When Kept or Revealed
Summary: “It’s not a joke. Bruce Wayne is Batman and I used to be Robin.” (Sequel to “Change is the Only Constant”)
brilliantly explained how Tim made himself tall enough to be Greg House. So I
*had* to finish this, didn’t I?
“What?” Wilson repeated, his voice cracking slightly. House had said a lot of
outrageous and downright bizarre things in his time, but this one…it was
Raising an eyebrow, House looked at Bruce Wayne lying in the bed beside his
chair. “I thought I was pretty clear, didn’t you?”
Wayne frowned at him. “Don’t tease him, Tim.”
“Oh, but it’s such fun. Look how nicely he blushes.”
Wilson stared at the two of them, then shook his head. “Very funny. You brought
me down here to make a joke? You do know I have actual *patients* to see,
right?” Turning, he took a step toward the door, wondering why he put up with
House at all.
“Wait!” House called.
Wilson stopped, closing his eyes for a long moment before turning back. “Yes?”
House sighed a long-suffering sigh. “It’s not a joke. Bruce Wayne is Batman and
I used to be Robin.”
“Uh huh.” Wilson crossed his arms, glaring. “And I’m secretly Superman. I
commute between here and Metropolis.”
Wayne snorted. “Nope, you can’t be Superman. No spitcurl.”
“He *is* nearly as much of a boy scout as Big Blue, though.” House leaned on his
cane, head tilted. “If I didn’t know the truth, I might even believe it.”
Wilson ignored that, looking at Wayne. “Wait, you called him Tim.”
“It *is* his real name.”
“And we’re all about telling the whole truth, aren’t we, Bruce?” House scowled,
but it didn’t have nearly enough venom in it to be serious. “Yes, my name was
Tim Drake, but I gave that up when I was 16. I’ve been Greg House since then.”
“You’re insane.” Wilson stared at them, waiting for the punchline. “Utterly
House and Bruce Wayne simply stared back, not backing down, and most certainly
not smiling. House didn’t even have on his sardonic grin, the one he always used
when he wanted you uncertain if he was telling the truth.
“Oh my god, you’re serious.” Wilson groped around for a chair and sat down. “I’m
not on Candid Camera or something?”
House shook his head. “Candid Camera hasn’t been on the air in decades. Keep up
with pop culture.”
“Don’t distract me! You’re trying to tell me that you used to be *Robin*–an
urban legend, for Christ’s sake.”
“No more an urban legend than Superman,” Wayne said, one corner of his mouth
“But…Robin?” Wilson stared at his friend, the cranky, misanthropic, goddamn
*bastard* who stiffed him when they ordered in the cafeteria just because he
House shrugged. “Yeah.”
“Yeah?” For a moment, Wilson closed his eyes and waited for the world to make
sense again. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. He opened them again. “You spring
something like this on me and all you can say is ‘Yeah’?”
“Yeah.” *There* was the sardonic grin, a little late, but familiar territory at
“I…I don’t know what to say.”
House fluttered his eyelashes. “Say you’ll still marry me now that you know the
Wilson studied House. “Why did you tell me this? I know you didn’t have to.”
House looked away and Wilson nodded, knowing he’d hit the crucial point. “It’s
old news,” House said, “but I thought you should know.”
Wayne’s mouth twitched in obvious amusement. “And you told Dick years ago that
you didn’t want to be like me.”
House glared at him. “Stay out of this.”
Turning to Wilson, Wayne leaned forward, expression much more serious. “He’s
never willingly told anyone this before.”
Wilson looked at House, who was twitching in annoyance. “Really?”
“Yes, you’re my first, now can we get on with this? I’ve had my fill of touchy
feely for the day and I didn’t even get a hand on Cuddy.” House stood. “Well, I
guess we’re done here.”
Wilson looked at Bruce Wayne, who said, “He’s changed.”
“What was he like before?”
House froze, barely breathing, before looking at the man he claimed was Batman.
“You started this, Tim.” He turned to Wilson. “He was idealistic. Told us all
that Batman needed a Robin and when Robin…couldn’t be there, he made himself
Wilson blinked a few times. “Made himself?”
House turned away, tension in every line of his body.
“He wasn’t the last to do so, but he was the first. And the most successful. He
*believed* in the mission. Certainly more than I did at the time.”
Wilson recognized the look on Bruce Wayne’s face, because he saw it all the
time: It was the look of a man who’d lost family. House’s white-knuckle grip on
the cane said something similar. “Why did he leave?” Wilson asked.
“Hello!” House said, waving his hand. “Standing right here!”
Wayne took a deep breath. “He left because I screwed up.”
House froze again. He obviously hadn’t been expecting that. Slowly, he turned
Wayne looked at Wilson, the pain more buttoned up than before, but still
obvious. “Tim left because…” He gritted his teeth. “I let someone he cared
about out before she was ready.”
Wilson blinked. “Out…you mean, in the vigilante sense.”
House snorted quietly, but let Wayne answer. “She was Robin for a short while. I
kicked her out. And when she tried to prove herself to me by going out on her
own, she was killed.”
“Steph should have known better,” House said, his voice hoarse.
“So should I.”
The two men stared at each other, and it was obvious at that moment that they
had once known each other extremely well, because there was some kind of
nonverbal communication going on. Wilson tried not to breathe, because he sensed
they’d reached a critical point and he didn’t want to interrupt.
House looked away first. “Yes, you should have, but I can’t keep punishing you
Wayne looked at Wilson. “You might find it difficult to believe, but Tim had
quite a few friends in those days.”
House’s mouth tightened.
“Still has them, if he cared to call.”
“I left all of that behind me for a reason,” House said. Wilson noticed he
didn’t actually say what that reason *was*.
“Kon tells me that you once said you had friends and I had associates.” Wayne’s
voice was almost teasing.
“Friends are too much trouble,” House said. “Just ask Jimmy here how much
trouble I am.”
Wilson snorted. “Oh, he’s a lot of trouble.”
“I can believe that.” Wayne looked like he was suppressing a smile with great
House rolled his eyes. “Are we done torturing me yet? Maybe you’d like to try
poking my leg a few times for good measure?”
“No, I think we’re done,” Wayne said.
Wilson took a good look at him, noted definite lines of exhaustion, and stood.
“Well, you’ve certainly given me…food for thought.”
House raised a hand. “It goes without saying that this isn’t for public
Wilson blinked several times. “Are you kidding? Do you know how many laughs I’d
get if I tried to tell anyone you used to be *Robin*? It’d be easier to convince
them that you’re a melanin-challenged Mr. T.”
With that, he swept out of the room. Never let it be said, he thought, that
James Wilson didn’t know a great exit line when he found one.