This doubt is screaming in my
in this familiar place
sheltered and concealed
and if this night won't let me rest
don't let me second guess
what I know to be real
put away your lying before tonight
and maybe i just might
learn to let it go
take my security from me
and maybe finally
I won't have to know everything
and I am
falling into grace
to the unknown to where you are
and faith makes
it's the unknown
you don't know
that keeps me hanging on
on to you
got nothing left to defend
and i can not pretend
that everything makes sense
but does it really matter now
if I do not know how
to figure this thing out
and I am
falling into grace
to the unknown to where you are
and faith makes
it's the unknown
you don't know
that keeps me hanging on and on
on to you
running against myself again
trying to fit these pieces in
walking on a cloud of dust to
get to you
and I am
falling into grace
to the unknown to where you are
and faith makes
it's the unknown
you don't know
that keeps me hanging on
and I am
falling into grace
to the unknown to where you are
and faith makes
it's the unknown
you don't know
that keeps me hanging on and on
on to you
"Unknown" - Lifehouse
Slowly Pacey opens his bedroom door and walks back into his room. He closes it as quietly as possible and then turns, stopping in his tracks. He laughed inwardly as he saw that Joey had fallen asleep in the short time he had been in the kitchen. The mid-afternoon sunlight was streaming in through the cracks of his still-closed blinds, creating streaks of dancing light across Joey’s bare skin. He smiles, just watching Joey as she sleeps. They’d been in his room ever since last night, casting off the responsibility of their classes in favor of talking for hours, catching up on the years that they had missed.
Pacey walks to the end of the bed and sits down gently, just watching Joey. He could have sat there for hours, just gazing at the serenity of Joey’s sleeping face, the softness and delicateness which fell over her as she dreamt away the afternoon. The white sheets of his bed were wrapped haphazardly around her, her long and slender legs stretching out across the mattress and her brown hair strewn across the pillows. She seemed ethereal, as beautiful as an angel.
“Are you just going to sit there and stare at me or are you going to give me my glass of water?” Joey asks, not opening her eyes. Pacey laughs out loud.
“I thought you had fallen asleep.”
“I drifted off momentarily, yes,” Joey grins, her eyes finally opening. She looks at him, sitting up. “But then you sat down and I woke up, remembering that I was thirsty.” She takes the glass of cold water from his hands and takes a long sip. “Thank you.” Joey pauses, then continues. “What were you thinking about, while you were sitting here?”
“How beautiful you are,” Pacey tells her honestly. “And how I still can’t believe you’re real. I keep expecting to find out that you’re some figment of my imagination.”
“Maybe I am,” Joey jokes. “Maybe this is kind of like the Matrix, and I’m just some computer generated reality which the bad guys have created to keep your mind occupied because you were getting too close to the truth. Maybe I’m just a misdirection, a diversion.” She giggles, her laughter sounding musical. “Or maybe I am actually really here and you should just take advantage of that fact.”
“Take advantage?” Pacey wiggles his eyebrows at her, chuckling. Joey sets the glass of water on the nightstand and leans toward Pacey, laying a light kiss on his lips.
“You haven’t changed a bit, Witter,” she says, drawing back to look at him. “And then you’ve changed so much.”
“Same for you, Potter,” Pacey replies, brushing his hand through her hair gently. “I can’t wait to discover everything that’s different about you and to re-discover everything that’s the same.”
“God, Pacey, why do you have to say things like that? They only make me love you more and more,” Joey exclaims, pretending to be frustrated. “There’s only so much a girl can take!”
“Joey! Thank god!” Heather cries out as her roommate walks into their apartment. She looks at the clock. “It’s 4 in the afternoon, where have you been?” Joey stops, suddenly crashing down back to earth and remembering that she hadn’t even called Heather to let her know what had happened.
“When you didn’t come home last night…and Steve called before and said that you weren’t in your class…I have been so worried about you!” Heather walks to Joey, her face pale.
“Heather, I am so sorry. I can’t believe I forgot to call you and let you know where I was. It just…it slipped my mind completely,” Joey hugs her friend. “I’m perfectly fine. In fact, I’m better than fine.”
“I figured maybe that your date went well last night and that’s why you didn’t come home, but then when Steve called and you hadn’t been in class, and then I haven’t seen Rana either…I just feared the worst and-“ Heather stops talking, looking at Joey suspiciously. “Wait…” She looks Joey up and down. Something seemed different. Joey Potter was practically glowing. “You got laid last night, didn’t you?” Joey can’t help but giggle a little. “And you got laid well! Who was he?”
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you."
"Someone beautiful and famous? Ben Affleck?"
"No...better. It was Pacey.”
“Pacey…as in your Pacey?” Heather looks surprised, but not too surprised. “That is so weird…”
“That’s all you have to say?” Joey asks, laughing. She kicks off her shoes and sets her purse on the kitchen table. “I walk in here and tell you that I spent the night with the guy I used to be in love with in high school, who is supposed to be living in California, and all you have to say is that it is weird?”
“No, it’s just that yesterday? I ran into him,” Heather tells her.
“I was walking down the street, and all of a sudden I just ran into him. Boom, like that. I wasn’t sure it was him, so I came back here and checked your photos…and it was.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Joey looks at Heather, confused.
“Tell you? I freaking ran all over campus trying to find you. And then when I couldn’t I wrote you a note and left it on your dresser, but you obviously didn’t get it. I just…” Heather trails off, then puts her hands on her hips and shakes her head. “Wait wait wait, why are we talking about this? You and Pacey? Last night? What in the world happened? How did it happen? Forget me seeing him, let’s talk about you seeing him! And how much of him!” She laughs, pulling Joey to the couch and plopping down. “I know you’re the type to kiss and tell, but this has to be an exception. I want all the details.”
“It was unbelievable, Heather,” Joey smiles giddily. “You know ‘Jay’? The guy Rana was trying to get with, and then tried to set me up with last night?”
