"What's your favorite color?"
Such a question is the providence of slumber parties and sleepovers, of late night secrets and whispers and squeals, of dreams and fantasies, twenty questions, truth or dare. One might assume it would be impossible for someone to pick a favorite if they've only ever seen the world in grayscale - but the not knowing, the mystery, it only serves to make the concept all the more enchanting.
Suguru gets around to asking within his first week at Jujutsu High, camped out under a blanket fort in the common room. It's a get-to-know-you icebreaker type of all nighter they're pulling, the other two first years and himself, surrounded by pillows and scattered decks of playing cards and crinkled candy wrappers. The atmosphere feels appropriate, and so he doesn't mind indulging in some grade-school gossip.
"I've heard purple is supposed to be pretty," Shoko says. "What about you, Gojou?"
"Don't have one," Satoru drawls. Suguru rolls his eyes. What a killjoy.
"I can tell you're pulling faces at me, Getou," Satoru pipes up immediately. "Don't think I don't know just because I've got this on."
He points to the blindfold covering his eyes. Suguru has never seen him without it. Not when Satoru heads blearily into the kitchen after waking up. Not when he tells them goodnight before heading to bed. Not in class, not for recreation, not when he's out and about in the city. Not once.
"Oh, I don't care if you can tell," Suguru smiles pleasantly. "It might do you some good to have your ego knocked down a peg or two."
"So that's how it is, huh?"
"Why do you wear that thing all the time, anyway?" Shoko interrupts them before they start challenging each other for real. "I'm making this my question, by the way."
Satoru settles down in his blanket nest to answer properly, since the game is resuming. "I get a lot of information through my Six Eyes technique. Not all of it is visual. But also, Six Eyes makes my vision good - like, really good. Seeing physically on top of everything else I can sense, it's a lot. Keeping my eyes covered helps tone down the sensory overload, basically."
Shoko leans forward, expression glinting with interest. "Does your Six Eyes show you color?"
"Nope." Satoru stretches, emphasizing the p, fingertips pushing against the blanket over their heads.
It's an anticlimactic response. Shoko returns to sifting through the candy pile. "So you can't see through the blindfold at all?"
Satoru tilts his head. "I know roughly where everything is," he says. "Residuals and the flow of cursed energy is really clear. It's easier to identify people by reading their cursed energy than through whatever pseudo-sight Six Eyes gives me. I know where you are and I can tell when you move, say, your arm. I've got a vague impression of your facial features. But I can't see through this, no." He waves his hand in front of his face. "No light gets through here."
"Aren't you worried about missing your soulmate?" Suguru blurts out.
He regrets the question almost as soon as it leaves his mouth. It feels childish.
Satoru scoffs. "Soulmates? Can you imagine if I had to deal with color on top of sight and Six Eyes and everything else? I used to have meltdowns as a kid just seeing everything in black and white. I can't think of anything worse than giving my brain more input to deal with. Hard pass."
"Speaking of soulmates." Shoko shakes a few gummy bears into the palm of her hand. "You never told us your favorite color, Getou. Care to share with the class?"
Shoko is staring right at him, chewing on the lollies, one eyebrow raised. Satoru is pretending not to pay attention, as if he doesn't care, but somehow the weight of his focus is a heavier thing. Suguru draws his knees up to his chest. This expectant silence feels a little too much like a spotlight.
He's only ever seen the world in monochrome. But not having experience doesn't stop anyone from longing, nor does it keep them from dreaming. The people who haven't met their soulmate yet, people like him, there's a whole world out there which they can't possibly begin to comprehend. At the end of the day, they're all just little kids using pencils with the names of the colors printed on the side, turning to their parents, Mama, what color do I use for the sky?
"...Blue," Suguru says quietly. "Blue, like - calmness, like serenity, blue like still waters running deep. Cool temperatures and academic thought. It's sadness, and mourning, and longing, but it's also creativity and imagination and freedom. Blue like standing knee deep in the ocean and stumbling when the waves crash against your skin. Blue like looking up at the wide expanse of the sky and feeling the breeze on your face and thinking that anything is possible. That's my favorite. I think."
It's the only way he has access to color - by association, through feeling. Yellow is happy, they used to say in school, and blue is sad. He expanded the definitions on his own, pouring over poetry and cataloging his life experience, a doomed and beautiful reach towards something he has no hope of truly understanding until he sees it for himself.
"Damn," Shoko says finally. "If I'd known we were having a serious conversation, I would have put more thought into my answer."
Satoru is staring right at him. If his focus had been heavy before, his undivided attention is nigh unbearable now.
"What?" Suguru snaps at Satoru, flustered.
