By CW Blaine

e-mail at darth_yoshi@yahoo.com

If I could freeze time, capture a moment and save it, or better yet, live in it forever, it would be this moment. I would never leave. I don't want to leave now. I silently pray to God to extend time just for me. It's selfish, I know, but right now, I don't care.

When I'm near her, my pulse quickens and I can feel my body temperature rise. I even shake a little, especially when we are this close. The master of self-control, Mr. Bruce Wayne, the Batman, raised me and Heaven knows that I should be able to control myself in this situation.

But I can't. I don't want to.

I've stared death in the face hundreds of times. I've been shot, stabbed, and beaten within an inch of my life, and I've never been afraid. I've been trained by the best to be the best. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better at my job than me. But, when she looks at me, when her hand touches mine, when I can feel the presence of her body next to mine, I'm so afraid that the moment will end. I know it will, and so I am in constant fear of that time when the moment will stop.

I reach my hand up to touch her cheek, and it knocks a strand of her red hair out of the way. The action causes her perfume to rise ever so slightly and I drink it in. It's always the same perfume, almost as if she only wears it for me. When we first met, when I was but a lad of 15 and she a young woman of 17, she was wearing it. I could always tell where she had been by the smell, even though at first she tried to avoid the Batman and I. When he finally accepted her into our extended family, she would wear it all the times she was in her Batgirl costume. After I had moved away to New York, Bruce told me she had stopped wearing it. When I returned, so did the perfume.

They say that certain smells trigger memories, and all of the memories that I have of that perfume all involve her. Whenever I smell it, I can only think of her. All I want to think of is her.

In an instant, I imagine what my life could be like, how I truly want it to be. I want my heart to race this fast, to have this light-headed feeling all of the time.

But it won't last.

How many times have I wanted to tell her my true feelings? Does she already know? Does she suspect? Does she realize how I'll lie awake at night, after my patrol, thinking about her and how badly I need her? Does she know my pain? Does she know my guilt?

Our lips touch and I swear I feel electricity running through my body. I'm aroused, but not in a dirty, carnal way. No, it's almost like looking upon the face of God, a feeling of such peace that I want to die right here, right now. I know that when my time does come to journey beyond this life, I want to be like this, stuck forever in an embrace of love.

But, is that love reciprocated? Does she love me?

The truth is that I don't know, and the pangs hit me just as hard as they always do. I push them back because this moment is mine. I reach for it like a hungry man reaches for bread. Her lips nourish me emotionally, and I want more. I want so bad to press the moment, to move my hand from her face down to her hand. I want to take it, I want to get down on my knees and tell her what she is to me. She is my light, my beacon, and my grace from the Lord. I want to walk into the sunset with her.

But that can't happen. She can't walk.

And it's my fault.

The moment presses on in my mind as I fight the inner demons that assault me, remind me that I am unworthy of this moment that her sweet kisses are deserving of men of more courage than me. I am a coward and she is the one I fear.

So afraid of my feelings for her that I let myself run away. I ran from Gotham and into the arms of another. Then another. And another. And even more after that.

Does she know that whenever I made love to another woman, I was thinking of her? Does she even care? Did I hurt her when I tried to marry another woman? Does she know that deep down inside that I am happy that my relationship to Kory did not work out? Does she realize that no matter how hard I try, I can't get her out of my mind?

If I had been honest with her from the beginning, maybe she would have been with me instead of her father when the Joker attacked. Maybe I would have even been there to take the bullet that shattered her spinal cord, leaving her bound to that damned wheelchair. Does she know how bad I wish I had been the one who had been shot, how I would trade places with her in an instant, without hesitation?

Our eyes lock and in them I see the life I want so badly. Deep in them, I become lost in a fantasy of cold winter nights in front of a fireplace, and warm summer days playing with children in the front yard. When I'm old, I want her to be there with me, not as a friend, but as my soul mate.

The moment is coming close to the end, and I will it to last longer. I don't want to be denied, I don't want to lose her. Here, in this moment, there is no Nightwing; there is no Batman, no Batgirl, no Joker, only her and I. For this one period of time, out of the infinite periods there are, I have her. She's mine and I don't want to give her up.

She begins to pull away, the moment having reached its climax and I pray and beg God to kill me now, because without her, I don't want to go on. It's too hard to get up every day and not see her lying next to me. I don't just love her. I exist only for her. I convinced myself a long time ago that my only purpose in life is to be with her.

But she makes it so hard. She stops it when we get too close, just as she is ending my moment right now. There is never a clear and concise explanation, and she is always leaving me wanting more and more.

Our lips part and I try to inhale her breath, trying to mix her air with mine, so that even though we aren't touching, we are still together. Her hand reaches up to mine and I want to cry out. I want to scream to the whole world that I love her.

But I don't. The coward deep inside of me won't allow it.

And then its over. She releases my hand and looks at me from behind her glasses and the dark truth, the reality I escaped for only an instant, overwhelms me. I look up at the green twig hanging over her head. "Merry Christmas, Barbara," I say softly.

Batman stands at the window, speaking with the Black Canary and Robin. I straighten up and catch my former mentor looking at me. I think I'm the only person in the world that can read his eyes, and I can tell he feels sorry for me. He knows how I feel, and for once, there is nothing the Batman can do.

The kiss had lasted only two seconds at most, but in those two seconds, I lived a lifetime of happiness. I block the despair with the knowledge that if I can keep myself alive, I can have this moment again in one year's time.

I walk over to the window and begin to head out, wishing happy holidays to everyone. I cast a glance at Barbara, wishing that I had telepathic powers.

I can't read her face. She doesn't want me to.

I head off into the night, slowly making my way back to Bludhaven, reminiscing about my one moment, and thankful that I had it to even remember.