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Love in the Time of McCarthy

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After the Centre had been sunk, after Superman had been dragged from the depths of the deep by a king of all things, Ollie made sure to pull the new glowing green savior of the day aside to congratulate him. He’d never seen him before, which was a real shame.

The man was still floating, cradled in a green light straight out of a ten-cent science fiction paperback, a hundred watt smile on his face and still looking to the sky. He was a handsome man with a jawline like Paul Newman’s and despite having dragged a whole living island into space, not a hair of his looked out of place. But most of all, he looked happy.

“That was some ring-slinging, cowboy,” Ollie said from his spot firmly on the ground. His own smile was stuck on his face as if cast in plastic, all shiny and new. “Does it come with a name to accredit it to?”

The man looked down at Ollie, surprised for a half second. “Ring-slinging?” he asked.

“I suppose that sounded cleverer in my head before I said it, huh?” Ollie replied, sheepish.

And then the spaceman’s smile was back, and Ollie told himself it wasn’t just his eyes tricking him that the light around him burned brighter. “No. I like it.” He held out his ring hand. “I’m, well Green Lantern when I’m in the suit. I’m new to this whole bit. Would you believe me if I said this was my first day?”

Ollie had to reach up to shake his hand since he was still floating maybe two feet off the ground. Green Lantern’s grip was firm and warm, even through two layers of gloves. “Saving the world and touching the stars, that’s one hell of a debut, pal. I’m Green Arrow.”

Green Lantern still hadn’t let go of his hand. He was still smiling too. “It is, isn’t it?”

Ollie was the one to pull his hand away, in the end. “Once you get back to Earth, spaceman, feel welcome to visit Star City any time.”

“But I am back on Earth-“ Ollie gave a pointed look at the two feet of air between Green Lantern’s feet and the sand below, held up by that alien green light. “Oh.”

“I’ll be seeing you, space cowboy.” Ollie took off his hat in farewell before turning his back on the man with a wave.

The next time Ollie saw Green Lantern was in Washington D.C. for a ceremony to commemorate their defeat of the Centre. He had touched the Arrow Plane and there was Green Lantern, in the same otherworldly glow shifting around him, floating in the air. Green Lantern let out a low whistle.

“That’s a fine plane you got there, Arrow. And I would know, I’m a pilot when I’m not saving the world or receiving medals.”

“A pilot, huh?” Ollie asked, climbing out of the cockpit. Green Lantern had landed himself to give the plane a closer look, running his ring hand over the side. “Are you any good?”

“The very best,” Green lantern shot him a cocky grin. Somehow it didn’t seem like bragging when he said it. “How about you?”

“Surprised they gave me a license,” Ollie found himself laughing. He preferred using the Arrow Car when he could, but some situations like gunning down evil dinosaurs or going across country required flying. “Come on, Lantern. You’re the one who really deserves the medal President Eisenhower is giving, out of the two of us. You were the one who tossed the Centre off into space.”

“And I still can barely believe it.” Green Lantern had his hands on his hips and Ollie found himself surprised when he walked over to him, not floated. He figured a pilot would want to be in the sky a much as possible. He reached him with ease, taller and with a longer stride than Ollie.

Green Lantern poked him in the chest, the red of his costume under the green vest. “You better be careful in that around here. Don’t you know, ‘better dead than red’?”

Ollie swallowed and ground his teeth together. “Yeah.” After what had happened to the Flash, with the government trying to take him away and all, he’d been more careful to hide his socialist leanings. Ever since McCarthy had started his witch hunts, he’d learned to keep his big mouth shut. It’s been hard, he’d never been one to close himself off, but there wasn’t much he could do from a jail cell, now was there? There'd been plenty of times where was ready to jump into the fray to help, to even work against the government and he'd had to have been more subtle.  That had never been his strong suit. “I’ve heard that one before.” He shook his head.

"Damn McCarthy," he mumbled to himself quiet enough that Green Lantern, he hoped, wouldn't be able to hear him.