“It was Pacey.”
“I don’t follow.”
“He met us at the club cause he was running late, and when Chris went to introduce me…it was Pacey. Turns out he came home to go to school here and didn’t even know I was here! He still thought I was at NYU. In California, people started calling him by his middle name and that’s why it wasn’t Pacey, but Jay.”
“So what happened then?” Heather inquires, sitting on the edge of her seat. This waslike something right out of a movie. Why couldn’t her life be this good?
“It was crazy. We went outside to talk and then we danced…and the dancing, Heather…god…it was like high school all over again. The instant we got close all I could think about was how much I wanted him. The next thing I know we’re outside in the parking lot, in the back seat of his car, tearing each other’s clothes off. We went back to his place and…”
“Mind-blowing.” The two girls grin at one another knowingly. Joey sighs happily. “We spent all of today just hidden away in his room, just talking, kissing and cuddling. I feel so deliriously happy I don’t even feel like myself. I don’t even know how to handle being happy, I’m so out of practice at it. I feel like I’m drunk.”
“You look like you’re drunk,” Heather remarks.
“Heather!” Joey exclaims, laughing.
“Well you do. You’re smiling like a fool! I’m sure your face will be sore later for exercising those muscles, since you never us them.” Heather teases. She walks to the fridge and gets out a bottle of grape juice. “You want something to drink while you fill me in on all the dirty details?”
“I just gave you all the details I’m going to give, Heather,” Joey replies, picking up her purse and shoes and heading to her room. Heather stands there for a moment, gaping.
“What? I don’t think so, Joey!” She follows her friend. “You’re not getting off with just that!”
“You said it yourself, I’m not one to kiss and tell,” Joey tosses back as she shuts the door, leaving Heather behind dumbfounded. After a moment, Heather regroups and goes to Joey’s door, knocking on it loudly.
“Josephine Potter, you are being cruel. It’s entirely not fair!” She whines. “Come on…I am standing here talking to a door. Take pity on my poor soul.” Joey opens her door.
“The fact that you, the queen of I-don’t-give-a-damn is standing out here begging and whining is just a foreign concept to me. I don’t quite know how to handle it,” Joey smirks. “If I were Rana you would have told me to shut up and go write in a diary like every other girl having a Judy Blume-esque urge to share.”
“Well that’s Rana. This is you. I’ve never had the experience of being able to hear about your little affairs. I’m going Sex in the City on this one,” Heather replies.
“I don’t feel right telling you about it, Heather – I mean, I wouldn’t want Pacey to go around telling everyone, would I?” Joey tries to explain as Heather gives her a puppy dog look.
“But surely you’d understand if he told his best friend?”
“Heather…” Joey sighs and goes to her dresser, picking up her brush and trying to tame her hair, which she had merely combed through with her fingers before leaving Pacey’s. “I can’t.”
“Fine,” Heather pouts, crossing her arms. “Don’t tell me.”
“I won’t,” Joey says, causing Heather to frown. “Reverse psychology won’t work.”
“Oh, all right. I give up. I won’t pressure you to tell me things if you don’t want to. Just know that I’m here if you change your mind,” Heather shrugs, turning to head back out into the kitchen. “It’s not that big of a deal, really. I’m just messing with you.”
“Heather?” She turns back, hopeful. “I’ll tell you one thing, and that’s it.” Heather nods, waiting with an anticipatory smile. “Pacey Witter knows how to use his tongue in ways you’ve never even dreamed of.” Heather shivers and laughs.
“Well! That’ll hold me over for a while!” She giggles, leaving Joey alone to her thoughts. Joey turns back to the mirror, slowly brushing her hair, stroking it thoughtfully. She allows her mind to wander back to the night before, remembering all the little things that she could’ve told Heather if she had wanted to. It had been exactly like their first time in the back seat of the Witter station wagon, so hot and so passionate that Joey’s entire body felt like it was on fire. Just thinking about it flushed her skin with heat. Joey sets her brush down, shaking herself out of her reverie. She had to finish writing her paper for tomorrow or she’d regret it later. She’d have to daydream about Pacey later.
Sitting down on her bed, she grabs the book on Rousseau from her bag and flips it open. A couple of pieces of paper fall out onto her bedspread and she picks them up, curious. Joey stares at the hand-written notes for quite some time, not believing the irony. Even fate was conspiring to keep Pacey Witter in her thoughts.
“Jay, where in the world have you been all day?” Tasha exclaims, tossing her backpack onto the table with a thud. A couple of students toss glares in her direction as she sits down next to Pacey, peering over to look at the book he’s reading. “Why’d you skip out?”
“I didn’t skip, per se…” Pacey grins, shrugging. “I just had…an engagement that I placed higher on my list of priorities." He shuts his book and pushes it away from him. "Did I miss anything important in class?"
"Doesn't matter. The professor posts all of the lecture notes on his website, thus enabling slackers like yourself to skip class and not even miss any of the material."
"I take it that was a 'No, you didn't miss anything' then?" Tasha glares at him, irritated. "Good. I don't particularly feel like playing catch up. Not today. Hey, did you start your paper for next week yet?"
"Of course I started it. It's worth 20 percent of our grade. Why, you haven't?"
"I...kind of have," he chuckles, not really caring. He's in far too good of a mood to care about a silly paper.
"Jay, what is the matter with you?" Tasha exclaims. Pacey gives her a questioning look.
"What is the matter with *you*? And don't say you're just mad that I'm procrastinating, tell me the truth." He waits a moment but she doesn't say anything. "Come on, Tasha."
"Dave called me today."
"Oh..." Pacey makes a face, frowning. "What did he want?"
"He wants me to give him another chance." Tasha starts picking lint off of her sweater.
"And what did you say to that?" Pacey asks cautiously, praying that she stood her ground and didn't take him back.
