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Old Gods

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         Bodhi wakes up wrapped up in Cassian’s arms and it is glorious. It’s raining outside and the old house creaks and groans, but Bodhi is warm and covered in soft blankets. Despite the overcast day, he can feel the sun has only just risen so he decides to go back to sleep. He nuzzles closer into Cassian causing the man to mutter in his sleep. Cassian sleeps like the dead when it’s raining so he’s surprised when minutes later Bodhi feels him get up. Blearily blinking up at Cassian he realizes the man is quickly getting dressed.

          “What’s wrong?” Bodhi asks, sitting up to rub the sleep from his eyes. Cassian smiles softly to calm him as he hops around on one foot, attempting to put on shoes.

         “Someone is lost,” Cassian says, as he hurries around their room. Bodhi is surprised but pleased. It has been a long time since someone had prayed to Cassian for help. Both of them received offerings rarely. However, there were still some who followed the old ways, though few and far between.  

         “Make sure they get home safely,” Bodhi whispers before Cassian leans down to kiss him softly.

         “I will,” Cassian promises and promptly vanishes.

         “Showoff!” Bodhi shouts and he hears Cassian's laugh in the wind. The sound makes Bodhi’s heart clench, Cassian rarely laughs so freely. Bodhi has had a much longer time to adjust, more than a millennium really, and he at least got to keep his name. Cassian had lost his original name when his homeland had been invaded.

         Bodhi sighs and looks around at the place he calls home, it’s a colorful collection of the two cultures they both hailed from. He was among the first to leave his homeland and had wandered for years following the few that still believed, helping them on their own journeys as best he could. Finally, the stream of prayers had trickled into practically nothing and Bodhi was left in the on the side of the world where he met Cassian, who was walking the same path as Bodhi.

         Bodhi decides to get up and start breakfast. It never took Cassian long to lead his follower home. Most of them were children who already had people searching for them anyway, so it was an easy matter. Bodhi reminisces as he walks out of the bedroom and to the kitchen, lighting the lamps with his inner fire as he walked. The home they had built for themselves was remote and secluded, with no electricity, and that’s how they liked it. Mountains of books and colorfully comfortable furniture illuminated by various windows and painted glass mosaics. Bodhi smiles lightly as he puts water to boil. He is content with his life.

         He's on his second cup of tea when he begins to wonder what could be taking Cassian so long. Cassian has a habit of running back to Bodhi after encountering one of his believers, usually so overjoyed at being remembered that he can’t resist sharing his joy with Bodhi. Bodhi blushes and squirms slightly at the memory of the last time an ecstatic Cassian had received an offering. Cassian had in turn, fervently and thoroughly, worshiped Bodhi.

         Finally, the heavy wind chimes on the porch softly ring, indicating Cassian's return. Bodhi watches as a soaking wet Cassian closes their front door behind him and slumps against the heavy carved wooden door; carefully inspecting, of all things, a stuffed rabbit in his hands.

         “Did a child offer you that?” Bodhi asks, startling him. Cassian smiles wryly and tilts his head up hitting his head against the door.

         “It was all she had in the world.” Cassian says bitterly “But she was willing to sacrifice everything to escape her family...” Cassian wipes his eyes “I wanted to give it back but a sacrifice is a sacrifice.”  

         “Is she safe now?” Bodhi asks worried and Cassian nods.

         “She will be.” Cassian is pensive for a moment longer before grinning wickedly a Bodhi.

         “Do you want to help me torment her family later?” Bodhi rolls his eyes, but he's happy Cassian was able to bounce back so quickly. Typical trickster.

         “Of Course.” He readily agrees. Bodhi thinks that's the end but Cassian speaks up again.

         “Something else happened,” Cassian admits slowly as if choosing his words wisely. Bodhi stares at him expectantly while Cassian seems determined to avoid eye contact.“I met one of your brothers on the way here.” Bodhi’s eyes widen in surprise.

         “One of my brothers?” Bodhi tries to recall the last time he had contact with another Jinn but it’s been decades. So few of them were still alive that it seemed to be a statistical improbability that Cassian would so easily stumble upon one. “What did he want?” he asks. Cassian finally makes eye contact with him and he looks worried.

         “He came with a message,” Cassian confesses as he walks further into the house. Their various house plants reach out to him for attention as he walks past but he ignores them in favor of sitting beside Bodhi. Bodhi braces himself for bad news.

         “Someone is gathering the old gods for war,” Cassian announces and Bodhi closes his eyes and forces himself to takes a deep breath. There had been rumors and attempts for years but they never panned out. It was not in their nature to work together, so he was skeptical but wary.

         “He came to recruit us?” Bodhi guesses opening his eyes to see Cassian begin to nod then change his mind and bobs his head from side to side.

         “I think so.” He says.

         “You think so?” Bodhi repeats. Unexpectedly Cassian frowns sheepishly.

         “I told him to go to hell before he could finish speaking.” Despite the seriousness of the conversation Bodhi giggles.

         “You did not .” Bodhi sounds scandalized but mostly he’s concerned.

         These days there’s only one motivation that could be strong enough to unite the old gods. Bodhi was however not interested in provoking the new gods, much less fighting a war against them. For a long time Bodhi was bitter about being dethroned, but now he has Cassian and that makes it hard to regret the path his life has taken. After a long contemplative silence, Bodhi speaks again.

         “We have worked hard to make this life.” He says softly looking around their home “We have survived so long and...” Bodhi sighs “I...I don’t want to fight a new war.” Cassian surges forward to take Bodhi’s hands in his.

         “I know! I know!” Cassian says rapidly “That’s why I told him to fuck off!” Again Bodhi smiles lightly, but he’s still worried.

         “But what about you?” Bodhi finally asks and Cassian looks confused.

         “What about me?” He asks and Bodhi feels like Cassian is being deliberately obtuse. Cassian was among those who had fought the hardest. So much so that to this day there are still people who believe in him and his kind. Most are still in his land of origin but every now and then a believer, their children or grandchildren migrate, so Cassian did too.

        “You always fight.” Bodhi eventually says and Cassian stills for a long moment as his gaze drifts. He looks around their home just as Bodhi had and in the end, he looks back with a small smile.

         “I like our life and I want to avoid antagonizing anyone.” Bodhi glares at  Cassian suspiciously.

         “You never worry about antagonizing anyone.” He says and Cassian grins ruefully and shrugs.

         “No, but I care and worry about you and this life that I like so much. So, for once I’m staying out of it..ah..at least for now.” Cassian admits.

         “What happened to sticking to your principles? Bodhi asks dryly. Cassian had always been very vocal about those who claimed neutrality while waiting for the scales to tip one way or another. Surprisingly Cassian smirks before responding.

         “I’m sacrificing my principles to you, oh great one, so that we may continue to live a safe and peaceful life.” Bodhi resists kicking him in the shin.

         “Be serious.” He hisses and Cassian quickly sobers.

         “In all seriousness,” He says “You are happy and I wish to keep you happy,” Cassian confesses and Bodhi breathes a sigh of relief while simultaneously attempting to stop the ridiculous smile growing on his face. In the past, both of them had been a part of similar attempts and they knew what side they would be standing on. This time though, they would wait until war was officially declared and instead enjoy the peace while it lasted.

         “I accept your sacrifice.” Bodhi smiles as he stands up pulling Cassian out of his seat. “Now let's get you out of your wet clothes.” Cassian snatches his newly acquired stuffed rabbit off the table as Bodhi drags him towards their bedroom.

         “First I’m going to collect your sacrifice,” Bodhi lists as he rips Cassian's clothes off. “then we eat breakfast,” he continues, making Cassian laugh “and then I’m going to help you traumatize humans later.” Bodhi reminds him and Cassian groans obscenely, startling laughter out of Bodhi. Cassian turns out to be a very willing sacrifice and Bodhi doesn’t think he’s ever been so enthusiastically worshiped.

Chapter Text

         Bodhi normally ignores the rapid-fire prayers that implore multiple gods. Most don’t even believe in him. Most are desperate humans, seeking aid with frivolous matters he cannot help with. This time however the whisper of a faint prayer and the rising smoke convince him to investigate further. The forest he’s in is older than he is and it is on fire. He wonders if the deity that had resided here was dead or perhaps like Bodhi it had chosen to wander.

         Deep in the forest, a mother and father are praying to another god, but the child with them is praying to the fire people his grandmother had so often told him about. The child is begging fervently, offering every item he owned, asking them to stop the flames. Despite not being named Bodhi does not hesitate to accept. He calls the flames to him, drawing them away from the family. It’s the most he can do, it’s up to them to have the presence of mind to run. They don’t. They are frozen in terror, praying with their eyes shut and he can only distract the flames for so long.

         Then, out of the edge of the forest not yet consumed by fire, a man appears. He doesn’t seem frightened as Bodhi would think he should be. He watches as the man scowls darkly at the flames and then whistles making the young child’s eyes snap open. The man makes an unmistakable gesture.

         ‘Come here.’

         Much to Bodhi’s surprise the boy jumps up with a jubilant shout and runs towards the man. Feeling their child ripped away from their grasp his parents are startled out of their frozen fear and run after him, shouting all the way. He follows, trying his best to clear a path through the flames for the running family. They quickly reach a lake where they wade deep into the water. It’s the best he can do for them, he decides and sits on a rock outcrop to keep an eye on them.

        At least that was the plan until he is suddenly hauled up by the back of his shirt. He would have violently retaliated except he suddenly came face to face with the man who had led the family away.

         “Did you do this?” The man shouts furiously. Bodhi is so thrown that he doesn’t understand the question. “Did you do this?” He repeats loudly, gesturing at the raging fire around them. Now Bodhi is confused and offended.

         “What! Why would I do that!?” He shouts back.

         “Then what is a fire demon doing in a forest?” Bodhi is furious now, he kicks out causing the man to release him or risk being hit.

         “I am not a fire demon!” Bodhi yells. “I am a god and I’m here because that child made me an offering and I accepted, so until he is safe I’m not leaving!” The man looks so surprised at his outburst that he backs off. Bodhi belatedly realizes that he’d unintentionally caused the flames to crawl dangerously close. The man glowers at him once more before turning and jumping down towards the lake. He hurries into the water until only his face, turned up to the sky, could be seen.

        The entire encounter leaves Bodhi confused and unsettled. He keeps a close eye on the family but every now and then he risks a glance towards the stranger. He wasn’t human that much was certain. He would not have been able to lay a hand on Bodhi if he had been. He also wasn’t very powerful if he felt threatened by Bodhi.

