Author's Note: And here's the final piece! Read, review, and enjoy!
Wally paced nervously, biting at his fingernails. It was something he hadn't done since he was a kid. He hadn't been this nervous in a long, long, long time, though. Zatanna reached out and grabbed his hand, holding it between both of hers, "It's going to be okay, Wally. It really is. You'll see."
"This is a nightmare," Wally muttered, plopping onto a seat next to Zatanna.
Zatanna looked like she wanted to roll her eyes but was kind enough to refrain from doing so, "Wally. It's okay. Besides, it's better to do this now than during the wedding, right? We don't need anyone causing a scene during the wedding."
"Right," Wally muttered. He used his free hand to scrub at his face, trying to remove the fears. They were stupid. He knew that. He just – he didn't want this. He'd worked so hard to avoid this. But here he was, doing this willingly. Sitting there waiting for it to happen. He squeezed his eyes shut and hunched in on himself, "I hate this."
"I know," Zatanna said. She let go of his hand to wrap her arms around his shoulders. She dropped her head onto his, "I know. And I will never be able to explain how much it means to me that you're willing to do this for me. I love you so much, okay? And – and if they get mad or weird or hurtful, I'll kick them out. You know that, right? They're my family but I love you and I won't let them hurt you."
"I know," Wally breathed, settling back into Zatanna's hug, "I know. I trust you. I love you."
"Love you too," Zatanna said, nestling closer to him.
For a moment, Wally could breathe. He relaxed into the hold, shoulders losing their tension as he let himself just live in the moment, in his overwhelming love for this woman. Then the doorbell rang.
Wally tensed all the way back up again and Zatanna sighed. She dropped a kiss to his forehead and stood up, "I'll make sure they're all here before I let them back into this room, alright?"
"Alright," Wally whispered, trying to muster up some courage and charisma. He'd been able to do that as a kid all the time. As soon as he pulled on the mask, he'd been confident and charismatic. He just needed to draw on some of that. He could do this. He could do this.
Dick and Artemis's voices echoed in the front hall, complimenting the paintings Zatanna had made. After a moment, the doorbell rang again, and Barry's cheerful voice added to the sound that was quickly becoming white noise in Wally's ears.
Wally couldn't do this. He couldn't do this. Why did he think he could do this?
Zatanna said something that Wally didn't quite hear before she came into the room. She darted over to him, grasping his hands again and pressing their foreheads together, "It's going to be okay, Wally. I promise. If you can't believe in yourself or in them, then believe in me okay?"
"Okay," Wally whispered, "Okay. I'm okay. I'm ready."
"Okay," Zatanna repeated, "I'm going to bring them in. I'll just be gone a second."
"Okay," Wally echoed, feeling like a broken record. Zatanna gave him a loving smile regardless, kissing his forehead before leaving the room again.
Wally was pretty sure his heart stopped when Zatanna came back into the room. There weren't that many people, in retrospect. M'gann and Conner (holding hands which was a nice surprise) were there, followed sedately by Kaldur. Artemis, Dick, Uncle Barry, and Aunt Iris all came in at the same time. All of them were obliviously glancing around the room.
It was clear when one of them caught sight over him. Conner stuttered to a stop, almost toppling M'gann when she ran into him. She gasped when she realized what had surprised Conner. The gasp spread out among the group, moving like a wave all the way to the back. Kaldur was, unsurprisingly, the first to get his voice back. He offered Wally a smile that was supposed to be a grimace and said, "We are terribly sorry. You look remarkably similar to a dear friend of ours who passed away several years ago."
It was only Zatanna's soothing presence at his side that gave Wally the courage to offer them a pale smile and say, "Ah, yeah, it's not that I look similar."
He didn't get a chance to say more before Barry was there, engulfing him in a hug that tingled with electricity. Barry squeezed him like Wally would disappear if he let go and it was all Wally could do to keep the tears in. Barry sobbed into Wally's shoulder, "I thought you were dead. I thought you were dead."
