601: It's A New Year
by Bronwen

Posted on 10/01/02

Pacey piled the last case into the UPS truck and hopped off the loading dock.

“Hey, Witter,” his co-worker called as he clapped him on the back, “you’ve got this loading down to a science. You never have any trouble fitting the packages on the truck.”

“Jamal,” Pacey replied with a grin, “I prefer to think of it as an art. But, yeah, there is definitely a method to my madness.”

The pair began walking to the office to clock out from their shift. “You coming out with us tonight, Pacey? We’re gonna hit The French Maid.”

“Well, that sounds tempting, but I must respectfully decline. I’m moving into my new apartment tomorrow so I need to be in good shape.”

“So just come by for a quick drink and a sample of the lovely ladies.”

“Thanks for the offer, but something tells me if I stop by for a sample, I’ll end up staying till closing.”

“Ah, I forget that your girlfriend is not around to keep you in line,” the older man said with a chuckle.

“She’s still in California, but she’ll be back soon-five more days to be precise.” Pacey reached the time clock, grabbed his card, and punched out. “And that, my man, is why I must get my ass off the futon in my buddy’s living room and onto the brand new mattress and box spring that The Slumber King will be delivering tomorrow to my bedroom in my new apartment.” He extended his right hand to his friend. “You pour one back for me and I’ll see you on Monday.”

“Will do, Pacey,” Jamal agreed, "will do.”


“Red, red wine…,” Pacey sang along with the UB40 CD as he rocked his body to the infectious beat. A few boxes containing his possessions were stacked in the corner of the living room. Raul eased himself on the futon that had served as Pacey’s bed over the summer and offered his pal one of the Killian Reds he held in his hands. “Thanks, Raul,” said Pacey before he guzzled a long drink of the cold ale. “I am certainly going to miss your CD collection.”

“Well, you’re just going to have to take some of your insurance money and rebuild your own collection. It sucks that all your CDs were taken when the Mustang was stolen.”

Pacey raised his beer. “A moment of silence for the Mustang,” he declared in a tone half-mocking, half-pained. He brought the bottle to his lips and chugged the remaining amber liquid. “At least I like driving the truck I bought to replace it and a pick-up is much more practical. In fact, my friends will be putting it to good use early tomorrow morning when they move some furniture for me, so I’d best get my butt to bed.”

Raul glanced at the Red Sox clock on the wall. “It’s time for me to go meet Lani anyway. I told her I’d give her a ride home from Friday’s after her shift ended. I’ll probably crash at her place tonight.”

“So this is it,” Pacey remarked as he embraced his buddy, “the end of our little Odd Couple arrangement. Seriously, I can’t thank you enough for letting me stay here this summer. It really helped me get back on my feet financially.”

“My pleasure, Pacey. The $500 you paid me helped me out, too. Plus, you always covered my back at the restaurant. It was the least I could do. Just stay in touch, man. When Audrey gets back, Lani and I will get together with you.”

“Absolutely.” The two men shook hands, then Raul departed. As Pacey headed to the bathroom to wash up for bed, the phone rang. “Audrey,” he thought as he broke into a grin. “Pacey’s Pleasure Palace,” he growled into the receiver. “How can I be of service?”

[Drive My Car - The Beatles]

“Hey, there, handsome,” Audrey giggled. “For starters, you can pick me up at the airport on Tuesday. My flight arrives at 3:15 PM.”

“I was thinking of a little more intimate assistance than playing chauffeur, but I guess that can be arranged. I’m supposed to be at work at 4:00 PM, but I think my boss will let me come in an hour late if I skip my break. That’ll give me enough time to shuttle you from Logan to your dorm.”

“Pacey,” the blonde purred, “I can barely wait for you to shuttle me.”

Pacey felt the blood rush through his body as Audrey’s words elicited the response she desired. “Mmmm,” he moaned softly before continuing their game, “I offer the express line which brings you quickly to your destination…”

“Full steam ahead,” Audrey interjected.

“Exactly.” He laid back on the futon and closed his eyes. “However, I prefer the local service. It’s slower, what with all the starts and stops…”

“The twists and the turns…”

“The ins and the outs…” Pacey’s voice was devastatingly low.

“I hope we don’t hit too many bumps in the road,” Audrey panted.

“Not to worry,” he assured her. “I will remain in full control of my vehicle at all times.”

“Well, my little Jeff Gordon,” she smirked, “we’ll see about that. Just wait till I get my hands on your engine.”


“And, Dawson, the best thing about going to France was that it made me want to start painting and drawing again. I even changed my schedule to take a watercolor class along with the History of American Art I’d already signed up for.” Joey cradled the cordless between her ear and her shoulder as she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Alex and herself in the kitchen of the B & B.

“I know how you feel,” ventured Dawson enthusiastically. “Being in California again this summer working on my movie has inspired me. I feel like I’ve really grown as a filmmaker, like I’ve reached a new level. I can’t wait to begin my next project.” He paused, trying to recollect the art classes Joey had mentioned. “So, you’re taking an oil painting class along with Art History?”

