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02 February 2016 @ 08:32 pm
Table #5, Prompt #97 - Nail Polish (Writer's Choice)  
Title: Of Music & Nail Polish
Author: LuxKen27
Prompt: #097 – Nail Polish (Writer's Choice)
Universe: Mid-canon (M#6 The Mystery at Claudia's House)
Genre: General
Rating: K+
Word Count: 1,473
Summary: Janine Kishi did not have much in common with her sister Claudia, but what they did share, she cherished.
Table: here

Author’s Note: Originally written for imamaryanne, for the 2015 fandom_stocking holiday exchange. Further author's notes can be found here.


Janine Kishi did not have much in common with her sister Claudia, but she was always on the lookout for potential shared interests. That was why, when Claudia suddenly grabbed her hand at the breakfast table and declared her attempts at nail polish a complete tragedy, Janine didn’t mind at all when she insisted upon an impromptu makeup lesson in the confines of Claudia’s room.

Janine eyed the collection of bottles that Claudia had lined up on the edge of her desk with a dubious look. “I had no idea that polishing one’s nails was such a complicated endeavor,” she mused, casting a doubtful look at her hands.

“It’s not,” Claudia assured her breezily, perching herself on the edge of her bed and smoothing out an old paint-marked tea towel atop a bulging three-ring notebook. She took her sister’s hands into her own and placed them on the towel, spreading her fingers slightly apart. “It’s just base coat, top coat, and color. Simple.”

“If it truly is just three steps,” Janine reasoned, “then why do you have five bottles of products?”

“Because you need help,” Claudia told her directly, but with a smile. “You’ve got to start with a clean canvas, which your nubbins are not.”

“Nubbins?” Janine echoed, lifting her fingers to gaze at her nails. They were short and neat and evenly filed, but she liked them that way, because longer nails got in the way of her preferred pen grip, and clicked noisily on the keys of her computer’s keyboard. “What’s wrong with them?”

“Nothing,” Claudia replied. “It just means you have short nails. You can’t do much in the way of nail art, but they will hold polish just fine. You just need to clean them really thoroughly, like this.” She set to work with a cotton ball dipped in polish remover, scrubbing away the old polish that had already started to chip away.

Janine smiled as she watched her sister work. It had taken a lot for her to work up the courage to ask for her assistance in applying makeup, and she had been surprised by Claudia’s enthusiasm for helping her. She’d even gone so far as to make suggestions about her wardrobe, which Janine had taken into serious consideration. It had all been great fun, but fleeting, like most of their sisterly bonding moments. When Claudia discovered the reason for her sudden interest in her appearance – because Janine had a boyfriend – she’d wanted to know all the details, but her interest had waned fairly quickly.

So, Janine really hadn’t expected Claudia to suddenly grab her hand at the breakfast table and declare her nail polish job a tragedy, both in application and selection of color.

Janine had simply shrugged in response. The orangey-red polish had been the tamest one in the display at the drugstore, hence her choice of it, and she’d been experimenting with it to varying degrees of success. She’d finally manage to apply more color to her nails than the surrounding skin, but it had taken so long to dry that she’d ended up smudging it all over her computer keys.

Once the old polish was cleared from Janine’s nails, Claudia applied various substances that she called “treatments” to help strengthen and harden them. They were certainly shinier than Janine had ever seen them, but she had her doubts about sudden strength and durability. Nevertheless, she paid close attention, absorbing everything Claudia was saying and trying to make sense of it all.

The third layer was a cream-colored substance that looked rather horrifying, both in the bottle and on the nail. “What’s that?” Janine asked curiously, wincing at its pungent scent and icy coldness as Claudia brushed it on.

“Ridge-filling base coat,” Claudia replied, furrowing her brow as she concentrated on applying a thin coat to each of her sister’s nails. “A must for crème finish polishes.”

“Oh.” Janine felt doubtful, but filed this information away for future use. She hadn’t used any sort of base coat herself, not realizing such a thing even existed.

“Are you sure you don’t want to try something glittery?” Claudia asked. “Believe it or not, glitter tends to be more forgiving.”

