Bessie followed Alex down the hall in a huff. “I’m telling you, mister, you better get in there and clean up that mess you made in your room.” Passing by Joey’s bedroom, she stuck her head in the door. “Hey, Joey…Pacey just beeped in when I was on the phone. He said he was going to have to meet you there. Something came up at work, I guess…he said that he already called Jen to ask her to come by and pick you up on her way.”
Joey was sitting at her dressing table, lightly applying her make-up. “Oh. Okay.” She sighed. She had been having a hard time lately trying not to read too much into Pacey’s every word and action.
“Where are you guys going anyway?” Bessie came into the room for a moment and leaned against the door.
“Jack is coming down for the night. We’re just meeting him out for drinks.” Joey shrugged.
Bessie just nodded and started to make her way out of the room when she noticed a painting leaning against Joey’s closet door. “Hey…is that the new one you’ve been working on?”
Joey just glanced over, her expression softening. “No.” She smiled a little. “That one’s just for me. I did it for an art class I took out in LA last year. We were supposed to paint a memory.”
Bessie raised her eyebrows. “So, what memory is that?” She tilted her head. “I see a beach and I see stars in the sky…”
“It was when I went away with Pacey that summer…” Joey bowed her head a little, becoming quiet. “It was the furthest point south we reached in the Keys before we had to turn around and come home again. We slept on the beach there that night…”
“Stop right there.” Bessie grimaced, rolling her eyes and holding up her hand. “You can spare me the details.”
“No…” Joey shook her head and giggled a little. “It wasn’t like that. It was…” Joey gazed at the painting a long moment, as if lost in thought. “For some reason it was just one of those moments, one of those days that I’ve always remembered.” Joey looked over at Bessie. “You know those kinds of days where - when you look back on it before you fall asleep for the night, you couldn’t put your finger on any one particular thing that happened…but for some reason you catch yourself just for that minute before you drift off thinking that your life is just about as close to perfect as it’s ever going to get?”
Bessie looked at her with a small smile. Suddenly they heard a crash come from Alex’s room and his plaintive cry. “Mom!” She rolled her eyes again at Joey, “Oh yeah, every day is like that for me around here.” She laughed sarcastically. “Well…have fun tonight. I’ll just assume you are staying at Pacey’s, as usual, right?” She said as she hurried from the room. “Coming, Alex…”
Joey just sat there, smiling sadly at the painting for a minute, before turning back to the mirror to finish getting ready.
“Sorry, I’m so late…” Jen sighed as Joey climbed into the car. “I actually got a flat tire pulling out of the driveway and I had to call Doug to come home and fix it for me and then I had to listen to his lecture on road safety for 20 minutes.”
Joey smirked. “You know, Jen, as your friend – it’s somehow comforting to know that you are with someone so responsible.”
Jen giggled. “I know. And, he’s so damn cute when he’s being all official in that uniform.”
Joey looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Can I ask you something?” She smirked.
Jen shrugged, watching the road. “Sure.”
“How did you end up with Doug? Did he really arrest you for something?”
Joey and Jen made their way across the street to the bar, seeing the crowd of patrons already packed in through the wide paned glass windows.
“Do you see Jack anywhere in there?” Jen raised on up her toes to crane her neck over the crowd as they approached the front door. Joey slowed to a stop next to her, her mouth dropping open slightly. “Joey?” Jen turned to look at her, and seeing her face, followed her gaze back through the front windows into the bar. She saw Pacey standing with a beer in his hand, smiling and talking to Sarah, who was leaning in to playfully finger one of the buttons on his polo shirt. “C’mon.” Jen said with a small frown, tugging on Joey’s sleeve as she started into the bar.
They made their way through the people, Joey trailing behind Jen, until they reached Pacey. Jack was standing with him now, and he saw them approach before Pacey did. “Hey – it’s about time!” Jack called over the music to them, raising his arms up. He leaned in to hug and kiss them both as Pacey turned around with a grin.
“Hey.” He smiled at Joey, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek, resting his hand on her back. Joey smiled tightly and stepped away, eyeing Sarah over his shoulder.
“Hi.” Sarah smiled, then glanced past her. “Hi, Jen.”
“Hi Sarah.” Jen said quietly as Joey just nodded.
“Well, I’m off to find my friends.” She smiled again, shrugging her shoulders as she went to move past them into the crowd. “Bye, Pacey.”
“Bye.” Pacey called out over his shoulder, turning his attention to Joey. “I just got here…I thought you two would already be here by now.” He smiled, raising his hand to brush her hair back over her shoulder, sliding his fingers through the silky strands a couple of times.
“Jen had some car trouble.” Joey shrugged, biting her lip.
“Oh. She should have called me on my cell phone.” Pacey motioned towards the bar. “What do you want?”
“Umm. I’m all set right now.” Joey shrugged again with a frown, stuffing her hands in her jean pockets.
Pacey wrinkled his forehead, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?” She muttered, looking down.
He sighed then, exhaling loudly. “Jo…she was just saying hi.”
