Here's the thing: he has a hole in his heart. It's been there for longer than he can remember. He doesn't really know where it came from, why it's there, it just is. It's always been. The hole is the reason he feels empty of emotions sometimes (most of the time), or maybe it's the other way round. Either way, it lingers at the corners of his mind, making him glance at every face he sees, as if searching for something he has yet to find.
Then he finds them. The fierce yet quietly protective girl with the steel grey eyes and short dark hair, and the gentle and intelligent boy with golden hair and sky blue eyes that seem to glow when he talks about his books.For a little while, he thinks that they are who he was looking for, but then he looks a little too long at a girl in the market and realises no, he still hasn't found it.
The hole in his heart doesn't fill, doesn't go away, and he sort of hates himself for getting his hopes up because now he only feels disappointed. But maybe even disappointment is better than nothing at all.
He never tells them about the hole, but they seem to know anyway. He thinks it must be a friend thing, even though he isn't a particularly good friend to either of them. He doesn't know if he can be a good, proper friend, but he tries anyway if just to make the guilt in his chest ease a little. They don't seem to mind his distance, sticking with him through all the years of school and growing up and becoming an adult. He thinks he sometimes sees something in their faces, and a few times he's caught both of them staring at faces a little too long; it makes him feel a little better that they may also have their own holes, that they understand that feeling of searching and never finding, the frustration and the emptiness. He thinks he's a bad friend for thinking this, but they never realise, and maybe that's the reason they stick with him: maybe their restless searching eases somewhat when he's with them too.
When the boy finds the short blonde with the funny nose, the dynamic between the three friends changes. It's not that they become less close, it's that the boy doesn't look at faces much anymore, and it's not long before the grey eyed girl finds a boy of her own, a boy with a long face and obviously fake hair. Their names flit through his mind before he discards them as unimportant, and he drifts around, finding himself alone more and more often, and the hole comes back full force as if he hadn't found anyone and it hurts and hurts and hurts before he's numb again.
He does stupid things when he's alone, like that time he climbed a tree to the highest branch he could reach and jumped off just to see if he could fly if he tried hard enough. He broke his leg doing that, but he was in his garden so he wasn't really alone.
The hole starts healing when he's on a bridge. He's sitting on the barrier, staring down at the rushing water and wondering if maybe he can fly now that he's grown up and knows more and is stronger.
Cars occasionally rush past, but he pays them no mind; everything is muted these days, and he can barely hear the roar of the engines anymore. Which is why he doesn't notice when a car stops behind him and why he doesn't hear the footsteps of the person approaching him until they're next to him.
He tells them absently his theory on flying, and he almost misses the quiet "Oh," the person next to him murmurs sadly, and he doesn't look at their face. It will hurt too much to be disappointed again. The person next to him says "I have a hole in my heart too," in a voice so familiar it's jarring. And as his grey eyes meet the stranger's green, the world unmutes itself and everything jumps suddenly back into vivid, blinding colour.