         The next time Bodhi glances towards him the stranger was staring back at him through his eyelashes. He is initially startled by the hateful gaze but then he remembers that this being though he was responsible for the fire burning down his home. He sighs and puts a little more effort into drawing the fires away. He hasn’t survived his long by accidentally making enemies.

         Thankfully the fire passes through quickly and as the sun rises the family finally leaves the waters that had kept them safe. Bodhi watches as they slowly make their way back to what is left of their home. When they are a good distance away he finally turns to look at the lakes, other occupants.

         The stranger hasn’t moved much since entering the lake. When the sky had begun to lighten he drifted to float in the shallow water by the bank but hadn't moved since. Bodhi slowly wades into the water and approaches the still man. He looks peaceful like he was sleeping and before Bodhi can stop himself he reaches out and pokes him in the side of the head. His eyes snapped open and he openly glares at Bodhi.

         “Are you alright?” Bodhi asks, choosing to ignore the open hostility radiating from the stranger.

         “Do you particularly care?” The stranger rasps out.

         “I would not have asked if I didn’t.” Bodhi replies quietly “Please believe me when I say I’m sorry about your home and I am not responsible for the fire that destroyed it.”

         The man’s hateful glare turns into confusion and suspicion. He continues to stare until Bodhi grow nervous in the following silence and has to look away. When it became apparent that the man would not speak Bodhi withdraws

         “Thank you for helping that family,” Bodhi says and quickly retreats. He ignores the sounds of the stranger finally moving about the water and walks away.

         Bodhi spends the day watching the family from a distance. They mourn the home and possessions they have lost but celebrate the life they still have. With little hesitation, they begin the herculean task of rebuilding their life. He is filled with the urge to help them but he knows that it is impossible. Most people run away in terror at the sight of his eyes, a brave few even try to kill him.

         Abruptly the young child breaks free from his parents and runs to the edge of the clearing. Bodhi observes curiously as the child kneels in the ashes and sets something down at the edge of the tree line. The boy claps his hands together and mutters a quick but sincere thanks before leaping up and running back to his parents. When they are out of sight he maneuvers himself closer to the objects on the ground.

         Bodhi laughs to himself quietly when he realizes that it’s his offering. The boy had promised him everything he owned and he had kept his word. Arranged in a neat little row were all the worldly possessions of a child. Toys. He leans down to gently pick up a slightly charred carved wooden stag.

         “What do you think you are doing?” A voice behind him asks firmly. Bodhi straightens and takes a moment to hide his surprise before turning to face the man from the lake. “Those belong to me.”

          Bodhi studies the man silently as he processes what the man has revealed about himself. He’s not very powerful but he can touch Bodhi and he accepts offerings. Another deity Bodhi finally decides. One that doesn’t mind staring him down.

          “The boy prayed to me and I answered.” Bodhi says eventually repeats “I’m taking my offering.” Bodhi gestures down at the handmade and slightly burnt possessions.

         “I think you are confused, Demon.” The stranger says and Bodhi’s just about had enough.

         “Don’t call me that.” He snaps “I am a God and my name is Bodhi. What do they call you, Goblin?”

         “I am not a goblin!” the man hisses back. “And that child asked me for help as well.”

         Bodhi notices the man has avoided his question but doesn’t remark on it. It occurs to Bodhi that they’ve both been given the same offering. He marvels at the child’s rudeness. Had he been a few centuries younger there would have been hell to pay.

         Except he’s old and tired and he understands that the boy was simply struggling to survive. Bodhi cannot hold it against him. The encounter has frazzled his nerves and he just wants this whole ordeal to be over.

         “I renounce my claim.” Bodhi finally sighs. “Now please leave me alone”

         “And why must I be the one to leave?” The stranger asks icily.

         “Are you not a forest god?” Bodhi says and gestures around them. “There is no forest here anymore. Shouldn’t you be on your way?”

         “Don’t you have a desert to dwell in?” The man replies.

         “That’s a stereotype!”

         “Oh but I must live in a forest?” he counters, and he’s got Bodhi there.

          Bodhi decides he’s done talking to this rude man. He doesn’t need this aggravation in his life. He glares at the stranger one last time before he turns with a flip of his long hair and walks away.

         “Rude Man.” Bodhi mutters to himself “with rude followers.”

         “Your followers as well apparently!” The man calls out after him.

         Without much thought, Bodhi turns back to look at the forest god only to discover the man is staring at him intently. His gaze is unreadable and Bodhi realizes that he was never given a name. Feeling particularly petty he doesn’t bother to ask for it again.

        “Apparently.” Bodhi agrees and this time when he walks away he does not look back.

Chapter Text

         To survive a war it is often necessary to pick a side. Bodhi knows this but it doesn’t lessen the blow to his pride. He’s surprised that he’s got any pride left to lose but here he is. He was once a god to be feared, now he knelt before a new deity.  He swears on his life that when the time comes he will fight for them. In return, he will not be forgotten. There will be a place for him at the edges of the new religions. The vow still leaves a bitter taste in his mouth but he is allowed to exist.

         For the first time in centuries, he experiences a resurgence of followers rather than a decline. The power that came with them was like an old friend and he welcomed it back warmly. What he once took for granted he fully appreciated. Every new prayer and offering was savored because he knew it would not last. Gods rise and fall. He and his predecessors are proof of this. Eventually, the cycle would begin again. All Bodhi needed to do was survive until then. If that meant sacrificing a bit of his pride then so be it. A little pride is a small price to pay when Bodhi once again enjoyed the hum of several prayers and offerings that pulled at him. In all his days Bodhi has never been so happy to hear from so few people.

         However, within the cacophony of new voices, a familiar voice is ignored. Bodhi frowns lightly and once again wishes that the child would stop giving him offerings and thanks. It's been years but like any true believer, they don’t take silence as absence. If Bodhi were more malevolent he would make his displeasure known. But he’s not. Besides he has already decided that he would never step foot in that forest again. At least not for another few decades. By then the child would be long gone and hopefully, so would the deity attached to him.

         Having made up his mind Bodhi suppresses the urge to accept the devotions of a child he once saved. It’s not out of malice that he ignores the prayers but out of self-preservation. At least this is what he tells himself. He doesn’t want to willingly cross paths with the unnamed forest god again. He had been able to walk away from the first encounter without a fight. He doesn’t know if a second meeting will go as well.

         He is of course right. Even after a millennia of the same tired shit deities are still killing one another and sacrificing their followers to do it. So the second time Bodhi meets his forest god they are on opposite sides of a pointless war.

         He doesn’t expect to meet him again. Especially here of all places, in another dead forest. Bodhi weaves his way through the lifeless trees, keeping his head bowed out of respect for the dead. This place and the things that once thrived here would never recover. A forest can make new life after a fire and it can even heal itself from the touch of man if given enough time.

         Whatever being had interfered made sure that nothing would ever live here again. The trees rot from the inside out and any animal foolish enough to try and sustain itself from their poisoned bounty now lie dead at the roots. The smell is unbearable and more than once Bodhi gags in disgust. To keep out the smell and flies he covers his long hair and face using silk scarves, remnants from a time when offerings were bountiful.

         He is here on behalf of those who now control his fate. There had been a confrontation here, that much is certain. A representative of both sides had met here and waged war. Bodhi had rushed to lend aid, as he had sworn to, but it seems he is too late. He doesn’t know which side has won. He also doesn’t know if this dead forest could be considered a victory. No humans would ever be able to live here again and by proxy, no God would ever be worshipped here either. It is dead and wasted land.

         Bodhi stumbles through it as quietly as he can, determined to leave this place unnoticed. He doesn’t know who is responsible for the death of an entire forest but he doesn’t want to meet them. Even if they might be an ally. He feels as if he’s been wandering for hours despite the sun position telling him otherwise. He tries to shake off the feeling and he keeps walking towards the sun knowing that eventually, it would lead him out.  He realizes his mistake when he finds the field of dead humans.

         He resists the urge to let himself be lost to despair and horror. Instead, he lowers his eyes and takes a fortifying breath that he immediately regrets. The combination of dead and rotting human, forest, and wildlife is overwhelming, but not new to Bodhi. He takes several moments to fortify himself further before he keeps walking, choosing to go around the massacre. Perhaps if his mind had not been so preoccupied with what he had just witnessed then he would have noticed the weapon aimed at him. He does not notice.

         Not until the arrow hits him in the side. Close to where his heart would be, had he been born human. The force behind the blow knocks him off balance and he’s falling to the forest floor. Bodhi lets out a gasp of pain as he struggles to maneuver himself out of his attacker's sight. He looks down at arrow impaled in him and in a moment of rage he grasps it tightly and watches as it burns and dissolves into ash.

         Except for the damn arrowhead that stays lodged in him. Grimacing he pries it out of himself and glares darkly down at the strange black rock. Almost like glass. He lets his fire grow and steps out from behind the tree ready to burn the whole fucking forest and everyone in it to the ground.

         Except he immediately recognizes that damned unnamed forest god and subconsciously he lets the raging fire around him die. Which make the other pause in confusion. A very small part of Bodhi that is not busy trying to keep him alive is amused. Confusing and unbalancing tricksters always was a favorite past time of his.  An even bigger part of him is fucking annoyed that he’s been attacked by a man whose life he had once saved.

        “Rude Bastard.” Is all Bodhi can think to say as he reaches up to pull down the fabric covering his face.  He hopes he can convey the sheer aggravation he feels through his glare alone. He must be good at it because the weapon is lowered slightly. The forest god looks at Bodhi with open surprise and despite the urgency that Bodhi feels about fleeing this place, they continue to simply stare at one another until Bodhi decided to speak again.

         “Are you going to try to kill me or not?” Bodhi finally ask. The other tilts his head slightly to look past Bodhi, at the carnage that lies behind him.

         “Are you responsible for this?” He asks and if Bodhi had eyes he would have rolled them.

         “This is beyond my abilities,” He answers truthfully “and I would like to leave this place before whatever did this does comes back.”

         “Why are you here?” He asks instead and Bodhi really doesn’t have time for this. The dread that he’d been able to keep at bay suddenly spikes and he suddenly feels cold. Definitely not a good sign for someone made of fire.

        “I suspect I’m here for the same reason you are.” Bodhi snaps impatiently. “Now attack me or get out of my way.”

