Pacey pulled his truck up in front of Jack’s fraternity house and hopped out to open the back hatch door. Jack grabbed his duffel bag out of the back seat and joined Pacey at the rear of the truck.
“Hey – thanks again, man.” Jack patted him on the back. “I’ve been wanting to move this furniture up here since the beginning of the semester but my dad has been traveling this whole time.”
“No problem.” Pacey smiled, hopping up to pull the large bookshelf towards them before they lifted from the truck and started up the stairs.
“What happened to the Mustang anyway?” Jack asked, huffing a bit as they made their way into the house.
“Eh. It wasn’t really the kind of car one needs to be driving around in Capeside.” Pacey shrugged, looking over the bookshelf to maneuver it through the doorway. “I needed a truck for work at the marina anyway.”
They made their way up to Jack’s room where one of his frat brothers was waiting for him. “Hey McPhee – I just took a message for you. Your friend Jen called. Something about going to see a band at a bar tonight – I think she said they were going to be at O’Shea’s.”
Jack raised his eyebrows, looking over at Pacey hopefully. “What do you think? Why don’t you stick around?”
Pacey fidgeted slightly, running his hand over his head. “Ah, I don’t know about that…”
“Do you have to work in the morning?” Jack asked.
“Um. Well, no…” Pacey sighed heavily. “It’s just that…well, I have to assume that Audrey is going to be there and I don’t think she really wants to have to deal with me. I haven’t seen her or talked to her since the rather awkward and embarrassing public scene we created here the night you guys had that party I came up for.”
Jack looked at him, slightly perplexed. “I don’t remember a scene…” He shrugged, shaking his head.
“No. You probably wouldn’t.” Pacey chuckled.
Jack just raised his arms. “Well, she’ll just have to learn to deal, Pacey. You guys broke up a couple of months ago now, right? She is the one who should have to expect to run into you if she’s hanging out with your friends.”
Pacey just looked at him uncertainly, biting the inside of his lower lip.
“C’mon.” Jack clapped his hand on Pacey’s shoulder. “We’ll see if a couple of these guys want to go, we’ll meet Jen, Joey and Dawson will probably be there…it’ll be great!”
Pacey sighed again in defeat, following Jack out. “Yeah…sounds just great.” He muttered sarcastically under his breath.
Pacey puffed out his cheeks, exhaling loudly as he stuffed his wallet into his back pocket and trailed Jack and his two friends into the bar. He saw Jen almost immediately, standing up on a barstool to wave them over, her voice lost in the music blaring from the band’s speakers. He could make out a blond next to her that was obviously Audrey. He only hesitated, however, when he saw Joey standing to her other side. He finally smiled, feeling his body relax a little, when she turned and their eyes met and he saw her face light up as she waved.
It wasn’t until he had reached the group that he saw Dawson sitting on the barstool behind her. He glanced over at Pacey and they just smiled and nodded their hellos. Pacey dropped his head and laughed a little to himself as he noticed Dawson’s hand then reach out and come to rest on Joey’s waist, just pulling her back a little closer to him.
“Hey, Pacey!” Jen was hugging him now and handing him a beer that Jack was passing over from his place at the bar. “How are you?” She asked, her eyes scanning his face.
He raised an eyebrow, smirking at her a little as he put down the beer without drinking it. “You just saw me last weekend at Andie’s party, Jen.” He said quietly as he patted her on the shoulder. “I’m fine.” He smiled.
She grinned and shrugged, settling in next to him to turn her attention back to the band. He stood there with her for a few minutes until he noticed Audrey quickly pass by them, her head down. Turning to watch her go towards the restrooms, he sighed and went after her, not noticing as Joey’s eyes followed him walking away.
“Hey.” He smiled from where he was leaning against the wall near the ladies room as she emerged.
“Hi.” She said quickly, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “How are you, Pacey? How was your Thanksgiving?” Her face was blank.
“Good. It was good. How have you been?” He watched her face.
“Fine, thanks.” She looked away and then back to him, rolling her eyes and sighing. “Look, Pacey - you don’t really have to do this concerned ex-boyfriend thing where you make sure I’m okay. Because I am.” She looked at him again. “I may have been a little…out of line, perhaps, last time we saw other, but - believe me - it was just a passing moment of female insanity to which I am entitled once in a while.”
He grinned and dropped his head. “Okay.” He nodded. He opened his mouth to say something more when he heard a soft voice behind him.
“Hey guys.” He turned to see Joey standing there with a small smile, fidgeting slightly as she stuffed her hands in her back pockets. “Everything okay?” She asked uncertainly, seeing his face.