“No, not oils,” Joey corrected as she swallowed a bite of her sandwich, “watercolors. I’ve never worked in that medium before and I wanted to try something completely different.”

“Okay. I’m sure you’ll do fine. And you should ace the section on French Impressionists in your Art History class after your little turn as a French tourist this summer.”

Joey stopped eating and rolled her eyes. “I’d be very surprised if there is a section on French Impressionists in the History of American Art,” she said stiffly.

“Oh! I’m sorry. My mind’s so wrapped up in filmmaking that it’s hard or me to concentrate on anything else,” noted Dawson as he nervously flipped through the pages of the Boston Film Academy’s fall catalogue.

“That’s all right, Dawson.” Joey nodded an okay to Alex to let him know he could leave without finishing his crusts. “I know how exciting it must be for you to finally be realizing your lifelong dream.”

“It feels so right this time, knowing that you’re standing there behind me. I hope you’ll be able to make time to assist during shoots,” Dawson suggested. “It’ll really feel like old times with you working for me.”

“Well, I’m planning on getting a job this year and I want to devote enough time to my art to see some development, so I’m not going to have much free time.” Joey sighed and slumped into a chair. “But I know how important this is to you. I’m sure I’ll be able to work something out.”

Dawson flashed a satisfied smile. “I can’t wait to see you again, Joey. I think we’re finally on the same page at the same time.”

“Yeah, we’ll make a great team,” she mumbled.

“What did you say?” inquired Dawson.

“Oh, nothing,” Joey replied, choosing not to repeat her sarcastic movie reference. “Have we ever watched The Graduate together?”

“No. I’ve seen it, of course, but not with you. Why do you ask?”

“No particular reason,” she said evasively as she looked out the window at Alex riding his Big Wheel. “I saw it for the first time last month and I really liked it.”

“We’ll have to rent it for movie night then,” Dawson proposed.

“Of course,” Joey agreed with a shrug of her shoulders. “Whatever you want.”


“One, two, three, lift,” Jack counted as he and Eric hoisted the large chest of drawers into the back of Pacey’s pick-up. “Is this all we need to take?” he called to Bessie who was watching them from the porch of the Potter B & B.

“The chest, the end table, and the recliner-you’ve got all three, don’t you?”

“Yup. Pacey said to tell you thanks again for giving them to him.” Jack shielded his eyes from the sun as he talked to his former employer. “He wants me to ask if you’re really sure that you don’t want any money.”

“Tell him I’m positive. He was such a help to us getting the B & B off the ground that I’m happy to be able to do this for him. Besides,” Bessie added, “they were just filling up space in the basement. He’s doing me a favor by taking them.”

“I’ll relay the message. And let Joey know we're sorry we missed her."

“She had to do some back-to-school shopping, but I’m sure you’ll catch up with her in Boston.” Bessie stepped down the stairs and stuck out her hand to Eric. “It was a pleasure to meet you.”

“Same here,” he responded.

Bessie moved to Jack and hugged him warmly. “It’s good to see you, Jack.” Leaning into his ear, she whispered, “I hope things work out for you and Eric.”

“Thanks, Bessie,” Jack said sincerely, “I’m trying hard not to screw this one up.”


“Jack, Eric-you guys want a beer?” Pacey asked his friends as they crashed onto the sofa. The trio had just finished hauling the last pieces of furniture into Pacey’s new place.

“Sounds great,” Eric replied as Jack gave a silent thumbs-up. “We’ll take two.”

Pacey handed Heinekens to the two men and lowered himself down to the living room rug. “Thanks so much for getting the furniture from Bessie. I never could have made it up there and back in time to be here for the mattress delivery.”

“No problem. This place is old, but it’s clean and in a decent section of town,” Jack commented as he surveyed the digs. “And,” he grinned, “it’s a step up from being homeless. I’m impressed!”

Pacey nodded. “I hear ya. I’m still not sure how I ended up in that situation. I just wasn’t myself last year, but I feel like I’m back on track now.”

Jack cast a meaningful look at Eric before expressing his agreement. “Same here, Pacey.”

Upon hearing the sound of keys in the apartment door, Pacey stood up. His roommate, David Peterson, entered lugging a load of textbooks. He was a handsome man with thick black hair, green eyes, and a toothpaste ad smile. Though several inches shorter than Pacey, his broad shoulders and muscular arms made him an imposing figure. “Are you all moved in already?” he inquired.

Indeed I am, thanks to my pals here,” Pacey responded. “Jack, Eric, this is my roommate Dave. Dave, my friends Jack and Eric. We’re just celebrating with some beers. You want one?”

“Sure. It’ll help ease the pain of my book bill,” he joked, nodding towards the stack of texts he had placed on a bench in the kitchen.

