After This
Part 7

by DeepBlueSea

Joey quickly flipped through the book on the table in front of her, stopping to furiously scribble some notes on the pad of paper she had laying out next to it. She went to look back to the book when she noticed someone pulling the chair out to sit across from her.

“Hey, I thought I’d find you here.” Dawson grinned, slinging his backpack off his shoulder as he sat down. “You’ve really been putting in the hours at the library lately, haven’t you.”

Joey looked up with a small smile and a shrug of her shoulders. “I guess.”

“I had left a couple of messages for you back at your room. I was hoping we could go catch the opening of this new French film that is playing over in Harvard Square tonight. A couple of people from my class were talking about doing that and then grabbing a bite to eat somewhere afterwards. So…what do you think?”

“Oh.” Joey frowned, furrowing her brow. “I’m sorry, Dawson. I’m going home tonight…I thought you knew that. I’m catching the 6:00 train.”

“You’re going home again?” He raised his eyebrows, surprised. He slumped back in his chair. “I guess I didn’t realize this was going to be an every weekend thing, Joey.”

“Well, it’s not…but Bessie is already expecting me now and…”

“Why don’t I just come with you then.” Dawson flapped his arms. “I can stop in and see Lily and my mom, we can hang out at my house with Alex if you want. It will be great.” He smiled, leaning forward to put his hand on hers. “Maybe you and I can even get to spend some time alone.”

Joey bit her lower lip. “Dawson – I am going down to help Bessie. You know, do some laundry for her, her weekly shopping, whatever else I can do to make things a little easier on her for when she is there alone. You’d just be sitting around waiting for me all day…and I was planning on writing that report for my history class while I was down there, anyway. It’s due on Monday.” She shook her head helplessly. “So, you see…it wouldn’t make much sense if you are coming with me just to spend time with me.” She gave him a half-smile and shook her head slowly.

Dawson sighed heavily. “All right, I guess.” Suddenly he raised an eyebrow. “But, why don’t you plan on getting home early on Sunday. You and I will go out…we haven’t had a real date in a while.” He grinned at her. “Okay?”

Joey nodded and smiled, looking back to her book. “Okay.”

Dawson frowned a little, surveying the textbooks and pads of paper in front of her. “If you’re planning on writing this report at home, why are you working on it so diligently here and now?”

Joey stopped short, staring at the page in front of her and then slowly raising her eyes to meet his. “I’m just getting a head start on the research.” She shrugged, looking back down.

Dawson sighed, leaning back in his chair. “I still wish you could stay here with me tonight and do this movie thing.”


“Joey!” Audrey jumped off her bed, turning down the music she had blasting from her CD player as Joey came through the door. “You have to help me!”

“What is it?” Joey barely glanced at her as she threw open her closet, pulling out jeans and a couple of sweaters to stuff in the duffel bag sitting on the closet floor.

Audrey came over to her. “Jack and Jen are setting me up with some guy from one of their classes at Boston Bay. They are taking me to some party over there tonight to meet him and you have to come with me. I don’t want to do this by myself.” She was pacing back and forth behind Joey now.

“I can’t go with you, Audrey. I’m catching a train in about a half hour to Capeside.” She looked at her over her shoulder. “Besides – you won’t be by yourself. You’ll be with Jack and Jen.”

“Yeah, but what if I don’t like the guy?” Audrey sighed. “He is supposedly a friend of theirs. I don’t want to offend them. I was hoping you could come along and help me out if he turns out to be a complete loser, so I don’t have to tell them that their friend is a complete loser.”

“Well, if that is the case - you could just try being a little more diplomatic about it, perhaps. You could just say he’s not your type or something. You don’t have to be so brutally honest.” Joey smirked at her. “But – who knows – maybe you’ll like the guy. You never know.” She shrugged her shoulders as she stood up with her bag. “Now I have to go if I’m going to make my train.” She put her hand on Audrey’s shoulder, looking into her face. “Good luck…be brave…have fun.”

“I still wish you didn’t have to go home and you could come to this party with me…”Audrey pouted a little to herself as Joey walked out the door, waving good-bye over her shoulder.


