Jungkook gets not-quite-drunk but tipsy in a way that makes him feel a little brave, mouth running faster than his brain can keep up with, and he’s staring at Hoseok’s long, pretty fingers and bright purple nails when he gets the idea.
“Maybe I should paint my nails, like Hobi hyung.”
He means it as a passing comment — he’s not sure he means to say it out loud at all — but the members get really into it, of course they do, saying that they might as well do it while they’re all here. They crowd him and sit him down on the floor of the dorm while Hoseok gets out his box of nail polishes and stickers and glitters and tells him to pick a color.
The others make a big show of pretending to be surprised and poke fun at him for choosing such an emo color for his first manicure, but Hoseok smiles encouragingly and picks up the bottle, unscrewing the cap. Jungkook watches fascinated as Hoseok works with single-minded focus, working swiftly through all his fingers.
“There,” Hoseok says, eventually. “All done.”
Jungkook wriggles his fingers.
“Careful, you gotta let them dry.”
“The prettiest,” Hoseok affirms, fond.
That’s the start.
(Alternatively, the start is when Hoseok walks into the dance studio one day, and his nails are painted a glittery blue with a few nail art stickers stuck on.
“My sister went to get hers done, so I tagged along,” he explains. “Might keep doing it. It’s cute.”
And he’s right. It is cute, painfully cute, but that’s a given, really, because this is Hoseok, who dresses like a Pokémon trainer in the best way possible and laughs with his whole body and now apparently gets his nails done, too, and Jungkook wonders how he was ever supposed to limit himself to loving Hoseok just, like, a normal amount.)
Jungkook likes the nail polish. It makes him feel fun and cool and pretty, except not as much now that it has started chipping and looking kind of gross, honestly, but no problem. He can just redo it, right?
He goes out with the intention of getting into the store and getting out with a bottle of nail polish, but instead, he ends up standing in front of the rows of bottles and bottles of different colors and types. He’s feeling overwhelmed and self-conscious, because he’s definitely been standing there for longer than is acceptable and the store clerks are starting to give him hesitant glances, like maybe they recognize him, even with his incognito getup, and wonder if they should approach him to offer help or just let him be. In the end, he ends up just randomly choosing something and scrambling through self-checkout, before booking it out of there. It’s not an ideal experience.
He consoles himself by referring to the first rule of Doing Things That Make You Uncomfortable, though, which is that you have to push through the discomfort to get to the good part. Besides, he’s pretty good at painting in general, and Hoseok managed to paint his nails while drunk (and there is a discussion to be had about Hoseok’s motoric skills when you get enough beer into him), so he figures the actual painting part should be easy enough.
To his credit, he does get off to a solid start. He must get too confident then, because he gets this big glob of nail polish on his table by accident, which results in him panicking and trying to wipe it off with his shirt, getting it all over his fingers in the process. He realizes, belatedly, that the first mistake — actually, scratch that, the second mistake (the first one was trying to do this himself in the first place) — was not getting any nail polish remover, because the nail polish gets everywhere as he moves around, trying to find something to clean off his shirt with before the polish dries.
He finishes the job eventually. It takes long enough for the members to come knocking, but he’s not about to get up and risk getting the polish everywhere again, so he just tells them he’ll be out soon. There’s a weirdly uneven coat on most of his nails, where he tried to fix the spots where the polish came off by putting on more, and he’s gotten the stuff all over his fingers, as well. It might be the saddest manicure he’s ever seen.
He lasts a day looking at his terrible nails before going back to Hoseok and presenting his handiwork with a frown.
“Can you fix them?”
Hoseok pats a spot next to him on the bed sympathetically and Jungkook plops down.
“Do you want the black again?”
Jungkook thinks about it. He did like the black (at least when Hoseok did it), but he wants to try something else this time around. Then he remembers.
“Can I get purple?”
“Of course,” Hoseok says and gets to work with the nail polish remover. He works with the same focus that comes out when he’s working on music or dancing, and when he gets like that, the result can’t really be anything less than perfect.
“Thank you,” Jungkook says, when they’re done. Everything is right in the world once more.
“Sure thing, baby,” Hoseok says, kissing the top of his head, and Jungkook squirms away, even if just for shows.
Here’s the thing.
