Though he had paperwork to drop off at another office in the same hallway, Tenpou hadn’t been intending to stop in and talk to Konzen. In the new A.M. (After Monkey) era, the office was usually empty by this time so that Konzen could get Goku fed and bathed and settled for the night. Today, however, was clearly an exception, for Tenpou could hear voices coming from the office even before he drew level with the door. He paused just out of sight to listen.
“Pest, like I told you already, I just have to finish this one document before we go. I can’t concentrate if you’re talking, so the louder you are the longer it’s going to take!”
“But talkin’ is the only thing that takes my mind off bein’ hungryyyyyy…”
Konzen heaved the sigh of one contemplating familial deicide.
“I’ll let it down for you.”
“IF you stay quiet the whole time. And if you pull any more out it’s going up in a bun for the rest of the week. Promise?”
There was the scrape of a chair being pushed back and the clack of Konzen’s sandals being kicked off. Tenpou moved in just enough to peek through the open door of the office. He watched as the iciest man in Heaven sat down in a perfect Half Lotus and untied his ponytail.
Even as the locks settled over his back in waves and sheaves of gold, Konzen’s attention had already returned to the requisition report in his hands. Goku, for his part, had fallen silent as soon as Konzen’s hair fell loose and was now stroking it like fur, running his fingers through it like grass, wrapping the ends around his wrist like a bracelet. Konzen winced once or twice at a small tangle or a wisp falling into his face but remained absorbed.
After the initial flurry of exploratory touching, the boy settled behind Konzen, himself wrapped up in concentration. By the time the last page of the report was flipped over, Goku had managed to make three rough sections and start weaving them over each other. The braiding was loose and uneven but it hung together. By the time the process was halfway done, Tenpou could tell the man had already finished reading but remained silently in his place as Goku continued to braid until he ran out of hair.
In the rays of the setting sun coming in the window, the wisps and flyaways seemed to catch fire, surrounding Konzen in a delicate halo. He looked so much less severe, younger even, without his hair scraped straight back. Almost human.
When Goku stepped back to admire his work, Konzen reached back to feel the plait and rolled his eyes. “Don’t plan on a career as a hair stylist, Monkey.” He didn’t tie it up again, or even shake it out flat, just stood up and held out his hand for Goku.
Tenpou took this as his cue to leave quietly. He wondered, as he dropped the papers off for yet another round of stamps, signatures, and bickering, whether there was anything he could do to get Konzen to let his hair down again.