“Where do you go to school?” Eric asked politely.

“Boston Bay. I’m a third year journalism major.”

“Cool. Eric and I go there, too. We’re sophomores. Eric’s going to declare math, but I’m still undecided.” Jack chuckled and added, “My focus last year was more on kegs than on classes.”

“It happens,” Dave commented knowingly. “I partied quite a lot myself as a freshman, but I cut the crap last year and got serious about school. I definitely recommend the latter.”

“I am starting with a clean slate this year and I intend to keep it that way,” Jack vowed as he polished off the last of his beer. “You ready to go, Eric?”

“Uh-huh,” he said rising from the couch. The men shook hands all around as Jack and Eric said their goodbyes.

“I’m heading out myself, Dave. I need to buy sheets and towels,” Pacey explained. “You need anything from Wal-Mart?”

“Nah, I’m fine.”

“Okay. Then I’ll catch you later,” called Pacey as he followed his buddies out the door.


“I thought you could use these for packing, Joey,” remarked Bessie as she offered her sister two milk crates.

“Thanks, Bess. I’m trying to be more organized this year. I’m looking forward to having a single, but I am going to miss all the space I had last year.” Joey shook her head in disbelief as she recalled the huge dorm room she had shared with Audrey as a freshman. “I still think they must have screwed up and assigned us a quad by mistake.”

“Oooh, Joey, this is beautiful,” Bessie gushed as she picked up a sketchbook that had been lying on the bed. “May I look at these?”

“Sure. Those are some of my drawings from this summer. Going to Paris has really been an inspiration. I have a few paintings, too,” she volunteered, pointing to some canvasses in the corner.

“You really should pursue this, Jo. Your talent is a gift and you shouldn’t waste it.”

“I’m excited about art again,” Joey enthused. “I’ve even changed my schedule to take a studio course. Once I started drawing and painting again I realized how much I had missed it.”

“Well, if you ask me, you should make art a priority this year. It might help you decide your major.”

“I didn’t ask you,” the younger girl kidded, “but thanks anyway for the encouragement, Big Sis.” Joey stopped folding the clothes that she was squeezing in her suitcase. “Bessie,” she said hesitantly, “I have chosen something I want to make a priority this year. I’ve determined that I need to pay back Dawson. My financial aid package is much better than it was for 2001-2002 and I’ve finally realized that I’m being foolish not to take advantage of student loans. Do you know that the interest rate is down to three-point-something?” Bessie shook her head and Joey continued. “I’m also getting a job when I go back to Boston.”

“I’m relieved for you that money is not such a big obstacle anymore, but I’m worried that you’re taking on too much, Jo.”

“Please don’t worry. I’ve thought long and hard about this. I know I can handle the classes at Worthington and I also know that I need to stand on my own. As long as I have the loan from Dawson, I owe him. That’s not good for me and it’s not good for our relationship…whatever that may be,” she added cynically.

“You sound like you know what you’re doing, but I’m still concerned.”

“You wouldn’t be the sister that I love if you weren’t,” Joey stated as she hugged Bessie. “I know I don’t say this enough, but thank you.”

Bessie wrinkled her brow in puzzlement. “For what?”

“For everything.”


“Sheesh, you’d think they’d give you more than six inches of beads for $19.99,” Audrey complained aloud to her empty dorm room as she finished screwing the neon pink beaded curtain to the archway leading to its bedroom area. She was contemplating where to put the lava lamp when she heard a familiar tapping. “We don’t want any,” she hollered, flashing a wide smile as she flung open the door.

Pacey was lazily leaning against the frame, hands tucked behind his back. “Tsk, tsk,” he clucked, “and I come bearing gifts.” With a dramatic flare, he produced a medium-sized brown Teddy Bear dressed in a bejeweled white cape and jumpsuit á la The King. “I just want to be your Teddy Bear,” he crooned in his best Elvis voice. Audrey clapped her hands in glee, grabbed the bear, and collapsed in a fit of giggles on the floor. Pacey pounced on her, all the while continuing his serenade.

“Paaaceey,” Audrey directed in a tone resembling a weary kindergarten teacher, “shut up and kiss me.”

“If you insist,” he purred as he pressed his lips to hers. Audrey opened her large mouth, welcoming his tongue with her own. After an intense few minutes, they parted, gasping for air.

“Thanks, Pacey… for the bear.”

“I got him so you’d never have to sleep alone.”

“Oh, I wasn’t planning on doing much of that anyway,” replied Audrey seductively.

Pacey momentarily ignored the bait and scanned the room. “You’ve gotten a lot done since I dropped you off yesterday.”

“I’m trying to add my personal touch. I don’t want a boring room that looks like it’s straight out of a Bed, Bath & Beyond flyer.”

“Audrey, if there’s one thing of which I’m certain, it’s that nothing you do could ever be boring.” He stood and walked to the beaded curtain. “May I?” he inquired before entering the bedroom. Audrey nodded her assent and followed him in. “Have you seen Joey yet?” he asked casually as he made his way over to the bed.

