A Case of You
by Bronwen

A Note from  the Author: This is the first in what I expect to be a short series of Tortured Joey stories inspired by favorite songs of mine.   This fic takes place over the course of July, August, and September 2001.  It follows everything that happened on the show and in the Summer Diaries through 6/20.  A Case of You is a classic Joni Mitchell song from her album Blue.  The lyrics can be found at the end of the story.

  I can look at myself again.  I can look at myself in the mirror and see that I’ve changed.  Skin’s tanner, hair’s lighter, arms are stronger, eyes are brighter.

 The mirror I’ve glanced in is on the wall in one of the port bars my buddies and I have discovered.  I like the island music, especially the rhythm of the steel drums.  I’ve learned to drink rum though I’m happy to find a place that caters to tourists and carries Guinness.  The food is flavorful and filling and I don’t even miss Big Macs.

I’ve become friends with my shipmate Rafe and it is he who is my most frequent drinking companion.  He’s a native of the West Indies and he makes me laugh.  It’s been a long time since I had a friend who could make me laugh.

 Rafe is handsome with his dark eyes, coffee complexion, and mini-dreadlocks and the women are drawn to him.  They find him mysterious, I suppose.  Tonight we’re sharing a table with two British tourists, Cecily and Elizabeth.  Cecily’s attention is all focused on Rafe.  He’s soaking it up, playing it cool.  Elizabeth and I are more casual, discussing the merits of Millionaire versus Missing Link.  I like her; she’s sweet and beautiful and her accent charms me.  She asks me to dance.  In my arms, she sways to the beat of the music.  I feel the softness of her skin as I tuck a strand of her long brown hair behind her ear.

 “Pacey, you are so attentive,” she says as she rests her head on my shoulder.  “I bet you’d be delightful in bed,” she adds with a nervous giggle.

 I smile bemusedly.  I’ve grown used to the forwardness of the women vacationing in this island paradise.  Clearly, there’s no room in their suitcases for inhibitions.  “I prefer to think of myself as devastating.”

 “Oooh, cocky bloke, ey?”

 “Not really.  Just skilled with the banter.”  I rub my hand gently across her back.  “You’re a lovely woman, Elizabeth.  Delightful even.  And part of me wants to leave with you right now.”  Her warm breath on my neck tempts me, but I choose to lean forward and simply kiss the back of her head.  “The other part of me hurts too much to do that yet and that’s the part I need to listen to.  You understand?”

 “Whoever left you is a fool.”
 “Maybe I did the leaving.  Maybe I’m the fool.”

 Suddenly serious, Elizabeth lifts her head and looks hard into my eyes.  “I’ve met my share of fools, Pacey, and I can tell straight out that you’re not one of them.  Come, let’s go back to the table.  I’ll buy us a round and you can tell me everything…or you can tell me nothing at all.”

 We walk past the mirror as we exit the dance floor and I catch my reflection in the glass.  I can look at myself again.  And sometimes I even like what I see.


 I’m painting again.  I’d put my art supplies away when we’d returned last summer, intending to get back to painting and drawing as soon as I had sent in all my college applications.  But senior year was harder than I expected-more schoolwork, more hours on the job, more time watching Alexander, more crises of the heart.  So the paints and pencils sat untouched until now.

 I’m spending a lot of time alone this summer.  I was so afraid of that in the beginning.  After Pacey left, I clung to Dawson.  He was the narcotic I needed to take the edge off my pain.  But CDCs come with warning labels for a reason-they’re addictive.  Before I knew it, I was back to my old destructive habits again and the poison that is my neediness for Dawson was coursing through my veins.  Like a junkie pleading for a fix, I used every trick I could to convince him to stay.  He went to LA anyway and I was left to deal alone.  Talk about cold turkey.

 Funny thing is, I’ve grown to accept my solitude.  Sometimes I even like it.  It’s forced me to think and act and feel for myself.  I realize I haven’t done that nearly enough.  I’ve always looked to others to make my choices for me.  Despite the armor of toughness I don, I’ve always been afraid to rely on myself.

 Jen has been a good friend to me.  She’s shared some of the lessons she learned being in therapy.  I think my art is my therapy.  I’m trying to express what’s in my heart, I’m trying to release the emotions I’ve locked inside.

 That was the biggest mistake I made with Pacey.  At Christmas when I talked to Dawson and discovered that the wounds to our friendship had begun to heal, I assured Pacey that all ghosts of Dawson were locked firmly away.  If you lock something inside, it’s still there.  In the months that followed, Dawson became the cancer within me eating away at my relationship with Pacey.  I needed to let him go, once and for all, but I was too weak and too worried about Dawson’s feelings to excise the tumor.  So the cancer spread until it destroyed all that was good between Pacey and me.

