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 Jen had left, Pacey fell back on the bed, bouncing up and down for a little while. Joey smiled at him.
"You're so easily amused," she said. "I could probably leave you in a toy store and not come back for days and you wouldn't even notice."
"Hey, I resent that. I have mature tastes," he said.
"Yeah? Like what?"
"Movies, I like mature movies."
"Yeah, I'll say they're mature. A little too mature, since they're all NC-17," she scoffed.
"No, I'm serious. I have good taste in movies."
"That's only because you've had me and Dawson to guide you along. We've cultivated your taste."
"Although I still don't understand that thing you have for kid movies. You see Disney movies in the theater. You watch the Muppet Show."
"Why not? They're classics!" he defended. "You'll be a lot more supportive once we have kids." He almost covered his mouth after his last comment. Joey was not looking to settle down and everytime they talked about marriage and family, it just started an argument.
She raised her eyebrows, but didn't say a word. She started to unpack, hanging her things in the closet.
"Um, while we're on the subject, kind of, Jen is thinking about turning this place into a Bed and Breakfast," he said.
"That's a great idea. It's got a great view, in a nice area, lots of big rooms."
"And she's actually been discussing it with me. She wants me to run it. She'll even sell the place to me."
Joey stopped what she was doing. She pursed her lips and came over to the bed, sitting down next to Pacey.
"So you two are already in the works with this?" she asked.
"Well, no, we've just discussed it."
"And you want to do this?"
"Yea, of course I do," he said, not sure how she was going to react.
"When were you planning on starting?"
"In about a year or so. I'd have to sell the store, get things settled there, then I'd move out here."
"Oh." She thought for a few moments. "And what would happen to us?"
"I was hoping that maybe you'd consider coming with me." He scanned her face for a reaction, but her expression didn't change.
"And you were expecting me to put my job out of the way? Just cast it aside and forget about everything I've worked for for all these years?" She was starting to get angry.
"No, I mean, I don't know, Joey. We haven't talked about this at all. It's just an option. It's something to consider."
"The fact that you're even considering it is enough. You're considering an option which is fine and dandy for you, but I have to give up everything. Or were you just planning on breaking up with me?" her voice was rising. Pacey tried not to cringe.
"No, Jo, listen to me…"
"No, I don't want to listen, Pacey. I thought we were out here to have a nice weekend and see everyone again, but now I realize that it's just all a big business venture for you." She rose to her feet and walked out the door.
Pacey sighed and fell back on the bed.
Joey ran down the stairs, her feet pounding on each one. Whenever she got mad, she had a tendency of taking it out on household objects. She glanced at her watch. It was past midnight. She decided she'd better step outside before she broke something and woke everyone up. She really didn't feel like seeing any of them right now. She'd dealt with her temper long enough to know that she needed a little time to cool off before she talked to Pacey again.
She paced back and forth on the porch for a while, muttering to herself. Finally she took a long deep breath and tried to clear her head. She didn't like thinking about it. It just made her angry. She took a seat in the swing and rocked back and forth, slowly. She was startled to hear the door open and close behind her. She turned her head to see Andie walking through the door. Joey smiled good-naturedly, but inside she wasn't too thrilled. Pacey was hers, but she always felt some kind of anxious fear around Andie.
"Hi," Andie said.
"So…I hear you're doing pretty well. You're in advertising, right?"
"Yea. Things are going great. I'm really happy about it." She feigned interest in the conversation. "How are things with you?"
"Well, I ended my stint as a professional student. I decided to go into teaching. I enjoy it."
"That's good." They both knew that the conversation was only to be polite. They were both uncomfortable.
"Pacey looks pretty happy with you," Andie said, trying to hide any jealousy in her voice.
"Well, I'm not sure he is. I'm a little too motivated for him. He has all these dreams about settling down, but I really don't want to do that now."
"Well…I just want to focus on my career right now."
"So you're focusing on your career instead of on your relationship," Andie said.
"No…I care a lot about Pacey."
"But is he your priority?" Andie asked.
"Of course he is," Joey said, her voice starting to rise. She realized she felt like she was defending herself. "Why do you care anyway?" she asked, resentfully.
Andie smiled guiltily and looked at the ground. "I'd be joking if I said I still didn't have a little bit of a thing for him. I just want to make sure that he's happy."
Joey frowned. She wanted to answer Andie with some kind of smart remark, showing her that she was better for Pacey than Andie had ever been. But she couldn't find the words. Instead, she stood and went inside the house.
