The last thing Minami expected tonight, was to see one of the monks appear at the storage building, telling him that the God awaits for Minami in his room. Now. A million thoughts have run through Minami’s head since then. He thought about every bad thing he could have done that day at the dining hall or after, for every wrong word he could have accidentally said. The boy was terrified of the unknown. The God’s spiritual energy was so powerful that Minami couldn’t help but feel nervous and anxious only knowing that he was around. The youth knew Gods presence must have been powerful, but who could have thought it was that much. Minami was absolutely sure the time he would be able to feel at least a little bit more relaxed next to that intimidating man may never come.
Past few days Minami thought a lot about the reason why the God came to sit with him that day in the dining room. Or more honestly, the youth couldn’t think of anything else but that. And from one side Minami was afraid to find an answer. It was easier to admit that all of that was just a strange accident. The boy had to feel blessed enough that he was able to speak with the God personally. On the other hand, he barely said anything, so it must have only disappointed him. However, others at the shrine thought differently. Minami, who didn’t really have friends, but most of the time was ignored, became like an object for every gossip, among the students. He even felt like he was thrown back in the village, around those who spoke about him like he would be a monster. Here he became God’s peasant. They were jealous, Minami got that, but that day, at the dining room, Minami didn’t ask for the God to come to him. All he ever wanted was to find his place here, not to become the spotlight.
That was what Minami thought all the way to the God’s chambers. He even stopped a few times, trying to calm himself down, but his knees kept shivering, and Minami one time almost fell with sake in his hands. Why would the God want him to bring a drink? The boy’s heart was going crazy, jumping somewhere in the throat, fast and uneven. When the man opened the door that moment, if Minami looked at him directly, he would have fallen for real.
How he ended up in the God’s bath chambers and was about to wash his hair, stayed incomprehensible. Minami was in some sort of trance. He shouldn’t have felt that way, but with each lasting moment, the boy was getting more and more thrilled. Even just sitting on the chair, holding a cup full of sake, the man looked absolutely majestic. How could someone in such a casual way, be so attractive? Minami could barely stay still from how gorgeous the God was, it made him even more anxious. As if Minami could ever relax around him.
“I’m very sorr--y… could you repeat, please?” Minami muttered when he heard the God saying something, but words got completely lost. Minami was too focused on making sure he wouldn’t fail this important task.
“I said…” the man quietly laughed. The boy just knew that the God was having fun because of how clumsy Minami was. “Before getting my hair wet, make sure to untie and unbraid them, I don’t want it to tangle later.” The man repeated slowly, and Minami’s face was covered in red stains from embarrassment.
“Ye-s… of course. I’m sorry.” Minami quickly bowed, even though the man wasn’t watching. He just took his second cup of sake.
“Stop apologizing. You’re not doing anything wrong.” The God sighed, placing the cup next to his lips. Minami, standing behind the man, had to calm himself down before touching him.
Touching the God. Minami’s lips opened a bit in amazement at how soft the man’s hair was. Not silk or velvet, Minami couldn’t compare it to anything else he had a chance to touch. His hands slid through a white soft surface. The youth’s fingers were shivering so hard that he had to constantly remind himself to focus before the man noticed.
“Mmmm… your hands feel nice.” The God tilted his head a bit back, as the man opened his eyes and they looked at each other.
That one split moment was enough for Minami to lose his breath, seeing that blue fire from so close. The youth's hand slipped and he accidentally brushed over the God’s large fox ears. The boy quickly pulled back his hand and was about to apologize again, but the man spoke first.
“You can touch them if you want.” Minami felt the God smiling as he spoke.
Just next to the boy the man’s tails wiggled a bit after those words. Minami was so glad his legs were covered under the layer. If he would have felt that softness against his skin, Minami was sure he would have squealed. Only from feeling the God so close, Minami constantly had chills running down his spine, cold sweat at the back of his neck.
The youth, of course, wouldn’t have missed such a chance. He touched one of the man’s fox ears very cautiously with his fingertips, and when suddenly as a response they moved, Minami flinched.
“Oooh.” The boy nervously giggled, the God’s low laugh joined Minami’s as well.
“They are sensitive.” Sounded as if the man was trying to apologize for scaring the boy. Again.
“No… it was just unexpected… I… was wondering if they were really this soft… like….” Minami shut his mouth, before ending the sentence. He accidentally said way too much. The boy slowly touched them again, softly pressing fingers a little bit harder against the fur. Fluffy.
“Are they?” The man’s voice was so curious, that Minami for a moment forgot that he must behave.
Maybe the man’s laugh broke that strange ice that was keeping Minami so tense. A weirdest thought crossed the boy’s mind. The God only invited Minami today because he wanted to talk with him. It was impossible, of course, but for that one moment, the boy felt different.
“Mmmm….” Minami nodded, as his fingers went through long strands, the boy untied the ribbon, spreading the loosened hair, brushing them with his fingers. “Can I ask… for how long… you've been growing your hair, sir?”
“I don’t even remember myself… having them short. It’s been many years…” Seemed like the God had completely forgotten about the cup of sake he was holding in his hand. The man again tilted his head a bit back, when Minami was unbraiding his hair.
“Oh… so how old are you?” The youth tried to imagine how much could be “many”, then quickly realized that it was rude to ask something like that. “I mean… I’m sorry, sir… you don’t have to answer…” The boy tried to correct himself carefully. His touches became shy again. Minami rushed to take the bucket and fill it with hot water from the tub.