Audrey frowned and raised her eyes. “You’re checking out my boudoir for the first time and all you can think of is Our Miss Potter? What must I do to get your mind on the matter at hand?” She joined him on the bed, linking her hands in his and stretching his arms back behind his head as she rolled on top of him. They knocked into a small shopping bag that was perched on the pillows and it fell over, revealing its contents.

“What’s this?”

“Oh, when I went to Spencer Gifts this morning to get some things for the room, I bought a few items for us to, uh, play with.”

“Scented body oils?” Pacey arched his eyebrows in amusement. “Flavored body paints? Edible panties?” His voice cracked and he swallowed hard. “Are you planning on attending any classes this year?”

“There are 24 hours in a day,” Audrey growled as she ground her body against her boyfriend’s, “and I require very little sleep.”


“What I wouldn’t have given to have seen you rolling the dice at the craps table!” Jen marveled with a shake of her head.

“We had a wonderful time, Jennifer.” Grams sipped her tea and smiled. “Clifton is truly a special man.”

“I’m so happy for you, Grams,” said Jen as she munched on a cookie. “A truly special woman deserves a truly special man.”

“Ah, and might I say the same for you, my dear.” She paused, then continued quietly. “I imagine your months with your parents left little time for a summer romance.”

“Geez, romance was the last thing on my mind.”

“So, how was your summer?”

“Happy, sad, intriguing, dull, reflective, mind-numbing…just a run-of-the-mill vacation with the Lindleys.” Absentmindedly, Jen stirred her coffee. “Generally we got along fine and sometimes it even felt nice, but most of the time I felt like I was playing a part. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t home.” She reached across the table and squeezed her grandmother’s hand. “They’ll never be the parents to me that you have been.”

“Oh, Jennifer, it grieves me to hear you say that,” Grams protested, her voice thick with emotion, “but at the same time it warms my heart. I do love you as much as I have ever loved anyone.”

Jen rose, walked the few steps to Grams’s chair, and stood behind her. She folded her arms around the older woman and gently kissed the top of her head. “Same here, Grams.”


Oliver looked up from the pages of the in-flight magazine he’d been restlessly thumbing and turned to his companion. “Before you know it, Dawson, when we’re flying in from the coast, we’ll be up in first class smoking Cuban cigars with the big boys.”

“I doubt it,” rejoined Dawson dryly. “There are laws against smoking on domestic flights.”

“Mere semantics, mi amigo,” Oliver huffed. “Okay. So we won’t light up. We’ll just chomp on the cigars. The important part is that we’re destined for success. I feel it.”

The plane jostled as it hit a patch of bumpy air similar to the atmospheric disturbances it had been encountering for the past fifteen minutes. Dawson gripped his seat and sighed, “The only thing I’m feeling right now is nauseous from all this turbulence.”

“One summer in Hollywood and you’re already jaded?”

“You’re forgetting that this was my second summer here and that I suffered the ignominy of being fired from my first internship. Still, I’m not jaded. I’m not even cynical. I’m just more of a realist than I used to be. There are thousands of people exactly like you and me, Oliver, with a little talent and a big dream. The odds of any one of us making it, even in a small way, are astronomical.”

“Of course, I know that here,” Oliver countered, tapping at his temple, “but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up here.” He placed his hand over his heart. “I feel like I’ve learned so much these past two months. I’m full of thoughts on what we could have done better with the movie and I have a million ideas for my next project. Isn’t that the case with you?”

“Sure,” Dawson acknowledged as he ran his hand through his hair. “I’m simply a little overwhelmed by it all. But I do have high expectations for this semester. I’m more focused, my technical abilities are vastly improved, and I’m at a school where I feel I belong.”


“So what?”

“’Fess up,” Oliver urged his friend. Chuckling, he added, “Don’t be ashamed to admit that every once in awhile you stand in front of the bedroom mirror practicing your Oscar speech.” Dawson kept silent as a telltale blush crept up his face. “I knew it!” exclaimed Oliver, punching the air. “Are you gonna use notes or just seize the moment?”

“Notes,” mumbled Dawson as he shrugged his shoulders in defeat at being exposed. “I’m definitely using notes.”

“And your reason is…?”

Dawson grinned as he looked Oliver in the eye. “Two words. Sally. Field.”


[The Middle - Jimmy Eat World]

“Well, this certainly bears your imprimatur,” laughed Joey as she gave the gaudy décor in Audrey’s room the once-over.

“Like I told Pacey, I did not want my dorm to be boring.”

“Audrey, you’re incapable of being boring.”

“Funny,” Audrey wrinkled her eyebrows, “that’s what Pacey said.”

“You know what they say about great minds,” responded Joey with a nervous giggle. “So what is Pacey up to these days?”

