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Author’s Note: As usual, I have and will be incorporating scenes and dialogue inspired from various TV dramas and movies. Cheers to anyone who can guess what these are throughout the series.
“If it seems dull to you, you can just say it, you know.”
“I’m serious Dawson. I’ve never met anyone who liked E.T. that much.”
Dawson looked at his newfound friend who was still inspecting his room from top to bottom. Pacey seemed almost perplexed as he examined the posters on the wall at close range.
He turned his head back. “How about music? You like music?”
“I played the piano till I stopped lessons last year.”
Pacey stared blankly at Dawson. “I meant pop, rock, metal, that sort of thing,” he added, after a moment’s pause.
“You heard of Milli Vanilli?”
Dawson shook his head.
Pacey proceeded to sing a line and moved his head to the beat. “Blame it on the rain,” he screeched.
Still, Dawson shook his head.
“Really?” Pacey was amazed. “You should hear them. It sounds so effortless, it’s like they’re not even singing.” He looked at his friend in sympathy and patted him on the shoulder. “It’s cool, man. I’ll show you the ropes.”
“You’re not showing him anything,” a voice quipped from the window. Joey’s head popped out of nowhere as she made her entrance into her best friend’s room.
Pacey raised an eyebrow. “Ever heard of a door?”
“Ever heard of minding your own business?” she retorted.
Dawson rolled his eyes and fell back on his bed. “Geez,” he muttered, “Sorry if I’m in the way.”
“Hey, she started it!”
“Hey, he started it!”
Both of them shouted at the same time. They continued to glare at each other until Dawson interrupted.
“Alright, that’s enough! I say we call it a truce. I don’t want blood all over my room.” He put one shoulder around Pacey’s and the other, Joey’s and ushered them out the door. “Mom made casserole for lunch. Could we try to eat in peace?”
“I’m sorry this isn’t fascinating enough for you,” Joey replied sarcastically.
Pacey was about to argue back when something behind her captured his attention. His jaw dropped.
Dawson followed his gaze to see what had caught his eye and nodded approvingly.
Joey looked from Dawson to Pacey and then back again. Slowly, she turned around.
“Kristy Livingstone,” she mumbled. “Surprise, surprise.”
Pacey finally found his voice. “She’s hot!”
“She’s a sixth-grader, man. Way out of our league!” Dawson volunteered.
“I could get her if I wanted to.”
Joey snickered. “Yeah, right.”
The bell rang. The two boys remained staring. Joey got fed up as they both made no move to get to class.
“Didn’t anyone teach you to breathe with your mouth closed?” she asked Pacey. He let his jaw drop further on purpose and ignored her.
Turning to Dawson, who was just as mesmerized, she hit him on the chest with the back of her hand. He yelped but didn’t move from his position.
Annoyed, she walked off on her own.
“Just fine, Mom. The teachers haven’t branded me a failure yet so that’s a good sign. Then again, it’s still early in the term.”
“Stop that talk, will you?” Margaret Witter chided.
“How about Dawson and that girl? Josephine, is it?” she asked as she chopped mushrooms into slices and put them into the salad bowl with the green vegetables. “You guys getting along?”
“It’s Joey, Mom.” He opened the refrigerator. “It’s weird. Dawson and I, we don’t really like the same things but we have fun hanging out together.”
He took out bread spread, cheese and ham and got ready to make himself a snack when his mother smacked his hand. “You’re going to spoil your dinner.” Reluctantly, he put them back.
“How about Joey?”
“Ha!” He rolled his eyes. “She’s mean and she doesn’t like me very much. In fact, not at all.”
“No, I’m not.” He sneaked a bag of potato chips behind his back as he walked toward the living room. “But she’s not as hard to figure out as she thinks she is,” he added, with a suspicious gleam in his eye as he started to walk out of the kitchen and make his way upstairs.
She stopped him with her next words. “Neither are you. Now hand over those chips.”
“Mom!” he complained as he dutifully did so.
“Josephine!” Sarah called out to her daughter from the bottom of the stairway as the latter stormed into her room.
Bessie giggled. “Mom, it’s not like she never talks like that.”
“She’s nine years old!”
“I’m almost ten!” Joey shouted from upstairs.
“She’s mature for her age. We can deal with it.” Bessie defended her sister.
Their smiling faces met. Sarah didn’t want to say a word, for fear of spoiling the moment. This was the first time in days that her eldest daughter had spoken more than a sentence to her.
Bessie stepped forward and put her hand over her mother’s on the banister. “A lot will be changing in this house. We’ll learn to deal with it. We will.” And then she hugged her.
“Whoa, hold it! What’s up?”
Dawson got straight to the point. “It’s been five weeks. You and Joey need to like each other.” He measured a small gap between his thumb and his forefinger. “At least this much.”
“Man, you’re asking too much,” Pacey grumbled.
“I don’t care! Pretend if you have to, just stop fighting in front of me!”
This was the first time Pacey had seen Dawson so agitated.
“Come on, man. I want the three of us to be friends. Don’t make me choose between you and Joey.”
Pacey sighed. “Okay, I’ll try.”
