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Green is the Warmest Color

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Gray.

 

Black.

 

White.

 

This is how he’s always seen things.

 

Gray.

 

Black.

 

White.

 

Nothing but endless variations of the non-colors, and Sousuke can’t wait for his birthday, because he is sick of them.

 

Unfortunately, his birthday is four months away (it might as well be an eternity), and there is nothing he can do about it.

 

Sousuke wants to see colors.

 

He wants to meet his soulmate.

 

His soulmate.

 

The one who can make him happy, the one whom he can love without regret, because they are soulmates- destined to be together. Nothing in the world could stop someone from being yours.

 

His best friend Rin is rather keen on the idea. “It’s so romantic!” he often exclaims, while babbling over his own soulmate, Nanase Haruka.

 

Rin hasn’t had his birthday yet, but Nanase has, and the moment he locked eyes with Rin, Nanase started seeing in color.

 

Rin is jealous, but he’s OK with waiting, now that he knows who his soulmate is. He and Nanase are happy.

 

School is boring, a menial task he has to do everyday. As the days pass by, he spends more time staring out the window instead of paying attention.

 

When the window gets boring, he starts staring surreptitiously at his classmates.

 

He watches a girl in the front slowly fill a sheet of notebook paper with nothing but “MRS. TACHIBANA” and “TACHIBANA-KUN WILL BE MY SOULMATE” for 45 minutes.

 

He tries to think of who Tachibana is, and remembers that he’s Nanase’s best friend. Sousuke scans the room, and sees Tachibana a few seats away from him.

 

He’s beautiful.

 

It’s Sousuke’s first thought, something instinctive that he can’t help. His face is soft, made for smiling, and his light hair flops casually over one eye.

 

Sousuke studies him instead of the textbook for the rest of the lesson.

 

Sousuke isn’t good at making conversation, as Rin has noted drily many times. But he makes a brave attempt at the end of class when they are being let out.

 

“Um... Tachibana-kun?”

 

Tachibana turns, and when he sees Sousuke’s face he smiles, which makes him want to do that endlessly, over and over again.

 

“Yamazaki-kun!”

 

Tachibana is easy to talk to, Sousuke finds out.

 

Sousuke starts stealing glances at Tachibana across the classroom, hoping to catch him looking back, thinking he almost does, before realizing it was only the window.

 

After a week of the glances and occasional conversations, Makoto invites Sousuke to walk home with him, because Nanase is absent that day, and Makoto can’t for the life of him find his way home alone without a map.

 

Sousuke accepts, of course.

 

They regularly walk home together now, and sometimes Nanase joins them. He senses vague animosity from him (perhaps he is used to having Makoto all to himself), but says nothing so Sousuke pushes it out of his mind.

 

For now, he is happy.

 

Sousuke notices Makoto’s kind gestures, how he feeds the strays, pets them softly (Sousuke feels pathetic for being jealous of a cat, but he sees his hands push through their fur gently and he can’t help it).

 

On infrequent occasions, Rin will join all of them, and insists that Nanase say what colors they are.

 

Apparently, Rin’s hair and eyes are “red.” Sousuke wonders what “red” is like, and then, as they do with increasing frequency, his thoughts drift back to Makoto, whose eyes are apparently “green.”

 

Sousuke wonders about red, but he wonders about green more.

 

He notices that he and Makoto are alone together more often. Sousuke starts making excuses, just so he can spend a few extra minutes with him alone. They range from the realistic (“I left my textbook at school”) to the patently absurd (“I left my lucky pencil at school”). Sousuke feels bad for taking advantage of Makoto’s kindness, but tries to make up for it by being “less of a taciturn douchebag,” as Rin puts it.

 

Sometimes Sousuke wonders why he’s making himself look like he has the memory of a fish just to spend time with Makoto. They don’t do anything special, they just talk, or Makoto talks and Sousuke absorbs every word he says.

 

He holds onto them because they were spoken to him, and only him.

 

Sousuke learns about Makoto. He has two younger siblings, twins, named Ran and Ren, whom he absolutely adores. He likes cats, is afraid of dogs, ghosts, the dark, bugs, and a whole slew of other things Sousuke can’t remember, but finds amusing. His birthday is November 17th. Sousuke notes that he’s younger than him, and he counts the weeks and days in between their birthdays.

 

(Two months and 3 days)

 

The first time they kiss, it’s needy and messy.