"Nothing." Satoru smiles like it's definitely not nothing. "But you're a real softy deep down inside, aren't you? The genuine article. A bona fide romantic."
Suguru hides his face in a pillow. "Shut up!"
Shoko laughs at his response, but it's good-natured. Suguru is smiling along with her, caught up in that liminal three a.m. magic and the comradery it brings. He doesn't know Shoko and Gojou well enough to call them friends yet, but he thinks he'd like to know them better. He thinks he likes them.
In getting to know them, Suguru gets to know yellow - the color of sunshine, of sunflowers livening up the common room table. The petals are gray when Suguru places them in the vase and sets them on the wood, but Suguru finds color in the crinkle of people's eyes when they first spot the flowers in the room. Yellow is smiles, it's happiness, it's the feeling of walking side by side with Satoru and Shoko and it's the sound of their laughter in the air. Friendship. A warmth that is comforting and safe. Honey on bright mornings, and Suguru can't see the hue, but he stirs it though three mugs of tea all the same. Contentedness.
He grasps the concept of red, too, in a way that he hasn't yet before. The missions Yaga sends them on are always varying degrees of dangerous, and they only get worse as the three of them gain age and experience. In a dirty back alley under flickering lights, Shoko tries to stand, too weak to get to her feet. The curse throws Satoru against the wall before he can cushion the impact with his technique. Something dark splatters onto the tarmac from both of them, and Suguru knows exactly what color it's meant to be because he feels it in his gut - red like blood, like fury and heat, rage but also passion. A burning desire to defend, protect, attack. The air splinters behind him at his command, and a monstrous thing with too many arms creeps out of the split in reality, sharing in his crimson intent to tear apart the curse that hurt his friends.
They patch each other up in the aftermath, breathing hard and leaning against a bus stop shelter as the adrenaline wears off. Suguru kneels close by where Satoru sits on the bench seat, wrapping a nasty gash across Satoru's palm with careful, gentle fingers. He winds the bandage around once, twice, manipulating Satoru's hand to get the angle right, smoothing down the creases, taking his time. Satoru watches him work in silence. The expression on his face is entirely unreadable, half obscured by the blindfold. The weight of his absolute attention settles over Suguru, familiar and impossible to ignore. Suguru wonders if Six Eyes tells Satoru just how fast his heart is beating right now. Can it sense the longing in him, in the tremble of his exhale?
If Satoru knows, he keeps quiet.
Green is meant to be the color of life, of nature, of living things; green grass, green trees in a forest, green weeds making cracks in urban sidewalks. Sometimes, Suguru feels he understands it better through another phrase - jealousy is a green eyed monster. Such ugly feelings are unbecoming of him. He tries to squish them away. He sees success in his efforts to keep it from influencing his behavior, although he can't seem to rid himself of the emotion entirely - and so every time someone tries to give Satoru their number, he finds himself holding his breath and praying that Satoru will turn them down.
Satoru is popular, and confident, and attractive, as Suguru is very well aware, and so while this isn't a common occurrence, it's not exactly rare, either. At their third exchange event, a second year Kyoto girl approaches them - Suguru should probably know her name by now, but he doesn't - and Satoru shoots him a look from behind the blindfold that says, oh lord, here we go again.
Be nice, Suguru tells him silently with a look of his own. Satoru seems as if he's about to frown in mock outrage; I'm always nice, or something along those lines. But then the girl gets close enough that they've both got to school their expressions into something serious.
She's bold and fiery, sure of her worth and her place in the world, and she seems like the type who'd have no trouble keeping up with Satoru's witty banter. Suguru thinks bitterly to himself that the two of them would probably make a good match, before vehemently shoving the green eyed monster back into its box.
"I'm flattered," Satoru begins, after listening to her say her piece. Suguru is caught between rolling his eyes at Satoru's near narcissistic tone, sighing with relief that Satoru is turning her down after all, and committing to his neutral expression. Out of respect for the delicacy of the situation, the last option wins out.
"But," Satoru continues apologetically, "There's someone else."
Suguru blinks. Does he mean that, or is he lying to let her down gently?
"Oh, you mean your soulmate?" the girl asks, reaching out towards his face. "That's easy, then. Just take off your blindfold right now and see if it's me."
Satoru doesn’t move from where he stands . But the girl’s hand slows, and slows yet further, until it comes to a stop a little ways from his face. She seems confused, and then offended. Satoru is tense all over and still startled by the near miss, rigid like a cat with its hackles raised.
Suguru is insulted enough on Satoru's behalf to sense his curse menagerie start to manifest behind him and sensible enough to stitch up the air the moment he notices. He knows Satoru is more than capable of fighting his own battles.
