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Defences Are Down

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They don’t see each other as often as they would like, but that’s a given considering the circumstances.

Moments feel compressed – the crushing reality that it will all end is hard to ignore.

But they make use of what little time they get together.

In the meantime, they do what they must in their positions.

He zips back and forth across the continent, keeping up a ruse on one side and a truth on the other. He spills what secrets he can, anything that might help the Titans East on their mission.

She fights what comes her way. There are smaller victories to be had, ones to be cherished in even the darkest of times. Sometimes she goes back out into the city, seeing what petty crime she can spoil, it doesn’t matter how mundane it is compared to the big picture.

They’re heroes in their own ways, no more does the past have anything to say about it.

What matters is the present, the future, and what both will turn into.

She always finds him whenever he’s around, even if it’s just for a moment or even shorter.

On one night, he’s in the tower to give out all the info he can. Usually Vic is tentatively typing things into the computer, double-checking to make sure the data is both backed up and secure. It’s a respected process, she knows better than to disrupt it.

When it’s over, he leaves the room with slower strides. There’s a sorrowful look in his once-vibrant eyes. Everything he does feels so heavy, like an aching weight on his heart. He always look more vulnerable than the last time she had seen him.

When she knows she can, she makes a wordless break towards him. She follows him out of the computer room with quick steps. With a tap of his shoulder, she gets his attention in seconds.

In an instant, she’s got her arms wrapped around him, pressing her lips to his. Her touch is reciprocated by him, through his hands on his waist, through tension and force in his own lips.

When it’s over and they pull away, two gazes lock. Without any more words, she grasps him by the collar and leads him to her quarters.

The next few hours are spent with her reminding him how she really feels about him.

When he wakes up, he’s in her room, sheets disarrayed and mattress askew.

He spends a few seconds in silence, staring up at the dark ceiling with a mind that runs at light speed.

Things never really slow down for him, even in the most personal moments. There’s always so much to think about, too much to consider no matter what’s going on.

With a sigh, he stops looking upwards and glances to the side. First he gets a look at the window, where the sight of the New York skyline greets him. Then with a quick shift in glances, he looks to her.

She looks so peaceful when asleep, her head resting against a pillow, her white hair falling everywhere in the aftermath, her form covered by the bedsheets.

Quietly, he leans over to her just enough to place a kiss on her forehead. He gives her a smile, although she won’t see it.

He relishes in that smile for a second, which feels like an hour to him. Then he shifts off the bed and gets his bare feet onto the floor. He starts to grab his clothes off the carpeting.

“Are you leaving already?” comes Rose’s voice.

Bart pulls on his trunks when he hears her talk. He turns around just enough to see her on the bed, seeming mostly awake though she appeared to be sleeping just before. She’s propping her head and torso up on her elbows.

“I’m contemplating it,” Bart explains, though that might be an oversimplification. “The Titans might notice if I’m gone. If I’m not back by morning, that is.”

Rose sighs, “Figures.” Somewhat dramatically, she flops herself back onto the bed. “You know, every time you come here, it’s like you leave just as fast.”

“I know,” Bart says with a sigh. It’s an acknowledgement that tires even him.

He turns to face her fully, but his eyes are focusing on the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he tells her in a soft voice. From the way he’s standing, bare chested and barefooted, he looks unguarded, every one of his defences are down.

Rose is quick to refuse to let him feel that way.

“Don’t be,” she refutes. She turns to her side, snuggling upon the pillow just a little more. “I can’t exactly tell you what you can and can’t do.”

“I wish I could stay though,” Bart admits to her. In slow strides, he approaches the bed. He gets on it and lets his knees sink into the mattress. He’s close enough to her to run his fingers through her pretty hair. He’s fond of the gesture, he tends to do it whenever he can. “It feels like every time I’m out west, I’m thinking about being here. And every time I’m out east-”

“-you’re thinking about being there,” Rose concludes. His nod of silence in response is enough of an indication to her that she’s right.

Bart hums. His mouth starts to curve upwards into a grin. It’s a habit of his, something he tends to do more often in her presence than anyone else’s.

He leans over to kiss her on the forehead again, a repeated gesture not unlike his first, then he asks her: “Why do you know me so well?”

“Because you never shut up,” Rose claims. There’s a sense of playfulness seeping into her tone. “Or at least, you used to.”

His smile lesses just slightly. Reality comes to put a damper on him again. Stuff like that has been happening more often than he would like.

“Yeah,” Bart agrees, his voice getting low. “Things change, Rose.”

“I know,” she says, nodding. She’s looking up at him with an anticipating gaze. She decides to kiss him again. Reaching up, her arms gently snake around his neck and her lips press against his, just like before.

He follows the way she moves, responding to her impulses. Gently, she drags him back down onto the mattress, refusing to break off their kiss.

Bart likes this closeness, it’s one of the things that makes him wish that he could stay. He likes the way she runs her hands across his back or plays around with his ever so messy hair. He likes the warmth, her embrace, the feeling that things in their world just might be okay.

But nothing can last forever. As a speedster, Bart should know that more than ever.

Even when their kiss does break, they spend a few moments in silence, just holding each other like lovers do, hugging like there’s nothing else to do. There’s barely any moonlight coming through the window. It makes everything seem fainter than it has to be.

Eventually, Bart hears Rose speak again. Her voice tickles his collarbone when she talks.

“Do you still have to go?”

“Yeah.”

There is a beat, more silence. It drills in the feelings, letting things settle soon after.

“Alright,” Rose says momentarily. She looks up slightly, just enough to stare into Bart’s eyes. They look so exposed to her, naked in a way.

“You should shower though,” Rose concludes promptly. “I mean, you wouldn’t want your teammates smelling me on you, right? Superman’s got those enhanced senses anyway.”

The abruptness of her intentions nearly break Bart of his train of thoughts. It rattles him out of his more dreary musings. Suddenly, the smile on his face returns. He looks humoured, like he’s ready to laugh.

Sometimes her forwardness amuses him. What else can he do but laugh?

“Alright,” Bart agrees, nodding. “But only because you’re so insistent about it.”