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The Rest of Forever

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A clear night sky hovered over Central City on a chilly November night. Christmas garlands were already adorning the lamp posts that lit the road to a tall, brick apartment building. Most of its windows were dark, as their residents were already asleep. But, the window to the loft on the top floor still glowed with candlelight.

It’s occupance, Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen, were still awake, awaiting the clock to strike midnight, so they could officially wish each other a happy 1st wedding anniversary. They sat on the window seat in their living room, with candles providing just enough light for them to look through their wedding photo album.

The album was only half filled. Due to fascists crashing the wedding and attempting to kill everyone in attendance, the wedding photographer never finished taking pictures.

Iris stretched her legs over Barry’s lap and rested her head on his shoulder. He flipped to the next page in the album, with photos of the bridal party. In one, they held up balloons of the numbers 11 and 2017, symbolizing the month and year of the wedding date.

“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year already.” Iris sighed. “It feels like everything has been moving so fast.”

“So much has happened in one year.” Barry pointed out.

“True. I mean, our daughter who hasn’t been born yet is already full grown.”

Barry snickered. “It’s like what everyone says about kids growing up in the blink of an eye.”

“It feels like just a few months ago I wasn’t pregnant and had no idea she’d exist.”

“That’s because it was.” Barry laughed.

Iris turned to the next page in the album, which was entirely taken up by a portrait of Barry and Iris embracing under the arch of red and yellow flowers they were supposed to be married under. They’d opted to do a first look and take some pictures before the ceremony, after Barry insisted seeing Iris walk down the aisle would already be emotional enough without it being the first time he saw her in her dress.

The picture showed a happy couple on what looked like a fairytale wedding day. Their smiles were bright, their eyes eager. The possibility of the ceremony ending in gunfire rather than wedded bliss never having crossed their minds.

Iris smiled at first, but the more she looked at the photo, the more it bothered her. The battle in the church had destroyed all the decorations, so Iris wasn’t able to keep any of the flowers and press them in remembrance of the day like she’d wanted to. The discussion of who the mysterious archer and flying woman were were the topic of conversation afterwards, when Iris had been excited to tell her friends and family about Barry’s reaction when he first saw her in her gown.

On the next page were family pictures. One of Joe and Cecile, one of Barry and Wally, one of Iris and Joe. But, none of all of them together. They didn’t have time to take that one before the ceremony, so they’d planned on doing it afterwards. They never got the chance.

Iris tried to think if they’d ever taken a picture of all of them together, and realized they hadn’t. With Wally exploring the world, and her father and Cecile now preoccupied with baby Jenna, it seemed difficult to imagine how they’d schedule a time when they would all be free to take a nice family picture. The wedding was their chance, and it was gone.

Barry sensed Iris’ melancholy. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Iris lied. She didn’t want to tell him how upset she’d been about their disaster of a wedding. It felt selfish, to complain about superficial things like flowers or photographs when all of them had escaped with their lives.

“Iris,” Barry beseeched.

She let her guard down and admitted the only secret she’d ever kept from her husband. “Thinking about our wedding makes me sad.”

Barry looked empathetic. “It makes me sad too. We spent so much time planning it and practically our entire lives dreaming about it, and we came so close, but we never got to actually have the wedding.”

Iris relaxed under comfort of Barry’s understanding. He rubbed her shoulder and kissed the top of her head.

“I wish I could have given you everything you wanted.” Barry whispered.

Her heart breaking at seeing Barry guilt stricken, Iris assured him, “You did, baby. All I really wanted is to be your wife.”

“I mean the wedding day you wanted.” Barry said with a sad grimace.

He turned to the last page in the wedding album that had a photo. It was a stunning black and white picture of Iris in her dress.

Iris smiled, remembering how beautiful she felt in that dress.

“You looked like a princess.” Barry told her.

“You make me feel like one.” Iris said. She jokingly added, “And so does a $6,000 Monique Lullihier.”

Barry laughed. “Worth every penny.”

Iris gave him a peck on the lips. She nuzzled her nose against his cheek, smiling against his skin. She was so close to his face that all of his freckles blurred together.