Hoseok can easily pull of the whole painted nails thing. He’s bright and fun and exudes effortless confidence in a way that makes it natural for him to flaunt his stuff — hot pink nails and all the stickers in the world included. Jungkook, on the other hand, well. He’s not, not in that way, at least. He’s only kind of growing into the whole experimenting with his looks thing after spending the better part of seven years getting given hair colors that are just different shades of the same color, and even if he works out, gets more piercings, grows his hair long and toys with the idea of getting a few tattoos, there’s a nagging voice in his head that says maybe painted nails are a step too far. That painted nails are cool in a way that he’s not.
So, he finds himself tugging self-consciously at his sleeves whenever they sit down for an interview or move through the seas of people and cameras flashing between schedules. If Hoseok notices, he doesn’t mention it.
The next time Jungkook asks Hoseok to paint his nails, he asks for plain polish.
“Oh,” Hoseok says. “No color this time?”
Jungkook shakes his head. “Nope.”
“Any reason why?” Hoseok asks, conversational, as he rummages through his box for the plain polish. Jungkook can’t help but wonder if the plain polish hasn’t been used in a while.
It doesn’t sound convincing even to his own ears, but Hoseok doesn’t push.
“Okay,” he says, instead, and gets started.
Plain is not as fun as colored nails, Jungkook decides pretty quickly.
It doesn’t help that Hoseok paints his this pretty shade of yellow that reminds Jungkook of sunflowers and mango sorbet, impossible to miss as he walks them through choreography or when he’s just twirling around a mic. He even shows them off during an interview, wiggling his fingers exaggeratedly while the camera zooms in and out, the interviewer oohing and aahing over them, the other members asking to get theirs painted, too.
Jungkook hates how it all makes him feel, sulky and petulant. As if he doesn’t have anyone else but himself to blame.
“Can you do it again?”
Hoseok turns to look at him in the darkness of the backseat. They’re in the car, on their way back to the dorm, cars and city lights zipping past in the window.
Jungkook turns his face just enough where he’s leaning on to burrow his nose into Hoseok’s shoulder. It comes out muffled when he says, “Can you paint my nails again?”
Hoseok chuckles. “Didn’t I just do that a few days ago?”
“Yeah,” Jungkook says, and then a little quieter, “But I want color this time.”
“Ah,” Hoseok says, and Jungkook is grateful that he’s playing along. “What changed your mind?”
“Well, which color do you want?”
“No, jus’ want color,” Jungkook says, yawning. He burrows further into Hoseok’s shoulder, where he’s wonderfully warm and soft. “You choose.”
“Yeah, I trust you.”
It comes out sounding painfully sincere, out of place in the conversation. Maybe if Jungkook was a little braver, he’d stop with these close-enoughs and say what he really means, but he’s not yet, so for now, I trust you needs to be as good as I’d trust you with anything and everything.
Hoseok gently scratches the nape of his neck. “Are you sure?”
“Mm-hm. Do whatever.”
“Are you sure sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure, hyung.”
“Hello Kitty nails it is, then.”
He doesn’t get the Hello Kitty nails as promised, but Hoseok takes the conversation as his license to get more creative with his designs.
It means that Jungkook gets to spend more time like this, sat cross-legged across from Hoseok on his bed, while Hoseok holds his hands steady, telling him to stop squirming (his butt is getting numb, okay?), so he can put the stickers on straight. Jungkook tries his best to sit patiently, but they’re so close and he can’t stop his mind wandering, thinking about how easy it would be to just lean in right now and kiss the tip of Hoseok’s nose or his focused little pout. Maybe he could even get away with pushing Hoseok back, just enough to straddle him and —
“Jungkookie,” Hoseok says, pulling him out of his thoughts. “It’s done.”
“Oh, uh, thanks,” he says. “Really hot. I mean, good. Really good.”
Jungkook suffers, is the point.
They’re taking a break from dance practice, sprawled on the floor of the studio, chugging down water and catching their breaths, when Yoongi speaks.
“Maybe we should open a nail salon.”
“Huh?” Namjoon asks.
“A nail salon,” Yoongi repeats, matter-of-factly. “Could launch some nail polishes, too.”
Jimin furrows his brows. “Didn’t we do that already?”
He’s probably right. Yoongi shrugs. “Anyway, a nail salon. Any name suggestions?”
“Bangta-Nails,” Seokjin says, without missing a beat.
Sometimes Jungkook wonders if he prepares specifically for situations like this.
