After This
Part 1

by DeepBlueSea

Joey sighed heavily, blowing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes, staring blankly at the page of the book she had resting on her knees. She lifted herself up a bit, adjusting the pillow against the headboard of her bed, and then leaning back down against it. There was suddenly a soft rat-a-tat-tat knocking on the door of her room. Sighing again, she tossed the book aside to swing her legs over and get up to answer it.

“Hey.” She pulled the door open, a soft smile of surprise coming to her face. She shrugged, the smile fading just a bit. “Audrey’s not back from classes yet, Pace.”

He was leaning against the doorjamb and just raised an eyebrow. “Um. That’s okay.” He said uncertainly. “I was actually just here to…ah, grab some stuff I left here.”

Joey slowly raised her eyebrows as well, feeling a tinge of embarrassment. “Oh.” She tried to smile. “Okay…well, come on in then.” Pacey just gave her a small grin brushing by her to go over to Audrey’s nightstand next to her bed. Joey made her way back to her own bed, flopping back down and picking up her book.

“CDs.” Pacey said simply, his back to her.

Joey looked up. “Huh?”

Pacey glanced at her over his shoulder. “CDs…I’m here to pick up some of my CDs she borrowed.” He explained. “Well, actually - some of Dougie’s CDs. That she didn’t exactly borrow so much as took last time she was over. Which is why I had to come get them back.”

Joey just nodded. “Ah.” She said, smiling again before she looked back to her book.

Pacey shuffled through the CD cases in his hand, picking a couple out and dropping them in his coat pocket. He watched Joey out of the corner of his eye for a moment.

“Are you okay?’ He asked softly.

Joey looked up, her eyes widening just a bit. “Um, yeah…why?”

“It’s just that you’re doing that thing…” Pacey shrugged, looking back to the CDs in his hands again.

“What thing?” Joey demanded, confused.

“The thing where you pretend to be reading a book but you’re actually just holding it and staring at the pages because you’re thinking about something that’s bothering you - but you don’t want anyone to think anything is bothering you - so, you pretend to read the book so that they won’t ask you and you can keep pretending that nothing is bothering you.”

Joey stared at him, then opened her mouth to say something as she wrinkled her forehead, then just ended up bursting out into a laugh. She shook her head at him. “How did you know that was what I was doing?’

He looked at her with a sly grin. “This isn’t just anyone that you are dealing with here, Jo.”

She looked down at her bed, still shaking her head with a smile. “It’s nothing really. Nothing in particular anyway - kind of just a bunch of stuff with the semester starting off, you know. School stuff.” She shrugged.

Pacey just smiled, his eyes warm and gentle. “Well, don’t stress it too much, Potter. Take it from me - it’s good to let your grades slip every so often. It keeps your teachers on their toes a bit and messes with the curve to give all those other over-achieving Worthington kids a false sense of accomplishment.” His eyes now took on a mischievous glint. “Besides, you don’t want to start developing worry lines at this stage of the game…you might need those good looks of yours to fall back on in case this Ivy League education thing doesn’t end up working out for you.”

She nodded, smiling and rolling her eyes at him. “Okay, Pace.” She said softly, looking down.

“Well, I think I have found all the missing divas here, so I’m going to be on my way.”

“Are you driving all the way back to Capeside right now? Why don’t you hang out a bit? I mean – you can if you want. Audrey should be back soon.”

Pacey looked at her quizzically for a moment. “Um…Audrey didn’t tell you…?” Joey just looked back at him blankly. “Audrey and I aren’t seeing each other anymore…we broke up last week.” He shrugged. “I was out with Jack last night and ended up crashing at his place…I told her I’d just swing by here on my way home and get these while she was at class.”

“Oh.” Joey sat up. “No…she hasn’t said anything. I mean – I guess I haven’t really seen her, since I’ve been over at Dawson’s a lot lately but…” Her voice trailed off and Pacey dropped his head a bit. Joey bit her lip. “Sorry, Pace. I really didn’t know.”

