After This
Part 2

by DeepBlueSea

Joey wrapped her long sweater a little tighter around her as they made their way down the street. She looked up when she heard the sounds of music blaring from the windows of the house, the steady thump-thump beat of the rhythm echoing through her body.

“Well, obviously the first thing that I need to do when we get in here is take over as DJ.” Audrey rolled her eyes next to Joey, pulling out a small mirror compact to touch up her lipstick. Dawson just snorted to himself on Joey’s other side as they climbed the cement steps to the front porch.

Audrey went to open the door first, just raising an eyebrow as she watched two of Jack’s frat brothers tumble out and sprawl on top of each other in a drunken stupor on the porch floor. “Hi there, boys.” She drawled, shaking her head and stepping over them in her spike-heeled shoes to go into the party.

Joey went to gingerly step over them as well to follow Audrey in, but Dawson grabbed hold of her elbow to pull her back.

“Do we really want to do this tonight, Joey?” He sighed dramatically, raising his eyebrows. “Besides the fact that I’m not really up for a night of drunken idiots at Jack’s frat, you and I haven’t spent any time alone together in over a week.” His voice took on a whiny edge as he looked at her pointedly. “Why don’t we just turn around right now and go back to my place. Audrey won’t even miss you at this point.”

Joey shrugged. “But I told Jack we would at least stop by. I haven’t even seen him yet since we’ve been back in Boston.” She sighed heavily. “We’ll just stay for a little while, okay?”

Dawson shook his head, flapping his arms. “Okay. Whatever. Let’s just go in and get it over with then.” He groused, motioning for her to go ahead as he followed her through the door.

They were immediately swallowed up the crowd that was mingling in the front hallway of the frat house. Joey felt herself being pushed forward and, through the sea of people, she noticed Jen standing in the kitchen. Glancing over her shoulder to Dawson, she pointed towards down the hall. “I’m going to go say hi to Jen.” She yelled over the music.

Dawson just nodded, looking irritated. “I’ll go get us some drinks then. I’ll meet you in there.” He yelled back, pushing his way in the opposite direction.

“Joey!” Jen called out happily as Joey emerged from the crowd. “Hey! I didn’t think we were going to see you tonight.” The two girls hugged lightly. “Isn’t Dawson with you?”

“Um…yeah.” Joey shrugged distractedly as she glanced through the doorways into the other rooms. “He’s getting us drinks…”

Looking over her shoulder into the den, she noticed a pretty girl with long auburn hair playing pool. As the girl moved to take her shot, Joey saw Pacey, standing there leaning on his pool stick as he took a swig from his beer bottle. As he put the beer down on the bar next to him and turned back towards the pool table, he glanced up into the kitchen and their eyes met. Joey felt the smile spread across her face as he grinned at her, just lifting his hand a little to give her a wave. Joey raised her hand too, lost in the blue of his eyes for just a second.

“Joey!” Suddenly Joey felt herself being lifted up and tossed into the air by a very drunk Jack. “You’re here!”

She giggled, adjusting her shirt as he dropped her back down to the floor. “Yes, I am. How are you, Jack?” She leaned over to give him a hug, glancing over his shoulder back into the den, but Pacey was no longer visible through the crowd.

Jack was launching into some involved story about an incident that occurred when his frat brothers were buying the keg that day, and Joey turned her attention back to listen to him, sneaking amused looks back and forth with Jen every so often.

“This beer is completely flat.” Dawson wrinkled his nose as he came into the kitchen and joined them, taking a sip from the plastic cup. “It’s disgusting.” Jack just looked at him and burst out laughing and Jen and Joey just looked at each other.

“I don’t think we want to know the end of your story, Jack.” Joey shook her head, taking Dawson’s cup from his hand. “And I don’t think you want to be drinking that beer, Dawson.”

Suddenly there was a commotion from the den, louder, angrier-sounding voices rising above the general din of the room. They looked over to see Audrey standing in front of Pacey, rising up a bit to yell into his face. She then turned to snap at the auburn haired girl, who was just standing there looking shocked. Audrey spun around, storming out of the room and through the kitchen, her face red. Joey watched her go past and looked over at Pacey, who was looking down and tiredly shaking his head with small smirk.

“Those two are ridiculous.” Dawson snorted under his breath.

“I guess I should go after her…” Joey shrugged absently, tearing her eyes from Pacey to follow Audrey.

She made her way down the hall to the bathroom, where there were a few disgruntled party-goers banging on the door. “She just barged right in there!” They exclaimed as Joey approached.

Joey sighed. “Just let me see if I can talk to her, please.” She knocked lightly on the door. “Audrey…?”

Suddenly the door flew open. “You know what?” Audrey exclaimed as she stood there, tossing her hair back over her shoulder. “Screw him, right?” She shrugged. “It’s obvious now why he wanted his freedom back so much, and two can play at that game, right?” She just stormed past Joey, out into the party where she latched onto the first available guy she saw.

Joey just watched her, shaking her head in disbelief. She went to start back into the kitchen and saw Dawson already scanning the crowd for her, looking tired and bothered. Joey sighed, running her hand through her hair, and turned around to walk down the hall and out the back door.

Stepping outside, she took in a deep breath of the crisp fall air. She wrapped her sweater around her a little tighter as she walked out into the dark yard, looking up at the nighttime sky.

“Well, I know why I’m out here…but what about you?” She smiled slowly at the familiar deep voice, turning to see Pacey sitting on the old wooden picnic table that sat on the patio.

“Girl troubles, Pace?” She grinned at him, her voice light and playful, as she came over to sit down. He grinned as well as he slid over to make room for her next to him.

“Yeah…I’m not quite sure if I know what that was all about…” He chuckled, scratching his head a little.

“I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Audrey was jealous of your new pool partner.” Joey bowed her head a little to look over at him, smiling as she bumped her shoulder against his.

Pacey just raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “I thought we ended things rather amicably. Then she comes out with something like that...” He sighed, his voice trailing off.

“Nothing ends that amicably, Pace.” Joey shrugged. “It’s just human nature to get jealous like that. And you know Audrey is a bit of a drama queen.” She smirked.

He didn’t say anything for a long while until he glanced over at her, biting the inside of his lip. “Why do you suppose we were never like that with each other?” He asked in a quiet voice.

Joey looked down, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I’d like to think it was because we always wanted each other to be happy…that that was the thing that mattered most.” She looked up to meet his eyes and he held her gaze for a long moment.

“I like that theory, Potter.” He smiled, his voice low.

Joey grinned as well as they both leaned back on their arms to look up at the sky above them.

“You can actually see the stars here tonight…” Pacey said.

“Yeah, you can…” Joey replied with a sad smile.

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