“He moved into a new apartment this past weekend. I’m supposed to meet his roomie later today.”

“In Boston?”

“Um, hmm,” Audrey nodded as she pulled tops from her closet and tried them against herself in the mirror. “He stayed with Raul from Civilization over the summer and worked two jobs to save up for the security. Pacey’s been a very good boy. But then,” she vamped, “I’ve been a very good girl. You like this one, Joey?” Audrey held up an orange and red flowered halter.

“Huh? Oh, that’s nice,” Joey replied distractedly.

“I was totally faithful to Pacey the entire twelve weeks we were apart. I didn’t kiss cheat or anything.” She sighed. “Not that the temptation wasn’t there. But I knew after almost losing me because of his stunt with that viper from the restaurant that Pacey would definitely be walking the straight and narrow. Don’t ya think?”

“Of course. Pacey really cares about you.” Joey smiled wanly and her voice was flat. “And you really care about him.”

“Natch.” Audrey turned her back. “Can you hook this for me? Anyway, despite the forced celibacy of our summer, I kept Pacey satisfied…and myself, I might add…with plenty of steamy late night phone calls.” She felt Joey fumbling with the closure. “You having trouble with the hook?”

“A little…there, I’ve got it now.”

“Thanks, bunny.” Audrey faced her friend. “You know, good phone sex can be quite a turn-on. I’m a very skilled practitioner and Pacey’s no slouch either.”

“Ugh.” Joey blanched. “Do the letters TMI mean anything to you, Audrey?”

“Joey Potter, don’t tell me that your summer away from me has changed you back into that uptight, prudish wet blanket I met last September!”

“No, it hasn’t,” Joey replied with exasperation. “I only hope that someday you’ll learn that there are some things that are simply better left unsaid.”


Pacey sat at his kitchen table, red pen in hand, poring through the classifieds.

“Whatcha doin’?” David inquired as he sauntered into the room.

“Looking for a job,” Pacey answered as he circled another ad. “The night shift at UPS is not going to work out very well now that Audrey’s back and I’d like something with a better career path than fry cook for the lunch crowd at the Cozy Corner Café."

“I hear you. I worked in a luncheonette when I was in high school. Not fun. Anything promising?”

“A few. There’s a customer service position, a salesman, a docent at one of the museums downtown. I’m making calls to try to set up interviews first thing tomorrow.”

“Well, good luck, man.”

Pacey smiled appreciatively. “Thanks. I’ll need it.”


“One of my main goals is to ensure that my students take full advantage of the wealth of museums, exhibits, historical buildings, and such that we have in the Greater Boston area. So, to answer your question, Mr. Levinson, yes, we will be doing much more in class than viewing slides. Are there any more questions?” the professor inquired.

Joey focused intently on the petite, raven-haired woman at the lectern. Dr. Rupal Patel was a study in incongruity. A sari-clad Asian-American with a bindi and a mellifluous Indian accent was not what she expected when she envisioned her instructor for History of American Art. Nevertheless, Dr. Patel’s résumé and level of expertise were impressive. Joey immediately sensed that this would be an excellent class.

“Before we break, I have one piece of business to which I must attend. As some of you may know, I am the curator of the Museum of Colonial Art and History. We have recently embarked on a large inventory and reorganization project and I will be hiring a group of students from the university as assistants. The pay is $6 per hour and, since the museum is affiliated with Worthington, it qualifies for work-study. If any of you are interested, please see me after class.”

Cautiously, Joey approached Dr. Patel. “Hello, Dr., I’m Joey Potter. I’d like to sign up for one of the museum jobs.”

“All right, Joey, let me find my list.” The professor flipped through a stack of papers on her desk. “Ah, here it is. You’re the seventh student to apply. I’ll be hiring at least a dozen students to work from 20 to 60 hours a month, so it looks like you’re in. The project is being funded by a federal grant,” she explained, “so we have a decent budget. We’re holding an information session on Tuesday at 1:00 PM. Can I expect to see you there?”

“Yes, I’m free on Tuesday afternoons.”

“Very good. Please call my office in Brandyberry Hall if you have any questions.”

“Thank you so much, Dr. Patel,” Joey said earnestly. “I’m looking forward to working at the museum.”


Well, Mr. Witter, you’ve certainly dabbled in many different fields in your young life-video store clerk, handyman, youth mentor, ship’s mate, chef, security guard, UPS packer, and fry cook. Whatever brings you here to apply for a position as a docent at the Museum of Colonial Art and History?” Dr. Patel’s tone was friendly, yet probing.

“I admit that I have a bit of an impulsive streak that has led me to change courses a few times, but I’ve really worked hard the past few months to focus on some specific goals. I just signed a one-year lease on an apartment in Boston and I’m looking for a job that offers more of a future than loading UPS trucks or flipping burgers. I’m good with kids and I think I relate well to them.” Pacey leaned forward in his chair, his words evidencing his eagerness. “To be frank, Dr. Patel, most of my history classes were dull and lifeless. They never taught me about the things that I was interested in. I believe that I still have enough kid in me that I understand what to do to make a place like this come alive for the children who visit.”

