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Before You Can Find Her

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When the gates of Elysium opened to him, Odysseus had many questions, but could only ask one. The answer he received was that the others must be found first. Knowing the fickleness of the Fates, Odysseus thanked them, and was reborn. 

 

Diomedes Argolid appeared when they were young enough to still have velcro instead of shoelaces, a freckled apparition under of mop of brown curls, with missing front teeth who grinned and asked Ody if he wanted to sneak out of naptime. 

 

Nestor Pylos entered his life as the spotted, gangly teenage babysitter whose family lived across the street. In the years to come, Nestor would help Ody with everything from homework to teaching him how to drive.

 

School started, and Clytemnestra Lakonia was the year above him, as haughty as Odysseus remembered, but with a look of grim determination he hadn’t noticed before.

Helen Lakonia was the year below Ody, still shy, still sweet, and ten times smarter than she let on.

(He knew they were HER cousins and wanted to ask, but Odysseus knew well the manner of the Fates, and would not tempt them this time around.)

 

The next Odysseus came across was Ajax Myrmidon, when Ody tackled him in a game of footy at lunchtime. Ajax’s hair was redder than he remembered, and it took Odysseus a moment to recognise him without his beard, but it was Ajax alright, whose intellect and temper remained as slow and powerful as a glacier.

 

Ody saw Deidamia Skyros soon after, striding purposefully through the city centre, a gaggle of girls close behind. She had yet to grow into the slim classic beauty Odysseus knew she would, but the wickedly intelligent and decisive glint in her hazel eyes burned as strong as ever.

 

Menelaus Pelopides turned up the following year, round faced with curly auburn hair and a sheepish smile, towering above everyone in their group but Ajax.

Ody saw Agammemnon Pelopides for the first time that day Menelaus turned up to school with a split lip and black eye. In the years to come, Ody and their group accompanied Menelaus to the court proceedings, where Agammemnon brooded in the corner, wrists chained to ankles, with eyes dark as pitch.

 

Cassandra Ilios found him their first day of eighth grade. She was just as he remembered, skinny with a wild mass of dark curls, and a gaze that always seemed focus just behind your left ear. She smiled an otherworldly smile and told him she looked forward to being friends this time around.

 

Ody crossed paths with Hector Ilios soon enough after that. Odysseus was relieved to meet the powerful figure this time around, not in the role of fierce rival warrior, but as Cassandra’s big brother. His eyes were dark honey without the blaze of battle, silent and thoughtful, watching protectively over his younger siblings. Odysseus was grateful they were no longer rivals, but the respect, fear, and awe the Trojan prince had invoked over enemy and ally alike still held – as such Ody could not bring himself to interact more than necessary with the kind but ever strong soul until years later.

 

Ody ran across Achilles Myrmidon and Patroclus Opus at a party of Deidama’s, tucked away giggling in a corner. When the high school gradutation dance rolled around a few years later, Achilles turned up in drag and he and Pat danced the night away. Odysseus did not waste time wondering how they had found each other in this life. Not even the House of Death had been able to separate them; being reborn would not tear them apart so easily.

 

Paris-Alexandros was the problem child of the otherwise stately Ilios family; brash, arrogant and cowardly all at once. It cheered Ody to see that Cass and Hector held him in equal disdain.

The rest of Priam’s brood was whittled down to the toddling triplets, Deiphobus, Polyxena, and Laodice, who dribbled and cooed at Ody whenever he visited.

 

Odysseus was never quite sure if it had been Aeneas Dardanos he’d seen, across the water in the opposing kayak that day on the river. His brown hair was jet black and his eyes were olive not emerald; but he looked at Ody with a sheer distaste that Odysseus had only ever seen before on the Prince of the Dardanelles.

Years later, Cass would mention that the glossy beauty on the cover of a magazine had once been married to her estranged cousin. Looking at the regal image of Dido Phoenicia, Ody wondered what man would be brave enough – or fool enough – to spurn her.

 

Briseis Lyrnessus was a distant cousin of Cass and turned up to a birthday party one year; petite, with dusky ringlets and soft eyes that noticed everything.

 

Sthenelos Epigoni sat down next to Ody on the bus on their first day of university, strands of straw hair and a pale face to match Diomedes’ bronze muscles and dark curls. (A year after they graduated, Ody was best-man at their wedding.)

 

The Ilios family hosted a New Year’s Party that year, and Andromache Hypoplakia grabbed his arm and dragged him into an empty corridor before he could recognise her. She was as fierce and regal as he remembered, and before he could speak, she slapped him twice in the face. Hard. Once for the wooden horse, once for Astyanax. The blows stung and brought tears to his eyes to match the ones glistening in Andi’s, but Odysseus deserved them and apologised. Knelt down and begged for her forgivenesss, but Andi pulled him to his feet and wrapped him in a tight embrace, saying she was finally free in this life. Ody asked her why and she gave a teary laugh, before dragging him downstairs. In the middle of the dance floor, Penelope Lakonia twirled. Not trusting himself to speak, he stepped up and offered her his hand. She smiled at him and took it, and they danced the night away.