i.) Jay and Joan
With creaks in their old bones, they can't do the jitterbug like they used to. But in the dim of candle light she still presses her frail body against his, and they sway together to the music, eyes closed, wrinkled hands clasped together.
"Do you remember this one?" says Jay.
"How could I forget? We danced to this one during our honeymoon."
"That's my girl. Now I'd be more impressed if you remembered which one, because I definitely don't," says Jay with a laugh.
"If memory serves, the third," remarks Joan. "The summer after you got the tin hat."
"Memory doesn't serve so well anymore."
"Not much does at our age Jay," says Joan soothingly, resting a wrinkled palm on his lined face.
"Except each other, wouldn't you say?"
"Except each other," Jay agrees.
Jay doesn't have memories that don't have Joan in them. Over the years he's forgotten what it was like to fall in love with her for the very first time. What he does remember is this: every morning he falls for her again and again and finds different reasons to love her. And that this has gone on for nearly 30,000 days.
Joan is tired now, so Jay gently leads her to her chair, presses his face into her sweet-smelling, silver hair.
It doesn't matter where their remaining days will lead them, because they have no end nor a beginning. The sun will rise either here or there as long as she is still his and he is still hers.
"I used to think I was immortal," says Jay in a gravelly voice at last. He clears his throat. These memories are more painful. The reminiscences he's saved from being part of the Justice Society of America aren't nearly as vivid now, but he recalls that the JSA was the only source of friction that they'd ever had.
"I used to think so, too," replies Joan, voice very low. "I'm glad you changed your mind, though."
That it not to say their relationship was always easy. But as weathered as the shore is already, it's still shaped and carved and made beautiful by the tide.
"The years have been good to us, haven't they, Joan?"
"Indeed they have, love."
"I don't want ever want to be without you."
Joan simply says, "So let's go together."
"Do you promise?"
"Of course." Joan's round eyes are damp.
ii.) Barry and Iris
Barry Allen - the fastest man alive - is in a frenzy. Iris feels the rushing woosh! of wind that her husband leaves in his wake, and she finds herself being pushed into a wheelchair and a collection of items is swiftly growing at her feet.
"Barry, I'm pregnant, not an invalid. I can help carry some things too," Iris insists, waving Barry off, as he zips around frantically to get their pre-packed hospital bags.
"But you said the babies are coming! Didn't you say the babies were coming?!"
"They a-AUUUUUGHHHHHHHH!" Iris gives a yelp of pain and grabs at her belly as another contraction rips through her abdomen.
"Iris!" cries Barry, coming to an abrupt stop, thereby dropping whatever it is he's carrying. The suitcase bursts open, the contents flying everywhere. "I'm sorryI'm sorryI'm sorry, I can clean this up in a flash..." He is just about to rush a repack when he catches a glimpse of his wife's expression: Iris has her jaw clenched and is wearing a death glare. Barry gulps. Fewer things in this whole universe scare him more.
"Not – the – time – to be making – dumb – puns," she says through gritted teeth. She lets out another wail and squeezes her eyes shut. "Bartholomew Henry Allen – get me to the hospital right this instant so help me God!"
"Yes ma'am," says Barry meekly, placing his hands on the handlebars of the wheelchair. "Let's run."
Iris sighs. "What did I just say?!" Then, under her breath, "Why did I marry you again?"
"What was that, pumpkin?"
"Nothing, babe," Iris says with a radiant smile, grabbing one of her husband's hands. "I love you."
"When we come home we'll be... parents..." says Barry slowly, sounding absolutely gobsmacked. He's utterly unable to keep the grin off his face.
This is when it all begins, Iris thinks. One of her hands is resting on her abdomen, where two twin souls are raring to make their grand entrance. Her other hand is clasping the hand of the – very nervous – fastest man alive. His gentle eyes are glued to hers, so full of reverence, so full of adoration.
No, Iris amends mentally as she can't resist leaning up for a kiss, it's already begun.
iii.) Wally and Artemis
They sit side-by-side on a park bench, soaking up the uncharacteristic warmth of the early spring day. They are not the only ones with the same idea; there are many young couples hovering nearby, eyes like hawks in their supervision of several screaming small children.
Lian is within her Uncle Wally's and Auntie Artemis' line of sight, playing by herself in the sandbox while Brucely is tied to a post, looking wistfully at a flock of pigeons.
"I think she looks more like your sister," remarks Wally.
"Seriously?! She's got red hair. If that's not a dead giveaway for Roy then I don't know what is. Besides, she's also got his eyes," replies Artemis incredulously.
