Theia doesn’t settle until Diana is sixteen -- a little late compared to the others, but her mother tells her this is only what makes her more special. That her dæmon is patient, perhaps to teach her a lesson.
“I’m very patient,” Diana insists, and her mother laughs.
The first thing she thinks when she looks at the man on the beach is that he has no dæmon. This is not what her mother always told her -- that when the gods created the Amazons, they gave them dæmons, just the same as men, so they might learn to love them better. But the man coughs and sits up, and a little mouse tumbles out of his pocket, taking deep, gasping breaths. Diana nearly croons.
Her own Theia is a sparrowhawk, a bird of prey, a natural enemy to the little creature making soft noises at her human counterpart. Her small prey instincts seem to kick in, and the mouse gasps in surprise, seeing Diana and the hawk hovering over them.
“Wow,” the man says.
Wow, Diana thinks.
On the boat she reaches out to touch the little mouse, and Steve jerks back. “Hey!”
“What is her name? You haven’t told me yet.”
“Her name is don’t touch her,” he snaps. Diana flinches. Steve sighs. “Sorry,” he says quickly. “You…you don’t know, do you?”
He shifts uncomfortably, settling the mouse into his pocket. “We…we don’t touch other peoples’ dæmons.”
Diana laughs. “Why not?”
“It’s…not appropriate. It’s intimate.”
“Intimacy is a good thing.”
“Right, but…but not like this.” He looks up at the stars, then back to her. “You’re allowed to touch each other’s dæmons back home then, huh?” Diana nods. “That’s something else.”
She ducks her head. “I did not mean to offend.”
Steve raises a hand. “Hey, don’t worry about it. You can’t put into practice what you don’t know.” He sniffs. “Her name is Briony.”
“Briony.” Diana looks at the mouse. “She’s so small.”
“Yeah.” Steve clears his throat. “Let’s get some rest.”
London is loud and ugly, crawling with men and their dæmons, the only comforting part about it. Etta’s dæmon is a blue bird, perched jauntily on her shoulder, called Edmond.
“He is…a he.”
“Yes, well, it tends to work like that, most times.”
“Can we move along, please?” Steve glances around.
“Oh!” Etta leans close. “Oh yours is a she.”
“This is Theia.”
“Can we go, please?” Briony raises her little voice, the first time Diana’s really heard it.
Steve clears his throat. “…What she said.”
Sir Patrick’s dæmon is an English Setter, spotted grey and looking rather content at his partner’s feet in the midst of a rather rowdy bar. He inspects Diana same as he did when they first met, only this time he seems to smile, watching Patrick hand over the money they’ll need to complete their mission. Theia shifts uncomfortably on her shoulders, and Diana reaches up to comfort her.
“I don’t like this,” she says later. Diana shushes her.
This is the only way to Ares, to the front. This is the only way to free them. This is the only way to make it right.
“And make leaving home worth it,” her dæmon mutters.
“Yes,” Diana agrees. “I suppose that, too.”
She enjoys wondering how the boys’ dæmons would have settled and why. Charlie’s dæmon is Scottish Deerhound, deep red and brown, as gnarly as her other half. Sammy’s is some kind of long haired cat, living perpetually on his shoulder, always appearing incredibly proud of herself. Chief’s is a hare, ruddy and solid looking, hopping some ways ahead, always coming back.
“She’s a better tracker than any mutt you’ll meet.”
“Hey.” Charlie cover’s Stella’s ears. “That isn’t nice.”
“I wasn’t talking about your dæmon.” Chief shakes his head, looks back at Diana. “So do all of your people have female dæmons?” Diana nods. “That’s a beautiful thing. You should feel honored. Here, that’s rare.”
“It doesn’t mean much,” Steve insists, but Chief shakes his head.
“No. Back home, it meant something. Your dæmon was even more an extension of you. Sometimes they don’t even want to deal with all that gender nonsense, you know?”
“I do,” Sammy says. “My sister, she said hers was never opposite or anything. Her dæmon just…was.”