“Bangta-Nails,” Namjoon repeats flatly. “Seriously?”
Namjoon shakes his head. “Even worse.”
“Jimin, pass me the water, please,” Taehyung says. “Agree, that’s worse.”
“Oh, I got it! Intro: Perso-nail.”
Namjoon groans, throwing an arm across his face. “Don’t drag my solo into this.”
“Stop dragging my name suggestions, then,” Seokjin says, jabbing his foot into Namjoon’s side to make his point.
“I think Hobi hyung should get to choose,” Jungkook interjects.
Hoseok flashes him a smile. “Thanks, Kook.”
The rest agree that it’s only fair.
“We can run it from the dorm,” Yoongi says. “Convert the foyer. Market it as a family company.”
“Idols by day, professional manicurists at night,” Namjoon says. “Talk about a unique selling point.”
“Hobi’s the only one, who knows what he’s doing, though,” Jimin points out.
“Yeah, exactly,” Taehyung says, reaching to pat Namjoon’s head. “No offence, Namjoon, but I wouldn’t trust you with nail polish.”
“Sorry, guys,” Hoseok pipes up. “But I’m not taking any more clients right now.”
Jungkook turns his head to look, curious.
“Wait,” Yoongi says, confused. “How many clients do you have?”
“Just one,” Hoseok says, and he’s breaking into a smile. “But he’s super special.”
Their conversation gets cut short then, because the managers come back and they have to get up to take it from the top, but Jungkook feels warm and a little flippy under his ribs for the rest of the day, anyway.
“You should paint mine, sometime.”
Hoseok has just finished painting Jungkook’s nails when he says it, casually, and Jungkook doesn’t mean to grimace, but he thinks of what happened the last time he tried to paint his nails, and it just comes out.
“Or not,” Hoseok says. He’s trying to play it off with a laugh, but there’s an uncharacteristic edge of hurt to his voice that Jungkook can’t ignore.
“No, wait,” he says, too quickly. He swallows. “I can do it.”
He immediately regrets saying that, though, because Hoseok pokes the brush in his direction in an offer. It would make sense to do it now, because they’re here and the supplies are out, but instead of taking the brush, he just stares at it.
“I, uh,” he says, which isn’t all that eloquent. “Later. If that’s okay.”
“Sure,” Hoseok says, slowly. “Listen, you don’t have to. It’s okay.”
Jungkook wants to explain that he’s bad at the whole painting nails thing, like, really bad, you saw how they were when I did them, and he’s not about to do it right now, not without getting the hang of it first, because he doesn’t want Hoseok going around looking like he dipped all of his pretty, delicate fingers into a bottle of nail polish, that wouldn’t be right, except what he says is —
“I need to go practice.”
It cuts through the tension, awkward and abrupt.
“Practice?” Hoseok asks, confused.
”Mm-hm,” Jungkook says, a little choked, getting up. He knows he must be looking a little wild around the eyes right about now.
“Jungkookie,” Hoseok says, gently. “We just came back.”
And, oh, Hoseok thinks he’s talking about dance practice or singing practice or something, reaching out for him and Jungkook steps back and he can’t think. He needs to leave before he says something more embarrassing or worse yet, cries, because he’s made this way more awkward and embarrassing than is necessary, and this, too, could have been avoided, if he just knew how to say the things he means, and, god.
“Sorry,” he says, kind of squeaky, and bolts.
It’s a well-established fact of life that Jungkook is stupidly competitive. It's just one of those things, Jungkook likes being the best. They all know this.
It’s also a fact that while many things come naturally to him, what he really likes the most, what he thrives off, is the process. Putting in the work and the effort to get where he needs to be. There’s no reason why this should be any different.
Ideally, he’d go and do his research properly, but he doesn’t get to do it like he wants, not when they’re in the middle of promotions. Instead, he manages to sneak time away for himself backstage or in the car, curling up with his headphones in and phone angled away from his hyungs, scrolling down to 10 Easy Nail Art Designs for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide and pressing play.
Jungkook doesn’t see it coming, when Hoseok corners him between schedules one day and apologizes for making things weird between them. He’s just kind of staring, because Hoseok is saying things like sorry if I overstepped and sorry that I made you uncomfortable, and Jungkook really doesn’t understand, because it was him, who panicked and had to leave the room, because Hoseok Deserves Nothing But The Best and his over-competitive brain decided that he’s not that.
