Title: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Parthenon
Author: Faechick
Author's E-mail: benightedfae@yahoo.com
Author's Journal: http://www.livejournal.com/users/faechick/
Recipient: liviapenn
Featured character: Io [Wonder Woman]
Summary: Io accompanies Diana to a resurrection of the City Dionysia in Athens.
Rating: PG

Io arrived in Man's World with some trepidation. While never a weak friendship, the bond she shared with Diana had strengthened considerably over the past few months. Now, she was preparing to escort Diana to a revival of the City Donysia (to be held rightly in Athens). Io still wasn't entirely sure why she had been asked, rather than Superman or Batman (whom Diana talked about often enough to make Io wonder if two of them might get married some day). Still, she could hardly decline the invitation.

Diana was not at the embassy when she arrived. An emergency of some kind. Io wasn't terribly surprised, and was pleased that she could spend some time with Ferdinand. The kithotaur had intimidated her at first, but over time they had grown amicable toward one another. Or at least she toward him. Ferdinand was always strangely charming.

"Don't you work with metal? Why is dough so hard for you?" Ferdinand's big hands took the rolling pin from her, set it to the side and kneaded what she had started back into a thick clump. "You have to be gentle with it. Like silver?"

"If you'd give me a hammer, I'd be better," Io laughed and started to rub her head. She stopped just short of getting flour in her bangs. "My sister Delinia used to try to teach me to make bread before she died. It came out like stone, every time."

Ferdinand snorted and twitched his ears. "There is a temperance required in cooking. I imagine you understand, but can't get used to the new medium. If it weren't so late, I'd have you start by making stew." He turned to eye her seriously. "It's hard to ruin stew."

"Ferdinand?" The chef turned to the door as Diana approached, and Io quickly removed the cooking smock he had lent her. She had no desire to be teased about how big it was and she needed to wash herself. "Have you seen I- Oh." The princess smiled warmly and came into the kitchen, leaning up against the table and stealing some of the cookie dough. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you arrived. Madagascar was hit with a tsunami. I had to help find and relocate survivors."

"That's alright. Ferdinand was trying to teach me how to bake." Io grinned lopsidedly. "I'm not the best student."

Diana's laughter tinkled like bells as she pushed away from the table. "Neither am I. Let's go get cleaned up. We've got a few hours, but it's better to be early to events like this."

Io dried her arms and nodded to Ferdinand as she followed Diana out. "It was good to see you, Ferdinand."

"You, too. I'll keep ingredients on hand for stew for next time." Io was certain he was grinning, though she always found it hard to tell.

"How long have you been here?" Diana slowed down to allow Io to walk beside her.

"I'm not sure. An hour maybe?"

"That's good. I'm glad I didn't keep you waiting too long." Diana smiled, and Io privately wondered who would ever mind waiting on her. "Thank you for agreeing to come with me."

Io ducked her head. "Oh, it's no problem. I enjoy the theatre."

"I know, it's part of why I thought to ask you." Diana led them into her rooms.

"Part?"

Diana walked into her closet and Io hung back, standing awkwardly in the middle of the bedroom. "I wanted a fellow Amazon with me. I'm sure this revival is going to be..." The princess trailed off. She came out holding up a fairly conservative white dress. "What do you think of this?" "It's nice." Io couldn't fathom why Diana was asking her for fashion advice. "What is the rival going to be?"

"Oh!" Diana walked back into the closet. "Your clothes are on the dresser across from the window, by the way." Io turned and picked up the gray pinstriped pile. It was a pants suit. She smiled and began shucking her normal outfit as Diana continued from the closet. "It's going to be, well, appalling."

"Appalling?" Io fumbled with the black bra. She'd seen them before, of course. Many of the Amazons had taken to wearing them since the renewed contact with Man's World, and they had had their own version (a breast band) for centuries, but she hadn't ever felt the need to wear one.

"Theatre's come a long way in Man's World," Diana said, her voice muffled momentarily in the middle of the sentence. "It's not like it used to be, or even close to how it is on Themyscera." Diana walked out as Io was trying to figure out how to do up the pants. "There are different values placed on art in this society."

"What do you mean?" Io craned her head around to look at Diana as the princess showed her the intricacies of hidden side zippers.

Diana was silent in thought for a while and Io pulled on the rest of her clothes. The shirt was thin and sleeveless and didn't need to be tucked in. The jacket had two rows of buttons. She wasn't sure she liked that. Walking over the mirror she examined herself, taking off her headband and running her hands through her hair. She grimaced as it stuck up everywhere.

