Coming Back
by Ophelia

“I could kick your ass.”

“And hello to you, too.”

Joey paced the length of the dock quickly, her steps a measure of her anger. “You dumped me, which I get, and then you take off, which consequently I also get. Given the whole no discernible future, ‘I am Hemingway’ crap that circulates through your head twenty four/seven.”

“Hey,” Pacey held up a hand, standing up on the small boat deck with stiff shoulders. “I took a job and-”

She cut in with a brief but icy glare at him. “I’m not finished. I get the before and after of your little summer voyage. It’s the middle and the present that has me completely baffled.”

He folded his arms across his chest, an eyebrow arched. “Nice use of all that Ivy vocab, Potter.”

“You want it plain and simple?” She froze in her place, a yard from him, raising her eyes to his. The chocolate brown orbs grew wide, clear. “You said it was over. And then at that stupid grad party, you say what you said. Then you go and it’s over again and now you’re back. Hiding out only miles away from my school. In a boat. Asking Jen where I think you are. Can’t you just decide? Let me go or come back?” Her voice broke and with it the anger seemed to dissipate, leaving her empty and small before him.

“It’s not that easy.” He held his hand out to her, sucking in a deep breath. She merely stared at it and shook her head, clasping her fists in front of her, the sleeves of her sweater balled up in her small hands. “I love you, Jo. And I wanted to tell you I was here, but I just needed-”

She shook her head again, more adamantly. “It is that easy.” Her voice rose and fell passionately, her breath coming in gasps, “Tell me to go to hell. That you fucked every girl on the Eastern seaboard. Say that at that party you were just drunk and sentimental and you didn’t mean a word of what you said. You’re in Boston because you like the Red Sox and if Jen hadn’t harassed Doug I never would’ve seen you again. Ever. End us.” She bit down on her lower lip and her hair fell in her eyes as she ducked her head.

He was silent for a long moment and she was afraid to look up again, for fear he’d left while her head was bowed. Closing her eyes, she felt the sting of tears and the hint of a whimper at the back of her throat. Then his hand brushed over the back of her head, and his arms pulled her into his embrace. Leading her carefully onto his boat with a gentle sigh, his voice was husky and warm against her neck when he finally spoke. “Hell wouldn’t take you anymore than the coastal lovelies would me, I meant every word,” he coughed, his voice cracking, “at the party. Baseball hasn’t been my thing since little league and Jen only brought about the inevitable a bit sooner. You can’t get rid of me so easily.”

She ran tentative fingers along his bare bicep, her head still resting lightly on his chest. She looked up into his eyes hopefully. “No one on the Eastern seaboard?”

His gaze faltered for a second and then, his blue eyes darkening, met hers finally. “I didn’t find anyone to hold that felt as good as when I held you, Jo.”

Joey’s body relaxed in his arms. “And now?”

“Well,” he started, grinning mischievously, “I’ve got a boat.”

She gave him a blank stare. “So?”

He threw up his hands in mock exasperation. “You said I wouldn’t have to ask!”

“Oh.” Her eyes widened, realization dawning, and her lips curled into a small sweet smile. “Where are we sailing?”

“Let’s start slow.” Pacey bent down and brushed a gentle kiss against her lips. “As far as we can get before the sun sets?”

Joey smirked. “I dunno. All the really fun stuff we used to do happened after the sun set.”

“Joey Potter!” He laughed, eyes widening in mock indignation. He jumped off the boat quickly and bent to untie the line. Bounding back on and wrapping his arms around her waist loosely, he danced her around. “Is that all I am to you?”

“That and a free boat ride.”


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