"The fact that you're willing to try something like that tells me all I need to know. You're not my soulmate," Satoru says curtly. He turns his back on her, grabbing Suguru by the elbow and dragging him along as he marches away. "Let's go, Suguru. I'm hungry."
That's the end of it.
They walk arm in arm beneath the gray woodland canopy, heading back to the suburbs. A few minutes later, after Satoru calms down somewhat, he laughs, "Wow. I sure dodged a bullet there, huh?"
"I didn't know you were saving yourself for someone else," Suguru replies. "Did you change your mind about soulmates?"
Those aren't the words he intended to say, not in the slightest. He had meant to say something like, can you believe the audacity of that girl, making a grab at your blindfold like that? or, I bet her senpais can't stand her attitude. But his foolish heart is running interference on the connection between his mind and his mouth, apparently, crossing wires and cutting strings and filling his head with the mantra there's someone else there's someone else there's someone else.
"I couldn't care less about who my soulmate is," Satoru says airily. "Suguru, do you wanna go out with me?"
Suguru comes to a stop. It takes Satoru an extra two steps to halt in his stride and turn around, expectant.
"...Oh," Suguru says faintly.
"I mean - Yes!" He scrambles to give a proper answer. "Yes. Let's go out. I do want to go out. With you."
A delighted smile splits Satoru's face. He crosses the short distance between them and attaches himself to Suguru's arm again, looping their elbows together like a linked chain. "How do you feel about trying that dumpling house we saw on the way here for lunch?"
This is how Suguru comes to know the color pink - the color of soft things. Of puppy love, of blushes, of kitten noses and flower petals and crushes. Satoru approaches dating in a similar manner to how he approaches everything else in life - which is to say he throws himself into it with single minded devotion, a confidence that he'll excel at it, and a sense of humor that doesn't let anyone take things too seriously. Shoko calls him insufferable and the elders call him impudent, but at his core, Satoru is just a person with a lot of enthusiasm and passion and a lot of love to give. Now that he doesn't have a reason to hold back, he drowns Suguru in it, and Suguru gets to shower him in affection just the same.
It's not magic or effortless, like relationships are made out to be in all those soulmate rom-coms and soap operas. They don't just click without trying. They're not mind readers. It takes work and communication, and no small amount of tolerance when enduring each others idiosyncrasies and flaws. But Suguru keeps choosing to nurture what they're building, and so does Satoru, and soon enough it starts to feel like home.
Sometimes, Suguru gets curious. He can't help but wonder if his soulmate really is Satoru, or if it's someone else. But he never genuinely feels the urge to confirm or deny the fact. The thing about loving someone, Suguru finds, is that what's important to his partner becomes important to him - Satoru's happiness isn't really a separate entity from his own. Satoru doesn't want to take the blindfold off, and so Suguru doesn't want to, either. It's as simple as that.
When he's being honest with himself - brutally honest, can't sleep after a horrible day honest - he thinks maybe the uncertainty works for him, too. If he can call himself green with envy, or tickled pink, or communicate sadness by saying he's feeling blue, then what color is cowardice? This seed of fear in him, the hesitance to look at Satoru properly and find out the answer for sure, it must be television static, shades of black and white. When he imagines some hypothetical future soulmate, carving out a space for themselves in his life with a burst of color and light - they never measure up to Satoru. They never compare.
This is precisely why he's so shocked, when, on a rare off day as working sorcerers, Satoru asks him out of the blue, "So have you met your soulmate yet?"
Suguru sets the strawberry jam jar down on the bench. "What?"
"Hey, I'm just curious." Satoru takes a seat at the breakfast bar. "You're walking around out there with your eyes wide open, passing by all sorts of people."
"...We've been dating for years," Suguru says slowly. "We moved in together. Who else would I be looking for?"
"I'm just saying!" Satoru looks to Suguru, indignant. "Statistically speaking, there's a good chance you would have met them by now. You shouldn't hold yourself back just because I'm not looking for mine."
The butter knife sinks slowly into the jam as Suguru stares back at him blankly.
"Satoru," he says, finally. "I stopped making eye contact with people years ago."
"That's my line, don't steal it. Get your own."
"No, are you serious? You're free to have your eyes open and see whoever you want and you're choosing not to look?"
"Well, you're just the same, aren't you? You've got your blindfold on."
"No it's not. You don't want to run into your soulmate on accident, and neither do I, and we're both happy with each other. We're making the same decision." Suguru falters. "At least - I think we are?"
"We are." Satoru bolts upright. "I love you. We definitely, definitely are. That wasn't what I meant at all."
"Okay. Good." Suguru closes his eyes briefly. That was a scary few seconds. "I love you too. But I'm a little bit confused. Where is all this coming from?"