Dr. Patel looked thoughtfully at the young man. “I daresay, I’ll bet you do,” she agreed with a smile as she extended her hand to him. “Welcome aboard, Pacey. I expect you’re going to add some much-needed vigor to our staff.”


Jack held a frying pan in his left hand, a wooden fork in his right. “More scrambled eggs, ladies?”

“I’ll take a smidge,” Jen answered, as Grams shook her head no.

“It was very kind of you to make us breakfast this morning, Jack,” Grams said appreciatively.

“My pleasure. Part of the new and improved Jack you’ll be seeing for the 2002-2003 academic year.” Jack shared a knowing laugh with Jen as Grams smiled.

“I understand from Jennifer that for a good part of last year it was a rare occasion for you to be conscious at 8:00 AM, much less preparing a delicious meal,” Grams commented wryly.

“I have learned my lesson. I will not repeat last year’s mistakes. I have a solid schedule and I am determined to buckle down and do well,” he stated with determination.

“Well, bully for you! Jen, when will you be returning to the radio station?” asked Grams as she turned her attention to her granddaughter.

“Friday night and I can’t wait. I have some new ideas for my show and I signed up for Broadcast Journalism, which should really be a big help. I have my first class this morning.”

The matriarch folded her hands in prayer. “May God bless you and may this year fulfill its promise and bring peace and happiness to both of you fine young people.”

Jack raised his orange juice and the women followed suit. They clinked their glasses and, with a wink at Jen, Jack declared, "I’ll drink to that."


Jen checked the room number on her schedule and peered into the door of Hutchinson 106. Seeing no familiar faces, she found a seat towards the center of the classroom. A minute later, a well-built, dark-haired man slid into the desk to her left. “Hey,” he said casually, “this is Broadcast Journalism, right?”

“I sure hope so, “ Jen responded.

His luminous smile crept along its familiar path, drawing Jen in. “Are you a journalism major?” he inquired.

“Not yet, but I am thinking about it. You?”

“Third year, with a focus on print media. I needed this course to fulfill a requirement. I’m more of a writer than a speaker.”

“It’s the opposite with me. Can’t shut me up,” she giggled. “By the way, I’m Jen.”

“David,” he stated, offering his hand. “I hear there are some group projects for this class. Maybe we can work together on one. I see a few folks I know from other classes, but no one I’m dying to work with.”

“Well, with that kind of a build-up, how could I refuse?” Jen replied sarcastically.

“Oh, no. Please don’t take it wrong. I didn’t mean anything…”

“Relax, David. I’m only teasing. You seem like a good guy.” The professor cleared his throat and began addressing the class. “I’d be happy to be your partner,” Jen whispered, “but I’d better pipe down now before I get us in trouble.”


Joey sat pretzel-style on her bed surrounded by photos, programs, postcards, and souvenirs from her French journey. Dawson browsed through a pile of snapshots as he listened to her describe her experience.

“It was hard trying to balance my excitement and enthusiasm for the city that I’d dreamed about visiting for so long with my desire not to be a typical American in Paris.”

“They didn’t film that in France, you know,” Dawson interjected.

Bewilderment covered Joey’s face. “Film what?”

“The movie…An American in Paris. Except for a few establishing shots at the beginning, it was all filmed on the MGM sound stages in Hollywood.”


“I learned that when Oliver and I visited MGM Studios.”

“I didn’t make it to Euro Disney so I must have missed that piece of info,” Joey countered wryly. “Anyway, I became friendly with some Canadian students whom I met in the youth hostel and we toured the museums together-the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the National Museum of Modern Art. There aren’t words to convey how I felt. I had to pinch myself every now and then to make sure it was real.” Joey was flush with the thrill of her memories.

“I’m so happy that you got to live your fantasy,” Dawson commented sincerely.

“And all the special touches of French life-the cafés, the quaint houses, the sidewalk artists, kids and grown-ups alike enraptured by a Punch and Judy show…”

“In Truffaut’s The 400 Blows there’s this famous scene where his camera lingers over the faces in the audience of a Punch and Judy show, capturing their delight.”

“Perhaps I should have just rented the movie.” Joey affected a joking tone, but the flash of annoyance in her eyes revealed her true feelings.

Dawson chuckled. “Go on, Jo. I don’t mean to keep interrupting.”

“The fascinating thing is that although there’s so much happening-it’s a sensory cornucopia-the pace of life is so much slower, so much more laid back than in America.”

“When the French say a second, they mean five minutes.”

“That’s for sure, Dawson. Where’d you hear that?”

Looking abashed, he lowered his head and mumbled, “It’s a line from a movie…Breathless…Jean Luc Godard’s first film.

