In the Neighborhood by: Jade

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Author’s Note: I have no intention of rewriting Kevin Williamson but I just love Pacey and Joey as a couple too much to follow the present storyline to exact detail so be prepared for discrepancies.

Capeside, Massachusetts

Joey had the strangest gut feeling as she trekked across the school compound to get to her next class. She didn’t feel physically sick but nevertheless, a wave of uneasiness was threatening to ruin her day.

She heard loud cheers as she neared the classroom. Stepping in, she was greeted with the familiar sight of Pacey clowning around and telling jokes at the teacher’s desk before Mr. Carpenter’s arrival.

“No wonder I feel sick,” she muttered under her breath.

Pacey saw her approaching and followed at her heels to the back of the classroom, where she settled into her usual seat.

“Jo-ey! The love of my life!”

“Not now, Pacey.”

Her tone was one of grouchiness as usual but something wasn’t quite right with the picture. Pacey noticed she looked especially troubled today but before he could voice his thought, Mr. Carpenter appeared in time to spoil yet another Friday afternoon and he hurried to take his seat before he received another talking-to that he really wasn’t in the mood for.

“Hey Dawson!”

Dawson slowed down as he waited for his friend to catch up. “What’s up?” he asked when the latter did.

Pacey took a moment to catch his breath before speaking. “I’ve tried to mind my business as long as I could but something is bothering Joey.”

“She hasn’t said anything. You’re probably just being paranoid.”

“Look, it’s not like I care but when she no longer fights back when I annoy her, it’s really no fun for me at all.”

Dawson rolled his eyes. “You would think I’d be used to this by now,” he said as he made a stop at his locker before he headed home.

“Joey should be flattered. I count on her quarrelsome nature to get me through school every single day. It’s the only thing to look forward to,” he further said as he leaned against the lockers beside Dawson’s. “If her mood suffers, I suffer.”

Dawson shut his locker. His voice was serious as he spoke. “Maybe you should spend less time arguing with her and more time on your work.” Slinging his backpack on his shoulder, he regarded his other best friend in concern. “I hear you’ve got another appointment to see the school counselor.”

Pacey shrugged it off with a dismissive “Oh that!” and a snort.

“Look, I have to get home early but I’ll talk to Joey later.” He was halfway across the hall before he shouted back, “Don’t go fighting with her again. Be good!”


When Dawson was out of sight, Pacey’s expression, in an instant, switched from a nonchalant grin to a more solemn and thoughtful one.

Joey hesitated for a second as she got out of the boat and picked up her books. She had seen Sarah on the front porch, painting. By deliberately slowing down her steps, she was also trying to do the same to asking the inevitable question that had been nagging at her all day.

“Joey, what do you think of it?” Sarah asked, proudly standing aside to allow her daughter a closer look at her latest project.

“It looks great, Mom.”

“You sure? You don’t think the colors are too, I don’t know, bright?”

“Mom, who am I to judge? You’re a fabulous artist.”

She started to notice Joey’s distraction from their present conversation. “All right, something’s wrong,” she said, as she gently guided the latter by the shoulders to the swing where they both sat. “So tell me.”

Joey looked her right in the eye. “Is everything okay?”

Sarah couldn’t hide her puzzlement. “What do you mean?”

“Is anything wrong?” “Honey, you’re being really vague here.”

Joey took a deep breath. “I mean, are you sick again?”

She was genuinely caught by surprise. “The cancer?” she asked to make sure it was what they were talking about.

Joey nodded.

“No,” Sarah answered. “I’m fine. I just went for a check-up last week and the doctor gave me an all-clear.”

She hadn’t realized that she had been fiddling with her necklace until her mother reached out to take her hand.

“It’s the truth.”

She nodded again. “I was just being paranoid,” she added. “It’s nothing.”

“Okay, but if there’s anything, anything at all, you come and talk to me.”

Joey stood up in silence and walked toward the front door.

“Are we okay?” Sarah questioned.

Joey managed a weak smile. “We’re okay, Mom.”

“I wonder what Brad’s planning this year! I’m so excited!”

Squeals from the next room were the first sounds he heard that morning. He opened one eye slowly, took one look at his clock radio and then opened the other eye in surprise. He had woke up later than he expected.

As he drifted between the urge to keep his eyes closed and waste the rest of the day away and the need to get up before his father or Doug came to throw him off the bed, his sisters continued to terrorize his peace with their constant yelling.

“Mom, I need that skirt ironed! I’m meeting Brad in 20 minutes!”

He heard his mother’s voice and then more yelling, followed by music playing from the stereo. He figured his decision had already been made for him; he wasn’t going to be able to sleep in this racket anyway.

“4 days to V-day. He’s got plenty of time to come up with something special,” quipped his 15-year old sister, Sharon.

He heard drawers opening and closing and then his other sister, Megan’s, voice in a threatening tone, “Oh, he’d better.”

