Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story. They all belong to DC comics. The lyrics are from “Yours Forever” by John Mellencamp. I do not make any money from it and do not intend to infringe on any copyrights.

Summary: Barbara finally gains her second chance.

Author’s Notes : This is a short companion piece to Darkness before Dawn. I wrote this first, though it is more of a sequel to that story.

Also, I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to Kat for beta-reading this story and for giving me the courage to post it. Thanks, Kat. You’re awesome! ^_-

Side-note: This song is the theme song for the movie “The Perfect Storm.” I listened to it the entire time I was writing. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I highly recommend it. :)

Lyrics are set aside in *s, and / / denotes thought. Hope you like. ^_^

Rose Petals
by Rose

Barbara held the old Bible in her grasp. Running her fingers over the soft leather cover, tiny pieces broke off in her hands. Carefully, she flipped to the center and stared down at the petals pressed neatly between its discolored pages. Barbara let her hand hover almost reverently over them before grasping the petals in slightly wrinkled fingers. Their color had turned from deep scarlet to faded brown, and though they had long lost any moisture, they still slid between her fingertips like silk.

Bringing them up to her face, Barbara tried to smell the rich scent of roses, but wrinkled her nose at the dusty smell. It did not matter. Closing her eyes, she could replace it with an even sweeter scent... that of Dick Grayson. To this day, she could still remember it. Bruce had returned the college sweatshirt she’d given Dick. Many nights she slept with it, resting her head upon it as a pillow. Turning her head into the material, she would snuggle and breath in the young man’s lingering scent, engraving it into her memory.

No, she would never forget it. Even now, decades later, Barbara would close her eyes and take a deep breath. If she concentrated hard enough she could pretend he was there in the room, holding her close.

Barbara looked over to the mirror and noted the silver hair that framed her face. Taking a brush in her tired hand, she ran it through silken threads and looked into the image staring back at her. The passing of many years and hardships had carved many creases into her once vibrant skin. //Soon,// she closed her eyes and smiled softly. //Soon.//

*Here we are in the grays of winter
Here we are just me and you
Hold my hand
Let's face tomorrow
Tomorrow still holds out its hands to you*

Fingering the controls on her mechanical wheelchair, Barbara moved out on to the balcony of her apartment. She no longer had the strength to push herself around anymore. Unconsciously, Barbara's fingers tightened around the rose petals still in her grasp. Dick had proposed to her so many nights before on that very same balcony.

He had carried with him a single red rose, and clutching it in her hands, she had told him “no” that night. How was she to know that it would be the last time she would see him, how was she to know she would regret that night for the rest of her life? For Nightwing died not a week later, and Barbara had not had the chance to tell him that she had changed her mind.

A single tear traced a salty path down the old woman’s cheek. Wind lightly blew at her hair, and Barbara smiled to herself. Soon. It was her only comfort. The chill of late autumn did not effect her, and leaning back in her chair, she let her tired eyes close. //Soon.//

*This precious time
We've only borrowed
The autumn winds have blown on through
A quiet thought will tell our story
Tomorrow still holds out its hands to you*

Tim closed the door behind him as he stepped into the old apartment. It amazed him that Barbara chose to stay here all these years. Bruce had asked her to stay with them at the manor all those years ago, but she refused. Tim smiled. Nothing would ever change Barbara's iron will and strength. So Bruce came and visited her every day, and Tim had taken it upon himself when his mentor no longer could. Now, he and Barbara were all that remained of their close family.

“Barbara?” he called out. //Odd,// he thought. The older woman usually met him at the door with a large smile spread across her face. “Barbara?” he tried again.

Then a subtle movement drew his attention to the balcony. Dark curtains blew softly in the breeze from the open door, and Tim could feel the chill in the air. Hugging his arms to his body, he went out to join her, intending to bring her back indoors. //She must be freezing.//

“Hey Babs...” he started to say but halted at the glass door. Taking a long, deep breath, Tim closed his eyes and slowly bowed his head.

*Yes, tomorrow still holds out its hands to you*

Darkness. At first she sensed nothing, and then she felt the sensation of comforting hands lightly resting upon her shoulders. Barbara turned around, somehow already sensing who it was. She nearly cried as she gazed up into the twinkling eyes of Richard Grayson.

“Are you real?” she barely whispered. He looked just as he did the night she had seen him last.

“Are you?” Standing there, she could actually see the twinkle in his eyes grow. She stared into those eyes for a moment and then looked down at herself. For the first time in what seemed as long as she could remember, Barbara stood on her own. She raised a hand to hold out a lock of hair. Red. In amazement she looked back to Dick’s eyes. His warm gaze held nothing but love as he reached down to open the fist Barbara did not even realize she held clenched.

They both looked down at the rose petals, once again deep scarlet, a moment before Barbara spoke. “I’m ready now.”

“I know.”

Silently, he took her hand and they both stepped into the light together.

*So here's some wings
They're yours forever
And here's some dreams that will come true
Take these tears to wash away your sorrow
Tomorrow still holds out its hands to you
Yes tomorrow still holds out its hands to you*


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