Diana came up behind her with a brush and a jar. She motioned for Io to sit and took a glob of the goo in the jar and rubbed it into Io's hair. It felt vaguely cold and tamed her more unruly cowlicks. "What is that?"

"Hair gel. It'll hold your hair in place all night, but you'll have to wash your hair thoroughly before you go to bed." She began to brush the gel in, styling Io's hair. "I suppose my dislike for plays in Man's World stems from the lack of catharsis in them. They don't use theatre as ritual cleansing anymore. It holds no religious significance. And I don't know why that saddens me."

"I see." Io let Diana finish in silence.

The trip to Athens terrified her. Diana had thoughtfully procured a normal aircraft for the trip, rather than her invisible jet, but Io still clutched at her seat in terror for a better part of the flight. Men were not meant to fly. If they had been, the Gods would have given them wings. Of this, Io was certain.

Diana had attempted to calm her by showing her the use of "headphones" and helping her listen to different kinds of music. Io couldn't fully appreciate any of it with her stomach in her chest. Finally, Diana had simply chosen to hold her hand. Both of them thanked the Gods when the plane pulled into the terminal.

While Io had seen cameras before, the sheer numbers that appeared to be focused on both Diana and herself had her greatly unnerved as the two of them walked through the airport and to the limo that waited for them outside. Diana had her get in first. She gave Peter a relieved smile as she sat down across from him. "Hello Io. How are you doing?"

"I can't really see anything right now, but otherwise I'm well. How are you?"

"Just fine," he smiled reassuringly at her as Diana closed the door and settled in. " That's a nice outfit you're wearing."

"Don't start, Peter." Diana's tone was sharp and she had pierced him with a look that would have made Io feint.

Peter sighed. "I'm sorry, Diana. You know I'm just worried for your image."

"Image?" Io didn't understand. What did her clothes have to do with anything?

"Nothing, don't worry about it. It's just an old argument." Diana smiled and took her hand, squeezing it. "Man's World can be... tricky."

Peter chuckled. "It certainly can. Are you both looking forward to the festival?"

"Of course." Diana was always diplomatic.

The rest of the day was a blur of conferences, ceremonies and last minute fiascoes. By the time they were finally seated Io was positive she'd pass out from exhaustion. The opening to the City Dionysia was a modern dance adaptation of the processions where the priests, performers and playwrights would lead a statue of the Great Dionysus to his temple and sacrifice a bull for his continued renewal of the land. Io was glad they didn't actually kill a bull.

After the sacrifice the dancers began circling the amphitheater, which had been restored thanks to a man named Lex Luthor (Io noticed Diana frowning when he gave a speech about protecting the past). They played pipes and harps as drums beat in the background. The dances reminded her of things she'd seen the Bana-Mighdall do at their parties.

When the dancing ended there were more speeches before the audience was instructed to enter the city to celebrate and reconvene for the first play the following day. Diana took Io's hand and lead her quickly out of the amphitheater. "I'm sorry, I just want to beat the crowds out of here," Diana said over her shoulder. Io just nodded and quickened her pace.

At the hotel Diana collapsed gratefully onto her bed. Io's was in an adjoining room and she turned and headed for it, but Diana's voice stopped her. "You can go out into the city if you like. I can't because I'm too easily recognizable here."

Io grimaced. "Is it safe?"

"I could have one of my assistants go with you, if you'd prefer not to go alone." Diana propped herself up on her elbows.

Io was thinking it over when there was a knock at the door. Diana beat her to answering it. It was Peter. "Aren't you two going out?"

"I can't. We'd get mobbed." Diana took her heels off and threw them in a corner as Peter sat down on the couch in the main room. "But maybe you could take Io around?"

"You obviously haven't checked your luggage."

"What?" Diana looked at him for a moment before heading back into her room. She came back out with a wig and a patterned bag. "A disguise?"

"Why not? You don't get to have fun that often. I've got a man waiting to do it all for you. If you want, of course."

Diana turned to Io. "Well? What do you want to do?"

Io wanted to go out. Man's World fascinated her. She and Diana walked through throngs of people. Watched men and women drink and dance, laugh and shout. Diana bought her drinks, and more than a few looks were cast in their direction. They made a striking pair: Diana with her fake blonde hair, black tank top and jeans, and Io in a white button-down shirt and jeans. Several times men spat words in foreign languages at them. She asked Diana what they had said.

