by Yeoman Prince
The Inter Continental Hotel
December 23, 1977
The Inter Agency Defence Command had taken over the hotel ballroom.
The codebreakers were huddled in one corner, their voices barely rising above a whisper, while the operatives were mixing with the crowd, mingling with ease of long practice. The higher-ups were surrounded by four star generals with enough fruit salad on their dress uniforms to impress even the most jaded observer, and tall men in dark suits with wires running from their pockets to their ears were waiting only two steps behind them, their stony facades never cracking a smile despite being surrounded by cheerful revellers. The entrances and exits were covered, as were all the balconies and hallways leading to and from the building. There was no way in or out without being made.
Diana eyed the groups warily as she stood in the doorway, unsure of where to go until she caught the eye of a familiar face and Assistant Director Steve Trevor--very sharp in a tux and a red rose in his buttonhole--extricated himself from the clutches of three ranking officer's ageing wives to join her.
"Merry Christmas, Diana," he said as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. She was startled, and he pointed to a cluster of leaves and berries bound with gold and green ribbons hanging far over her head. "It's dangerous to lurk in doorways around here."
"You think I'd learn by now," she chuckled, and took a wide step forward, out of range. He laughed, and waved over a waiter carrying a tray of champagne flutes. "Merry Christmas, Steve," she grinned. "This is quite the party!"
"I'm glad you could come."
"Well, what else would a girl do on a Friday night?"
He chuckled, and then snapped his fingers. "Hey, there's someone I'd like you to meet. Stay here for a second?"
"Okay," she agreed, and sipped her champagne. There was a bandstand at one end of the ballroom, in front of a wooden dance floor, and a half dozen couples danced to Big Band music being played by greying gentlemen in matching jackets. A buffet, replete with melting ice Swan, lined one wall, and the smell of food made her mouth water. She'd meant to grab something to eat before the party, but had been so crushed for time she'd just run home to change into the simple black dress and wrap a green silk scarf around her neck before dashing out to meet the taxi. She looked around for a waiter, and deposited her half-empty champagne flute on his tray with a smile, declining another glass with a murmured "No, thank you," and then there was a hand at her elbow.
She turned, and smiled as she saw Steve. Beside him was a woman in her early fifties, wearing a long beaded gown, her greying blonde hair held back from her face with tortoiseshell combs.
"Aunt Etta, this is my associate, Diana Prince."
"Etta Niles, pleased to meet you," she offered her hand, eyes twinkling. Diana shook it. "Steve's told me so much about you."
"All good, I hope?" She couldn't help grinning.
"You know Stevie--he never stints when it comes to enumerating a lady's charms," she said with a wink, and Diana laughed even as Steve blushed.
"I can see this was a bad idea," he said with mock seriousness. "Obviously, you're going to gang up on me."
"But of course!" Etta grinned. "Now, run along, so Diana and I can get acquainted. Go on--scoot."
Steve pointedly turned to Diana. "Are you sure I can't get you anything?"
"I'm just great," she assured him, and he gave Etta a kiss on the cheek before heading off in the direction of the wet bar.
"He's the spitting image of his father, in that tux," Etta said as she watched him go. "Isn't he?" she added with a wink, and Diana could no longer contain her laughter as she gave the other woman a warm hug.
"I didn't know you were going to be here!"
"Neither did I, actually--Charlie and I usually go to his sister's for the holidays, but I got stuck helping out at the university and I'm driving out to Richmond tomorrow to meet him. And anyway, I couldn't pass up a chance to finally meet this Agent Prince I'd heard so much about."
"Oh Etta, you're awful!"
"I know, I try my best," she laughed, bringing colour to her faded cheeks. "You know what this reminds me of?" she asked, waving her hand to take in the whole hall, and finished with the mistletoe hanging in the doorway.
"Operation Wonder Woman."
Diana burst out laughing. "I haven't thought of that in..." she paused, smiling warmly at the memory, "Well, I haven't thought of that in a very long time."
The War Department
December 11, 1942
It was snowing.
Yeoman Diana Prince lingered by the window of Steve Trevor's office, staring--completely transfixed--as the white flakes spiralled down from the grey sky in lazy circles. But while she knew snow was normal for this part of the world, she still was unprepared for it. It fascinated her. It had been cold when she'd left her apartment that morning, colder than she'd ever been on even the coldest nights on Paradise Island. Etta had tried to warn her, even taken her to get a proper winter coat when she realised Diana hadn't had one. Her new blue serge wool coat was hanging in the closet next to her desk, her white dress gloves replaced with thick woollen mittens.
