The sky is blue.
Mickey knew that; everyone did. It is one of the many things taught in school that most people simply had to accept on blind faith. The sky is blue, so is the ocean, apples are red and grass is green. Elementary really, except Mickey only knew that in theory. His life was shades of grey and he had been pretty sure it was going to stay that way until the day he died. Except it wasn’t, because he was standing in the middle of Main Street, mouth agape, staring at the bright blue sky as it stretched on forever. Mickey didn’t know what the fuck was happening.
They said finding your soul mate was the trick, just getting in proximity to the one you’re destined to be with forever flips some kind of switch, kick-starts that dormant part of your brain. One minute, your world is all black and white and greyscale, and the next minute, boom, you’re in love and you’re in a Technicolor dream.
The way Mickey figured it; it was all a load of bullshit, because one, the concept of colour made no damn sense and as long as that fairytale had been about, no one could really explain it properly. Two, he figured those who claimed that they were “colour perceptive” were running the biggest scam ever—colour consultants, colour coordinators, what the fuck ever. It was the Emperor’s new clothes with some pseudo-science bullshit behind it; and three, Mickey Milkovich did not believe in “the One.”
A horn honks and he staggers out of the way as the car whizzes by. Everything else is still the same except for this insane new sky above him. He wonders if something is wrong, if he’s sick, like a tumour or something, or a really bad trip. He walks dazedly down the block, palms sweaty, heart pounding, eyes trained on the brilliant blue above him, way too scared to ask anyone for help or confirmation. Freaked out, he rounds a corner and is stopped dead by a whole new scene.
Only, Mickey doesn’t know that’s what that colour is yet, but he already knows it is the greatest thing he’s seen since the big blue sky. The tall guy before him has bright red hair and in a sea of grey surging bodies, it makes him stand out like a homing beacon. The longer Mickey stares, the more the stranger fills out. His skin takes on another alien hue (peach, Mickey identifies later on), his T-shirt turns green, his jeans are dark blue and his sneakers stay white.
Red looks as shell-shocked as Mickey feels. He’s standing there, staring back at Mickey as if he’s growing another head. At length, Red raises his hand and gives a feeble wave. Mickey feels like bolting. This is all too weird. Above him is an unfamiliar sky and before him is a weirdly beautiful alien attempting to reach out to him. He plants his feet though and wills himself not to run scared or piss his pants, especially when Red seems to gather up his courage and comes over. He stops just out of arm’s reach and swallows audibly.
“Hi,” Red starts off uncertainly and Mickey just stares as people flow seamlessly like water around them, “I’m Ian.”
Mickey gives one stiff nod and starts shifting from foot to foot—adrenaline starting to build. He realizes that Red, well Ian now, he supposes, is waiting for some kind of verbal response, so he croaks out his name.
“The sky’s fucked up,” Ian offers and Mickey sags with relief. So he’s not crazy and he’s not alone in this. The relief is big enough to get him to flash a smile. Ian gapes back.
“Yeah, it is. Thought it was just me. Was wondering if it was the apocalypse or some shit.”
“You’re fucked up too,” Ian continues, waving a hand up and down Mickey’s body. Mickey blinks and finally takes a look down at himself. His hands are the same new hue as Ian’s and his tattoos stand out in even sharper relief against the skin of his knuckles. His jeans are blue, but his workman’s shoes are yet another new shade—brown. He looks up and sees Ian is examining himself as well and then they share a look.
“You think it’s that colour shit?” Ian asks perceptively, “I mean it has to be that, right? What else could it be?”
Mickey nods, because, yeah, he had been a member of the skeptical majority, but really, what other explanation was there? They both stare at each other, processing their changing realities and coming to some startling realizations, for if colour was a real thing and they were both suddenly colour perceptive, then it stands to reason that the man before him was “the One.”
“Shit,” they say in unison and both take a quick look around, sort of looking for some other explanation, but they’re uniquely alone; two columns of colour in a dark grey world. Again, it is Ian who recovers first. “You, uh, wanna get something to eat maybe?”
The door of the diner blooms to a deep wine colour when Mickey grips the handle. He and Ian gawk as colour bleeds from Mickey’s fist and spreads over the door like sentient paint. They try not to act too strangely as they head for the privacy of the booth way in the back corner and try not to lose their collective shit when the booth itself transforms as they slide in.
“This is so fucked up,” Ian breathes before he runs his fingers over salt and pepper packets and frowns when they stay black and white.
“You’ve got a gift for understatement,” Mickey mutters, and pokes at the fire safety poster on the wall next to them and watches the colour spread with no small amount of wonder. He fixates a little on the fire symbol and looks back and forth between Ian’s bowed head—as the redhead repeatedly molests the condiment packets—and the poster. “Your hair’s that colour,” Mickey nods and gets Ian to look up.
“Really?” Ian stares at the red of the poster and makes a futile attempt to drag a little of his hair down, but it’s too short. Mickey helpfully supplies his giant, shiny switchblade and earns a dazzler of a smile for his kindness. “Thanks,” Ian beams before picking up the blade and staring at his hair in its reflection.
Mickey can’t help but stare too, and can’t help but think that even without the colour added bonus, Ian might just be the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. When Ian looks up and catches him staring, he smiles again and Mickey quickly looks away, unaware that his pale skin is rapidly flushing and it is very, very visible.
“Here,” Ian says are he hands back the knife, now revealed to have a mottled green handle. “You should take a look at yourself too.”
