Characters: Tempest, Argent, Wonder Woman
Spoilers: For Graduation Day. If you're still pure for that, you haven't been paying attention.
Written for: kerithwyn asked for Tempest a while back and it was filled, but it was the first thing on the list I thought I could write for June Challenge. I do not claim that it's not crap.
Diana of Themyscira was the consummate hostess but her grief trumped everyone's.
Garth of Shayeris reminded himself of this as he held a glass of water with lemon and slipped into the room with the fewest people he knew. There were three of them whispering together and they all appeared to be civilians. He didn't know if they were friends of Donna's or part of Diana's embassy staff, and he didn't particularly care. Arthur was elsewhere, Dick and Roy were elsewhere, Batman was elsewhere. Even Dolphin and Ian were elsewhere. His wife had been quietly supportive throughout the week and he was grateful, but she hadn't known Donna, and more importantly, she hadn't loved Donna.
He had loved Donna, as a friend, as a sister, and as a woman, in that way that they all loved Donna. That way that made everyone fuss over Roy and coddle Dick and that left him in a suddenly empty room, sitting on a formal sofa with his untouched water.
"Can I come in?"
The request was hesitant, and he had to look to the second entrance of the room to see Toni Monetti hovering against the doorframe.
"Of course," he said.
She glanced around the large, empty room, and crossed quickly to the couch, sitting down beside him and curling her legs under her.
"How are you doing?" they asked together. The laughter that followed was awkward and self-conscious.
"I miss her already," Toni admitted when Garth didn't speak.
He nodded slowly. "As do I."
"I knew her," Toni said hesitantly. "But not like you guys did. Can you tell me about her?"
It was an odd request. Toni had known Donna well enough for -- like the rest of them -- an all-too-short period of time.
"What would you like to know?" he asked. She was Donna, he wanted to cry, knowing intellectually that those words didn't mean the same to everyone as they did to him.
"When she wasn't taking care of all of us," Toni said slowly, as if trying to vocalize tangled thoughts. "When she wasn't being Nightwing's interpreter and Roy's girlfriend and everyone's big sister. My…big sister."
"The others used to call her the den mother," Garth remembered. "I never knew what den mother meant. It has something to do with the Boy Scouts but it doesn't really mean anything to me." The numbness he hadn't realized was in his chest thawed, leaving a harsh ache behind. He wanted to think about Donna, speak to Donna, remember Donna. "Come on," he said, standing too quickly and sloshing his drink over his hand. The water felt electric and nourishing on his skin. He set the glass on a conveniently placed coaster and reached out for Toni's hand as she stood.
The Themyscian guard stepped aside silently as he pulled Toni up the stairs after him. He was sure she was there to keep the guests from entering the private quarters, but for whatever reason, he had been allowed to pass. He didn't question it; just passed on his silent thanks to Diana, and led Toni to Donna's old room.
It wasn't her room in the Tower, filled with bright pictures and memorabilia. This was more sedate, fewer personal touches, but its understated elegance was what he'd always thought of when he thought of Donna.
"When we were kids," he started, "she was funny and girly and we used to tease her. She wore her hair in a ponytail and we took turns yanking on it, but then she…." He began to laugh and Toni looked at him quizzically. He found a picture of them, the five of them, and winced at his own hairstyle. "Ok, none of us had good hair then," he admitted, handing the picture to Toni. He didn't finish the sentence he'd interrupted. It was silly, now.
"Is that Nightwing?" Toni asked, rubbing off a smudge on the glass.
"He wasn't always the hulking stud he is now," Garth told her with some irony. "None of us were." He turned away from Toni and opened the door to Donna's closet. "Ha!"
"I knew she had at least a hundred pairs of shoes." He stepped aside for Toni to peer at the collection. "She always denied it."
"We tried to make a cake once," he said, "for Dick's birthday. Neither of us had the least idea what we were doing and Roy kept coming into the kitchen to sneak the batter and, well, let's just say it's a good thing the Tower was blown up. Because the kitchen was never the same again."
He crossed the room again, this time finding the framed picture of Terry and Donna on their wedding day, and next to it, a photo of their son. The frame was cool and glazed and made him feel that his fingers were overly large and indelicate. A tiny frame with a tiny picture of a tiny baby. The ache was bad, for Donna, for her loss, and the need to hold his own son was strong.
"Why." Toni bit her lip. "Why are you here with me and -- shouldn't you be with the guys? With Nightwing and…." She trailed off uncertainly.
Garth looked down at the picture in her hand. "They're mourning," he said simply. "They can't see past the fact that she's dead."
"But…she is." Toni was starting to look at him as if maybe he'd begun to come unhinged. "What else is there?"
"The fact that she lived."
They both looked up to see Diana of Themyscira standing in the doorway.
Garth stood and inclined his head. Toni quickly set the picture she was holding on the nightstand and copied him.
"We're really sorry," Toni started, obviously having missed the tacit approval of the downstairs guard. "I asked Garth, er, Tempest, about Donna and…I mean -- "
She was trying to avoid selling him out, he recognized, which was sweet, but unnecessary.
"We wanted to remember Donna as she was," he said simply.
Diana looked around the room. "And the best way to do that is with friends," she said, her voice low and regal in the silent room. "When you go home, I want you to think about what you do and why it is that you do so. Ask yourself if the pain your loss might cause your loved ones is worth what you do." She approached and lay one hand on Toni's brow, the other on Garth's jaw. "But until then," she said, dropping both hands and turning away to pick up the picture Toni had set down. "Stay and be my friends as well as hers, and help me remember her as she was."