“Hey sis!” Wally says, shutting the door behind, practically running inside the house.
“Wally, hi,” Iris replies with a smile, circling around the couch to give him a hug. She noticed he looked a little too excited, more so than was usual for his demeanor. “You okay?” she asks, holding him down just a little tighter to keep him steady.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine, just wondering if you knew where Barry was? I need to talk to him about something."
“I think Barry’s out saving someone somewhere probably,” she laughs, “what’s up?”
He sits on the couch only to stand back up again in a second, making his way to the kitchen, then back to the living room, then stopping in the middle of the two. Iris looks on, amused.
“Hmm?” he answers, clearly distracted with his own thoughts. “Wanna tell me what’s up?”
“Umm,” he comes back over, now deciding to sit on the couch and Iris follows along, coming to sit on the opposite end, “I think I’m ready to...I think...”
She looks on at him, waiting for him to find the words. When he starts speaking again, they both hear the door unlock and turn their heads to see Barry come inside.
“Oh!” Barry stops, looking at the siblings in the living room, “hey!”
“Barry!” they both say in unison, however Iris’s tone is loving and welcoming, whereas Wally’s is fervent and hurried and she can’t help but wish Barry had delayed his entrance a little longer so she could figure out what was up with her little brother.
“Hi,” Barry smiles, not seeming to mind the different reactions to his homecoming. He goes over to the couch to give Iris a kiss. Before the couple can process what’s happening, Wally abruptly stands up, almost inserting himself between the two.
“I need to talk to you!” Wally says, intensely looking at Barry. “Uhh..sure. Do you mind if I go was-”
“Nope no time. I need to talk to you,” Wally repeats, “...now.”
“Ri-right, yeah.” Barry turns over to look at his girlfriend, but just then, her phone sounds and the text leaves her face perplexed.
“It’s Linda,” she says, still staring at the screen.
Barry doesn’t miss the slight jolt that goes through Wally’s body at the mention of Linda’s name.
“I should go,” Iris continues, this time looking up to face her two guys, “I’ll be back later tonight though, okay?”
“Yep, okay. Bye sis,” Wally says a little too eagerly, and if Iris didn’t know any better, it seemed like he wanted her to leave.
“Bye baby,” Barry pulls her in, shifting her focus from her little brother to him, “I’ll see you tonight.”
She gives him a kiss, lingering a little too long - which Wally subtly voices his disapproval over - and grabs her coat, heading out the door.
“Aren’t you always making fun of me for having no chill?” Barry asks, humor in his voice, as soon as Iris closes the door.
“You still have no chill,” Wally answers, grabbing Barry’s shoulders and pushing him down onto the couch.
“Okay what is up with you?” Barry asks, hands coming up to rub his shoulders, both in pain thanks to Wally’s force. “Take a breather. Use words.”
“I wanna propose to Linda!” Wally nearly shouts, smile huge on his face.
Barry stares at him, mouth coming to open wide, feet moving his body to stand. “Serious?” he asks.
“Yeah!” Wally replies, practically jumping in place, “I wanna propose! I love her. We’ve been dating for so long. I just...I wanna propose.”
“Wally that’s great,” Barry smiles, hugging him fondly, “that’s amazing!” “Yeah, I’m excited!”
Barry rolls his eyes at the understatement.
“Anyway,” Wally continues, pulling away to sit on the couch, “I need your help. You’re good with words and I usually don’t have much to say. But I wanna make it special for her, you know? And I see the way you talk to Iris and how you always know exactly what to say and I wanna do that for Linda with this.”
“Wally,” Barry joins him on the couch, twinkle beaming in his eyes, “Linda loves you for you. She’s used to the way you talk to her and she loves that about you. You shouldn’t chang-”
“No I know. I just mean that you have a language of your own when it comes to Iris. And the way her face lights up when you tell her things like that...I just...I wish I was as articulate as you. And I need you to teach me how for this. I want to make it really memorable...
Barry stares at him with pure admiration and hesitantly nods his head in agreement, “if that’s what you want, then yeah. I can help you prepare something for when you ask.”
Wally lets out a huge sigh of relief and looks around the room, practically giddy with excitement. “Can you believe I’m proposing before you are?” he asks after some time, hints of laughter and disbelief in his voice.
When Barry doesn’t respond for a while, he looks up to see a sad look in his eyes and concern quickly fills him. “Barry, you okay?”
“Hmm?” Barry replies, a little frazzled, “no yeah, I’m fine. You were saying?”
“Nah..you’re not fine. What’s going on?”
Barry lets out a sigh and gets up to pace back and forth, mimicking Wally’s previous actions, hands coming to brush his hair back, “it’s just weird, that’s all.”
