The first time Simon paints his nails, Bram doesn't actually get to see them until the red paint is chipped and peeling.
It's a Monday morning and he hasn't seen Simon all weekend. He notices the colour during English and tries not to stare too hard at the dark red, flashing every time Simon moves his hands. Simon catches Bram staring and blushes, his cheeks the same colour as his nails. Bram smiles softly at him and turns back to his notes. He doesn't bring it up and doesn't listen to Mr. Wise for the rest of the class, his focus completely take up by his adorable boyfriend.
The second time he paints his nails, it's a few weeks later and Bram is actually there to see it. They're all in Nick's basement after school, soccer practice cancelled because of too many people unavailable for practice. Nick and Leah are playing some video game Bram doesn't know the name of. Garrett is sitting on the couch, leaning towards Leah, who was perched on the armrest. In Bram's opinion, he was being really obvious about his feelings for Leah, but he couldn't really say much. He was never exactly subtle about his own feelings for Simon.
The boy in question was sitting on the floor beside Abby, discussing about Taylor Metternich's newest ridiculous story. Bram is sitting on the couch, Simon leaning back against his legs. The atmosphere is pleasant and happy and everyone is relaxed - with the exception of Garrett. He seemed very stressed out about deciding to try and help Leah with the video game, when she clearly didn't need it, or not have any real reason to talk to her at all. Bram only shrugged his shoulders when Garrett had looked at him for help earlier.
"Simon, can I paint your nails again? I have this new colour but I'm not too sure about it yet and I need a second opinion," Abby says.
Simon shrugged and holds out his hand. "Work away, Suso."
She grinned at him and grabbed his hand, reaching into her backpack with the other for the nail polish. It's electric blue this time and it stinks to high hell when she opens the bottle. Bram cringed away from it but Simon doesn't seem to have a problem with it. The others ignore them, completely lost in their own world.
When Abby is finished, she grips Simon's hands carefully to inspect them. They're carefully painted, not a flick of polish put of place.
"I like them," she says. "I did a good job."
Bram can't see Simon's expression but he can practically hear him rolling his eyes.
"Now, now, no need to be so smug," Simon says, but Bram can hear the edge of approval trickling into his voice.
"Oh shut up Simon, you know I did and you like the too. I can just tell," Abby says. "What do you think Bram? Did I do a good job?"
She lifts Simon's hand up in the air to show him his nails. Bram leans forward to look at them, Simon's hair tickling his throat as he glances up to see Bram's reaction.
"I like them too," he says, shyly smiling down at Simon. He smiles back up at Bram, his pale cheeks pink.
If possible, Abby's grins gets even more smug. "Leah, Garrett, Nick, pause your game for a moment and tell me what you think. Are Simon's nails not the best things you have ever seen?"
They glance over, to invested in their game to take much interest in anything else. Abby rolls her eyes at their halfhearted chorus of mumbled "yes'."
"Don't listen to them, Simon. Their unenthusiasm means nothing," Abby says.
When they get a minute alone later that day, Simon is curled up at his side, wedged between Bram and the armrest of the couch. Indiana Jones is playing in the back. He tilts his head towards Bram, who immediately looks at him. He's still embarrassed about how his attention always diverts to Simon whenever he looks at or turns to Bram.
"Do you...do you really like them? Or are they just silly?" Simon asks. His voice is quiet and shy, and so nervous it makes Bram's heart swell with affection and a need to reassure Simon he is the most amazing and wonderful person to ever grace this earth.
Instead, he just smiles and laces his do get a through Simon's. "Yeah, I really do like them. I think they're really pretty. I liked the red colour as well. They suit you."
And because he can, Bram lifts their joined hands and presses a soft kiss to the back of Simon's hand. His boyfriend blushes and smiles at Bram like he he made his day and well, that just about makes Bram's day.
The third time Simon paints his nails, he paints one of Bram's. Simon acquired a bottle of nail polish somewhere and it's black this time. They're in Simon's room, the door half-open to appease his parents. Bram can hear Nora cluttering about in her room, and can smell the chicken curry wafting up from the kitchen.
