“Where are we going? It’s seven o’clock, Pacey… We can’t set sail now.” Joey looked at Pacey inquisitively as he began to work on the boat to get it ready to go out to sea. He motioned for her to come help him, and grinned.
“Potter, don’t you ever shut up? Trust me, why don’t you? We're not going too far.” Joey lifted an eyebrow and she reeled in the lifeboat raft.
“Trust YOU, Witter? I think not… come on, tell me what’s going on.”
“It’s a surprise.” He raised his eyebrows up and down.
“I hate surprises.”
“That’s why they’re so much fun to plan for you.” They had been bickering like this constantly for the past five days, but it was a loving bickering. And after they fought, they often made up down below the deck.
Today they were somewhere in between Trenton, New Jersey and Capeside. Pacey claimed he knew where they were, but Joey was suspicious. They had stopped in this little town to shop for clothes for Joey, chart their next leg of the journey, and spend a night in a real bed in a hotel. Or at least, that’s what Joey had thought they would be doing. Now, it seemed they were going off on an adventure. And knowing Pacey as well as she did, she highly doubted they would be back in time to take advantage of the nice, clean motel room they had found.
The sun was still out as they closed in on Pacey’s secret destination, although it was no longer bearing down on them as hotly as this afternoon. Ahead of her Joey saw a beautiful cove. A high cliff stretched into the sky, and the water beat onto a small beach. With the blue sky arching overhead, the birds chirping, and the sound of the wind peacefully whipping in her ears, Joey had never seen a more beautiful sight in her life.
Pacey came up from behind her and encircled her waist with his strong arms.
“So, Potter, what do you think?” She leaned against him and entwined her fingers with his.
“I think you may have managed to find a surprise I like.”
“Hmm..” He murmured as he put his lips to her hair. They stayed like that as the boat drifted slowly towards the shore. Finally and reluctantly Pacey left her to put down the anchor and throw the lifeboat out so that they could take onshore.
The two of them stepped onto the beach, Joey carrying a sketchpad and pastels she had found in a multi purpose store in town and Pacey carrying a blanket and some food, as well as the book, “How to Be A Wallflower. They looked around them in amazement. It was even more beautiful up close.
“How in the world did you find out about this place, Pace?”
“Well,” Pacey cleared his throat and spread out the blanket. “While you were doing some serious damage to my bank account buying those lovely clothes you’re wearing, I was chatting up the saleslady, using my Witter charm.” Joey gave him a suspicious look.
“Should I be jealous?” she asked.
“Hmmm… You or the sixty year old lady with blue hair, a moustache, and bright red lips. I’m gonna need some time to think about this one.” She opened her eyes wide and made a face at him. Joey nudged him with her elbow.
“You are such a loser.”
“Yes, I know.” He grinned even wider at her.
“Hmph,” she said jokingly. They sat down together and ate peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches, fruit salad and chocolate chip cookies, with a diet coke for her and a Mott’s apple juice box for him.
After eating, they sat peacefully, her drawing and him reading. She tried drawing the beautiful surf and the cliff. Then she tried drawing a seagull that had swooped over the sea a bit ago. She was unsatisfied with all of them. She didn’t feel they did justice to the surroundings.
Joey glanced over at Pacey, who had fallen asleep with the book on his chest. She watched his chest rise up and down for at least twenty minutes. She loved listening to him breathe at night when they were lying together on the small bed in the cabin of “True Love.” Finally she decided he had slept long enough. Smiling slyly, she climbed on top of him and kissed him.
“Mmm… Veronica,” He mumbled, smiling in his tiredness.
“Jerk,” Joey slapped him. “I TRY to wake you up nicely, and what do I get? Cynicism.” Pacey grabbed her and turned her over beneath him.
“I’ll show you a nice wake up,” he said as he roughly kissed her and ran his hands up and down her sides. After a few minutes, she pulled away.
“Okay, you win.” She said. “Your ways better.”
“It always is,” he said arrogantly. He rolled off of her, landing next to her on his back. She cuddled up next to him.
“Should we go for a swim?” He asked.
“I don’t have a bathing suit,” she said.
“Trust me. That is so not an issue,” He retorted. She laughed, using that smile he loved so much.
“It’s too cold,” she complained. “The water is frigid.”
“Alright, alright, I get it. No seeing Joey naked tonight.”
