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"Tell you what," Pacey said, snapping his fingers and turning to Joey with a triumphant look on his face. "We'll hand in two other eggs, and keep Hope and Digby."
"Pacey, you're going to have to let go," Jen said gently. "Mrs. Maslow will be really upset if you don't pass in the right eggs."
"You can't ask a parent to just give his children away!" Pacey protested. "It's a loss I'll never recover from."
"You have to consider what's best for Hope and Digby," Dawson told his friend solemnly. "It's selfish to only keep your own interests at heart."
"Oh my God," Joey said slowly and deliberately, dropping her English book on the cafeteria table. "Do you guys even hear yourselves?"
"She's having trouble accepting her loss," Pacey told Dawson and Jen sadly.
"Please. They're eggs." She watched Pacey shake his head. "What?"
"It's okay to let out your emotions, Joey. We won't think any less of you if you cry." He gently touched her arm. "Losing one's children is a terrible heartache."
"You're all insane. I need to find new friends" Joey picked up her book and resumed reading.
"Did you hear Nellie threw her little Cameron at her husband in a fit of rage?" Jen reported. "How horrible."
Pacey nodded. "She said his insides splattered all over the library walls."
"Can you imagine seeing your child's yolk on the wall?" Dawson shuddered. "Poor Nellie must be absolutely falling apart."
"No more than little Cameron was," Joey muttered.
She received disapproving stares from those at her lunch table.
"Well, now Grant can have his keg parties," Joey said. "He must be egg-static." They glared at her. "Egg-cited." Pacey shook his head in disappointment. "Eggs-uberant?"
"You know, this isn't a laughing matter, Joey," Pacey said seriously.
"Oh, really? You coulda fooled me! Are you guys listening to yourselves? They're eggs! Inanimate objects! They're not *your* children, they're the offspring of some random hen somewhere. Get a grip!"
"It's a metaphor, Joey," Dawson explained. "We're not attached to the eggs, we're attached to the idea of parenthood."
"You guys are sixteen years old," Joey pointed out. "They'll be plenty of time to be parents later. Like, after high school. And college. And marriage."
Pacey opened his mouth, but Joey interrupted.
"*Real* marriages, Pacey. Ones performed by a priest, not a psychotic health teacher."
"Speaking of which," Jen quickly changed the subject before Pacey and Joey started arguing again. "I think we should go out Saturday to celebrate."
"The break-up of a marriage is nothing to celebrate, Jen," Pacey said.
Joey glared at him.
"All right, all right, I'll stop,"
"Where should we go?" Dawson asked.
"Chuck E. Cheese's," Joey said, before she could stop herself.
Jen looked at her and laughed. She stood up and threw her trash into a nearby garbage can. "Come on, Joey. Let's go come up with a good excuse for sitting out in gym class today."
"The dog at my homework," Joey mumbled, following her friend out of the cafeteria.
Dawson shook his head. "I can honestly say I never thought those two would become as close as they are."
Pacey shrugged. "The world works in mysterious ways, my friend."
"Speaking of which, what's up with you and Joey?"
"Friends. What's up with you and Jen?"
"We're going to the movies tomorrow night,"
"Ah, is that why Jen suggested we go out Saturday instead of tomorrow?" Pacey smirked. "You two are classic."
"Yeah, yeah," Dawson smiled. "I really like her."
"More like still,"
"True," Pacey nodded. "Well, D, my friend, I just hope you're happy."
"Thanks. Now, onto your problem."
"I don't have a problem,"
"Yes you do," Dawson said. "Joey."
"Joey isn't a problem. She's a friend."
"You want more,"
"She does," Pacey said. "She just doesn't want to admit it. Yet."
The bell rang, and Pacey stood up, eager to stop the conversation about Joey. "Come on, Dawson. It's time to go to class."
Dawson groaned. "The dog ate my homework too." ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Pacey looked up from the oversized book he had been reading. "Hey, did you know that Al Capone had syphilis?"
"Fascinating," Jen muttered.
"Thrilling," Joey agreed dryly, flipping through a stack of flash cards.