        He looks taken aback by Bodhi’s blunt proclamation and lowers his weapon entirely. Bodhi takes the opportunity to move again and as he hurries past his attacker he tosses he arrowhead back at him.

        “You’re not going to stab me in the back with one of these are you?” This time it’s Bodhi who’s being glared at.

         “Not unless you give me a reason to.” He finally says. Bodhi almost tells him being on opposite sides of a war seemed like a good enough reason but he manages to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he takes a gamble and keeps walking. It’s the second time he’s turned his back on this being with the intent to walk away without looking back.

         He feels eyes on him but he resists the urge to turn around. He walks with purpose and unlike before he feels like with every step he’s actually going somewhere, not just wandering a dead forest for a way out. It’s not until the trees thin and the forest gives way to a wide-open field does he give in to the urge to look back. He immediately regrets it at the sight of the forest god, barely an arm's length away.

         “Did you follow me?!” He asks indignantly when the man smirks at the way Bodhi had startled.

         “Yes.” He says simply and Bodhi can’t help but give him the most baffled look.

         “Why?” Bodhi asks and immediately jumps to a terrible conclusion. “Are you going to try to kill me now?”  The other man frowns as if annoyed

         “No.” Is all he says. It only takes Bodhi a moment to understand.

         “Ah…” Bodhi says, with dawning comprehension. “You’re trying to run away too.”  If anything the being looks even more irritated.

         “I was making sure you did not get lost.” He retorts sharply. Bodhi looks unconvinced and gazes at him suspiciously.

         “This place offends me.” He finally mutters petulantly. Bodhi looks at him very closely and finally notices how sickly he looks. His eyes are dark, his skin is pale, and it looks like he’s at death's door. Bodhi understands, the forest is affecting this stranger strongly.

         They walk out of that cursed place together and Bodhi can't find it him to think it odd. When they finally step into the field they both let out a sigh of relief. It is short lived. Bodhi has been so busy focusing on what was behind him has failed to notice what was ahead.

         Tall grass had hidden it from view but as they walk through it they see the field of flowers. They're like no flower Bodhi has ever seen before.  Large and pink, with petals that looked like scales. Alien and beautiful they grow out of a dead gods chest.

         Bodhi sighs deeply at the sight of a dead ally. His side had lost the battle then. The cold feeling he had felt in the forest had been an enemy's eyes on him.  Once again death had been narrowly avoided.

         With little hesitation, he makes up his mind to wipe this place off the face of the earth.

         “I'm going to burn this forest down.” He announces to his unlikely companion so that he wouldn't be surprised by the sudden appearance of fire rolling off him in waves. Bodhi expects some sort of resistance from the forest god but he gets none.

          “Please do.” He says instead and Bodhi does not hesitate. The unnaturally dead trees resist his fire but the forest floor, covered in layers of dry dead things, lights up beautifully.  

         Bodhi watches as everything before him is engulfed in flames but he feels no pleasure as he once would have. Well, not until the screaming starts at least. Whatever foul thing that had polluted this place finally makes its presence know as it runs through the trees directly at Bodhi. It's covered in flames so he can't even begin to guess what it is.

        In the end, it doesn't matter.  When it reaches the tree line an arrow goes flying past Bodhi and lodges itself into the creature. As Bodhi watches several more puncture the thing in strategic places until it can run no more.  It crawls towards them before finally succumbing to its wounds. Bodhi never takes his eyes off it. Not until the fire has run its course and left nothing but ash where there had once been a god.

         The darkest parts of Bodhi wishes he could have prolonged its suffering. He breathes in deeply and the smell of ash is comforting.

        “I owe you my gratitude.” The sudden but quiet proclamation startles Bodhi into finally looking back at his still unnamed forest God.

         “For what?” Bodhi asks and watches as the other shifts uncomfortably while looking away.

         “For destroying this place.” He finally says and gestures at the fire that was burning away from them, leaving nothing but blackened tree stumps.

         “This was purely selfish,” Bodhi admits “I wanted to destroy that vile place for myself and no one else.”

          “I am still grateful.”He says, staring at Bodhi intensely. “For destroying this place, killing that thing, for not fighting back even though I hurt you, for protecting that family…. and me.” He says it so quickly that Bodhi is left blinking like an owl as he processes what he's being told.

        “I thought we would be even if I lead you out of the forest safely but now I owe you even more.” Bodhi is so surprised by his impromptu speech, by the thought that ... perhaps the rude god was not so rude. What a strange turn of events. Bodhi quickly waves his hands to stop the other from speaking.

         “I told you the fire is completely selfish, you helped me kill that thing and you repaid my protection so we are equal now.” Bodhi insists.  The forest God shakes his head and continues to speak.

         “I am not so delusional to think I could fight you and win, not like this.” He gestures at himself and his poor appearance. “We are enemies. It would not have been difficult to kill me. Why did you not try?”

         Bodhi doesn't know how to answer that. Especially while dark eyes are still focused on him, staring into the fire that pours out from under Bodhi’s eyelashes. The answer sounds silly in his head. He imagines it'll sound just as silly if he speaks it.

         “Because I protected you once,” Bodhi confesses, loud enough to be heard over the dull roar of the fire. “If I killed you now all that effort will have been wasted.”

         Bodhi can tell from the other's expression that that's not what he had expected to hear. Bodhi shrugs helplessly.

         “Why did you protect me from that fire then?” the forest god asks loudly to be heard over the growing fire. Again all Bodhi can do is shrug.

         “Because it seemed like the right thing to do,” Bodhi says and it's the truth. Bodhi feels inexplicably weak for admitting it. He turns away again to stare at the fire that is growing as it moves further away. As the silence between them grows Bodhi wonders what has possessed him to be so truthful to this stranger.

        The gentle hand that wraps around his upper arm startles him, he had not realized the forest god had gotten so close. He is gently pulled on, forcing him to look at the other again.

         “I am in your debt.” the other says solemnly and Bodhi feels the weight of his words. Unable to find the right words Bodhi simply nods in acceptance.

         “What now?” Bodhi asks hesitantly. They're still on opposites sides of a war and Bodhi has promises to keep.

         “That depends on you.” He lets go and finally eye contact is broken, leaving Bodhi slightly unbalanced.  

         “What do you mean?” Bodhi asks, puzzled as to why the forest God is suddenly waking away from him.

         “When will you come collect your share of our offerings?” he asks from over his shoulder. “The boy is a man now but he is still grateful for the protection you have him. Don't you think such faith deserves its rewards?”

          Nope. Still rude. Bodhi quickly decides about the damn presumptuous god who is still walking away from him. Bodhi is happy to turn his back and let the forest god be on his way until he remembers something.
        He still doesn't have a name. He turns around to ask but by then he is already gone.

Chapter Text

         After their last disastrous loss, it becomes apparent to Bodhi that his side would not win the war.  Bodhi reevaluates his position and then consideres retreating with his fleeing believers. They are on the move again and where they go he must follow.

         Bodhi takes a moment to giggle helplessly at the reversed position he finds himself in. While most of the voices that reach him are quickly moving further away one remains fixed and persistent. Should Bodhi abandon the cause and follow, there was no knowing when he might again be near enough to answer their prayers. Curiosity wins out and Bodhi decides that the next time the boy prays he would go.

         It doesn’t take him long to return to the place where they had met all those years ago. Bodhi doesn’t wander through the forest as he once would have. He walks with purpose, directly towards the energy that had been calling to him for so long. He can’t help but smile when he realized what was pulling him. Shrines for him were few and far between and yet there was one here in a lush forest. It’s ironic at least. It starts to rain before he’s even half through the forest but he can’t find it in him to care. He feels suddenly renewed and full of energy.

         When he finally finds what he’s looking for he’s soaked to the bone and standing before a very familiar house. The one he had watched a family rebuild. The same family he had helped save from the fire so many years ago. Bodhi hesitates just a few feet from the front door. Unsure of what to do next. Somewhere inside someone had taken great care to set up a shrine for him and eventually his curiosity overpowers his caution.

         When he enters he discovers that the home has been abandoned with no signs of human life. Bodhi steps further into the dwelling and quickly realizes that was not quite right. The fireplace is lit and on the mantle above it is Bodhi’s newest altar. He moves closer to inspect it. Bodhi can’t help but smile slightly at the sight of a slightly burnt carved wooden toy front and center. Beside it is the familiar offering of food and coin. Bodhi ignores the coin but takes the food gladly.

         He quickly inspects the rest of the rooms and when he is sure he is alone he sits with his back to the fire and lets himself enjoy a very fresh apple. The boy must have only left recently he concluded. He wonders what reason the family had to abandon the home and why it was not enough to stop the child from still leaving him offerings. Why he would light a fire and then leave it burning is beyond Bodhi. He muses on this while he waits for his clothes to dry and the rain to stop. A small part of Bodhi even admits that he was also waiting for his forest god to show. Someone must be coming back he assumes, why else would there be a fire burning?

         He is lost in thought for a long time so it’s not until the rain stops does he realize that something is off. With the rain masking any sound it was difficult for Bodhi to hear anything that might seem unusual. Now though, it becomes terribly clear that the house makes too much noise. Bodhi gets up slowly and pockets the coins and toy left at his shrine. All while ignoring the scratching sounds coming from another room. He does not investigate. He calmly walks out the door and back into the forest. Bodhi’s survived this long for a reason.

      When outside Bodhi turns back to squint at the house suspiciously. It doesn’t seem overly ominous or evil like so many other Bodhi had encountered but he wasn’t going to risk it.  He’d already collected his gifts thus he had completed what he had set out to do. He really should leave but the chance of another encounter with that infuriating forest god makes Bodhi pause. He sighs and glances around the clearing.

       That’s when he notices the other shrine. Bodhi knows that it must belong to his unnamed forest god. It’s quite a sight. There is an offering similar to that of Bodhi’s food and coin but what makes it beautiful is the thousands of rocks in precariously balanced towers around the base of the tree. None bigger than his hand and several as small as his thumbnail, of all different colors and textures. Bodhi finds himself admiring the whimsical sight. He doesn’t touch them. He wouldn’t dare be so disrespectful. Instead, before he can overthink it, he takes the familiar toy he had taken from his own altar and sets it down atop a larger smooth river rock.

         He doesn’t know what message he’s trying to send with the gesture but it feels right. He stands up once more and glances around, half expecting the forest god to appear. He doesn’t and after several more moments Bodhi sighs and begins to walk back the way he came.