 Today I’m at the Ruins working on my latest painting.  Jen’s the only person who’s seen my pieces and she thinks I should try to get them shown through the Local Artists’ Initiative at Capeside Library.  I don’t know.  It pleases me that she thinks they’re worthy of display-that’s what I like best about Jen, I know she won’t bullshit me-but I’m not sure I’m comfortable disclosing that much of myself.  I think that’s why I never painted the wall Pacey rented me.  I was too afraid to let my heart tell its story.
 These days, when I’m alone in bed at night, my heart insists on speaking.  In whispers, in shouts, in strangled cries, in feral screams, my heart tells me the truth.  It’s Pacey whom I truly need.  He’s in my blood, he’s in my soul, he’s in my heart.

 I’m painting again.  And every stroke of the brush, every splatter of paint reveals my love and my longing for him.


 I put a call into Doug today.  Fulfill my familial obligations, assure him that all’s fine and dandy with the Witter’s black sheep.  I try to keep things light and superficial, but Dr. Doug will have none of it.  He tries to dig into my psyche, attend to the wounds he’s sure are festering beneath my veneer of confidence.

 “Pacey, you can’t run away and think that when you come back, your problems will be solved.”

 “Dougie, I didn’t run away.  I took a summer job sailing in the Caribbean.  I’m earning money doing something I love.”

 “There are boats in Capeside, Pacey.  That’s not the point.  You went away so you didn’t have to deal with the messy aftermath of your break-up with Joey.  You remember her, don’t you?  Joey Potter, tall, thin, strikingly beautiful.  You spent last summer with her cruising the Atlantic on True Love…”

 “Enough, Doug.  Enough.”  I spit the words into the phone.  “There’s not a minute that I’m out here on this yacht that I’m not thinking about where we were and what we were doing last summer.  Does that make you happy?”

 “I’m not trying to attack you.  I’m worried about you.  Are you simply changing your scenery or are you changing what’s wrong with you?”

 “I think I needed the change of scenery to make the changes in me.  I do feel better about myself now.  I’m accomplishing things on my own.  I’m being accepted for who I am.  I don’t feel inferior anymore.”

 “You were never anyone’s inferior, Pacey.  The grades you get in high school are hardly the measure of the man.”

 “Do you see her, Doug?”  My voice is thick and low.  “Is she okay?”

 “I’ve seen Joey a few times.  Once or twice around town, but mostly painting and drawing.  At the Ruins, on the docks, even in the courtyard at Capeside High. I went over to her once at the docks.  It looked like she was painting an ocean scene.  I wasn’t there for a minute before she asked about you, Pace.  She still cares about you.  It was written all over her face.”

 “She’ll be at Worthington when I come back, Doug.  There’ll be no place for me in her life.”
 “That’s where you’re wrong, little brother.  I don’t think her going to college and your not was ever as big a deal to Joey as it was to you.  She loves and accepts you for who you are.  She’s not looking to change you.  You’re the one who didn’t feel you were good enough.”

 “I started to resent her for loving me as is, for not expecting more of me.  That was part of the problem.  I don’t feel that way anymore and I’ve stopped doubting myself as a person.  It’s not that.  It’s just that she can do so much better.  She’ll end up with a doctor or a lawyer or some Wall Street genius.  She doesn’t need me anymore.”

 “She needs you to love her.”

 “I’m not the only person in the world who can love her.”

 “Will you promise me one thing?”

 “Depends, Doug.  If it involves your diva CD collection, I don’t know…”

 “I’m serious, Pacey.  When you come home, see her, talk to her, give her a chance to talk to you.  You left without warning.  She was blindsided.”

 “I will, Doug.  I have some things I need to say to her, too.  And Doug…” I hesitate, not sure if it is the right thing to do, “if you see her, tell her the sunsets just aren’t the same this year.”


 I leave for Worthington next week.  I’m this crazy mixture of excited and frightened and sad.  Bessie’s been so helpful in getting me organized.  We’ve shopped for all the linens and housewares I’ll need, gone through my closet to sort out which clothes I’ll bring, and decided I’ll take the CD player, but not the TV.  She says watching bad TV shows in the lounge with your dorm mates is one of the joys of college.