Joey picked up one of the museum programs lying next to her and bopped the wunderkind over the head. “Dawson, you’re hopeless,” she laughed.

“I’m sorry, Joey. I spent my summer so immersed in filmmaking and cinematic studies that I can’t help but keep making all these connections.”

“Face it, Dawson. You’re a film geek.”

“And happy to be one.” He hesitated, then proceeded softly. “And I’m happy to be here with you.”

“Me, too. I was pretty anxious about seeing you again,” confessed Joey. “What with our penchant for dramatic partings and all.”

“We certainly are our own soap opera.”

“So…are we ready to define ourselves or are we avoiding labels?” Joey asked with quiet urgency.

“I guess it depends on the label.”

“I wasn’t talking about dry clean only.”

“More like handle with care?”

“Or proceed with caution.” Joey shifted uneasily on the bed and let a heavy breath escape as she curled her lower lip. “I made the mistake last year of thinking that moving on meant embracing the new and abandoning the old. I acted impulsively, even recklessly, and gave myself credit for taking risks.” Her voice grew intense and her words tumbled out in a rush. “Going to France put things into perspective for me. I was doing, but I wasn’t thinking and, most of all, I wasn’t feeling. I don’t want to live that way anymore, cut off from my emotions. But I also know that I’m not always sure what my emotions are.”

“So where does that leave us, Joey?” Dawson asked with concern.

“I may be confused about my emotions, Dawson, but I am not confused about this…I want you in my life. I need you in my life. I just want to take it slow this time. Do it right.”

“Can we label ourselves as dating? As a couple?”

Joey smiled. “I think we can say we’re a dating couple.”

“Does that mean that if I ask you on a date, you’ll say 'yes'?”

“Try me.”

Gently, Dawson slipped Joey’s hand in his. “Joey, would you like to go to dinner and a movie with me Friday night?”

“Yes, Dawson, I’d love to. Just promise me one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“That you won’t make all our dates movie-themed.” Dawson erupted into a fit of high-pitched laughter. “I’m serious,” Joey protested. “We have to achieve some balance in this relationship.”

“Okay,” he consented, catching his breath. “We will limit movie-themed dates to three a month.”





“Did you know that most of the American colonists were illiterate?” Pacey quizzed Audrey as she idly leafed through the information packets he had received in his training sessions at the museum.

“Ah-ha! That explains your newfound affinity for the Colonial era,” she retorted.

Pacey ignored the jibe. “Portraiture was one of the most common forms of painting, but only wealthy people with high social standing could afford to have their portraits painted."

“How much longer do you plan to be studying your notes? Not that I’m not totally fascinated by your Colonial American factoids.” Audrey sidled over next to Pacey on his bed. “Maybe we can make some tin punches to decorate your new apartment,” she suggested sarcastically before beginning to stroke Pacey’s inner thigh.

“Audrey,” he croaked admonishingly as he scooted away, “I am going to lead a school group through part of their tour tomorrow and I want to be prepared. Lemme see…maybe this’ll grab you. The oldest American sampler we have on display is a silk on linen rendering of Adam and Eve under the tree. It was made by Mary Titcomb in 1760.”

“Nice name,” she deadpanned.

“Heh, heh,” he chuckled. “I never told you about my fourth grade teacher with the 40D rack who was named Mrs. Titmas.”


“Yeah, really. Always made me think that God has a sense of humor.” He flipped through his notes and continued. “Here’s one you’ll enjoy. It was common for the colonists to begin each day with a stiff drink of cider or rum.”

Audrey crawled across the bed and straddled Pacey, pressing her ample bosom against his chest. “I imagine that’s not the only stiff thing they had at the beginning of each day,” she said huskily.

“Certainly not if the colonial women were anything like you,” he murmured before surrendering to her waiting lips.


“Josephine Potter. I'm here for orientation. I'm doing work study on the big inventory project."

The silver-haired volunteer staffing the reception desk consulted her list. “Yes, dear, here you are. The meeting is in the conference room right down that center hallway. It’s the fourth door on the left, just before the rest rooms. But,” she indicated with a nod toward the stately grandfather clock that graced the museum entrance, “you’re early. You are welcome to look around a bit first.”

“Thank you. I think I will.”

Joey spent several minutes studying the pieces in the lobby before heading towards the main exhibits. She noticed a group of rambunctious middle schoolers being shooed by their chaperones into one of the rooms. As she eased her way to the door to peek in, she heard a familiar voice. She watched wide-eyed as Pacey quickly settled the youngsters in the replica of a Colonial one-room schoolhouse and proceeded to lead them through an exercise in ”ciphering” on their individual slates. She wasn’t sure who was having a better time, Pacey or the kids. Reluctantly, she decided to continue to the conference room when another Worthington student stopped her to ask directions to the meeting room. Their whispers caught Pacey’s attention and, as he glanced at the doorway, he spied Joey. Their eyes met for a moment and Pacey felt his cheeks redden. Joey smiled warmly at her friend, then left for her information session.


