sparsenicjade
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Diana’s first few compositions, hidden behind the austere, tasteless paintings of high class hotels, were dark, full of stark, angry lines and edges that the next artist might cut himself on. She liked to pry the paintings from their resting spaces after she’d spent a night in a pretty dress, with her hair all done up, standing at her father’s side, shaking the hands of and greeting people she couldn’t care less about. When she had been truly young—six, seven, eight—she’d thought it fun, an honor.

At twelve, she knew it for what it really was: her dad showing off. Sometimes she felt about as important as his Cartier cuff links. Maybe a little less—she wasn’t as shiny.

*


She chose the FBI knowing it still made her a showpiece. Her parents could still say, “Our Diana, she’s a Special Agent, you know?”

But she was a showpiece with a gun, a black belt and steel cuffs. When people started to small talk with her, she was allowed to walk away. She lived life on her own terms with the Agency behind her. She could have done it other ways, but this way had been easy—or, well, as easy as anything was going to be.

*


Diana liked Peter from the first day she was assigned to him. He didn’t look at her like she was a woman, and he based his judgments on people’s performance, rather than their papers. The first time he ever treated her like maybe she was a little different than him or Jones, she ended up bringing down two of the three perps by herself.

He looked at her afterward while a few of her cuts and bruises were being cleaned up and bandaged by the EMTs on scene. He asked, “You trying to prove something, agent?”

She looked him straight in the eye and answered, “It needed proving, Boss.”

It took a second, but he cracked a small smile and said, “Go home. I’ll make Jones do the paperwork.”

*


Diana didn’t question for a second that Peter had gotten her the position in DC. She knew who else was vying for it, and post-racial society or not, the three white men who were competing were the office’s first, second and third choice. But Peter had pull and a voice, and he knew Diana was trying to get Chrissy back to DC.

When she got word that she’d received the position, she asked Peter, “What’d you have to promise, your first born?”

“You got the job on your own. Mine was just a reference like any other.”

She gave him a patented Bullshit Look, but let it go. White people, she had noticed, particularly white men, didn’t like to acknowledge that there were discrepancies, the tiny things that could be glossed over, polished past, so that nobody but the people actually affected by them had to notice. She let him off the hook with a, “Well, thanks.”

“I would have preferred to keep you,” he told her.

She knew. It only made her that much more appreciative.

*


Returning to Peter was like taking a breath after an underwater dive gone wrong. The DC office was more political than the fucking Hill, and Diana could play politics better than the next person, but she’d promised herself she was done with that, the day she’d left her house for college.

Chrissy was less-than-thrilled, their apartment needed an exterminator, and Peter was evidently playing reindeer games with Neal. For all that, when Peter said, “It’s good to have you back,” she shared the sentiment—tenfold.


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile