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A Fresh Coat of Polish

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Shouta finished off his beer and set the glass onto the table full of empty plates. There were five UA teachers hid away in a corner table at a bar close to the school, socializing on a Friday before heading home. Across from him sat Kayama, Ectoplasm, and Cementos, all listening to Hizashi as he told them about his recent charity event.  Shouta had been reluctant to go out.   He'd had a strange day at school, and hadn't really felt like being friendly, but Hizashi had whined about him being too stiff and turned those big hreen eyes on him.  He found himself begrudgingly agreeing to go.

Next to him, the radio host's hands waggled and flickered, imitating a panicked intern that'd spilled coffee onto Hizashi's shirt before he could go out to his meet-and-greet.

"'Oooh noooo, sir, I'm so sorry,'  she said.  But I told her, 'this is no problem, this is an excellent excuse for a wardrobe change!  They told me NO when I wanted to wear my heat sentitive suit and give out free hugs, but they DEFINITELY won't want me out there in a coffee stained shirt, covered in whip cream.'"

Kayama flashed a grin at him, "I wondered how you convinced them!  I saw the photos of you this morning on HeroicScoops, but none are as good as the shot I got."  She pulled out her phone to show off her photo of Hizashi in a dark purple suit that looked like it'd been splattered with sky blue paint.  Hizashi was holding the jacket up to display two blue handprints on his ass.  Ectoplasm threw his head back with a loud laugh.

Shouta rested his chin in one hand as he watched Hizashi's sheepish grin.  His blonde hair was mostly pulled back with a clip, but some loose strands fell around his face.  Shouta was probably staring, but he was allowed to stare at his husband, especially when the dim light was softly lighting his handsome face.  Hizashi started describing how those prints got there, his arms still fluttering over the table.

Shouta, already a little tipsy and more than a little tired, let the sound of his voice surround him.  He focused on the elegant motion of his hands and watched long fingers move.  His hands were as expressive as his face.  He loved watching Hizashi's hands, whether he was holding a mimcrophone, grading papers, or signing 'I love you'.  There was just something mezmerizing about the constant motion.  But right now, he was focused on his nails.  Tonight they were bright orange and seemed to flash as they caught the low hanging florescent light over their table.  Shouta picked at his own nails.  They were short, the skin around them was a little calloused, a little torn.

His eyelids drooped as he let his brain relax, feeling warm and full and safe with his friends.  He shifted closer to Hizashi, making their legs touch, and rested his head on his husband's shoulder.  He would never admit it, but he loved to cuddle up to him.  He found his solid warmth comforting.   Hizashi didn't pause in his story, but Shouta saw him glance down at him before he let his eyes close.

_____

On the drive back to their house, Shouta slouched low in his seat.  Hizashi had the radio turned low and was singing along as he navigated narrow streets.  He made a motion towards the radio dial, but paused as Shouta spoke, "Did they give you tomorrow off?"

"The radio station?  Yeah, they said they wanted some newer personalities to have a chance at some interviews and wanted my usual studio time to record.  Did you want to do something together?"

Shouta shifted his arms, a little uncomfortable with what he really wanted to do with their time together.   Not that Hizashi would refuse him. At least, he had never refused him before.  But he still hesitated to ask.  Asking felt wierd. It felt vulnerable.  He'd rather ask about experimenting in the bedroom,  or how he could make his hero costume more stylish.

He gave a predictable answer instead.  "Hmm, maybe dinner.  Or I can cook you some tempura? Just a quiet day would be nice."  Shouta thought he'd sounded normal, just voicing the typical desire to keep their day off relaxed, but he must have done something to give himself away.  Instead of a joke about being lazy or a loud complaint about Shouta never wanting to go out, the voice hero just nodded his head. Hizashi's hand reached out to find Aizawa's and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"Anything for you, my scruffy husband."  Aizawa dropped his eyes so he wouldn't have to see that amount of sincerity in those green eyes.  It still made his heart squeeze uncomfortably.

___________

That night,  Shouta didn't sleep well.  He had a nightmare.  Tame, by his standards, but enough to have him flail himself awake.  He sat up, breathing heavily, and pushed the comforter away.  Half remembered feelings of big hands crushing his child-sized hands, of being trapped and ridiculed and hurt, and then seeing a young Hizashi's face look at him with dissappointment.  Scowl at him, for his inability to keep his gift.  His hands were ruined, torn and dripping blood into a pool that kept growing deeper, threatening to swallow them. 