         Bodhi reluctantly admits to himself that he is disappointed even if he can’t understand why.
         Bodhi goes west and finds the ocean again. It’s not the same one he crossed when he left his home so he does not hate it. He doesn’t love it either but he appreciates it for its beauty and power. There while sitting in the sand and staring the grey water he meets and befriends a Sea god who lives on the beach and loves to talk.

         The strange old god had walked out of the sea and thrown himself down on the sand beside a startled and tense Bodhi. He began to rant about boat building, terrible weather, and invaders.

           “Are you not also an invader?” Bodhi deadpans from where he sits in the sand. The sea god chokes on his own spit and gives Bodhi such a look of outrageous offense. Bodhi actually breaks down in giggles.

         “Listen here!” He begins “if it wasn’t for those blasted followers of mine I would still be with my wife and child. The gloriously mad bastards were too curious for their own good. Now I’m stranded halfway around the world. ”

          He enjoys the following rant the sea god goes on. Bodhi has to stop himself from laughing several times before the other man stops his monologue. This is probably the first God that Bodhi has ever met who simultaneously despised and cared for his followers. Their curiosity, ingenuity, and sense of adventure gave this god his power. It also was the reason he was stranded half a world away.

          “Damn fools came this far and I chose to follow but I have no intention of staying here and therefore I am not an invader!” He finally concludes and Bodhi glances around the beach where they are both foreigners. He throws his hands up while laughing in a slightly hysterical way.

         “Then what the hell are we doing here!” He shouts out into the ocean.

          “Visiting.” The other says dryly and for some reason that makes both of them laugh even harder. It’s not nice laughter, it’s ugly and borders on deranged because Bodhi knows the truth.

         He will never see his home again.

         Eventually, Bodhi feels his laughter break into sobs and it’s perhaps one of the strangest experiences he’s ever had. He’s laughing and crying while sitting on a beach beside someone he’s only just met.  It’s not a great way to start a friendship but it works for them.

         “If you’re just visiting then when exactly do you plan to leave?” he asks between laughter and tears. The sea god stares out into the ocean in silence and only speaks when Bodhi has managed to regain some of his composure.

         “I'm waiting for my daughter to find me.” He confesses cryptically. Bodhi knows that there must be a long story behind that statement.

         “Why don’t you go find here her instead?” Bodhi asks, suddenly irrationally angry  “Why leave her to do all the work?” The sea god finally looks away from the ocean and gazes at Bodhi with a tired expression.

         “Because she does not want to be found.” He says cryptically and Bodhi just rolls his eyes.

         “Neither do I but my enemies still find a way,” Bodhi says and regrets it almost immediately. The other god doesn’t look offended but he does smile bitterly.

         “Sometimes it is not that simple.” He says and Bodhi knows that fact intimately. With nothing else to say they both go back to staring at the ocean.  It’s not a great way to start a friendship but it works for them.

         When he leaves he has a pocket full of seashells and more knowledge about ships than he knows what to do with, all courtesy his new friend. Bodhi thanks him for the company and wishes him luck.

         “I hope you find her Galen.”

Chapter Text

        Bodhi goes south after leaving Galen behind on his beach. He follows the warmer weather and one morning he wakes up and forgets for a brief and wonderful moment that he’s anywhere else but home. He forces himself to blink back tears as he wakes and realizes where he is. At midday he stands, facing the sun and revels in the delicious heat. He’s reduced to more laughing sobs but he figures it’s good for him and doesn’t try to contain them. Everything here is so different from the home he left behind. The sun is a constant though and he takes comfort in it.

         He keeps moving and often stumbles across humans but mostly does his best to avoid any that are not his followers. From a distance, he may seem like a harmless lone wanderer but up close his eyes always give him away. Sometimes he can get away with a wide-brimmed hat but more often than not, when he finds a populated area he must also wrap his eyes with a silk scarf and keep them lowered. Even then he needs to be careful that no one looks too closely. More than once he’s had to flee from the overly observant human that noticed glowing eyes under dark silk. Eyes that generate their own light are such a hassle to conceal from humans.

         Sometimes though, Bodhi finds other deities. Bodhi veers further inland and hits desert when he meets him. His pretty golden hair makes Bodhi stop in his tracks. Bodhi had meant to walk around the random structure in the desert. He didn’t think that whoever was dwelling there would come out to him directly. A figure emerges from the lonely structure and is quickly making his way towards Bodhi. Bodhi can’t help but glance around the empty landscape. Nowhere to hide and Bodhi thinks he’d look foolish running away now. He scowls and resigns himself to standing his ground.

         Bodhi lowers his head slightly and tries to make himself look as harmless as possible. He’s not very tall and he’s wrapped in large swaths of fabric so he’s usually able to pull it off. Most people don’t rush at him like this stranger seems to be. Bodhi briefly considers attacking first. He almost does too. Except . . .  the stranger is waving at him now and also smiling brightly while he runs up. Very odd. Instead of feeling at ease Bodhi feels slightly more hostile. He strongly suspects that the stranger is trying to lull him into a false sense of security.

         “Are you lost?” The stranger shouts out before stopping a few meters away from him, panting lightly. Bodhi takes a moment to study him. He’s pretty, Bodhi decides. With his lovely blue eyes and a beautiful smile, he reminds Bodhi of someone. He just can’t recall who. Bodhi tells himself to muse on it when he is less worried about a potential threat.

         “Are you lost?” He is asked again and Bodhi remains silent. He watches as the beautiful smile dims with uncertainty. “You’re headed deeper into the desert.” He continues speaking to Bodhi. “There’s no water for days and days.”

         Bodhi knows this. It had been his intention to travel into the desert but he couldn’t very well tell this man that.

         “Are you alright?” He is asked and that startles Bodhi more than anything else the man could have said. After only a moment of hesitation, Bodhi stands upright and lifts his head to give the young man a better view of his face. Bodhi is always secretly pleased by the reaction he can inspire in humans. The man jumps slightly at the glowing eyes poorly concealed in the fading light of the day. Bodhi’s satisfied grin is quickly wiped away when the stranger recovers and he’s smiling brightly at Bodhi again.

         “Oh!” He gasps, suddenly moving even closer to Bodhi, which was not at all the intended effect. “Are you immortal too?” and that question makes Bodhi pause entirely. He carefully studies the other more closely. Unintentionally Bodhi begins to walk forward and the closer he gets the more it becomes clear.

         Bodhi is made of fire. The strongest, purest source of fire is the sun itself. If Bodhi wanted, he could live off the sunlight and nothing more for a very long time. Whatever is coming off of this stranger is holding its own against the sun itself and Bodhi is in awe. Bodhi finally stops, hardly an arm lengths away from him and pulls down the silk from around his eyes. Bodhi tries not to show how pleased he is when he hears the other’s soft gasp.

         With his eyes unhindered Bodhi takes a long moment to stare openly before he raises his hand and waves it through the rays of light coming off of the man.

        “Guess that answers that question.” The stranger says cheerfully while still staring wide-eyed at Bodhi’s eyes. Bodhi can’t help but smile slightly and he finally speaks up.

         “No, I’m not lost.” He says softly and is pleasantly surprised when the stranger suddenly seems to be blushing.

         “I don’t need as much water as most,” he continues to answer the questions he had previously ignored “and I’m …” Bodhi hesitates on the last answer and that’s enough to have the other jump in.

         “Do you need food or rest?” he suddenly pipes up and Bodhi feels his resistance melt under the earnest expression on his face. He turns and points to his home in the distance.

         “It’s not much but there’s food and shelter if you need it.”

         Bodhi can’t help but be curious about a pretty blushing deity who gives off the light of a sun. He bemoans the existence of this being because if anyone could convince Bodhi to walk into a trap it would be this man. He wants to know more.

         “You’d be doing me a favor.” the man glances around the desert and laughs. “I don’t get a lot of company out here.” His smile grows and he seems to shine a bit brighter. With the actual sun setting behind him Bodhi is more entranced than ever.

         “Lead the way.”Bodhi finally decides and gesturing at the structure in the distance.

         “You can call me Luke by the way,” he says suddenly and Bodhi doesn’t hesitate this time.

         “My name is Bodhi.” He responds with a soft smile that grows when Luke smiles right back at him.

         Walking side by side Bodhi can’t help but steal glances at the man beside him. It becomes obvious when their eyes keep meeting that Luke is staring too. Bodhi hopes that this isn’t a trap. He already likes Luke too much and Bodhi really doesn’t want to have to kill him.

         Bodhi stumbles at that sudden intrusive thought. Luke pauses alongside him and gives him a questioning look.

         “Are you alright?” He asks again and Bodhi really wishes he wouldn’t ask that. Bodhi also sometimes wishes he wasn’t so suspicious of others. Then he remembers he’s still alive because of his cautious nature.

         “You’re not trying to lure me into an ambush are you?” Bodhi asks and the light radiating from Luke dims significantly. Suddenly Bodhi feels exhausted. Luke’s eyes widen and he takes a step away from Bodhi. “Because if you are I’d prefer to get this over with here and now.”

         Luke slowly puts his hands up, his expression is worried and Bodhi ignores the part of him that feels guilty. He was right, it was best to get this out of the way. Bodhi is prepared for Luke to outright attack him or if he’s lucky he’ll just ask him to leave. He’s only known Luke for all of five minutes but really he should have known by now that Luke would react unexpectedly.

         “You’re obviously not alright.” He says like it’s a fact and Bodhi is annoyed by the pity he sees on Luke's face. Then Luke is smiling in a way Bodhi thinks is meant to be reassuring but it only irritates him more.

         “Please stop smiling,” Bodhi snaps “I'm being serious.”

         “I know!” Luke quickly reassures him. “but I don’t know how to convince you I won’t hurt you.” Bodhi feels disarmed by such an honest sentiment. He also feels stupid because feels he’s ruined what could have been a promising start.  

         Bodhi spares a moment to marvel a how easily he and Galen had become friends. A grouchy old sea god was one thing but put Bodhi in front of a pretty sun deity and suddenly he acts like a still-unnamed asshole forest god. Figures.

Chapter Text

         In Bodhi’s defense, he’d spent most of his life being worshiped. Interacting with others is not difficult when they’re literally throwing themselves at your feet, willing to do anything to please you. It’s been centuries though and Bodhi has become accustomed to being disregarded by humans. Some part of Bodhi will always be bitter about it but he tries to keep it buried. If he thinks about it too much he grows melancholy.

