It was another late night for Diana Prince and as she walked down the busy street to her apartment, she couldn't help but look longingly at the prettily clad women she passed. In contrast to her sombre army uniform, the ladies wore a riot of colours, transforming the summer's night into a rainbow. Most of the women were either in groups or hanging onto the arm of a handsome man in uniform, their faces lit up with the enjoyment of an evening out.
Diana's feet traced a slow, weary pattern along the street. It seemed like years since she had woken up this morning, despite her watch telling her it was only 12 hours. She stopped at the small grocery on the corner. Not that she was hungry but she knew she would need some food to help her heal.
"Another late one tonight Diana?" The shop keeper smiled at her as he packed her meagre food supply into a brown paper bag. She was a regular at his store and he often slipped her an extra apple or two. She reminded him of his daughter, who was currently living on an army base with her husband. He noted how tired Diana looked – nothing unusual for her but he still worried about the young lady.
Diana said goodbye and left the store, trying not to wince as she lifted the bag in her arms. She wanted nothing more than to have a hot soak in the bath and then sleep, to get rid of her muscle aches and pains.
A car backfired in the street, causing her to start. The problem was, mused Diana, since coming to America, she felt that she was constantly on alert. She didn't know if it was just the major she was working for, or whether it was the state of the world today but it seemed barely a week went past without there being some attack or threat which she had had to deal with. Ironically saving the world, or saving Major Steve Trevor wasn't even in her job description and certainly wasn't something which anyone knew about, and yet it had rapidly become part of her life. It seemed as though every sense in her body was on full alert, waiting for something to happen. Occasionally Diana wondered what it was like to relax. She knew there was a time when she ran with her sisters in the orchards, when she swam in the sea and sunbathed on the beach and still found time to read some Plato or Sapphos in the same day.
The sunshine of Paradise Island seemed a long way away from the grimy streets she now lived on. She knew her mother and her family would be horrified at the ugly buildings, the litter and the general lack of care of the surroundings. Her apartment in particular would not impress them. And yet it served a purpose. Being on an army salary, Diana couldn't live in one of the more expensive apartments, as people would wonder how she got the money. Her main aim these days was to lay low and hope that she could keep her identity secret. Hence her having changed back into Diana Prince and her sturdy uniform from her escapades earlier.
Being a naturally neat person, Wonder Woman/Diana had perfect the art of folding her clothes and placing them safely after having transformed. It meant it was much easier to change back into them afterwards. It worked well – Diana being close to the Major couldn't be missed for too long and so needed to quickly change back into her alter ego before anyone noticed the obvious: that Diana and Wonder Woman were the same. However there were other things that were harder to hide. As Wonder Woman, she received little damage and was very rarely wounded as a result of her action. If she did receive an injury, it quickly healed. As Diana though, it was another matter. She was human and so suffered pain as any other. It meant the transformation back into Diana Prince was a costly one – she suffered from the pain and bruising caused by Wonder Woman's actions. Once she could turn back, the pain would go, but it could only be done when she was safe and could rest fully. Wonder Woman's distinctive outfit meant that she would be noticed wherever she went – she certainly would be noticed walking down this road and that meant her apartment would no longer be a secret hideout.
Until she came to America, Diana simply had no idea of pain. She had fallen and tripped a few times in her younger years but they had quickly been dealt with by the healers and even the wounds received in her training had lasted little more than a few hours. Now she gritted her teeth against the dull pain in her sides and tried not to move too suddenly in case she aggravated anything else.
Having briefly nursed Steve back to health, she was aware of the slowness of human injuries and could only be thankful that once she transformed again, they wouldn't last too long before they went. The days and weeks it would take if she didn't transform seemed like a lifetime to the Amazon princess.
"Hey princess…come dance with me".. a young serviceman, obviously on leave, skipped up to Diana and smiled at her. He was cute, with blue eyes and brown hair. She smiled ruefully – if only he knew. Princess was her title back on Paradise Island. A title she hadn't heard in a long time – and may not hear again for a long time. And no princess would be seen in this area of town so late at night. "Not tonight sailor, enjoy yourself". He moved on quickly, searching for, and finding the next pretty woman and offering her the same invitation.
Diana's musings had got her back to her apartment and once inside, she thankfully dropped her food supplies onto the small kitchen counter. She moved slowly into the bathroom, turning the taps on as she moved around, getting everything ready for her bath. The food could wait until later, now she just needed to feel warm water around her. As she got undressed, she glanced in the mirror – even now the blackness of the bruises against her skin shocking her. The guy today had been tough, stronger than many she had fought. The fight had been longer too. She shook her head to dislodge the image of him looming over her. He had taken her by surprise with his force and it had taken all her strength not to give in to his onslaught. She had had just enough strength after the fight to change back. It had been hard pretending to be Diana Prince again and having to hide her injuries. There was a small bruise on her cheek, which she had explained away as having been caused by her faint (her excuse today was that it was too hot and she had fainted, and had only been revived at the end of the action).
It was a hot summer night and whilst other women were off dancing with their friends and their sweethearts, Diana Prince summoned the energy to change back into Wonder Woman. She stepped into the bath and smiled as she lay in the hot water. If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself back on the beautiful Paradise Island.