Shouta pushed his hair back out of his face and tried to focus on things in front of him.   That usually helped distract his brain from the threats of his imagination. He evened out his breathing, slowly counting in his head until he was quiet again.  It was just a nightmare.  It was based on reality, but his dream had exaggerated it and twisted it.  It was just a nightmare, he told himself again.  The dream was wrong.  Hizashi had never given him that stricken look of dissappointment.  There hadn't  been enough blood to form a puddle, much less a pool.  Shouta looked to where his sleeping husband lay, his chest rising and falling slowly.  Without his hearing aides in, there wasn't any sound to wake him.

Shouta watched his husband and willed those lingering feelings of shame to leave him.  There wasn't any need for them.  He snuggled in beside him once more, resting his gead on Hizashi's chest, trying to hear his heartbeat.  He let his husband's warm presence lull him to sleep again.

___________
After his nightmare, Shouta had slept peacefully.  He hoped he hadn't disturbed Hizashi with his movements.
After a morning of grading papers and making lesson plans for the week, and making and eating a lunch of vegetable tempura, they let their lazy evening off begin. 

They sat together on the couch, about to find a movie to watch when Hizashi startled upright.  "Shouta!  We're out of condoms!"

Shouta raised an eyebrow, "And you need a condom to pick out a movie?"

Hizashi flung himself into Aizawa's chest and moaned a lamentful, "Nooooo, but what if I get scared and need a cuddle?  And maybe a distraction, and then we need to bone, but we don't have a condom so I get pregnant and have to quit my job and become a housewife for our 8 kids?"

Shouta pushed him upright and sighed, "Well, if its going to escalate that quickly, we'd better prepare.  Let's go get some diapers."

They threw on their shoes and walked out the door, intending to make the trip to the corner convenience store as quick as possible.  Hizashi focused on the condoms while Shouta picked out a few snacks: some daifuku, a bag of shrimp chips, and a pack of some new gel pack that was supposed to taste like lychee.  Shouta scrunched his nose, already sure it would taste like sugar instead of any discernable fruit, but took it anyway.  He was about to round the corner when a display caught his eye.

There was a little stand of makeup featuring  some cartoon character that looked disturbingly like Tokoyami.  The little bird had big eyelashes, eyeshadow, and was applying a pink lipstick.  But it was the lipstick on a beak that stopped him, it was the nail polish lined up below.  He reached out to pick up a bottle.  His mind wandered to the events of the week that he wanted to talk to Hizashi about, but didn't want to talk about.

It was just a bit of paint.  It wasn't a big deal.  Or, it wouldn't have been, if Shouta didn't have his own baggage regarding the subject.  But he didn't want to let that prevent him from setting a good example for his students.  If he could just set an example without having to have one of those unbearable heart-to-heart conversations.  He couldn't stand those.

He was just putting the bottle down and resolving to keep it to himself when Hizashi popped around the corner.  "Hey Hot Hobo Man, what's taking so long?"  Shouta set the it down clumsily as he tried to pretend he hadn't been looking at it, but Hizashi picked the bottle right back up, "Oooh, Hottie Sauce Red.  The names they give these, am I right?"  Hizashi crouched to better see the waist high display, digging through the bright colors.  "What about this one! It would match my color change suit!"

Aizawa suppressed a cringe as Hizashi held up a purple bottle.  It looked like the shade Kaminari had been wearing earlier that week.  It was the catalyst  that had kept Shouta on edge for the past two days, not wanting to remember anything, but wanting to help his students be better humans that those that had hurt him.  He brushed past Hizashi without a word, still not ready to bring it up, especially not in public.  He put the snacks on the counter for the clerk to scan.  Hizashi appeared at his elbow, plopping down the condoms and some gummy candies.  He stayed uncharacteristically quiet as they paid and left the store.  Shouta was just starting to wonder if he should say something so Hizashi wouldn't think he was angry when Hizashi took hold of his hand a gave it a squeeze and smiled brightly at him.

Hizashi didn't say a word all the way home.  He wasn't *silent*; he was humming some upbeat tune that hadn't been on the radio in a decade.  He just kept a smile on his face and occasionally bumped his shoulder against Shouta's.  Back home, Hizashi dropped their snacks on the couch, tossed the condoms into the bedroom, and grabbed a spare blanket before starting to settle into the middle of the sofa. He spread his arms wide in invitation.  Shouta dropped beside him, resting his head against his shoulder just like he had the night before at the bar.  The same thoughts were still sitting in his head too.  Hizashi put on a horror flick.  It was something more like an action movie with quite a few fight scenes between the student dental hygeinists and the ghosts of long-dead cowboys.  The actors were a bit cheesy, but there was a surprising amount of character development.  Still, Shouta's blinks became longer and longer until he just let his eyes close.  It might still be early, but it was his free time and he wanted a nap.

