Since that day, Ryou couldn’t really forget about the view of the boy’s brightly blushed face. It was sort of fun to see him so nervous and lost. The God never found humans' overreaction towards things amusing, it was sort of annoying. How they tried to put that fake respect for their own satisfaction. And yet. Minami was adorable. Ryou barely held his smile back at the dining room. If Jirou have waited for a couple of minutes longer, maybe Ryou would have done something he regretted later. Temptation to touch the boy’s hands, to feel if he had the same warmth on his skin, as the one he was emitting for others.
And that was it. That was the only reason Ryou got interested in him. Only because he was a little bit different than the others, interesting. The God tried to convince himself that there was no other intention behind that. There couldn’t be any reason for him to be more invested. He just wanted to know why Minami carried such strong powers inside himself, but after all… he was just a human. Just like everyone else. Ryou couldn’t expect more from him.
Then why were those blushed cheeks the only thing he could think about?
“There is someone I want you to call for me… One of the students.” Ryou was on his way back to his room from the office, after long hours of working on blessings and answering prayers. The ritual had to be held the day after, and the God thought he would get to see that boy again.
“Yes, Ryou-sama? Is everything alright?” Kusou, who was following after Ryou, helping him to carry papers, wondered with his annoying curiosity. Unheard for the God to ask for someone to come over at this hour, not to mention students. Kusou’s big long nose just had to know.
“Minami.” Ryou answered shortly, not getting involved in further conversation. He only needed Kusou to do what he was asked, nothing more. Ryou was patient enough for today with his presence. He was also perfectly aware of how Kusou was treating Minami. Ryou usually didn’t get involved with how monks act with students and how they choose them. But this situation was different.
"Oh… him? He is not a student, sir… he is no one.” Kusou paused for a moment like waiting for the God to say something more. “Ryou-sama, if the peasant boy was in any way rude to you... I assure you, I will make sure so he will be punished accordingly.”
Ryou frowned. Just imagining someone touching that boy… punishing him, made him tensed, almost angry. And Ryou had never lost his patience so easily. However, he glared at Kusou, and the man almost stumbled while walking. The God stayed quiet until they reached his room and Kusou was about to go back.
“I would appreciate it if you would not place your opinion when I don’t ask for it. Just call Minami here.” Ryou didn’t like that he had to repeat his words. More than that, he didn’t like Kusou's attitude at all. For many years the God ignored Kusou, being absolutely useless for the shrine because the man didn’t care enough for himself. But only in these past several days he almost got fed up with Kusou’s existence.
The God didn’t want to admit it, but his heart ached, trying to understand why others in the shrine acted as if Minami wasn’t there, or how come no one except for Jirou didn’t feel how strong his spiritual energy was. The previous day Jirou told Ryou enough. Everything - about the place, where the boy had to sleep, until the fact that Kusou didn’t let him in practice with the other students, not even once.
“Of cou-rse. I will find him right away.” Kusou stuttered with a deep bow, once he met Ryou's eyes.
“And let him bring hot sake as well. That’s all.” Ryou turned his back to the man, who seemed frightened by the God’s reaction. He quickly made his way out, leaving the God lost in his own thoughts.
Ryou changed his casual clothes into a long white bathrobe. Silk felt pleasant against his body, and his exhaustion after a long evening was replaced by the sudden realization that he would see the boy again. The God however felt almost absurd for not being able to shut the excitement inside. And yet, Ryou had tried hard to ignore the odd scratching inside his chest.
It took longer than the God wanted, but finally, the man heard a tender but soft voice behind the door.
“Ryou-sama… it’s Minami. I heard you wanted to see me.”
Ryou, who was holding a book, but seeing absolutely nothing, had never raised his head so fast for any other sound before. His heart for some reason pounded heavily, shoulders became tense. Just now a thought popped into his head - the God couldn’t focus on anything else, because he was waiting. Waiting for this human boy to come.
Instead of answering, the God got up and opened the door himself. Minami was standing there, with shivering fingers holding a basket with sake. The boy’s head was barely reaching the man's shoulders. The view of his cheeks again colored in bright pink, eyes humbly lowered down - Ryou had to hold back from patting Minami’s deep dark hair. The God didn’t notice how his lips started smiling from that adorable view in front of him.
“Minami... It’s good to see you again. Please come with me, I need your help.”
Ryou couldn’t explain what he was thinking, at this point probably all thoughts just vanished. He never called any human to his chambers like that. What was he thinking? But again, Minami wasn’t just any human. The boy only quickly nodded, not looking up as Ryou passed through him.
They went into another room, where the bath filled with hot water, like every evening, was already waiting. the God turned at Minami, who was looking at the surroundings with wide, petrified eyes. Ryou could only imagine what kind of chaos was going inside the boy’s head. It was weird for the God as well. He was just better at hiding emotions.
“Place the sake over there, please.”
Ryou gracefully pointed at the low table, himself sitting on the chair just next to it. The God watched as Minami went through him, doing as he was told without any questions. Ryou wasn’t sure if the boy was led by respect or fear. Neither of them sounded good enough for the man.
Minami halted in place, nervously rubbing his hands. Ryou knew he was lost, but didn’t have enough courage to ask. The God wondered how he should place his request as well, and not to frighten the boy even more. The man was watching the youth for a long moment, then leaned down to pour himself a drink.
“Yo--u… said… you need my help with something, sir?” Finally, Minami spoke, quickly glancing at the God, thinking he wouldn’t notice.
“Indeed. Could you help me wash my hair?” Ryou tried to make it sound as natural as possible as if a student washing his hair would be a daily thing. He never let anyone else, except for Jirou to help him with that.
“Excuse me..?” Minami stuttered, raising his big dark eyes at the God, but as soon as they looked at each other, the boy turned his head away. “I’m sorry… of course I can… try… but I have never washed anyone’s hair before.”
“That’s completely fine. I’m sure you will do just fine.” Ryou tried to smile for the boy, but it didn’t really seem to help lower the tension. Why was he even trying? “You can take the bucket, and stand behind me.”
Ryou drank the first cup of sake, while Minami stumbled around. The youth looked like he was in a rush to do everything as fast as he could. The God sensed this anxiety. Obviously, just like the first time, Minami didn’t feel comfortable around him. As if the man would punish him if the boy did something wrong. But Ryou, like every other God, tried to keep his distance from humans for centuries, suddenly more than anything else, he wanted Minami to forget that they were from completely different worlds.
Just for a bit.
Only so he could understand the boy better.