After This
Part 3

by DeepBlueSea

“I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be home after the stress of this semester so far…you have no idea what it has been like.” Dawson dropped his bag on the floor, falling onto his bed. Joey lagged behind, dawdling in the doorway to his room with her hands stuffed in the back pockets of her jeans. He raised his head to look up at her. “Let’s just rent like 50 movies and stay in here all weekend. Never come out.”

Joey gave him a half-smile, shrugging. “Not even for Bodie’s cranberry dressing? It’s the best part of Thanksgiving.”

Dawson sat up, blinking. “Oh.” His voice was flat. “Aren’t you eating here with us tomorrow? My mom was counting on you being here.”

Joey opened her mouth to speak, hesitating. “Well…umm…”

“You can’t disappoint her, Joey. She has been looking forward to having us both here at the table with her for Thanksgiving dinner. After all – this isn’t exactly the easiest time of the year for her, you know.” He looked at her pointedly, his nostrils flaring slightly.

Joey shook her head. “No, of course. I understand, Dawson. Of course I’ll be here.” She shrugged again. “We could still go over and have dessert at the B&B, I guess – I mean, Gail and Lily, too.”

“We’ll just see how the day goes.” Dawson smiled and nodded, jumping up to kiss her briefly before turning to grab his duffel bag and throw it on his bed.

Joey dropped her head. “Well, I think I’m going to go say hi to Bessie now and see if she needs any help getting things ready for tomorrow.” She said slowly as she watched Dawson start to unpack. “Don’t forget about Friday night at the McPhees.”

Dawson turned to look at her, confusion written on his face.

“Andie’s home!” Joey reminded him, raising her eyebrows. “They are going to have a little party for her – remember?”

“Oh, yeah.” Dawson shrugged, looking back to his bag. “Well, so much for me wanting to just hang out with you and relax. I guess we can’t quite get out of this one, can we?”

“I guess not.” Joey mumbled, staring at his back.


As they came through the front door, Joey heard Andie’s voice before she saw her, the familiar high-pitched squeal. “Joey!” Joey couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of the petit blond flying across the foyer to embrace her. Andie hugged her tightly, jumping up and down in place. “It’s so good to see you!”

“You too, Andie.” Joey smiled as they gave each other one last squeeze before pulling apart. Joey watched Andie then grab Dawson for a hug as well, bowing her head and holding back a laugh at the slightly startled and distressed expression on his face.

Andie dragged them into the kitchen where Jen and Jack were already gathered with a couple of Jack’s friends from school. Joey looked around the room, blinking and feeling a sinking sense of disappointment.

“So, now all we are waiting on is Pacey and everybody is here!” Andie smiled happily.

Joey started to pull off her coat and discreetly took a step backwards, away from Dawson. “He is coming, though – right?” She said to Andie in a low voice as she bowed her head, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Andie just shrugged. “When we saw him yesterday, he promised he would try to stop by.”

“Hey guys!” Jack came over to greet them now. “What can I get you to drink?”

Dawson sighed, raising his eyebrows. “Ahh…I think I’m all set…”

Joey suddenly spoke up, practically cutting him off. “What have you got?” She smiled.


When everyone else moved into the den to play pool, the three girls snuck off into the living room with a bottle of wine. They collapsed on the couch together, giggling as Jen reached over to refill their glasses.

“So…now that we are alone.” Jen smiled slowly. “You have to tell us about those Italian men, Andie.”

“Ahh.” She sighed, pretending to fan herself with her hand. “Where do I even begin?” She looked over at her friends. “I will tell you this, however. They do put American men to shame in the romance department. They know that it is all in the way you woo a girl…” Her voice drifted off as she smiled to herself.

“Yeah. Why does it feel like no one cares about the wooing part anymore?” Jen made a face. “I want to be wooed.” She looked at Joey, who just burst out laughing. “What?’ Jen mock-pouted, trying unsuccessfully to stifle her own giggles. “I do.”

“Well, to be fair, I have to say that I think they are just raised knowing what to do. It is as if it’s part of their culture.” Andie sighed, shaking her head. “American men just have to kind of figure it out for themselves, so you end up getting their version of what they think is romantic.”

“Is that like when Henry Parker was trying to romance me and he ended up looking like someone who you would file a restraining order against?” Jen giggled as Joey spit out her wine. “Or that guy I told you about in New York this past summer who thought it was romantic to write me poems…except that it would just be ten paragraphs on how much he liked my breasts and then he would leave them on my parents’ answering machine if I wasn’t home?”

They both gasped at Jen, exploding into laughter, until Andie finally caught her breath. “Or like this guy I was dating from Cambridge, who thought it was romantic to send flowers after every single date – except it would be those FTD floral arrangements that you would like send to your great aunt on her birthday or something – while Umberto, the guy I met in Rome, would just leave a single red rose on my doorstep for me to find in the morning.” She sighed.

Joey held up her wine, still giggling. “Or like how Dawson just gives you a tiny predetermined corner of his world to fit into, while Pacey will make his whole world revolve around you.” She brought the glass to her lips, closing her eyes and tilting her head back as she finished off its contents. Jen and Andie just looked at her with their mouths slightly open.

Joey picked up the wine bottle, smiling and oblivious. “Oops! It’s empty.” She pushed herself up off the couch. “I’ll go get us some more.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Andie said softly as they watched her leave the room then slowly turned to look at each other.


Joey made her way into the kitchen and slowly perused through the wine bottles in the rack on the counter.

“Looking for a particular year there, Potter?”

She turned with a smile to see Pacey standing behind her. “Hey you!” She grinned, beaming. Then she frowned, punching his shoulder. “Where have you been?”

“Ow.” Pacey said, chuckling as he rubbed the spot where she hit him. “I’m here now, aren’t I?”

Joey leaned forward towards him, almost into him as she breathed in his familiar scent. “I never see you anymore.” She sighed. “At least when you were going out with Audrey I still got to see you all the time.”

Pacey smiled, placing his hands on her shoulders and gently adjusting her into an upright position. “Having a good time tonight, are we?” He tilted his head to appraise her in amusement.

“We had some wine.” She grinned, then became serious. “Andie used to drink it in Italy.” She informed him, nodding her head solemnly.

Pacey quickly looked at the ground, biting his lip so as not to laugh at her. “And how much of this wine did you drink?”

Joey shrugged, then narrowed her eyes. “Don’t try to change the subject.” She shook her finger at him. “I’m mad at you. You never call, you never write…” She sighed. “Remember we used to see each other all the time before I had to go back to school…? I don’t like not seeing you now. I don’t like it one bit…” She leaned forward again, this time resting her head against his chest. “I wish it was still the summer.” She mumbled against him, closing her eyes.

Pacey looked down at her and sighed. He held his hands up helplessly in the air and then finally just let them glide along her hair and rest on her back for just a minute. Then he slowly stepped back, guiding her away from him to lean her up against the kitchen counter behind her. He crouched down a bit to meet her eyes, and leaned his hands on the countertop on each side of her to steady her there. “Why don’t I just go find your ride home, okay?” He watched her carefully.

She just looked up at him, blinking her wide eyes and pouting. “When am I going to see you again?” Her voice was soft and sorrowful.

Pacey smiled, his warm blue eyes just taking her in for a moment before he dropped his head a little and leaned into her, his voice a husky whisper. “I don’t know, Jo…but I seem to always end up where you are, don’t I?”

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