Shaking his head again, he grunted at the bizarre twists their lives had taken. Two years ago, he’d freed Joey with absolute confidence that she’d come back to him. Now she was living on a boat with Pacey, totally blissful and completely in love while he was still in Capeside, struggling to make rent on the beach house where he lived with Gretchen. Forced to take remedial English at C3 after being kicked out of film school. Told that until he learned to write and speak the way normal human beings did, he wasn’t going to make anything of himself. So here he was. Working at the gas station. Taking night classes. Being told that he shouldn’t use three-syllable words unless he really knew what they meant. Completely miserable. And now, to top it off, Joey and Pacey were coming back to rub their perfect lives in his face. He didn’t know how much more he could take.
Jack fumbled in his pocket for his keys and groaned as he dropped his huge stack of papers. He couldn’t believe how much reading he had to do over the summer. He missed the days when summer was nothing more than going to the beach and occasionally reading a trashy romance novel. Now, if he had any hope of ever passing his MCATs next month, he needed to do nothing but study. Everyone told him he was crazy for taking them so early, but Canadian medical schools accepted students after their first year, and he had a good reason for wanting to hit the great white North. He figured as long as he did 27 hours a day, he might have half a chance in hell of getting in. Because, you know, that was humanly possible and all. Maybe if he just went in and looked cute they’d let him in. Hell, it worked with Cameron all the time. Mind you, Canadians were known for being eternally nice. He still couldn’t believe that he actually had a boyfriend. After high school, when he’d somehow been more homophobic than most of the straight rednecks at school, he finally realised that his hand was not going to cut it for the rest of his life and came to terms with what being gay actually meant. Of course, falling in love with Cameron helped a lot. And sex with Cameron helped even more.
And speaking of that…Jack finally got the door opened only to discover Cameron sitting patiently on the couch, waiting for him. Jack let out a happy sigh and threw down his pile of stuff. Studying could wait. He could not.
Joey sighed as she looked at the quickly approaching shoreline. She wasn’t entirely sure how her life had ended this way, but she did know that she liked it. A lot. She knew everyone in Capeside had been stunned when she announced she wasn’t going to college. She’d been pretty surprised herself when she made the decision. But nothing in her entire life had ever felt as right as stepping onto the boat with Pacey that day almost exactly a year ago.
Pacey sighed as he saw the despondent look on Joey’s face. There had been far too much sighing on the CJ of late, and he knew perfectly well what the reason for it was. If he had any particular interest in math, he probably would have taken the time to figure out some sort of equation. Number of sighs is directly proportional to distance from Capeside.
Shaking his head, he realised that random math formulas were probably not the most productive thing for him to do.
“So. What’s for dinner?” Pacey gave Joey the most innocent smile he could possibly muster, but he had a nasty feeling she wasn’t buying it.
“I don’t know. Fish?” The acid look that Joey gave him made him realise that this was probably not the subject to broach at the moment. Judging from the frown on her face and the crossed arms, he had a feeling that there weren’t going to be too many safe subjects tonight. Even the weather was probably dangerous, as Joey’s seasick tendencies were not totally eradicated, proved during the last storm a few weeks ago. .
“So how about those Bruins, eh?” He winced at the comment as soon as it left his mouth.
“Pacey, first of all, it’s June. Hockey season is over. Secondly, we’ve been on a boat for a year. I have no idea how the Bruins did last season, and quite frankly, I don’t care. If you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, shut the hell up. You’re making an ass of yourself. Just for a change.”
“Fine, Jo. You want me to be honest? I want to know why you’ve spent the last two days brooding. Do we need to go naked swimming again for you to smile? It’s been three days since we last went. Is that what’s getting you down?”
“Pace, for god’s sake. Naked swimming is not going to solve this problem. We’re going back to Capeside. Do you realise what that means?”
“No more naked swimming?”
Pacey was getting tired of that death glare. He’d seen it all too many times in the last two days.
“Spit it out, Potter. What’s your problem?”
“My problem? You’re asking me what my PROBLEM is?! We’re going back, Pace. We’re going to have to face up to every person we know in that town asking us what the hell we thought we were doing. What the hell we’re planning to do with our lives. What the hell we think we’re doing ditching college. How we think we’re going to survive the rest of our lives with nothing to our names except a boat. This doesn’t concern you at all? You’re not in the least bit concerned about what you’re going to say? How you’re going to answer those questions? Whether or not anyone is even going to be willing to talk to us anymore? Jesus, Pacey, are you expecting them to welcome us back with open arms? We ran away. We left everyone behind with barely an explanation. They’re not going to be happy to see us. They’re probably going to want to physically beat us. This doesn’t bother you?”
“Jo. Calm down.”
“Calm DOWN? Did you listen to anything I just said?”
“Jo, shut up and listen to me for a minute, will you? You need to relax. You need to stop worrying about what other people think. Are you happy?”
“Pace, of course I’m happy. But that’s not the point.”
“That is the point. That is the only point that matters. You don’t have to care if they approve. You don’t have to live your life to please them. So what if they want you to go to college? If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Maybe, probably, eventually you will. But who says that you have to go right now? Why do you let other people dictate what you do with your life? You need to start living your life for yourself. And I’m sorry if I sound like a Chicken Soup book. But I’m sick and tired of putting up with your need to make everyone else around you like you when it makes you hate yourself. I love you, Jo, and you should never doubt that. But you also shouldn’t need that. You are the most amazing, beautiful, intelligent, talented, perfect person I’ve ever met. And I won’t listen to you tell me how awful you are for following your heart. Nobody should ever have to apologize for that. And if anyone in Capeside tries to make you, they aren’t worth your time.”
To be continued...
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