Bessie shuffled out into the kitchen in her bathrobe and sweatpants, just glancing over at Joey sitting at the table with Alex.
“Do you want me to make you anything for breakfast…?”
Bessie held up one hand, covering her mouth with the other. “Don’t even bring up the subject of food with me right now.”
“Sorry.” Joey cringed a little. “It’s bad today, huh?”
Bessie just nodded, leaning against the sink and running her hand through her disheveled hair.
“Well…we’ll be out of here in a minute.” Joey nodded, turning to Alex. “Go grab your boots and your mittens, Alex.”
“Okay.” He jumped up from the table to run to the coat closet.
“Do you think you could pick up some things at the store while you are out?” Bessie asked.
“Bodie already gave me the list.” Joey smiled holding it up.
Bessie sighed, looking down. “I really appreciate you doing this, Joey. I just feel so bad…you should be up there in Boston enjoying everything you worked so hard for. You should be having fun on the weekends. Hanging out with your roommate and all your friends. Not stuck here with us.”
“Oh – and grocery shopping with Alex isn’t considered to be fun?” Joey teased. Her face softened then, “And, don’t worry - I’m not missing anything. My weekends consist of waiting around for Dawson to get back from working on his film projects and catching up on my reading.” Joey shrugged then as she stood up. “Besides, I think Audrey is actually kind of happy to have the place to herself once in a while. She has started to really enjoy the single life since she and Pacey broke up.”
Bessie put her hand to her forehead, shaking her head a bit. “Yeah – Pacey and Audrey? Someday you’re going to have to sit down and explain that one to me…” She started to shuffle back towards her bedroom. “But not right now because I think I have to go lie down again.”
Joey watched her, sighing sympathetically. “Okay…” Suddenly Alex was standing in front of her, holding up his boots triumphantly and jumping up and down. Joey looked down and laughed. “Ready to go…?”
“Alex…if you are not going to sit in the carriage, you have to stay with me…” Joey chased after the little boy, grabbing his arm and dragging him back to her.
“I want to go see the lobsters…” He screeched, trying to get away.
“Just let me get what we need in this aisle…” Joey looked at the list in her one hand while she held onto him with the other. “And then I will take you by the lobster tank.”
“I want to go now…” He whined, squirming in her grip until he finally broke free and ran away, disappearing around the corner.
“Alex!” Joey called out as she ran after him. Reaching the top of the aisle, she stopped short and felt the panic beginning to rise up as she looked around the store and saw no sign of him anywhere. Heading towards the seafood section, she turned the corner and felt the desperation growing when she could not find him there either.
“Hey Jo. Did you lose something?”
Joey whipped around to see Pacey standing there smiling with Alex tucked safely under his arm, the little boy’s arms and legs flailing about as he giggled and tried to get away again.
“Oh, God…Alex!” She sighed, putting her hand to her throat as the color came back to her face. “Don’t ever do that again!” She scolded him. She looked up at Pacey with a grateful smile. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” He grinned, hiking Alex up to throw him over his shoulder as he continued to laugh and kick his legs. “So, what are you doing with him today…a little shopping?”
“I was trying.” Joey shrugged. “He’s not really cooperating, however. As you can see – all he wants to do is run around like a crazy person.”
“Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret” Pacey narrowed his eyes a bit. “For a hyperactive little boy, any open space just becomes your own personal playground. It’s just an invitation for mayhem.” He glanced up at Alex, who just burst out laughing again when Pacey made a face at him. He turned back to Joey. “I think you need to take him outside and tire him out a bit before you can expect to get anything productive done.”
“I know.” Joey agreed with a sigh. “But all the playgrounds are covered in a foot of snow right now. There isn’t much to do…”
“Isn’t much to do?” Pacey gasped, incredulous. “You have a virtual winter wonderland of possibilities out there. Weren’t you ever a kid, Potter?” He teased her.
“Yeah – but I try to block that part of my life out.” She smirked. “I had to put up with a lot of harassment and constant teasing from this incredibly annoying boy I grew up with. I’m sure it will all come out in therapy someday.” She nodded.
Pacey chuckled, and then tilted his head. “Well, you know…I think I could possibly help you out here.”
“Really?’ Joey tilted her head back at him. “How?”
He nodded his head towards the exit door, Alex still draped over his shoulder. “Why don’t you follow me and find out.”
“Skating?” Joey looked out at the frozen pond and then back to where Pacey was lacing up Alex’s skates.