“Is my hair red?”
“Then I’m fine, means I have a soul,” Mickey teases and grins when Ian flips him off, “no inspection necessary,” Mickey mutters as he pockets the knife.
“Your eyes are the same as the sky though,” Ian continues, staring intensely at Mickey, “which I guess means they’re blue. They’re seriously awesome. I think blue might be my favourite colour now.”
Convenient, since it’s the only colour either of them can identify anyway. Still, Mickey’s cynicism withers, because Ian’s smile rivals the sun and Mickey is surprised he’s not a puddle on the floor. He can’t even look at Ian right now, so he crosses his arms and prays for the waitress to get her dawdling ass over to them. His eyes flick over to Ian’s briefly and the intense stare is still there, only now it’s keeping company with a bit of a smirk, because Ian can read the attraction in Mickey’s discomfort—would be some sort of moron if he couldn’t—and he’s loving it.
The waitress finally comes and takes their orders for burgers, fries and shakes before trudging off, still trapped in a grey world that is looking ever duller and more tired in contrast to Ian and Mickey’s own private colourscape.
Mickey just can’t get over how crazy it all is. Less than an hour ago, he was normal and steady and now he’s about ready to sweat through his T-shirt while his heart races non-stop, because today is the day the universe decided to fuck with him. And Mickey’s believed for a long time that there were a few things beyond his control, that maybe he was fucked for life by circumstance; but for the universe to plop some random in front of him and demand he love him forever is just the worst kind of bullshit. But God, he’s gorgeous and everything in Mickey is already being tuned into Ian’s frequency, and he knows, just knows, that he’s been loving this guy forever even though they just met.
“I was hoping you’d be a girl,” Mickey blurts out, more out of a need to slow the slide than anything else. Ian’s smirk fades and he leans back looking bemused and a little hurt.
“You don’t like guys?” Ian asks miserably and makes Mickey feel as bad as he’s ever felt when he unleashes big green puppy eyes.
“Nah man, I do,” Mickey answers after a cautious glance around. “A little too much, I guess. A girl would have made things easier, I was thinking.”
“Easier for you maybe,” Ian tut-tuts, “besides, what kind of life is that? We can’t help liking what we like.” He smiles at Mickey again when blue eyes look up at him uncertainly and resists the urge to reach across and plant a kiss on Mickey to stop him from biting his lip so hard. It’s adorable, but it looks painful. “We’ll figure it out.”
Their food comes and the waitress dumps it and shuffles off, not even bothering to ask if they need anything else. They both automatically reach for the ketchup and their fingers brush, and there is the electric shock and the sexual charge which are dizzying enough as it is, but the truly amazing thing is how colour bursts out of them, spreading like hued wildfire throughout the rundown diner. Nothing is untouched; not their food, not the stained countertops, not the broken jukebox in the corner, not even their waitress. They stare dumbfounded as the diner becomes saturated in colour leaving them a little dazzled and overwhelmed.
“Holy shit,” Ian whispers.
“Holy shit,” Mickey agrees and judging by the terrible clashing, garish colours of the diner and some of the patrons clothing, he gains a new appreciation for professional colour coordinators.
Ian stares out the window and realizes that they may have painted the diner, but the world outside was untouched but for the promise of the blue sky. “We gotta try this out, Mickey!” and at least this much, Mickey was down for. They wolf down their food, pay their bill and burst out of the diner; bent on literally painting the town whatever colours there were.
They choose a random block and go crazy, touching everything and anything like awestruck toddlers. They’d stand thunderstruck as trees bloomed to life and houses slowly transformed beneath their hands. The bigger the object, the longer it took, but they didn’t care. Ian eventually realizes it goes faster when they touch, because he deliberately keeps bumping into Mickey, who should have minded, but couldn’t bring himself to care. So occasionally, when the coast was clear, Mickey lets Ian hold his hand, only so he could see an entire convenience store explode into colour and watch the grass turn green beneath their feet, and not because it was the greatest thing he’d ever felt. Well, maybe it was, just a little.
They finally stumble laughing into the empty baseball field, high but exhausted. They had been at it for hours, but looking around, it’s as if they hadn’t done anything at all. From where they stand in the sunny afternoon light, they can see where they have left pops of colour here and there, but the world remains stubbornly and overwhelmingly dreary. It was a little frustrating, because now they knew the beauty of colour, the tedium of the greyscale seems horrid and unbearable.
“Jesus, Ian,” Mickey moans as he takes in the remaining grey, “it is going to take us for-fucking-ever to get all this shit done and-”
Ian’s kiss burns the rest of the complaint clean away. He had been building up the courage for it since the diner, and there, in the quiet and privacy of the dugouts, Ian Gallagher figures he’d go for it. Mickey hesitates, startled by the impulsive act, but he doesn’t hesitate for long. The moment he kisses back, colour erupts like fireworks, finally touching everything and everyone, and bringing their sad, grey world to full life. It would be a while before Ian or Mickey discovers their newly colour drenched world as they kiss soft and slow in the dugouts as life finally started for them both.
Mickey doubts anyone they know would believe either of them if they said they were colour perceptive now. He doubts they will be able to convince anyone they know that colour even exists and that it is the most magical thing imaginable. Mickey’s fine with that, he supposes. Making believers out of people is not his problem. Right now all that matters to him is that he’s found his missing piece whose hair is red and, above him, the sky is blue.