Green Lantern slung his arm around his shoulder and Ollie felt some of the tension fall. “Let’s get our national hero medals, Arrow. We sure as hell earned them.”

Ollie laughed despite himself as they walked in step with each other. “I think you mean international hero medals, chief. It wasn’t just America we saved. I’ll even buy you a beer after.”

Green Lantern looked to the sky and smiled. “I guess you’re right.”

After D.C. Green Lantern started coming around Star City more and more frequently until Ollie was used to Green Lantern at his back, watching his six. Ollie had never had someone to look out like that before. There’d been a few times where he’d saved Green Lantern’s skin, too.

Sometimes, on slow nights, they just sat on the rooftops together talking.

“I never wanted to fight in Korea, you know,” Green Lantern was saying. He was staring at the night sky, or what you could see of it in Star City’s haze of pollution. “I just joined the air force because I wanted to fly, go to the stars. I never wanted to kill anyone or hurt anyone. I was pretty naive, huh?””

Ollie knocked his shoulder against Green Lantern’s and looked up at the sky, trying to see the stars like his companion did. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have dreams, they were just all a little closer to Earth, a little more ground level. The stars had always seemed more far off to him, even with powerful aliens flying around and putting out fires. “You certainly got to the stars, pal.” Green Lantern often regaled him with tales of far off planets and alien people when he stopped by. Ollie always loved hearing about them, hearing about how Green Lantern helped them. That was the same, no matter what planet it was on.

“It feels pretty strange to tell you all this when we don’t even know each other’s names.” Green Lantern turned to face him and for not the first time Ollie wished he didn’t having a mask covering his face.

“Why not tell each other, then? It’s not like you haven’t gotten me out of scrapes a hundred times.” Ollie reached behind his head to undo his own mask, letting it fall into his lap. “When I’m not running around saving folks and wearing green tights I’m Oliver Queen.”

“When I’m not Green Lantern I’m Hal Jordan.” And Green Lantern, Hal, willed his mask away. Ollie wished he could say Hal Jordan was no Paul Newman, but the truth was Paul Newman was no Hal Jordan. He had deep brown eyes and his smile was even better when Ollie could see them.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Queen.”

“Just Ollie. And likewise, Mr. Jordan.” Ollie grasped Hal’s hand in his, eyes locking.

“Call me Hal.”

After that night, Hal started coming around just to be Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen. It was good, having someone who he was friends with in and out of costume. It was comfortable around Hal. They were sitting in his kitchen with a couple of beers, listening to a few of Ollie’s records.

“I’ve wanted to take Carol dancing,” Hal confessed as he took a sip from his beer. “Never learned how.”

“I could teach you,” Ollie responded without thinking. He stood up to change the record to something else, a love song like the one he was sure Hal would dance with Carol to. Ollie swallowed a lump in his throat.

“But, we’re both-”

“Here, I’m shorter than you anyways, I’ll take the lady’s part. Come on, Hal,” Ollie interrupted his protest as he let the needle drop on his Penguins record.

Hal stood too, and Ollie positioned his hands as Earth Angel played in the background. His hand felt good on him and Hal looked down at him. They were chest to chest too, and maybe Ollie was imagining things but he could swear he felt Hal’s heart beating.

“What now?”

“We just sway, mostly.”

Hal started to sway, eyes still on Ollie like there wasn’t anyone else in the world, the galaxy he’d rather be looking at. “Like this?”

“Yeah,” Ollie breathed out. “Just like that.”

They stood in Ollie’s kitchen, making small circles, hands intertwined as they dance.

Ollie looked up at Hal, soft smile on his lips. The record had stopped playing but Hal's hand was still in his, other hand still resting on his waist. Ollie didn't move his hand from Hal's shoulder in the silence. "Hey there, space cowboy."

Hal smiled back, the corners of his brown eyes crinkling. His head was dipped down, still having eyes only for Ollie. "Hi.”

“Think a guy could get a second dance?”

“I think I can do that.”