         If he thinks too hard he starts to wonder why he even bothers.

         Standing in front of a wide-eyed Luke, Bodhi has never felt so aware of his own awkwardness. He remembers why he avoids deities, demigods, and humans alike. An encounter during conflict is easy to maneuver. Bodhi doesn’t know what to make of Luke's easy smiles and open nature. It’s either an elaborate lie to trap him or Bodhi has just met the prettiest and most incautious deity. Either way, Bodhi doesn't know how to navigate this situation.

         “Look, I know you probably have a good reason for not trusting me,” Luke says finally breaking the silence. “But neither of us should be outside when the sun sets.”

         Bodhi glares sharply at Luke then out at the horizon where the sun was already disappearing. Some random deity claiming to only want to help shows up and all Bodhi can do is feel suspicious and wary. Bodhi vaguely wonders if this is how his unnamed forest god felt. Bodhi thinks that perhaps the rude deity and his actions are suddenly a bit more understandable. Luke is still staring at him though so he shoves those thoughts aside.

          “I’m not the worst thing out here,” Luke says and his smile is gone. He gives Bodhi an imploring look and combined with the soft light shining off him, Bodhi knows he’s doomed. Before he can stop himself he’s uttering a familiar sounding phrase.

         “Why do you want to help me?”  Luke is smiling softly as he answers.

         “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

         Being on the receiving end this time Bodhi wonders if he had felt the same way Bodhi does now because for the first time in a very long time Bodhi wants to believe. It's enough.

         The sun is half below the horizon when they reach Luke’s home. Amidst his brewing anxiety, he takes a moment to admire the beautiful structure. He’s never seen anything quite like it.

         Luke’s home is covered in mirrors. So many mirrors. It’s a miracle that Bodhi had spotted it at all. He suspects that had he been walking through at about midday the house would have been invisible to him. Now it reflected the soft pink sky created by the setting sun. It looks like Bodhi can see right through it. Like it’s floating in the sand.  A lovely home for a lovely god, how appropriate.

         “It’s beautiful.” Bodhi murmurs appreciatively. At his side, Luke seems pleased by his assessment.

         In an unexpected turn of events, it only takes a moment for all his anxiety and worries to melt away, replaced by what he can only describe as a gentle fury.

         “How are you still alive?” Bodhi groans into his hands as he takes in Luke's beautiful, poorly fortified home. “You have no protection whatsoever.”

         Luke shrugs and Bodhi would think it was adorable if the situation wasn’t so dire.

         “I’m being serious! Your door doesn’t lock!” Bodhi says as he pointedly pushes the door open and watches as it swings closed. “How can you claim to offer me shelter when your door doesn’t even lock?”

         “We’re not saying in here,” Luke says, causing Bodhi to finally look around. The inside of Luke's home is painted entirely white and is completely empty. Which isn’t suspicious at all.

         “What happens when you're attacked? And you're lying if you say you’re never attacked!” Luke gives him a mischievous smile.

         “Well, usually I brighten myself up until I burn the eyes out of them,” Luke confesses cheerfully and Bodhi gives him a hard stare.  

         “That'll be very effective against me.” Bodhi deadpans while pointing at the fire in his own eyes. Luke laughs at him again.

         “If that didn’t work I was going to light you on fire,” he admits.

         “Really?” Bodhi says in mock surprise “That was my plan too.” Bodhi can’t help but find Luke’s bright smile endearing.

          “They’d find me buried under your shack wouldn’t they?” Bodhi mutters, only half intending to make Luke laugh.

         “Yes actually!” Luke says and at the sight of Bodhi face, he quickly rushes to open a hidden trap door in the floor before looking back at Bodhi expectantly.

         “No.” Bodhi was not going underground for anyone. Not Again.   

         Except the howling had begun and Luke glances out the window in alarm.

          “Get inside Bodhi,” he orders, making Bodhi bristle. “Please get inside?” he amends, a sincere expression on his face. The room brightens as Luke gives off more light and Bodhi moves forward before he can even think about it.

        “Fine but I warn you that upon my death my body will most likely implode,” Bodhi says dryly and finally accepts that Luke is probably, hopefully, most likely trying to help him.

         If he wasn’t then Bodhi would blow this pretty house off the face of the earth.

         Bodhi spends the night sitting against a wall glaring at Luke for making him go underground.

         “You’re a sun god.” Bodhi mutters “How can you stand being underground?” He asks, trying to understand. Luke just shrugs from where he sits on the ground opposite Bodhi.

         “The sun isn’t out now is it?” Luke says instead which means nothing to Bodhi. He’d spent the better part of a century underground and had lost his taste for it, but he wasn’t going to tell Luke that. Bodhi glares around at their surroundings instead, looking for a distraction.

         The house above them was obviously some sort temple to Luke while the ground below was where he must spend most of his time. If Bodhi were feeling nice he would call it cozy but in his annoyance all he can call it is cluttered.

         “Why do you have so much junk?” He asks, startling a laugh from Luke. From his seated position on the floor at the entrance of Luke’s home Bodhi can see a statue of some goddess, several covered ceramic jugs, rolled up tapestries piled along a wall, shelves filled with various little knick-knacks and metal gears. Bodhi’s heart suddenly jumps up at the sight of the last.

         “You have automaton parts,” he states in disbelief.  “Where did you get them?” Luke’s eyes widen in surprise before he turns to glance at the pieces Bodhi was staring at.

         “It’s complicated,” he says slowly. Bodhi crosses his arms and resumes glaring at Luke who just smiles wryly back at him.

         "I found them,” Luke finally admits. “In the desert.” Bodhi continues to glare at him, suspicious.

         “That seems highly unlikely,” he eventually says when Luke fails to elaborate. “You just stumbled upon them in the vast desert?”

         “More or less,” Luke confirms, which Bodhi doesn’t believe for one moment.  They silently stare each other down until Luke finally relents under Bodhi’s burning glare. Luke sighs and his expression is pensive. Bodhi, at last, sees the weariness that is so common amongst gods like them. Such an open expression makes Bodhi uncomfortable and he looks away.

         “If it is in this desert,” Luke begins to explain, amending, “If it is under the sun I can find it.”

         “Only in this desert?” Bodhi asks and Luke begins to nod before shaking his head indecisively.

         “It works best here,” Luke says and that sparks Bodhi’s interest.

         “Why is that?” Bodhi asks. He knows he’s being nosy but the thought of being able to find anything under the sun is a fascinating one. He can't help but think of about how helpful that could be to a certain ship-building sea god.

        “I don’t know.” Luke shrugs. “This place is weird.” Bodhi scoffs. Every place is weird if you stay long enough.

         “Elaborate,” Bodhi demands. Luke rolls his eyes.

         “Things appear,” he explains vaguely, much to Bodhi’s annoyance.

         “Things? What things?” He asks and Luke smugly gestures further into his home where Bodhi had refused to go.

           Bodhi takes a moment to reassess all the clutter in Luke's home.

         “You found all this in the desert?” Bodhi asks in disbelief. Luke nods.

        “When the sun sets there’s nothing there. Then the sun rises and suddenly there is.”

         “And you have no idea where it’s all coming from?” Bodhi asks, fascinated by the wide range of object he can see from his position.

         “Not really, no.” Luke says and they fall into silence. From his spot against the wall, Bodhi continues to study the things in Luke's home, trying to place their origins.

         That’s when he spots a familiar looking dagger, looking like it was made of black glass.

         “I’ve seen something like this before,” Bodhi says and absently rubs the spot on his chest where an arrow had pierced him not so long ago. Bodhi hasn’t seen obsidian used as a weapon in ages. He hadn’t thought about it since but now it stirs a millennia-old memory in him. Bodhi had loved obsidian jewelry above all else and once long ago, Bodhi had covered himself in it.

         Bodhi is startled out of the pleasant memory of being fervently worshipped by a blinding bright light.

          “What are you doing?” Bodhi demands to know from a sheepish looking Luke.

         “I’m sorry!” Luke apologizes but only grows brighter. “It’s just . . . your face . . . sorry!” Luke suddenly leaps up, startling Bodhi who just presses himself further against the wall.

         “No sudden movements please,” he mutters as he too stands and brushes himself off.

         “Right sorry,” Luke says, backing up slightly. “Do you, uh want to take a closer look at anything?” Luke asks and between his burning curiosity and Luke's brilliant light, Bodhi feels even more of his resistance crumble.

         “Alright,” he says softly. Bodhi doesn’t make it past that first room as he insists on inspecting every wonderfully, odd thing that Luke has managed to collect. There’s a severed automaton head that is made of smooth metal with big glass eyes. Bodhi gets stuck, wondering aloud if it was possible to piece it back together.

         “Maybe,” Luke admits. “I’m not very good at it though. My father was better.”

         They tinker with it as the night goes on and in the early hours of the morning Bodhi feels the pull of prayers.

         “I need to go,” he says quietly, suddenly aware of the silence they had been working in. Luke looks distressed.

         “Can you at least wait until sunrise?” Luke asks him. Bodhi can admit to himself that it feels nice to be worried over. He doesn’t wait for the sun to rise though. He leaves the moment before the sky begins to lighten and night shifts to day. He thanks Luke for not killing him, which causes Luke to roll his eyes and smile.

         “Come back anytime,” he says and closes the door in Bodhi’s face which startles laughter out of him. Bodhi resolves to visit again soon.

Chapter Text

         Sometimes during the long nights, when the light of the sun abandons him, his followers grow silent and all he has is himself. They must sleep, he reassures himself. They would not cast him aside so suddenly. As time goes on and the moments of silence grow longer, and the fire within him struggles to stay lit. He begins to wonder why he even bothers.

         When he was young he never had to think about his place in the universe. Bodhi was strong and felt invincible. If he had paid any mind to the God that he had replaced then perhaps he would have seen it coming. So blinded was he by the intoxicating new power he felt and the ecstasy of worship, he couldn’t even recall the god that had come before him.

         He wonders if that’s how he will end as well. Nothing but ash in the wind. Forgotten or replaced by a newer, stronger god. Not for the first time, Bodhi wishes he’d gone out like some of his brothers who had fought and raged to the bitter end.

         Brothers who had gone out as the glorious fire gods they had been born to be. Making sure that for centuries afterward, the place of their death would still carry scars. In his diminished state Bodhi doubts his death will leave so much as a crater.

