i.

(The rooftop of JITTERS is deserted except for BARRY and IRIS. It's dark, but the buildings on the skyline still shine brightly and light up the two best friends' silhouettes as they come closer and closer together.)

BARRY: Without you, there wouldn't be the Flash.

IRIS: I've thought about what you said, and maybe you were right. I have been thinking about you, about us. But I can't do that anymore. Eddie is the man that I live with, the man that I love, and he's still missing.

BARRY: I know. I'm gonna bring him back.

(He hesitates.)

And after that?

IRIS: I don't know.

BARRY: Okay.

(He turns to walk away, leave her to reflect on her own.)

IRIS: Barry?

BARRY (turning round): Yeah?

IRIS: That day, at Jitters, when you - were acting all… weird.

BARRY (shoulders sinking): When I said I knew you'd been thinking about me?

IRIS: Yeah. And then later Caitlin said it was because of your - what did she call it? Lightning psychosis?

BARRY: That -

IRIS: - wasn't real. I get that now. She was covering for you. But I don't understand. You just - you seemed so sure, Barry. Of how I felt. Surer than I did, actually, or was willing to admit. And I get that from the look on your face there's something you're not telling me.

BARRY (resignedly): Do you really want to know?

IRIS (firmly): Barry. No more secrets. Tell me the truth.

BARRY: The truth is… I accidentally travelled through time -

IRIS: You did what?

BARRY: - and when I lived through the same day for the second time, I tried to do things differently and it… didn't work out.

IRIS: Barry, you're not making any sense.

BARRY: Joe, he was in danger, he was kidnapped by Mark Mardon. And Singh was in the hospital because of him, and the whole city was going to be destroyed by a tsunami created by Mardon. And then… there was you.

(And despite everything, even in the darkness, there are the tiniest beginnings of a smile on BARRY's face, the kind that can just be seen in the way the corners of his eyes crease and his lips upturn just a little bit.)

IRIS: Me?

BARRY: You said that you were really mad when I told you how I felt, but only at first. That you weren't able to think of much since. That you were - thinking about me. And then -

IRIS: And then what?

BARRY (closing his eyes): And then… I realised I was out of time. I - told you I was the Flash, that I had to go, save the city, and I - ran so fast that I ran back in time to the day before.

IRIS: Oh my God.

BARRY: And then I tried to screw with time by catching Martin early, only for time to end up screwing with me in the process - Snart kidnapping Cisco, and you… telling me no.

IRIS: Barry, I - don't know what to say.

BARRY: I do. I - I'm sorry, Iris. For putting you through this. I meant what I said the other night. You deserve to be happy. It's all I want for you. And if you have that with Eddie, I won't stand in the way of that when I find him. And I'm sorry, too, for not telling you when I should have.

IRIS: About what?

BARRY: Well, about how I felt, but also about being the Flash. Especially when I could tell it was eating Eddie up inside keeping that kind of secret from you.

IRIS (voice thick with tears): He's a good guy. God, he must have hated lying to me.

BARRY: Hey. We will find him. I promise I'll bring him home to you.

IRIS: Will you promise to do something else for me?

BARRY (smiles properly this time): You know I'd do anything for you.

IRIS (putting her hand on BARRY's chest): When you do find him… come home to me in one piece, okay? Both of you.

BARRY (covering her hand with his own): I promise.

(Their silhouettes entwine as they hug, for what feels like the longest time. When they part the light from the streetlamp burns just a little bit brighter as IRIS touches BARRY's cheek, softly bids him goodnight and lets him walk away this time.)

ii.

(It's nearing midnight when BARRY finds IRIS in the living room on the couch, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, watching the storm through the window. She only notices BARRY's presence when he gently taps her shoulder, lets her know he's there.)

BARRY: Hey.

IRIS: Can't sleep?

BARRY (sitting down next to her): The storm kept me up.

IRIS: You okay?

BARRY: Yeah. Just… thinking.

IRIS: About?

BARRY: Earth-2, mostly. What our doppelgangers are up to.

IRIS: Can I ask you something?

BARRY: What about?

IRIS (hesitating for a moment and then laughing nervously): About my doppelganger.

BARRY (smiling unexpectedly): What about her?

IRIS: What was she like?

BARRY: Smart. Sharp. Intent on getting justice for the people she loved.