“You’ve said that like three times already, Potter.” Pacey sat back, feeling the back of Alex’s ankle. “How’s that fit you there, buddy?”
Alex nodded, looking down as he held his foot up to admire the skate. “Good.” He looked over his shoulder. “I want to, Aunt Joey.”
“Okay…” She said uncertainly, shaking her head as she watched Pacey help Alex to stand. “How is he going to do this without falling and breaking something, Pacey?” She furrowed her brow.
Pacey just grinned, jogging over to the back of his truck. He was back in an instant, tossing a small box into the air and then holding it out for her to see. “Like this.” He grinned.
“A plastic milk crate?” Joey looked at him dubiously.
“Sure.” Pacey shrugged. “It’s how you learn.”
Joey watched, cringing a bit as she saw Pacey place Alex on the ice, his little legs beginning to shake. Pacey carefully placed the crate upside down in front of him, making sure Alex had a tight grip on it, then began to push him slowly along with the little boy balanced himself on the crate.
“Look at me!” Alex shouted happily. “I’m skating.”
Joey laughed, watching them make a small circle and come back to her.
“Are you coming out here, Potter?” Pacey looked up at her expectantly.
Joey looked down at the skates in her hands. “I haven’t put these on in almost ten years.” She shook her head.
“Are you saying you’re chicken…?” Pace drew out the words, teasing her.
She scowled at him. “Of course not. You just pay attention to Alex out there.” She sat down in a huff to put them on.
“Are you getting tired, pal?” Pacey looked down at Alex, who was starting to lean his whole body on the crate in front of him.
“Yeah…kinda.” He admitted.
“That’s okay.” Pacey picked him up, skating over to the edge of the pond. “Even the pros need to take a breather once in a while.”
Joey looked up from where she had been concentrating on making small figure eights. “There’s drinks and snacks in my bag on the bench, Alex.”
“Okay.” The little boy carefully made his way over to sit down, raising his feet high in the air with each step he made through the snow in his skates.
Pacey turned around to watch Joey, tilting his head a bit. “You’ve been taking it awfully easy over there…you do remember how to skate, don’t you? I can recall you actually playing some hockey with us out here a couple of times when we were younger. You aren’t getting all wimpy on me now, are you?”
Joey scowled at him again. “Of course I remember how to skate. What does it look like I’m doing right now?”
“Trying not to fall down.”
She smirked, raising her eyebrow. “I’m not about to fall down. I’ve got it under control, thank you.”
Pacey slowly glided up next to her. “You sure about that, Jo?” He unsuccessfully tried to hide the humor in his tone.
“I swear to God I will kill you, Pacey.” She glowered at him, holding her hands out to her sides defensively.
“What?” He said innocently, just resting his hand gently on her waist from behind. “I’m just here to help.” Joey dropped her head and smiled a little to herself at the feel of his touch.
He started to push her forward on the ice and she grabbed onto his hands to hold on. “Pacey…cut it out. I was doing fine all by myself.” She couldn’t help but laugh now as he started to pick up a little speed. “Whoa.” She giggled as her body pitched forward a little.
Pacey chuckled. “Here…” He released her for just a second to move around in front of her. He took her hands and started to skate backwards. “Now let me see you actually move your feet.” Joey looked down as he said this. “No.” Pacey shook his head. “You can’t watch your feet…you’re supposed to be watching where you are going.”
Joey sighed, letting her skates follow the rhythm that Pacey had set. After a moment she felt herself start to grow a little more confident, and fell into a pattern as she glided around the pond.
“There you go, Potter.” He nodded, releasing her and skating backwards out of her way.
“I told you I could still skate.” She called out over her shoulder. She circled the pond a couple of times, waving to Alex. She began to slow down and started to frown.
“Pace?” She called out.
“Yeah?” He looked over from the edge of the ice.
“I don’t think I remember how to stop.”
He chuckled, catching up to her in an instant and putting his hands on her waist from behind again. He gently pulled back to slow her down, finally coming to a stop so that she ended up falling back against his body. She rested against him and sighed, then, holding onto his arm, she turned to face him, her body still pressed to his.
“Thanks.” She looked up at him, her smile slowly fading as their eyes met. Pacey just looked back down at her, one hand still holding her at the waist. He opened his mouth slightly as if he was about to saying something, but no words came out.
“Can we go now…I’m getting cold.” Alex called over to them from the bench.
They just smiled at each other, Pacey dropping his head a bit as he released her to glide back a few feet, his eyes still on her. Joey sighed, holding his gaze as she went to follow him off the ice.
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