They're supposed to be doing homework but Simon insisted they take a short break. A short break had turned into a half hour break and all of a sudden it was two hours later and the most they work they had amounted to was the amount of work and time it took them to research who had originally settled in Germany. Bram wasn't sure how they had ended up looking for it and they weren't even fully sure of who had settled there first.
Bram was lying on Simon's bed, Simon sitting cross-legged beside him, a school book resting in his lap as he painted his nails, black paint messily dropping onto the cover of the book. Bram didn't think Simon noticed or cared.
"Where did you get that?" Bram asks, poking Simon through the hole in jean legs. Simon swats at Bram's finger and then checks to see if he had smudged the paint.
"I got it from Abby. I wanted to know how to paint my own nails and she gave it me to practice. She doesn't like wearing this colour for some reason." Simon stretches out his hand, admiring his nails. "I don't know why, I think it makes me look badass."
Bram snorts. He rests his hand on Simon's calf and watchs his boyfriend with adoring eyes. He looks adorable like that, concentration crinkling his nose, his glasses slipping down his face. Bram reaches up and pushes them back up his face. Simon blows him a kiss and Bram pretends to catch it and then throw it in the bin near Simon's bed. He gasps in outrage and jerks his leg until Bram is falling out of the bed.
He laughs and grapples at Simon's legs. "Stop stop, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to throw your love away, I won't do it again," he laughs.
Simon's huffs, his lips twitching into a smirk. "I don't think you're being sincere enough."
Bram pulls himself back onto the bed and sits on his knees, leaning forward until their noses are touching. He gently kisses Simon, his knuckles brushing Simon's cheek.
"I'm sorry," he mumbles, when he pulls away. "I won't ever throw your love away again."
Simon smiles. "Ok, I believe you." He kisses Bram again and then pushes at his chest. "Be careful though, I don't actually want to destroy my history book."
They glance down at the book, flecked with black nail polish and pen scribbles.
"Oh I'm sure you really mean that."
Simon laughs and kisses Bram's nose. Then he takes Bram's hand, his fingers warm and small against Bram's bigger hand.
"Bram? Do you think its weird? That I paint my nails?" Simons voice is hesitant and uncertain. It breaks Bram's heart. "I know I shouldn't listen to other people because it's Georgia and there are always going to be people who think I'm weird, but...still."
Bram looks at him again. For all the time Bram has known him, Simon always seemed confident and strong and Bram would never call him anything other than the bravest person he knows. Even so, it's hard being a gay kid in a mainly homophobic town, something Bram is fairly familiar with. He gets what Simon is talking about because he knows how it feels to constantly be judged for something that is as basic to your nature as the colour of your eyes.
And it breaks Bram's heart that Simon has to deal with that. Sure, it annoys Bram that he has to deal with that and more, but it never really hurts him the way seeing Simon hurting hurts him.
"Nothing about you, Simon Spier, will ever be weird enough to warrant concern. You are perfectly wonderful just the way you are and if you want to paint your nails, you paint your nails and you look fan good while doing it. I think - never mind think - I know you look beautiful. If someone is bothering you about it Simon, you have so many people to talk to about it."
Bram holds out his hand in offering. "I actually wouldn't mind if you painted mine too."
Simon smiles at him, his beautiful grey eyes watery. He takes Bram's hand squeezes it gratefully, taking up the small brush again.
" You don't have to if you don't want to," Simon says. "If it's just to please me -"
"Hey, I thought you knew I do everything to please you," Bram jokes. Simon grins back at him. "I'm serious though. I want you too."
The next day Abby grins wildly when she sees their hands, joined by their pinky fingers, resting on the lunch table.
And Bram finds that he doesn't really care what anyone says. He only really care that Simon is comfortable enough to get to do it whenever he wants.
Eventually, Simon's nail polish collection is so extensive, he has no choice but to wear a new colour everyday. Bram finds he has a hard time not staring at Simon's hands.
He doesn't think he does a very good job.