IRIS: In other words -

BARRY: - a lot like you?

(They share a smile.)

IRIS: I was going to say a more badass version of me. She is a cop, after all.

BARRY (shrugging): Oh, I don't know. I don't think even Iris from earth-2 needed her gun to be a badass. But she was. A lot like you, I mean. She even used to work for CCPN.

IRIS: She did?

BARRY: Yeah, but apparently it was just an internship and all you did was get coffee for the real writers. She's a cop at heart.

IRIS: Did I have a partner?

BARRY (laughing softly): Yeah. Have you ever heard of an assassin on our earth called Deadshot?

IRIS: Floyd Lawton was my partner?

(They both laugh.)

BARRY: And here's the kicker - he was actually a really, really bad shot.

IRIS: Jay did tell you up was down and down was sideways on his earth.

BARRY (nodding): Yeah.

IRIS: Was she a -

BARRY: What?

IRIS: Was she a… hyphenator? Like - Detective West-Allen?

BARRY (chuckling): You mean like future you? No. She's Detective West.

IRIS: Maybe hyphenating is an earth-1 thing.

BARRY: I would have asked, but that would probably have blown my cover.

IRIS: As Barry from earth-2, you mean?

BARRY: Yeah, we… kind of had to kidnap him. And then I sort of - masqueraded as earth-2 Barry Allen for a while. Not out of choice, or anything. I just thought, since my doppelganger worked for the CCPD, I would be able to get some intel as Detective West's husband.

IRIS: Did you - go to their house?

BARRY (smiling): Yeah. It was… weird. Even weirder when you - when Detective West - told me my mom called.

IRIS: Oh my God, Barry, that must have been -

(She breaks off and her eyes suddenly brim with emotion. The words of comfort on BARRY's lips are unspoken, but really they don't need to be said when he leans forward and hugs her.)

BARRY (into her shoulder): I called her back. And just… hearing her voice again was all I never knew I needed.

IRIS: I get that. I mean - I didn't even know Francine very well, but God, I would have loved to hear her voice again. Even on some other earth.

BARRY: From what little I got from Joe… Francine's still alive, on earth-2. Incidentally, Iris - from earth-2 - told me she's a scientist. Specialises in biochemistry.

IRIS (lightly): Maybe over there you would have gotten along with her better than with my dad.

BARRY (chuckling): Yeah. I remember she said she could love both of us even if we didn't love each other.

IRIS: I can't imagine a world where my father doesn't love you.

BARRY: To be honest, I didn't think I could imagine a world where the two of us were -

IRIS: - married?

BARRY: Or together at all, to be honest.

IRIS (shaking her head): I don't know, Bear. It seems like it's a running theme. In the future. On earth-2.

BARRY: For what it's worth… we could totally be assassins on earth-3.

IRIS: Or… I could be the speedster, on earth-4.

BARRY: You wanna be a superhero now?

IRIS (smiling): Sure. I look dope in leather.

BARRY: Hey, you won't exactly get an argument from me.

IRIS: Even if I was the one with the superpowers, though… I can't imagine a universe where you're not in my life. One way or another.

BARRY: So you think we'll always find each other? On every earth?

IRIS: I hope we do.

(She takes his hand and squeezes it, and despite the storm outside there is a warm, calm kind of intimacy that settles on them, as if protecting them from the lightning outside. They sit in silence, listening to the raindrops spattering against the windowsill and the low rumble of thunder. IRIS flinches when a bolt of lightning strikes, and BARRY instinctively puts his arm around her shoulders, comforting her.)

iii.

(CENTRAL CITY PICTURE NEWS is quiet and almost completely deserted. The clock reads a little after eleven, and IRIS is the last remaining person in the office,. There's a click as she submits the article for approval, but the contented smile usually on her lips when she gets something done is missing as she starts to gather her things.

She jumps when BARRY speeds in, sending a few stray papers flying.)

BARRY: Hey.

IRIS (smiling despite herself): Hey yourself, Flash. What are you doing here?

BARRY: I was going to ask you the same thing. Weren't you supposed to -

IRIS: - have a date tonight? Yeah. I, er, cancelled.

BARRY: Do you want to… talk about it?

IRIS (shoulders sinking a little): Honestly… not really.

