“Three months?” Iris cries.
Eddie smiles at her. “Remember, it’s a promotion.”
“I know, I know, but – three months of night shifts!”
“Messing with the rookie,” Eddie says. “Junior on any squad takes the less desirable shifts. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a beat cop or a newly-minted homicide detective.”
“I’m starting to think you should have stayed with my dad in Vice,” Iris mutters.
“Iris. Iris Ann Thawne. My wife. Love of my life.” Eddie reaches across the dining room table, ignoring the dinner dishes in between them. He takes Iris’ hand, looking earnestly into her eyes. “There was not enough seniority in the world to keep me on the same squad as your dad after I took away his little girl.”
Iris starts to smile. “If you hadn’t been on that squad, we never would have met.”
“A fact I know my father-in-law curses daily.”
Iris’ smile wobbles, then starts to slip. “But – three months? And I bet that includes weekends – ”
Eddie nods regretfully. “I’ll have Tuesday and Wednesday as my off days. Assuming there’s nothing calling me on.”
“We’ll never see each other!”
“I don’t mind losing some sleep on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”
“You know I’ll stay up all night if that’s what it takes. It’s just that – with my new job – ”
Iris breaks off and looks aside.
“Hey, no,” Eddie says. “I know how hard you worked for that job, Iris. And who says I’m the only one in this relationship to get a demanding career? That doesn’t sound very fair to me.” He tugs on her hand, getting her to look up, and gives her his best it will work out smile. It always works on victims; it works on Iris, too. “We’ll get through it. I know it’s not ideal – ”
“We’re newlyweds, for God’s sake – ”
“ – but we will get through it, and we’ll be stronger for it, I bet.”
Iris looks as if she’s going to protest further, but then gives up and sighs. “I love your optimism,” she says, in the tone of one reminding herself of this fact.
The first weeks are… well, they’re hard. Eddie’s whole life had changed when Iris West had entered it. He’d never thought of himself as a person living in darkness, but that had only been because he’d never before seen the sun. Now that he knows how brightly Iris shines on his life, being without her is a little like going blind.
It’s not even like he never sees her. Okay, yes, Eddie’s working twelve-hour shifts – twelve-hour-plus shifts – and Iris is also putting in long hours, busting her butt to get noticed, to get ahead – but if Eddie’s lucky, he stumbles home before Iris has left for the day and gets to kiss her hello and goodbye.
Put that way, actually, it kind of is like he never sees her.
Iris breaks first. Eddie wakes up one day at 6pm, ready to shower and grab a bowl of cereal before heading over to start his shift, and smells… bacon?
Eddie follows his nose downstairs and finds his beautiful, incredible wife cooking him breakfast. “Iris!” he says, coming over and stealing a kiss – trying to steal some bacon, too, but having his hand slapped. Time to deflect attention: “You got out early today?”
Iris gives him a sideways grin. “No. But part of reporting is fieldwork. I’ll have you know that I’m meeting with a very important client right now.”
“Ohhh,” Eddie grins. “How important?”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” Iris pauses to give the eggs a scramble. “Actually, why did I say that? Flatter yourself.” She turns towards Eddie. “You are this important to me.”
The bacon burns.
After that it gets easier. Iris ducks out some evenings and they eat together – breakfast for Eddie, dinner for Iris. Or Iris comes by the precinct on quiet nights with a late-night/early-morning snack. A few lucky nights, the precinct is dead and the Captain has pity on Eddie, lets him go early. The best part of those nights is crawling into bed. Putting his arm around Iris’ waist, exchanging a few sleepy kisses, then getting to lie there for a few minutes and just revel in it – the feel of her skin under his fingers, her soft clean scent in his nose, her hair tickling his chin. Then drifting off to sleep, with the promise of waking up next to her still to come.
Midway through the second month things go bad again. Eddie and his new partner catch a bad series of cases, one right after the other, and the worst part is it seems like they might be related, so while they can ask for more help they can’t actually shuffle off primary responsibility for any of the cases, and past a certain point it doesn’t actually matter how much help they’ve got. Eddie sleeps in snatches, in the bunkroom at the station. Iris comes by once a day with coffee, but he’s barely got time to give her a kiss and take in the sound of her voice before getting back into the grind. The sound of her voice lingers with him, like a hug, even as the undertone of worry gets more and more pronounced.
They break the case open out of nowhere – a piece of evidence they’d all but dismissed comes together with an unexpected result from the forensics lab, and Eddie gets it, suddenly – looks up at his partner and sees that Spivot gets it too – and they’re off, half the precinct on their heels. They’ve all pulled late nights on this one. But they get their man, or men as it turns out to be – the reason for the conflicting alibis and clues that pointed in too many directions – and there’s more than one round of celebratory back-slapping before someone thinks to suggest they all head over to bar, buy Thawne and Spivot a few dozen rounds.
“Thank you,” Eddie says sincerely, “but what I really want is – ”
“Your bed and your wife,” one of the older veterans says knowingly. “Maybe not in that order.”
There’s laughter. “She’ll be at work, or you’d be right about the order,” Eddie admits, glancing at his watch. They’d had the breakthrough at something like three in the morning, and between the apprehension itself and all the inevitable paperwork it’s noon, or close enough for government work. “But my own bed sounds great. And if I’m still there when she gets home, good things might happen.”
There’s a round of laughter, and someone pushes Eddie’s messenger bag into his arms. “What are you waiting for?” Singh calls. “Go on, get out of here. Take tomorrow too. We’ll get a beer on Sunday.”
“I knew I liked you, Captain,” Eddie laughs, and doesn’t wait to be told twice.
Just crossing the threshold of his own home changes something in Eddie. He sloughs off an extra layer of skin, somehow. Iris would say it’s the mask he wears to show the world, his – what had been the word – persona. Eddie feels it more as the weight of responsibility. Out there he’s a cop. In here he’s just a guy.
He drops his keys in the bowl on the kitchen counter and smiles at the framed picture of he and Iris on their wedding day. Not just a guy, maybe.
Eddie had already called Iris on his drive home. She hadn’t answered, worse luck, but he’d left her a voice mail telling the good news. He’s hopeful she’ll find a way to come home early tonight. Iris is nothing if not resourceful.
Meanwhile, there’s one more thing he can do to brighten her day. He showers first. Grabs a quick bite. He doesn’t need much; they’d gotten take-out back at the station while filling out the arrest paperwork. Then, clean and fed and home at last, Eddie crawls into bed and pulls out his phone one more time.