Pacey didn’t know how long he had been leaning against his kitchen counter, staring at the phone with a beer in his hand, when he heard the soft knocking at his front door. He sighed, pushing himself off the counter into standing position as he glanced up at the clock on the wall, and walked over to open it.
“Sarah?” He blinked quickly, with a confused look on his face, trying to remember if he had forgotten any plans with her. She just stood on his small front porch tapping the toe of her spike-heeled black boot with her arms crossed. “What are you doing here?” He asked softly.
“Didn’t Murph give you my message?” She blew out a breath, impatiently tossing her hair back. “I was down at that new bar near Riverside Beach tonight with some friends…I wanted you to meet me there.” Her voice took on a slight whiny edge.
Pacey shook his head, stepping back and motioning for her to come in. “No…I had to go over to Edgartown this afternoon and I never went back to the office.”
Sarah walked past him into the house, hiking her bag up on her shoulder. “I waited for a couple of hours, but when you didn’t show up I decided to just swing by here and…lo and behold, there’s your Jeep just sitting in the driveway.” She glanced around the small beach house, discreetly checking corners as if she expected to find someone else hiding there.
“I’m sorry.” He muttered, closing the door and walking back towards the kitchen. “It’s been kind of a long week…”
Sarah stopped in the middle of the living room, looking at him and shaking her head. “I just haven't seen you in a while and...it’s not like I don’t know what this is about, you know.”
Pacey pulled two more beers out of the refrigerator, walking over and handing one to her with a puzzled look on his face. “What do you mean?” He flopped down onto his sofa, looking up at her.
Sarah sighed, running her hand through her long hair, and then sat down in front of him on the up-ended lobster trap that served as a coffee table. She put her beer on the ground and shrugged off her coat, then leaned forward to rest her hands on his knees. “You just haven’t been yourself for a long time now, Pacey. And it’s about you finding out that old girlfriend of yours – Joey? – is getting married, isn’t it?”
Pacey almost choked on his beer. “What?” He sputtered out.
She shook her head sadly, blinking her large doe eyes at him. “You told me, remember? When we saw each other at the New Year’s Eve party this year at the Yacht Club? You and Murph had been drinking all day. You were tanked and I ended up driving you back here after the party. Remember?” She leaned even further into him and Pacey shifted uncomfortably, because what he remembered about her taking him home that night didn’t seem to be the same thing that she was referring to. What he remembered certainly didn’t involve much talking, anyway.
“Uh. Kind of…?” He offered. “But, um…that’s not…”
She continued on, almost oblivious to him. “You already told me that whole story once before about her and your friend from high school, remember? And then you had just found out from your sister-in-law that they were finally getting engaged?” She reached down to pick up her beer and take a sip before looking at him again. “I understand, you know. I went through the same thing with that guy I told you about in college. He had that old girlfriend at home that he just couldn’t let go of. He’d always try to tell me that he only wanted to be with me, that he was completely over her - but then I’d find out he would see her every time he went home for the weekend. I know it sucks to be in a situation like that, Pacey. I do. And it would still hurt me a little today if I found out they were engaged.”
Pacey cringed, shaking his head. “Yeah, see…that’s not how it happened…and they are not even getting married now, so…” He let his voice trail off, just studying the label of the beer in his hand.
Sarah arched an eyebrow as she sipped her beer, considering this. “Well, you know, in my situation..." She began slowly, delicately placing her beer back on the floor, “I kept telling myself things like ‘if it just wasn’t for her, we’d be so happy’. But – even if this other girl was suddenly out of the equation – what did it really matter? What it all came down to - I had to finally realize - was that I obviously wasn’t what he wanted, or else I’m the one he would have been with. Me and only me. And if he was ever with me just because he wasn’t with her anymore – well, then how was I to know that I wasn’t always going to be second–best?” She shook her head, glancing out the windows at the water in the distance.
Pacey was silent now, just biting his lower lip thoughtfully and watching her.
She reached down to take another small sip of her beer, looking at Pacey now, who had slowly cast his eyes to the floor. “People don’t change, Pacey.” She said simply. “You know that and I know that. Sometimes it’s best just to accept that move on.” Her voice softening as she gently rubbed her hand along his thigh, she bowed her head a little to try and make eye contact with him. “Maybe this could be a good thing…maybe you should try to get some closure now…?”
When Pacey didn’t respond, Sarah gently took the beer from his hand and slid herself easily onto his lap. “And I’m right here to help you find that, if you want…I mean, we are nothing if not honest with each each other, right?” She sighed, running her hand through his hair and leaning in to kiss his neck. She made her way over to his mouth, and when she reached his lips, Pacey tentatively began to kiss her back, raising his arms to wrap them around her. Sarah reached behind her to take one of his hands in hers and slowly stood up. Smiling down at him, she tugged on his hand to pull him up off the couch and lead him upstairs.
Joey pulled Bodie’s truck over to the side of the road, glancing up at herself in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were still a little puffy and swollen from being up all night crying. She sighed, quickly running her hands through her hair. Dawson had kept her on the phone for hours, making her go over what had happened between them again and again. She didn’t know how many ways to tell him that he hadn’t done anything wrong – and that this had been all her. When she finally got off the phone with him, she was so physically and mentally exhausted that she had passed out in tears on her bed.
She glanced at her watch, hoping that Pacey wouldn’t be too bothered about her just showing up this early in the morning. She had been up since before 5:00 am, just anxiously waiting until daybreak came to go over and talk to him. It was just that she had so much to say, she didn't even know where to begin. But, yesterday had given her a little hope that there still might be a chance for them, and she was using that hope to give herself courage. She grabbed the coffee and bagels she had stopped for on the way and climbed out of the truck.
This was the first time she had been here. She smiled up at the beach house in front of her, the weathered gray shingles and paned glass windows reminding her a little of the house he had shared with his sister Gretchen all those years ago. Slowly climbing the stairs to the front porch, she wondered if she should ring the bell this early or just knock.
Before she had to decide, the door opened and a young blond woman stepped out onto the porch, pulling on her leather coat. Joey stopped short, the smile on her face immediately fading. The woman looked up, surprised. Joey could see that she was beautiful, and the dark circles of smudged mascara under her wide bright blue eyes seemed to only enhance them.
“Can I help you…?” She asked. Her eyes drifted over Joey, coming to rest on the coffee and bagels she held in her hands.
Joey squirmed, looking at the number on the house again. “I, ah…was looking for Pacey Witter’s house, but…”
“He’s still asleep.” She said quickly, as she pulled her long hair out of the back of her coat, letting it fall over her shoulders. “And you are?” She gave Joey a pointed look, but her voice was soft and questioning, not harsh at all.
Joey felt the heat rising up in her cheeks and she bit her lip. “Just his friend…Joey.” She managed to get out.
The woman’s look changed to one of understanding. She just nodded. “Well, like I said, he’s asleep and I have to be at the gym in less than an hour - so if you’ll excuse me, I have to run.” She flashed a quick smile and walked past Joey to make her way down the stairs, calling over her shoulder as almost an after-thought, “The door is open.”
Joey just stood there, waiting until the woman climbed into the little black sports car that had been sitting parked next to Pacey’s Jeep in his driveway and drove off down the street. Fighting back the tears, she turned then and quickly made her way back to Bodie’s truck, driving away as well.
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