"I said that I loved him," Tasha begins, and Pacey fears the worst. "But you can't choose who you love. Cause if I had a choice I definitely wouldn't love him. And that just because I do doesn't mean that I ever want to get back together with him." Pacey breaks into a huge grin, proud of his friend.
"Way to go, Tasha." He notices she doesn't seem to happy with herself. "That's what you wanted to say, wasn't it?"
"Yes, of course. I mean, I don't want to be with Dave anymore. I just...it's so final now. It's completely and totally over. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. I feel strange."
"That's understandable. You went out with him for a long time. It's going to take awhile to get used to it. But you will, and you'll be happier," Pacey reassures her. Tasha manages to muster a small smile, but negates it with a heavy sigh.
"I'm going to end up all alone. Old, ugly and alone."
"Yep," Pacey replies. "Completely alone. I can't imagine any guy who'd want to go out with a short curvy blonde with a wonderful personality. The very idea of it is insane. You're screwed." Tasha can't help but laugh a little, but she tries hard not to. She looks at Pacey and over his shoulder, she sees a beautiful leggy brunette walking into the library. About every guys' head in the library turns to watch her as she walks by.
"I wish I was tall and gorgeous," Tasha says, almost whining. "It would be-" She stops, realizing the girl is walking right up to their table. Pacey's about to say something when the girl wraps her arms around Pacey's neck from behind and dangles a piece of paper in front of his face. Pacey turns his head, surprised, and smiles when he sees who is behind him.
"Joey! Hey!" He looks at the piece of paper she's holding out. "My notes! Where did you find these?"
"In the back cover of the book, right where you left them," Joey explains, standing up. "Your handwriting hasn't changed a bit since high school. Still illegible."
"It's not *that* bad," Pacey replies, pulling Joey into his lap.
"No, if anything it's gotten worse. Just like you," she jokes. Pacey pretends to be hurt, wincing and putting a hand to his chest.
"Potter, you are viscious."
"Yep," she replies. Pacey draws her to him for a long passionate kiss. Tasha just watches this scene in shock, not quite able to believe what she is seeing. When the pair break their kiss, Joey notices Tasha. Pacey remembers she's still there and smiles sheepishly.
"Jo, this is my friend Tasha, the one I told you about this morning? Tasha, this is Miss Josephine Potter, Official Ice Queen of Capeside, MA." Joey rolls her eyes.
"Forgive Pacey here, he has the manners of an ape. It's very nice to meet you," Joey extends her hand, and Tasha shakes it vacantly.
"Nice to meet you too, Josephine," she murmurs, staring at Pacey.
"You can call me Joey or Jo. Josephine is so prim and proper," Joey tells Tasha, giving her a smile.
"Yeah, Jo here has always been more of a rough n' tumble gal rather than a sleepover and make-up gal. Like you. Except tall." Tasha is silent for a moment.
"Not to be out of left field, Jay, but why is Joey calling you Pacey?" Tasha asks, talking about Joey as if she's not there.
"Pacey's my first name. Ever since college started I've been going by my middle name, I kind of dropped the Pacey."
"Oh." Is all Tasha says, not knowing what else to say. "Well then. You've decided to go back to Pacey all of a sudden?"
"Not really," Pacey replies, shrugging. "Call me either or. Doesn't really matter. Potter here just calls me Pacey because that's what she knows me as."
"Pacey, Jay, jailbait, doofus..." Joey smirks. "He'll answer to anything." Tasha stares at this girl, wondering where the hell she even came from. Since when did Jay Witter have a relationship with a girl who happened to look like a supermodel? The two seemed as if they're already been going out forever, Joey sitting in his lap as if it were as natural as breathing.
"That's good to know," Tasha replies, feeling really out of it and confused. She felt almost dizzy, as if this was just too much to take at the moment. She stands up, collecting her things. "I have to go. I'll see you later, Jay. Pacey. Nice to meet you, Joey." Tasha hurries off, not giving Pacey a chance to say anything. Pacey watches her go, feeling like he just unintentionally screwed something up.
"Is she all right?" Joey asks.
"I think so. She's got a lot going on right now. Just broke up with the long-term boyfriend. My suddenly informing her that Jay isn't even my name probably didn't help matters much," Pacey sighs. "I just never thought to tell her. Never really thought it would come up."
"I doubt she'll be mad," Joey tries to reassure him. "It's probably just a shock."
"Not to mention the shock of seeing your chronically lonely best friend with his new girlfriend before he even got a chance to brag about her," Pacey adds, trying to smile at his bragging comment and not succeeding in the slighest.
"Yeah, that could do it."
"I'm sure she'll be fine, though," he says, trying to brush it off. "Tasha is not overly-sensitive, it takes a lot to really hurt her. She's very tough."
"Even the toughest of us still have weak spots, Pace. I know that better than anyone," Joey replies sadly. "You can't be so strong without having a couple of stress fractures here and there." She rubs his shoulders, trying to ease the frown away from his face. "But even if she is upset, you'll talk about it and work it out. No one can stay mad at you for long, no matter how hard they try."
"Oh really?" Pacey grins. "I seem to remember a certain period from, say, junior high to our sophomore year in high school where you barely said one word to me unless it was nasty?"
"I believe we both had other things on our minds back then," Joey retorts. "Try a 35 year old teacher?"
"Try a blonde Spielberg lover with a penchant for disregarding reality?" Pacey chuckles. "Speaking of that, how is our friend The Forehead? Do you still talk to him at all?" Joey bursts into loud laughter at hearing that name, attracting the glares of the students surrounding them. The Forehead was a nickname she and Pacey had for Dawson during the summer before senior year. Luckily no one ever called him that to his face, or it would've been messy.
"Every once in awhile. We occasionally call each other, usually in times of crisis. There's just times when you need an old friend to get you through. We hung out a lot right after Bessie got sick, but he's back at school now and he just checks in every few weeks or so."