In her arms were a stack of files, completely forgotten as she watched the snow fall to melt on the pavement, though the tiny patches of grass between the sidewalk and curb along the broad streets were lightly frosted with white along there edges.
She wondered how it would feel to catch the white flakes on her tongue. How it would melt against her cheeks.
"You can go out and make snow angels later, Yeoman," came a voice from behind her, and she turned to see the Army Air Corps Major Steven Leonard Trevor standing in the doorway.
"Morning, sir," she said, blushing as she set the files down on his desk.
"I take it it doesn't snow a lot where you're from?" he asked his secretary as he shucked off his heavy overcoat and hung it on the coat rack.
"No, sir," she admitted, adjusting the glasses on her nose.
Steve smiled as he sat down on the edge of his desk, and crossed his arms. "Well, I'm sure you'll see more of it before this winter is over."
"Do you think so?" she asked, hopeful, and he chuckled wryly.
"You wouldn't be so excited if you had to drive in it."
"I'm sure you're right," she agreed, but found herself smiling back brightly.
"Oh, Major, I am so sorry," Private Etta Candy said as she came through the outer office door, wringing her hands. "I tried to stop them--"
"Stop them what, Etta?" Diana asked her friend confused, as three men with large heavy bags followed her into the office, and began piling the bags in the corner.
"What's going on here, soldier?" Steve asked one of the clerks, who shrugged.
"The quartermaster just gave us orders to bring this stuff to your office, sir."
"It's mail," Diana said as she opened one of the bags and saw stacks upon stacks of letters. She pulled a handful of them out, and her blue eyes widened behind her thick glasses. "It's addressed to Wonder Woman!"
"Wonder Woman!" Steve exclaimed, taking the letters from his secretary's hands. "But why would they be sending them here?"
"Ever since that story ran in the papers about how the President gave Wonder Woman a medal and all, sir, there have just been letters coming in every day," the young man shrugged. "Well, since she rescued you and all, the quarter master figured you should be the one to get them to her. Sir."
"I told them they couldn't, sir," Etta said, shaking her head. "'We're not a post office,' I said, but they just wouldn't listen!"
"It's all right, Etta," Steve assured her. "I guess we'll just find a way. It's just a few bags--"
"Oh, there's more out in the hall, sir," the young clerk chirped, grinning.
* * *
By mid-afternoon, six large canvas bags were stacked in the corner of Diana's office. She found herself staring at them as she typed out reports, curiosity mixed equally with not a little dread. When Etta came by to ask Diana if she wanted to go out for lunch, she walked over to the closest bag and peered inside.
"Aren't you just dying to know?" Etta asked, and before Diana could reply, Steve appeared in the doorway.
"Now Etta, how would you feel if Wonder Woman went through your mail?"
"Grateful--maybe she can answer my Great Aunt Betty's family newsletters, and spare me the agony of having to tell thirty assorted cousins how I still haven't met Mr. Right in the Army."
"Actually, Steve, I was thinking..." Diana said, adjusting her glasses on her nose. "Maybe we could go through them, and decide which letters Wonder Woman needs to see? Sort of like, well, triage?"
"That's a great idea, Diana!" Etta said. "I read in a fan magazine that all the movie stars have assistants who do that--read fan letters, and send out glossy pictures."
"I sure wouldn't mind one of those," Steve said with a laugh. "But I can't really see Wonder Woman posing for pictures."
"And don't photos cost an awful lot of money?" Diana added.
"Oh, you're right, Diana. I don't know what I was thinking." Etta looked glum.
"No, Etta, I think it's a swell idea--not the pictures of course," Steve added, "But if we could save her time and lend a hand, I'm all for it."
"I can stay late this week--and I don't have any plans for the week-end. I could come in tomorrow," Diana volunteered. "I bet I could get through a whole bag--maybe even two."
"Diana, you shouldn't have to come in all by yourself!" Etta said, and grinned. "I'll come in tomorrow, too. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Right works in the Post Office," Etta shrugged.
"Then it's a date--I'll meet you both here at 0800."
Diana was momentarily flustered. "You don't have to give up your week-end, Major. I'm sure Etta and I--"
"Nonsense! It'll be my pleasure," he waved away any protest she could make.
"You've got yourself a date, then, Major," Diana said with a bright smile.