Aira’s hair was growing.
He had been swamped by idol work of recent, trying to get used to Alkaloid and their new clumsy living situation. He hadn’t had a lot of free time to take care of himself - though he really should be on top of it as an idol. It seemed his haircut had slipped his mind and he turned his head to the side in the mirror, scowling at the length of it.
Too feminine. Much too feminine. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with guys having long hair. fine’s Wataru looked absolutely rave~ly, the picture perfect idol with flowing, almost sentient locks. You could say it was part of his charm - he had seen enough online posts titled ‘Every time Wataru’s hair caught the light’ to know how strongly his fans felt about it. Sites had practically exploded at a slight trim and, yeah, Aira had made frantic posts about it too... But that was Wataru and while Wataru looked fantastic with it, Aira…
Well, Aira just looked like a girl.
Passing was hard enough for him. He had perfected his make up skills, long days of frustration earning him skill as he tried to mold his face into something more masculine. The way he moved, the way he spoke… He kept tabs on it all. How had he slipped up on this?
“Aira?” Knock, knock. Hiiro. “Tatsumi-senpai sent me to get you for dinner! Are you done in there?”
“Be right there, just give me a second!”
He sighed. There wasn’t anything he could do about it right now; just haphazardly taking scissors to his hair without knowing what he was doing would make him look like a stray dog. What would that do for his idol image when it was already so weak? He might as well go eat now and deal with it later.
One last disparaging look and he bounded out the door.
The food, as expected, was warm and comforting. Whenever Mayoi was in charge of cooking, the flavours always seemed to soak into your tongue and calm your stomach, almost as good as food from home. And like being at home, they all managed to eat together - Tatsumi must have been able to coax Mayoi to sit at the actual table this time instead of eating in the vents.
But even the food couldn’t distract him from his hair. He couldn’t stop fiddling with it, everytime it grazed his face was like a smack to it. It fell into his eyes now, how had he not noticed that? And it was hovering around him like some nagging fly, he needed to make an appointment right now-
“Are you okay, Aira-san? You seem to be fidgeting quite a lot.” Tatsumi smiled at him over the dinner table.
“Ah, I’m fine!” He tried to smile it off but Tatsumi’s concern stayed where it was and he let himself sigh. “Well… I need to cut my hair and it’s already gotten pretty long.”
“You do not like your hair being long, Aira?” Hiiro looked over at him curiously.
“No, I hate it.”
“I think you look very pretty this way!”
He felt something in his chest squeeze and his skin go hot. Hiiro sounded so genuine and that just made it worse . “Well I don’t want to look pretty, you idiot!”
Hiiro, stupid Hiiro, looked at him with those damn puppy dog eyes, unknowing. “Why not? You like the other pretty idols?”
Fingers clenched around his utensil. How hard was it to understand? “That’s for them! It doesn’t suit me!”
“Really? I think Aira looks really good?”
“That isn’t a compliment! I don’t want to look good in this way! I don’t want to look like a-”
“Aira-san?” Mayoi. He was shaking, just slightly but his voice was steady. “Are you okay?”
Oh he… He was shouting, wasn’t he? He got way too worked up… Embarrassment coloured his face and he looked down at his plate of food in shame. “I’m fine! I’m fine…”
“Then what did you mean before? You are my friend, Aira, so I want to understand.” In that moment, he hated Hiiro and his well meaningness and his doe eyes.
“It’s not something you’ll be able to understand.” It’s not like Hiiro had to try as hard as he did. Not just in idol work and school but this too.
“I want to try regardless!”
Aira met Hiiro’s gaze when he heard his earnestness and his stupid, cute, doe eyes had given away to stupid, cute, determined eyes. He meant what he said - of course he did, it wasn’t like Hiiro to lie - and wouldn’t let up until he could get it. But he had never explicitly come out to Hiiro. He had no idea how he would react - outright malice sounded unthinkable but who knew? It was a possibility he had to consider, even as it made his stomach twist.
In the middle of his worrying, Tatsumi gently slid into the conversation. “It’s that… It’s that you don’t want to look like a girl, is that right?”
Of course he had guessed, he already knew. Both Mayoi and Tatsumi already knew, he just hadn’t told Hiiro.
Not feeling unlike a chastised child whose parent had seen right through them, he nodded his head bashfully. “My hair… I forgot to make an appointment for a haircut and I don’t really want to wait…”
“I-I could help?” Mayoi fiddled with his gloves. “I do my own hair maintenance and I’m sure I could cut it in the way you like… I-If Aira-san is okay with it, of course!”
That… sounded like a good idea. Mayoi’s hair was more than long and the braid he tied it into was messy but it looked silky smooth. He wasn’t his usual hairdresser but he couldn’t see him giving him a godawful cut…
He had clearly taken too long to answer because Mayoi began to spiral. “Of course you wouldn’t want a cut from such trash, what was I thinking? An innocent boy like you wouldn’t want me anywhere near youuuuuuuuuu!”