“It wasn’t the kind of dress I thought you would pick.” Barry said. “Didn’t you say that you hated big, poofy princess dresses?”

“I did, and I use to.” Iris admitted. “But, I liked that one. It was elegant and romantic. Plus, the bigger the skirt, the more room to move my legs. That’s very important for dancing.”

“I was so nervous about our first dance.”

Iris laughed. She remembered how Barry was always awkward at school dances. He had the irrational fear that he’d step on the girl’s foot, despite the fact that he was a good dancer.

“I would have been even more nervous if I knew you’d bring up that ballet from when we were nine.” Barry continued. “That would have hyped up my dance moves way too much. I would never be able to live to expectations.”

Iris laughed. “You’re good on your feet.”

Barry rolled his eyes.

“I was hoping we’d never stop dancing all night. You and me, twirling around the ballroom floor, holding each other, and just…..” Iris breathed. “Just taking each other in.”

Barry and Iris looked into each other’s eyes. It was intimate. Until, Iris’ gaze fell to the ground as she lamented, “We never even got one dance.”

“We could have another wedding.” Barry offered. “A redo.”

“No.” Iris shook her head. “Not anytime soon, at least. With helping Nora, you going back to work at CCPD, and me trying to get the Central City Citizen started, there just isn’t time.”

Tears swam in her eyes. Iris hid her face in Barry’s neck so he would see them. But, the wetness gave her away.

“Hey,” Barry smoothed his hand up and down Iris’ back. “How about tomorrow, you put on your dress and I’ll put on my tux, and we’ll have our first dance right here in the living room.”

Iris’ breathed hitched. “Really?”

“Mmm hmm.” Barry hummed. “We’ll dance all night. It might be a year late, but it will be the night you wanted.”

“That sounds perfect.”

The couple sealed the deal with a kiss. When their lips parted, Iris saw the clock out of the corner of her eye, reading, 12:00.

“Happy anniversary.” She whispered.

“Happy anniversary.” Barry repeated, leaning in for another kiss.

 

 

The sun had just set on Central City. Strings of multicolor Christmas lights hung over the streets, were bustling with people on their way home. Iris was one of those people. It had been a busy day. She knew when she decided to start her own newspaper that it would be no easy endeavor, but she’d still underestimated the amount of work. Linda Park, who’d also left CCPN, was helping Iris with the startup and providing a much needed companion in what could have been a lonely office.

On the elevator ride up to her loft, Iris’ mind was running numbers of business expenditures, considering applicants for journalist positions, and fretting over the public’s reaction to their first publication in the new year. She’d forgotten the significance of the day’s date in her hectic workday. That’s why, when she entered her home and saw her husband standing before her in a suit and tie, she was surprised.

“Welcome home.” He greeted her. “And happy anniversary.”

Not only was Barry dressed up, he’d moved the furniture out of the living room so that the space was an empty dance floor. Soft, romantic music was playing on the radio.

“Barry!” Iris gasped. She ran up to him and threw her arms around him.

“We’re not newlyweds anymore.” Barry mumbled into Iris’ hair as they hugged.

“I guess we’re not.”

“Too bad. I liked being newlyweds.”

Iris smiled up at her husband. She moved to kiss his cheek, but Barry turned his head to capture her lips with his. Iris felt happy enough to float away into the night sky. They were both breathless when the kiss ended.

“You want to go put on your wedding dress?” Barry asked.

Iris giggled. “I think I’m even more excited to put it on tonight then I was a year ago.”

She skipped up the stairs to their bedroom. In the back of her closet, kept in pristine condition in a garment bag, was her wedding dress. She took it out and laid it on the bed, admiring its beauty. In the past year, she’d almost forgotten how pretty it is. Photographs didn’t do it justice. The delicate lace, light blush undertones in the tulle, and flowing train were magnificent.

Iris put on the dress with shaking hands. She slipped on the pearl necklace she’d inherited from her grandmother, a treasured heirloom she only took out of the jewelry box on special occasions. The last time it was worn was last year on this day.

Iris tried to walk down the steps into the living room slowly and gracefully, like a bride walking down the aisle. But, the thought of Barry waiting for her at the bottom was too exciting. She rushed down, but came to an abrupt stop when she saw that her loft was full of people.