"Oh." Pacey says, not knowing what else to say.
"What do you say we get out of here?" Joey suggests. "I am starving."
"Me too, good idea. What do you want to eat? Pizza?"
"We could do pizza..." Joey thinks. She grins at him, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "We could go back to my place and make some sandwiches or something. I have all the stuff in the fridge."
"Joey? In a kitchen?" Pacey pretends to be stunned. "I never thought I'd live to see the day."
"Keep insulting me like that and you won't," Joey retorts, standing up and pulling him up with her. "But since I'm in a particularly good mood today, I'll be forgiving."
"Really I was hoping that you would get mad and punish me," Pacey winks, grinning widely. Joey lightly slaps his face playfully.
"You are awful."
"That's why you love me," he replies before realizing what he said. They both look at one another for a moment, Pacey's stomach turning. Did she love him? Wasn't it too soon to jump to conclusions like that?
"Yeah, you're right. I do love you," Joey says, her voice a bit more soft and sincere. She slips her hands through his. "Let's go get some food."
They walk out of the library together, hand in hand. Pacey had never felt so amazing in his entire life.
“Natasha…and to what do I owe this
pleasure?” Chris greets Pacey’s best friend with a sardonic smile, looking
her up and down and taking in her ruffled appearance. “Get in a cat fight
or something? Too bad I missed it, it would’ve been sexy as hell to watch.”
Tasha walks past him and into the apartment, rolling her eyes.
“You’re so charming, Christopher, it’s a wonder you can’t get a girlfriend.” Tasha stops in her tracks, seeing Rana sitting in the kitchen.
“Tasha, I’d like you to meet Rana. My girlfriend,” He laughs at her, shaking his head. “Rana, this is Tasha, Jay’s sexually frustrated and bitter best friend.” Rana musters up a smile and extends her hand, annoyed at Chris’ idiotic introduction.
“Well I’d be bitter too if my exceptionally hot best friend just starting shacking up with Joey too,” Rana says, trying to annoy Chris by praising Pacey’s looks. Tasha shakes Rana’s hand awkwardly, trying to act as if she’s not bothered by her statement.
“I’m not bitter about anything, Chris,” Tasha says with a dangerously sweet smile. “In fact, I couldn’t be happier for Jay. Or Pacey, rather.”
“Yeah, that’s a bit of a weird thing, ain’t it?” Chris replies. “I’m never going to get used to calling him Pacey. It’s a quite…different name, that’s for sure. No wonder he changed it. Must be hard to pick up chicks with a name like that.”
“Jay never went around hitting on girls, I doubt that was the reason,” Tasha scoffs, taking off her jacket. “And speaking of Ja- Pacey, is he around?” Chris shakes his head no.
“I haven’t seen him since this morning when he and Joey retreated to his room once more after a nice wake-up shower together,” Chris chuckles. Tasha tries to conceal her surprise but isn’t successful. “Oh, he didn’t tell you?”
“He didn’t exactly have time to go into details,” Tasha sighs, sitting down at the kitchen table across from Rana. She waits for Chris to fill her in, but he’s distracted by his new search for something edible in the refrigerator.
“Well, Joey’s one of my roommates, and I set her up on that blind date with Jay – turns out they already knew each other. After greeting one another with a kiss, they went off on this barrage of confusing questions that I couldn’t quite follow. Then they disappeared to talk, I guess.”
“Didn’t look like they were talking when they were dry humping each other on the dance floor,” Chris snorts, pausing to take a breath from the long chug of milk he was taking, straight from the carton.
“About an hour after we got there, they both disappeared. We come back here this morning, clothes are everywhere, and Pacey and Joey had just finished with some morning water nookie, apparently. They went back into his room and were making noises that wreaked havoc on my massive hangover headache – wasn’t too great,” Rana tells the tale to Tasha without a hint of tact or embarrassment, not even realizing how crude she’s being. Tasha doesn’t say anything for a moment, trying to get the image of Pacey’s naked body out of her mind. It wasn’t easy.
“Well then…at least Pacey’s finally come out of his self-inflicted celibacy, right?” Tasha says, her voice cracking. She stands up. “While this has been thrilling, I really should get going, since Pacey’s not even here. I just have to get something out of his room.” Tasha excuses herself, walking to Pacey’s bedroom and shutting the door.v She looks around the familiar room and tries to get a grip on herself.
“You never wanted Pacey for yourself until right now, you’re just jealous. You’re being petty. You’re just afraid you’re going to lose him, that’s all,” Tasha tells herself out loud. She takes a deep breath and looks around the room. The bed was never made from the night before, the sheets and blankets strewn every which way. “Okay…get the notebook, get out of here.”
Tasha heads over to his desk and rifles through his papers and books, searching for her familiar dark blue spiral. It’s nowhere to be found, so she quickly scans the room for his book bag and realizes he must have it with him, wherever he is. Tasha opens his closet and sees a blue notebook, but opens it up to find that it’s not hers. Getting down on her hands and knees, she shoves the bedspread off the floor and peers under his bed. She finds nothing but a pair of black silk panties.
“Looks like Joey left a memento behind,” she mutters, standing up. Then for a moment she freezes, a thought capturing her mind. Tasha rushes back to the closet and pulls out a shoe box she had spotted seconds before that was marked ‘pictures and stuff’. Feeling guilty, Tasha goes and locks Pacey’s door, then goes and sits on the bed. Catching her reflection in his bedroom mirror, Tasha frowns at herself. “What? I’m just curious.” She takes off the lid carefully and sets it aside.
The box is filled with odds and ends, ranging from ticket stubs to sea shells. She fingers the items thoughtfully as she takes them out, wondering what special importance they had to her friend She digs a stack of photos out and puts the box on the floor, and begins flipping through them slowly. The pictures were filled with faces and places she had never heard Pacey speak of.