She reached the top of the stairs, Pacey's door was on her right. Dawson's was on her left. How very appropriate, she thought to herself. She looked at Pacey's door. She loved Pacey. She knew she did, but there was something between them. Something was pulling them apart little by little. And Dawson, he would always be there. He was her rock. The one she could always turn to in times of trouble. She almost laughed out loud. This was like something right out of a movie. She could go to Pacey and continue the fighting or she could go to Dawson to try and stop it even though it would only make she and Pacey fight more.
Reluctantly, she turned the knob on Dawson's door. He sat on the bed, typing into his laptop. There was a tv set at the foot of the bed and some late night movie played quietly. He looked up when Joey entered.
"Hey, Jo. You guys finally got here. What's up?"
"Pacey and I had another fight," she said, cutting straight to the chase.
"Again? What was it about this time?"
"Same old thing, just a little different. Pacey wants to settle down. I don't."
"Why's it different?"
"Well, he wants to turn this place into a Bed and Breakfast and stay out here. With me."
"And what's your side?" Dawson asked, calmly.
"I don't. I have put way too much effort into my job and my career to just leave it all behind and turn into some kind of little wife sitting in the kitchen." She sat beside him, her eyes hoping for help.
"Jo, I know Pacey loves you. And he doesn't want you to quit your job. He's just focusing on different things. I think both of you need to take a better look at what you're doing. You have all these career goals, but you've made no room for Pacey in those goals. He's made his goals with you in mind, but he hasn't thought about what you want."
"You should've majored in psych, Dawson," Joey smiled. "You're way too good at deconstructing this stuff."
"Years of practice," he grinned. "And you and Pacey fight enough that you give me plenty of opportunity."
"I'm glad I could be of service to you," she joked, punching him playfully.
He smiled and continued to type. Joey thought quietly for a few moments, then she spoke again.
"But Dawson, I don't know if our goals can be merged together. We're both so different. And I'm not giving mine up and he's not giving his up."
"Jo, I think this goes deeper than what you think it does." He put his laptop aside and looked her in the eye. "Do you love Pacey?"
"Then how come you love your job more?"
"Dawson, that's stupid."
"No, I'm serious. You've got this Scarlett O'Hara thing going on where you've suffered and slaved and worked and now you've promised yourself you'll never go hungry again."
"Have I ever told you that applying movies to life is not healthy?" she said, hoping he would change the subject.
"So now you've returned to Atlanta and you're living the high life and you've got your Rhett Butler, but you don't care as much about him as you do about your position. And if you remember, Jo, Scarlett loses Rhett. He wants to settle down, have a family, she doesn't. Their differences divide them."
"But we don't know if it's forever. Tomorrow is another day."
"I think you should focus on keeping Rhett instead of how you'll get him back once he's gone," Dawson said.
"Yea, I guess." She paused. "So, Dawson, if I'm Scarlett and Pacey's Rhett, what does that make you?"
His face filled with a smug grin. "The handsome, but unattainable Ashley Wilkes."
"Really? I was going to say Mammy."
"Mammy? Where did you get that?"
"You're the one who gives Scarlett advice and guidance, the only person who stays with her through good and bad."
"Okay, let's find another comparison. I don't like being Mammy."
"She won an academy award," Joey said.
"The point is that you need to reevaluate things. Figure out what's important to you and what your priorities are. If Pacey's not at the top of that list, then he deserves someone else. I don't want to see you dragging him around until he realizes that he can do better."
"Dawson," Joey said. "I think you're being a little extreme."
"No, I don't think so. We're getting older now, Pacey wants to be an adult and have a life. But you seem to think that you'll always be able to have a boyfriend who will be willing for second place in your life. I'm just saying that you should think about it."
Joey looked at her shoes. "Yea, I guess you're right. I should go now. It's getting pretty late."
Dawson picked up his laptop again. "Good luck, Jo."
She left the room, closing the door behind her. There, right in front of her, was Pacey's room. She sighed. She hoped he was asleep. She didn't want to talk to him yet. What Dawson had told her had bothered her more than she'd let on. It hurt. Dawson seemed to think that she had the capacity to love Pacey as much as he loved her. But she knew she loved him. She just wasn't sure how much.
She opened the door tentatively and peeked her head in. From the crack of light the hallway let in, she could see him curled up on the bed, asleep. She smiled without thinking about it. She couldn't help it. He looked so small when he slept, his face looking just like it used to when he was just a little boy. She tiptoed into the room, then quickly and silently changed her clothes. She climbed into bed next to him, careful not to wake him and lay there, looking at his face and thinking, for the rest of the night.
End Part 3b
Main Page | Part 4a
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