Joe, Cecile, Wally, baby Jenna, Cisco, Caitlin, Harry, Linda, Julian, and Nora were all dressed in formal attire and standing in a two lines, facing Iris with smiles. There was an arch of red and yellow flowers behind them, nearly identical to the one from her and Barry’s wedding.

“What’s going on?” Iris asked.

Barry emerged from behind the group. “I don’t want to stop being newlyweds.” He announced. “So,” He got down on one knee.

The sight caused Iris to burst into tears of joy. Barry took her hand.

“Iris Ann West-Allen, will you marry me again?”

Iris was too elated to speak. She nodded and collapsed into Barry’s arms where he knelt. Their friends and family cheered.

“How did all of you get here?” Iris asked.

“I ran them here while you were changing.” Barry explained. “They wanted to be part of it too.”

“We never miss a dinner with West family cooking.” Cisco chimed in, earning him an elbow to the rib from Caitlin.

“Now I get to crash your wedding twice.” Nora said. “And this time I don’t have to steal a waiter’s outfit.”

Iris looked around the room at all the people she was closest to. Her heart swelled.

“All of you came here for us?” She squeaked, overcome with emotion.

“Of course.” Cecile said. “There is nowhere we’d rather be.”

“You’re wedding is going to be an annual tradition.” Cisco told her.

“Even you, Wally? You came all the way from….” Iris racked her brain trying to remember. “Where was it you were last? Thailand?”

“The Maldives, actually.” Wally answered. “That giant starfish I told you guys about was causing trouble again.”

“And you, Julian, you came from London?”

Julian smirked. “Well, after being snubbed last year,”

Barry pulled a face. Everyone else laughed.

Caitlin handed Iris a bouquet of flowers. “It meant a lot to me to be your maid of honor last year. But, this year I think someone else deserves it.” She looked at Nora.

“And you have a flower girl!” Wally said, gesturing to Jenna, who was playfully tossing flower petals into the air.

“It’s perfect.” Iris cried.

A whoosh of wind and Barry was on the other side of the room, under the floral arch.

Joe walked up to Iris and took her arm. “I promise I’m not going to cry this time.”

“Wait!” Cecile shouted. “We needed someone to sing their song.”

“Want me to go get Kara off Earth-38?” Cisco offered.

Nora spoke up. “Um, actually, you don’t have to.” She looked at her mother with pride. “I know the words.”

Barry and Iris both beamed. Nora went over to the radio and switched the music to the instrumental recording Barry made of “Running Home to You”.

“Can’t say how the days will unfold
Can’t change what the future may hold”

Nora’s voice was a sweet soprano. Joe and Iris slowly walked across the living room as she sang. Jenna threw a fistful of flower petals at them. Iris felt like she was in a dream.

“Every hour
Every minute”

Nora finished singing as Barry and Iris reunited under the arch. They joined hands. Joe, who’d broken his promise, wiped away the tears streaming down his face as he walked back to Cecile.

Harry stepped up to the altar and proceeded to officiate.

“We have all known Barry and Iris for a long time. But, not as long as Barry and Iris have known each other, and known they love each other. Time can be a strange and confusing thing. A person from 30 years in the future might end up at her parents wedding, twice. A tidal wave that might have landed everyone here in watery graves might be stopped by locking up a vengeful brother. But, no matter what weird things happen in this timeline, or any other, there is at least one constant. That is Barry and Iris. No matter what day, month, or year, or timeline, or Earth you go to, if there’s a Barry, he loves an Iris. If there’s an Iris, she loves a Barry. No matter what, they always find each other.”

The speech made Iris cry harder. She shook where she stood, but Barry rubbed his thumbs over her hands to calm her.

“Now,” Harry transitioned. “If you two would like to make any of your own vows, you may do so.”

Barry raised his eyebrows, silently asking if Iris wanted to go first. She did.