Diana frowns. “Was?”
“Yeah.” Sammy sniffs. “Was.”
“Lots of was…was’s.” Charlie huffs. “S’hard to talk so late at night. Bed,” he announces, and uses his dæmon as a pillow.
“On that we can agree.” Steve offers Diana his coat, settles on the ground. “You two. Rest.”
Chief chuckles. His hare dæmon does the same. “Not around you scoundrels.”
“You flatter us,” Briony drawls, and begins to snore.
She storms across No Man’s Land with Theia by her side. She knows, just as she saw on the beach, that a single bullet to her dæmon will end her, but she is not afraid.
(And she held Antiope’s body in her arms, and watched her dæmon drift away, into what mother called Dust, and that’s a word Steve knows, says it carefully, like it isn’t meant to be said, but sometimes Diana can see it drifting off of him, just like she sees it drifting off of them all.
Just as she always has.)
And she crosses No Man’s Land. And they liberate Veld.
And the world slows down its ever constant, ever dizzying rotation, for just a moment.
Just for her.
Just for them.
Steve shivers in the snowfall, shivers all the way up to the little room he will eventually share with her.
And even though they make love, even though it is more raw and more intimate than anything else she has ever experienced --
She does not touch his dæmon, and he doesn’t dare touch hers.
And Diana wonders.
And Diana sleeps.
And Diana dreams.
And what she wants is to free him. To free them both. To free them all.
(“She was always something small,” Steve whispers to her, sheets sticking to skin, mouth resting against the curve of her neck. “Maybe that’s just always how I felt.”)
She is angry when he stops her, angry when she emerges from the gas. It rolls off of her, off of Theia. She finds Steve coughing on the other side, and her rage is alive.
(“Kids used to tease. Once she was a cockroach for three days. We pretended I didn’t have a dæmon, just to freak out tourists.”)
And when Ludendorf dies, and she doesn’t feel that satisfaction, she looks up, and she remembers --
when the gods created the Amazons, they gave them d æ mons, just the same as men --
Ludendorf’s dæmon dissolves into Dust, and drifts away. Diana feels cheated. Sir Patrick lets her know exactly why.
(“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry I just…”)
The dæmon of a god is nothing like the dæmon of a man. Of Diana.
It changes, constantly. Feathers, scales, tooth, claw, fang. It is everything and nothing all at once.
“Don’t be afraid,” Ares says. “Let her change! Embrace your power, embrace your strength. Will her to be as you wish she could.”
Theia screeches, looks at Diana, terrified for the first time.
You are perfect the way you are. You will always be perfect the way you are. Mother’s words coming to her, unbidden.
I am sorrow, she remembers I will always be sorrow.
(“I have to do this. I can save the day, but you can save the world.” He pushes himself into her arms, and Diana feels the scratch of Briony’s paws over her palms. Feels Steve’s hands reach up to cup her face and Theia’s neck.
They are Dust, it rolls off of them in waves, Diana is struck by its power and nearly draws back.
“I love you.”)
And in the rabble of London, man and dæmon celebrate the end of the war.
(And in the cockpit of a plane, Steve Trevor aimed his gun, and gripped his dæmon in his hand, and thought of her face. Wishing for something more, glad to have had it at all.
This must be what going home would feel like.
Close, Steve thinks. Close.)
Maybe you’ll tell me your story.
Diana can picture Wayne and his hawk perfectly perched on his leather sofa, writing this note, pleased with themselves.
She won’t complain.
She sees Briony, sitting on Steve’s arm. She sees the boys and their dæmons, she sees her own Theia, clear as day, and looks up at her current perch.
“Do you see?”
“Quite well,” she murmurs.
Diana closes her eyes.
(I wish we had more time.)
Time. Dust. Dæmons. Death.
In supply and in demand. Things she lives with, things she needs and sometimes doesn’t.
She opens her eyes. Fingers rest on the keyboard.
Thank you for bringing them back to us.