It’s after school, when Rin and Haru aren’t there. Makoto is laughing about something and Sousuke can’t take it anymore, he presses against Makoto, and starts kissing him. After the initial surprise, Makoto kisses back, lips and tongue clashing against Sousuke, they are touching, touching everywhere, and Makoto’s hands slide down Sousuke’s back, tracing every one of his defined muscles, not that Makoto’s too shabby either, as Sousuke is quickly finding out. Every one of Makoto’s movements, touches, drives Sousuke crazy, leaving him breathless. Every fiber of his being wants Makoto, wants all of him, and Sousuke inwardly knows that Makoto is his soulmate. He has to be.

 

Makoto breaks away too soon.

 

“I’m sorry.” he says, and Sousuke’s heart drops.

 

He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t think. He focuses on nothing but the wall beside Makoto’s head.

 

“Why?” he gets out, tighter sounding than he’d like.

 

“I... It was a mistake to fall in love with you.”

 

Sousuke’s heart jumps at the word love, even though he knows it shouldn’t. He wants to tell Makoto everything, tell him that he loves him too, but he can’t make the words come out. They catch in his throat, get stuck, and all he manages is a vaguely strangled noise as he holds back ugly sobs.

 

“I can’t afford to fall in love with someone who isn’t my soulmate, not when my birthday is in just a few months. I don’t think-” Makoto’s voice catches, and through the blurred vision of tears he realizes that Makoto’s crying too. “I don’t think I could take it.” he says, trailing off into a near whisper.

 

Sousuke reaches over to wipe his tears (Makoto is beautiful, even with his eyes swollen from crying), but he tenses up and Sousuke takes his hand away. He’ll do anything but hurt Makoto.

 

Sousuke’s hands clench into fists by his side.

 

“But...” Sousuke hears a sob creep into his voice, so he takes a moment to compose himself before continuing. “But what if we are soulmates?”

 

Makoto is silent. He averts Sousuke’s eyes by looking at the ground in between them, which suddenly seems like too much, even if it’s only a few inches.

 

“Answer me!” Sousuke doesn’t bother hiding the crack in his voice this time, doesn’t hide the tears that are now streaming down his face. He knows he’s a wreck, knows that Makoto has wrecked him.

 

Knows he is the only one who can.

 

“Yamazaki-kun...” Sousuke is thrown off by the sudden usage of his family name, so much so that he almost doesn’t pay attention to what Makoto says next. “Soulmates rarely meet in high school. Even if we think we’re in love now,” Makoto’s voice hitches, and he pauses, “It’ll all change in a couple of months if we aren’t soulmates.”

 

Sousuke is silent. When he speaks again, he’s quiet, though not soft, the anger and hurt still plainly audible.

 

“I don’t want anyone but you to be my soulmate.”

 

And then, because he knows that whatever he will say next will be too much, because he knows that one more second with Makoto, his beautiful, his kind, his heartbreaking angel, will make him unable to leave, because he knows Makoto wants him too, so he can stop loving Sousuke-

 

He walks away.

 

He doesn’t turn around, or look back. He doesn’t feel Makoto’s green eyes trailing him as he leaves, and the absence is what makes him start running.

 

_________

 

The next month or so until Sousuke’s birthday is filled with desire.

 

Desire to eat.

 

Desire to sleep.

 

Desire for his birthday to come quicker.

 

Desire for Makoto.

 

Desire, Sousuke quickly discovers, is unbearable, especially when it’s left unfulfilled.

 

Sousuke knows Makoto wants to stop loving him, and he probably already has, but Sousuke wants to cling on, cling to every conversation, every smile, everything Makoto has ever done.

 

Sousuke doesn’t start calling him Tachibana-kun, even though Makoto had called him Yamazaki-kun.

 

It doesn’t matter anyway. The only interaction they have is in Sousuke’s mind, a daydream he retreats to increasingly as the weeks drag by.

 

In real life, they avoid each other, barely making eye contact, and when they do, Makoto quickly glances away or says something to Nanase or looks down at his test, a perfect picture of concentration.

 

Sousuke feels like they are soulmates, somewhere deep inside he knows that they are.

 

But what if they aren’t?

 

Finding a soulmate soon after one’s 18th birthday, and knowing them beforehand, is incredibly rare. Nanase and Rin are an enigma, a one in a million chance. What are the odds that Sousuke and Makoto are too?

 

All the thinking slows the days down, so that when it’s September 13th, 11:58 PM, Sousuke is awake.

 

Two minutes take an eternity. Sousuke feels like he could write a novel given this amount of time, and just to pass the time, he starts.

 

It’s about Makoto, of course.

 

Sousuke thinks of all the moments they shared, searches for meaning in each and every one of them. He tries to pinpoint when exactly he fell in love with Makoto, but finds he can’t remember an exact point, and wonders, desperately, if Makoto has remembered his birthday, wonders if he’s awake now, thinking of Sousuke.

 

It’s 11:59.

 

Then, Sousuke tries to imagine Makoto in color.