"Scientifically, it's actually biologically impossible. Red hair and green eyes are recessive traits." He grins impishly. "That's why they're the rarest hair and eye color, you know. Admit it, Babe, you're impressed by both my rare combination of traits and extraordinary intellect."
"I'm just going to ignore you, now." Artemis rolls her eyes. "Isn't blonde hair, too? I seem to do pretty well for myself. Besides, maybe the rules of genetics are different for clones."
"Well, the genes for blonde hair color are actually expressed on different loci..." Wally's voice trails off when he notices Artemis' glaring disinterest.
"That's it, I've had enough of you," she says exasperatedly. "I'm going to go play with my niece and my dog." Artemis picks herself up off the park bench, frees Brucely from his leash who bounds off to chase the pigeons, and crouches in the sandbox. "Ooh, Lian, what are you making? Show Auntie Artemis," coos Artemis, picking her own shovel to join in.
Wally appears at the sandbox a moment later, also crouching. "It's obvious she's building a model of the Hall of Justice, wouldn't you say?"
"House, house!" squeals Lian, clapping her sand-covered hands together.
"Brilliant deduction," snickers Artemis sarcastically. She scoops some sand and begins to mold it together.
"Come on, doesn't it look like the arch?" Wally insists.
"Apparently not. Zero for three today, Kid Dork."
"Actually, I got the 'why your hair is blonde' part right. So more like one-half for three." Wally settles in a cross-legged position. "Say, Artemis, what do you think our kids will look like?"
"Come again?" says Artemis in a preoccupied tone, helping her niece mold more sand.
"You know, our kids," repeats Wally mischievously. "You know, when we get around to it."
Artemis drops the shovel and her eyes widen, jaw dropping in slight shock. Nearby, Brucely lets out a happy bark and the panicked flutter of wings means he's successfully frightened some pigeons. She skips a beat and not much more. Recovering quickly she quips "Me, obviously."
"You know, I think I'd be okay with that," he says, planting a playful kiss on her forehead. "But there'd have to be a tradeoff. If they're going to inherit your looks, I should get to choose the names."
"And what, pray tell, have you chosen?"
"How about Jai if it's a boy, Iris if it's a girl?"
"I guess those are okay," says Artemis, a faint smile dancing on her lips. She abruptly bends over to nuzzle Lian, who squeals with laughter. Reverting back to the baby-talk voice, Artemis gushes, "And Lian needs cousins to play with, now doesn't she?"
iv.) Bart and Jaime
"Dinner? At your place? Uh, I'm not sure how crash that's going to be..." says Bart nervously. If he wanted to, he could be three-quarters of the way to Central City in just a couple of minutes...
"Why not? You've been over my place before. My parents adore you," says Jaime, looking slightly hurt and confused.
"Dude, not since after we became... You know, this," says Bart, lifting his and Jaime's interlocked fists. "You haven't told them right?" he asks nervously.
"No, since we agreed we'd let people know together. Trust me; they probably know already, ese. I mean, they're my parents. My little sister has been pretty vocally supportive 'bout it since even before we became a couple, so what's the big deal?" Jaime tugs a little, but Bart is rooted to the spot.
"You know how Robin was saying earlier about he and the Bats busted some homophobia-related hate crimes in Gotham City last week?"
"Yeah... But I'm not sure I know where you're going with this..."
Bart takes a deep breath and sighs. "In the future, the Reach decided that they would study homosexuality because they didn't understand the evolutionary basis or benefits of it. They disposed of all their test subjects and anyone who identified as LBGT became instant cannon fodder. Ten points if you shot one in the head," says Bart, mimicking shooting a gun with his thumb and forefinger. "If sociopathic, homicidal alien freaks aren't okay with it and typical sociopathic, homicidal humans aren't okay with it, how do you know if people that we know are going to be okay with it?"
"Ah, so that's what it is," says Jaime, pulling Bart close. "Listen," Jaime begins, lips over Bart's forehead, breath warm from when he speaks, "People who don't accept us can go to hell, for all I care. I love you. You love me. This – we – will always be alright, you know, even if the rest of the world isn't." Jaime kisses his forehead, his cheek, his lips. "Besides, you're tied for the fastest man on earth, and I don't even need to armor up to punch the lights out of the first bastard that hurts you."
Jaime says the last words with such tenderness that Bart feels his heart swell.
"Okay," says Bart, wrapping his arms around the taller boy's neck, looking up at the one he loves. "You've convinced me. I'll come over for dinner tomorrow."
"Good, I'll let my mom know. She and Milagro are probably running a lasting bet to see how long it takes for us to tell them formally, anyway."