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One More Song

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Rose can remember the first time she came into the memorial hall. Although it was years behind her by now, she couldn’t quite make herself forget it.

On that day, the first thing she was shown was the statue of Jericho.

Before then, Rose had only seen Joey in photographs, that and in a few other questionable forms.

Seeing Joey commemorated with a statue felt like something else entirely. It made Rose realize just how much he meant to the team in his shortened life.

Joey’s statue was gone in the present. There was no need to keep it up after his return.

Death was a strange thing in their world. Some couldn’t escape it, while others broke free. It could be called luck, but were those who escaped death really that lucky? Or were they simply a product of circumstances?

On the day of mourning, Rose looks upon the newer statues in memorial hall. As she does, she finds herself subtly tuning into what the other Titans are doing. She most definitely is not alone in her bereavement.

She notices the way Gar holds Raven’s hand, or how Cassie tells the story of every statue to Kiran.

As the newest Titan, it’s Kiran’s first time here. Perhaps she had heard about the fallen. It’s almost like a rite of passage as a Titan, to know who came before you. Coming into the memorial hall was just another thing a person had to do to get familiar with the team.

The air in the room is filled with heavy silence, like the weight of their world collects here and only here.

Rose knows she doesn’t want to handle it for long. She knows she will leave the second that she’s gotten her fill of mourning for the day.

Rose finds herself walking out of the memorial hall when she realizes that she can’t stare at Red Devil’s statue for any longer.

At least outside, the sky is bright. The sun burns the atmosphere blue and almost makes Rose forget the solemn nature of the day.

She finds herself walking forward, passing the sculpture of the original five planted outside the tower. She keeps walking, unwilling to look up to the group that started it all. Her heart just isn’t in it anymore.

She goes down concrete steps, past various kinds of vegetation and rocks until she gets near the water. The sounds of the ocean get clearer and clearer as she gets nearer and nearer.

Considering the importance of the events inside, Rose is rather surprised to find that she’s not the only one who needed to step out of the room.

“What are you doing here?”

Bart Allen pulls out one of his earbuds, looks away from the water, and turns to Rose.

“Hm?”

He sits on the rocks, staring out at the view of where the sky meets the sea.  He appears mostly calm, but there’s an essence of agitation in him, a flavour of distress that isn’t hard to notice.

“I said what are you doing here,” Rose repeats. She walks to him, sitting herself down on a conveniently placed rock not too far from his. “I thought you’d be inside.”

“Yeah, I know,” Bart says. He takes the other earbud out and pauses his music. “I just uh… needed to be alone for a bit.”

Rose understands. It’s assuring for her to know that at least she’s not the only one.

A part of her does wonder if she should leave. However, judging by the way Bart holds himself, through what every cue in his body language is telling her, it seems that he’s not telling his truth. He slouches slightly, as if to make himself smaller than he really is.

“How long have you been out here?” asks Rose.

“About half an hour.”

“What were you listening to?”

“Ravel.”

Rose raises an eyebrow, “Ravel?” Personally, she didn’t think French impressionism of the early 20th century was Bart Allen’s kind of music, but Rose had been wrong before.

“It calms me,” Bart explains. He lifts up her phone to her and shows off his playlist.

With a hum, Rose nods and looks back over to the water. “My mother liked a lot of that stuff.”

“Did she?”

“We had a piano at my old home. She played Ravel when she had the time,” Rose tells. It almost feels foreign for her to be saying this, she doesn’t often speak of her mother with her teammates. “When I started, the first thing I wanted to do was play all her favourite songs. I like to believe that I got pretty good. Never got around to mastering Pavane though…”

“You played piano?”

“Used to.” Rose then looks at her hands, extending her fingers out as she remembers how ingrained the instrument used to be in her life. “Practiced everyday since I was four. I’m probably rusty. I haven’t touched a piano in years.”

“It’s never too late to try again,” Bart brings up.

