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the rose is red, the violet's blue

Chapter Text

The first time Ritsu sees colour, it starts with crystalline blue eyes and brilliant silver hair. If he looked beyond that, he'd find it spreading down the arms of a cerulean blazer identical to his own, would find his gaze settling on a navy necktie. He'd see a pair of dark brown shoes -- one of which had pressed into his side and woken him -- just inches away, and would then find the world beyond rich with a vibrant palette that he never once cared to imagine.

However, he does not look further. Upon meeting his soulmate, Sakuma Ritsu assumes he must still be sleeping.

Colour isn't something he's dreamt of before, but through his sleep-addled mind, it seems far more likely than the alternative. He doesn't care enough to think twice of it, doesn't even think of the red of his eyelids as he allows them to fall.

“-- kay? Do we need to call an ambulance?”

Ritsu grunts, twists, and opens his eyes to far too much. This time, the colour is clear beyond the youth leaning over him, overwhelming blends of lush green trees and pastel blue sky. It all meshes and blurs together, an obnoxiously abstract backdrop even more annoying than the tirade of questions spilling from the boy’s coral lips. On top of the swirling landscape, unfamiliar voices echo and bounce around Ritsu’s mind, and his nose wrinkles as he squints upwards.

“There's a lot of noise,” he mumbles, more to himself than to the boy before him. “What's going on...?”

The boy opens his mouth, supposedly to reply, but Ritsu decides he doesn't actually care. “I'm fine, so just leave me alone... You're disturbing my sleep.” For good measure, he adds, “I’ll kill any idiot who disturbs me.”

Excuse me?” The boy scoffs. “We’re worried about you, you know?! What’s up with this guy, he’s pissing me off! You’re probably a first year...”

The rest, frankly speaking, sounds like white noise. Ritsu has no idea how he manages to reply, never mind how he manages to focus on anything besides the sun’s obnoxious glare and everything it brings light to. The boy moves, as does the “shitty four-eyes” behind him, and there’s no keeping Ritsu’s eyes closed as he’s hefted upwards to drape his arms over both their shoulders. Colours dance and swim from every corner of his vision, bringing on a fresh headache like no other --

Oh.

Colour.

It started with crystalline blue eyes and brilliant silver hair. Ritsu blinks, once, then twice, as many times as it takes for his sight to properly settle on the boy he leans against. Now that he looks at him, really looks at him, Ritsu finds his supposed soulmate perfectly clear. Everything beyond him remains a difficult and annoying blur, but the boy stands out against it all in indescribable detail. The moment their gazes meet, the boy looks away, his lips pursed into a thin line and a rosy blush dusting his cheeks.

... Well, there’s no denying that he’s a pretty thing.

But Ritsu’s never cared for fate, never cared for meeting his soulmate. As far as he’s concerned, Mao is and always will be enough. So long as Mao sheds light, he will never have any need for colour, especially if it’s as disorientating as it seems now. Is it always going to be like this? Is it like this for everyone? In that case, why would anyone want a soulmate in the first place?

They come to a studio, and the boy still says nothing of the colours. Ritsu doesn’t prompt him to. He figures that if the boy cares -- or if he’s even affected, he thinks, watching the way the boy stretches and dances as if his entire world isn’t blurring around him -- that he will mention it eventually. If not...

It shouldn’t be the end of the world.

Chapter Text

“The blue here --” Izumi says, breaking off as panic flares hot in his throat. It’s too late to take it back, too late to stop the gears clearly churning in Leo’s head. Wide as an owl’s, Leo’s eyes blink back at him, and Izumi can do nothing besides helplessly meet his gaze.

Part of him expects Leo to ask who it is -- or rather, a part of him wishes he would -- but he knows it doesn’t matter. So long as Leo isn’t the one to colour his world, it can’t possibly matter.