He was nudged awake by his husband in time to see the credits rolling.  Hizashi leaned in for a kiss, just a peck on the mouth.  Shouta yawned,  and before he could decide to put it off again, he asked for what he wanted.  "Hizashi, would you paint my nails?"

Shouta was not expecting the gentle smile that Hizashi gave him.  He'd been expecting questions.  He'd been dreading questions, but all Hizashi said was, "Anything for you, my Sleeping Bag Beauty."  Hizashi knew his history with nail polish.  Now that he let himself think about it, Hizashi had never called attention to his rare request for him to paint his nails.  Hizashi knew he never asked on a whim, that it was spurred by something that had made Shouta think of his childhood.  But he was never pushy about making him talk about it.

The sofa shifted as Hizashi went to fetch his box of nail supplies.  He returned with a box of clippers, files, buffers, polish, and glitter.  Just loose glitter in the bottom of the box.  Shouta pushed that knowledge out of his head before he could ask questions.   He really didn't need to know.

Hizashi plopped down on the floor in front of Shouta, taking out what he'd need first.  Shouta watched him set out a handful of tools, and wondered if he'd really need all that.  There seemed to be twice as many little items as the last time they'd done this.

Shouta snaked an arm out from the blanket he'd coccooned himself in and let Hizashi arrange it to his liking.  His bright green eyes peered up over his tinted glasses as he asked, "The usual black?"

Shouta nodded.  Just like he had the first time he'd done his nails, Hizashi started with trimming and filing.  Shouta's hands were rough and worn with stubby nails.  They weren't pretty.  Even with three demamding jobs, Hizashi managed to keep his hands unfairly attractive.  Despite pulling people from fires and regularly lifting heavy things and punching solid jaws, his hands always seemed to be clean and smooth.  No matter how messy the work, the next morning Hizashi's hands were once again manicured, painted and shiny.

Hizashi finished shaping the nails of Shouta's  first hand and started on the second.  He had been singing the theme song of some old Hero show, but now he pulled Shouta into conversation.  "Did something happen on patrol?"

Shouta didn't answer right away.  Hizashi's question made sense.  Usually a request for Salon Yamada was preceeded by a rough job.  Something with kids, or families reuniting, nights that ended with a rush to the hospital.  After nights like that,  Shouta wanted a reminder that Hizashi was on his side, backing him up.   "No, not patrol.  It was at school."

Hizashi's hands pause, just for a second.  The answer was unexpected and seemed to put the blonde on edge.  Shouta clarified, "Nothing terrible happened. I would have told you.  It was just...some students were mocking Kaminari."

Hizashi didn't press for more.  He just resumed his work with a foam file.  He'd been fairly quiet all day, Shouta realized.  Usually he was talking nonstop.  He seemed to think it was his duty to fill the silence with noise.  He sang or hummed or talked about the weather or the newest hero  videos or critiqued the latest songs running on all radio stations.   Shouta knew then that he must have been obvious about his discomfort.  Hizashi had been quiet so that Shouta had ample opportunity to speak.

Finished with the file, Hizashi dropped it into the box.  He pulled out a small bottle of oil and sprinkled it into his palm.   He took one of Shouta's hands between his own and started massaging it.  His fingers stroked over old scars, paying particular attention to the ones near his nailbed, remembering the after-affects of their first salon session.  "Do you want to talk about it?"

Shouta remembered those hands making the same motions when he'd first got those scars.  Hizashi had covered evey inch of skin with his own beautiful hands.  Even though his fingers had been scabbed and aching too badly to sign, Hizashi's gentle hands hadn't hurt a bit.

Back then, his injuries hadn't been from hero work.  He wasn't old enough to have been dealing diretly with villains yet, but that didn't mean that villains weren't in his life.  His father should have had a monstrous name to match his actions.  He was one of those who couldn't tolerate someone diverging from The One Way to Be a Man.  Someone who acted like it was his holy duty to *correct* the *wrong*.  And that behavior was the link between his past and present that had Shouta's thoughts stuck in a bog of avoidance.  But this time, avoiding it would only hurt his students, and he would not allow that.

"Kaminari came in wearing lavender nail polish on Wednesday."  He had seen the night before, that Kaminari and some of the girls had done a little makeover party and left a mess in the common room.  Iida had scolded then, both for the mess, and for not adhering to dress codes.  "Bakugou made some gendered comment about chipping his pretty nails.  Ashido told him off.  It started a little debate.  A heated debate."

