"A little to the right, I think," I tell Pacey.
"You're just enjoying the view," he retorts, and I stick out my tongue.
"You're just lucky I'm letting you put up that atrocity, buster," I say, pretending to be irritated.
"This is Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison is next to godly," Pacey opines.
"Well, it's huge. And scary."
The poster covers almost the entire wall, which is one of four in our new extremely small apartment. "Well, if you ever wake up and are frightened by Jim's huge face, then I'll protect you," Pacey says laughingly. I sigh.
We're both working part-time in addition to going to classes in order to rent this little gem in Boston, but I think it's worth it. We've got a place that's ours, together, and it means we don't have to commute to see each other. I see him every night and morning, and of that fact I can not be happier.
"So where the hell's this house-warming party?"
I whip around to see Jack, who is balancing (quite admirably) a half-gallon of ice cream, some tray with food on it, and three bags of chips. "Here, let me help you with that," I say, relieving him of the chips.
Jack slaps the other stuff down on the counter and goes to embrace Pacey, who gives him a hearty hug. "Good to see you, man," Pacey says. Jack nods.
"I seem to have lost my woman," he comments.
Jen comes in then, carrying two six packs of beer and an enormous purse. "Your woman, Jack?"
"Well, you are a woman, aren't you?"
Jen shoots him a look.
"Let's not get pissy, okay, guys?" Pacey says, smiling. "It's only been a few minutes. Let's make it to at least the hour mark."
"We brought a surprise," Jen says.
"What, hard liquor?" Pacey asks.
"No, better." She moves aside, and I see Andie McPhee peering out from behind her. She's wearing tight pants and a fitted sweater, and her hair is pulled back in some sort of complicated twist, but she still looks as timid as ever.
"Andie!" Pacey is the first to pull her into a bear hug, and I try not to give in to the familiar tugs of jealousy. No matter how hard I try, the bitch switch always gets flipped when it comes to ex-girlfriends.
She smiles when they separate, and says perkily, "I am so glad to see you guys."
"What, Europe isn't good enough for ya?" Pacey quips.
"Well, the company isn't," she says. She gives me a quick Is everything okay with us? look and then glances away. I give her a smile, which she returns.
"That's because nothing, and I mean nothing, can be quite as sophisticated as the Capeside crew hangin' around and drinking beer," Jen says pridefully. Jack burps expressively.
"So...Miss Europe, you like?" Pacey asks.
Andie takes a look around at our barely unpacked boxes, our tiny kitchen and the huge Jim Morrison poster and says, "Well, it needs a little work, but it's got potential."
"You hear that, Jack? Your sister says we've got potential," Pacey says.
"I heard her, Pace," Jack says, feigning a yawn.
"God, you guys brought enough chips to feed an army," I say, examining our supply. How typical of Jack and Jen to bring chips and ice cream for a dinner party.
"Well, we anticipated Pacey's grandiose appetite," Jack says. "Though...Pace, you're looking kind of slim lately. What is up with that?"
Pacey shrugs. It's true. He's lost weight since the summer, probably from working and living on his own, being that he doesn't really cook. "Thought I could have stood to lose a few pounds. It's not a big deal."
Andie is examining everybody fiercely, trying to see what has passed since she left nearly a year ago. It's almost as if she can read it on our faces...Jack and Jen occasionally look at each other with heated, somewhat embarrassed looks, a result of the time they got drunk together and almost had sex; Pacey and I are always looking at each other with heated looks, the result of the winter's night we did have sex; and no one talks about Dawson. His absence in the conversation (and the room) is more conspicuous than his presence would have been.
But in that room with all of us together, the past fades away. It's not as important that I was a tomboy outcast who got picked on for my attitude problem, or that Jack was Capeside's token coming-out story, or that Pacey was constantly dealing with taunts about his grades and his minor juvenile delinquencies, or that Jen acquired a reputation as the bad girl from New York, or that Andie spent her summer before junior year in a mental hospital.
Capeside isn't important anymore.
Neither, I realize, is Dawson Leery.
I turn to look at my boyfriend, and he smiles at me, making my heart tilt upwards just like it did the first time he told me that he would kiss me after he counted to ten.
"I think I'm in love with you."
He tightens the sail and says, his voice barely masking the hurt I know he feels, "You think or you know?"
"I know." I look up into his eyes, and then say, "Permission to come aboard?"
He takes my hand. "Permission granted."
It feels like a long time since we spent the summer on the sea, but True Love hasn't faded. We won't allow it to.
Especially since he's taking me on his new boat to Caribbean this summer.
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