“You gotta tell me!” Leo says instead, suddenly leaning forward and far too close. Each golden fleck of his electric green irises are clearer than they've ever been, and Izumi swallows around the lump forming in his throat. “Show me every colour out there, Sena! I wanna see the world through your eyes, so you've gotta tell me everything --”

“There's no way I can do that, idiot.” Yet his rebuttal isn't enough to lessen the sparkle of Leo’s eyes, so a tired sigh falls past his lips. “Not for everything, anyways. But one or two things, maybe...”

“In that case,” Leo chirps, reaching for Izumi’s hand and bringing his heart to a standstill, “My hair! I want you to describe my hair!”

Izumi’s brows furrow. “Your hair?”

“Mm-hm.” He tugs Izumi’s hand upwards, messily pressing it overtop his own wild strands. Izumi says nothing, just watches his fingers melt into the scorching red of Leo’s fiery mane. “People say it's a lot like Ruka-tan’s, you know? But I’ve never seen hers either, so...”

“It's like fire,” Izumi murmurs. “Just... Imagine the hottest thing you can think of, that's what it's like.”

“Like fire, huh...” His hand still holds Izumi’s, though Izumi doubts Leo’s aware of it himself. Lips pursed and posture slack, Leo’s thoughts are clearly elsewhere, vibrant green eyes staring through Izumi as though he isn’t even there. “Does it suit me?”

Of course,’ Izumi wants to say. “I guess.”

Leo smiles. It’s a slow, thoughtful thing, something that makes Izumi wonder what would happen if he kissed him. No matter how selfish a thought it is, there’s no stopping it. What does it mean, when Leo says he loves him? What does it mean, when Leo holds Izumi’s hand so carelessly and sits close enough for their knees to be touching? He can’t imagine Leo pushing him away, not really. Even if it’s wrong, even if it goes against their fate --

The door is dragged open, making a long, whine-like noise in its wake, and Izumi’s head snaps towards it. Red, narrowed -- or perhaps they’re just half-lidded, Izumi is never quite sure -- eyes meet his as Ritsu slips into the room, studying Izumi’s expression before shifting to focus on the hand still tangled in Leo’s hair. Izumi’s face burns, feels hotter than the fire he just compared Leo to, but Ritsu says nothing.

He doesn’t have to. So long as Ritsu is the one to colour his world, he will never have to.

Chapter Text

Mao bends down, letting Ritsu slide from his back and onto the porch. It's a very natural action, as seamlessly executed as it would be any other night, but something about Mao’s expression isn't quite right. He studies Ritsu’s porch as though he's never seen it before, brows creased and gaze slowly sweeping over their surroundings as though uncertain of something. Ritsu watches, just as he always has, watches until Mao looks like he might break under the self-imposed pressure.

“Who is it?” Ritsu asks. Mao starts, eyes blown wide as he twists to face him, but says nothing. “Your soulmate.”

A wry smile plays at Mao’s lips. “Is it that obvious?”

“I know you better than anyone else,” Ritsu replies flippantly, simply, “So, it is to me.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Mao says, mirth just barely ghosting over his features. He doesn't laugh outright, doesn't even chuckle, but the more relaxed slump of his shoulders and tension draining from his face is close enough in Ritsu’s mind. “He's in our class... Yuuki Makoto?”

The name doesn’t ring any bells. Ritsu tries to match a face to it, he really does, but imagining any of their classmates as Mao’s fated person is impossible. In fact, imagining any of their classmates at all is more difficult than it ought to be. They simply never mattered.

“I dunno who that is,” Ritsu admits, honestly. Mao sort of gives him a look, but Ritsu just stares back at him. “What’s he look like?”

“Glasses, messy blond hair?” He shrugs. “He’s kinda cute, I guess.”

He... Still has no idea who that is.

But there’s something that twists in Ritsu’s stomach at that, something dark and jealous and ugly. If he mentioned it or expressed it in the slightest, Mao would surely shake his head, brow furrowing in that way it does when he particularly doesn’t know how to handle a burden. Ritsu does what he can to stifle it.