 Jen convinced me to show my artwork.  With the things I did last summer plus my paintings and sketches from this year, I have 22 pieces.  Mrs. Weichert, the curator of the gallery, has been very supportive.  My exhibit opens the fourth weekend in September with a reception to be held on Sunday the 23rd.  I’ll come in that Saturday and help set it up.  So if I’m homesick, at least I’ll have an excuse to return to Capeside early in the semester.

 I have to prepare a list of people I’d like to invite to the opening and give it to Mrs. Weichert before I leave.  I have no trouble figuring out whom to invite until I come to the person whose presence would me the most to me.  Pacey.

 I haven’t received a letter or e-mail all summer and I haven’t spoken to him since the graduation party.  I did run into Doug, though, and he’s talked with his brother.  He even had a message for me.  Pace said to tell me the sunsets just aren’t the same this year.  It’s all I have to go on, but I’m pretty sure that means he’s been missing me, too.  I take a deep breath and add his name to the list.  The worst that could happen is he won’t come.
 It’s 7:30 in the evening now and I need to take a break from packing.  I throw on my denim jacket and my sandals and head out to the docks.  Alone at the edge of the pier I dip my feet into the creek and gently kick, making ripples in the water.  I look up at the sky and remember that first sunset on True Love as we sailed off together.  Pacey’s so right.  The sunsets aren’t the same this year.  Neither are the daybreaks or full moons or sea breezes or summer showers.

 “Pacey, “ I whisper to the water, “nothing’s the same without you.”


 “Pacey, there’s mail for you on the kitchen table.”

 “Thanks, Doug.”  I’ve been back in Capeside for ten days and I’m staying with my brother until I can find an efficiency to rent.  I’ve already lined up a job working on one of the charter boats out of Wellfleet.  I pick up the stack of letters to sort through them.  Requests to join a CD club, to apply for credit, and to contribute to the local PBA all get promptly placed in the circular file.  The last letter bears the return address of the Capeside Library.  Fearful of a notice indicating I’ve got books that are three months overdue, I hesitate before opening it.  I’m not at all prepared for the invitation that lies inside the light blue envelope.

The Local Artists’ Initiative
of the
Capeside Public Library
requests the honour of your presence
at the opening of
an exhibit of oils, watercolors, and sketches
by local artist
Josephine Potter.
The Robert and Lorraine Caulfield Gallery
Capeside Public Library
Sunday, September 23, 2001
2:00 PM

 “Damn.”  I exhale sharply as I feel the muscles in my chest tighten.  I know I need to see Joey.  I want to see her.  I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.  Carefully, I place the calligraphied card back in the envelope and tuck it into the pocket of my jacket.  I think I am ready to see Joey again.  I hope this invitation means she’s ready to see me.


“They’re beautiful, Josephine.”

 The familiar voice in my ear startles me.  “Pacey, you almost made me spill my punch.”  I turn and look at him.  He’s beautiful.  Bronzed from a summer at sea, the newly defined muscles in his arms and chest bearing witness to the rigors of physical labor.  I swallow hard before continuing.  “I’m glad you could come.”

 “I’m glad you invited me.  And I’m really glad you decided to show your work.  Talent like yours shouldn’t be hidden.”

 “Jen really pushed me.  She was a great friend to me this summer.”  I feel myself tearing up, but I refuse to get maudlin.  “It wasn’t easy for me,” I add quietly.

 “It wasn’t easy for me either.”  He’s rolled the program up in one hand and is using it to beat an uneasy rhythm on the other.  He rocks back and forth on his heels and I know that he’s bursting with things he wants to say.

 “It was your decision to leave me, Pacey.  But I don’t think this is either the time or the place to discuss it.”  I point to the last piece in the exhibit.  “Come with me.  I want to show you my favorite.”  He follows me to an oil painting of a sunset in brilliant hues of orange, red, and gold.  A boat is sailing on the water beneath and the shadowy outline of two figures can be seen seated at the stern.  “That’s us sailing off into the sunset on True Love, “ I tell him.

 He smiles quizzically and looks at me as if I am daft.  “Joey, do you think I’ve forgotten?  Of course I recognize us leaving on the boat.”  He stares at the painting for a moment then adds, “That was a magnificent sunset.”

 “They were all magnificent when I watched them with you.”

 Out of the corner of my eye, I see Mrs. Weichert beckoning me.  She’s standing next to a couple she must want me to meet.  “I think I’m needed over there, Pacey.”

 A cloud of sadness passes over his face, but he manages a smile.  ”Are you going back to Boston tonight?”

