PART 4

What can you say about a royal palace? "Nice digs." Yep, foot in mouth, that's me. Diana laughs. "I find it a bit overwhelming myself." That's class for you, ever the diplomat trying to put me at ease. Donna was like that. Always trying to smooth things over.

"Hungry?"

I'm starving but it doesn't seem like the time or place to say so. I shake my head. My stomach grumbles in protest. Loudly. Quick as that, she turns on her heel and stares me down.

"Roy Orion Harper."

My full name. You know that can't be good. I stumble backwards and fall into a chair. She leans over me. "You know you can't lie to me." Then she winks. Honest to God, Wonder Woman actually winks at me. She reaches over my shoulder. Comes back with a bowl of fruit. My stomach rumbles in thanks. Her lips twitch. I think I amuse her.

She takes the chair next to mine and pours us both some wine. We sit in silence. A couple of Amazons stroll through. Refill the wine. Leave just as quickly as they came.

"Would you like to tell me what happened?"

"I got Donna killed."

"Really?"

She rests her hand on my arm. There's a--feeling. A tingle of energy making the hairs on my neck stand up. It doesn't hurt really. Then the tingle sinks in and wraps around me like a warm blanket. Diana's intense gaze is unnerving as hell.

"Tell me again, Roy."

"I--"

Donna's death replays in my head. All the images crashing together. All the emotions cutting through me at once. It was my fault. "Roy." Diana's fingers press lightly into my skin. I screwed up. I got her killed. "You can't lie to me." Again, the light ripple of energy runs across my skin.

"You can't lie to yourself." Suddenly the scene slams into focus and I see it clearly for the first time. I see it as an outsider would see it. I see it through Diana's eyes.

"It was an accident?"

She nods.

"Lian's necklace--your ring--bear the royal seal of Themyscira. When you became Donna's lover--"

Heat floods my cheeks.

"--you became the royal consort with all the rights and privileges thereof. My gesture was a public affirmation of your status. You're under Amazon protection."

"I know Donna always had my back." My throat tightens. "I always had hers." I can't look her in the eyes. "I tried to."

"No, Roy." Again, that smile as she takes my hand and leads me to the window. The view's incredible. Row after row of Amazons in full battle dress. Long stretches of green woods and blue sky beyond. "You and your daughter are under the protection of the Amazon nation."

"Why?"



"So you will always have a tribe."

My God. After all these years. My thumb rubs across the ring on my right hand. After all these years, to hear Diana echo Donna's words. I'd almost forgotten.

Donna was still new to man's world back then, still learning the culture. She couldn't understand why the Dinne forced me to leave just because of my skin color. Kept asking if there wasn't some other reason.

I know she didn't mean any harm. I know she was just curious. The thing is, the hurt was still too close to home for me. The unfairness of it still bitter enough for me to take my anger out on anyone who pushed the issue. My words had been as sharp as my arrows. How quick I had been to cut down her precious Amazons as being as prejudiced as the Dinne for not allowing men into their culture.

Without a word, Donna had gotten up and left. I tried everything to make it up her. Funny thing is, she never seemed angry or hurt, just thoughtful. About a week later she gave me the ring. If she mentioned the seal of Themyscira then, it never sunk in. Like I said, it's an ugly ring. Thought so then, still think so now. The important thing was that it seemed to be the way to smooth things over if I accepted it.

I never thought--never realized until this moment--that Donna had created a place for me in her own tribe. For what I've lost--for what I've found--I finally let the tears fall.

THE END