Pacey just smiled, barely noticing as Audrey brushed past him.
“Yep. Everything is copasetic.” She shrugged. “And I’m heading back to the bar now – anyone?”
“I’m all set, thanks.” Pacey nodded to her.
“Me too.” Joey gave her a small smile, looking back to Pacey. They stood there smiling at each other for a moment as Audrey disappeared into the crowd.
“I didn’t know you were going to be here tonight.” Joey finally said. “We almost didn’t come.”
“Yeah. I didn’t know I was going to be here either.” Pacey shrugged and glanced down at the ground. Looking up again he could see Dawson making his way over from the bar. “And…ah, I really just stopped in to say hi to everyone. I have to actually hit the road now before it gets too late.”
Joey’s face fell a little. “Oh…”
“Hey, Pacey.” Dawson was beside her now. “How is it going?” He asked in a low voice.
“Ah...great. I was just telling Joey that I’m taking off now though, so maybe you guys could just tell everyone I said goodbye.” Pacey shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I’m beat, and I have a long drive – so I’m just gonna go.” He motioned with his head towards the door.
“Er…okay.” Dawson shrugged, looking confused. “Well…it was good to see you.”
“Yeah, man. You too.” Pacey nodded, glancing quickly at Joey. “I’ll see you later.”
“Okay. Later.” Joey smiled, nodding too. They stood there a moment and watched him walk out the door.
“I feel bad for the guy sometimes.” Dawson shrugged, turning to walk back to the bar.
“I don’t think he needs your sympathy.” Joey muttered under her breath, going into the ladies room.
Pacey pushed through the door of the apartment, glad to know that Doug was working the late shift and that he would be alone. He made his way over to the couch, dropping down on it without even bothering to take off his coat and grabbing the remote to flick the television on. He lay there for a while, just staring blankly at the screen and chewing on his bottom lip, when the ringing of the telephone pulled him from his thoughts.
He sighed, glancing at the time on the television cable box, before rolling off the couch to get up and grab the phone.
He felt his breath catch in his throat a moment at the sound of her familiar voice, especially the familiar intimate way in which she said his name.
“Hey… Joey? What’s going on?”
“Nothing.” He heard her sigh on the other end of the line. “I…I just wanted to make sure you got home okay. I know you said you were tired, and I know it’s a long drive and I…I was just a little worried about you. That’s all.” She hesitated a moment. “Sorry to call so late. I hope I didn’t wake anyone up”
Pacey smiled a little, dropping his head. “Nah…don’t worry about it. Dougie is working anyway.”
“Oh, okay.” She hesitated again, then her voice lowered a little. “I wish you could have hung out a little longer tonight.”
“Really?” Pacey replied. “Why? What did I miss? Did you get up on stage?” He teased her.
“No.” She said firmly, but giggled. “My days of singing in public are definitely over.”
“Aww. You can’t disappoint all those fans out there who were waiting for your big comeback tour.”
“I wasn’t aware I had any fans out there.” She laughed and he smiled at the sound.
His voice grew a little softer. “Oh, I think you’ll always have at least one.”
She was silent on the other end of the phone for a long moment. “Yeah?” She finally whispered, her voice catching a bit.
“Yeah.” Pacey replied with a sigh, leaning his chin on his hand as he rested the phone against his ear.
She was quiet another moment until she laughed and sniffed a bit. “Well, no offense – but in considering your musical preferences, I don’t think anyone you listen to has even been called upon to release a new album in the past…oh, twenty or thirty years, have they?”
“Good taste never goes out of style, Potter.”
“Hmm…” She continued, the laughter still in her voice. “And it also seems to me that they all had some of the most drug and debauchery-filled “Behind the Music” specials that I recall watching with you.”
“Well…isn’t that what it’s all about?” He chuckled too. “You are only as good as how entertaining your “Behind the Music” episode might be.”
“Is that your profound thought for the day, Pace?” She smiled.
“Why, yes it is.” He grinned.
“Well…I guess then - on that note - I should probably go.” She sighed, looking down. “It was nice talking to you, though.”
“Right back at ya, Jo.” He smiled and sighed as well.
After they said their good nights, Joey snapped her cell phone shut, leaning back to rest against the cool tile of the tub from where she was sitting in her pajamas on the bathroom floor. Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
“Joey? Are you still in there? Are you coming to bed? ” She heard Dawson’s voice.
“Yeah. Just a minute…” She called out, reaching for the sink above her to pull herself up to standing. She regarded herself in the bathroom mirror for a long while before bowing her head and finally turning to unlock the door.
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