 “Yes, later on.  As long as I’m back by 11:00 or so, I’ll be okay.”  I start to walk away then suddenly I turn and blurt out, “Meet me at the docks at 7:00.  I have so much I want to say to you.”
His face shows the relief I feel as he nods in agreement.  “Hey, Potter.  Nice talkin’ to ya,” he says with a casual salute.

“Later, Pace,” I say with a smile.


Joey’s already there when I arrive.  She’s sitting at the edge of the dock, hugging her knees to her chest and staring out over the water.  “Hey, Jo.”

I ease myself down, stretching my legs out behind her back.  I’m careful to avoid touching her.  “Looking at your exhibit flooded me with memories of last summer.”

She twists her mouth into that wry crooked grin I know so well.  “All I did this summer was remember last summer.”

“Me, too.”

“So, did you find yourself?  Did your adventures on the high seas cure your malaise?”  Her tone is bitter now and I see her body tense up.

“I do feel a lot better about myself than I did last spring, “ I reply evenly.  “I don’t feel like such a loser anymore.”

“Oh, Pacey, you were never a loser.”  Her words come in a rush of emotion.  “The stupid grades and the stupid diploma don’t mean anything.  You’re a better person than most of the teachers in that school.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I always knew you believed in me, I just had to start believing in myself again.”

“I know I hurt you throughout our entire relationship by never fully letting go of Dawson.  It’s the thing I most regret.  I think your nagging doubts about my commitment to you made you lose faith in yourself.”

“That certainly didn’t help matters,” I say not unkindly.  “What about you, Joey?  You named your exhibit Revelations-did you have any great revelations this summer?”

She looks down at the pier and begins tracing random patterns in the planks with her finger.  She wants to tell me something, but she’s afraid.  “Joey, “ I coax, “you can say anything to me.”

She looks up and I see her eyes are brimming, but she bravely holds back her tears.  “I learned to listen to myself, “ she volunteers.  “I learned to make my own decisions.”  She slides her finger next to my hand as it rests on the dock and hooks it around my pinkie.  “I learned how much of you was in me-in my heart, in my blood, in my soul.  I learned that I could never get enough of you.”  She looks at me and I see the fire in her eyes.  “I missed Dawson this summer, Pacey, but I yearned for you.”

My heart is racing and I want nothing more than to pull her close and get lost in her embrace.  I know if I do, I’ll risk losing myself again, so I quell the impulse.  “Joey, I still love you.  I never stopped.  But I don’t think resuming our relationship is what’s best for either one of us at this point.”

“I don’t disagree, Pace.”

“Then what?”

“I need you, Pacey.  I need to be able to talk to you and be with you sometimes.  I need you to be my friend.”  Her voice is choked and barely audible.  “Do you think you’re ready to be friends yet?”

“Do you think you’re ready?”

“I’ve forgiven you for abandoning me and I’ve forgiven myself for not putting you ahead of Dawson.  I won’t deny that I still love you and hope someday to get back what we lost, but for now I’d feel very lucky and very blessed to count you among my friends.”

“I think I like the sound of that, Potter.”

She extends her hand to me, looking to cement our new understanding with a handshake.  I pump her hand briefly before I stop and begin to caress it with my thumb.

“Do you think we’ll ever get things right, Pacey?’

“I hope so, Jo.”

We sit together in silence for a moment, still holding hands.  “Look, “ I say pointing to the sky ablaze in the colors of sunset.  “It’s glorious tonight.”

Joey rests her head softly on my shoulder.  “Magnificent even,” she murmurs as she squeezes my fingers.

Emboldened by the affection she has shown me, I raise her hand to my lips and cover it with tender kisses.  “Magnificent, “ I agree, “simply magnificent.”


A Case of You
By Joni Mitchell

Just before our love got lost you said,
“I am as constant as a northern star.”
And I said, “Constantly in the darkness.
Where’s that at?
If you want me I’ll be in the bar.”
On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue T.V. screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice.
Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine,
You taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh I could drink a case of you, darling,
And I would still be on my feet,
I would still be on my feet.
Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
And I’m drawn to the ones that ain’t afraid.
I remember that time you told me, you said,
“Love is touching souls.”
Well surely you touched mine
‘Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time.
Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine,
You taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh I could drink a case of you, darling,
And I would still be on my feet,
I would still be on my feet.

I met a woman,
She had a mouth like yours.
She knew your life,
She knew your devils and your deeds.
And she said, “Go to him, stay with him
If you can,
But be prepared to bleed.”
You’re my holy wine,
You taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling,
And I would still be on my feet,
I would still be on my feet.


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