By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I've recently become a big fan of Bart. R/R if you love the guy.

Sometimes I just need to get out. Titans Tower is a nice place, don't get me wrong, but sometimes we all need something more. San Francisco is a big city with lots to see and do. I suppose if I wanted excitement or newness, I could run to some other city. But sometimes I feel like doing something besides running.

I give my board another push, the motion almost becoming second nature. It's amazing how much physics goes into skateboarding. I read about it in a book one time. Most people don't take the time to really understand it all. When you move so fast though, you have a lot of extra time. I try not to think about speed when I skate. It's almost painful to move this slowly. It's worth it. My life's not all about speed. Sometimes I like going slow for a change.

I coast for a little bit before pushing again. I pop myself up and grind on the edge of a stone container that's housing a very large plant. They should really do something with that thing. It's never going to last in this environment. I coast some more, veering right so I can get to a real skate park. The ramp back at the Tower is okay but I like the freedom that comes from coasting down streets and sidewalks.

I think a lot when I skate. It's one of the few times I can actually move slow enough to think. I could use more slowness in my life. Wally keeps saying I have to slow down. I have all the facts but not the wisdom. Wisdom comes with maturity and maturity comes with time and age. I get all that. Wally's a good guy. I just wish he had more faith in me. I wish a lot of other people did too. That's why I like being with the Titans. I'm not too smart or too fast or too immature. I'm just . . . normal, normal in the sense that I can just be myself and it's okay. I wish I could say the same about the rest of my life.

At this time of the night, the park's closed. Of course that doesn't stop irresponsible and reckless teens from climbing the fence and doing a little late night grinding. Of course I'm the king when it comes to being reckless and irresponsible. Well, at least I used to be. I'm trying to get better about that. I know what Wally and Jay think. I'm still an impulsive kid. I still think life is a game. I'm going to prove them wrong some day though because some day I'm going to be just like my grandfather. Right now though, I could stand being just a kid. I could stand life moving a little slower.

I drop in on one of the bowls and move from side to side a little bit. I grind the front of the board along the rim of the bowl. Ramps are more my thing than streets. I like the feeling of hanging in the air. When I'm in the air, time just stretches out and slows down. In the air, I'm just Bart Allen. I can think in the air, really think. It's amazing to watch everything happen that slowly. Sublime. I think that describes it. The Romantics were into sublime. I should skim through that stuff again next time I'm at the library.

I hit a 360 and feel the weightlessness when I'm in the air. It's a sigh of relief. It feels new and different and slow. It feels good. There's a flash of movement so fast that a normal person wouldn't catch it. I do. I come up the side of the bowl, popping the board up so I set my feet on the concrete when I land. The board stands on its end, kept there by my hand on top of it.

"You're good," says the voice. The shadow dissolves as she steps into my view. Rose. Ravager now but still Rose. Why would she be here? Is it because of me?

"Everybody's good at something," I reply with a shrug.

"I could kill you right now," assures Rose, "I can move fast enough."

"You won't," I reply simply, "I know you, Rose." Her face is hidden by the mask but she still looks confused. She didn't come here to finish a contract. She didn't come here to start anything. I know what some of the others think. They think she's just like her father. They're wrong. They've been wrong about me and they're wrong about her.

"Well . . . this is kinda awkward," I state, intent on killing the silence. Rose nods, still looking unsure of why she came here in the first place.

"Daddy's away on a job," she finally explains, "I thought I'd come into the city."

"You wanted to come see me?" I ask with a smile.

"You and the others came for me when I was in trouble," says Rose, "Thanks. I'm safe with Daddy now." I stare at her for a second. Does she really not get it? Can she really not understand what's going on?

"Rose . . . your dad's insane," I tell her, "He's screwing with your head. He doesn't love you at all. He just . . . he just wants to use you." The movement from her is fast. The sword glints in the light. Katana, the ancient swords used by Japanese samurais. I read this cool book in the library on ancient Japan. The samurais were my favorite part.

"Don't talk about Daddy like that," warns Rose coldly, "I'll kill you if you do."

"Rose, we could help you," I tell her, "I could . . . I could do something." Lots of weird things happen during puberty. I mean there are all the hormonal shifts and chemical imbalances and stuff but there's psychological stuff too. Your potential suddenly expands. The world gets so big that you lose your place in it. And somewhere in all that mess, it's not uncommon for you to find your first love.

"It's too late, Bart," whispers Rose as she puts the sword away, "It's too late for that."

"Then why did you come here?" I ask. Rose turns to walk away. I don't even have to think. I just move and I'm right in front of her. Too close. She bumps into me. I don't think again. I never think. I just put my hands around her. I never . . . there weren't a lot of books on this stuff. I don't have the experience to know what happens next but I'd like to get the experience one day. I'd like to be with her.

"Rose, why?" I ask again. She doesn't move to break away. She just looks away.

"To find out," she mumbles quietly, "To find out if it's too late to change."

"People grow, Rose," I explain, "It's like flowers. Evolution's not just an idea. There's a lot of research and facts that support it."

"Bart, just shut up with the damn books," hisses Rose as she suddenly kisses me. In that one instant, I know absolutely nothing. It's like I'm in the air again. It's sublime. It's slow. It's the most beautiful thing ever.

"Your eye," I whisper as I touch the side of her head, "What did you do?"

"It's too late to change, Bart," replies Rose as she moves away, "I'm Daddy's girl now. Don't send the Titans after me. I don't want to have to kill them." With that, she's gone and I'm left alone. Her eye is gone and maybe the Rose I knew is gone with it. No. It's never too late to change. We're not Peter Pan. We grow and age. We mature. We blossom like flowers and some of us become as beautiful as roses, as beautiful as she is.

"It's not too late, Rose," I whisper as I touch my lips. I get all that love poetry now. Maybe I am aging and maturing. I feel everything suddenly start to move slowly again. My speed is kicking in. I sigh and get back on my board, dropping in again. Skating lets time stand still. You're in the air and everything stretches out before you. Time stops when you hang in the air. It's just like kissing the girl you love. When she kissed me, I could see everything. Time just stopped and you could see all the possibilities stretched out before you. I could think then, really think. I hit another 360 and hang in the air. I think a lot when I skate. Now though, all I think about is Rose Wilson.