BARRY (face falling, though he tries to hide it): Okay.

IRIS: You want to - go up to the roof? Watch the stars?

(And this time BARRY smiles and IRIS smiles back, properly this time, and in that moment everything is righted again.)

BARRY: I would love to.

(IRIS grabs her bag, takes a couple of steps forward until she can put her arm around BARRY's neck and he can pick her up. She holds her breath, waits for the rush of air as BARRY speeds up the stairs to the roof in no time. When he puts her down, for a moment, in the heat of the exhilaration and adrenaline, they just look at each other, and it's all so familiar and warm and IRIS wants it to stay that way forever between the two of them.)

BARRY: You all right?

IRIS: Yeah. Moving at super speed is only really scream-worthy when you're going down.

BARRY (chuckling): True.

(He removes his mask, now, and sits against the wall, looking up at the stars that shine brightly in the clear sky. IRIS is quickly by his side, resting her head briefly on BARRY's shoulder.)

IRIS: No luck with opening a breach, then?

BARRY: Not really. Cisco… he doesn't think he can do it. But I know he can. And I know you could totally say that it's for the best, really, because at least Zoom can't get to our earth, but -

IRIS: No, I get it. It's just… not in your nature to turn your back on a whole earth full of people. That's what makes you a hero. No matter what universe you're in, that's just who you are. And you'll figure it out. Somehow. I know it.

BARRY (smiling): Can I tell you something?

IRIS: What?

BARRY: I actually… I probably shouldn't say anything, but I - when I tried on the tachyon device for the first time, I ended up in another universe for a day.

IRIS (eyes widening): Come again?

BARRY: I ran so fast that I managed to create a breach. But it wasn't to earth-2. It was a different earth - I think it was earth-3.

IRIS: Barry, that's -

BARRY: Wait, it gets better. When I was there I met this girl -

IRIS: I can see now why it got better.

BARRY: What? No, she - she was totally head over heels for this other guy, actually, but that's another story. Anyway, so, this girl, she was - get this - an alien.

IRIS: An alien? From where, Mars?

BARRY: No, it's a planet called Krypton, but Kara does know a Martian -

IRIS: Kara?

BARRY: Her name is Kara Danvers, or Kara Zor-El, which is her alien name. And she has superpowers - she can fly, and she can do this cool heat vision thing, and she can run really fast too.

IRIS: Wow. I would say I can't believe aliens are real, but my best friend is the scarlet speedster who occasionally likes to dabble in time travel and can hop between different universes -

BARRY: - so, in other words, you shouldn't really be surprised.

IRIS: But I am. That's - one story I wish I could write.

BARRY: Oh, and she works for a newspaper too, actually. Sorta. She's the personal assistant to the chief editor, anyway. Cat Grant.

IRIS: What's she like?

BARRY: Miss Grant? She's, uh, fierce. Bossy. Not sure you'd like her, though.

IRIS: Why not?

BARRY: Let's just say… she's a feminist, sure, but you would probably give her a lecture about being more intersectional.

IRIS: Ah, I see.

BARRY: And then either be fired or promoted.

IRIS: You're right. I probably wouldn't like her. But - tell me more. What was it like there? Did you see our doppelgangers?

BARRY (looking away with a faint smile): I mean… no. But I got to thinking. Maybe that means we are assassins on earth-3. You know. Considering I looked them up and couldn't find anything on either of them.

IRIS: Or maybe we're spies.

BARRY (laughing): That works too.

IRIS (softly, and perhaps more to herself than to him): As long as we find each other.

BARRY: Yeah.

IRIS: But anyway… this is good news. The fact that you managed to get to another earth means it's not impossible, Barry, for you to get back to earth-2.

BARRY: Even if it was… you know I've always believed in the impossible.

IRIS (teasingly): Which is why aliens were probably not much of a stretch for you.

BARRY: Probably not. But you're right. I wish I could figure out how I did it, exactly, but I can't just run blindly into other universes and expect to have help coming back each time.

IRIS (patiently): No, but you were able to do it. Travel to another universe. Be a hero there -

BARRY: How did you work that one out?

IRIS: Barry, you wouldn't have stayed in earth-3 for as long as you say you did if you weren't busy trying to save people. Besides. Like I said, Barry - it's just who you are. Which is why I know you're going to find a way to stop Zoom and save earth-2.