         So few believe in him but still, he lingers. He does his best to protect and help them but it is never enough. He is restricted and so fucking weak. There is nothing he can do against stronger gods. Gods that have innumerable believers and immeasurable power. Bodhi can only watch as his brave followers refuse to renounce their beliefs. They are faithful until the end and they die for it. He has so few believers that every silenced voice resonates within him. Bodhi tries to remember their words, to memorize their voices and the power it once gave him. Inevitably it all fades away and Bodhi is left weaker than ever.

         In those dark moments, Bodhi always has a choice to make. He is so tired of existing, feeling like he just goes on and on, with no real purpose other than to survive. Bodhi wonders if it is enough and for a terrifying moment he considers giving in. He thinks about walking into the ocean that separates him from his home and letting the water extinguish his fire for good. The first time he’d considered it, he dismissed the thought quickly. But with the passing of time, the idea grows more appealing.

         He wonders if Galen had walked out of the surf and sat beside Bodhi because he sensed idea brewing in Bodhi’s mind. Bodhi had been baffled as to why a dripping wet sea god had settled next to him on the sand and started to lecture him on shipbuilding. In his confusion, he hadn’t bothered to question it but now he thinks Galen had done it out kindness.

        There’s no one here to distract him now though. Nothing but the corpses of followers he failed to protect. They had been so young and hopeful. So full of life that where they wandered, Bodhi was happy to follow. They had fled, come to this strange and foreign place in a futile effort to survive. Bodhi wonders if his efforts are just as futile.

         He wants to lie beside them and give in. The rest of his followers had other gods that would look after them. Gods who are the main focus of their devotion, not like Bodhi who lives in the periphery of their faith. Laying down to rest beside the remains of his most devout followers seems like a good way to go. He’s so fucking tired. He’s lost his pride, his dignity, his home, and his followers.

         Except, not all of them. Far away, in a forest, a child places a familiar toy on his altar and Bodhi breaks down into sobs. As much as he hates it, so long as someone believes in him he needs to keep going. He has a promise to keep and he’ll be damned if he breaks it now. He remembers he's not here for himself anymore. He is here for the humans that had turned to him when his brothers had been consumed by fire.

         So many of his brothers have gone out in a glorious, vengeful fire yet Bodhi remained. He lingered because death would have been easy. It would also have been a betrayal. In despair and hopelessness, they had prayed and begged him not to leave them. Now centuries later, Bodhi tries to remember how it felt to be powered by the desperate hope of thousands. The memory sustains him better than any offering or prayer ever could. He still carries the hope of a people on the edge of extinction. For as long as he’s able, he’ll protect their descendants.  

         Bodhi knows that is how he will die. Not for himself but for the people who believe in him. No other death is acceptable.

         Bodhi forces himself back together. He reminds himself he has a purpose to fulfill, no matter how small. He has people who believe in him. He can’t let them down. He refuses to let despair consume him. Maybe he’s not important but to the people that pray to him, he matters and that is enough. It has to be. He takes several fortifying breaths and moves forward on shaky legs.

         He gives the dead their funeral rites as best he can recall and burns the bodies. He stays until they are nothing but ashes. Then he keeps going. It takes him a while, winding back and forth between different followers, but he eventually makes it back to the forest where his improbable shrine resides.

         It’s a beautiful day. He takes his time walking, slowly meandering around trees as he appreciates the dawn of a new day. The rising sun soothes his weary body and he wonders if the rude forest god that lived here would mind terribly if he chose to nap against a tree.

         His exhausted body makes the decision for him when he stumbles against a particularly sturdy tree. He laughs quietly to himself and looks up at the foliage swaying in the gentle breeze. The soft sound of wind through the leaves is like a lullaby to Bodhi. In his tired state, he hugs the tree, thanking it for the shelter and settles himself at its roots.

         If the god of this forest has a problem with it then he can bring it with Bodhi after a nice, long nap. Wrapped up in himself and with his hat pulled low over his face, Bodhi finally rests. He sleeps while the sun rises and that’s when he knows he’s reached a new standard of decline. From here on out Bodhi will only grow weaker. He is resigned to make the most of it.

         When he opens his eyes again, it’s only midday and he’s slept too few hours to deal with the energy emanating from the god that stands before him.

        “You again,” Bodhi grumbles at the sight of a familiar mischievous grin paired with grey unseeing eyes.

         “Hello Bodhi,” Chirrut says cheerfully and Bodhi can’t help but grin back tiredly. Of all the gods Bodhi has ever interacted with Chirrut is one of the few he doesn’t mind crossing paths with again.

         “Would you believe me if I told you that I’m very happy to see you?” Bodhi confesses through his grin. Chirrut smiles warmly at him and Bodhi thinks it’s a shared sentiment.

         “Yes! It’s been too long,” Chirrut remarks as he gracefully sits on a large exposed root right beside Bodhi.

         Centuries in fact, since his followers and Bodhi’s had mingled and forced their Gods to meet. Bodhi remembers the meeting fondly. Bodhi had been minding his own business when another god had tried to tackle him from behind. Only Chirrut’s words had prevented Bodhi’s quick end at the hands of his partner. And just like that Bodhi suddenly realizes what’s missing.

         “Where’s Baze?” Bodhi asks and immediately regrets it when Chirrut’s smile falls slightly.

         “Gone,” Chirrut says and Bodhi immediately sits up.

         “Gone as in dead?” he demands clarification. Chirrut shakes his head.

         “No,” he says quietly “He’s just gone.”

         Chirrut is still smiling but it does little to mask the pain that radiates from him. Bodhi doesn’t know what to say. Despite how poorly their first meeting had gone Chirrut had immediately taken Bodhi under his wing and Baze who always deferred to Chirrut’s judgment had quickly done the same. Bodhi spent his first few years of exile following both of them as they showed him how to survive as a wandering god. They had been together for centuries before Bodhi had even existed. Bodhi always thought they’d be together centuries after he ceased to exist too.

         “Why?” Bodhi asks quietly, trying to understand why Baze who was so devoted to Chirrut would leave him after ages together.

         “Because it was necessary,” Chirrut answers calmly and Bodhi thinks it’s an absurd answer.

         “What does that even mean? Where is Baze?” He demands to know. He’s so fucking tired and has just pulled himself up from his latest low point and he really doesn’t need Chirrut’s vague comments.

         “He left for the same reasons you did Bodhi.” Coming from Chirrut, the statement hurts more than Bodhi will admit.  Bodhi smothers that vicious part of him that yearns to spit out an equally hurtful comment. Chirrut doesn't deserve to be subjected to Bodhi’s foul mood. He bites his tongue and says nothing instead. Chirrut for his part ignores the internal struggle Bodhi is going through. Bodhi takes several moments to compose himself before speaking again.

         “I’m sorry,” is all Bodhi can say even though he knows it’s not enough.

         “Don’t be,” Chirrut says solemnly “You were right.” Bodhi again chooses to remain silent as he recalls the last time he had seen Chirrut and Baze.

  Their followers were scattered to the four winds by then but they still wandered alongside them. Suddenly the prayers that reached Bodhi came from the sea and he had panicked. There were so many of them and suddenly they were out of his reach. He stood on the shore at the edge of his world and yet his believers still called to him from beyond. Bodhi had turned to Baze and Chirrut then.

         “I have to follow,” he said, trying to make them understand. Bodhi had hardly any brothers left but the few followers that remained had turned them against one another. If Bodhi follows where they will not, then he might survive. Chirrut and Baze understood but refused to leave. So Bodhi left them behind.

         Sitting beside Chirrut in the present day, Bodhi does not regret his decision.  He only regrets not trying harder to convince his mentors to follow him. Then maybe they might all be here together. Both of them remain silent, lost in memory until Bodhi manages to shake himself out of it.

         “What now?” he asks, mostly because he doesn't know what else to do. Chirrut seems to bounce back from his silent musing and flashes Bodhi a sharp grin.

         “Haven't you heard?” he asks. “There's a war going on.”

         Bodhi freezes at the words and he leans away from Chirrut, glaring at him through narrowed eyes. Chirrut’s mischievous grin tells him all he needs to know.

         “You shit.” Bodhi says slowly “Are you here to kill me?” Chirrut laughs loudly at the accusation.

         “I'm to report any sighting of the enemy,” Chirrut confirms and then proceeds to wave his hand before his face. “But I haven't seen anyone so I suppose you are safe.”

         Bodhi can't help the laugh Chirrut’s actions startle out of him. Despite everything, despite apparently being on opposite sides of a war, Chirrut was still protecting him.

         “Besides,” Chirrut continues, “I'm not here for you.”

         “Am I allowed to know why you're here?” Bodhi asks. Chirrut pretends to think about it for a moment before speaking.

  “I'm here to see Cassian.”

         Bodhi wonders if he's supposed to know who that is.

Chapter Text

 

       Bodhi wonders if he should know who Cassian was. According to the bemused expression on Chirrut’s face, it seemed like he was.

       “Who?” He asks tentatively and Chirrut’s grin only grows.

       “You haven’t met?” and Bodhi is very wary of the overly mischievous smile on Chirrut’s face.

       “Should I have?” Bodhi finally asks and Chirrut laughs.

       “Well, you are in his forest,” Chirrut proclaims calmly, “and he does not tolerate strangers.”

      Bodhi scoffs because that was putting it kindly. His thoughts then pause as fully understands what Chirrut was saying. He can’t help the silly grin that grows on his face as he recalls all the times he failed to get asshole forest god’s name. He also wonders if Cassian would be annoyed that he’d learned it despite the forest gods obvious evasion. Cassian was a nice name he decides, probably too nice for such a rude forest god.

       “Cassian...” Bodhi slowly sounds out the strange new name. “So that’s his name,” he says softly and Chirrut’s sharp smirk slowly melts into an openly curious expression.

       “So you have met,” Chirrut says with a peculiar expression on his face.

       “A few times,” Bodhi confirms, “he’s even tried to kill me once.” He says all this with a small smile that falls when he sees Chirrut’s intense frown.

       “Are you the same infuriating demon that burned down a forest under Cassian’s protection...twice?” Chirrut suddenly asks causing Bodhi to glare out at the trees surrounding them.

       “Did he say that?” He demands to know from Chirrut who still looks worried.

       “Cassian had a great many things to say about you,” Chirrut says carefully and hesitates before speaking again.

