Getting Around To Good
She came to the Titans for help. Her father was trying to mold her into his protégé, and despite the serum he'd pumped into her, Rose still had enough sanity left to know it wasn't what she wanted.
She came to the Titans for help; but she latched onto Bart because she trusted him.
"You were always so…sure about being a hero," she told him when he visited her in the infirmary while she was detoxing. "Always so sure about doing the right thing. You're such a good person, Bart…better than most people could ever be." At his disbelieving look, she'd laughed through the withdrawal aches, and said, "You see everyone around you…as better than we really are. And it makes us want to be those better people."
"You're…you're a good person, too, Rose," Bart told her, and she shook her head.
Even the chills that wracked her body couldn't disguise her emotional pain with the physical. "I used to be, Bart…now I'm not so sure."
"I am," he told her, and she smiled at him, though the expression was rather wobbly.
Bart was, but the rest of the Titans were a harder sell. Not surprising, really; none of them knew her. And none of them had been Titans with her, like Bart had.
Maybe they should both join the Outsiders; Roy was there, and he'd led both of them.
"Roy doesn't lead the Outsiders," Speedy pointed out. "Jade does, now. Besides, from what I've seen of them, they're all…" She made a face and sighed, seemingly frustrated with her inability to convey just how fucked up her 'older brother's' team was.
"Cynical? Pessimistic? Jaded with the world in general and superheroing in specific?" Bart asked, the absence of his rapid-fire speech proving his depression more than anything.
Shrugging with one shoulder, Mia said, "Something like that. You're too bright for them, Bart." She quirked a grin and said with wistful melancholy, "Sometimes I think you're too bright for all of us."
"I don't want to be," Bart objected, and his earnestness caused a smile to form on her face.
"You set the bar high, Bart; you're someone who doesn't forget all the good there is in life, even when all that's around us is the bad." Mia's smile didn't do much to alleviate Bart's bad mood, but that wasn't her fault. "That's what Rose needs right now, and it's what the rest of us need, too. Even if most of us won't admit it." She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek and took off before Bart could even blink.
'The rest of us' as Mia had said, turned out to be Tim, Cassie and even Kon. Bart had never thought Kon would end up as world-weary as Max, but he was. Cassie just didn't trust Rose at all, and Tim…Tim was only helping out Rose because Nightwing had asked him to.
It was that recognition of his friends' issues that caused Bart to realize that Rose really didn't have many friends. She didn't seem to have any besides him.
So Bart threw himself into being Rose's friend, visiting her in the infirmary with books he thought she might like, and telling her anecdotes about the rest of the team. When Rose was well enough not to need 24/7 observation, Bart helped her move into her very own room – right next to his.
Gar and Raven were too caught up in each other to really notice how Bart spent his free time. Vic seemed to be the only one that did, but at least he didn't object. As For Bart's friends…Kon and Tim were spending more time with each other than with anyone else – which made no sense, since Kon was supposed to be dating Cassie – and Cassie had never really spent much time with him anyway.
Mia understood, and anyway, Bart was fast enough that he could make time to visit with people. And when he couldn't, well, Rose needed friends, Mia needed to become more a part of the team… It made perfect sense to Bart, and if he'd bothered to ask anyone else, it probably would have to them, too. It took a few weeks, but the two newest Titans finally discovered a mutual obsession with the manga Naruto – not the anime, as they made sure to pointedly tell him.
Bart had to hide a snicker at how serious they looked about what was essentially a Japanese comic book. Then again, to him, everyone was too serious. Serious about life, about death, about love. Life was meant to be lived, nothing could really be done about death (except if it reversed) and love…
Bart still hadn't quite figured out love. He'd told Cassie that she was the girl who made him like girls, but he'd meant it as more in a hero sense. Carol had been his first love, and she'd made him realize that romance was…nice. Or it could be, if you weren't worried about all the big things and just enjoyed it as it happened. Cassie had made Bart realize his own sexuality; she was so driven and fierce and just plain gorgeous, especially when she fought, and it was probably weird that the mental component of sex had hit him long before the physical, but whatever.
Rose was…Bart had met her just as he was realizing the physical component involved in romance and sexuality. She'd been so beautiful back then, but also shy and sweet, even as she was tough as nails, and had reminded him of every girl he knew, and every woman he might one day, and now…
Now Rose had changed. In some ways she was more, in some ways less. In all ways she was different, and Bart…Bart couldn't help but notice, seeing as how he'd just finished his own quick change of personality.
Bart still couldn't figure out how to help her integrate into the team, even though she and Mia had become confidants, and Gar was starting to warm up to her, and Robin was…willing to tolerate her for Nightwing's sake. Rose had recovered from her bout with the serum, and she'd learned to compensate in battle for her lack of depth perception (though Cyborg was trying to build her an optronic replacement), and was finally going on missions with the team, dressing in blue and black, instead of her father's trademark blue and orange.
Rose was probably as settled into the team as the others would ever let her get, at least until she'd proved herself for a few years, and yet…Bart kept feeling like there was something more he could do. Some way he could help her.
After a spar one day, when Bart was trying vainly not to watch as her breasts heaved while she panted, and the way her workout clothes were soaked in sweat and plastered to her body made that endeavor really hard…in both meanings of the word… Once Rose caught her breath, she turned to him and smiled, and Bart being Bart, he smiled back.
Then the smile got completely removed from his face – by Rose's lips. Once she pulled back from driving him insane, and they both had caught their breath, she actually flushed a bit under his regard. "I just thought…you seemed like you didn't know how to make a move, so I did."
That was what he'd forgotten. Bart could have bashed his head into the wall a couple hundred times at half-speed.
He could have, but kissing Rose was imminently preferable. And though he couldn't seem to keep his hands from roving, or from vibrating against her skin, both of those actions made her make really interesting squeaky breathy noises into his mouth, and Bart didn't want to stop.
Rose didn't seem to want him to stop. So he didn't.
They could worry about the team's reactions later. It was just getting good between them, and there was no reason to wait.