"He was an Italian-American gangster of the Prohibition era, also known as Scarface because of a knife cut to his cheek. He was born Alphonse Capone in Naples, Italy, and raised in -- " Pacey paused. "How utterly pathetic is this? I'm reading an encyclopedia."
Joey sighed. "Here's a thought, Pacey. Why don't you do some homework?"
Pacey ignored her. "You know, I've always wanted to join the mafia."
"Your dad might have issues with that," Jen pointed out.
"No, seriously," Pacey sat up. "You know, they had the whole family unity thing going on. I always wanted that. Know what I mean? They had that motto -- if you screw with one, you screw with 'em all?"
Joey snorted. "That explains how Al got syphilis."
"Have a smart answer for everything, don't you, Josephine?"
"Well, Pacey, you're the one who's reading an encyclopedia. Would it kill you to actually do some *work* in the library?"
"Some of us believe in having a life outside the walls of the school building," he shot back.
"I do too -- when we're *outside the school building*," Joey mocked. "We're in school. Generally, when one is in school, one focuses on their work and not on Al Capone's STDs."
He stood up. "I'm going to go get a book on fatherhood," Pacey said, glaring at Joey. "Since Mrs. Maslow decided that we should continue this project, I think we should get a little more information."
Joey eyed the two eggs lying on a pile of napkins next to her. She sighed.
"He knows how to hit you where it hurts, huh?" Jen asked sympathetically.
"Oh, he most definitely does,"
"You two are back to your bantering selves?"
"Defense mechanism," Joey said laconically.
"Defense against what?"
"You know what," Jen titled her head. "One of these days you guys are going to have to face the inevitable."
"Your impending romantic relationship,"
"Not going to happen,"
Jen shrugged. "Believe what you will. I, for one, am inclined to think that when a guy tackles you on the sand and kisses you passionately, there's a little bit of a sexual undertone in your friendship." She paused. "At this point, I'd actually call it a sexual overtone."
"You think too much,"
"You think too little,"
"Pacey and I are just friends," Joey said firmly. "And we're going to stay that way."
"Narrow-mindedness is not an attractive quality, Joey,"
"I'm not narrow-minded, I'm realistic,"
"Pessimistic," Jen said. "Why do you have such a problem with opening your heart to Pacey? You did with Dawson, so why can't you with him?"
"There was no risk involved with Dawson," Joey shook her head when Jen raised her eyebrows doubtfully. "I know, we made a big deal about the supposed risk involved if we became a couple, but there really wasn't. I knew all along that if something happened, Dawson and I would remain friends. It's different with Pacey. He scares me."
"Everything worthwhile is scary at first,"
"So what would you have me do, Jen?" Joey asked in frustration. "Throw all caution to the wind? Ignore every brain cell in my body that is telling me a relationship with Pacey has the potential to destroy my life?"
"Have you ever considered ignoring your brain and listening to your heart for once?"
"We're getting too far into soap opera territory. Can we talk about something else?" Joey asked.
"Fine," Jen agreed. "I think your husband might need some help."
"Why do you say that?"
Jen smiled. "Because he's Pacey. In a library."
Joey sighed. "You're right." And she got up to help her husband. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Pacey walked through the doorway and into Mrs. Maslow's health class. He stopped short. "Am I in the right room?" he asked, slowly looking around him. Balloons were tied to chairs, crepe paper lined the walls. And his charming wife sat glumly in the corner with a hat on her head reading "Let's Party!".
Pacey burst out laughing.
Joey glared at him. "I despise you so much."
"Happy anniversary!" Mrs. Maslow exclaimed, dropping a similar hat on Pacey's head.
"Oh, shoot," Pacey feigned disappointment. "Honey, I forgot our anniversary again. Can you ever forgive me?"
"It's everyone's anniversary!" Mrs. Maslow told him. "You've been a happy couple for three weeks! Congratulations!"
"Happy?" Joey repeated doubtfully.
Pacey wrapped his arm around her waist. "Just smile and nod, dear."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Erin! Three and three-quarters pages! Aren't you proud of me? Everyone else, send feedback, please.
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