“Were you expecting something different?” He asks instead. Mao nods, and Ritsu bites down the next question; ‘Were you expecting someone like me?

“It was bound to happen eventually, I guess,” Mao says, a bit wistful. “And apparently lots of people meet theirs in high school? Kinda weird, huh.”

“Ehh... Where’d you hear that? From your manga?”

“From the news.”

“Hm.” When Mao shoots him another look, a small smirk tugs at Ritsu’s lips. “I didn’t think Maa~kun paid attention to those things.”

(Since it was never something they talked about.)

“I don’t really,” Mao mutters, though the flush of his cheeks tells a very different tale. “But it’s normal to think about it at least a little bit, right...?”

“I never have.”

His tone is probably colder than it ought to be. He can’t quite help it though, not as hot jealousy threatens to spread from his gut and into his chest. For Ritsu, Mao has always been enough — there’s been no need for colour, no need for romantic love, no need for change.

Up until now, he had been fooling himself into thinking that Mao felt the same.

Chapter Text

“Izumi-chin,” Nazuna starts, lips a scarce inch away from the bottle’s edge, “You’ve met your soulmate, right?”

Izumi scoffs. “I’ve been telling you, Yuu-kun and I are connected by the red string of —“

“Your real one.”

His gaze flicks down to where Nazuna stares back up at him. The red of his eyes is a few shades pinker than Ritsu’s own, but the knowing look in them is just the same. Denying it is useless, then, and Izumi idly wonders what tipped Nazuna off. “Why do you care?”

“I dunno,” Nazuna says. Nonetheless, Izumi waits for him to continue. “It isn’t Leo-chin.”

Who says?’ Izumi wants to bark back, but even he isn’t that stupid. The fact that Leo can’t — couldn’t, a voice at the back of his mind supplies, because who knows what’s happened in the time his king has been missing — see colour is no secret. “Why would he be?”

The only immediate response he gets is a slight shrug of Nazuna’s shoulders. He’s being annoyingly cryptic, Izumi thinks, and is about to say as such when Nazuna murmurs, “I kinda thought you two were like us, I guess.”

Ah.

That should be more cryptic than anything else Nazuna has said so far, but Izumi gets it. He’s softer-spoken this afternoon, quiet in a way that was once all-too-characteristic of him. Like this, he’s reminiscent of the Nazuna of the past.

More specifically, the Nazuna that stood at Shuu and Valkyrie’s side.

Nazuna finally looks away, and Izumi moves to take his own drink. He expects that to be the end of it. If he doesn’t ask or say anything, Nazuna probably won’t offer more. His eyes close, water trickling down his throat —

“Are you and your soulmate dating?”

Izumi chokes.

What?” His voice comes out too hoarse as he struggles to regain his composure. “Why the hell would we be?”

Nazuna allows another uncertain shrug. “That’s what most soulmates do, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” Izumi grumbles. It’s almost a lie; dating is what his parents did, it’s what his grandparents did, it’s probably what Leo and his soulmate will do. But the thought of dating Ritsu is one that’s never even occurred to him. He imagines Ritsu’s hair between his fingertips, imagines sitting so close that their knees brush, and immediately shakes it from his mind. “They’re not really my type.”

“And what is your type?” Nazuna asks, sounding almost teasing. Or condescending, which Izumi hardly finds fair. “If, y’know, your soulmate doesn’t cut it.” 

Bright green eyes flash through his mind, followed by smiles that light the room, and Izumi grips his water a little tighter.

“None of your business,” Izumi replies curtly.

He’s said too much already, and as Nazuna fixes his gaze on him again, it’s somehow even more disconcerting than before. Rather than knowing, this look is asking. But the answers Nazuna is looking for — what normal soulmates act like, why Shuu and Nazuna aren’t normal at all — aren’t anything Izumi can provide.