Dawson smiled and hit lightly him on the shoulder.
But don’t expect a miracle,” he hastily added.
When he caught up with her, she barely glanced at him before she dismissed him. “What do you want, Witter?”
“You know what? You can call me Pacey.”
Once again, he found himself talking to the back of her head. Unable to resist, he made a face and stuck out his tongue at her.
She chose that moment to turn back.
Instantly, he rolled his tongue around, as if he had been licking his lips. “Hmmm, the ice-cream man was right. That chocolate one is delicious.”
Joey would have laughed out loud but she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. Her face was hurting from trying not to smile as she took in his ridiculous expression and even more pathetic lie.
“What do you want?”
“Look, I promised Dawson to try to work this out with you. Could we just talk?”
She watched him for a sign, any sign that he was pulling her leg. Surprisingly, he seemed serious enough.
“Okay,” she finally agreed.
Pacey broke the silence first.
“This all started when I bumped into you at the park the first time. I obviously caught you at a bad time.”
She raised a brow but remained quiet.
“For that, I apologize because I must have interrupted, geez, I hate to sound like my mother,” he said as he made a face, “a vulnerable moment.”
Joey started to stand up. “This is going nowhere. Le-”
Pacey pulled her back down to his level. “You promised me five minutes, so listen!”
She pulled her arm free from his grip.
“Just because we’re kids doesn’t mean we have to behave like one of them now.” Before she could get another word in, he continued, “Joey Potter, you’re easier to read than a book. You hate to show your feelings but your eyes give away everything and right now, they tell me you want to kill me.”
“You think?” Her question was dripping with sarcasm and threat.
“You hate it that I walked in on your sad moment. But you know what, there are other times to feel sorry for yourself. Right now, let’s talk about Dawson.” Joey’s eyes were blazing with anger and a touch of childish defiance.
“I’m not stupid, you know.”
He fully and accurately anticipated the you-could-have-fooled-me look that she proceeded to give him.
“If Dawson had to decide who he should remain friends with, of course it’s going to be with you.”
Joey started to fidget uneasily. She never expected to feel sorry for Pacey.
“You guys have been best friends for years. How can I compete with that?”
In order to quash her feelings of sympathy, she fired a series of questions. “Why do you like hanging out with Dawson anyway? You two have nothing in common! What are you up to?” Then a thought dawned on her. “Are you doing this just to get back at me?”
“Please!” He looked at her as if she had gone mad. “Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve got better things to do.”
“Then why?” she demanded to know.
Pacey took a deep breath. “It will take me years to explain my family to you. One thing I can tell you for sure is that nothing remains the same for very long in the Witter household. I don’t know if this makes sense but being friends with Dawson helps me get up every morning and knowing it’s not such a waste of time to go to school, play ball, whatever. I know he’s different from me but maybe that’s what I need. A complete opposite to provide a sense of...”
“Consistency,” she quipped.
“You know what I mean then?”
Strangely enough, she did. Her friendship with Dawson had helped her more times than she cared to remember. “Dawson’s a constant.”
Pacey nodded. “Exactly.”
There was another bout of silence between them.
This time, Joey spoke first. “My home isn’t exactly home sweet home either.”
The corner of Pacey’s mouth tilted. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
She looked at him. “We both don’t want to hurt him and we both want to keep his friendship. The only way to do that is to call a truce.”
She reluctantly took the handshake he offered in return. “You know,” he began to say. “You could be nice to me even if Dawson isn’t around to see it.”
She squeezed his hand with all her might. “Don’t push your luck.”
“Alright!” he yelped in pain.
“Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”
She looked to her left and watched his fingers drumming against her shoulder. “Get your arm off me before I bite your hand and spoil my lunch.”
He moved his hand away but his concentration didn’t falter one bit. “Your attitude toward me improves with each month,” he mumbled.
Joey didn’t even have to guess who that look in his eyes was for. “Kristy Livingstone is a bimbo. She’s going to grow up to be a cheerleader who will date the football team’s star quarterback or the basketball team captain, neither of which will be you. So please, stop drooling on me and let me eat in peace.”
“I agreed to be nice but I never promised to hide the truth from you.”
Pacey mimicked the movement of her mouth as she spoke the words.
“Geez, thanks,” he expressed with faked gratitude.
“You’re welcome,” she replied with the same amount of sincerity.
“Yo! Dawson!” Pacey shouted at the figure that was approaching them. Joey grabbed the chance to look away and sneak a grin. Pacey could easily have her rolling on the grass in laughter if she let him. Naturally, that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. She was determined to see through it that he didn’t know his jokes and expressions cracked her up.
“What’s up?” Dawson asked, as he settled himself on the grass beside them.
“Nothing much. Just a daily reminder of what Pacey isn’t going to get.” Joey cut in, before the latter could get a word out.
“Dude, haven’t you given up yet?”
Pacey pointed to himself. “Me, give up so easily? You must have me mixed up with somebody else.”
“Yeah, a moron,” Joey contributed.
Dawson moved to take up his usual position between them before any physical sparring could take place. “That’s enough for today, kids.”
To be continued...
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