The happiness that filled the room moments earlier seems to dissipate. “What’s weird?”
“Ju-just that the younger of the Wests is going through with a proposal,” he laughs.
“I mean...” Wally stands up to grab his arm, bringing him to a stop, “...you could propose to Iris too, you know?”
“Mm see that’s the thing. I already have. Twice.”
Wally freezes at the comment just as Barry plops down in the chair, hands coming to cover his face, head shaking impassively, “yeah I’ve proposed.”
“...Iris said no...?” Wally asks, still stunned. “Kind of, I think.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Barry explains, letting out another sigh, “the way I did it probably wasn’t the best. You know, when you’re in the middle of -”
He stares at Wally, deciding not to go into too many details for fear of being punched, effectively turning the joyous occasion into a painful one.
“- um...intimacy...you know...anyway, yeah.”
“Wait a minute. You asked my sister to marry you while you two were having sex?” “Yeah wasn’t my best moment,” Barry cringes at the thought.
“Definitely wasn’t,” Wally smirks, “but still, I would imagine you really didn’t want to propose if it just slipped out, right?”
“I mean, honestly? If she would’ve said yes, I would’ve gone through with it.” “You two talked?”
“Yeah. It was awkward for a few days after that night and then we both arranged a time to talk things through. I think this was like a month ago. Anyway, she said she knew I didn’t mean it and it was the rush of the moment and I told her I did in fact mean it and the proposal stood.”
“Yeah,” Barry continues, “but she said no...something about it being too soon, I guess.” “But you two have been dating for like seven months, right?”
“Actually, almost a year and four months. Well that’s if you count it from when we said ‘I love you’ and I asked her to give our relationship a shot. If you take if from the time I got back after the whole timeline mess, it’s only been about seven months.”
“Oh yeah, you were gone for almost a year...”
“Nine months, to be exact,” he replies, “...just like when I was in the coma.”
“Maybe that’s why?” Wally inquires, “maybe she’s just afraid you two will be separated again?” “Maybe.”
“Have you brought it up with her again?” Wally asks, trying to wrap his mind around the revelation.
“No...I just, I don’t want to push her. I mean, we’ve taken things excruciatingly slow in the past. It took her a year to tell me she loved me after I told her how I felt-”
“Yeah but she had been with Eddie and then she was mourning Eddie and then you were with Pa- ”
“No I know, believe me, Wally, I remember,” Barry laughs, “it’s just, I guess our timing is never right when it comes to these big moments. And I know leaving for such a long time probably set us back a bit. But I thought nothing was really in the way this time around, you know? We’ve talked about everything.
Maybe how I did it the first time was wrong. But I figured when I popped the question again, she would’ve said yes.”
“Did you buy a ring?”
“I did buy a ring,” Barry smiles modestly, “a pretty ring too. Had it sized and everything. Even prepared a speech and got down on one knee. Did the whole thing.”
“Then why’d she say no?”
“That’s the million dollar question I keep asking myself every single day.”
Both guys sit in silence. Barry didn’t want to explain any more, heart still aching from the incident; no matter how many times he brushed it away and tried not to think about it, Iris’s answer remained at the forefront of his brain every day for the past four weeks. And he couldn’t shake the sadness that filled him. Wally, on the other hand, couldn’t believe the news, head still attempting to process all the information, mind racing as to why his sister would reject Barry’s proposal. For all he’d known, no other two people in the world loved each other more, and he knew Iris was head-over-heels for Barry, even though Barry voiced it more. Something about this seemed wrong.
“Barry?” Wally asks quietly after an extended pause. “Hmm.”
“Mind if I talk to her about it?”
Barry looks up, gaze coming to fixate on Wally instead of the window. He gives him a reluctant head shake, but before he can get a word out, Wally interrupts. “I won’t say anything out of line, I promise. But she is my older sister...and we’re really close...and I just can’t understand her not saying yes.”
The CSI reflects on his words and eventually gives him a slight nod of approval before looking back down at his hands. “Sorry to ruin the mood.”
“Kinda did,” Barry scoffs.
“Well, guess I just don’t need your help anymore if you can’t get your own girlfriend to say yes,” Wally jokes, smirk coming to his face.
Luckily it resonates and the mood lightens immediately as their laughter fills the room.
“Listen Barry,” Wally goes on after the echoes of their laughter fade away, “I’m still proposing. You’re still helping me. Right?”
“But now, we’ll just have to get to the bottom of why she said no. Right?” Wally takes Barry’s silence as encouragement to go on.
“Barry. She loves you. You can’t forget that.”
“I know,” Barry smiles, tears welling in his eyes, “I love her too.” “She’s gonna say yes.”
His eyes trail upwards to look at Wally. “I hope so.”