Rose retracts her fingers and balls her hand into a wrist, “Yeah, I know…”

She wants to change the subject. A part of her had been worn out by looking at every statue inside the memorial hall, she wasn’t going to exhaust herself more by thinking of her mother.

“I didn’t see you this morning,” Rose brings up. “I figured you’d be down there with everyone else.”

Bart shrugs and glances down to the shore line, where the water gently caresses the rocks. “Yeah. Guess everything just felt too much like a funeral today. Plus, a bunch of zombies attacked the Tower when we were all mourning last year, so that bummed me out too.”

Now suddenly concerned and just the slightest bit freaked out, Rose turns to him with her eyebrow raised. She can’t think of the proper way to respond to that sentence. It really makes her wonder just what kind of things she had missed when she initially left the Titans.

“Not a funeral guy then?” Rose tries.

“Name someone who is.”

“Fair enough.”

For a moment, Rose turns back to the water and listens to the sound of the waves hitting the land. It’s calming, so subtle. Rose gets the feeling that she can listen to it forever. She focuses downwards, looking at the way the waves churn into seafoam after colliding with the rocks.

After an undisclosed amount of silence, Rose glances back to Bart. When she does, she notices that he had been looking at her already. Their gazes lock for a single moment, then Bart returns his focus out to the water.

“I did wanna ask something,” Bart starts. He unplugs his earbuds from his phone and starts fidgeting with them. “Since we’re talking about funerals and all... what was mine like?”

Rose wants to scoff, but miraculously, she manages to restrain herself. “I’m not the person you should be asking that to.”

“I just wanted an answer from someone who wouldn’t lie to me.”

Rose shrugs, figuring that she might as well tell it as it is, “I was a dick at your funeral, both of them. I can tell you that.”

Bart’s expression remains unchanged. He’s not the only one who has no idea how to react to certain statements.

Nonetheless, Rose continues, “I’m sorry, I’m just not one for all that saccharine shit. I spent the funeral and the wake just trying to ignore it all. Not that I don’t care, I just…” She pauses, trying to find a way to word things, “... I think I’m burnt out from death. Like fuck.”

There is a beat, and then:

“You know how many people die in this kind of life? We’ve got an entire hall full of graves. Graves. It’s not that I don’t feel all this shit, all this agony and mourning. I’m just tired of it. I’m just… done.”

It’s a lot to say. Rose’s words feel choppy on her mouth, even for someone as outspoken as her.

But she speaks her truth. The last few years of her life had been riddled with tragedy. There came a point where feeling became exhausting. Rose hit that point not too long ago.

Rose can see Bart taking her words in, considering every idea and every thought she let out.

All he finds himself capable of saying is:

“Okay.”

Rose had expected him to say more.

Any moment now, Rose is expecting to say some sort of zany phrase or unusual euphemism. But somehow, it never comes. It feels uncanny almost, to see him in this state. Bart Allen is not usually this silent.

“Is there anything you need to get off your chest now?” Rose offers. “And I promise you, it stays between you and me.”

Bart shakes his head, “No, I’m good. What can I say to you that I haven’t said to my shrink?”

“You see a shrink?”

Nodding, Bart responds, “Yeah. Jay’s been forcing me. At first, I thought he was just coddling me after I came back. But I think I see his point. Guess it takes a hundred dollars an hour to make sense of all the crap that comes out of my head.”

“I should get into that,” Rose replies in all seriousness.

“I recommend it,” Bart states. He gestures to his head with his hands, “There’s a lot to unload in here. Too much, actually.”

Rose finds herself smiling at him. It’s very light and hard to see, she can’t even tell if she’s doing it out of amusement or pity. But it’s what she does, the first impulse she feels after hearing Bart’s words.

“Are you gonna go in soon?” asks Rose.

With a sigh, Bart looks down again. The waves of the ocean keep colliding with the shore, the air turning crisp as the sun shines bright.

He doesn’t want to leave, but the heartache of the day is pulling him back.

“Yeah, gimme a minute,” Bart finally says. He puts his earbuds into his ears again, plugs the other end into his phone, and sits back for one more song.