Awkwardly, Wally patted Barry's back. The others were all stuck in the doorway, mouths gaping and limbs lax with shock. Zatanna cleared her throat and started shuffling people into seats, "Come on, sit down and we can talk this all out, alright?"
"He's your fiancé," Artemis said numbly, "You brought us here to meet your fiancé and your fiancé is Wally." Her voice cracked on the last word. She tightened her grip on Dick's hand for just a moment before she let it go like it had burned her. Dick was seemingly too busy staring at Wally to care.
Wally, however, was pleased to note that he didn't really feel much of anything at the sight of Artemis. He loved Zatanna with all his heart, but a small, secret part of him was worried that seeing Artemis would stir up old, confused feelings. The fact that it didn't, that all he could think about was Zatanna even with Artemis sitting right there, gave Wally that boost of confidence he'd been lacking before. He could do this.
Zatanna sat on one side of Wally, not even trying to move Barry who was practically glued to Wally's side, "I know this is a lot to take in. It was a lot for me, too. Several months ago, I went into the metahuman unit of the FBI to report on the strange magical energies I felt at a bank that had been stolen from recently. When the agents came in to interview me, I was unbelievably shocked to see Wally standing there. I think I shocked him even more, though. He clearly wasn't expecting something like that to happen. We worked on the case together and we agreed to stay in touch and things just… progressed. A couple weeks ago, I asked him to marry me and he said yes. We knew that we weren't going to be able to avoid this any longer. I had already been living with him and dating him for six months, but you guys are my family and, well, I want you to be there when we get married. We wanted to make sure you knew about this before the wedding day. That would have been… awkward."
"Awkward," Dick echoed hollowly. Zatanna winced at the sound.
Barry shook his head, "I don't understand. How did you – how did you end up here? Why didn't you come home?"
Wally's jaw clenched. He didn't want to talk about this. He didn't want to explain. Still, they needed an explanation. Zatanna thought it would be cathartic, too. Wally let his jaw relax and started explaining slowly, "After the – the MFD zapped me enough times, I was transported into the Speed Force. I was there for two years, I guess. It felt like two minutes and two centuries at the same time inside the Speed Force. I don't know. I assumed that I hadn't been in there for more than a day or two because, well, because I had thought you would have tried to save me if I had been longer. I mean, the Speed Force is a fairly obvious place for me to have ended up, right? And we've rescued speedsters from there before so I thought for sure you would have rescued me if I had been in there for longer than a few days. I – I ran back to the house in Palo Alto. I was going to just go in and – and talk to Artemis but… I looked in the window first and… Artemis and Dick were kissing. I… I still thought that it had only been a few days and they had moved on that quick so I ran to Barry's and I saw you and Iris and – and the twins and I realized that I'd been left in the Speed Force for a lot longer than a couple of days. Which meant that everyone had moved on without me. You didn't even try to figure out where my body was. You decided that moving on with each other was more important than finding me dead or alive and I just – I was hurt and scared and confused and betrayed and I couldn't do it. I have given myself to the world and to all of you time and time and time again and when I gave everything I had, no one even looked for me. So, I got the Rogues to help me start over. And, well, here I am."
"The FBI doesn't let metahumans join," Conner stated, eyebrows drawn together.
Wally let out a startled laugh, not expecting that to be the thing someone focused on, "Yeah, well, I did have to do a little bit of bribing to get through that. I'm just holding on until it becomes legal. I'm hoping they won't be too offended at the thought that I was hiding it. I don't know. I guess we'll find out when it happens."
Silence fell for a moment after Wally answered, everyone clearly too shell-shocked to think of anything. It was Artemis who ended up speaking first, her voice thick with tears, "You left everyone because of me?"