Joey sighed to herself, settling back in the cushioned seat of the train, her arm resting on her bag next to her. She placed her book in her lap as she became caught up in watching the passing scenery fly by her window, the brick facades of the city buildings changing over to the landscaped yards of the suburbs and then finally to the familiar snow covered fields and the blue ocean becoming visible through the trees off in the distance. The train began to slow, the conductor opening the door to call out “Capeside Station” into the car as he lifted the safety rail from the exit ramp.

Joey grabbed her bag, hiking it up over her shoulder as she made her way off the train. She bowed her head as she carefully made her way down the steep steps, the conductor giving her a hand to help her off onto the platform. She glanced over to give him a thank you and a small smile. The smile spread across her face, however, as she looked past his shoulder to the parking lot. Walking over to the truck idling its motor, she saw Pacey lean over from the driver’s side to open her door. She threw her bag in and then climbed up to sit next to him, pulling the door shut behind her.

Pacey just looked over at her and grinned, his hands resting on the steering wheel. “So…what do you want to do?”

Joey grinned back at him. “Whatever you want to do.”


Joey came out to the kitchen where Bessie was standing at the sink taking her vitamins.

“Alex finally went down for a nap…do you think you’ll be okay if I go out with Pacey for a little while?”

Bessie glanced at her over her shoulder. “Yes, of course. We’re fine here, Joey.” She looked at her for a minute, narrowing her eyes. “Where are you guys going?”

Joey just shrugged her shoulders, going over to get her winter coat out of the closet. “Actually…I have no idea.” She smirked a little. “He is being very secretive about it for some reason.”

Bessie smirked as well. “Really?” She turned to face Joey now, leaning against the kitchen counter and folding her arms across her chest. “You two have been spending quite a bit of time together lately, haven’t you? What does Dawson think of all this? I haven’t even heard you mention his name in a while.”

Joey looked down as she pulled on her coat, avoiding Bessie’s gaze. “Dawson is fine. He knows that Pacey and I are still friends.”

“But does he know how much you see Pacey when you are here on the weekends?” Bessie raised an eyebrow. “We didn’t even hear you come the other night until after midnight. I know you said Pacey was picking you up at the train station…but where were you until then?”

Joey frowned. “We just went for a drive and had a late dinner. Why are you asking me this?”

Bessie sighed. “I just think you might be getting yourself into some trouble here, Joey. You claim to have wanted this relationship with Dawson for so long. Well – now you have it! Yet here you are acting in a way that could potentially jeopardize what you have with him. I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on with you, that’s all. And wonder why you would want to get yourself back in the middle of something that you know from experience is only going to cause you a world of heartache. ”

Suddenly there was a quick knock at the door and Pacey walked in. “Hey guys.”

Bessie just smirked at Joey, and then looked over at Pacey. “Hey Pacey.” She took her glass of water and walked out of the kitchen. “Have fun…” She called out over her shoulder as she went down the hall to her bedroom.

Joey scowled after her and then turned to smile at Pacey, pulling her long hair out of the back of her coat and buttoning it up.

He furrowed his brow a little as he looked at her. “Everything okay?” He asked her softly.

“Everything is fine.” Joey nodded, walking past him out the door. “Let’s get out of here.”


Joey followed Pacey up the two flights of stairs, slowly come up to stand behind him as he walked over to the door at the top of the landing, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a key.

“Where are we…?” She giggled, leaning over his shoulder to watch him. “And why are you unlocking this door?”

“I am unlocking this door…” Pacey turned and smiled as he held it open for her. “Because it is the only way to get into my new apartment.”

Joey gasped, grinning and giving him a little punch on the arm as she walked past him into the small loft style room. The walls were exposed brick and there were wooden beams across the ceiling. She looked around at the tiny kitchen area, separated from the living room by a counter space with barstool seating. She could see another room on the other side of the kitchen with floor to ceiling windows that looked out over the harbor, similar to the windows at the far end of the living room at that looked out over the street below.

“Pacey…” She turned around where she stood, taking it all in. “This is really nice. I’m impressed.”

“Yeah.” He shrugged his shoulders, coming in and looking around as well. “I mean – it’s small, but it’s not too bad. One of the members of the sailing crew at the Yacht Club owns the building. He had the same tenant in here for years and I guess he’s really particular about who he rents to. He actually came to me and asked if I was interested when he found out the other guy was moving.” He turned to smile at her now.

Joey just nodded, still looking around. “It definitely has potential.”