He snorted and then rolled his eyes. Burrowing himself under his pillow, he couldn’t believe how shallow and narrow-minded his sisters sounded and acted. All they cared about were their looks, boys and cheerleading practice.

“Hey punk! Get out of bed!”

Someone stole his pillow from right off his head and hit him with it.

“Morning, Sis,” he mumbled, without opening his eyes.

“Morning? It’s almost noon.”

His eyelids fluttered open and he found himself looking into eyes the same color as his. He managed a crooked grin as he held onto his eldest and favorite sister’s hand. “Love you too,” he replied and then he snatched the pillow back and put it back over his head.

Ashley Witter couldn’t help smiling at her brother. He was too charming for a 13-year old - way too charming. If he had been any older, she was pretty sure some of her girlfriends would find him very attractive. But to them right now, he was just her annoying little brother.

“Come on, you don’t want Dad to come barging in here and give you that tired speech of how laziness is the root of all screw-ups, do you?”

Sighing, he forced himself to sit up and scrambled off the bed on all fours. When he reached the floor, he managed to stumble into first, the hallway and then into the bathroom.

“So, I’m saying that most girls love flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.”

“Joey isn’t like most girls.”

A knowing grin started to appear on Ashley’s face. “Ahh, you like Joey.”

“No way!” he cried out defensively. “Joey isn’t someone you like. She’s not even human.” Ashley waited for him to explain further.

“Look, it’s just that Joey and I share something in common - lack of a father’s affection - and she’s been depressed about something lately. I want to cheer her up but I’m going to need an excuse to do something nice and V-Day’s just around the corner so I thought I’d make use of it.”

His sister’s expression turned solemn. “How is it that our conversations always find their way back to the subject of Dad?”

“You tell me,” he challenged, hoping with every bone in his body that she would.

She sighed. “I can’t tell you what you want to hear because I don’t know.”

“Fine.” He got up and dusted the dirt off his jeans. He made his way down the porch before his sister stopped him.

“Pacey!” she called out.

Turning around, he looked at her for a moment before saying, “Thanks for the advice, Lee.” And then he ran off in the direction of Dawson’s house.

“Please don’t tell me you’re subscribing to the commercialization of the occasion!”

“Come on, Joey, it’s just a card.”

Dawson was visibly perturbed by the reaction of his best friend’s reaction to his decision to handmake a Valentine’s Day card for his current crush, Laurie Simpson. His hand was shaking as he tried to paint an outline of his heart.

He finally gave up. “Will you please stop hovering above me?”

“As you wish,” she agreed and moved on to his bed. Falling backwards, she landed with a soft thud horizontally across the width of it, with her legs still dangling in the air. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the chirping of the birds outside, that is, until she heard someone trudging up the stairs. Opening them again, her nose twitched as she viewed the face peering down at hers.

“You know, you really do look better upset down.”

“Oh, bite me!” she retorted, clenching her fist.

He ignored her sarcasm and cheerfully greeted Dawson. “What’s that?”

The latter didn’t look up from what he was doing. “Laurie Simpson,” he said.

Pacey came to stand behind him. “Good choice, dude,” he encouraged.

After a few moments of silence, Dawson began to get distracted. Turning back to look at Pacey who was fidgeting, he asked accusingly, “What?”

“You might want to change the color scheme a little.”

“That’s it! You,” he pointed Pacey in the direction of his bed, “go and talk to Joey or something and leave me alone.”

“Hey, chill! Whatever you say, man.”

He walked over to sit on the bed but before he could say a word, she beat him to it.

“I’m not talking to you.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Friendly,” he observed.

The room remained silent for about several minutes. Just as Pacey was about to break the peace, Joey interrupted.

“Valentine’s Day is so incredibly maudlin.”

“No, it isn’t,” Dawson countered. “It’s a wonderful and romantic time to tell someone you love that you love them.”

“This is so mundane. Everyday should be a day like that so what makes the 14th of February so special?”

“My, someone’s touchy,” Pacey contributed from his corner of the bed.

If looks could kill, he’d probably be dead ten times over.

“Just because you don’t have a romantic bone in your body doesn’t mean the whole world feels the same way.”

She sat up to defend herself against Dawson. “Listen, I’m just as romantic as the next person but this is-”

Pacey couldn’t help it; he laughed. “What, you? Romantic? Where in the world did you get that idea?”

“I’ve had it!” she screamed before landing her pillow in his face. In retaliation, he grabbed the one he was resting on and threw it at her. And that was how a pillow fight started.

Dawson seemed oblivious to his surroundings. Any indication that he knew what was going on was a slight wave of his free hand as he distractedly said without looking up, “Try not to break anything.”

He was answered with a loud shrill as Joey was backed into a corner and landed on the floor, struggling to get away as Pacey tugged at her leg to stop her from going anywhere.

To be continued...

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