“Hey, Potter.”

Joey looked up as she exited the ladies’ room. “Pace…of all the places in the world, I never expected to run into you here.”

“I took a job as a docent. That was my first time leading a group, with the help of one of the experienced workers, of course. I was kind of embarrassed that you saw me. I’m sure I’ll get better at it.”

“You were amazing, Pacey. The kids loved you.”

“Thanks,” he replied as he shuffled his feet. “So why are you here?”

“I’m one of the students who will be working on that big inventorying and reorganization project. I’m here for orientation.”

“Till when?”

“Around 3:00, 3:30.”

“I get off at 4:00. If you don’t mind waiting, I could give you a ride back to Worthington,” Pacey suggested.

Joey broke into a broad grin. “That, Mr. Witter, sounds like a plan.”


[Comfortable - John Mayer]

“Where’s the Mustang?” Joey queried as Pacey led her to the red Ford pick-up in the employee parking area.

“Didn’t Audrey tell you? It was stolen outside of Philadelphia on my way back from driving her to California.”

“That sucks.”

“Tell me about it.” Pacey opened the passenger door and gave Joey a boost into the cab. “Pop was really pleased, as you might imagine, but that’s another story. Anyway, I collected the insurance money and decided to go with a more practical vehicle. The rest I put towards rent for the summer and the security for my new apartment.”

“Audrey had mentioned your new place. She said your roommate was cool.”

“Yeah, Dave’s a good guy.” The engine turned over readily and Pacey steered the truck onto the road.

“An automatic, Pace? Aren’t you the one who patiently groomed me into the maven of manual transmissions?” Joey teased with an affectionate poke at Pacey’s ribcage.

“Unfortunately, Boston traffic is not at all conducive to a shift. But enough chatter about this mundane stuff,” he remarked as he tapped the steering wheel, “don’t you have tantalizing tales of your Parisian adventures that you should be regaling me with?”

“You’ll be sorry you asked. I could go on for days.”

“Jo, this is your trip to France, the maybe once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of your dreams. I want to hear all about it. Every last detail.”

“Okay. You asked for it. I boarded Air France flight #337 at approximately 5:11 PM on May 20th. I was in seat 14A, next to a slightly overweight man in khaki pants and a light green Izod shirt…”

“Josephine,” Pacey warned with mock sternness.

“You said you wanted every last detail,” she playfully reminded him.

“You are taking gross advantage of my kind and indulgent nature, Ms. Potter.”

Joey stared at Pacey for a moment, her eyes full of their past. Her mood grew serious. “Your kind and indulgent nature has always been appreciated, Mr. Witter, even when I may have failed to acknowledge it,” she mused with a gentle touch of his arm.

“Jo, was it all you imagined it would be?” Pacey asked quietly. “Tell me.”

“Oh, Pace, it was all that and then some.” As the pick-up crept through the commuter traffic, Joey struggled to explain the impact France had made on her soul. And Pacey listened to every word.


[Drive My Car - The Beatles]

Asked a girl what she wanted to be
She said baby, can't you see
I wanna be famous, a star on the screen
But you can do something in between

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And baby I love you

I told a girl that my prospects were good
And she said baby, it's understood
Working for peanuts is all very fine
But I can show you a better time

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And baby I love you

Beep beep'm beep beep yeah

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And baby I love you

I told a girl I can start right away
And she said listen babe I got something to say
I got no car and it's breaking my heart
But I've found a driver and that's a start

Baby you can drive my car
Yes I'm gonna be a star
Baby you can drive my car
And baby I love you

Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah
Beep beep'm beep beep yeah


[The Middle - Jimmy Eat World]

Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best, try everything you can
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away
It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)
Hey, you know they're all the same
You know you're doing better on your own, so don't buy in
Live right now
Yeah, just be yourself
It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else
It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)
It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)
Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just do your best, do everything you can
And don't you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say
It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)
It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)


[Comfortable - John Mayer]

I just remembered that time at the market
Snuck up behind me and jumped on my shopping cart
And rode down aisle five
You looked behind you to smile back at me
Crashed into a rack full of magazines
They asked us if we could leave

Can't remember what went wrong last September
Though I'm sure that you'd remind me if you had to
Our love was comfortable and so broken in

I sleep with this new girl I'm still getting used to
My friends all approve, say she's gonna be good for you
They throw me high fives

She says the bible is all that she reads
And prefers that I not use profanity
Your mouth was so dirty

Life of the party
And she swears that she's artsy
But you could distinguish Miles from Coltrane
Our love was comfortable and so broken in
She's perfect, so flawless Or so they say, say

She thinks I can't see the smile that she's fakin'
And poses for pictures that are being taken
I loved you
Grey sweat pants, no makeup, so perfect
Our love was, comfortable and so broken in
She's perfect, so flawless
I'm not impressed, I want you back


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