“Jack, let go of my arm. Ow.”
“Stop being such a baby.” Jack gives me a grin and a poke in the arm. Ow. What is the guy putting steroids in his morning cereal? And why is he dragging me around this stupid store? If I didn’t know better I’d think Dawson recruited Jack and Jen to split Joey and me up. And they’re remarkably good at it. “Come on, spending all your time at Joey’s feet is making you soft Pacey.”
“Well Joey has lovely feet.”
“No, just in love Jackers. And ready to go spend a little time with my girl so if you’re done manhandling me....” As I try to head off in the direction I’d last seen Joey, Jack grabs me again. “What?”
Jack looks down at his feet, then darts a quick glance off in the girls’ direction, then back up at me with an embarrassed smile. “I’m supposed to ‘befriend’ you.”
Excuse me? Why has this shopping trip gone so terribly awry? I know I’ve haven’t gone the “normal teenage activity” route very often, but I always believed the mall experience included a little window shopping, some especially greasy fast food, gossiping/noncommunicating with friends, and a little making out with the girlfriend. Not someone telling me in what appears to be the utmost seriousness that they are going to “befriend” me. Which is what I want to tell Jack, but instead I just offer a laugh and hastily say “What?”
“Jen, she thought....well you know, you have a Y chromosome and so do I and the testosterony tend to hang out with each other, and Dawson is boring the hell out of me. The man somehow manages to work the words “soulmate” and “Spielberg” into every damn sentence. And you need someone to be your friend, besides Joey and occasionally Jen.” Jack shifted from foot to foot a little. Then he looked me straight in the eye, determined, and finished “And we could bond.”
“Bond?” I bite the inside of my cheek hard and dig my nails into my thigh to keep from laughing in McPhee’s face. So much to process, so little time. “You want to be my new best friend Jackers?” I’m going to laugh out a lung. Jack punches me in the arm. Again, ow.
“Shut up Pacey.”
“No Jack I’m touched. Really. We can start a club. ‘Testosterony and Lovin’ It.’ You should ask your new friend George to join in.”
“I told Jen this was silly,” Jack grumbles.
“Now look who’s whipped.”
“Fine, fine. We’re both as whipped as cream cheese, but I don’t know many guys,” he stops and gives me a warning glance, “that I don’t want to jump. And I don’t have a large circle of friends. And you, you have a circle of one. Man cannot survive on Joey alone.”
“So you’re going to befriend me.” I arch an eyebrow at him. Jack glares in response. “What does this befriending entail exactly? Do we have to spend the day fishing and drinking beer or something? Cause I’ve done enough fishing this summer to last a lifetime and we’re underage.”
“Pacey, you’ve had male friends before, don’t tell me you don’t remember how it works.”
“Well, with Dawson we would just spend the day watching films and talking about how great and talented he was, and then I would go home and watch Doug decoupage.” I try to think of some more of the fun friendship things Dawson and I did together, but I’m drawing a total blank. Hmmm. Well, we played basketball together once. No wait, he broke my nose with the ball. We went fishing with Jack once. And he totally dismissed my problems with my father. We went on a birthday roadtrip for my sixtee-no we didn’t. He totally supported me through my breakup with Andie and....accused me of cheating and punched me in the face. There was that surprise birthday party I took him to, where he got drunk and admitted that he wanted me to stay his screw up sidekick forever. Then when I fell in love with Joey he....I don’t even have anything on the friendshippy side to offer there. He almost killed me in the regatta, he issued the ultimatum that kept Joey and me apart, he dismissed my feelings completely, and “save or screw” was issued from his fucking lips. And I’m getting really pissed off, until I realize that Jack is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. “Uh, I just realized Dawson is a pretty lousy friend,” I explain.
“No shit Sherlock.” Well, that surprised me. Jack isn’t in Dawson’s camp? I could really learn to love this guy. “So, can we try this whole friendship thing?” He’s giving me a “strings-attached” look.
“Yeah....what do you want?” I ask suspiciously. I know that look, it’s the same look Bessie and Joey get when they want me to fix the toilet at the B&B.
Jack laughs a little and his eyes crinkle, alight with mischief. “How’s Joey?”
“Wha, what?” Oh, I don’t like where this is going.
“In bed.” Jack smiles evilly. “Come on, I have no love life to speak of....yet. Dish.”
“Why would you care what I do with a woman?” I’m trying my best to evade the question.
“Well, I’m trying to allow you an outlet to talk about Joey, and I’ll just pretend Joey is a guy, the name works.” He chuckles and rolls his eyes to let me know he’s kidding. “Seriously, Witter I can’t help but be a little curious about you two. Y’all are joined at the hip.”
“We haven’t had sex,” I admit quietly.
“Three months alone on a tiny boat. You haven’t?” Jack looks incredulous.
“Not even close?” Jack probes.
“Well....” Should I tell Jack about this morning? Or about our miniature golf date? No. No, I shouldn’t kiss and tell. And I won’t. Will Joey tell Jen about that? Oh God. She wouldn’t.
“Well?” Jack looks at me expectantly. “Has there been gropage?”
“Some,” I admit vaguely. Joey wouldn’t tell Jen. I can see them across the store, in front of the large mirror next to the dressing rooms. They’re talking animatedly with Jen laughing and gesturing wildly while Joey twirls in front of the mirror in the blue sweater I handed her earlier. Jen spots me staring and giggles. She waves at me and mimes a golf swing. Joey turns away from me when I shoot a look her way. She told. Well, two can play at that game. I turn to Jack. “Joey jacked me off at the Heidi Ho Mini Golf and Go last night,” I tattle triumphantly. I throw a glance over at Joey and mime a golf swing her way. She turns fuschia in a second flat.
“Really?” Jack spits out, laughing so hard he starts to hiccup.
“Yep and she stripped for me this morning. She has one beautiful ass and her breasts-”
“Pace, real-hic-ly. This is starting -hiccup- to fall into -hiccup- the TMIJ category now.” Jack sputters, waving to Jen who has been watching us from her place next to the still crimson Joey.
“TMIJ?” I ask confused.
“Too much information for Jackers.”
“No problem. So Pace....you and I, we’re friends now, right?”
“I think so.”
“Well great. So....what did you think of George?” Jack blushes a little and waits for my opinion.
I think for a minute, trying to be very truthful. “I think he is intelligent, funny, good looking, and very lucky.”
“To have a guy like you like him,” I reply. And I mean it. Jack smiles softly and claps me on the back gently.
“Thanks,” Jack pauses for a minute and then glances over at the girls, “Pacey go get your girlfriend and get some lovin’.” And I’m off, with a new friend staring after me. The mall has been good to Pacey J. Witter.
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