"Open your mouth wider, Rhys."
"That… that's good. Hmn… hmn… Okay, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with your mouth."
Katarina's curious hums whispered through her clinic; the sound of her gloves, snapping in the air as she took them off after checking the color of Rhys's tongue. Rhys was currently seated topless on a stool; his body, being professionally checked by Katarina.
Once the blood of a god that had remained dormant inside one's body awakens, there would usually be a slight change in one's body—increased muscle mass, a change of color, bone density, etc.
Some changes, however, are less noticeable than others; some are even unnoticeable.
"Besides your eyes, I don't see anything different…" Katarina then carefully placed the gloves that were wet with Rhys's saliva on the clean steel plate on the table beside her,
"Do you see anything differently now? What did you say you were feeling again?"
"Nausea…" Rhys sighed, "It feels like my body is being left behind and I am sensitive to everything around me, it's… making me want to puke whenever I move."
"Sensitive how?" Katarina adjusted her glasses as she looked Rhys in the eyes, "It might just be a side-effect of the gravity shift."
"I… can hear your heart beating, Dr. Lopez."
"Wh—" Katarina was about to raise her voice, but she saw a smile crawl on Rhys's face, causing her to stop her puffing chest. Rhys, throughout his 6 years of coming and going inside the clinic, has never smiled even once.
Maybe even he himself didn't realize he was smiling…but for his first smile to be somewhat cheeky and a little teasing, it made Katarina think of what kind of cheerful person he could have been.
"Seriously…" And so, Katarina could really only sigh as she shook her head, "...Like how?"
And without even any slight pause, Rhys suddenly swung and stretched his arm to the side. And as he opened his hand, a small baby fly fell from it.
"...Interesting. That increase in senses is too drastic for someone who just awakened," Katarina once again adjusted her glasses. But then, all of a sudden, her hand blurred. And when it cleared, it was already right in front of Rhys's face.
"You… saw that?" Katarina could not help but blink a couple of times as Rhys seemed to instinctively lean his head back.
"W—No?" As for Rhys, he could really only take in a small gulp as he saw the fist in front of him.
"But you avoided it… interesting," Katarina hummed as she placed her hand on her chin; her breasts, being pinned as they seemed to be seconds away from bursting through her buttoned shirt.
"Aren't you… a doctor?" Rhys squinted his eyes.
"You don't think you're the only one in the world that exercises, right?" Katarina said as a smirk crawled on her face. This smirk, however, quickly turned into a genuine smile as her eyes which were blocked by her glasses started to moist,
"Congratulations, Rhys Wilder," Katarina then sniffled as she tried to stop the tears from her eyes from falling, "You finally Awakened."
'I want you to be even happier, Rhys. I want you to be happy.'
"..." A douse of weight suddenly bombarded Rhys's body as soon as he heard the voice in his head—a feeling of warmth that was enough to drown him completely.
Katarina's desire… was for him to be happy?
"W…what?" Katarina's voice slightly hummed as she saw Rhys suddenly pause, "Are you gonna cry too? Come on, let it out. We're the only ones here."
Rhys, however, only took in a deep breath as he shook his head, "Can you not tell them?"
"Can you not tell them that I awakened?" Rhys then said as his lethargic voice became even lazier, "Even if they register me, I'm still a Lowborn—I can't dive inside a Hole."
"But… I'm legally obligated to tell the government and the school, Rhys," Katarina let out a short but deep breath, before looking at Rhys and nodding her head, "But if that is what you want, then—"
"No, never mind. You could lose your job if they find out, right?"
"..." Katarina did not really say anything and just nodded her head again, "Let's… finish checking your body, then."
"Hm," Rhys nodded as he relaxed his shoulders, "Can I ask you something, Dr. Lopez?"
"Ask away," Katarina shrugged as she lifted Rhys's arm.
"I know I can be difficult to deal with…" Rhys then turned to look at the hearts above Katarina's head,
"...So, why are you helping me, really?"
"Because I can," Katarina answered without any hesitation.
'I just want you to be happy.'
"Because… you can," Rhys mumbled as he looked at the remaining two gray hearts. And right there and then, he decided that he will never fill the two, at the very least, not with intent.
He will never use Katarina—she is basically the closest thing he has to a family other than his sister.
The three red hearts above her head were probably purely platonic.
"You said you have the blood of Eros? I've never heard that name before," Katarina then said as she continued checking Rhys's other arm, "What about the other gods, you should know their names too."
"I… don't know," Rhys shook his head, "Their blood is probably too weak?"
"That's… weird, everyone should know what blood they have," Katarina sighed as she finally just focused on checking Rhys body. She had seen Rhys's body evolve throughout the years, and she still couldn't believe he managed to sculpt a silhouette as he has.
One could even encase him in cement and put him inside the Altar of the Gods, and no one would know.
He always seemed to have power—but now he has a real one. And for a person that has been beaten, abused, and humiliated his entire life… this was dangerous.
"Rhys…" Katarina then held Rhys's hand and placed it on her forehead, "Promise me…
…Promise me that you won't do anything rash with this."
"I… won't," Rhys slightly paused as he answered; his silver eyes, just staring at Katarina's face, "I know where I stand, Dr. Lopez—I'm still weak. But… with my increased reflexes, maybe this is the last time you'll be seeing me in the clinic."
"...I hope this is the last time I see you in my clinic," Katarina softly chuckled as she repeated Rhys's words, "You're graduating soon too. I hope the next time I see you, it will be outside."
"We can see each other during the graduation," a smile also formed on Rhys's face, "You are practically my school mother now."
"How dare—I'm just a few years older than you!" Katarina's eyes widened; the smile on her face, widening as she tightened her grip on Rhys's hand.
However, as soon as she did so… several white, sticky strings of something suddenly shot out from Rhys's fingers…
…and onto her face.
"W… what is this?"