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he says, kind of dumbly.
“Well, anyway,” Hoseok says. “You don’t need to do my nails if you don’t want to. No biggie.”
“I want to.”
Jungkook knows he’s putting out some serious mixed messages right now, okay? He knows.
“Are you sure?” Hoseok asks. “Because you don’t need to if it feels, like. I don’t know.”
“No, I want to.”
“Okay,” Hoseok says, nodding.
Somebody down the hall is shouting that they have five minutes until they go live.
“We’re okay, right?”
“We better be,” Jungkook says, breaking into a grin. “I have more nail art ideas we still need to try.”
Jungkook watches about fifty more videos on nail art and tools and techniques, until his eyes feel like raisins and the members start to gently warn him about the dangers of excessive screen time and talking to strangers online (which, what even), but at least he feels ready. Prepared.
This is it, his final boss battle, except he really doesn’t want to think of Hoseok as Bowser, which gets him thinking about which Super Mario character Hoseok would be, and he knows he’s just putting it off, at this point, and he just needs to do it.
“I can paint your nails now,” he announces, swinging the door open to Hoseok’s room and plopping down on the foot of his bed. He would feel apologetic for barging in like that, but they’ve already established that it is his duty as the youngest to carry out the mandatory task of just occasionally coming into the members’ rooms unprovoked to fuck with the light switch or stare at the wall for a little bit or something before leaving, and they’ve all learned to lock their doors if they don’t want to be disturbed.
“Right now?” Hoseok says, setting down his laptop.
“Okay,” Hoseok says and gets out the box of polishes.
He chooses a glittery green for his color and Jungkook gets to work. His hands are kind of trembling (he’s not nervous, he just wants to do this right), but he manages to do a pretty good job on the first hand.
“You’re doing well,” Hoseok says.
“Did you practice?”
Hoseok clearly means it as a joke, a reference to their earlier conversation, but Jungkook has always had an expressive face, there are meme compilations to prove it, and he ends up looking like a deer in headlights. Hoseok stops.
“Wait,” he says. “You did?”
There’s no stopping it now, the way Jungkook turns an aggressive shade of pink.
“You did!” Hoseok says, all delighted. “Oh my god, of course you did.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Jungkook mumbles, ducking his head, focusing very hard on painting Hoseok’s left hand.
“That’s too cute,” Hoseok coos. “You’re too cute.”
The nails come out way better than the first time that he did them. There’s no collateral damage to any furniture or clothing, but there’s still a little polish on the skin around Hoseok’s nails. Hoseok thanks him with a beaming smile, anyway.
“So, I had a thought,” Taehyung announces one day, sitting across the table from Jungkook just as he’s about to tuck into his lunch of cup noodles. “Are you busy?”
If the last seven years have taught Jungkook anything, it’s to know better than to reply to questions like that without asking some questions of his own first. Yoongi beats him to it.
“Is this about the inflatable bunk bed again?”
“No, but I’m glad you haven’t forgotten that,” Taehyung says, smiling. “This is better, though.”
“What is it?” Jungkook asks, staring forlornly into his noodles. He has a feeling he won’t get to finish them.
“You and Hobi hyung should get matching nails.”
It’s just a free-for-all after that.
“The fans would love that,” Namjoon says.
“Yeah, exactly!” Jimin says. “Come on, Kook, you gotta do it.”
“It’d be super cute,” Seokjin says.
Jungkook would like to state for the record that he makes a valiant effort to argue against all of this. Firstly, getting matching manicures isn’t exactly bros being bros, tipping dangerously into the territory of what Jungkook thinks are couple-y things to do (for example, during his intensive research episode, he found out that Dua Lipa and her boyfriend got matching couples’ manicures, and even if he thought that was really cute, him and Hoseok aren’t exactly Dua Lipa and her boyfriend).
And, secondly (and more importantly), even if it were, Jungkook doesn’t think he could continue living as normal while having literal matching nails with his crush without combusting, because just existing in the general vicinity of Jung Hoseok is an exercise in keeping calm and not accidentally spilling his feelings for him like little marbles all over the floor.
It’s the five of them against him, though, and Hoseok decides to walk in just as Taehyung has Jungkook in a pretty spectacular headlock.
