"I think," she says, an amused lilt to her voice and a matching sparkle to her eye, "that we are being followed."
Despite her airy tone, the panic still settles in his throat, the fight-or-flight response flaring deep in his belly, and it’s only her hand on his arm and the soft murmuring of his name that calms it even a little. They’re walking through a small park downtown on a sunny spring Saturday, cups of ice cream in hand.
A normal couple on a normal day out.
Of all the things he’s been, of all the people he’s known, the things he’s done, the things he’s witnessed, this baffles him most. Not just because it’s happening — this is the defining drive in his life — but because it fits better than any other mask he’s worn before.
(That’s probably because he doesn’t wear one with her; she sees everything, knows the best and the worst of it all and loves him anyway.)
They stop adjacent to a bench and he’s able to turn subtly enough to see someone with a camera in his periphery. He thinks he recognizes the man from the rope line at Verdant or at the dedication of the new QC Applied Sciences Division; he works for one of the local papers.
"I wonder if I’ll be ‘mystery blonde’ or ‘companion’ this time," she muses aloud, and though there’s still amusement in her voice, something heavy settles in the pit of his stomach. There’s been speculation the two of them are an item, but he’d vowed to keep her safe, and this sacred, so they’d done their best to fly beneath the radar. He also prefers not to be Oliver Queen, of days gone by — club owner, party boy, even CEO; instead, he prefers to be Oliver Queen lounging on Felicity Smoak’s couch with her bare feet tucked between his calves because her toes are cold, and the only people who need to bear witness to that are the ones actually in the relationship.
But as he stands and looks at her, this woman — despite her protests that he saved himself and she just helped — deserves so much more than that. He wants the world to know he loves her, and somewhat miraculously, that she loves him. He wants them to see the evolution, the healing; speak of her mastery at fixing that which is broken.
He wants them to see how remarkable she is; all the things that made him fall for her.
She’s got chocolate on the side of her mouth, and it’s so easy to bend down and kiss it away, so he does. He hears the click of the lens behind them, but he leans into the embrace, into her and into them, and she cups his elbow even as she hums against his mouth.
"Think that’ll satisfy ‘em?" he asks quietly, and smiles against her mouth when she shakes her head.
He slides his arm around her and pulls her to him, deepening the kiss, and she winds her arms around her neck. The cup of ice cream is cold against his neck but he ignores it; he is Icarus and she the sun, and there’s nothing in the world that will convince him not to fly close to her.
Sure enough, they end up on Page Six the next morning, but it’s actually a remarkably pretty photo, so she cuts it out, kisses him, and goes to put it on the fridge.