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red meets blue

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Ian turned his glass over in his hands, watching the amber liquid chase the fall of gravity. Red lights overhead illuminated his fingertips, still shaky.

He jumped when the bar door was heaved up with more force than necessary, causing it to leave yet another dent in the wood behind it.

An unfamiliar face strode in like he owned the place, which wouldn’t be abnormal if Ian hadn’t frequented this bar since he was seven. New people didn't come here. He knew he didn’t recognize this man. And yet he couldn’t look away.


Kev the barkeep filled the cup almost instantly and the man downed it even quicker.

“Another one.” He pounded on the bar. The bartender filled his glass again and moved onto the next patron when he didn’t immediately request another.

Ian couldn’t help but stare. There was something about him that Ian simply couldn’t tear himself away from. His gruff but confident demeanor. His short stature but loud presence. His cool energy but warm aura.

And apparently his ability to see out of his own two fucking eyeballs because he was staring directly at Ian with a glint of something in his eye.

“Can I fuckin’ help you?” The man’s dark eyebrows shot up his forehead as the corners of his lips tugged up into a half smirk.

Ian’s thoughts clouded over as he watched the man’s features, but he successfully managed to stutter out a “No, sir.”

The man outright laughed. “Sir,” he mocked with no real heat in his words. “’m just fuckin’ with ya.”

Ian released a breath he hadn’t noticed he was holding.

“Can I buy your next round?” Ian asked, eager to amend any tensions with the newcomer.

“I gotta go, but I’ll see you around, Red, don’t worry,” and he winked and was out of his seat in a blink.


“Uh- sure.” Ian murmured long after the door had already closed behind the unnamed man.

Ian stopped by the bar at nearly the same time everyday. It had been over a week since the mysterious man who called him 'Red’ had made an appearance. Ian would have thought the whole thing as some hallucination if there wasn’t that new dent in the wall behind the front door, deeper than the others. Proof that Ian wasn’t completely off his rocker again. At least yet. He scrubbed his hands down the side of his face and closed his eyes.

He hadn’t remembered falling asleep, but he woke up to the sound of a glass clinking on the table mere inches from his head. He expected one of the usual workers, kicking him out of his table for the night. Which is why it startled him all the more when he heard that unfamiliar familiar voice.

“How’s it hanging, Sleeping Beauty?” He smiled at Ian, almost like he was the butt of a joke he didn’t know was going on, but also with something more akin to fondness. Either way, Ian didn’t understand and he was even slower at responding. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, assuming the dark-haired man was solely a figment of his dreams.

He remained.

The man pushed the glass closer to Ian. His usual amber liquid replaced with something more red.

“It’s your usual, just with cherries. Wanted something a bit more colorful, but fair warning, it might taste like shit.” He smirked.

Ian only stared between him and the drink.

“Here, I’ll try it, it’s not drugged or whatever, promise.” Ian watched as the man took a sip, his lips closing in on the glass and his tongue swiping out to catch the droplet that threatened to drip down his chin. He was beautiful even when he grimaced. “On second thought, maybe don’t try that. It does taste like shit. It’s the sentiment that counts though, right, Red?”

There it was again. Red.

Ian took in the sight in front of him. His eyes were blue. Piercingly blue. Cold but open. Daring Ian to share all of his secrets. His gaze travelled down to his cheek. There was a wide scratch along the side of the man’s face. Surely that hadn’t been there a week ago. But the gash was too healed for it to not have been.

“Your cheek?” He mustered through his confusion.

The man’s smile faltered for a moment, revealing something akin to fear, before perking up even brighter than before. A façade maybe. “Observant fucker aren’t you?” He tilted his head as he studied Ian.

Ian didn’t know why he felt so safe when the man clearly had some sort of predatory energy about him. He’d all but spoken a few sentences to the stranger. He didn’t even know his name. But he held his gaze like the answers to all his prayers were floating in the pools of blue. Like maybe he was supposed to be here. Like maybe this meant something. Like maybe he finally meant something.


Ian didn’t go to the bar everyday anymore, but told the bartender to let him know if the man, Blue, ever stopped by again. Owed him money or some shit. Nothing to raise any questions for both of their sake.

Ian spent his days at home and nights at school. He kept himself busy. He kept himself on track, at least what he thought was a proper track. It was something. And he was starting to feel proud of his progress. Of his stability.

On a seemingly random Thursday, after a particularly gruesome exam, he found himself at the bar again. His usual table was occupied so he turned to leave. But before he could do so, he recognized the occupant. Maybe not by name, but by being. He sat down across from him.



They greeted. They smiled. Like it was a secret.

Blue was first to speak, as usual.

“You look well.”

Ian blushed. He didn’t know the man, but he felt his words in earnest. Ian took in the man’s face. The gash that previously took up half his cheek was now nothing but a faded shiny scar. But a vibrant bruise colored his eye socket. Ian knew not to ask. But nevertheless commented.

“Wish I could say the same for you.”

Blue smiled, his eyes, bruise and all, crinkling. Ian was sure it hurt to smile that big, but if it did, he couldn’t tell.