Wally frowned, squeezing Zatanna's hand and trying to ignore the way Artemis's eyes zeroed in on it, "I mean, there was a lot going on. I don't… I don't know. It's very hard to articulate what I was feeling at that moment. I know that everything hurt, and I was scared and confused. I know that my heart hurt more than anything else and you had a not so insignificant part of that, but… I don't know. I just – I just don't understand how you could do that? Did you even look for me before you moved on with my best friend? Did either of you look for me? I wasn't – I wasn't nowhere. Speedsters have been lost in the Speed Force before. Did you even try to find a body?"
It was Barry who answered, voice choked up, "No, Wally, it's not like that. We – we genuinely thought you were dead. We thought the MFD had vaporized you."
Wally interrupted him, trying to keep his own tears down, "What proof did you have? Or did you just make an assumption? Was I that unwanted that you'd just prefer to assume that I was dead rather than looking for me? Where was my body, Uncle Barry? Did you find ash?"
Barry's eyes closed in grief and he admitted slowly, "We thought that it had vaporized you so much that there wasn't any ash or mark. You – you… Blue Beetle said that you had ceased. We thought that was… was it. We thought you were dead."
"Why would I have been turning invisible if it was going to vaporize me?" Wally asked tiredly, "What sort of vaporization weapon works like that? And had you thought that maybe Blue Beetle meant that I had ceased to be on that plane of existence?" Wally shook his head, "Well, clearly you didn't. I understand making, making assumptions like that eventually, but… you never looked for me. I can't help but feel like no one was all that bothered by my death if you moved on that quickly."
M'gann was crying by that point, tightly holding onto Conner, "I'm so sorry, Wally. I'm so sorry. That's not how anyone felt at all. Losing you was like losing our hearts, Wally. I know it must not seem that way to you, but we all mourned. We were still grieving even this morning. I don't know why we didn't search for you. I – I believed everyone when they said you were dead. And I don't know what this Speed Force thing that you're talking about is. In the end, though, the only thing I can say is that I am sorry. I will say that as long as I need to and probably even longer. Wally, I cannot put into words the joy I feel at seeing you alive and well and happy – because even if you aren't happy right now, I can tell that you normally are. I am glad that you've found Zatanna and I'm glad that you've found yourself. I want nothing more than to be a part of this new life because I have missed you and mourned you for over three years and just seeing you again is one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given."
Wally felt his eyes well up with the tears he'd been holding back for so long. He didn't want to forgive them. He didn't want to just let things go back to the way they were. Clearly, that wasn't working. Clearly, the way things used to be ended with him alone, shaking apart in the freezing wasteland of Antarctica. He wanted his new life with its comforts and the idea that his new friends would look for him if he died. But… he cared about these people. He'd never been able to pretend that he didn't. And here they were, apologizing, moved to tears at the sight of him. It was hard to hold onto his anger, hard to hold onto his blame.
He knew, no matter what he decided about them today, he would never forget what happened. He couldn't. No matter how long he lived, he'd never forget that they left him there for all those years. Rebuilding trust, rebuilding friendship would be a hard, uphill battle. They would all have to fight for it. Was Wally really willing to do that? Was he going to put his heart on the line again? He still had issues trusting Saffron and Jeff because he was traumatized by being left for dead. How could he go back to regularly seeing these guys?
In the end, though, Wally had years of care and love and support from them to counteract their one hurtful action. Even if that one hurtful action destroyed his life as he knew it, there was plenty of other evidence to show that they at least cared. Closing his eyes, he whispered, "I missed you guys."
Iris made a keening noise in the back of her throat. That was apparently the last straw for her because she threw herself into his arms and wept into his shoulder. After a moment, Wally disentangled his hand from Zatanna's and threw his arms around Aunt Iris. Uncle Barry joined in after a moment, clutching the two of them desperately.
Wally felt relief shudder out of him at their clear show of love. They had obviously missed him so much. He had missed them too. He just wanted everything to be okay. And it was, finally, starting to look like that could actually happen, like they had a chance. Like Wally could hold onto his new life and keep the good parts of his old life, too. Over his aunt and uncle's shoulders, Wally's eyes met Zatanna's watery ones. He smiled at her, soft and loving and completely trusting. She smiled back, tension leaking out of her shoulders at his happiness.