“Barry, this first year of our marriage has been one of the hardest years of our lives. We were put in situations I never thought would happen, even in my nightmares.” Iris gulped as she prepared to say the next part of her impromptu vows. “I remember the first time I visited you in Iron Heights. I was a mess. Walking down the dreary grey hallways and sitting on one side of a bulletproof window in the cold prison made me feel so alone and so scared. But then, you came to the window. And you were smiling this big, happy, dorky smile. One look at that smile and I felt safe again, strong again. Whenever I’m hurting, you have a way of making things alright. In my saddest moments, you bring me joy. Even though I’ve been kidnapped by evil supervillains, those are the times I needed saving the most. That’s why you’re my hero, Barry.”

Everyone in the room was tearing up. Harry was sobbing and Cisco was passing him tissues. Nora was silently crying into the skirt of her dress.

“When you wrote a song for me, you called me your light in the dark. But, Barry, you are my light in the dark.” Iris finished.

Harry, who was a sobbing emotional wreck, just waved his hand to indicate it was Barry’s turn.

He took a deep breath before starting.

“Iris, I have been in awe of you since the day I met you. But, as amazing as I’ve always known you are, you somehow amazed me even more this past year. Your strength, determination, love, compassion, leadership, devotion, bravery, and intelligence are what inspires me. From leading the team to starting your own paper, you keep finding ways to help people with your talents. You’re a superhero without any powers. I’ve told you a million times how I couldn’t be The Flash without you. But, what I don’t think I’ve ever told you is that I couldn’t be Barry Allen without you. You are a part of me, the best part. Encouraging me, guiding me, teaching me, healing me, and making me the best version of myself. I’ve been able to do a lot of good things. Solving crimes as a CSI, saving people as The Flash, but there is nothing I’ve ever done that makes me more proud than being your best friend and now your husband.”

Barry brushed a tear of his bride’s cheek. He cupped her face as he made the rest of his vows.

“Despite all the chaos of the past year, its been the best year of my life. That’s because we started our forever as husband and wife. And I can’t wait for the rest of forever.”

Through his tears, Harry choked, “I now pronounce you, husband and wife one year later. You may kiss the bride.”

Iris practically leaped into Barry’s arms and kissed him. The attendees cheered.

Nora threw her hands up and yelled “Wooo!”

Cisco and Joe clapped. Cecile guided Jenna’s hand to the basket of flower petals and showered them over Barry and Iris.

“Now, let’s eat some cake!” Wally cheered.

“Yes!” Cisco enthusiastically agreed.

“Oh, we don’t have any-” Iris said, but stopped when she Linda walk out of the kitchen carrying a wedding cake. It had white frosting and real flowers decorating its three teris.

“Sorry I couldn’t do seven tiers on such short notice.” Linda apologized. “But, it is raspberry chocolate, just like you wanted.”

Iris’ mouth was watering just looking at the cake.

Linda put it on the table and held out the knife to Barry and Iris. “The bride and groom cut the first piece.”

Barry and Iris each held onto the knife’s handle and cut into the cake.

“Do we make a wish, like when you cut into your birthday cake?” Iris asked Barry.

“It doesn’t matter.” He shrugged. “I already have everything I’d wish for.”

“Awwwwww!” Iris swooned. She grab a handful of cake shoved it in Barry’s face, covering him in frosting. “You’re too sweet.”

Barry retaliated by grabbing some more cake and shoving it in Iris’ face. Jenna hoisted herself out of her high chair and onto the table, crawled over to the took, took a handful, and shoved it into her own face. Everyone laughed hysterically.

Caitlin popped a bottle of champagne and passed out flutes.

Barry raised his glass and made toast, “To the rest of forever.”

“To the rest of forever.” Iris repeated, clinking her glass on his.

“To the rest of forever.” Their guests said in unison.

The celebration lasted hours. Cisco DJed, playing all of Barry and Iris’ favorite songs (and a few oldies that Joe requested). Everyone made speeches that caused Barry and Iris varying degrees of embarrassment. Julian took enough photos to fill two wedding albums.

Iris’ favorite part was dancing with Barry. They swayed to every slow song and grooved to every pop song. One by one, the guests filed out. Eventually, leaving Barry and Iris alone on their dance floor.

“Iris,” Barry said. “It’s past midnight.”

“I don’t care.” Iris sighed sleepily. “I could keep dancing with you for the rest of forever.”