"I'll tell you later," was the only answer she got. Io nodded and they continued through the city.

She didn't like the music Diana called "rock" or "rap." They both gave her a headache. By the time she was having trouble feeling her nose (she blamed the "Cosmopolitan") they had ended up at a "bar" that Diana said was playing "swing." Io thought it was very happy music, and she asked if they could stay for a while.

They had been sitting at a table in the back long enough for the fuzziness she felt to disappear before the men began to "hit" on them. Io didn't understand why Diana called it that, since the men never touched them. They focused mostly on Diana. Only a few bothered with Io. Diana began to get annoyed. As the tenth man walked away downcast, Io leaned over to the princess. "Do you want to go?"

"Not if you're having a good time." Diana smiled as she shook her head slightly.

Io smiled back. "If you're tired of them we can leave. It's getting late anyway."

Diana nodded and they got up. Another man said something at them, and Diana glared at him. He swallowed and turned back to his drink. Io frowned, but didn't ask for clarification until they were back at the hotel. "What did those men mean?"

"They were saying we were lovers." Diana sat on the end of her bed and untied her shoes.

Io's brows drew together. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"In Man's World, two people of the same gender being together is considered morally wrong."

"Why?"

Diana put her boots to the side and looked up at her from under blonde brows. "I don't know."

"Why did they assume we were lovers?"

Diana sighed and laid back against the mattress, her arms above her head. "Neither of us would accept advances from men, and we look the part."

"Look the part?" Io looked down and picked at parts of her clothing, trying to determine what gave off the impression that she was laying with Diana.

"It's complicated, Io. And I don't think you'll ever understand." She smiled slightly. "I know I still don't."

"You're tired. I'll leave you to bed," was the only thing Io could thing of to say.

The first play of the City Dionysia was called Hamlet and was by a man named William Shakespeare. Io liked it better than any of the others, but only after Diana had explained parts of it to her. The language was unfamiliar, and the time period it was set in was not one Io had studied in the library on Themyscera. She particularly enjoyed the scene where Hamlet talked to the skull. After the performance they went back to their hotel rooms and watched "television" and ate dinner before retiring. Neither of them felt much like another night out.

The second play was new. It was about a man struggling against a harsh winter alone. The other characters in the play were figments of his imagination. Io thought it wasn't very spectacular. They spent the evening with Peter and a few important friends of Diana's. Io left the gathering early, saying she was tired. Really, she wanted to watch more television. She had found that she liked seeing what people wore in the shows that ran almost constantly. Man's World fashion was much more complicated than anything on Thymescera.

The third play was performed joyously. It was a comedy that Io was familiar with: Lysistrata. Io thought Diana's laughter at certain parts of the show was guilty. The director appeared to enjoy the idea of objectifying the women. Io thought it made the show funnier, and so didn't complain. Diana didn't either. That night they attended a high class restaurant with Peter for a quiet dinner. They went to bed early so they could prepare for the next day. Io was disappointed that she didn't get to watch more television.

Before they returned to the embassy, Diana had to make a speech. After the speech there was a small press conference. Io and Peter stood the side for both of them. The questions were what Peter called "standard fare." They asked how she liked the festival ("It was wonderful."), how it compared to the ones in Thymescera ("They're too different to compare, really, but it was very engaging."), if she had entered the city during the celebrations ("Not for very long."), and if she would mind introducing her girlfriend.

Diana had not responded immediately and Io noticed Peter gripping his notebook so tightly that his knuckles were white. At last Diana said, "I find it strange that people assume that anyone I bring with me as an escort is a lover, or at the very least a prospective lover. I do not have a girlfriend. The woman I brought with me to the festival is a very old, very dear friend of mine. We're like sisters. I also do not have a boyfriend, nor do I have any prospects for either gender, and I am also not looking for any." The reporters were scribbling quickly. "I'm afraid that's all the time I can spare for today. I've enjoyed my time here. Thank you."

They did not speak on the way to the airport. Peter had begun to say something when they got into the limo, but the look on Diana's face stopped him. Thankfully there were no cameras on their way to the terminal this time, and when they arrived Diana grinned a little and said, "Ready to go home?"

"Yes. I just wish I didn't have to take a plane to get there." Io's face must have been comical, because Diana only laughed.