He looked up at her with a smile and just shrugged again. “Don’t worry about it…I think it’s actually for the best. Some things just kind of run their course, you know.” They regarded each other for a long moment. “So…” Pacey started for the door. “I guess I’ll just be seeing you around, Potter.” He grinned at her. “Now - don’t forget about sending me those postcards we talked about.”

She smiled slowly, remembering, and then smirked and shook her head at him. “You could be wherever you wanted to be right now, Pace – and you know it.” She said softly. “I actually envy you.”

He just shrugged. “Yeah. I get that a lot.” They smiled at each other again and then he sighed. “Well, I’ll see you, Jo.”

“See ya, Pace.” Joey nodded, her voice barely a whisper as she watched him disappear out the door.

She sat there for a long while, biting the inside of her lip and staring at the closed door, until she heard another knock.

“Hello?” Dawson peeked his head in, smiling when he saw her. “Hey.” He came in the room, coming over to her to drop a kiss on her cheek as he sat down next to her.

“Hey.” Joey smiled, looking down and tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “How was your morning?” She asked quietly.

“Pretty great, actually.” Dawson said, jumping up to go over to her desk “I’m starting to put a crew together for that new film project. I grabbed some phone numbers at the student union.” He sat down, pulling the telephone over to him. “Do you mind if I make some calls from here?”

Joey just shook her head with a small smile, watching him pull a piece of paper from his pocket and set it down next to the phone. She picked up her book with a sigh, leaning back against her pillow to stare blankly at the page in front of her again.

Dawson glanced over at her, the phone resting on his shoulder. “What are you reading there? Looks interesting…” He smiled.

Joey just looked at him a moment, blinking her eyes. Before she could answer, he cut her off by holding up a hand to speak into the phone. “Hello…is Jeff there please?”

Joey just looked back to her book, sinking back a little farther into her pillow.


Joey was washing her face when she finally heard Audrey come into the room. Quickly turning off the water and reaching over for a towel to dry herself off with, she opened the bathroom door.

“Joey?” Audrey was taking off her coat and seemed surprised. “Can it be? My long lost roommate?” She teased.

Joey just rolled her eyes and smiled, making her way over to her bed. “And how was your day, Audrey?” She asked.

“Fine.” Audrey shrugged. “But, let’s talk about you. Why are you here and not off soulmating somewhere with wonderboy?” Audrey’s face changed, mock-cringing. “That time of the month, bunny?”

“God, Audrey…no.” Joey rolled her eyes, shaking her head in disgust as she flopped down onto her bed. “I have reading to do and papers to write.” Noticing Audrey’s shopping bags, she continued with a raised eyebrow. “School has started, in case you didn’t know.”

“Well, duh…” Audrey held up the bags triumphantly. “Why do you think I had to go out and buy some new school clothes?”

Joey just smiled, reaching for the book that had been lying on her bed. She watched Audrey hang up the outfits she pulled from her bag and noticed as she glanced through the CD cases sitting on her nightstand.

“Pacey stopped by this morning…” Joey said carefully, watching her.

Audrey hesitated, then shrugged, her back still to Joey. “Yeah, he mentioned he might. Did he find his CDs?”

“Yeah.” Joey said, still watching her. “You didn’t tell me you two broke up.” She said, her voice growing softer.

Audrey turned around, furrowing her brow. “I didn’t? I could have sworn I did.” She shrugged. “Oh well.”

“Is that it?” Joey couldn’t help but laugh, slightly shocked.

“Is what it?” Audrey looked at her in confusion.

“Well, you just don’t seem too fazed by it all…aren’t you upset? Do you want to talk about it?” Joey sat forward on the bed. “I’m sorry I haven’t been here much lately. If I had known you might be going through this…”

Audrey looked at her a moment, appraising her. “Was that your first thought?” Her voice was strangely quiet.

Joey looked at her in confusion. “Was what my first thought?”

“Me.” Audrey said simply. “Was what I might be going through your first thought when Pacey told you that we had broken up?”