Janine glanced at Claudia’s colorful manicure, a veritable kaleidoscope of colors, swirled with a silvery hex-shaped glitter. She felt ridiculous just looking at it, much less wearing it. “I think I’ll take my chances,” she replied dryly, nodding at the bottle of plain red polish she’d selected.

“Okay,” Claudia conceded with a heavy sigh, dragging the bottle over and uncapping it. “Boring old crème finish it is.”

Janine smiled at her sister. “We all have to start somewhere, no?”

Claudia didn’t respond, but Janine could see the corners of her mouth curving upward as she brushed on a thin layer of Janine’s chosen polish. She finished all ten fingers, then abruptly hopped off her bed.

“Where are you going?” Janine asked, slightly alarmed. Claudia had been known to lose interest in the middle of projects, but they’d only been sitting together for fifteen minutes.

Claudia wandered over to her stereo and checked the tape already lodged in it. “You should wait about five minutes between coats,” she said, “which is exactly one and a half Blade songs.” She grinned and pushed play, the room suddenly filling with squealing guitar over heavy percussion.

Claudia danced her way back to her bed and plopped down, reaching for her jar of nail polish remover and one of her thin art brushes. She sang along with the music as she carefully cleaned up the edges of Janine’s nails, lifting her hands off the towel and bringing them close to her face so that she could work in great detail.

The two sat in companionable silence and listened to Blade’s entire album as Claudia added two more coats of color and then a shiny, glossy, clear top coat. When the tape came to an end, Claudia moved to change it.

Janine spoke up just as she was withdrawing the tape from the player. “How much longer do I have to wait?” she asked, eyeing her sister carefully. She wasn’t sure how much more Blade she could take – and Claudia owned all of their albums.

“I’d definitely give it another half-hour to dry, or else you’ll end of smudging it,” Claudia replied as she hunted for the tape’s case in a nearby pile of clothes. “Why?”

“Well…” Janine’s voiced trailed off as she glanced down at her hands. The polish was shiny and beautiful, and she definitely didn’t want to mar Claudia’s meticulous handiwork. “Would you mind if we listened to something else while we waited?”

Claudia turned away, but she couldn’t quite hide her rolling eyes. After a moment, she turned back around, stuffing the cassette into an empty case. “Sure,” she agreed reluctantly. “What did you have in mind?”

“You wouldn’t happen to have any Stone Temple Pilots, would you?” Janine asked. “Because if not, we can retrieve their latest album from my room.” She gave her sister a knowing look. “I can even tell you its precise location.”

Claudia’s expression was one of total shock as she faced her sister fully. “You like Stone Temple Pilots?” she sputtered. “You – you know who they are?!”

“Of course,” Janine said, schooling her features into a casual expression as she quelled the laugher bubbling up in her throat. “Don’t you?”

Claudia cast a suspicious glance at her. “I only ever hear classical music coming out of your room.”

Janine simply shrugged. “I own a Walkman,” she replied. “Sometimes I like something a bit more modern when I’m writing my research papers.”

“Unbelievable,” Claudia breathed as she walked back over to her bed.

“Perhaps we have a bit more in common than you realized?” Janine ventured with a smile.

Claudia smiled back. “Maybe,” she allowed.

She suddenly dropped to the floor, reaching underneath her bed and retrieving a colorful shoebox decorated with ribbons and various-sized alligator clips. She rummaged around in it for a moment before sitting up again.

“Are you sure I can’t interest you in a color more in line with your musical tastes?” she teased, offering a bottle of sparkly black nail polish to her sister.

“I’m sure,” Janine replied with a smile, tapping her fingers on the paint-stained towel. “Red is quite daring enough, for me.”

Claudia laughed. “I guess we all have to start somewhere,” she conceded, tossing the polish back into the clutter of the shoebox. She clambered back up onto her bed. “Although – now I have to know, how in the world did you ever get into STP?!”

“Well…” Janine smiled and settled back, more than happy to share her journey from Vivaldi to grunge as Claudia listened animatedly.

She might not have much in common with her sister, but she certainly cherished what they did.