Actions

Work Header

An Endless Friendship

Work Text:

Tim Drake lives a lonely life. The only problem is that he doesn’t really know it. Yeah, when his parents leave, sometimes he feels lonely. But that’s different from being lonely.

Somehow.

His parents are still alive and they love him. Mrs. Mac visits to clean and her casseroles aren’t bad (they aren’t good either). And he has Batman and Robin, of course. So yeah, Tim isn’t lonely. He’s fine.

It still stings when his parents call him to let him know that their trip to Egypt has been extended by 3 weeks. Which means that they’ll miss his 9th birthday. But they don’t mention that, of course. They end the phone call with, “We’ll see you soon, Timothy.”

“Ok, bye Mother, bye Father. Love you.”

The line clicks.

“We’ll see you soon, Timothy.”

Something bitter and angry and sad bubbles in his chest. He scoffs, “Liars.”

“That is correct.”

Tim flinches at the unfamiliar voice, leaping from his perch on the kitchen countertop.

Skidding on the marble floor, he spins, hands flying up in a defensive position that he learned from his Aikido class last week. He blinks and his hands lower slightly.

Sitting on the counter, to the left of where he had been sitting moments before, was a girl. She looked to be about his age, maybe younger, with dark hair that brushed the tops of her shoulders. She was wearing leggings and a short grey dress , with a belt cinching it around her waist. Her feet were bare and she kicked them happily, like the children that Tim’s mother scoffs at.

When Tim looks at her, she grins widely, her bright, unnaturally gold eyes crinkling. Tim blinks in surprise, and when he looks again, they are a light green.

“Um...hello?”

“Hello, Tim.”

“You know me? Wait, who are you? How’d you get in here?”

The girl giggles and hops off of the counter. Tim raises his fists again as she walks closer, hands behind her back.

“I know lots of things. I know almost everything.”

“Yeah right, a little kid like you can’t know everything. You better tell me who you are, or I’ll call the police.”

“No, you won’t.”

She speaks with such confidence that Tim falters.

“Wha- well, my parents won’t be happy when they get back and they find an intruder in our home.”

“You parents won’t be back for another 3 weeks, we just learned this, Tim.”

Tim properly flinches this time, hands dropping as he backs up against the kitchen table. The girl stops her approach and stares at him. Her eyes are now an electric blue.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.”

She’s lying , Tim thinks suddenly. He looks over the girl.

She looks so unassuming. If it weren’t for her sudden appearance and her freaky changing eyes (they were now a deep brown), Tim would’ve thought that she was just a normal girl. But she had appeared so suddenly, and the complete confidence in her voice was so unlike other 8-year-olds he’d met at galas and at school. Her eyes were a light violet now and a shiver went up Tim’s spine. He really wished his parents were home. He really wished that he was brave like Robin.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

The girl’s teasing smile faded, morphing into something sad.

“Sorry, Tim. I’ll stop teasing.”

Truth.

The word echoed slightly in Tim’s head, in a calm, ringing sort of way that didn’t really feel like a normal thought. The girl watched patiently.

“Ok...thanks,” she nodded. “Are you going to tell me what you want? What’s your name?”

The girl’s grin returns, although it’s less mocking than before, more sincere. Stretching her hand out, she moved until she was right in front of him. Her eyes glinted silver.

“My name is Duplicity. I want to be your friend.”

Truth.

