Joey made her way slowly down the dock with her hands stuffed in the pockets of her jeans, the ocean breezes whipping past her. She smiled to herself, brushing the hair out of her eyes when she saw Pacey standing on the Harbormaster’s boat, leaning down to untie the lines. It sometimes still surprised her to see the man he had become, after only having the memory of the boy he used to be for so long. He glanced over as he straightened up and saw her. His face lit up and he placed his hand on the side of the boat, swinging his legs up and over and hopping down onto the dock in one swift movement.
“Hey.” He jogged up to her with a grin, hugging her quickly then leaning back to look at her, his hands resting on her waist. “I missed you last night.” He whispered against her lips as he kissed her.
“I know. I’m sorry.” She smiled, leaning her forehead against his. “I didn’t get home from that exhibit at the gallery until really late and…”
“That’s okay.” He tucked her hair behind her ear, brushing his knuckles against her cheek. “Can I see you tonight?” He asked hopefully.
Joey looked down quickly. “I had told Bessie last week that I would stay with Alex tonight so that she and Bodie could go out.” She shrugged.
Pacey just raised his eyebrows slightly. “Well, is it all right if I come over?”
Joey nodded with a small sad smile. “If you want…I mean, don’t feel like you have to…”
Pacey tilted his head, looking at her curiously for a minute. “I want to. I just want to see you.” He said simply.
Joey nodded, dropping her head a little. “Um, Pace, are we…” She sighed, looking up at him. “We’re doing okay here, right? You and me?”
Pacey looked at her a minute, his blue eyes serious. “Yeah. I think we are.” He sighed then and looked out at the water as he absently played with a strand of her hair, realizing why she was probably asking him this. He dropped his head to look at the ground and leaned in to her, lowering his voice to a husky whisper. “Look, I’m sorry about the other night, but…”
“Oh, please – don’t say you’re sorry, Pacey.” Joey put her hands to her forehead, looking down and cringing slightly.
Pacey sighed again, placing his hands on her cheeks and gently raising her head a little so he could see her eyes. “I just want you to be happy, Jo.” He watched her carefully. “I want to be the person that makes you happy…” He paused a moment, just caressing her cheek with his thumb. “I just…I think we need to figure this out as we go along and…” He furrowed his brow, looking down again and shifting uncomfortably.
Suddenly there was the sound of the radio crackling with static on the boat, someone calling for him. “Damn it…” Pacey muttered, shaking his head.
“It’s okay. I know you’re working.” Joey nodded, trying to smile. “I just stopped by to say hi. I’ll just see you later.”
Pacey looked at her a minute, his clear blue eyes fixed on her face. “Okay. I’ll just see you tonight, then.” He waited for her to respond, still watching her.
“Okay.” Joey nodded again.
“Okay.” Pacey whispered against her forehead as he kissed it, then turned to make his way back to the boat. Joey gave him a little wave as he started to pull the boat of the marina, then turned to walk back up to the parking lot, the one question she had really wanted to ask left unanswered.
Jen heard the bell over the door ring out and looked up to see Joey walking in.
“Hey Joey!” She called out from behind the counter with a smile. “What are you doing?”
“Hey.” Joey gave her a half smile. “I was just in the neighborhood so I thought I’d stop in.” She shrugged.
“Well, you are just in time.” Jen giggled happily, “Because I just got in all kinds of summer dresses and I’m going to let you have first dibs because you’re my friend and it’s my store and I can.” She grinned triumphantly.
Joey smiled a little wider and nodded, but wasn’t really meeting Jen’s eyes. “Thanks.” She said softly, trying to muster up some enthusiasm.
Jen looked over, frowning. “Is everything okay with you?” She leaned forward to rest her chin in her hand on the counter. “Because when I last saw you and Pacey a couple of days ago, you were definitely in your happy place, all aglow with love.” Joey slightly cringed at this and Jen raised her eyebrows in concern. “Joey?”
“It’s nothing.” Joey quickly assured her, shaking her head. “Well…it’s something, but probably not anything.” She amended. She sighed, looking up at Jen helplessly. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, Jen, but has Pacey said anything to you about me – about us – lately?”
Jen shrugged, “No, not really. He doesn’t really have to. Everything Pacey is thinking is pretty much written all over his face.”
Joey sighed. “Yeah, I used to think so…” Her voice trailed off. She finally took a deep breath, “I said it, Jen. I told him I loved him. I said it and he didn’t say it back.” She blurted out, immediately blushing in embarrassment.
“Oh.” Jen said softly, sitting back in her chair. “I see.” She considered this a minute and then shook her head. “You know that doesn’t mean anything, Joey. You know that Pacey loves you. Everyone knows that Pacey loves you.” She shrugged and smiled.
Joey bit her lip, shaking her head. “I don’t know, Jen. If there is one thing my experience with Dawson taught me is that you can’t assume things about another person’s feelings. Everyone just assumed I would end up with him and in reality it was not what I wanted.” She sighed again, her voice taking on a pained tone. “There is a difference between loving someone and being ‘in love’ with someone. I had to learn that the hard way, and hurt people in the process.”
Jen looked at her sympathetically. “Speaking of Dawson,” She said gently. “You have to remember that only six months ago you were still living with him in LA…and Pacey was here, on the other side of the country, living a life that did not have you in it.” She looked down, then back at Joey. “Maybe you just need to give Pacey a little time. It’s probably unrealistic to think that you can just pick up where you left off with him all those years ago, right? You two were really just kids then and we’ve all grown up and a lot has happened.” Jen shrugged and they looked at each other. “Well, okay…” She smirked, “Pacey has not grown-up by any stretch of the imagination, but you know what I mean.”
Joey smiled sadly and just nodded, considering this. Jen’s voice got softer. “There was a time when Pacey would have waited forever for you, Joey, because he loved you that much. Maybe he just needs you to wait for him now.”
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