“Stopped counting after 600…” The God answered with an almost bored voice as if this meant absolutely nothing. Minami however dropped the bucket off his hands into the water, covering his own gasp.
Six hundred years old. Minami wasn’t even sure he could count until this number. That was such a long time to learn, discover things. The youth was itching inside to know, to ask, and hear stories, but he didn’t have any rights for that. Probably the man wouldn’t be much into telling them anyway.
“Is it my turn now?” With his question, the God glanced at the boy’s side, and Minami wasn't able to hide his lost face. “To hear more about you.”
“Ummm… I’m not sure what I should say, sir...” Minami’s face again flushed brightly, only from a thought that the God might be interested in his life. Minami had nothing to tell. No matter what he tried to think of, it just sounded dull.
The boy raised the bucket over the man’s head, carefully starting to pour water on his long hair. This action took Minami’s full focus. The youth held his breath, drops of sweat ran down through his forehead as he tried to do his best, so hands wouldn’t shiver.
“Was it hard for you to leave your family and join the shrine?” The God asked, not paying attention to Minami's words before. The boy wished the man would have waited for a bit. He was tense enough because of his task, but there was no way the boy could just ignore the God’s question.
“After my parents passed away, my aunt and uncle took care of me, but… we weren’t really close. I was glad to come to your shrine, sir…” Minami felt almost obliged to add the last sentence to please the God.
“I’m sorry about your parents… I know families are important to humans. I am sure it was hard for you.” The man sighed, as Minami’s hands followed down through his hair length, making sure that water would reach everywhere, before using the oil. Something shivered inside the boy’s chest but not because of the man’s words, more about his reaction. “So I gather, it wasn’t really your choice to come here.” The God stated it wasn’t a question. He saw right through Minami’s words but didn’t seem offended.
“D-do you have a family, sir?” Minami knew his question was silly, but he tried to slip through without getting into a further conversation about his family. If he did, Minami would have to mention about Youkais at night and how people treated him in the village. That was something the boy didn’t want the God to know.
“Gods do not have parents, Minami. We are born from people’s wishes.” The man softly laughed when answering, but the boy suddenly regretted opening his mouth. The last thing he needed was for the God to think that Minami was stupid.
“Ye-es…” The youth mumbled, feeling that the situation was getting awkward again between them. In general, holding a conversation wasn’t something Minami knew how to do well, and talking with the God was way too challenging for someone like him.
Minami used this minute of silence to take the bottle of camellia oil. The man’s hair was so long, that the boy had to kneel on the wooden floor to apply it fully. The task was harder than it first appeared to be. After a few minutes, Minami’s hands were already getting tired. His fingers started to sting a bit from holding heavy hair. The boy now understood why the God needed help with them. It would be nearly impossible to wash them neatly on his own.
When the boy took a moment to rest his fingers, before continuing, the God drank another cup of sake. Minami waited for the man to lean back, but instead of it, he turned his body at the boy's side.
“Minami… are you underage?” The God looked up at the youth, capturing him with his eyes, and Minami suddenly was incapable of moving.
“N-o sir…” He muttered, blushing again for no reason, then quickly cleared his throat.
The God’s eyes were looking at Minami gently, but his lips smiled, as he was holding back a laugh. As if the man couldn’t really believe that Minami was not a child. It was sort of funny since the God was the one who wanted to know that in the first place.
“Have you ever tried sake?” The man asked, but even before hearing the answer, he was already giving Minami the empty cup.
“Ah… no, I haven’t.” Minami couldn’t refuse the God, even though he wasn’t feeling like trying it at all.
Minami’s uncle would get drunk almost on a daily basis, raising his voice, throwing things and the youth was always the one his uncle used to let the emotions out on, as well as cleaning the mess afterwards. After seeing his uncle like that, the boy never even considered trying alcohol himself.
The boy quickly rubbed his hands against his clothes, trying to dry them off from oil and water before taking the cup into his hand. He watched as the God poured the strong warm drink into the cup, feeling how his heart was again starting to go crazy inside the chest as if pouring a drink would be the most intimate action.
“I hope you don’t mind drinking from the same cup.” The God wondered, keeping the polite warm expression on his face.
Minami was already raising the cup to his lips when the sentence caught him off guard. He froze looking down at the edge of the cup, his lips suddenly went dry. Would that mean… an indirect kiss with him? Minami, of course, had never kissed anyone before. He hadn’t even thought about this much. But then why only from the thought of having a drink from the same cup with the God, Minami suddenly felt like his stomach was twisting in circles.
Pressure coming from the man’s sky blue eyes also didn’t get the boy to calm down. Minami nervously moved in the spot, as his breathing became heavier, before finally taking a sip from the cup. Minami quickly covered lips with his free arm, when the sweet warm liquid burned his lips and throat, making tears gather in the corners of his eyes. The boy frowned from the almost disgusting sensation, unconsciously pushing the still half-full cup away from himself. The God laughed. Of course, he did. Was he teasing Minami? Was he aware of how the boy was going to react?
“I guess you didn’t like it that much…?” The man continued having fun, slowly taking away the cup from Minami’s hand. Their fingers touched for a short moment, and that made Minami’s lips tingle a bit like the boy felt something more than burning from the alcohol on them.
“It’s not… bad…” The boy shrugged, trying to pretend stronger than he really was, waiting for the God to start laughing again from Minami’s useless efforts to leave a good impression. But the man’s face had changed. His smile turned into an oddly serious expression.
Did Minami cross the line?