 

~~~

 

The girl, Duplicity, sits across from Tim at the table, her glass of apple juice clutched between her hands. Under the table, her feet kicking like a kid’s. Tim fights the urge to kick his own feet.

Carefully taking a sip from his own glass, Tim tries to school a business-like expression onto his face.

Just like that, Timothy. His mother’s voice says. You must look like the CEO you will one day become. No twitching.

Once a respectable look is plastered on (one that looks only slightly disinterested), Tim turns to fully face the strange girl.

She is looking at him with amusement.

Her grin is so wide that Tim almost loses the CEO face. He quickly focuses.

“Duplicity.”

“Timothy.” He tries not to wince at his full name.

“Why do you want to be my friend? Why did you break into my house.”

Calm. Cool. Collected. Handle this like Mom or Dad would.

“Oh I didn’t break in. I didn’t need to.”

Truth.

Wait, what?

Tim loses the CEO face all together as he stares at the girl. She sips her drink.

“Wh-what? Then how did you get in?”

“I just did. I can do that.”

What!? ... Are you a meta? A teleporter? Metas aren’t allowed in Gotham.”

“Well, I’m not a meta ( Truth ), I don’t even know what those are.”

Lie.

The echo of “lie” makes Tim flinch again. He hadn’t heard that yet. The girl looks at him curiously.

“Yeah,” she says slowly, like she wanted to ask him something but was holding back, “So not a meta, I can just do this.”

And with that, she disappeared and reappeared next to Tim in less than a second. Tim is very proud that he didn’t jump out of his chair.

“To answer your other question, I want to be your friend because you interest me.”

“Um...thank you?”

“You’re welcome,” she grinned merrily and reappeared at her seat. She took another sip of her juice.

“Can I ask why I interest you?”

“Sure. To put it simply, you are surrounded by lies. And I like lies.”

The room cooled and Tim instinctively leaned back. Duplicity’s grin turned slightly feral, her eyes glinting in an unnatural metallic light.

“...What?”

Duplicity’s smile relaxed, her eyes changing to a soft hazel when she blinked.

“I really should have introduced myself properly. But it was so fun seeing you confused.” She giggled and drank the rest of her juice in a single gulp. “Ahh,” she smacked her lips before plastering on a wide, show-worthy smile, “My name is Duplicity. I am one of the Endless, the youngest, after Delirium. Though I might be her daughter. It’s a little unclear if she made me or not.”

She tapped her fingernails against her glass, looking thoughtful for a moment. Then she shook her head and looked back up, “But yeah! I am Duplicity and Deceit and Dishonesty. I am also everything that my name is not. I am Lies. And you are surrounded by so many deceptions that I got interested.”

She shrugged. “You also seemed lonely. I’m not really a fan of innocents being lied to, before they can properly tell authenticity from deceptions. And I’m lonely too.”

Tim stared, mouth hanging open. Duplicity locked eyes with him.

Truth.

“A-are you the one making that voice say ‘truth’ or ‘lies’?”

“Oh, you can hear that?” Duplicity looked genuinely shocked, then delighted. “That’s great! It’s just a minor manifestation of my powers. I’m able to tell when people are lying or telling the truth. I mean, obviously, I am the embodiment of Deceptions. If you can hear that, then you must be pretty perceptive.”

“Oh, great.”

They fell into a slightly uncomfortable silence. Duplicity seemed to be inspecting him. Tim could barely look into her ever-changing eyes. Finally, Duplicity’s staring became too much.

He turned away, looking into his cup, “You found me because my parents are always lying to me, right?”

Her face fell, turning momentarily stormy. “Yes. I’m sorry.”

“And you want to be my friend, because you’re lonely too?”

“Yeah,” she turned to look out the window, “My siblings are always so busy. Destinies, Death, Dreams, and the others are much more important to the world than Duplicities. Duplicities can cause Destruction and Despair, but their effects are so wide-scale compared to the commonality of lies, that they tend to ignore me. Desire likes me, but they like everyone. And Delirium...well lies are easy to notice when you know what you’re looking for. I can never tell what Delirium’s going to do. And like I said, I’m the youngest, not as many responsibilities.”

Truth.

The pause was slightly melancholy as Duplicity frowned out the window. Tim chewed his bottom lip. He wasn’t really sure what Duplicity was talking about, who all her siblings were, or how powerful she really was, but if she wanted a friend, then he could try to be one. And besides, it would be nice to know when his parents were really telling him the truth, rather than guessing all the time.

Decision made, Tim swirled the rest of his juice in his cup. “For someone named after Lies, you tell a lot of Truths.”

Duplicity snorted, “If Destruction can make pottery, then I can tell the truth. We help define our opposites.”

“Hmm,” rather than respond to the surprisingly philosophical statement, Tim decided to move on, “well, if you’re going to be my friend, will you let me know when my parents are lying to me?”

Duplicity spun to face him so quickly that Tim winced. Her eyes were a bright, cheerful green. “You want to be friends?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Duplicity squealed and appeared next to him. She pulled him out of his chair and into a hug. Tim grunted at the sudden movement, but eventually relaxed into the embrace. Duplicity was weird, but to him, she didn’t seem like too bad a person.

“I’ll try to be a good friend,” he whispered. Her arms tightened around him.

“Me too.”

Truth.

 