"It's not that I'm not happy with you." Satoru pulls the knife out of the jam before too much of the handle submerges, dropping it in the sink from where he sits. Suguru's toast has long since gone cold. "But you know what they say about what it means to find your real soulmate. Stars and fireworks, some grand cosmic force, fate and destiny and the whole nine yards. That's never been important to me, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not important to other people, or to you. You deserve that kind of happiness, if you want it."
"I don't know if you've noticed," Suguru says, drawing on the reserves of his patience, "But I don't exactly buy into that nonsense either. Did you think this relationship was some kind of stopgap for me? That I was just biding my time until someone better came along?"
Satoru grimaces. "Okay, it sounds bad when you put it like that."
"It does sound bad, Satoru!" Suguru reins in the urge to grab Satoru by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. "In case it wasn't clear before, I'll spell it out for you - I do not care what the universe's plans are. I've already made up my mind. You're it for me. If I have to swear off eye contact forever to keep things that way, I'm more than prepared to do so. Do you understand me?"
Satoru is silent for a long moment. But just as Suguru starts to wonder whether he needs to repeat himself, Satoru says, "Let's check."
"Let's check if it's us." He leans right across the kitchen counter. "And if I look you in the eye and nothing happens, then I'll put the blindfold back on and I'll never take it off again. If my soulmate isn't you, I don't want to know them. I don't even want to risk looking at them. You're the one I choose."
A small smile spreads over Suguru's face. "...Okay."
Satoru pulls back, standing up from his seat. "The tie is at the back." He gestures to where the blindfold sits at the back of his head. "You be the one to do it."
Suguru walks around the kitchen counter, which somehow feels like a much longer distance than normal, to stand close behind Satoru. Six Eyes is almost certainly giving away the pounding of his heart. He pulls at a loose tail of fabric, unraveling the knot.
"You know, we've been together all this time," Satoru says as Suguru reaches up to lift the blindfold away, "And I've never actually seen your face before. Isn't that funny?" His voice sounds almost shaky with nerves. There is no small amount of trust involved in this, in shedding his shield and his safety net.
"It's certainly not the usual way of doing things." The fabric is soft, and still warm in Suguru's hands. "But I've never seen you without the blindfold either, so we're in the same boat, I suppose."
Satoru turns his head, then the rest of his body follows, a shoulder brushing against Suguru as he faces him properly. He still has his eyes shut. But Suguru is already transfixed, taking in the sight of a Satoru he's never seen before. His expression is soft and open, even with his eyes closed, vulnerable and intimate and - beautiful. Satoru is beautiful. Suguru could stare at him all day.
Satoru takes one last deep breath, and opens his eyes.
There's a moment where everything is exactly the same as it was before. Than Suguru blinks, and suddenly Satoru's eyes have color. His irises are a bright and vivid - something. Suguru doesn't have a name for it, he has no reference to compare it to. All he knows is that it's not black or white or gray like everything else he sees, everything else he's seen. It's the most breathtaking thing he's ever seen.
Satoru's newly colorful eyes widen in shock as the effect kicks in for him, too. "Holy shit."
Suguru laughs out loud at the unexpected profanity. Around them, the world blooms and bleeds like a watercolor work of art. Honey next to the kettle, rich and deep and golden. The bookshelf is a riot of color. The taps and the sink stay silver, which is kind of a let down, but the floorboards turn auburn and rustic like leaves in autumn. Out the window, the local park is painted a million different shades of green - and above the trees on this clear and perfect day, Suguru sees, at last, a bright blue sky.
Satoru winces, shielding his eyes with one hand held up to the light. With a start, Suguru remembers - Satoru isn't used to seeing like this.
"Oh! Do you want this back? Is it too much?" Suguru offers the blindfold.
"No, no, not yet - " Satoru shakes his head, and his hands come to rest either side of Suguru's face. "Just. Let me look at you."
Satoru's hair is still white, but his skin has taken on warmth and life. All this time, Suguru has had Satoru in grayscale, but this is the first time Satoru has ever seen him in return - it's the first time he's ever really seen him at all, beyond the vague, indistinct, smoky impression approximated by his Six Eyes. There's color all around, and all of it pales in comparison. Satoru stares at him in wonder, drinking in the sight.
In the end, it's not some grand cosmic force, nor is it an undeniable pull binding them together. It's nothing more than a tap on the shoulder; a little nudge in the right direction. Pay attention. This one is important. What you do from here is up to you.
But Suguru already knew that - they both already knew it. They figured it out on their own, without the universe's help.
"Suguru, you're beautiful," Satoru breathes. He strokes his thumb along Suguru's cheekbone. He can't seem to look away.
Suguru laughs again. He's never been so happy. "You, too," he says.
Suguru is in love, and Satoru's eyes are blue.