Well, Sweaterfest 2001 has finally ended. And not a moment too soon. I was ready to melt into oblivion when Pacey told Jack what I’d done. He swears he didn’t go into detail, but I don’t trust him. Probably cause I told Jen everything. Really. I even gave her a pretty accurate idea of Pacey’s assets with a little hand gesture. I had to tell someone. And who else was I going to tell? Dawson. Even after his Christmas gift I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want to know about our mating habits in such detail. And I wanted to ask Jen some questions. Like what happens next. I’ve touched Pacey and I want him to reciprocate a little. Not all the way yet, but a little. Just enough so I can get my head back on straight. Because the whole ride home from the mall I’ve been watching him and trying not to moan out loud.
I think he’s doing it on purpose too. He’s got the car radio on and he’s singing along quietly, just enough so that his voice is deep and husky. The song is one of my favorites too, an old Cat Stevens song, “Father and Son.” And Pacey knows all the words. It has nothing to do with us, or any romantic relationship whatsoever, and yet it’s making me hot. I squirm a little in my seat and attempt to focus on the road. Instead I feel Pacey’s hand rest on my knee, tapping lightly in time with the music. I turn to look at him and he smiles a little, giving me a sidelong glance. As the song ends, his hand starts to rub my knee, which tingles some even through my jean clad leg. We’re still a good ten minutes from Pacey and Gretchen’s, which is where we decided to go after the mall. And Pacey’s hand moves upward still, fingers scraping at the inside of my thigh. Shit. Sucking in a breath, I tense, eyes on his large hand making circles up to my crotch.
Looking up at Pacey I try to guess what he’s thinking. His blue eyes are trained on the road, his mouth wearing an easy going smile. No indicators whatsoever. Figures. I had to get a boyfriend with the ultimate poker face. Seeing my own tousled overheated reflection in the rearview mirror, I realize I have no such face. I bite my lip and try to think of a way to break the silence. One that will get a reaction. “So, Dawson came to see me the other day.” His hand stills immediately. Fuck. Why am I so stupid?
“You don’t say.” The words come out flat, no discernable emotion whatsoever. But his hand has moved back to my knee, clutching at it a tad possessively, and his jaw looks a little tense. I’m still trying to figure out what I was thinking when I let that sentence out of my mouth. It doesn’t even sound good in my head.
“Uh huh. He wanted to return my Counting Crows collection.” He’s looking at me out of the corner of his eyes now, just a quick appraisal and then back at the road. His expression couldn’t be missed this time, it read what-the-fuck. And I really don’t know how to answer it either, ‘cause I have no idea where I’m headed now. But it’s Pacey’s fault. One can only deny a person oxygen to the brain for so long before there are consequences. And I’ve been going without O2 since our first roadside kiss. “He returned it to me once before when....” Oh damn. Shut up, shut up, shut up. My mind is screaming and yet I still keep speaking. No wonder I’m only fourth in the school.
“When he what?” Comes the curt response from the sweet boyfriend in the brown cord coat. Why do I even bother with sentences? I should just stick to Tarzan speak. Me Joey. You man. Me sorry. Kiss now. That might go over better. I watch as Pacey’s hand slides off my knee and goes to his side in a clenched fist. “When he what Joey?”
“When he told me you’d failed half your junior year and were in the process of screwing away your senior year.” And that did not come out of my mouth. I bite my lower lip down hard, hoping to draw blood and stop the offending thing from moving again. Pacey grabs the seat of the car and his eyes glisten with unshed tears. Oh God. “Pacey I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m sorry.” He pulls the car into his driveway, turning the key and resting his head against the steering wheel and the motor turns off with a small groan. Like the ones I could be making now if I’d kept my mouth shut and let him touch me. Instead, I made him cry. As he turns to me with watery, pained eyes I feel the tears slide down my own cheeks.
“Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Finish your story,” Pacey whispers, his hands reaching to brush away my tears despite his anger. “Dawson returned my Counting Crows collection and then I brought it back to him. When you told me to go see him. I told him we could use it as a sign,” I mumble. Don’t ask me where I’m going with this, I don’t know.
“Potter, you and Dawson spend far too much time being symbolic,” he admonishes, teasing me half heartedly. Totally my fault too.
“You’re right. But, I said it and I guess Dawson needed to talk, so he brought the CDs over. And we talked about something.” Oh Pacey’ll never believe what’s coming next. Shit. Why didn’t I listen better? The answer reverbarates in my head, because the ex-soulmate is mindnumbingly boring. And full of himself. Damn him. Okay, here goes, deep breath. “And I don’t even remember what we talked about.”
Pacey gives me a look. He opens his mouth to say something and then shuts it tight. And then he opens it again and spits out a curse and something else under his breath. I stare at him and wonder if I even want to know what he said. “Liar.” Guess not.
“No really, I wasn’t even paying much attention. It wasn’t the point of the story.” There was a point? “The point was after. I listened to my Counting Crows collection. Not all of it, just one CD. ‘August and Everything After.’ And I listened to every song. Not one of them has anything to do with us.” What am I trying to say?
“Jo, you’re losing me here,” he pleads, tears painting his face a glistening silver as the sun begins to set. And he’s right in so many ways. I clear my throat and blink my eyes and whisper shakily, “The songs aren’t about you or me, but I hear us in every one,” my voices catches and I struggle to continue, “Everything I do or say is about you now. I feel you more sometimes when you’re ten feet away than I feel Dawson when he holds my hand. And I’m sorry Dawson’s name came out, but what I was trying to say had nothing to do with him. It had to do with how much I love you. How much I want you. I don’t say any of the things you deserve to hear. I don’t do enough to reciprocate and I’m one hell of a lousy girlfriend. I’m such a fool Pace. I’ve been trying to tease you since last night and I’ve only succeeded in driving myself up a wall. I want you. I love you. And I want to thank you for driving me home from the train station that night.” I look into his eyes and they've softened, the pain has disappeared, and that look of absolute love is back. I love that look. I hold his eyes and wait, tears filling mine. Being with Pacey is like being on a permanent caffeine high. Pulse racing, eyes wild, and hands shaking. But happy so long as the caffeine holds. And he holds my face in his hands, thumbs wiping the tears away.
“You're welcome,” Pacey says softly before bringing his lips down to mine. He parts my lips with his tongue and runs it against my tongue. He tastes salty, I’m not sure whether that’s from my tears or his. I like to think it’s both of ours. I wrap my arms around his waist and pull him closer, the stick shift pressing into my side painfully. I don’t feel it. Just him.
The only thing that Dawson’s visit made me feel, the thing I was trying to explain, was how much I want Pacey. The stupid CD turned me on. Cause they mentioned trains in one song and dancing in another and shaking in a third and it all made me think of wanting Pacey. And I want him now.
Pulling away despite his moan of frustration, I grab my purse, shopping bags, and practically throw myself out of the car. Then I run to Pacey’s side, urging him to hurry, pulling on his arm through the opened window. He opens the car door and smiles widely.
“Race?” I challenge him, throwing a toothy grin his way. He bounds to the door, turning the keys and opening it quickly. I follow, grabbing him round the waist and leaning into his back, hugging his body, soft with the layers of sweater and corduroy. “I love you.” I can’t resist. My whole body is warm and floating.
He smiles boyishly and opens the door, turning around in my arms to meet me with a kiss. Then his smile widens and his eyes dance with mischief, “Nice of D to return your collection.” And we head inside, and all I can think is - I’m ready.
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