Diana stands under the sun. The swell and celebration of victory surrounds her. The cheers and the cries and the joyful shouts bombard her ears.
But they are welcomed sounds. The happy sounds around her outweigh the sadness that swells underneath her breast. Even if Diana could find her way home, back to the white sand shores of her youth, she doesn’t think she could go. Part of her is too changed by this experience by the lessons learned and paid in blood and sweat and emotion.
The Amazons have seen war. They fought with a bloody single-mindedness for their freedom. Diana has killed its god with her own hands. This war, and those that may (will) follow it), are nothing like her mother and sisters have fought.
Perhaps there is an innocence in that. Perhaps there is something she learned as she trailed her hands over Steve’s body that all too brief night they had together. Perhaps she is different now broken and made anew.
Still as she tucks her feet underneath her in Etta’s house (shared with a mother, an aunt, two sisters, and the ghosts of the men who never came home), Diana thinks of her mother. The slight tremble of her hand on the shore.
“You are my greatest love. And tonight, you are my greatest sorrow.”
Diana gently rubs the glass of Steve’s watch from his father. It is still ticking, still moving forward.
The thought occurs to her in that moment of Steve’s mother, of a woman also experiencing her greatest sorrow.
Of someone who will never, ever know what Steve has done.
War is not honorable, Diana has learned. Humans are not perfect is the lesson that has been paid with blood.
Steve Trevor was a flawed yet ultimately good man. He was terrified (his voice trembles with the lasso around his hand), but he died to save the world. Perhaps it will be cold comfort to Steve Trevor’s mother, but Diana still feels the need to find her.
If these men who hide away in their offices won’t tell this woman the truth of her son’s death, then Diana will do so herself.
Etta takes the news of this quest with a cheerful aplomb that Diana has associated with her.
“I’ve already gotten your papers in order. Diana Prince from a small island in Greece born to a Greek mother and an English father. To explain your last name. Luckily record keeping is still a bit dodgy with everything so it should hold up in the wash.”
“Come with me.”
Etta looks at her. For a moment, it’s clear that she wants to say yes. Diana can almost imagine the pair of them together. Then Etta purses her lips and shakes her head.
“I’m sorry, Diana. There is still so much to do. We need to work toward the vote and…”
She hugs Etta, a rush of affection for this woman. Someone who took five seconds to decide that she liked her and offered friendship. A woman who fights with her principles, who can make them be heard.
(Diana will come back. She will march. She will scream. She will let her voice be heard alongside Etta’s and others. But for everyone small scrap of respect that they are given, there is still so much more to go. There is always so much more to go. And as the years waltz by, she starts to tire of it all. It is another kind of war without end until she finds a renewed purpose.)
But for now, she and Etta hug. Diana closes her eyes tight and misses Steve.
“I miss him too. He was so terribly American but in the best way."
Years later, when Diana grasps what that means, she will agree with Etta’s statement.
Sameer, Charlie, Chief, and Etta see her off. Ares’ treasures will fund Diana’s life for decades to come just as they fund for this trip home.
Each of them have a gift for her: Sameer gives her Othello, Charlie a wooden flute, Chief a bracelet that his people wear, and Etta gives her a hair pin. Together, they give her an old jacket of Steve’s and a photograph of him that she will look at so much it will crumble in her hands.
Diana thinks of her home and her people, but as she watches the four fade away as the ship pulls out…
She thinks that they are her people as well.
Her journey to Steve’s home takes time.
On the boat, she makes friends. She talks to everyone. If this is a world that Steve saved, if these are the people she will love despite their flaws, then she will know them. She talks to soldiers returning home. She talks to nurses and nuns. She talks to the crew on the ship. She learns their stories and tells them pieces of her own. Some had heard of her, from friends of friends, a woman with a shield and sword who had retaken No Man’s Land.
One woman grins at that story, “But you are no man.”
Diana just grins at that sentiment.
"No. No I am not."
They dock in another dirty city with smoke pouring off in droves and dirty faces peering around street corners. Perhaps, one day, she will be used to this. It is not now. Progress is progress, but she hates the idea of it corrupting the Earth for progress sake.
She exchanges her money like Etta (and Sameer and Chief) told her, shows her passport, and continues on.
