look into my eyes, can't you see they're open wide?

it's been hours since her phone has been flooded with notifications, since her accounts have been flooded, and more than her is displayed publicly that she ever wanted.

the only reason penny hasn't had a panic attack is because of diana. trusting diana to make the right moves, to work in tandem with her in moments has kept her from giving into the urge to scream, to cry, to destroy anything close to her. destruction isn't how to conquer this, how to navigate the field before her. diana helps her to break down the guide of what to do in smaller bits and pieces: call this person. close this account. report this.

the hours stretch. they both slowly whittle down their lists of things to do, until other things creep up on their plate, more personal than shutting down trolls or speaking to representatives about security. there is nasim, who has had this happen to him before, but not entirely the same way. he needs help in a way she can't exactly do, and the acknowledgement of how hard it is makes her feel better.  tabitha is a worry in and of herself, of the man who'd taken from her and left immediately after too. it's easier to focus on how much that will hurt her sister in the long run than to deal with everything else on her plate.

by the time she finally allows herself a break, she's wishing for a cigarette in a way she hasn't wanted one in years. the urge wells in her, rubs against her anxious feelings, against the way that she feels watched, even at the themysciran embassy, a place she knew that she was safe.

diana isn't physically beside her, and yet, penny feels as if the amazon is there beside her regardless, brushing against her arms. solid, there, and ready to listen if penny wanted to say anything aloud.

she does not. there isn't a real reason to open her mouth to speak when diana shared a mind and body with her now. diana could feel her roiling anger, the sudden vulnerability that had overtaken everything, the sense of disconnect and shock still affecting her. too, penny could feel diana's own mind wrapping around her comfortingly, protectively. trying to shield her from the worst of it, and allowing penny, after their argument from months before, after the resolution of it, letting penny feel how vulnerable she felt as well. letting penny understand that diana was grasping for straws too, feeling responsible in her own way for everything transpiring.

the idea of taking off is there, at the both of their minds. lifting away from the earth, soaring into the sky. feeling the wind on their face, being able to lose everything weighting them down.

it is a good idea. it's a wonderful idea.

she begins to float--and is distracted from the movement when a sound breaks over her: a hoot of an owl.

that couldn't really be an owl. the themysciran embassy was stories up, away from natural wildlife. trees weren't this high up here, and--

penny turned her head to the left. perched on the open balcony door was an owl. not just any owl: a small owl, one that could have never made it up here on it's own. as penny stares, it's diana who says, her eyes, sister.

the owl's eyes are grey.

the moment the thought occurs, the owl hoots, flaps it's wings, and takes flight. penny moves just as quick, body moving, leaping after it, flying after.

would i lie to you baby?

athena is not to be beaten at her own game. penny remembers the story of arachne, making sure not to overtake the goddess as she followed her in the sky. her eyes watered every so often in the wind, diana just as curious as penny as they soared over san francisco. eventually, athena flew downward, and when she finally settles onto a branch, penny lands beneath the tree. it's a farm--she can tell by the soil, the sound of the other animals.

penny knows, now, what is going to happen. it's a memory she only had turned over a few times in her mind, the moment where the patrons had visited diana in jail. it was distant, had happened to diana, not her, really.

here, and now, however, watching artemis emerge from the shadows, in the form a deer is breathtaking. there is no way that anyone could see this deer as a normal deer; she was too graceful, held her head with too much pride. the similar feeling washed over her as zeus landed, his wings flapping mightily as he settled beside athena, the eagle's face showing as much pride as any face diana had ever seen. penny can feel her heart hammering as the peacock, as hera emerged next, bright and perceptive. hermes comes last, slowest, clever in the form of a tortoise, eyes sparkling.

last of all, the goddess who had shaped themyscira the most, is aphrodite. her doved form does not settle among the other patrons; she settles on penny's shoulder, startling her. of them all, aphrodite affects her the most, the sensation of an old friend settling over her, all the warmth of every friend she had ever had, the sensation of old lovers smiles, the feeling of every person she had ever cared for hitting her all at once.

it is overwhelming. it is godhood, settling on her shoulders, surrounding her.

now wasn't the time for penny or diana to think of the times of when their patrons were before them. the only thing she was meant to do now was to acknowledge them with a bend of her knees, to spread her arms and say, "my patrons. thank you for gracing me with your presence, here and now at my hour of need."

there's a feeling of warmth that sweeps over her in that moment. warmth, kindness, and an expectation of sorts. diana and penny both know that this is a knife's edge here, in front of these gods, in front of such powers before them. both of them remember the times that the patrons had gone out of their way to aid and the times that they hindered, fought, plotted, the disavowals between them.

there is hope in her chest for better, for more.

"we bring you here not on folly, diana," the words flow over her mind, all the goddesses speaking at once, the gods all silent. "we have purpose in our meeting today, purpose that we ask you to heed for there is warning in the air."

she tilts her head upwards, looking into their dazzling faces, their holy bodies. she asks, "please, tell me your warning. i wish to know, to be prepared for what comes."

"our prophecy is two fold, diana. may you remember what it is, to resist a prophecy as we speak," her words slip down her shoulders, cold and slick. "we tell you now, that there is a plot against you. the wheels have long been turning; the thread has been woven by the fates, and even we cannot cut such sacred threads. the threads say this: the threads that bind you and Penelope Dupree are strong, yet they fray. The Goddess who you humiliated so many months before, has worked her magic through many avenues, and her work will bear fruit soon. We wish we could say that there will be no suffering as the thread between you and Penelope is destroyed; but we cannot." The coldness spreads through her, seeping deeper and deeper into her. "we can however, say that though the thread between you and penelope will be rent asunder, you will not stay adrift in this world, alone. we will be with you -- and we will see to it that your mission of peace will continue, unhindered."

the voice of the goddess change from something cold, to something darker. thicker. "in this prophecy, too, we say this: that you are not the only who will be affected by this. your sister-self, born of clay, reflected from a mirror, she too will change." their voices grow angrier, thicker, more like oil than water. there is the taste of tang, of fire, ash in their voices, clashing against her ears, "there will be poison in her veins, there will be anger in her blood that will grow and grow with this severance. we cannot council you on how this will end for her; we may only say that her fate is intertwined with your own. only through that bond will you both be saved."

the hand that rests on her head is heavy, forcing her to remain still.

this voice she knows is aphrodite's, soft, and unwavering. "you are the daughter of my daughters. my blood flows through you, my law is yours. trust in my law, in your heart."

then there is nothing except the evening wind and a prophecy that has left her frozen.

acuite