She allowed him to drink some water, then challenged him to some training. She held both hands level in front of her, palms downward. “Hold your hands the same way, right above mine.”
He complied, cautious. Then she whipped her left hand around and up, slapping the back of his right hand.
“Ouch!” He drew both hands back.
“Test of speed.” She held both hands out again. “Now you try. Hold your hands beneath mine. I’ll try to reduce my speed to be more like a mortal’s.”
Perseus complied, unafraid. He tried to whip his hand around, but Athena easily drew her hand away in time.
She smiled. “You need to do better than that, to best a daughter of Zeus.” And to best the Medusa. “My turn. Stare into my eyes.”
“How am I to tell when your hands move?”
“Learn to see it in my eyes.”
They went through a few more rounds, with Athena winning each one. A lesser man would have gotten red in the face and stomped off, or pleaded to adjust the separation of their hands to make things “fair.” Perseus focused more and more of his attention on the exercise, till the air turned brittle between them.
Athena saw the right side of his face harden. She drew her left hand back.
“I made you do that.” Perseus’ voice had the air of a man used to throwing his opponents off. “Comes from observing my eyes.”
“You cannot make me do anything.” Athena put her hand back out, rock still.
Perseus slapped it.
“Ouch!” Athena cried out, not from pain, but astonishment. “You . . . you did that on purpose. You threw me off!”
“That’s what happens when you try to best a son of Zeus.”