When Geoffrey looks into the mirror he sees awkwardness–angles and curves juxtaposed oddly. Ears like a Grecian amphora, nose like a squashed tomato. Crooked jaw. Sidewise grin. He gets by, he does. Knows he is attractive, in an odd way, or can be–when he’s funny, when he gets to know someone. But… different.

And when he looks into the eyes in the mirror, he knows his insides are different, too–not special, no, it isn’t any kind of “I’m too good for you” difference he sees. Simply… oddity. Geoffrey is off-kilter, that’s all, a step behind or ahead or maybe just off to the side of everyone else.

It bothers Geoffrey, until he meets Jamie. Because Jamie really is different.

It is not the obvious peculiarities–not Jamie’s hands, which waver and hesitate and flutter to his throat when he is nervous (which is often). It is not his sometimes-stilted speech patterns. Not his downcast eyes. No. Those oddities are tied up in it, but they are not the Why of Why Jamie Really Is Different.

The word awkward doesn’t apply to Jamie, though Geoffrey knows other people probably use it. (Along with “weird” and “sad” and “pathetic”, words as far from reality as the moon is from the earth.) When Geoffrey looks at Jamie, he sees that he fits together perfectly. His hands and feet are neat and small, graceful and sure even in their looping motions through the air. His eyes, when he does raise them, are filled, filled with himself, with Jamie-ness. Small soft mouth and sleek dark head–Jamie looks put together just right, in the exact way that Geoffrey looks (in the mirror, to himself) put together just wrong.

Jamie is soothing. Geoffrey is calmer, around Jamie. He still moves fast, because that is just him, just the way he is. But his feet don’t jiggle as much. His fingers don’t drum on tabletops, his knee doesn’t bounce constantly. Jamie is… depth. A deep place where Geoffrey’s chattering, nervous brook can spread out. Pool. Calm.

Geoffrey likes that idea. Jamie becomes, in his head, all things watery, all things hidden and swift and unfathomable. Jamie’s eyes are even green, that color found under mossy banks, where the water is deep and still and cool. (Geoffrey does not realize that his own eyes are the exact color of the ocean–shifting grey and blue, unpredictable and changeable as the sea itself.)

Geoffrey is different, and his pieces are all mixed up, stuck on at angles inside his head and out. But Jamie is different, too, and so well-formed and comely in his wholeness that it almost hurts to see it. So Geoffrey stays with Jamie, and holds onto it, the difference, and rests in it. Like water. Floating. Or drowning, maybe.

Drowning is a distinct possibility.