“You’re such a pig,” she threw her right arm over his chest and turned up to look at him, her chin on his chest as well.
“And proud of it, babe,” he accentuated the last word.
“Ha ha, you’re really quite hilarious.” She laughed.
They lay there together, playing with each other’s fingers, playing with each other’s hair, and pulling their blanket over them when a chill came into the night air. It was so very peaceful. Joey desperately needed this after the tumultuous time that she had in Capeside. The past five days on True Love had been nice, but so stressful. She couldn’t stop thinking about the mess she had left behind and how it was mostly her fault. But now… now all that was on her mind was Pacey and the beautiful surf and the sunset that was slowly fading on its horizon.
“We spent all night down by the riverside, laughing at nothing, and talking too much, and the moonlight was so bright in your eyes Before I knew it, I was fallin’ in love."
It was too cold to swim so we just laid there
On the bank ‘til the break of day
Though we never went in the water
We were swept away
And the river rolled
And the night got cold
But you held me close
And you warmed my soul
We spent all night down by the riverside
Wonderin’ how it happened so fast
And it sure did take us by surprise
When that mornin’ sun came up at last..”
Jessica Andrews, The Riverside
“When did you fall in love with me?” Joey whispered around 3 AM. It had been over three hours since they’d said anything to one another. Pacey had thought she was asleep. She, however, could tell he wasn’t by his breathing. She turned over to face him, leaning up on her elbow.
“What?” He asked, rubbing his eyes. He turned to face her in the same manner.
“I asked, when did you fall in love with me?” She shook her hair back out of her face.
Pacey cleared his throat. “That’s a mighty odd question, Potter.”
“Not really, if you think about it. I know when I knew with you. I even told you. The moment I kissed you, I knew I was in love.”
“Well, let’s see,” Pacey closed his eyes thinking. “I guess it was in the sixth grade.”
“No, seriously, Pacey!”
“Seriously, Jo!” He smiled at her, and let his mind drift.
“What are you talking about Pacey?”
“Well, this is going to require that you search your memory. It’s about half way through the school year. You, me, Buddy Harris and Greg Jerkins are all working on a social studies project together. We’re looking through magazines for pictures to use in a collage. Buddy comes across an article about a gay man and begins snickering, as does Greg. They use some obscene words and you tell them to stop it. They ask you if you think that people like that are okay. And do you know what came out of little Joey Potter’s mouth? You said, “I think that with all of the bad stuff in the world, anyone who can find someone to love is lucky.
"That’s how I knew that Jack was lucky to have you when he was going through all that stuff last year. And that’s the moment I was head over heels in love with you.”
Joey stared at him amazed. He really did remember everything. Every detail. She touched his face gently, running her fingertips lightly across his jaw.
“I do love you, Witter.”
“Right back at ya, Potter.” They kissed gently under the moonlight. It continued, heavier and heavier. When Joey began unbuttoning her shirt Pacey pulled himself away from her.
“What’s wrong?” She whispered. “Don’t you want to do this with me?” Her eyes burned into his.
“Of course I do, Jo. And we will. Just not tonight. Tonight is perfect as it is. And besides, I don’t want you to rush into anything just because you got swept up in the moment. We should talk about it, what having sex means and the responsibilities and all of that. We need to.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to prove Dawson wrong?” Joey looked directly at him. She needed to know this.
Pacey was annoyed at Dawson’s name having come up, but he understood her need to know.
“I’m sure. I know I’m not all about sex. And I certainly hope you know that.”
“I do,” she said softly. “It just seems to be an issue with me that when I take my shirt off, the guy runs.” He chuckled and leaned over to rebutton her shirt.
“Believe me, I’m not running!” She giggled a little, and lay back down with him.
When they woke up, the sun was already bearing down on them harshly.
“Upsie daisy, Potter. Let’s get going.” They straightened up the area, picked up the blanket and food wrappings, and got back on the liferaft. As Pacey rowed them away from the cove, Joey sent it one last long lingering look.
“It was nice, wasn’t it?” Joey turned to look at Pacey.
“I’ll certainly remember it,” she said.
“Dude, Potter, you’re all pensive. Where’s that acerbic wit I love?”
“Pacey… don’t push it.”
Back on the boat, they used their sailing skills to turn themselves around and head off for their next stop, three days away. At one point, Joey took over the sails, leaving Pacey room to go downstairs and burn them up some breakfast.