The first photo on top of the stack was obviously a picture taken by an adult; a pudgy boy with blonde hair and an innocent smile has his arm slung over a thin brown-haired girl who seems to be looking away from the camera on purpose. In front of them, another little boy is plopped down in the mud, clutching a football to his dirty shirt, a huge beaming grin on his face. Tasha recognizes Pacey immediately by the boy's smile and his twinkling eyes. The next few pictures followed along the same lines; the three children at the beach, in the creek, at the circus, in sleeping bags. Tasha stops at the next photograph, which is of the three now familiar children and another blonde haired boy she didn't recognize, sitting at a table in front of a large birthday cake. They are surrounded by adults, presumably parents and relatives. The banner hanging on the wall reads: "Happy Birthday Joey!"
Tasha's eyes immediately go to the brown-haired girl, the realization dawning on her. The girl in the pictures was none other than Joey Potter. They were childhood friends. Excited by this new discovery, Tasha forgets the weariness she felt at looking through Pacey's personal things and continues with her impromptu investigation.
The people in the pictures progressively get older. There is a photo of Pacey, Joey, a blonde-haired boy which she figured was the same kid as in the other pictures, and a short, curvy blonde-haired girl. Tasha wondered if that was Jen. She was the only person from high school Pacey had ever mentioned. Apparently she'd been one of his closest friends. They were all standing next to a sign that read Capeside High School. Tasha laughs a little, remembering her own first day of high school and how excited she was. Joey had a scowl on her face that clearly showed she was not happy about something. As Tasha skimmed through the photos, she began to notice that more and more, Pacey seemed to be the one behind the camera and Joey and the other boy appeared more often. A couple pictures seemed to have captured them in an affectionate moment, like hugging or holding hands. Soon two new faces, another blonde girl with big wide eyes (Was this girl Jen?) and a quite cute guy with brown hair, entered the scene. The blonde haired girl dominated Pacey's pictures for awhile, then suddenly she disappeared.
Tasha stops for a moment in wonderment. This was a world she knew nothing about. Pacey Jay Witter, a person she thought was her best friend, had never told her about any of these people, shared any of his memories with her. She barely knew him at all.
And then there were pictures of Joey. Joey showing off a big brick wall like Vanna White, Joey giving Pacey the finger and a smirk, Joey sitting on the railing of a boat above a wooden plaque reading True Love. Tasha stops, puzzled, when Pacey's junior prom picture is stuck in the order. He was with the blonde girl again. Not Joey. This was followed by more pictures of Joey, a strip of pictures from a photo booth in which a smiling Pacey and Joey were laughing hysterically, trying to fit themselves into the tiny booth. In the last frame, it was as if they had both suddenly fell into seriousness and were about a second away from locking lips. The pile of photos ended with Pacey and Joey's senior prom portrait. Tasha had to admit, they looked perfect together. Joey fit into his arms as if she were made to that mold. That was all the pictures that Pacey had. She sets the stack beside her on the bed and carefully takes a leatherbound book from the bottom of the box.
Her fingers run over the delicately engraved cover, the details and lettering so carefully done that Tasha felt as if she were holding an ancient artifact of endless value. It was a copy of Little Women. She opens up the book slowly, the binding resisting. It was clear that the book had not been opened in a very long time and certainly had never been read. There was something written on the first page, on the blank crisp whiteness of it. It was a simple message but it almost broke Tasha's heart.
I love you.
This book was meant for Joey and Pacey had never given it to her. What had happened? Everything was so unclear and Tasha found part of herself getting more angry and resentful of Pacey's secrecy with every passing moment while another part of her was merely saddened by the fact that she had opened up so willingly to him while he had kept something from her that was so much a part of him. Did he not trust her? Even if he didn't want to talk about it, couldn't he have least told her his real name? Told her something small about the people that were his friends?
Tasha puts everything back into the box and sets it back in the closet, not wanting to think about it anymore. She didn't want to be mad at him and the more she thought about things, the angrier she got. She closes the closet door and sits on his bed with a deep sigh, trying to tell herself to give Pacey a chance to tell her about things, to let him explain. Flopping back onto the pillows, Tasha closes her eyes momentarily and falls deep into thought. Within minutes, she has fallen asleep.
Pacey watches Joey as she opens up the refrigerator, rifling through the shelves in hopes of finding something for them to eat. She bends down to the bottom shelf, purposely moving slowly and letting Pacey watch her body move. After a few moments she turns around to face him, giving him a crooked half-smile and shrugging.
"I guess Heather didn't go shopping yet this week. We've got nothing here."
Pacey crosses the kitchen and stops in front of her, smiling softly.
"We've got plenty here," he says, circling his hands around her waist and then running them up her sides. Joey bites her lip, holding back a grin.
"Really? What do we have to eat then?" She leads him, waiting for him to make the move. Joey felt as if she had turned into a nymphomaniac overnight. Every single time she so much as looked at him, the urge to have him inside of her body surged through her as if she had been electrocuted with desire.
Pacey doesn't speak as he unbuttons her shirt and then unclasps the front of her bra. He leaves her shirt hanging open but doesn't touch her bare chest.
"We have breasts." He swiftly kneels on the floor and runs his hands up her legs. "And legs." His hands stop at the tops of her inner thighs, pressing up against her core through the material of her pants. "And I even have juice to drink."
Joey reaches down and strokes his erection through his khakis.
"And if I don't want juice, it looks like I have other options."
Pacey backs Joey against the kitchen table, giving her no choice but to lay down on top of it.
"I better set the table," he murmurs, unsnapping the top of her jeans and unzipping them.
"Be careful, Pacey," Joey laughs lightly, arching her hips to let him tug the fabric down over her hips. "The porno industry is about to come along and lift our conversation for one of their movies." He tugs her panties down and bends down so his mouth is hovering over her.
"I'm not being *that* dirty, am I?" he whispers, his hot breath causing Joey to groan.
