Disclaimer: See part 1
Author's note: Here's where things get complicated. Part 3a and 3b take place at the same time, however there are slight differences. Basically one little thing is going to change Pacey's life forever. I know that lots of P/J fans like to read P/J and P/J only. But I ask that you please read 3a and 3b. This isn't a P/J story really, or a P/A it's an exploration of both. Also, I really really want your feedback on this story in particular. Even if you've written me before. Thanks so much. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the door shut, Joey walked silently to the closet. She opened her suitcase and started taking out her things and hanging them up. She worked slowly, hoping it would take a long time and she wouldn't have to look at Pacey. He knew what she was thinking. And he was unnerved by it. Usually Joey took some kind of joy out of arguing. Their bickering over insignificant issues would always go on far longer than necessary because she was always so desperate to win. Or if she couldn't win, she would at least make him feel stupid. But now she wasn't arguing. She was avoiding the issue. Pacey knew it was a bad sign.
"So," he said, finally getting the courage to speak, "what're you going to say?"
"What do you mean?" she asked lightly, pretending she didn't know exactly what he meant.
"About you and Dawson. For your interview tomorrow."
She sighed, knowing she had to answer him. "Well, I'll probably just talk about how things were back then. How we loved each other a whole lot. But more than that, we knew our friendship was something we wanted to have forever, even if we couldn't have a romantic relationship. We both cared about each other too much to let our break-ups keep us apart. And it paid off."
He was staring at her. Watching the look in her eyes that came whenever she talked about him. She would get a cute smile on her face and a soft wistful look, as if she was reflecting on something that made her so happy she couldn't contain her joy. She paused for longer than she meant to, letting herself get lost in her memories. It hurt Pacey to watch it.
"And what will you say about me someday?" he asked again, not knowing what the answer would be.
"I don't understand," she said.
"If something should happen and we don't end up together. What would you say about us?"
She took a deep breath, choosing her words carefully.
"I would say that we made a wonderful pair. We were both fiery and stubborn and crazy in love. And sometimes we bit off more than we could chew. Sometimes we fought. But despite it all we still cared about each other. Despite everything." Her words were thick with meaning. He knew it. But he still didn't believe her.
"There's a common belief," he said, "that feelings are enough. I think the Beatles started it. All you need is love. That's not true. I don't know that love is always enough. There's more involved than love. There's goals and plans and choices. And if we don't agree on some of those things, maybe we're not meant to be together."
"How can you say that? Who are you to say what's meant to be?" she demanded.
"Because we would know. Because everything would be perfect. And you wouldn't need Dawson."
"It always has to be about Dawson, doesn't it? Does he threaten you? Do you think he's going to take me away from you? Why do you have to be so nervous about him?" she asked, growing more agitated.
"Because. Because he's always the one you'll love most. Even when you're with me, you're still with him. When you're upset, you should be able to talk to me. When you don't know what to do, you should come to me for advice," he said.
"Pacey, he's my best friend. He always has been and he always will be. There's nothing I can do about that. It's just a fact that you'll have to accept." She walked over to him where he still lay on the bed. "Look, it's late and I'm tired. I am going to sleep. You can either shut up and go to bed too, or you can get out. Which is it going to be?"
He answered her by getting up and walking to the door, not taking his eyes from her. Even after he walked into the hall and shut it behind him, he could still almost see her. He wondered if she was starting to cry. No, he thought, she was probably just as cold as ever.
He thought for a second and faintly remembered the kitchen being just to the right of the front entry. He found his way back and was delighted to find a huge refrigerator full of food. He picked through it and finally found some leftovers that looked appetizing. He prepared a plate and heated it up, being as quiet as possible. All the lights were out and he figured everyone must've gone to bed. He snatched up a fork and tiptoed out the front door to have a nice meal out on the front porch, overlooking the scenery. He'd been upset when he'd come, not bothering to look at the pines that surrounded the house. As he sat on the front steps, he got a good look. The moonlight made the landscape look rustic but serene. He sighed, enjoying the beauty and the smell of pine.
He heard a cough behind him and he turned to see Andie in the swing. She looked guiltily at him.
"Sorry," she said. "I should've said something when you came out, but you looked so peaceful, I didn't want to disturb you."
They looked at each other for a few moments in silence.
"You look great," he said finally.
"Thanks. You do too."
"Well, you know, I work out," he joked.
She laughed. "You haven't changed."
"No, not really. Same old Pacey."
"Did you ever figure out what you wanted to do with your life?" she asked.
"Well, Joey and I were going to go out and conquer the world. We were going to get in business, make a bundle, and then retire in the Bahama's at the age of 30. But I barely lasted a year. I couldn't take having someone else tell me how to do my job and having a boss to report to all the time. So I quit and started my own business. It's great. I run things how I want to."
"Wow," she said. "That's great." They spoke in calm, quiet voices. As if they didn't want to wake up the night.
