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force of habit

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“All done ♡”

Kaname beams, looking at his newly painted nails. “Thanks, Akichan! I’ve always wanted to try this. Black nails look so cool!”

“Of course.” Homare grins at the other boy. “Just let me know when you want to take it off, okay?”

He watches Kaname head down the hall of their shared apartment to show off to Shizuku. He had kept Kaname still until his nails were dry, knowing the other boy would find some way to smudge them—or worse, get polish on his clothes or the furniture—otherwise, but even after checking them himself, Kaname’s bad luck means it’s always hard to be sure he’s in the clear. Thankfully, all seems fine, and once he hears Shizuku’s door open, he starts cleaning up.

 


 

The trouble comes that evening.

“I think they put too much stuff in this onigiri, it’s falling apart…” Kaname frowns, looking at the rice stuck to his fingers. He puts a finger in his mouth—and immediately gags.

“Gross!! What the heck is that taste?!” He stares at his finger in distress.

“Homare, what did you do?” Shizuku raises his voice to be heard down the hall.

After a moment, Homare ambles into the room with a grin. “Ooh, that’s my favorite question. But you’re going to have to be more specific than that ♡”

“Akichan~~~~ Why do my nails taste gross?!”

“…Ah.”

 


 

“You paint your nails to stop yourself from biting them?”

Shizuku sounds incredulous, and Homare frowns. “It’s a hard habit to break, okay?”

“No, I get that, it’s just…I wasn’t expecting that.”

“So then why black?” Aran questions.

“Clear is boring. If it’s a sexy color, you're even more motivated to keep it looking nice, right?”

“I see…” He nods in understanding.

“Well, really, I broke the habit a while ago, and now I just do it because I like how it looks.” Homare begins dipping pieces of cotton in nail polish remover. “It’s been so long I completely forgot that this nail polish was bitter in the first place. Sorry, Kaname.”

“It’s fine, I’m used to this kind of thing~ Now that you mention it, you did bite your nails a lot back in middle school, didn’t you? I noticed you stopped but didn’t think much of it,” Kaname says as Homare takes his hands, gently placing the cotton on his nails. “I guess you have a cute side to you too, Akichan ♪”

“Of course I do ♡ …Though I don’t know if this is really it. You have unconscious habits too, don’t you?”

“I guess so~” Kaname thinks. “I used to pull at my hair when I was little. And hum a lot while I concentrated. But my parents told me to stop because it made the other kids uncomfortable…”

“But you still do it, right?”

“What?!” Kaname turns red. “Do I?! I try not to do it around other people…”

Shizuku elbows Homare, and Homare realizes his mistake. Another bad habit: not quite filtering out things that might be better left unsaid. Especially when he’s trying to multitask. He pauses his work on Kaname’s nails as he backtracks.

“Ahh, sorry. I didn’t mean it like you shouldn’t. I said unconscious habits, not bad habits, right? As long as it’s not hurting anyone, it’s fine, isn’t it?”

Aran nods emphatically. “I’ve never thought it was weird or uncomfortable.”

“You don’t do it in public, if it makes you feel any better. I’ve only noticed it when we’re alone,” Shizuku offers.

“Ahhh…” Kaname huffs. He tries to flop back onto the couch, but Homare still has a firm grip on his hands, so he buries his head in Aran’s shoulder instead. “You all noticed? That’s so embarrassing~”

“If you’re comfortable enough to let your guard down around us, I think that’s a good thing,” Shizuku reassures him.

Homare nods. “Stim away, none of us mind.”

“Of course I'm comfortable around you!! But still…” Kaname pouts. “Then I could say the same for you, Akichan.”

“Unfortunately, biting your nails is actually bad for you. And short chewed-up nails aren’t very attractive for an idol, either. But I suppose you have a point.” He flashes a devious grin at the boy across the couch. “I’ll try to be my all-natural self more too ♡”

Shizuku rolls his eyes at Homare’s choice of words. “I’m all for feeling comfortable here, but keep that to the bedroom, thanks.”

Homare pouts. “Aww, you’re no fun.”

Once the nail polish is gone, Homare wipes Kaname’s nails down one last time and pats his hands. “Okay, all done ♡ Now let me go get you something. I’ll be right back~”

He disappears down the hallway, and comes back a minute later holding two silver rings.

“It’s not nail polish, but you might like this ♪” He drops one into Kaname’s hand.

“Hmm?” Kaname inspects it. “I’ve seen this before. You wear it a lot, right?”

“Yup. Look at this.” Homare puts the other one on his index finger and holds it out in front of him, then spins it with his thumb.

“Oh!!!” Kaname’s eyes widen in surprise at how easily and silently the inner ring spins. “That’s so cool!”

“Right? It’s a good way to keep your hands busy or to let out some extra energy. It’s subtle, so you can use it in public and no one will notice. I don’t know if it’ll help you, but it might be worth a shot. I have a few, so you can have that one ♪”

“I see…!” Kaname puts it on his finger and spins it a few times. “I’ll try it! Thanks, Akichan~”

As Kaname tests it out, and Aran watches in interest, Shizuku helps Homare clean up the nail polish remover.

“You didn’t say anything about that before.”

“What, the rings? Or the nails? I didn’t know you cared so much ♡” Homare deflects the implied question with a teasing tone.

But Shizuku sees right through him, giving him a knowing look. “You can let your guard down around us too, you know.”

 


 

The change is obvious the next day. Even after a busy day of meetings and photoshoots, Kaname doesn’t seem as tired, and Homare steals a glance at his hands to see him mindlessly spinning the ring in their downtime. In the evening, Kaname hums to himself as he works on lyrics in the living room—Homare will never understand how he can write such meaningful, mature lyrics while singing to himself about onigiri, but hey, whatever works—and doesn’t stop even when Homare sits on the couch across from him to read.

Not that Kaname was really holding back before, anyway, but it’s still kind of nice to see him drop the mask even further. As Homare opens his book, he idly thinks back to what Shizuku said the previous day.

He doesn’t even realize what he’s doing until he suddenly tastes something bitter in his mouth. He makes a face and wipes his finger on a tissue.

“Ah~! Akichan, you’re biting your nails again!” Kaname looks delighted, and even though there’s a million reasons why he should stop, Homare can’t help but laugh with him.

Maybe once in a while it’s not so bad.