"Just a little dirty," she giggles. He flicks out his tongue to touch her. "God, You're making me so hungry it hurts," Joey tells him. Pacey glances up at her.
"Where does it hurt?" He kisses her lower abdomen. "Right there?"
"Yes, right there," She tugs on his hair, trying to bring him up to her mouth. He complies, his hot lips melting with hers, climbing on top of the table and laying his weight upon her. "Oh god...fuck me, Pacey..." Joey breathes, tugging on his bottom lip with her teeth.
"Now who's being dirty?" Pacey murmurs as Joey arches up against him again and groans out loud. The feeling of his fully clothed body against her naked skin made Joey even more crazy, the rough fabric of his khakis rubbing between her legs. Wanting him so badly she wanted to scream, Joey pushes him away and pulls his shirt quickly over his head, throwing it away and quickly moving to the zipper of his khakis.
"Oh my god!" Pacey puts his body over Joey's, covering her mostly naked body from the eyes of the intruder. They both look to where the voice came from and find Heather and Steve standing in the doorway to the apartment, both of their jaws on the floor.
"Uh...hi, Heather," Joey says, mortified. Heather looks away and makes Steve do the same, and Joey climbs off the table. She puts her underwear back on and throws on Pacey's shirt. Grabbing his hand, she leads him toward her bedroom. "It's okay...we're going to go to my room." As soon as Heather hears Joey's door click shut, she opens her eyes and stares at Steve.
"Joey was having sex on the kitchen table!" She exclaims. "The kitchen table! I have to eat on that table! That's my table!"
"I'm still back on the Joey having sex part, forget the kitchen table. Who the hell was that guy?" Steve asks, looking as if he's just been hit with a ton of bricks.
"Do you know how much disenfectant I'm going to have to use to be able to eat off of that again?" Heather shrieks, her eyes still wide in shock. "I can't believe this!"
Joey pulls Pacey into her room and shuts her door, leaning against it with a sigh. Pacey is silent for a moment, grasping for something to say to make the embarrassment level lessen. Suddenly Joey bursts out into laughter, giggling uncontrollably.
"I can not believe they walked in on us! I can't believe I didn't remember that she usually stops home in the afternoon. That was so stupid." Pacey stares at Joey as if she's an alien. Joey laughs at him. "Are you okay?"
"Are *you* okay?" Pacey asks. "I figured you would be freaking out about this, I mean...your roommate - that was your other roommate, right?" Joey nods. "Well she just saw you and me, about two seconds away from making love on the kitchen table. Even I'm embarrassed and you know I just shrug off stuff like this. I'm used to making a fool of myself."
"Of course I'm embarrassed, Pace. I'm horrified. But think about them, they're the ones that just walked in on something. Think how they must feel. Probably worse than we do. I'm not going to worry about this."
"Where is Joey and what have you done with her?" Pacey demands, feeling Joey's forehead.
"I'm taking a vacation from myself. I'm too happy to be upset at the moment. I'll worry about it tomorrow."
"Okay, Scarlett O'Hara."
"Would that make you Rhett Butler?" Joey inquires, batting her eyelashes at him as she unzips his khakis.
"Well, you and I do have that constant banter and bickering going on, don't we?" Joey nods in agreement. "So where's your Ashley Wilkes? I'd rather know the enemy now."
"Oh, fiddle-dee-dee. I always hated Ashley Wilkes in that movie. Stupid prick led Scarlett on like a puppy on a leash. Rhett was the real man. A man of action."
"Like me?" Pacey asks, picking Joey up in his arms and carrying her over to the bed.
"Just like you. A scoundrel, through and through," Joey teases as she lays back onto the mattress.
"The strong women always love the scoundrels, don't they?"
"Of course we do. They're the only guys who could ever give us strong ones a challenge. And you, are definitely a challenge."
"Why thank you."
"Yep?" Joey laughs lightly. Pacey kisses her passionately, pulling her body close to his.
"I'm so happy that you love a challenge."
Pacey stumbles into his dark bedroom, not bothering to turn on the ceiling light. He takes a slow cautious step forward and his toe connects with one of his heavy philosophy books.
"Ow, shit!" He gasps, wincing. Feeling his way to his desk, he turns on his small desk lamp and turns it on. He sighs heavily. He knew he shouldn't have left his paper for this long; now he was surely going to be up all the night trying to write it. Switching on his computer, he pulls his shirt over his head and tosses it onto his chair and then goes to take off his pants. He's about to pull them off when he turns and sees Tasha, fast asleep on his bed.
"What the...?" Pacey shakes her gently, confused as to why she's there. "Tasha? Tash, wake up." She stirs slightly, then her eyes flicker open. She's dazed for a moment.
"Jay...?" She asks sleepily, then her eyes open wide. "Oh my god. Oh my god, I am so sorry. Did I fall asleep?" She glances at the clock. "Damn, I missed all my afternoon classes...I can't believe I did this. I can't believe I...I am so incredibly sorry, Jay. I just came over here to get my notebook and then...and then I don't know..." Tasha trails off, not sure she wants to tell him about what she had done.
"Tasha, are you okay?" Pacey inquires, concerned. "You seem really...is this about Dave? Did he call you *again* today?"
"No, it's not about that." Tasha shakes her head adamantly, trying to re-group. She stands up, smoothing out her clothes and her hair and looking around his room nervously. "I better...I better go. It's late. I didn't mean to fall asleep here. I have things to do. I have homework. You have homework. Yeah, I better go." She heads for the door but Pacey stops her.
"You aren't going anywhere, Natasha. Not until you sit down and tell me what's going on. And don't say nothing," he tells her. She stares at him for a moment, trying to muster up the courage to just bite the bullet.
"Fine, I'll tell you," Tasha says, stepping away from him. She goes to the closet and gets out the box full of photos and walks back to him, handing it over without a word. "I was looking for my notebook and I happened to find this." Pacey looks at it, a sinking feeling in the bottom of his stomach. "I think I have a lot of questions for you, Pacey Jay Witter. The first being how in the world you could call me your best friend when I knew absolutely nothing about you."