The journey is a series of hitched rides. Some in the back of horsedrawn wagons, others in the back of cars, in one memorable instance on a motorcycle like Steve rode in the forest the night he died. She gets tired of skirts and switches to pants, garnering strange looks. She sees the bad and the ugliness of man in the way they treat women, people with different colored skin, the poor. She sees the good of man in small acts of kindness, in a family reuniting, in children rich and poor running through the streets.
Mankind is messy and complicated and willful and passionate and stubborn and wonderful. Diana will never stop unraveling them and they will always change.
But for now, her self-imposed quest continues.
Diana sleeps in rooms and on the ground, stares up at the endless sky.
She closes her eyes and breathes.
The Trevor family lives in a small town. The plains are flat and accents flatter. Diana tries to find Steve in these people, tries to imagine him growing up, running these streets with other children or working at home.
“Yer new to town,” said the innkeeper with a careful eye. Another woman, another mother colored by loss if the photograph of a young man in uniform dress given the place of honor tells Diana anything.
“I am looking for a family of a friend. I was told they lived here.”
“Who ya lookin’ for?”
The careful eye disappears with the name.
“You a friend of Steve’s?”
“He and my Ralphie were friends as boys. Got into trouble everywhere.”
She thinks of Steve and this dead photographed man as boys with knobby knees and dust kicking up at their heels, bright blue eyes and play fights in the streets.
Diana can see it.
“It sounds like him.”
The woman lets out a creaky laugh at that.
“It’s too late in the day to go to the Trevor farm. You stay the night here and I’ll get Donnie to take you in the mornin’.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Stevie was a good boy. Shame they won’t tell Agnes and the girls how he died.”
Diana swallows thickly.
“I was there that night. I saw it. I…”
She clenches her hands and closes her eyes.
“I only wish to tell them the truth.”
A hand rests on top of hers.
Diana opens her eyes, looks into the sad face of the innkeeper.
“Truth may not help none, but it is a damn sight better than living with unanswered questions.”
“That is my thought. He was a good man, but a flawed one. I suppose that’s what made him above average?”
The innkeeper laughs and laughs that creaky laugh.
“Yes, hon. That is what made him above average.”
Agnes Trevor is a weathered face woman with her son’s bright blue eyes and dark hair all her own. Her hands are used to hard work and the Trevor farm does a decent business. All of her daughters have her bright blue eyes, but (presumably) their father’s golden hair.
Donnie, a man missing too much teeth who works as a supplier, drops Diana off at the Trevors in the morning light. Diana can hear the cluck of chickens and the soft moo of a cow.
She hitches her pack and walks up the packed dirt to the front door where Agnes meets her.
“Can I help you?”
“My name is Diana Prince. I was a friend of your son’s.”
An eyebrow ticks up.
Diana does not flush, but her mind does wander back to the room. She thinks of their one and only night together.
Perhaps this is not what the woman wishes to hear though.
She takes a steadying breath, but her voice still cracks. The grief still raw. The image of an inferno in the sky will stay with her for always.
“I was there when Steve died.”
The woman stands aside to let her in.
The conversation will be a long one. Tears will be shed on both sides. Diana is a warrior, first and foremost, but she is a woman. Tears are nothing to be ashamed of. Agnes will tell her to keep the watch. Diana will stay to help the Trevor family with the harvest. She will show the girls, Steve’s sisters with his eyes, how to defend themselves.
First, they must know how to defend themselves.
The knowledge will help. Diana thinks. It helps in a small way for Agnes even though nothing will hurt more than the death of her son on foreign land. They had no body to bury, but the answers she was denied.
It helps, Diana thinks.
Diana will stay. She will love this town that Steve had loved once as a boy. She will leave it eventually to return to London. But she will watch over the Trevor family. Descendants of Steve’s sisters will have scholarships work their way into their hands, payments will be a little kinder, Diana helps when the Dust Bowl settles in. These are Steve’s people and thus are her people as well. Even as she grows disenchanted with the world, she will help those with the blood of those she cared for.
Today, however, she walks next to Agnes and the sisters of Steve to the barn. Her shirtsleeves rolled to her elbows: one with one of her braces and the other with Chief’s beaded jewelry, her steps sure in the pants she wears. Othello’s spine is cracked in her bag and the wooden flute has been played with unsure fingers. A hair pin catches the midmorning light.
Tonight, she will sleep in Steve’s bed with his jacket over her like a blanket. She will stare up at the same ceiling that he stared at growing up. Diana will think of him, will think of them all, and she will breathe.
She will close her eyes and breathe.
And she will continue on.