     “Cassian was… reprimanded for allowing you to escape," he reluctantly admits and Bodhi turns to gaze out at the forest again and recalls the few interactions he’s had with the forest god. He dreads the possibility of being the cause of any harm towards Cassian. Despite how annoying he’s been Bodhi doesn’t wish Cassian any ill will.

       “I should leave.” Bodhi decides as he jumps up, ready to run out of Cassian’s forest. Prepared to run so far that none of Bodhi’s actions could ever hurt him. Bodhi doesn’t even have a location in mind.

       “When you see him again tell him to dismantle my shrine otherwise it’ll only bring him more trouble.”

       “Your shrine?” Chirrut interrupts Bodhi’s attempt to flee.

       “Yes.” Bodhi confirms “It’s in the abandoned house just west of here and before the lake.” As he describes the locations Chirrut’s eyes grow wide and his mischievous smile returns.

       “You have a shrine in Cassian’s home?” Chirrut asks and Bodhi freezes as he processes what Chirrut has just revealed.

       “I’m sorry?” He says despite having heard Chirrut perfectly.

       “The house besides Cassian’s own shrine?” Chirrut continues “The tree surrounded by towers of rocks?”

      Bodhi, suddenly faced with the knowledge that his shrine resided in another god’s home, doesn’t know if he should continue to flee or march straight to Cassian and demand answers. Chirrut presumably sensing his indecision makes the choice for him.

       “I think it is going to rain soon,” Chirrut says while turning his unseeing eyes towards the sky. “You should take shelter, at your shrine perhaps?” As he speaks dark clouds begin to roll in at unnatural speeds.

       “Chirrut don’t you dare!” Before Bodhi can finish speaking there is a blinding flash of light and Chirrut is gone. The lightning is quickly followed by roaring thunder and a brief moment of silence before the first raindrops hit the tallest trees.

       Once again seeking shelter under against a tree, Bodhi wonders if Chirrut would have the storm follow him if he attempts to run out of the forest. The rain begins to fall harder as if sensing his thoughts and Bodhi takes the hint. He marches towards his shrine while hissing obscenities at the sky.

       He stumbles when Cassian’s house comes into view but he forces himself to keep walking. If he hesitates he worries he’ll lose his nerve and turn back. He marches right up to the door and knocks loudly against the solid wood. He then wishes he had hesitated because almost immediately the door opens and Bodhi is greeted by a familiar face.

       The forest god looks truly stunned with his wide eyes and open lips. Bodhi absently thinks it’s the most pleasant expression he’s seen the other display.

       “Are you going to invite me in or are you going to continue being as rude as ever, Cassian?” Bodhi suddenly asks, surprising even himself.  The other god’s stunned expression only grows more bewildered before he’s suddenly laughing. He opens the door wide and gestures for Bodhi to walk in.

       Bodhi gratefully walks into the warm home very aware of the rainwater dripping off him.

       “What are you doing here?” he’s suddenly asked and rainwater becomes the least of Bodhi’s problems. He pivots to glare at the god behind him.

       “What am I doing here?” Bodhi repeats, suddenly very annoyed. “You asked me to come here!”

       Cassian is studying him with his head tilted to the side and an almost amused expression on his face.

       “I asked you when you were going to collect your offering,” Cassian states slowly. “You didn’t answer.” Bodhi glares at him in disbelief before quickly composing himself.

       “Well, I suppose I’ll just have my offering and be on my way then,” Bodhi mutters. He moves towards shrine but is stopped by the sudden grip on his arm. Like before the grip is gentle but firm. Bodhi stares down at the hand wrapped around his arm and then up at Cassian.

       A small part of Bodhi notes that this is the second time the forest god has touched him. An even smaller part notes that he’s the first to do so willingly in many years. Most people don’t like to touch fire incarnate once, let alone twice. Bodhi shoves that thought aside in favor of listening to the words coming out of the forest god's mouth.

       “You must be freezing,” the forest god says and Bodhi remembers that yes he’s soaked through. Bodhi looks down at his clothes expectantly, knowing he could get himself dry in very quickly. His glance must have been misconstrued because he’s suddenly being gently pulled at.

       “You should stay,” the other deity offers softly. “I don’t think demons like being cold and wet do they?” Bodhi glares at Cassian when he utters the familiar epithet but all he finds is a small smirk on the others face. The fight seems to drain out of Bodhi at the sight. Besides he’s right, Bodhi is freezing.

       “That’s probably not a good idea,” Bodhi says quietly, “I wouldn’t want to get you into any more trouble.”

       Cassian’s gaze is soft and questioning and Bodhi easily gives in.

       “Chirrut told me you were punished for letting me go,” Bodhi confesses.

       “Ah,” Cassian sighs in understanding, “that old god is meddling again.”  Bodhi chuckles lightly because really, does Chirrut ever stop meddling? They are still standing in Cassian's doorway, silently smiling at each other when Bodhi’s body shivers slightly.

       “Please stay,” Cassian softly repeats his offer and Bodhi wants to, but he also doesn’t want to put Cassian in any more danger.

       “I shouldn’t,” Bodhi insists, “I’m only here to take down my shrine.”

       Cassian frowns while glancing at said shrine and then at Bodhi, confusion written all over his face.

      “Why?” Cassian asks and Bodhi can’t help but sigh because he feels that it should be perfectly obvious.

      “Cassian my shrine is in the middle of your home,” Bodhi explains with exasperation. “Thank you for letting me into your home… and for welcoming my followers but I think I’ve trespassed enough.”

       Cassian’s looks momentarily surprised before he is smiling again, softly and a bit condescending if Bodhi was being honest.

        “Don’t you know?” Cassian gestures at the house around them “Your shrine was here before I was... if anyone is trespassing it is me.”  Cassian looks so earnest that Bodhi almost believes him.

       Bodhi shuts his eyes for a moment because he can’t make sense of what he is being told. Especially while Cassian was staring at him like that.  

       “But this is your forest,” he states calmly, eyes still closed tightly. He hears Cassian scoff.

       “It was not when we first met.” Cassian admits and that’s news to Bodhi. “After we helped the child he made me a shrine, same as you.”

      Bodhi recalls the beautiful shrine just outside. The tree surrounded by towers of stones precariously balanced. He wonders if the rain had sent the stones tumbling to the ground or if they had withstood Chirrut’s meddling. Cassian says nothing more and the silence makes Bodhi open his eyes to look at the forest god again. He can’t recall if Cassian had always been standing so close. For a long time the only sound is the rain and their breathing.

       “You choose to stay,” Bodhi finally speaks.

       “Yes,” Cassian confirms.

       “In my shrine?” Bodhi asks, with a raised eyebrow and Cassian is smiling softly again.

       “It is warm here.” He shrugs. “I enjoy being warm.” Bodhi can’t stop the giggle that escapes.

       “I’m actually very cold,” Bodhi admits. Cassian seems to remember that Bodhi is still dripping rainwater into the floor.

       “Please stay,” Cassian asks for the third time and finally Bodhi gives in.

       “If you’re sure,” Bodhi says testing his host who only smiles ruefully.

       “If you swear not to burn my forest down I swear not to trap you in the walls of this house?”

       “I swear,” Bodhi says, slightly confused about the strange threat but he nods in agreement. At the sight of that small gesture, Cassian finally lets go of Bodhi’s arm.

       “Excellent, let me find you some dry clothes.”

       The other god leaves him to remove his outerwear. Bodhi strips down to just his loose under clothes which have managed to remain mostly dry. He considers removing more but most of the new deities he’s met have odd ideas about modesty so he doesn’t risk it. Instead, he hangs his wet clothes to dry by the fire, only pausing to glance at his shrine and smile fondly at the familiar toy there. Upon further inspection, he finds more offerings and Bodhi wonder with a wry grin how he could let his followers know he doesn’t like strawberries. He eats one regardless and decides to offer the rest to Cassian.

       He wonders where Cassian has disappeared to and decides to absently brush out his long wet hair while he waits. Sitting with his back to the fire Bodhi unwinds his hair from its messy plait and begins to methodically run a fine comb through it. Bodhi doesn’t think to question why he feels comfortable enough to do so. He blames the altar behinds him and leaves it at that.

Eventually, the forest god comes wandering back in with his promised clothes and they both inexplicably freeze at the sight of one another. Bodhi watches as the other deity swallows hard before moving towards him again while looking at anything else in the room. Bodhi quietly accepts the bundle of clothes he’s handed. He holds them up to inspect the soft cloth but quickly sets them down when he realizes he’s being stared at quite intensely.

       “If you would like to sleep there is a bed,” Cassian gestures behind him and Bodhi shakes his head.

       “I’d like to stay by the fire,” Bodhi says with a self-conscious smile.

       “Of course!” Cassian says as he runs his hand through his hair. They grow silent and Bodhi fidgets under Cassian’s gaze.

       “Join me?” Bodhi asks, surprising even himself. Cassian looks indecisive but Bodhi has already made up his mind. He and Cassian need to have a conversation before Bodhi leaves again.

       “I promise,” Bodhi assures him “It’s much warmer beside me.”

Chapter Text

         Sitting on the floor before a certain rude forest god, wearing said gods clothes, Bodhi finds he’s not quite sure how to act.  Cassian is not an enemy, a friend, a follower, or a stranger and as such Bodhi is hesitant with every word and action.

        Their first two encounters had been a strange mix of sharp words and physical violence. While Cassian had thanked Bodhi for his help he had also presumed to tell Bodhi how to treat his followers. Which was the height of rudeness amongst gods really. When Bodhi had marched up to meet Cassian a third time he had expected more of the same. Cassian’s gentle words and gestures had been unexpected, to say the least.

         Glancing warily at Cassian, Bodhi wonders what he had to gain from such actions. He has his suspicions but he hopes he is wrong.

         “I need to make something clear,” Bodhi breaks the silence. “I can't help you.”

         He stares down Cassian, determined to make him understand. Cassian for his part seems just as determined to stare him down too.

         “I’ve made too many promises that I don’t intend to keep,” Bodhi confesses. “I refuse to fight for them any longer… but that doesn’t mean I’ll fight for you.”

        Cassian is still staring at him intensely but Bodhi can also see the disappointment in his expression. So his suspicions must be correct.

         “I have a duty to my followers and dying for gods they don’t care for or believe in would be a disservice to them. I took a side in the conflict because I believed it would better protect them but I’ve only put them in more danger.”

         “Fight with us.” Cassian interrupts him and Bodhi can’t hold back a scoff.