Joey sat back, feeling a certain heat rising up in her cheeks. “What…what do you mean by that?” She asked with a frown, her voice shaking slightly.

Audrey continued to watch her for just a brief moment, then shook her head. “Nothing. It’s no biggie.” She shrugged, going back to her shopping bags. “This thing with Pacey and I was bound to end sooner or later…it was just different – weird - between us when I came back after the summer.” Joey slowly cast her eyes to the floor and back to Audrey. “And, it was getting to be a little too much effort involved in seeing each other - with him all the way back in that creeky little town of yours. After all…” She smiled, making a funny face. “We were kind of all about the convenience, you know.”

Joey just gave her a small smile and nodded as she watched Audrey disappear into the bathroom. Looking at the book in her hand, she tossed it onto the floor next to her bed and lay back down to stare up at the ceiling.


Doug came through the front door, the apartment in darkness except for the bluish flickering light of the television illuminating the living room. He walked through to the kitchen, glancing at Pacey reclined on the couch as he passed him.

“These late nights are going to start to catch up with you sooner or later, Pacey.” He commented as he turned on the kitchen light and opened the refrigerator. “What time are you supposed to be at the Yacht Club in the morning?”

Pacey just shrugged, pointing the remote at the TV screen and aimlessly flipping through channels. “6:00…I think.”

Doug glanced up at the clock on the wall. “So, what are you still doing up now?”

Pacey sighed. “Oh, I’ve just been sitting here contemplating all the impressive progress I’ve made in my life since I last crashed on your couch – what, has it been two, three years now?” He stared at the television screen as he talked.

Doug raised an eyebrow, coming over to lean against the doorway to listen as Pacey continued. “I mean – we have the fact that I am “A” back to living off you and sleeping on your couch. And then we have “B”, where I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be doing next year and no discernable plan for the future. Then, of course, there’s “C”, where I’m back to being on Dad’s shit list – but we all knew that was that going to happen, right? And, who can forget “D”, where I inevitably lose the girl to Dawson Leery…” Pacey’s voice trailed off as he tossed the remote on the coffee table, his eyes still on the television. “I’m telling you - give me my Bruins shirt and an attitude problem and it’s 1999 all over again.”

Doug crossed his arms, still leaning against the door. “Audrey is going out with Dawson now?” He asked, furrowing his brow in confusion.

“What?” Pacey’s voice cracked as he stared at Doug in horror. “Good God, no. Where did that come from?”

“You said you lost the girl to Dawson…” Doug quietly reminded him.

Pacey fidgeted on the couch, scowling as he looked back to the television. “Yeah, well. It’s just a figure of speech…” He muttered under his breath.

Doug raised his eyebrow again, smiling a little to himself as turned and walked back into the kitchen. “How is Joey doing these days?” He asked, over his shoulder.

Pacey looked up again. “Fine.” He said warily. “Why?”

Doug shrugged, unbuttoning the shirt of his uniform as he walked into his bedroom. “No reason. Just haven’t heard you mention her name in a while. You two were hanging out a bit this summer while she was home, weren’t you?”

“I guess – I don’t really remember.” Pacey shook his head, feigning ignorance as he turned his attention back to the screen and picked up the remote again.

Doug came back in the room, pulling a sweatshirt on. “You know, Pacey.” He sighed, dropping into the recliner next to the couch and grabbing the remote from Pacey’s hand. “Did you ever consider the fact that this might just be an ego thing? You’ve been doing pretty well for yourself this past year without thinking about her, you even had an actual girlfriend there for a while, and yet here you are moping about Joey - just coincidentally - when she happens to be going back out with Dawson.” Doug softened his tone a bit. “Do you see where I’m going with this?”

Pacey sat up, sighing as he leaned forward. “Well, you know, Dougie,” He chuckled with just a hint of bitterness. “I would agree that could be a great theory based on those suppositions - except for that part you put in there where I go without thinking about her for a year.” Pacey stood up to walk away. “Because I should be so lucky to be able to go that long…”

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