"Yea. So what about you? How come you've never stopped by before? I mean, we have to have these get-togethers every year or so. And yet you never come."
"You know me. Busy schedule," she smiled.
"Spill it, McPhee."
When he spoke to her that way both of them stopped for an instant. It was so familiar. It was something they'd both known so well long ago.
She regained her composure. "I just, I don't know, I've never really been too close with anyone in the group except Jack and you. And Jack is so close to Jen. And you and Dawson and Joey are always together. I guess I just didn't feel the need to go."
"I missed you. I can't even remember the last time I saw you."
"College. Senior year. I was in town investigating a job for after graduation. We went to dinner."
"Oh." His thoughts drifted back through the years. Now he remembered. Joey was studying madly for a midterm. She had urged him to go ahead and spend some time with Andie and reminisce. So he'd gone. And they'd had a wonderful time. He'd walked her back to her hotel room. Then at the door, he'd kissed her. He'd wanted to all night. He came inside and they'd kissed for hours. Finally, she'd insisted that he leave. She knew he was with Joey. He knew it too. So he left. He'd never told Joey about that. Not even years later. He'd almost forgotten himself, until now.
"Do you…regret that night?" he asked.
"No. Do you?"
"No. It was that night when I realized that Joey and I were growing apart. Things got strange between us. She was so focused on her work and I decided it wasn't worth it. After a while, we broke up." "I didn't know. I knew you broke up, but I didn't know why," she said.
"Joey and I were only together because it would be too painful to be apart. We didn't want to put in the effort of breaking up. We fought all the time. We didn't enjoy being together anymore." Ah the irony of it all, he thought. History tends to repeat itself.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Do you think…just because things don't…work out the first time around, is it doomed to never work out? Or can things change?"
She was silent for a while. "Are you talking about you and me or you and Joey?" she asked.
He smiled. "I don't know."
"Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't decided to take the scholarship. I wonder what would've happened if I'd gone off to college with you," she said.
"I wonder that too."
They shared a long look. Even after all these years, he could read her eyes. He could see how she looked at him with incredible fervency.
"I feel so stupid," she said. "I mean, years pass by and I still have a crush on you."
"Don't worry about it. It happens to me all the time," he joked.
"I guess I always thought that by now I'd have found that perfect person and I'd be settled down in a little white house and be cooking and sewing and fulfilling all those other homemaker stereotypes."
"Having kids and making their lunches and walking them to the bus stop," he added.
"And having relatives over for Thanksgiving, and watching Martha Stewart."
"And watching Sesame Street and reading stories for bedtime."
"Giving them baths, and going to the zoo."
"Teaching them to ride their bike and buying mountains of useless toys."
She glanced at him. "I never thought you would want to settle down, Pacey."
"Well, I guess my nesting instincts are kicking in."
"So are you and Joey going to get married and get a house somewhere?"
"No. I don't think so. It's not in her plans."
"Pacey, just because she doesn't want to doesn't mean you have to agree."
He didn't answer. Instead he rested his elbow on the rail of the porch. "You know, if I ran this place, I'd put a little bench right out there. And I'd make a path from the porch to the drive."
"That would be nice," she agreed. She moved beside him, following his gaze out over the property. "It's so beautiful here. I feel like I could just sit out in the moonlight forever. Just stay here and never leave."
"Me too," he said. He could see her silhouette, the gracefulness of her hand resting on her cheek. And he felt he had to do it.
He moved towards her and kissed her, softly and gently. It was a strange but familiar feeling. Her lips tasted just as they had years ago. And the two of them still moved in unison just as they used to.
Later that night, Pacey slowly and quietly went back to his room. His stomach fell as he realized that Joey would be there, waiting, wondering where he'd been. He wouldn't be able to tell her about the hours he'd spent with Andie talking, kissing, and sharing their souls. It was as if they were rediscovering each other. He took a look at his watch. It was almost 4 in the morning. She was probably asleep. He hoped she was asleep.
He opened the door slowly, trying to keep it from creaking. The crack of light from the hallway shone onto the bed. It was empty. He turned on the light. The room was deserted. She was nowhere to be found. He stood stupefied for a moment, wondering where on earth she could be. Then he remembered that Dawson was just down the hall. He sneaked over to Dawson's door and saw that his light was still on. He pressed his ear up to the door and could hear voices. 2 voices. Dawson and Joey. He was surprised by how disappointed he was. After all, he'd just been kissing Andie. But no matter who else came along, it wouldn't change the fact that he loved Joey. And that she was further from him than she'd ever been.
He turned back to his own room. His thoughts were a jumble as he took off his clothes and got ready for bed. His eyes weighed down heavily. He stretched and climbed into the bed. It was a large bed, meant to be shared with someone. He forced himself not to think about Joey or Andie. He cleared his mind and soon fell asleep.
End Part 3a
Main Page | Part 3b
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