         “Did you hear anything that I just said?” Bodhi glares darkly at the aggravating forest god.  

         “You are alone Bodhi.” Cassian continues. “You are a deserter and if they do not kill you first then we will be forced to.”  Cassian’s words grow in volume as he leans into Bodhi’s space.

“If you join us here and now I could prote—”

         “I said no!” Bodhi cuts him off. The fire beside them grows in the face of Bodhi’s sudden fury and Cassian leans away from it and Bodhi.

         “I know what type of deities your allies are.” Bodhi spat scornfully. “Or did you forget about the dead forest and the creature that murdered it?” Cassian’s expression only grows darker.

         “You are alone Bodhi,” Cassian repeats forcefully. “How long will you survive alone?”

         “I’ve survived hundreds of years alone.” Bodhi informs him sharply “I think I can survive on my own for a little bit longer.” Long enough to see the last of his followers depart this world at least. Then when the last believer was gone Bodhi will finally be free. But Cassian doesn’t need to hear that.

         Instead of continuing the argument Cassian’s expression quickly turns to pity which Bodhi hates even more.

        “Centuries?” He asks and his voice is once again soft. Bodhi can barely keep of with the mood shift but he nods in confirmation.

        “How old are you?” Cassian asks suddenly.

        “A few centuries at least.”Bodhi sarcastically admits “You?”

        “One or two centuries,” Cassian admits just as sarcastically and he’s smiling ruefully for some reason.

         Bodhi, having never seriously thought about the forest god’s age before, comes to a sudden realization about Cassian.  

         “You’re new.” He states knowingly. Cassian raises an eyebrow again. “You've only just been replaced? Overthrown? Dethroned? Whatever you want to call it” Bodhi clarifies.

        Instead of being offended or angry as Bodhi half expected him to be Cassian only looks amused.

         “I've never had a throne,” Cassian remarks dryly as he leans in again. With his elbow on his knee and his head propped on his fist, Bodhi can’t help but think he looks rather charming. Which is a ridiculous thought to have about someone who should be your enemy. In fact, this whole conversation is ridiculous.

         “You know what I meant.” Bodhi sighs because this angry and rude god is suddenly so familiar with Bodhi.

        “I do not.” Cassian suddenly insisted roughly. His stare is hard and Bodhi gets the feeling Cassian knows what he’s thinking. They fall silent again and this times Bodhi lowers his eyes as he searches for words to end the silence. Determined to end this encounter quickly Bodhi returns to the entire reason he was there at all.

         “I don’t want to be your enemy Cassian,” Bodhi insists. “And I do not want to be responsible for any harm that comes to you and yours.” He inhales deeply before continuing.

         “I need to take down my shrine,” Bodhi declares. “The only follower I have near is that boy… and should anyone find it—”

       “No one will find it.” Cassian interrupts him “No one enters this forest without my knowledge.” Bodhi scoffs again in disbelief.

       “Chirrut and I were in your forest today.” Bodhi countered.

        “I know, It looked like you were having a private conversation,” Cassian revealed making Bodhi finally look back up at him through narrowed eyes.

        “You were spying on us?” Cassian seems startled by the accusation.

        “No!” He quickly denies “Chirrut would have drowned me in my own forest if I had dared... also the tree thanks you for the hug, it did not let me disturb you so I let you rest. ”

         Bodhi blinks several times as he recalls that yes in his exhausted state he hugged a tree. While that’s not necessarily something to be ashamed of Bodhi does feel some embarrassment that Cassian now knows.

         “So you just let me and Chirrut wander in?” Bodhi asks, quick to move on.

         “Your shrine is here and Chirrut is a friend,” Cassian replies.

         “You hardly know me,” Bodhi says and he can feel himself growing frustrated again. “Why do you insist on keeping my shrine up?”

         That is probably the most bewildering thing about this whole situation. Before today Bodhi and Cassian had only met twice and both encounters had been very unpleasant. Both times either one of them could have wound up dead.

         “I told you, it will not be a problem.” Cassian insists, completely ignoring Bodhi’s question. “Things that enter with bad intentions never reach their destination.” The statement makes Bodhi pause at its implications.

        “You think you’re strong enough to fight every evil thing that comes your way?” Bodhi asks skeptically.

         “You misunderstand,” Cassian corrects him “I don’t need to fight them because they will never find me.” Cassian finally breaks his intense eye contact with Bodhi to run his hand against the stubble on his face and smile bashfully at the fire.

         “My main purpose is to guide the lost to safety,” Cassian confesses before glancing up at Bodhi again. “Or to make sure they never find a way out again.”

        “Then you don’t fight them… you just make sure they stay lost?” Bodhi asks as he tries to understand exactly what Cassian was implying.

         “Sometimes.” Cassian openly admits. “Most of the time I make them walk back out the way they came.”  

         “But sometimes you have people wandering the forest starving? Bodhi stares at Cassian with concern.

        “Well, not at the moment?” Cassian hesitantly answers and Bodhi’s done questionable things to his enemies so he doesn't have much room to judge. “If I told you they deserved it would you believe me?” Cassian added.

         From the little he knows about Cassian after their two brief encounters Bodhi finds that he does believe him. Bodhi recalls the last time they’d met. Wandering the dead trees Bodhi had truly felt trapped. He remembers that after meeting Cassian the hopelessness he had been feeling was gone and he easily walked out of the forest. Staring back at Cassian, Bodhi can’t help but smile at him.

        “You lead me out of that forest,” Bodhi says, finally understanding the effort Cassian had gone through to help him.

        “Yes.” Cassian confirms “What did you think I meant?” Bodhi shrugs as his smile grows

       “I thought you were making an excuse to get out of that awful place ” Bodhi admits. Cassian nods his head and smiles again.

        “That is also true.” Cassian openly admits. Bodhi is smiling brilliantly at Cassian now and for a moment he forgets himself and the fire beside them jumps up and dances merrily alongside Bodhi. Cassian doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he seems to be leaning closer to Bodhi.  

        “Bodhi, you helped me, even when I did not deserve it.” Cassian’s expression is serious but his words are soft. “I am in your debt.”

        “I barely did anything.” Bodhi insists as he shakes his head. With a determined look on his face, Cassian shifts forward and suddenly he’s kneeling before Bodhi, with hardly any space left between them.

        “You saved me, a stranger. You saved that family, who did not believe in you. You hesitated to attack me even when I did first. You destroyed that thing .” Cassian spits out the last word. He then shuts his eyes tightly as he seems to shake off his anger. When he opens them again he’s staring at Bodhi. The expression on his face is open and earnest and if Bodhi was being honest, completely overwhelming.

        “I am in your debt,” Cassian repeats and Bodhi has to remind himself to breathe. Struggling to find words in the face of Cassian’s declaration Bodhi nods silently. Cassian studies him for a moment longer and then seems to realize just how close he’s gravitated into Bodhi’s space. He sits back and they both inhale deeply.

         “You're very intense.”Bodhi’s mouth speaks before his brain can catch up. He feels his face immediately grow warm and he knows he must be blushing something awful. Cassian looks momentarily surprised but then he’s laughing.

        “I”m sorry,” Bodhi says as he buries his face into his hand. “I’m just very tired.” That is not entirely true. Bodhi did have a long lap this morning after all but he is sleepy. Bodhi mentally takes note of the suns position. With the sun setting Bodhi begins to hear the low murmur of praying. He a pauses to listen and be sure that none of the voices are urgent or afraid.  

        “Do you mind terribly…” Bodhi glances back to Cassian apologetically and points towards his shrine. “My attention is needed elsewhere.”

        “No! Of course.” Cassian swiftly rises to his feet.“I have some things to do as well.”

         “In the rain?” Bodhi asks, worried as Cassian prepares to walk out into the storm that had still not calmed. Cassian doesn’t look very happy about it either be he also seems resigned.

        “There are things I must do before the sun sets.” Cassian grimaces as he opens the door and cold air rushes into the room. “Please stay, until the weather improves. I will return.”

        He spares Bodhi one last look. Bodhi gives him a sympathetic smile and Cassian seems startled again. He looks pained before he suddenly turns then he’s gone with the door is slamming shut behind him. Bodhi glances around the empty room that was noticeably cooler and hopes he’s not the real reason Cassian had fled so abruptly.

        Had Cassian thought him rude to ask for a moment alone with his followers? Bodhi hoped not, They were in his shrine after all. Perhaps Cassian had a follower or two in this forest that had been caught of guard by Chirrut’s sudden downpour. Yes, that was probably where Cassian needed to be.  

          After reassuring himself, Bodhi turns his attention to the voices that demanded it. Bodhi listened to the sounds of the followers near him settle in for the night. They thank him when the fire starts easily, they thank him for the warmth and light it provides and they pray it will last the dark night and keep them safe until the sun rises again. As the last of them drift off to sleep so does Bodhi.

        Curled up beside the fire Bodhi’s dreams are filled with the soothing whispers of followers so far away that the sun still touched them. He can’t understand what they are saying but it is infinitely preferred to the silence that haunts Bodhi’s nights. The soft whispers are so effective that not even Cassian's return disturbs his deep sleep. Bodhi knows this because when the sun rises he opens his eyes and is met with the sight of a sleeping forest god.

         Still fuzzy from sleep Bodhi closes his eyes again and processes the situation he’s in. It’s still raining, he's still lying on the floor, his head is pillowed on a bundle of clothes and he’s covered in a blanket. The blanket is new. Bodhi tugs it up and burrows his face into it before inhaling deeply. It smells exactly like the clothes Bodhi had borrowed. It’s been a long time since he’s been so warm and comfortable and he seriously considers going back to sleep.

         Pulling back the blanket just enough to peek over it, Bodhi confirms the sleeping god is still stretched out on the floor. With one arm around his middle and the other under his head, Cassian lies as far from Bodhi as the room allows. Bodhi immediately feels guilty for keeping the fire all to himself. His only consolation is the constant fire that had kept the room warm throughout the night.

        Bodhi wonders if he should wake him. Staring at a sleeping god seems rude… though nudging a peacefully sleeping god awake was probably more ill-mannered. Bodhi yawns and stretches and listen to his morning prayers. When he quickly assesses that no one is in distress their voices quiet and Bodhi turns his attention back to Cassian.

        With no distractions or imminent danger Bodhi takes a moment to study the rude forest god, who perhaps isn’t so rude. If the actions of the last day were any indication, Bodhi felt that it was time to form a new opinion of Cassian.