She looked up at him. “You really don’t owe me any explanations, Pacey. I mean – we are just dating here, right? You are perfectly within your rights to see other people if you want.”
Pacey just opened his mouth, looking at her, slightly in shock. Behind her, he noticed Jen and Jack slinking away to head for the bar.
“What are you talking about?” He asked her softly. “What is going on here, Jo?”
“That’s a good question, Pacey.” She shot back, narrowing her eyes. “Because I have no clue.” Joey cringed at the harshness of her own words, wishing she could stop herself, but somehow not able to as her emotions got the best of her. “Besides – she’s more your type anyway, don’t you think?” She said pointedly, her voice shaking slightly now.
“My type…?” Pacey repeated, his face blank at first, but then the slow flicker of anger beginning to show in his eyes. “Don’t even tell me that you’re going where I think you’re going with that one.” He chuckled bitterly, shaking his head, but Joey didn’t say anything and just crossed her arms. “You know, frankly I’m surprised you even noticed who I was with back then to remember it now. I just figured everyone else in your life was just a little blip on the radar screen in your universe that revolved around Dawson.” He shook his head again, looking away as he took a swig of his beer.
Joey just watched him, biting her lip as the tears started to sting in the corners of her eyes. “And there it is…” She said softly. “But, at least you have set a new record, Pace, in how long it took you to bring him into this.” She sniffed, looking down. “Well, you know what – it’s not going to work this time. Dawson can’t be our excuse anymore, Pacey.” She laughed, wiping at the tears that were threatening to fall. “If things are going to be this hard between us, maybe we just have to finally face the fact that the blame belongs on me and you.” She hesitated, shaking her head as she looked away. “Maybe we should just admit that this isn’t going to work.” She dropped her head a little now, her voice breaking. “And maybe you should just finally admit to yourself that you’re never going to love me again.”
Pacey just looked at her, the words leaving his mouth before he even had a chance to think. “And, you’re telling me that if I did, that’s going to be good enough for you this time?”
Joey looked at the ground, biting her lip, feeling like she had been slapped in the face. Pacey just watched her for a moment, fighting the urge to reach out to hold her. “Maybe you’re right…maybe this is too hard…” He muttered, brushing past her. “I’ll just see you later.”
Joey stood there in the middle of the bar, alone now, dropping her head as the tears started to fall.
Pacey didn’t turn when heard the footsteps slowly coming up the old wooden stairs that led up to his back deck. He just sat there in his chair, tilted back slightly, holding his beer in his lap as he looked out over the dark ocean in the distance. She pulled another chair over next to him and just sat in it, looking out at the water, too.
“There are beers in that cooler over there.” He nodded his head.
“No thanks. The dangers of drinking and driving was number 3 on my list of road safety rules this evening.”
Pacey shook his head, “I don’t know how you do it, Jen.”
She smiled to herself. “Nobody knows how anybody does it. You just have to jump in and try.”
“I take it we’re not talking about you anymore?” Pacey smiled a little, looking at the ground.
“What’s going on, Pacey?” She said softly, turning to watch him. “You can’t tell me that this isn’t what you’ve wanted for just about as long as I have known you.”
Pacey looked down. “No, you’re right. I can’t tell you that.” He said in a low voice. He shrugged, playing the label on his bottle of beer. “But – as the song goes – you can’t always get what you want.”
Jen looked at him. “Joey wants to be with you Pacey.”
He bit the inside of his lower lip, smiling a little again as he raised his beer to take a swig from the bottle. “You know…I distinctly remember you saying something very similar to me once.” He glanced at her, “So - no offense – but in retrospect, I’m really not sure how much weight that carries here.”
They both sighed now, looking down. Pacey hesitated a moment, “The thing is…it always used to piss me off to see what she became when she was around Dawson - just that shell of herself - and one day I finally had to realize that the reason it got me so angry was because it reminded me of…me. How I was when I was with her. I was mad at her because I was mad at myself.” He shook his head sadly. “That summer I took off after graduation, I made a promise to myself that I’d never do that again. Lose myself completely in someone – in her – like that again.”
“Okay – first off, Pacey…” Jen shook her head. “Your relationship with Joey was nothing like what went on with her and Dawson. Apples and oranges - you can’t even begin to compare the two. And second, you are not giving yourself nearly enough credit – you are, and you were, a lot stronger person than that. I mean – I know it’s a scary thing, but it is possible to lose yourself in someone in a good way. Besides, you and Joey have the benefit now of being able to learn from past mistakes…and the two of you just even deciding that you were going to try this again after everything that has happened and all this time, well – that’s a huge thing, Pacey. The hard part is over.”
Pacey didn’t say anything, just bit the inside of his lower lip and continued to look out over the water.
Jen shook her head. “Is it really that you don’t love her enough anymore to even give this a fair chance?” She asked in a small voice.
He shrugged, taking another swig from his beer bottle. “Maybe.” He looked down with a sigh of resignation. “Or maybe it’s just that I love her too much.”
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20