"What if we’d never heard it?" Even though they hadn’t talked about it for hours, he knew exactly what she meant.
"Well, then it’d be a lot easier to go to school on Monday wouldn’t it?" It was almost midnight, four hours after they’d made their exit from the so-called ‘pep rally’. The crowd had left almost right after they did. None had noticed the two figures curled up on the bench less than seventy feet away from them. Now, they’d advanced to the grass. Pacey laying on his back with Joey resting her head on his chest, her thin frame huddled close to his larger one. Her arm draped across his stomach, holding them in a position both felt comfortable in. The sky had cleared and the couple had been pointing out certain constellations for the past hour at least, making up names for them by what they looked like or who they reminded them of.
"Seriously Pacey. What if we hadn’t stayed to finish the background on the mural? What if we’d gone home, like I wanted to? Do you think anything would be different?"
If the sky hadn’t been so bright and she couldn’t see him, he would have smiled. It was like Joey to wonder about what could have happened, if this or that had happened. There wasn’t an easy way to tell her...that he was sort of glad it did. He wasn’t as hurt as she was, he’d heard it all before. From his father, Doug, hell even Dawson...but Jo, she wouldn’t understand where he was coming from. He was glad it had happened because of what it did for their friendship. There was nothing he would change or give up for the small advances their friendship had made this one night. God, he wanted to tell it everything he felt at this moment. How happy he was to have her in his arms, friend or lover...it didn’t matter. Right now all that mattered was that he had her. She fully trusted him with her emotions and heart tonight, something she used to only share with Dawson.
He pulled her closer to him, which she seemed to allow. Suddenly something inside clicked. Now was the time to tell her. Now was perfect...at least he hoped.
"Honestly, Potter...I don’t know. We would have found out either way."
Silence. His heart nagged him to let her know. She’s shared her feelings the entire night, now it’s time for yours. But was it? Was he really ready to tell her he loved her? No, but he never would be.
"Jo, there’s something I need to tell you."
"I know.." She whispered.
He lifted his head, to get a better look at her face. "You do?"
"Yeah, I’ve known for awhile."
"Really...How come you never said anything?"
"I didn’t want it to end. This night’s been so perfect, well the last three hours anyway, and I know we have to go home or Bessie will have my head...just ten more minutes, okay Pace?"
He let a small sigh of relief slip, and shook his head. "Yeah, sure."
"Your dad won’t mind will he? Oh Pacey, I didn’t even think about it!" She immediately rolled over and jumped to her feet. He stayed put, assuming she remembered his past with his father and had begun to worry. He patted the ground next to him, longing for her warmth next to him once more.
"Don’t worry, Jo. I’m a big boy. Besides, everyone’s visiting one of my uncles that I never knew about in Chicago. C’mon, lay back down."
She shivered for some reason. Maybe watching him from where she was caused some kind of reaction...or it was just the wind. He looked so relaxed. His legs, one kicked over the other, looking so carefree. She wanted more than anything to cuddle up next to him again, which was what bugged her. This was Pacey Witter. The same arrogant flirt she’d grown up with from age five. She wasn’t supposed to want to be in his arms. She surrendered to the little voice that told her to crawl into them anyway. As she felt his arm wrap around her, she realized how glad she was that she’d listened to her conscience. He sighed into her brown hair, taking in the smell of her.
She swallowed hard. Whispering a simple "What?"
"Look at me.." She did. His lip trembled, and his breathing grew more intense. Suddenly, she knew what he was about to do.
"Pacey..." She said in almost a whimper. "Please don’t, not now..."
"Joey, I’m in love you."
"You're just caught up in the moment. It's been a long day, Pacey. Let's just go, ok? Please." She started to get up, only to be pulled back down. He sat up on his knees, making her face him.