Pacey lets out a long deep breath and looks down at the photo box again. Slowly, he walks past Tasha and sits down on the edge of the bed. Tasha turns and follows him, trying hard not to stare at the fingernail marks on his strong, broad back.
"It wasn't about keeping things from you, Tasha, it really wasn't. It was more like...I wasn't ready to talk about it. With anyone. I mean, the things in this box...the people and the memories...they hold a lot of pain for me that I was working very hard to forget. College was a place for me to start over, you know? I never intentionally violated our friendship. It wasn't ever about keeping things a secret...it was about keeping things buried and forgotten. It just never worked." Natasha is silent, waiting for him to continue. He doesn't, and the room falls silent. Pacey seems lost in thought.
"Was Joey your girlfriend in high school?" She finally asks, setting her hand on his shoulder and shaking him from his reverie.
"No," he replies flatly. "But it didn't stop me from falling in love with her." Tasha reaches across his lap and opens the box, taking a few pictures out.
"Can you just start at the beginning? And tell me everything?" She hands Pacey the photographs gently. He takes them, flipping through them slowly.
"The beginning?" He takes out the picture of himself, Joey, and Dawson at four years old. "That's the beginning, I guess. Me, Joey, and Dawson Leery. Friends forever." Pacey laughs a bit cynically, his thumb caressing Joey's face in the photo. "We didn't know back then."
"Know what was going the happen. Know that the two of us would both end up loving Joey Potter and that we'd both wind up with broken hearts."
"We grew up together. The Three Musketeers. One of us couldn't do a single thing without dragging the other two along. When we were seven years old, the Leerys went out and bought two small cots and put them in Dawson's room permanently because we were sleeping over there so much." Pacey pauses, as if he's not sure he wants to talk about it anymore. "You see...Joey and I didn't exactly have the best home lives. Joey's parents didn't exactly have the best marriage and at the time her sister was being the rebellious teenager. Things weren't easy. As for me, I was an accident. After my youngest sister, Gretchen, my parents had decided they didn't want anymore kids. But lo and behold, three years later there I was. My dad made sure I paid for it in every way. It didn't help matters much that I was a natural clown and used all of my spare time to make trouble."
"That's terrible, Pacey. He didn't...your father...did he?"
"Yeah, he did," Pacey mumbles, answering her unspoken question. He keeps talking so she can't dig into it more. "But it was all right. Mr. and Mrs. Leery were like surrogate parents to me- unlike my parents, they would've given anything to give Dawson a brother or sister. So they treated Joey and me like we were there own. And Joey's mom...her mom was a fabulous person. She was more of a mother to me than my own ever was. When she died, everything changed. No sooner was she gone then my dad busted Joey's dad for selling drugs and shipped him off to prison. Joey and Dawson formed this bond during that time that I just was left out of. Joey hated me for what my father did to hers, although he was just doing his job. It went from being the Three Musketeers to Joey and Dawson, and Pacey and Dawson. Two separate entities with only Dawson linking them." Pacey sets the picture back inside the box and tackes out another, blinking back tears. He waits a moment and regains control of his emotions.
"So how did you and Joey become friends again?" Natasha urges him on, knowing all he needed was a little prodding to continue.
"It was sort of fate, I guess. In 10th grade we got assigned to be partners on an extra credit project and we hung out. For the years before that, we had technically still been 'friends,' but that's a relative term. We only hung together when Dawson forced us to, and it was typically laced with sarcasm and insults. But on that project, I realized what I'd been missing, and how things used to be between us. Then I, being a stupid guy, ruined that all by trying to kiss her. Which I should've known better than, because everyone knew she was head over heels in love with Dawson. That is, except Dawson." Tasha laughs lightly at this, taking a glance at the photo he has in his hand. "But that's Jen, and that's the girl who Dawson wanted more than anything. It was a pretty bitter love triangle for awhile, but while that was going on I was off in pursuit of Miss Jacobs so it really didn't matter until I did that project with Joey."
"Ah, Miss Jacobs. At least this I am familiar with."
"Yeah, everyone's familiar with that one," Pacey laughs. "Anyway, to make a long story short, Joey got an offer to study in Paris for a semester thereby prompting Dawson to realize his true feelings for her, and they got together. Jack and Andie McPhee moved into Capeside and Jack came between Dawson and Joey. That is, until he came out of the closet and Joey went back to Dawson. Joey's father got parole, but started selling again. Dawson forced Joey to turn him into the cops, and they broke up again. Dawson left for the summer."
"What about Andie? Is that her?" Tasha points her out in the picture. Pacey winces; he had been hoping that he would get away with not talking about that.
"Andie...yeah, that's Andie," his voice changed. It became more sad, more thoughtful. It doesn't escape Tasha's notice.
"She was your girlfriend, right? I mean, it looked that way in the pictures."
"Yeah, she was. For a pretty long time, at least on a high school scale. We went through a lot together..." He sighs. "Andie had a lot of problems. She lost her older brother in a car accident and her mental...stability was an issue. Summer before junior year she went to a hospital and while she was there she slept with another guy." He tosses the picture back into the box. "Dawson came home and Joey wanted him back, but he didn't want her. We were both hurting, we found each other. We became friends again. And then I fell in love with her." Pacey laughs lightly. "Tried to ignore it and pretend that the feeling didn't exist for as long as possible, but I ended up kissing her again anyway." He pauses, sighing deeply. "After a long debate about whether or not to pursue a relationship, we opted not to. We couldn't do that and still keep Dawson as our friend. And he was just too important to both of us to make that sacrifice."
"So what did you do?" Tasha exclaims. "I mean, how can you just be friends with someone you love so much? Someone you want to be so much more than friends with? I could never do that, not after openly acknowledging it like that."
