Make It Right
There are some people you only ever see at night, and you get used to recognising their faces half in shadow. Jackson feels that way when he walks into this apartment in the middle of the day, like someone else arranged the furniture; he shouldn't have come back here, but he needed a suit. It's been waiting on the back of his closet door for a week, waiting for him to man up or lose his nerve, two equal and opposite actions with the same result –
He's going to April's wedding.
Funny how he doesn't feel anything about that, nothing at all.
The man in the mirror should probably shave again, but he doesn't feel like it. He feels like digging his fingers into the grooves between his muscles and waiting for pain or the release of pressure, two equal and opposite actions with the same result. He doesn't realise the water in the shower is too hot because he doesn't feel it burn him, he doesn't realise he's rubbing his skin raw with the towel because he doesn't feel the sting. He gets that he doesn't feel, or feels less than he should, and that only firms up his decision not to shave – he's tired, clearly, too tired to enjoy the well-cooked food and well-chosen wine April and Matthew will have picked out together – as he doesn't want to risk accidentally cutting his throat.
Jackson feels hands on him as he slides his arms into the shirt, hands that aren't even there. They're Stephanie's hands, and they've gotten bolder over the past few months. She touches him now like she's certain he won't pull away, and that certainty is something he does feel, and it tugs, and it makes knotting his tie and tying his shoes easier.
She's certain of him, and he's certain of them. There's nothing to feeling that, to the simple sense of how gorgeous she is when she hops up and into his car, already ready, as pretty as she was the first time he saw her in a dress but more herself now, easier to recognise. "I got them a crepe maker," she tells him, smiling. "Don't worry, I put your name on the tag too."
"You're a lifesaver."
"You can pay me back later."
The problem with feeling, however, is that it comes too late: it only tells you what you already know. He already knew there would be 'mint to be' favours, and that's fine, but the butterflies start to wake something that was sleeping happily, only stirring for a second when April put him down as a plus one, only shifting a little when Sloan's words sounded in his head and fell out of his mouth. It was sleeping happily, and he was happy to let it lie – but then it's 'nice, you just ruined Kepner's wedding', and she's just kidding, of course, the gorgeous girl in the blue dress, but Jackson doesn't recognise himself in this suit anymore, only half in shadow, and the hands he puts on her as they walk in together are becoming less and less certain. He's certain of her, but he's not so certain of himself.
The man in the mirror should probably have stayed home.
Funny how he doesn't feel anything when April appears, not the happiness he tacks onto his face, not the pride he planned to feel. Funny how it's her hands he feels now, hands that aren't even there, hands that were uncertain, often daring but never certain. He risked accidentally cutting himself open for her, and all because of the fear was always there, that he would pull away, that she would take it back.
Jackson doesn't recognise himself in this suit anymore, but he remembers how he used to be, half in shadow, naked and shaking with laughter in a hotel room in San Francisco. The problem with feeling, however, is that it comes too late: after you've kissed the girl goodnight and left the warm body behind, it's the soul that's the kicker. It's the heart and it's the soul and it's the frantic motions of those uncertain hands, waving desperately in the air to make a point.
It's the heart, reaching out for yours by way of a smile; it's the warm body answering.
It's the uncertainty that he does feel, that tugs, that makes what he's about to do that much more difficult.