(BARRY doesn't say anything, just looks at her in wonder, for so long that IRIS eventually laughs nervously.)

IRIS: What?

BARRY: Nothing, I just - don't know what I'd do without you.

IRIS: Well, you won't have to find out. Ever.

BARRY: Promise?

IRIS: I promise.

(He envelopes her in a warm hug, the kind that IRIS misses, and when he pulls away the two of them lie back and watch the stars. They don't say anything but really - they don't have to.)

iv.

(CENTRAL CITY CEMETERY is quiet, but somehow not quite as sinister as BARRY anticipated. And with IRIS by his side it's not as hard as he anticipated, either, being at his mother's grave and placing flowers there for the first time.)

IRIS: We never had anyone who was… just right for us.

BARRY (getting to his feet): Didn't we? I'm seeing things a lot differently now. I wasted so much time being angry at what I had lost when I had so much - my dad, Joe, and you. The truth is, Iris, I don't know what this is, between us, or where we go from here. All I know is… you're everything to me, and you always have been. And the sound of your voice will always bring me home.

(She hugs him, then, eyes brimming with a smile.)

IRIS (still hugging him, speaking into his shoulder): You're everything to me too.

(They part, and when they do the blazing sun shines just a little brighter between them. BARRY leads the way now, touching his mother's gravestone one last time, before taking IRIS's hand and leading her to a nearby bench so they can both sit.)

BARRY: You know, when I was in the Speedforce, this was one of the places it took me to. It - asked me why, for all the lives I've saved, all the sacrifices I've made… I've never been here.

IRIS: I get why. But - what do you mean, it asked you? The Speedforce? What did it look like?

BARRY (chuckling): It - looked like a few things. People, I should say. When it brought me here it looked like my dad. Before that it looked like you. Before that was Joe. And last it looked like -

IRIS: - your mom.

BARRY: How did you know?

IRIS: I saw her. Very briefly I could see her in the - house you were in. She was… smiling.

BARRY: Yeah, she was.

IRIS: Where else did it take you?

BARRY: It kept trying to take me to - familiar places at first. My house. That's where I first met the Speedforce. Joe was there. And then I was at the waterfront where you first told me how you felt about me.

IRIS: What waterfront?

BARRY: Remember how I told you… about travelling through time by accident?

IRIS: Yeah, when we were on that rooftop. At Jitters.

BARRY: The place where it all happened… it was by the waterfront. And it sounds crazy, really, that it's even a happy memory for me, considering I erased it from the timeline and it didn't technically happen and all the awful things that happened after - but that waterfront was my safe place. One of the only places I could go to in my mind sometimes and feel - better. As long as I remembered you, I was all right.

IRIS (softly): I'm glad.

BARRY: But then I had this - person with your face telling me how I rejected a rare and precious gift that was given to me… and suddenly it didn't feel safe anymore.

IRIS: You didn't reject anything, Barry. You chose to give up your speed for Wally. You saved his life, Bear, and we - I - love you for it.

BARRY (smiling unexpectedly): You're important to me and he's important to you. There wasn't really much of a choice to make.

IRIS: And that's what I meant. Your suit isn't what makes you a hero. It's who you are, who you've always been in your bones. My hero.

(BARRY puts his arm around IRIS's shoulders and squeezes gently.)

BARRY: And that was when I knew, Iris. That memory, that place, it wasn't my home. Really, my safe place was - you. And home is wherever you are.

IRIS (quietly): I'm just glad you found your way back to us. To me. I mean - when you first disappeared into the Speedforce we thought you had actually -

(She breaks off, not quite able to complete her sentence and suddenly fighting tears.)

BARRY (taking her face into his hands): Hey. I'm here. Alive and kicking.

IRIS: I know. And I'm glad. Because - what would I have done, Barry, if something happened to you?

BARRY: You won't have to find out. Not ever.

IRIS: But with Zoom…

BARRY: The Speedforce is with us, Iris. Trust me.

IRIS: I do, Barry. I always have.

(They're at the perfect angle, now, for BARRY to steady her cheeks with either hand and press a kiss on her forehead, and after, they just look into each other's eyes, smile, then IRIS buries her face into BARRY's shoulder.

Maybe they do have somebody who is just right for them after all.)