Joey laughed a little smelling the horrific odor of overcooked bacon and scorched toast. The boy could not cook. She ran downstairs to see if she could salvage any of the mess.
“Nope,” she said aloud. “This breakfast is entirely unsalvageable. We really need Bodie… desperately.”
“Joey, are you making fun of my cooking?”
“You call that cooking? I call it scorching, burning, blackening..”
“I get the point.”
Joey scraped the bacon into the garbage and started over with some fresh meat. Coughing through the smoke, she waved it out of the way.
“Speaking of Bodie,” Pacey jumped up onto the tiny counter and bumped his head. “Ow,” he said, rubbing it. “Have you written them yet? Did you send them something in town? Or have you emailed them yet?”
“Um, no…” Joey broke off.
“Joey…” Pacey warned. “You’re going to have to deal with the fact you ran away with me sooner or later.”
”I know, I know,” she said as she turned the bacon over. “It’s just that I’m afraid the moment I email her or call her she’s going to demand I come home, and I don’t want to leave you…” Joey half whined.
Pacey gave her a look and held out his cell phone his dad had given him for emergencies.
“Shoot, dammit, Pacey.. Grrr.. you are so aggravating!”
“I know, I know. Hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and we’ll be to far from shore to pick up the phone waves or whatever those things run on.”
“Well, cross your fingers,” said Joey sarcastically.
She looked at the phone reluctantly and dialed. Bodie picked up after three rings.
“Potter Bed and Breakfast.”
“Bodie?” said Joey uncertainly.
“Joey! Thank God! Where are you? Dawson said something about going off with Pacey on his boat when we called him.”
“Umm.. halfway between Boston and Trenton?” Joey heard Bodie take a deep breath.
“I’m going to go get your sister,” he said calmly. “She’s in a state, Joey. Tread carefully on those waters.” She heard him put down the phone and call for her sister.
Pacey was draining the bacon and giving her a “What’s happening?” look. She tried to smile, but couldn’t. He came behind her and began to knead her shoulders. Suddenly Bessie’s voice came over the phone, loud and screeching.
“Josephine Samantha Potter!! What were you thinking running off with that Witter? I’m going to kick his ass if I ever get my hands on him! At least Dawson never took you off to sea with him… what were you thinking!? I mean really, can you please tell me what was going through your mind. Didn’t you think about how worried I’d be … not knowing where you were. Having to call Dawson to get a mumbled, ‘She took off for a little jaunt with Pacey.’ You’re half way to Trenton! Turn that boat around right now! I mean it! Now! What were you thinking!?”
“Bessie,” said Joey rolling her eyes. “You’ve asked that three times.”
“Well, then answer me, damn it! You’re seventeen, I am your legal guardian. You can’t just run off without my permission.”
This rambling continued for almost twenty minutes, Joey trying to placate her sister and Bessie occasionally yelling. Finally Pacey reached over and took the phone.
“Bess?” Joey listened to him talk to her with curiousity. What made him think he could handle her better?
“I know it was irresponsible. I know we should have called sooner. But I promise you, if you let her stay with me, I’ll take care of her.”
“I’ll just bet you’ll take care of her, Pacey Witter,” was Bessie’s answer.
“I mean it, Bessie. I will take care of her,” He said seriously. “Don’t you think she deserves a break from work and Capeside?”
“Maybe,” said Bessie grudgingly. After another ten minutes of cajoling and promises, Joey had Bessie’s permission to continue her trip with Pacey, on the sole condition she checked in every three days.
“Thank god that’s over,” Joey sighed as she and Pacey sat down to their cold breakfast. They ate in silence for a while, holding hands over the table.
“Are you worried?” He asked.
“When we have to go home.”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “I most definitely am not relishing the idea of seeing Dawson and that accusing look again. But, I mean, it’s a long time away, right?”
“Not so long,” Pacey gave her a look.
“Let’s not talk about that right now,” Joey smiled. “Let’s just be happy. We’ll worry about Capeside when the time comes to.”
“Okay. When the time comes though, let’s promise to talk about it and not keep it to ourselves?” He asked pointedly.
“Yeah, sure… now come on… we’re going to get blown off course soon if we don’t get back up there. She dragged him up the stairs, with him tickling her from behind.
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