“…?” Upon opening her eyes, she found herself surrounded by darkness. She couldn’t see her hands even when they were held right in front of her eyes. Her hands moved around, as her eyes were no use in such darkness. It felt smooth and cold, like a marble floor. No matter how far she reached, however, she couldn’t feel anything else. “Where…is this?” She wondered quietly to herself. Quietly sitting up, her green-gray eyes scanned the surroundings for any sign of—well—anything.
A voice startled her out of her thoughts and she turned toward where she thought the sound of the voice came from.
“Who’s there?” She questioned, drawing her legs closer to her in an unconscious attempt to defend herself from the owner of the voice, whom she still couldn’t see. The voice made no response to the question, so she tried a different question. “Who’s Athena?” She asked meekly. It was hard to tell whether the speaker was male or female, but either way, she knew that she couldn’t trust the person—if it was a person.
The voice murmured once more.
A cold chill ran through her body and she drew her legs closer than before.
Her eyebrows knit together and she formed a small, tight frown.
“Who are you?” She asked again cautiously, her weariness of the voice quickly turning into irritation.
“Do you want to save your father?”
It was the first full sentence from the voice, stunning her into silence. After a moment’s pause, the voice repeated the line once more.
“Do you want to save your father?”
Her eyes scanned the darkness again, to no avail.
“Yes…” She replied softly, despite a feeling from deep within insisting that she shouldn’t trust the voice.
Before she could ask anything else, the darkness was replaced with a sharp, blinding white light. She squinted at the light, before realizing that she was now staring at a bright blue sky. Blinking in confusion, she again moved to sit up, before abruptly stopping at the sight of two familiar pairs of eyes staring down at her.
“Are you okay?” The older of the two asked her, his hazel eyes looking down at her worriedly. Eyes she could recognize anywhere.
“Da-“ She stopped. It couldn’t be. Her father couldn’t be here.
“Daddy,” A young girl tugged on her father’s shirt, peering curiously at her. It was then she realized that she was staring straight at herself. Well, to be precise—a younger version of herself. The girl looked to be around five to six years old. Her hand unconsciously rose to hold the necklace that she always wore around her neck.
“Are you alright?” The man—the exact copy of her father—asked once more. Her voice wouldn’t function properly, so she gave him a curt nod.
“Did you come here with anyone? Your parents must be worried. Ah—by the way, my name is Lucius Reynold. This is my daughter, Illysia. I’m a doctor at the hospital nearby.”
His statement only confirmed her suspicions. There was no doubt that he was her father. But…how?
She let the necklace fall from her grasp and Lucius’s eyes followed the movement. She could sense something in his eyes before his eyes shifted back to hers. “It might be the hot weather that made you collapse,” He said in the gentle voice that she had for so long yearned to hear. “You should call your parents. Just to let them know where you are.”
It was then that she remembered what the voice had said. “Athena…” She murmured softly.
“Athena?” Lucius repeated. “Ah, is that your name?”
She slightly hesitated before nodding, regretting that she had to lie to her father. Lucius gave her a smile. Before he could say anything, a voice interrupted them.
The three turned to see a man, around Lucius’s age, calling to her. Athena peered at him with confusion. She didn’t recognize him, but a part of her was convinced that she knew him from somewhere. He wore a white coat—similar to that of a lab coat, only shorter in length. Perhaps he worked in the same hospital that her father had worked in? Lucius stared at the newcomer, suspicion evident in his eyes. Athena averted her gaze from her father, back to the man, then back to her father again. This time, Lucius was looking at her, the look in his eyes much gentler than when she had last seen them.
“Do you know him?” Lucius asked gently, in a low voice that only the three of them could hear.
Athena glanced once more at the man and gave a quick nod. Something told her that she did. Lucius still seemed slightly skeptical, but not seeing anything hostile in her response, he stood up to meet the man, who had begun to walk toward them.
Remaining on the ground, Athena gazed up at the man, looking for anything—anything at all—that revealed who he was. Her attention drew to the silver watch on his wrist and her eyebrows knit together in confusion. She had seen that watch somewhere. Somewhere…
Only half-listening to the conversation between the two, she caught that his name was “Asclepius”. A rather unusual name. Her father seemed unphased by the name, though she could sense that he was pondering something. What that something was, she wasn’t completely sure.
She considered asking her father about the watch—maybe he knew more about it—but reconsidered since, as of right now, she was only a stranger to him. A mere little girl, lost on the streets.
Lucius’s voice cup off her train of thought. She looked up, perhaps too quickly. The two men looked back to her, and she could sense concern in both of them.
“We were just talking about taking you to the hospital. Just to make sure that it’s nothing serious. It’s probably just the heat, but it’s better to make sure.” He assured her gently. She nodded in understanding and slowly stood up, meeting the other man’s gaze for the first time.
It was then she realized just who he was.