Wally could do this. He could.
The day of Wally's wedding was bright and sunny, pretty clouds floating lazily across the sky. Wally took a breath as he looked at himself in the mirror. His heart was pounding in his chest. Dick carefully put a hand on his shoulder, "I'm so excited for you, man."
Wally gave him an ever so slightly strained smile back. Things were still a little awkward around them, even after two months of getting to know each other again. In the end, though, Dick had been his best friend for years and years and years. Wally couldn't not make Dick a groomsman. He couldn't make him the best man, though. That honor had gone to Jeff. Wally knew that decision had hurt his other groomsmen – Will, Dick, Kaldur, and even a very excited Uncle Barry – but he couldn't help it. He smiled to himself at the introductions of those groomsmen to Jeff. Honestly, both Jeff and Saffron's reactions to finding out that Wally's best friend before he went to the academy was Dick Grayson himself would forever be one of Wally's favorite moments. Watching them gape at the way Bruce Wayne hugged Wally and congratulated him was even better. Jeff and Saffron both knew that Wally's sadness that first year or so were due to a falling out with a lot of the people who were going to be at the wedding but they were willing to respect his decision to invite them anyways.
He had been worried, before Zatanna made him reconnect, that his side of the aisle was going to look pretty lonely. If he hadn't had any other groomsmen, he would have had both Jeff and Saffron up there with him and then maybe a couple of his coworkers. That was it. He was happy to know that there were a lot more people there. The entire Flash family (even the extended members like Max and Johnny) would be on his side. Oliver and Hal would both be there as well. A few other heroes who Wally was close to were on his side as well. It made him happy. Not as happy as the thought of marrying Zatanna, but happy.
Speaking of marrying the love of his life, Wally blinked and found himself standing in front of the priest, heart trembling in his chest. He didn't even really remember getting there. He was so excited, so nervous, so thrilled that everything was starting to blur together. Man, he hoped that he didn't accidently use superspeed at any point during the night. That'd be awkward with his work friends there.
Then, suddenly, abruptly, the pianist started playing the bride's march. Wally lifted his eyes to the door. His mouth went dry at what he saw. They'd timed this wedding very carefully and had haggled for their life to get this. Walking down the aisle was Zatara, using his one free night of the year to walk his daughter down the aisle. On his arm was Zatanna herself.
She looked perfect. She was always more beautiful than Wally had words for, but she was something else in that moment. Her hair was delicately arranged on her head with lilies pinning the ebony waves in place. Her makeup was light other than the thick lines of eyeliner making her already stunning blue eyes pop in her face. Her dress was light and airy, swirling around her ankles and dragging just slightly behind her. The lilies clutched in her hand like an extension of her made her seem ethereal and otherworldly.
For a moment, all Wally could think was that she was his. She had given herself over to him just as fully as he'd given himself to her. She had chosen him. She had chosen him. She loved him.
The ceremony was a blur. All Wally could feel was the love that felt like it would just burst out of him, spilling over his edges. There was no way his body could handle this much love, this much emotion. He gave his vows through numb lips, certain that there were no words to express the overwhelming emotion rushing through his veins. Zatanna seemed to understand, though, because her eyes were lined with grateful tears. Wally was pretty sure his were too.
His voice was choked when he said, "I do."
It didn't matter, though, because Zatanna was just as emotional when she whispered, "I do."
When Wally kissed her, it felt like coming home, it felt like perfection, it felt like his world was slotting into place. He went through several lifetimes worth of pain for this moment and it was all worth it.
Together, they turned to face the assembled group. Wally pulled Zatanna closer to him with one arm, grabbing one of her hands with the other. He smiled at her and she snuggled closer to him.
No matter what happened from here on out, no matter what they went through, Zatanna would be there. They would be there for each other. They would never be alone again.
Author's Note: I hope you liked it! Thanks for reading!