Pacey nodded too. “Some furniture here and there might help with the ambiance, however. Dougie still has some stuff in storage for me from the beach house. And I’m going to take a ride out to that discount place on Route 95 later.”

“Oh.” Joey quickly looked over at him, excited. “I’ll come help you pick stuff out if you want, I can…” Suddenly she stopped, her face falling.

Pacey just raised an eyebrow, looking at her. “What’s the matter?”

“I just remembered I have to get back a little earlier today. I have some things to do and um…well…”

“And Dawson is probably expecting you, right?” Pacey finished for her in a quiet voice.

She shrugged, slowly meeting his eyes. “Yeah.”

He just dropped his head and gave her a little smile. “It’s okay, Jo. Well…why don’t I bring you home to get your bag and I can give you a ride to the train station on my way out of town.”

“Okay.” Joey said softly, following him out as she glanced back over her shoulder at the apartment.


Pacey hopped out of the truck, coming over to Joey’s side to open the door and help her out with her bag. She took the hand he offered as she stepped down to the ground, meeting his clear blue eyes with her own. They had driven the whole way from her house in almost silence and now Pacey looked at her as if he was about to say something, but then he just dropped his head.

Joey looked up, trying to meet his eyes again. “Pace…” She whispered.

He raised his head to smile at her now, reaching over to tentatively brush a strand of her hair back over her shoulder. “I’ll just see you later, Potter.”

Joey sighed, dropping her head now as the bells at the crosswalk behind them started clanging the arrival of the train. She swallowed back the lump in her throat, then quickly reached up to place both hands on his broad shoulders and press a kiss to his soft lips. She sighed at the familiar feel and taste of him, feeling her body relax and sink into him. He brought his hands up to gently rest them on her waist, but then carefully pulled her away from him.

“Jo…” He shook his head, looking down at her with a slightly pained expression.

“I’m sorry.” She said, bowing her head and biting her lower lip, more to keep herself from kissing him again than as an act of contrition. She reached down to pick up her bag, throwing it over her shoulder as the conductor called out the train’s imminent departure. “I’ll just talk to you later.” She turned to run to the train, not looking back, climbing up the stairs just as it was about to pull out of the station.

Pacey sighed heavily as he watched the train disappear down the tracks. As he turned to get back in his truck, he saw his brother standing there on the sidewalk in his uniform with his hands on his hips.

“Oh hell…” Pacey muttered under his breath, tiredly shaking his head.

“Hey there, little brother.” Doug tilted his head to appraise him, taking off his sunglasses. “How’s it going?”

Pacey shook his head again with a bitter little laugh. “Great. Just great.”

“So, when are you getting your phone turned on in your new place?” Doug asked slowly.

Pacey just looked at him, confused. “I think I have a guy coming by on Tuesday to do that. Why?”

“I’m just getting a little tired of taking your messages.” Doug shrugged, looking away from Pacey and then back to him. “Someone named Meghan called the other night…apparently you had plans to go out or something.” Doug watched him.

“Oh, shit…” Pacey muttered again, almost to himself. “I guess I forgot about that.”

“Yeah. I guess you did.” Doug still stood there watching him.

“So what?” Pacey snapped in irritation, shrugging his shoulders. “Are you here to arrest me for ‘failure to call’?”

“What are you doing, Pacey?” Doug said quietly.

“I’m just trying to get into my truck here and leave.”

“She is still with Dawson, isn’t she?” Doug raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t think Dawson and Meghan even know each other.” Pacey held his gaze, his voice low and his eyes dark. “But I could be wrong.”

Doug smirked, shaking his head. “I thought you learned your lesson, Pacey. How much more is it going to take? How much more do you want to put yourself through?”

Pacey dropped his head as he went to open his truck door. “I can take care of myself. You don’t have to worry about me, Dougie. I can handle it.”

“What about her?” Doug asked, as Pacey froze slightly. “Did you ever stop to wonder if she can handle it?” Doug watched him carefully. “There’s nothing good that can come of this, Pacey. If you really care about her, why would you want to cause problems for her? Unless you have some reason for wanting to do that…” Pacey scowled at Doug over his shoulder as he continued. “Some score to settle, perhaps?”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.” Pacey shook his head slowly. “Now – can I go or do I need to contact my lawyer here.”

Doug just shook his head, turning to walk away. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

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