"I don't know how we did it either, to tell you the truth. We just...we just kept going. Hung out together...were close to each other in every way possible without turning it into something romantic. And we succeeded, right up until the month before college. We had gone out to a club and I was driving her home...a song came on the radio that we both liked and we both reached to turn it up at the same time. Our hands touching was all it took." Tasha stares at Pacey as he speaks.
"I pulled over to the side of the road and without saying anything, we got in the back seat and had sex," he closes his eyes momentarily, thinking back on it. "It was insane, I guess. We knew we couldn't...have a relationship...but..."
"You had to have that one night," Tasha finishes for him.
"Yeah...and then that was it. The next day we didn't even talk about it. I'm not sure why. But we acted like nothing had happened. Said our good-byes and headed off to college. We lost touch. I think it just hurt me too much to keep talking with her, at that point in my life. I thought I needed to get on with my life. But I couldn't. Last night at the club when I saw her, I knew that there was no way in hell that I was over her. Everything felt just the same. Except now it's different, because we can be together."
"No more Dawson in the picture?"
"She's still friends with him, but things are different now. We're older, we're all separate people. Both she and I can exist without him, if we have to. If Dawson does re-enter our lives, I don't know why he would have a problem with us being together."
"Yeah, there's got to be some statute of limitations on love triangles, isn't there?"
"I don't even think it was a love triangle. It was more of two people being blocked from each other by a wall that they simply couldn't get around or knock down."
"And now that wall has been relocated and rebuilt somewhere else?"
"In a sense." They both fall silent, and Pacey puts the lid back on the box.
"Why didn't you tell me all of this before, Pacey?" Tasha asks quietly.
"I wasn't ready to. I wasn't ready to open that all back up. I didn't mean to hurt you. I really didn't." Pacey wraps his arm around her and she rests her head on his shoulder. "But I did, didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did. But I'll get over it," Tasha lifts her head and smiles at him, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "I think that Joey, you and I should hang out sometime though. I'd like to get to know her, since she's apparently going to be around for awhile."
"I hope so," Pacey replies, his voice sounding so incredibly sincere that Tasha can't help but look at him for a moment in silence, wondering what it felt like to truly love someone that much.
"Pacey, how do you know that you love her so much? How can you possibly be so sure after just running into her last night?" Tasha asks, not intending it to sound skeptical but rather amazed and awed.
"I don't know, Tasha, I just do. I feel it," he smiles lightly. "I've loved her for practically my entire life but it wasn't until I saw her in that club that I knew it was meant to be. I don't know how I know, but I do. And I'm willing to trust that."
"Do I dare ask what in the world was going on tonight?" Steve exclaims. Joey pulls the phone away from her ear slightly, wincing at his loud voice.
"I don't know, do you dare?" She retorts, rolling her eyes. She didn't feel like explaining Pacey to another person. She was tired of it already, all the questioning, and she had only had to deal with Heather. Everything was really so simple, so utterly simple, for the first time in her life, but everyone else was so confused by it. Joey only knew the questions were only going to grow, and all of her friends and acquaintances would be asking them, one after the other.
"I think I do. Who was that? That you were with?"
"That would be my boyfriend Pacey," Joey informs him, her heart fluttering at how the sentence rolled off of her tongue.
"Your boyfriend. Pacey. Back up the truck and run over me again why don't you. I talked to you yesterday and you were romanceless. Today I walk into your apartment and you have a boyfriend named Pacey and you act as if it's the most natural, normal thing in the world."
"Well, to me it is." Joey is met with an exasperated sigh. "Pacey is one of my best friends from high school. We were in love with each other back then and never did anything about it because we didn't want to hurt someone else's feelings, to make a very very long story short. My blind date last night turned out to be him, and we've decided to give us a try, seeing as how there's nothing left to stop us. I've never stopped loving him and I don't envision myself stopping anytime soon, so I figured I should act on it and not analyze it to death."
"How unlike you," Steve mutters. "This is the first time since I've met you where you've lept into anything without doing an intense and thorough examination of all possible consequences and outcomes."
"Sometimes you just have to let go," Joey says, almost flippantly. She didn't care how different she seemed to Steve, she was different. She was happy. Steve laughs at her outright.
"Okay, Joey. So do I at least get an introduction to this fabulous shoulda-been high school sweetheart of yours or am I going to have to remain with the imprint of a faceless someone who has a better body than mine? It's getting really damaging to my ego at this point, so I think something must be arranged before I self-destruct."
"I'll set something up as soon as possible, then," Joey laughs. "And don't plan on going all big brother on me when you meet him, either. I've known Pace about 15 times as long as I've known you."
"Don't care. I'm not letting you date him unless he's 100%. You'll not be having any damaged goods, no matter how long you've known him," Steve replies matter-of-factly. "Now I have to go do some homework before my time runs away on me."
"Okay, I'll see you later."
"Bye, chica." Steve hangs up and Joey grins happily, thinking about Pacey. As soon as she sets her phone back into the hook, it rings almost immediately, startling her.
"Hey, Jo? Is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me-"
"It's so good to hear your voice! I'm sorry for calling so late, but I had to call you. Guess where I am right now?"
"I don't know, where are you?"
"Driving by Fenway Park."
Joey almost drops the phone.
"I got a long weekend off from school so I thought I'd drop by and pay you a surprise visit. Are you gonna be awake for awhile or do you want me to stop by and see you tomorrow?"
"Um...I'll be awake if you want to come by. You know how to get here?" Joey tries to stop her voice from shaking, feeling very nervous. This was an unexpected turn of events, and life had suddenly gotten a lot more complicated.
"Yep, I have directions from AAA. I'm gonna be staying at the Super 8 nearby so don't worry, I won't be stealing your couch space."
"Oh, all right," Joey replies.
"I'll be there as soon as I can. See you soon!"
Things had just gotten a lot more complicated.
prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5