~~~

 

Burying his nose further into his scarf, Tim fiddled with the focus on his camera. Despite his gloves, the frigid air of December in Gotham seeped through, biting at his fingers. He really wished that Batman and Robin would appear soon.

Gravel on the rooftop shifted as Duplicity appeared behind him, deliberately shuffling her feet so as to not startle Tim. Her typical sleeveless tunic was replaced with a thick woolen coat, plaid scarf, and a black beanie. She was wearing fur-lined boots as opposed to her usual bare feet. With a huff, she plopped herself onto the roof next to Tim.

“It’s so cold, Tim. Why are you still out here?”

“Batman and Robin will pass by soon. And aren’t you the literal personification of Lies and Truths? How can you be cold?”

Duplicity gave a noncommittal grunt, pouted, and shoved her hands into her pockets.

“I’ll leave after they pass by, I swear.”

His best friend’s eyes (they were currently an icy blue) narrowed. “You can’t lie to me, Tim Drake,” she grumbled as she tugged her scarf up to cover her nose.

Tim shrugged and turned his attention back to the Gotham skyline. In the distance, he could just make out two rapidly moving shadows. His heart started to pound.

“Here they come!”

Ignoring Duplicity’s rolled eyes, Tim lifted his camera to his eye and zoomed in.

Robin’s golden cape snapped in the wind, catching the light from windows and billboards. The Boy Wonder reached the peak of his arch and flipped, mouth open wide in a laugh.

Snap.

Behind his partner, swung Batman. Less dramatic and performative than the boy, Batman released his next grapple, his cape streaming behind him in the perfect shape of a bat.

Snap.

The Duo was closer now, Batman pausing on a gargoyle across the street from Tim’s hidden spot. With a twist, Robin landed beside him.

Tim felt Duplicity lean in to look at his camera’s screen, over his shoulder. But he ignored her, choosing instead to refocus his shot.

Batman was telling something to Robin, one arm wrapped around the boy as he leaned down to his height. Whatever he said made Robin scoff and jokingly shove the Dark Knight.

Snap.

Batman simply nodded and took out his grapple again. Tim leaned forward, excited to capture the Duo’s departure.

Robin took a few steps away from the ledge, then launched himself off the gargoyle’s head. He fell, shot out his grapple, and then swung, launching himself into the sky.

The Boy Wonder flew upwards and then tucked himself into a ball and rolled into a somersault.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

Four.

Snap.

The acrobat released his grapple and swung away.

Tim’s breath caught and he pulled away from his camera’s viewfinder, causing Duplicity to grunt in annoyance. He barely registered her shoving him or Batman leaping off the building to follow his charge.

Because Robin had just somersaulted four times in a row. Robin had just performed quadruple somersault. And Tim knew that only three people in the world could perform that trick. He had watched two of them die.

“Tim, are you ok?”

Tim startled, blinking his eyes rapidly as he turned to face Duplicity, her eyebrows furrowed in concern.

“...yeah…”

“We’re going home, Tim.”

“...ok.”

Tim allowed Duplicity to pack his camera away, letting her drag him down the fire escape, without complaint. He stumbled onto the bus and walked his bike home once he was dropped off at Bristol. Duplicity followed, not saying anything, just watching with concern.

Once he had climbed back into his room from his window, he allowed Duplicity to fuss, changing into the warm pajamas she threw at him and not protesting when she bundled him in a blanket. His attention locked onto his camera, which Duplicity had placed on his desk, and the poster that hung next to his bed.

The poster depicted three figures, dressed in red, green, and gold (it was so obvious). The man and woman had their hands on the back of their young, raven-haired son (how was it so obvious?).

“Tim? What happened?”

Tim slowly turned to look at Duplicity. Concern danced in her brown eyes.

“Robin is Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson is Robin.”

Duplicity’s eyes widened, changing to an eggshell blue. Not in surprise, but shock. Of course she’d known. She knew all lies, including secret identities.

“Then...Bruce Wayne must be Batman.” Tim whispered like he was confessing a sin.

Truth. Truth.

The familiar word echoed in his mind.