Hizashi, who'd been uncapping a nail primer, looked up.  "That was your class?!  We heard them shouting from two floors down!"

Shouta sighed.  It wasn't really the debate that mattered.  His class seemed to have a lot of energy for everything, including pointless arguements.  The real problem was what happened after.  "Well back at the dorms, I caught Kaminari trying to scrape it off."  Hizashi  paused in his application to bump his knee against Shouta's.  "He said he was just induldging the girls by letting them do it, but he was really upset Hizashi.  I saw him smile when they put it on him, and I saw him hiding in the corner while they debated masculinity."  Shouta  tried to still his tapping fingers as Hizashi started on his other hand.  "I gave him some nail polish remover, so he wouldn't spend all night picking it off."

Shouta's knee started bounching in aggitation.  "They were just so dense.  My whole class knows he's trans, but they kept argueing about what's manly or not, trying to get each other to admit its a girly thing to do."

Hizashi cringed in sympathy.  "Plenty of Heros wear things that aren't traditionally male.  Tiger wears a skirt, and no one calls him a girl.  And I've got more shampoo deals than Mount Lady and Midnight combined.  You could show him that there's plenty of hero's that don't care about their ManScore."

"But he does.  He wants  to be manly.  He IS a man."  Hizashi frowned.  Shouta could tell that he wasn't being clear enough.  "As amazing as you are, not eveyone wants to be the living embodiment of a punk pride parade.  I think he's trying for more of a...a Best Jeanist, but less Jeans.  Rugged, but stylish."  Shouta paused,  trying to better articulate the core problem.   "Kaminari liked his nail polish, but his peers making it a big deal took it away from him. And that's not right."

Hizashi put away the primer and pulled out a little black bottle.

"I just want... I want him to see that he doesn't have to give up things he likes just because some stupid people will count it as a defect in his masculinity.  Those people aren't worth thinking about.   I want him to see all types if people enjoying things regardless of what gender they are."

Shouta sighed.  Finally talking to Hizashi about it felt like a relief.  He felt a little embarrassed at how big this had seemed before. Them again,  Hizashi was very good at bringing things into perspective.  Hizashi gently blew on his nails.  "Does that even help them dry faster."

Hizashi smirked, "Probably not," and kept blowing.  "I've got an idea though.  You want to set a good example, right?  Want them to see that we don't have to gender everything and police their use?"  Hizashi started applying the black polish.  "Well we'll give them a little demonstration."

_____________

"Anyone who scored 50 or less on the quiz gets an extra assignment"  Shouta walked around the classroom handing out their graded quizes.  Normally he left them in a pile for them to grab on their way out, but today he had an alterior motive.  He started at the front of class and worked his way back.  As he went, most students noticed his newly painted nails.  Deku looked thoughtful and pulled out a notebook.  Bakugou frowned .  Asui called them lovely.  Jirou flashed him her own black nails.  At Kaminari's desk, he paused.  Kaminari had noticed the hubub, and shifted in his seat as Shouta approached.  "You passed this time, but I'd suggest giving more time to your studies."  He slid the electic boy's paper across his desk, making sure he saw his black nails.  "But do save time for enjoying yourself.  That is important too."  Kaminari's mouth pressed into a straight line, his eyes glued on his teachers hand.  He looked ready to vibrate out of his seat.  Before handing out the last few papers, he subtly handed over a bottle of purple polish.  "Present Mic thought you might want this."

Aizawa almost wished he could see his students when they realized he wasn't the only teacher who was having a slight appearance change.  He and Hizashi had walked into the teacher's lounge that morning with a big box of nail polish and a plan.  Eveyone had agreed, and the morning's usual preparations had been delayed in favor of picking out colors and having an impromtu salon party.

Even Nedzu had opted to participate, a cheerful grin onhis face as Kayama had tried not to stain his fur as she painted his tiny claws.   All Might had surprised eveyone by asking for pink.  Even Thirteen had let them paint five dots of color onto their suit.

As Shouta caught up to Hizashi in the hallway, he wondered if this sort of show of solidarity would have helped his own views.  If he would've been less isolated if he'd known how many others weren't as rigid as his father had been.

In a rare show of affection on school grounds, Shouta grabbed Hizashi's hand.  He pointed to Snipe and OverLoader down the hall, comparing nails.   The two noticed their approach and fanned their nails out, "How do they look?"  Hizashi smiled, bringing their joined hands up to eye level.

"We all look fantastic, of course."