trail a little farther up.

Elliot practically took off running the rest of the way and then started jumping once they reached the path before sitting them both down.

There was a moment of silence before Damian groaned and flopped backwards onto the dirt, “Father is going to start tracking me wherever I go after this.”

Elliot followed suit and turned his head towards Damian,”Would he really? My mom doesn’t know how to use that stuff.”

“Knowing my father, he will probably tail me next time I say I’m going to the library so that he can catch me if I go anywhere else… at least for a few weeks that is.”

“Hmmm… so you’ve got a protective dad. Is he gonna give your new boyfriend the shovel talk?”

First he pictured Batman threatening Elliot on his behalf.

And then he thought of how he would even approach telling this father about Elliot.

And he felt sick.

Growing up, anxiety had not been something he had… but the older he got, the more familiar he became with the emotion. 

“If you're not ready for that we can take a step back. No one has to know we’re anything more than friends.” Elliot spoke up, clearly noticing Damian’s discomfort.

“I wouldn’t wish for you to hide who you are… I just don’t know how my father would react… I know that Grayson would be supportive.”

“Maybe you should tell him first then. But you shouldn’t come out till you’re ready.”

Damian just took a deep breath and then sat up, “We should go.”

And with exaggerated enthusiasm, Elliot did the same.

“I completely agree.” He stood up and crouched in front of Damian again, “Your chariot awaits.”

Damian growled, but climbed on anyway, “This is the last time I will allow you to give me a “piggy back ride.” 

“You’re so cute when you’re grumpy.” was said before Elliot happily continued on the path.

They were expecting a wave of texts blowing up Elliot’s phone now that they were in range.

They were expecting the parking lot to be empty.

They were even expecting for the rest of the area to seem like a ghost town.

What they were not expecting was to walk out to fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars practically everywhere. 

A bit of distance away Damian spotted his family (in civilian clothes) talking to a police officer. 

Then just as Damian was about to speak; Jason looked over, “Where the fuck have you been, brat?”

Elliot let Damian slip off his back and watched with an open mouth as everyone approached quickly.

“Why haven’t you been answering your phone?” Bruce asked and then stepped back at Damian’s raised foot, “Are you alright?”

“I am fine. However, I think I broke my ankle.” He stated.

Dick locked his eyes with Damian’s ankle while Tim, Jason, and Bruce gave Elliot suspicious and somewhat threatening looks.

“Who are you ?” Jason asked; eyeing him up and down.

There was a pause before he responded, “I’m Elliot.” then he turned to Bruce, “You’re Bruce Wayne.”

“I am.”

Then he turned to Dick, “You’re Dick Grayson.”

Elliot’s mouth dropped open again and Damian cringed slightly.

“Tim Drake.”

And finally he turned to Jason; who spoke up with, “Jason Todd.”

“I’m an idiot.” Elliot facepalmed.

Almost on instinct Damian responded with, “I’ve been telling you that for weeks.”

They were interrupted by a police officer walking over and asking, “Are you Elliot Henry?”

“Uhm, yes. Yes sir.”

Immediately he said something into his walkie talkie and looked back up to say, “Your mother has been worried sick.”

“Yeah, we fell down the hill and got lost. I’ll call her right now.”

And with that, Elliot stepped away and dialed his mother’s number now that he had service.

“You fell? ...down a hill?” Tim asked at the same time that Dick reached out with, “Are you okay?”

“I was not wearing shoes at the time and I would have righted myself but Elliot bumped into me and I am fine, Grayson. Stop worrying.”

“Goldie has a reason to be stressed. You don’t come home; then when we try to track you, your phone doesn’t work… then if that’s not enough… we track where you were and you come out of the woods, on a stranger’s back, with a broken ankle.

“He is not a stranger. I met him at the library.”

“Where you said you’d be?” Bruce asked and Damian went silent turning to his father.

“I do apologize. I did not expect for this to happen.”

“I don’t understand what did happen. You met some random guy and decided you were going to leave the library to go hang out with him? Cause that sounds so much like the Damian Wayne we all know.” Jason crossed his arms.

Everyone’s attention shifted once again as Elliot came back over.

“I actually got us kicked out of the library… on accident.”

The attention was still on Elliot.

“See so I was being kind of loud when I was eating and we were talking so the librarian thought we were together. So she gave us a few warnings and then I tripped over my chair and she kicked us both out.”

There was more silence and Tim turned to Damian, “You stabbed me with scissors when I laughed at a joke that Jason made about you… but this guy gets you kicked out of the library and you hang out with him?”

“That was two years ago, Timmy.” Dick tried to mend with a smile.

“IT WAS LAST MONTH!”

Bruce cleared his throat, silencing all of them.

“Thank you for helping my son. I’m happy that you’re both safe.”

Elliot smiled kindly, “I would do it again without a doubt.” Then he turned to Damian, “Officer Carter is going to take me to my mom and I’ll pick up my car tomorrow. I’ll text you?”

“Yes.”

They stared at each other for a few moments. Both of them wanted to hug or kiss or something… anything more than just friendly gazing… but Elliot settled on just smiling gently at Damian and turning away and towards the police man.

He turned slightly and called over his shoulder, “I’ll be sure to send you all kinds of unnecessary stuff.”

And despite himself, Damian laughed.

And as he watched Elliot laugh as he walked… as he watched him smile and start a friendly conversation with the cop… as he watched him try and fail to do a cartwheel and succeed in making the man laugh… Damian realized that he didn’t care who knew.

He didn’t want friendly gazes. 

He didn’t want the looks with unsaid feelings.

He didn’t want another secret.

He wanted more. For once in his life he wanted more than that.

“I’m gay.” 

All heads snapped to him and Damian ignored the rising panic as he watched Elliot.

“I am gay and Elliot and I are involved.”

He turned to his family; worried over everyone to see Bruce’s reaction.

There was a moment of silence before Dick practically squealed, “Dami has a boyfriend!” at the same time that Jason said, “See, I was right. I knew he was in a secret relationship.”

Tim sighed and responded, “I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see this coming.”

But his brother’s accepting responses was not what he was waiting for. He turned to Bruce nervously, and saw him smiling slightly.

“I would love to have him over for dinner so that we can have a proper meeting.”

And Damian let himself smile and relax at Bruce’s statement. 

He couldn’t say he knew where things with Elliot would go and he couldn’t say he was excited for Bruce’s over protective nature after this… but he could say that there was a weight off his chest.

He no longer felt like he was hiding from everyone.

He no longer felt like he was disappointing the people around him.

And he no longer felt the constant anxiety of someone suspecting his secret.

For the first time in a long time… he felt light.