“Hobi hyung!” Taehyung yells excitedly, slapping a hand across Jungkook’s mouth before he gets to make his defence. Jungkook licks his palm, but Taehyung doesn’t budge. “You and Jungkookie should get matching nails.”
“Aw,” Hoseok says, beaming at Jungkook like they’re the only people here, happy and hopeful. “That’d be cute. Right, Kook?”
It’s then that Jungkook knows he’s lost.
They end up doing alternating pink and blue (“For Cooky and Mang,” Hoseok says.)
After they’re done, Hoseok snaps a quick picture and posts it on Twitter.
Jungkook’s world, against all expectations, doesn’t implode. They do end up breaking Twitter, though.
At some point between scrolling through some more nail art ideas to suggest to Hoseok (he may have made a folder on his phone) and the comments under the Twitter post, Jungkook starts thinking.
He really likes it when Hoseok holds his hands when painting his nails. He likes it when Hoseok calls him cute and kisses the top of his head. He likes painting Hoseok’s nails and doing nail art with him, and he doesn’t do it with any of the other members, not that they even suggest it anymore, because it has long ago been established that the whole painting each other’s nails thing is their thing, and huh.
How did he miss that?
In hindsight, he could have probably chosen better timing than to spring it on Hoseok while he’s in the middle of trying to draw a little bunny shape on Jungkook’s pinkie nail, concentrating with his eyebrows furrowed. Or he should have at least had the courtesy to give him a heads-up, maybe just a little hey, love confession coming in t – 2 minutes, get ready, but he’s staring at the mole on Hoseok’s top lip and it just slips out.
“I like you.”
Without missing a beat or looking up, Hoseok says, “I like you, too.”
“No,” Jungkook huffs. “I like you.”
Hoseok’s grip slips. It kind of looks like the bunny has a mustache now.
“Oh,” Hoseok says, putting the brush down.
But wait, there’s more.
“And I like it when you paint my nails and hold my hand like this,” he says and he has to say his piece now, or he’ll psych himself out of it and never say it, so he just keeps talking. ”And I really like painting yours, too. And, just so you know, I’m also working on being better at that just in case that helps, like, boost my dating score or something, not that you have to like me back, by the way. But I was just thinking about how this is our thing, or at least I think it is, because we don’t really do it with the other members and, I might be wrong, but —“
“Jungkook, breathe,” Hoseok says. “You’re not wrong.”
Jungkook blinks, frowning. “But I didn’t even finish.”
“You were gonna say that you think that I like you too, right?” Hoseok asks. “You’re not wrong.”
“You like me?” Jungkook asks.
“I mean,” Hoseok says, reaching out to poke Jungkook’s cheek. “What’s not to like?”
He’s smiling, bright like the sun, stars and moon all together, and his hair is fluffy from letting it air dry after washing it, and he still smells like vanilla shower gel, and there’s a dizzying feeling rising in Jungkook’s chest.
“Can we kiss now?”
Hoseok nods, laughing. “Careful, the nail polish is still wet.”
Jungkook nods and ends up kissing Hoseok with definitely less finesse than he intended, because he’s wobbly, trying to find his balance enough to straddle Hoseok onto the bed without ruining his nails, but Hoseok kisses back all the same, lips soft and plush, laughing breathlessly into Jungkook’s mouth as he struggles, balancing him with a gentle hand around his waist, lovely and warm.
Having a boyfriend, who does your nails is the best.
It’s great, because they get to do exactly what they did before, but now Jungkook also gets to reach up like he always wanted, and give Hoseok little kisses, bumping the tips of their noses together, while Hoseok scolds him and tells him to stay still, equal parts exasperated and fond.
Jungkook ends up smudging the polish eventually, anyway, because he gets impatient and Hoseok gives in, treating him to small pecks on his forehead and nose, before kissing his lips. And how is Jungkook expected to keep his hands to himself when Hoseok is kissing him like this, sweet and just a little bit hungry, stealing the air from his lungs and swallowing down all the whimpers he makes, the kind of kiss that has him grabbing a fistful of Hoseok’s shirt to find some purchase.
The smudged nails don’t matter. Hoseok will always redo them for him, even if it takes a few tries to actually get the job done because they keep getting distracted and producing the problem of the whole kissing-smudging cycle again and again. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, though, because they have all the time in the world, and in their world everything is silly and sweet and perfect.