Ian felt something strong. A connection of sorts. He looked down at his fingertips, slightly purple. He looked up at the neon lights, a couple burnt out. He felt a boot kick his own under the table.

“Here.” Two glasses of amber liquid were waiting on the table between them. “No cherries.”

They clinked glasses. It felt like a celebration of sorts. Of what, Ian didn’t know. He didn’t care.

Days had come and gone. Weeks had come and gone. Ian spent days at work and nights at home. Home being alone. Not quite lonely, but not quite right either. Ian didn’t go to the bars much anymore. He ordered in quite a bit, working exhausting him too much, his social life working not enough. He heard a knock at his door, expecting it to be his usual takeout. Instead, he was greeted with Blue.

Ian’s mouth dropped open in an o. It had been months, going on a year maybe? Blue’s scar and bruise looked the same, as if nothing had changed.

“Got your address from the barkeep. I told him it was an emergency and you left this,” He wiggled a jacket in front of him, “They said you were a family friend. Sorry, man, I would’ve came sooner, but I didn’t know how to-”

Ian tugged Blue’s shirt, inviting him inside. Inviting him into his arms. Into his mouth. He was warm and he made Ian feel right. He made Ian feel whole again, the missing piece.

Later, when their bodies were bare and tangled under Ian’s sheets, heartbeats thrumming red blood through blue veins, Ian slipped the truth into the universe.


Blue turned his head upwards and caressed the side of Ian’s face, knowing exactly what he meant. “Ian, you’re beautiful.”

A pause stretched between the two of them long enough that Ian began to drift off, floating into his dreams. He felt his hand be placed over Blue's heart. Thumping. Thumping. Real. Taking the form of a swan, Blue’s voice spoke, “Mickey.”


It was the last thing he remembered him by before waking up to cold sheets.

Years had passed. There had been up and downs. High highs and low lows amplified. His hair was strands of salt and pepper. His cheeks a shade of tomato red. His body kissed by the sun. He let his mind wander quite a bit, but he was happy enough. He didn’t move as fast as he used to, but he was doing alright.

On an autumn day, his daughter, home from college, strolled into the living room of his house, hand in hand with another girl. Ian couldn’t not stare. The girl’s blue eyes met his green.

He was hit with something. A realization. A pillow. His daughter threw it at him. “Dad, stop staring at Mandy!” Mandy. It wasn’t familiar but it wasn’t unfamiliar.

Ian cleared his throat, “Uh, yeah, sorry about that. Are you staying for dinner? We’re making spaghetti.”

Mandy smiled, her eyes crinkling with it. “That’d be great.”

Her voice rang in the air as Ian prepped the food. Laughter coming from his daughter’s bedroom.

He smiled. It felt right.

Mandy came around pretty often after that. Birthdays. Holidays. Weekends.

Things were fine before. They were. Ian loved his daughter. But with Mandy around, things felt better. Closer. Fuller.

One Thanksgiving, Mandy asked if her brother could join them. He had just gotten back from his backpacking trip or something or other, Ian wasn't really listening if he was being honest.

But he had to have known, right? From some deep inkling of his mind.

On Thanksgiving, the doorbell rang, a familiar chime echoing throughout the near-empty house aside from the table set for four waiting in the dining room.

Ian opened the door and came face to face with Blue.

“This is my brother, Mikhailo. Thanks again for letting him come over!” Mandy side-hugged Ian once before running off to find his daughter, naturally.

Red and Blue stared at each other for a long moment. Too long. Not long enough. He looked the exact same as he did all those years ago. It couldn't be true, could it? Blue smiled. Mickey smiled. Ian’s vision became blurry.

Mickey spoke first as usual, “I’m sorry it’s been so long.” An edge of regret in his voice. A sadness creeping in as stared into the face that showed the lengths of time that they had spent apart with every wrinkle and sunspot. 

A hot tear trailed down Ian’s cheek, mimicking the scar still present on Blue’s own.

Mickey wiped the tear gently. He let his hand fall onto Ian’s clutching tightly. You’re here. You’re real.

Seemingly reading his mind, Mickey spoke.

“I’m here now.”

Dinner was filled with loud chatter and laughs from the girls, oblivious to the intense gazes between Red and Blue. The hands clutching under the table between Ian and Mickey.

Ian didn’t know how long this would last this time, afraid to imagine a lonely future without him again. He wouldn’t let himself think any thoughts besides this feels good, this feels right.

He squeezed his hand tighter. Begging him to stay.

And he did for a while. Ian and Mickey spent time together. Learning the secrets of Red and Blue - past, present, future alike.

When all the secrets were spilled, they both knew this was it. There was nothing else left to learn, to do. They had explored each other’s bodies, memorizing each freckle and scar like the universe was written in them. And maybe it was.

Time was incomprehensible and it ripped a shred through their reality.

Mickey had to go. He didn’t know when he could return. If he could return in time before Ian was buried six-feet under.

Ian’s fingers brushed across Mickey’s eyelid, under the purple hollows of his eye. He felt the flutter of Blue’s eyelashes. Mickey’s fingers combed through the locks of hair atop Ian’s head, no longer red.

Maybe this was it. And maybe it wasn’t. But they had existed together in something that was real.

Something Purple.