 

He thinks of green. He can’t imagine it now, what it feels like, but when he meets his soulmate, even if it isn’t Makoto, he thinks that he’d like to come and see Makoto in color.

 

If he’s beautiful now, he should be even more beautiful in color.

 

11:59:45.

 

Sousuke wonders if Makoto has managed to fall out of love with him (Sousuke hasn’t stopped loving Makoto), wonders if he’ll ever get over Makoto.

 

His head says he should.

 

His heart disagrees.

 

11:59:55.

 

For the last 5 seconds, Sousuke doesn’t think, or he tries not to.

 

He just waits.

 

12:00.

 

Sousuke is 18.

 

It doesn’t feel any different, having an arbitrary number to represent the number of years he’s been alive never does. But now, when Sousuke sees his soulmate, looks him in the eyes, he will see color.

 

He will see Rin, in red.

 

He will see Nanase, in black and blue.

 

Most importantly, he’ll see Makoto, in green.

 

He’ll see orange and purple and yellow and brown and pink, and everything in between.

 

Sousuke’s memorized the names of the colors, but he’ll need to be taught which is which once he sees his soulmate.

 

Once he sees Makoto, hopefully.

 

12:01.

 

His phone buzzes, and Sousuke frowns, wondering who it is. He grabs it, looks at the text he received.

 

It’s from Makoto.

 

Come to my house.

 

Sousuke stares blankly for a second, and then fumbles for a light so he can find his jacket.

 

_________

 

Sousuke runs to his house, telling himself that his heart beating faster in his chest is because he is running, not because of Makoto.

 

He arrives in just 10 minutes.

 

Sousuke stares at the door, taking a moment to catch his breath.

 

This is the moment he has been waiting for for weeks.

 

This is when he will find out if Makoto is his soulmate.

 

Sousuke holds his hand up to knock, but Makoto opens the door before he can.

 

Sousuke says nothing. Makoto is looking down at the ground, so that Sousuke can’t see his face, or, more importantly, his eyes.

 

“Sous-” Makoto stops himself, before restarting. “Sousuke... If we aren’t soulmates...” Sousuke can see Makoto’s shoulders tense, “Please... Don’t come to me again.”

 

Sousuke takes a shaky breath. He doesn’t want to agree, but he knows it’s the only way to get Makoto to look him in the eye. He nods tightly, realizes Makoto can’t see him, so he manages a shaky, “Okay.”

 

Sousuke takes a deep breath, and he hears Makoto do the same.

 

Makoto raises his head, stretches to his full height (almost the same as Sousuke’s), and finally, after weeks of torturous waiting, he sees Makoto, sees his face, sees his eyes.

 

Nothing happens for a few horrible, horrible seconds.

 

There is nothing but silence as they stare into each others’ eyes.

 

Then, Sousuke sees something… Flicker.

 

Something changes, and suddenly Sousuke sees Makoto’s eyes and they’re green.

 

It’s bright and alive, and Sousuke thinks it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.

 

So this is green…

 

He notices everything else, so many new, indescribable colors, of everything.

 

Sousuke wasn’t prepared for this. He whirls around, everything is newer, and brighter, and somehow better.

 

“Do you see anything?” Makoto’s face is pensive, fearful, brows furrowing in a way that hasn’t changed in the slightest since Sousuke last saw him.

 

Makoto is his soulmate.

 

Makoto is his soulmate.

 

Makoto is his soulmate.

 

Sousuke doesn’t bother replying, just kisses him, and it’s just as good, if not better than before. Makoto melts into him and kisses back, hard, and Sousuke feels something wet on his cheeks, and realizes Makoto and him both are crying. The weeks of separation feel longer than ever and their kiss is filled with the passion and longing of deprivation.

 

This time when they break apart it’s mutual. Makoto hangs on to Sousuke’s shirt, breaking down completely, and sobbing Sousuke’s name.

 

“Makoto...” Sousuke murmurs. “I love you.”

 

Makoto smiles through a tear-stained face. “I tried to stop. I really did, but I couldn’t. I’m sorry, Sousuke.”

 

It’s Makoto who kisses him this time, gently and slowly, a nice change from before.

 

They break apart, Sousuke rather reluctantly, and they just hold each other for a quiet minute.

 

“Hey... Sousuke?”

 

He hms in response, caught up in the sensation of Makoto near him, the smell of his hair, the color of it, and how nice it is to be held by someone his own size.

 

“I can’t wait until I can see you in color.” He reaches up to brush Sousuke’s hair and smiles so goddamn cutely that he can’t resist doing the same as he pecks him on the cheek.

 

And Sousuke knows that however many colors he’ll see in his lifetime,

 

His favorite will always be green.