Aira, way too preoccupied with Mayoi’s boy buzzing pleasantly in his ears, let Tatsumi answer for him for now. “No, that suggestion sounds wonderful, Mayoi-san! Fufufu… Of course you would have clever hands that only God Himself could have blessed~”
Hm… He should probably answer now before Mayoi started blushing and flirting. “Yeah, that sounds good actually! Rave~ly even… ♪”
“Then after dinner! I’ll cut it for you. Fufufu… Holding a cute boy’s hair… Being so close… I’m looking forward to it ♪… ”
Before he could get too creeped out by Mayoi’s drooling smile, Hiiro spoke. “I think I get it now. You do not want to be seen as ‘pretty’ but instead as handsome…?” He grabbed his hand over the table and Aira was blushing for a reason other than embarrassment. “I am sorry for upsetting you, Aira! I am sure you will look very handsome and I like you just as much with your short hair!”
His glare was half hearted. “You idiot… I would still get the haircut even if you didn’t like it…”
“Good! If Aira is happy, I’m happy too! The smiling Aira is the most handsome Aira!”
Oh… Oh, Hiiro really would kill him one day.
Mayoi’s hands were as sure as anything on his hair, free from his usual tremors and twitches. The scissors snipped in a steady rhythm, soothing enough to lull to sleep. Hair falling around him reassured him that everything was going as planned. It was relaxing to sit on the stool and let himself be taken care of.
What was not relaxing was Hiiro staring at him from where he was perched on the bed.
He had decided to watch - something about moral support and further explanation - but the way he was inspecting him was making Aira feel self conscious. Did he have something on his face? Did everyone really prefer him when he looked more… feminine? This silence was too much to deal with.
“... What do you want, Hiiro-kun? Why are you staring at me like that?”
“I understand that you don’t want to be seen as a girl but not why?”
Aira could answer this in the easy way. He could say he just doesn’t like it and there’s nothing more to it than that. It would be so simple…
But he just felt that now was the moment.
“Hiiro-kun… I’m trans.” His eyes scoured Hiiro’s face pleadingly. Mayoi knows already, Mayoi will have his back but the worry that thrummed through him… Any change, any flinch, any rejection-
“What is trans?”
He should have expected that. God, explaining this to people always felt so awkward. “I didn’t always know I was a boy.”
“You didn’t notice from your body?”
He winced and felt the snipping rhythm slow and a squeeze on his shoulder in support. Right, right, he was right behind him. Mayoi could be questionable but he was somewhat reliable. “We don’t have the same bodies, Hiiro-kun.”
Aira can see the thought rolling around in Hiiro’s head for a few seconds. And he nodded and seemed to just accept it.
“What about your parents? Did they not tell you?”
“They got it wrong the first time. I had to figure it out for myself.” He chuckled a bit. “A girl… I’m not one and I don’t want to look like one at all. I mean, there are people like me that don’t mind looking girly and that’s fine but that’s not really me. I guess I’m fine with being cute but… I don’t…” It is difficult to find the words at times like this. The way he felt was suddenly so silly to him; he didn’t want to be laughed at. He looked at his hands clenching and unclenching. “I don’t want to be pretty. I don’t want to be called that.” He locked eyes with him. “Do you understand, Hiiro-kun?”
Hiiro was silent. What on earth could he be thinking about…?
“Alright!” His smile gleamed. “Alright, I understand! Thank you Aira for explaining this to me! There’s still a lot I don’t know about so anything that helps me understand you better… That makes me happy~!”
There was no way Aira could resist smiling back. “When you talk like that, I start feeling happy too… I thought that you would-” He hesitated. “Well, I thought you would be angry about it.”
He frowned. “Why would I be?”
Aira shrugged. “Some people are.”
Hiiro’s expression darkened. “If anyone gets angry at you for it, I'll punch them.”
“That really isn’t necessary or idol-like!”
“I’ll do it anyway!”
“Ufufufu…” Mayoi let out an amused laugh. “You two are so friendly with each other. How cute to see…”
“Of course! Aira is my dearest friend!” Hiiro grabbed his hand - as if it was nothing at all for him and it probably wasn’t from how much he did it but God - and squeezed it. “I love him!”
"That’s not the type of thing you would say to a friend! But... Well, I guess it’s okay.” In truth, Aira was practically glowing.
There was something so wonderful in knowing that Hiiro fully accepted him. Of course, whether people accepted him or not, he would still be who he was and he wouldn’t - couldn’t - change that but there was something that warmed him up, starting from the stomach to all throughout his body, whenever he was reaffirmed like that.
Being a trans idol in itself worried him. Thinking of his fans finding out someday, their reactions… It honestly made him feel sick sometimes. How many would stick around for him? Idols depended on the love of fans, there was no way he could be one without that. Would he fade into obscurity? Or even worse, revulsion?
But he wouldn’t be alone. Not with Alkaloid.
“All done!” Mayoi brought up a mirror to his face. “I-Is it good? I-If not then I’m so sorry, it was too presumptuous of trash like me to assume that they could-”
“No, it’s… It’s perfect…” He breathed out.
It was just his usual, maybe better. It was exactly what he wanted. Exactly how he saw himself.
“You look very handsome, Aira!” Hiiro smiled at him encouragingly.
“Yes, Aira-san looks very good, doesn’t he?” Mayoi chipped in.
He moved his head to the side wonderingly, checking it from another angle. “You guys are just saying that.”
“But it’s true!” Hiiro pushed on. “You look wonderful! And a happy Aira is the most handsome Aira!”
The mirror lit up with his own smile. “Yeah… Yeah, you’re right Hiiro-kun. I really do look better like this.”
He could pick out too many things to be dysphoric over still but in the meantime… He could always get a haircut.