"Let go." She tried jerking away, only to have him hold tighter. She wanted to believe him. God, she wanted him to love her. She just wasn’t ready for another guy, she had realized that after A.J.. Oh how she wished she could just fall back into his arms, and say she loved him too. Which, of course, she didn’t. She couldn’t. You don’t just fall in love with someone over one event that happened over the course of one day. Falling in love with someone, and loving someone were two completely different things. You loved your sister, mother, brother, friend...you’re in love with your soulmate. It was insane, impractical, and basically just plain wrong. Pacey Witter was not her soulmate.
When she’d told Dawson she loved him, it’d been a growing love. It hadn’t just sprouted up overnight like Pacey’s imaginary ‘love’ seemed to. She could blame it on whatever she wanted, but deep down Joey knew he was telling the truth.
"Joey, I’ve never been this serious before in my life. I’ve been in love with you since the first day of junior high. Did you know that?"
She shook her head, tears were once again starting to well up in her eyes. If he didn’t feel obligated to look her in the eyes while telling her this, he wouldn’t of. "Well it’s true. And I know, that now was not the best time to tell you. I’m sorry for that."
He paused, taking a moment to think over what he wanted to say. He loosened his grip on her, knowing she would stay. "Joey, I felt so close to you tonight. You told me everything you felt, so openly. That I wanted you to know everything I was thinking too. I felt like I could hide no secrets from you.....Remember when we were looking at the stars awhile ago...course you do...well you remember that one we said looked like a couple holding hands? I wished that someday we could be like those stars. I know it sounds corny Jo, and I admit it was. But Joey every time I see something--something perfect in any way, shape, or form--I think of you." He stopped again, feeling a stream of mixed emotions starting to overcome him.
Joey’s eyes were closed, and had been since he started talking about the stars. It was as if she was taking it all in, memorizing his every word. Actually what she was probably doing, was trying to ignore him. But one could dream. He leaned over and kissed her gently on the forehead, then stood up.
"You don’t have to believe me. But, I do love you, Potter. Just remember, that I’ve never lied to you before, and I’m not about to start now." He turned around, and started to walk away. He half expected her to stop him. Say his name, run up to him and pull him into a deep and passionate kiss...something...anything. But was disappointed when she did nothing but pull her knees to her chest and cry silently. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done, to walk away and leave her like that. He knew she needed time to think however, and if he wanted her opinion on the situation...he’d have to give her time to find one.
It was two a.m., probably later. She didn’t care. Bessie could worry as much as she wanted. Actually Bessie had probably fallen asleep waiting for her, or figured she was at Dawson’s. If there were any questions, Dawson would stick up for her. She hoped
She’d walked all over town, thinking about everything that had happened in just this one day. More than what had happened in the last month all put together. Of course that was how Capeside went. Spontaneous, and even more so when you didn’t want it to be. She looked at herself in the reflection of a downtown store window. Still in her paint covered overalls, hair crimpy from being in braids most of the day. Mascara ran in small lines down part of her face. Joey couldn’t remember the last time she’d cried so much. She didn’t want to remember. It was the day her mother had died. A day she would erase in her memory, had she ever the chance. The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to smash in the store window and slit her wrists with a piece of broken glass. Suddenly, she remembered Pacey’s words.
Joey, if I lost you...I don’t think I’d be able to continue living this hell we call existence...
His voice echoed in her head over again. She closed her eyes, remembering simple words, phrases, or movements he’d made. He caused her body to tremble, and long for his touch again. Slowly, she moved her hand up her thigh where his hands had once been. She felt pathetic, but it only made her want him more. Something she’d never felt with Dawson. A ragged sigh broke through her lips, and she knew what she had to do. She had to see him. He’d know how to make everything right again. Opening her eyes, she started walking towards his house only to be hit with the realization that it was two a.m., and although she didn’t care he probably did. This was a problem Joey might have to handle without her forever known sidekick...also known as Dawson Leery.
The question was, how?
She shook the thoughts away and continued walking anyway. Down the paved streets of downtown Capeside, through the winding back roads, down the creek, past her own house... eventually she found herself infront of the house belonging to the only person who she could fully rely on to be there for her no matter what. The only one who really had the answer. And that was Pacey.