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Joey looked up from the classified ads when she heard Bessie walk into the living room. "There isn't a single job in here worth looking at," she complained, "and the summer's almost half-gone."
"We'll just have to wait for something to come along then." Bessie hoped she sounded optimistic enough as she went into the kitchen and put on the kettle for a well-deserved cup of coffee after being kept awake by Alexander for the second night in a row. "What are your plans for today?" she asked, popping her head back into the living room.
"I'll probably go into town and see if anyone needs hired help." She resumed skimming through the newspaper and didn't look up even when the telephone started to ring.
"Hello?" she said distractedly.
"Joey, it's Jen. Jack and I were wondering if you and Pacey wanted to go to the park for a game of touch football."
"You've gotta be kidding," she replied, her tone unchanging.
"Come on, it's such a beautiful day and it would be a waste not to spend it outdoors. Besides, my parents just sent me a camcorder, possibly out of guilt for not wanting me home, but who cares about that? Let's just go have some fun so I can flaunt someone's idea of compensation."
"But why football?" she asked, finally looking up from her morning routine of looking for a job.
"Remember that silly draw we entered at the mall in Boston? Well, Jack won a football."
"You gotta be kidding."
"Is that all you can say?"
"No," she continued and remained silent.
"Wow," Jen said, "you sure are talkative today."
Joey let out a soft sigh. "I'm sorry." She looked around the house for an excuse to stay indoors but there was nothing to keep her there. "All right, I'll be there in an hour. Do you need me to bring anything?"
"Just bring yourself."
"Jack, watch out!"
Jack heeded Joey's advice and saw Jen before she ambushed him from behind. He managed to throw the ball into the air before he was knocked to the ground.
The ball sailed toward Joey and she caught it securely with two hands.
"Nice throw, Jack!" Pacey shouted as the former struggled to rid himself of Jen's grip.
"Thanks!" Jack replied. "Do you think you could ask your teammate to get off my back?"
"I think she's managing fine." Pacey's eyes never left Joey as he imagined her mind hatching a plan to avoid his path to score a touchdown. "Yo, Joey! You're never going to get past 'The Great One'!"
"Oh yes, I am, 'Your Delusional One'!" With that, she ran for the goal line, trying her best to escape Pacey's line of defense.
She moved quickly but wasn't quite quick enough as he caught up to her and she felt his arms around her.
"Ahhhh," she screamed as he lifted her off the ground, the ball still in her hands. "This isn't fair!" But she wasn't angry as he lifted her further off her feet and by the time Pacey fell backwards to the grass, pushed over by the weight in his arms, she had broken up in laughter.
"Pacey, let go of me!"
"Not until you give me the ball."
"Not in this lifetime," she said as she struggled to stand up, with Pacey still holding on to her waist.
Jack, by this time, had managed to free himself and was yelling at Joey to make the pass.
She struggled some more and freed her waist from Pacey, who now held on to her ankle as a last resort. She tried running but he slowed her down.
An elderly couple who had been watching them for quite awhile now and whom had volunteered to film them on Jen's camcorder, pointed at the comical sight of Joey dragging Pacey at her feet to their grandson and the trio started to laugh.
Joey had to change her strategy. She wasn't going to get anywhere near Jack before Jen would get to him not with the weight of a 150-pound guy chained to her ankle. With all the might she could muster in her arm, she flung the ball at Jack, who had begun running, with Jen hot on his heels.
They all watched helplessly and it was up to Jack as he caught the ball effortlessly and ran the last few yards to make the touchdown.
"Ah, ha!" Joey screeched in delight and Pacey finally let go. She ran to Jack and jumped into his ecstatic embrace. "We did it!"
Jen had scrambled on her fours to lay by Pacey, who was sprawled on the grass, in utter defeat.
"We suck," she said.
"Not so fast," Pacey begged to differ.
Arm-in-arm, Jack and Joey hovered over the losers of the game in glee.
Pacey squinted against the sunlight to look at them and tried his best to be sporting about the whole thing.
"Congratulations, but I bet we could beat you at something else."
Joey snorted. "Trust you to refuse to admit defeat."
"What, are you scared?" he taunted her.
"Impressive. Such big words for a sore loser." She bent in closer to him and laid down her challenge. "You can pick a game, any game and I guarantee I'll still win."
"We. We'll still win," Jack intercepted.
"You're on," Pacey said.
Jen moved her head to look at Pacey. "What exactly is it that you're planning?"
"Twister?" Joey looked at him. "You want us to play Twister?"
"It's not too late to back out." "Not on your life," she said, opening the lid of the box. "We're going to win this. Right, Jack?"
He gave her the thumbs-up.
Jack and Jen had withdrawn voluntarily from the game as their limbs were aching from twisting them in all sorts of directions.
"Okay, Joey, right hand, red," Jack called out.
Joey forced herself into an awkward position downwards, whereby her rear end was facing Pacey, who was grinning from ear-to-ear as he nodded with approval, at Jack.
Jack raised his brow as silent advice to him not to risk the wrath of Joey.
Their exchange did not go unnoticed by Joey, who warned calmly, "Don't enjoy the view too much, Witter."
Jen, who had been recording the whole thing, put down the video camera and asked, "Why couldn't we have played Monopoly?"
Pacey waved her question aside and signaled to Jack for his next instruction.
"Right," the latter said, spinning the board. "Left foot, blue."
Pacey maneuvered his leg high enough in order to cross over Joey without hitting her on the back but he overestimated his sense of balance at that point in time as he felt himself on the verge of falling. Reacting instinctively, he quickly moved his leg back to its original position, before he fell right on top of Joey.
"Ouch," she yelled, rubbing the back of her head where Pacey had hit his chin.
"Aww," he echoed.
Jack and Jen both grimaced.
"You guys okay?"
Pacey rolled off Joey, hand on his chin. "Still alive here."
"No thanks to you," she muttered. Raising her voice, she said, daring Pacey to object. "I win this game."
Oh, all right," he conceded unwillingly. He mulled over a thought and made the suggestion out loud.
"What do you guys say about charades?"
Their answer was clear as they began throwing potato chips at him.
The assault was temporarily halted when Grams walked in.
"What will you, young men and women, say to dinner here this evening?"
"We'll say great, Mrs. Ryan. Thank you," Pacey answered and the rest, but Joey who hesitated, followed with similar reactions.
Joey's silence didn't escape Jen. Standing up, she grabbed hold of Joey's hand and pulled her to her feet. "Come on, let's help out in the kitchen while the boys clear the living room."
When they were safely tossing salad into a bowl, Jen jumped at the chance to talk to Joey.
"So, Joey, I noticed you weren't too keen to stay. Do I still bug you or what?" she asked half-jokingly.
Joey eyed her warily. "Do you care?" she answered with a question of her own dryly.
"No, not really."
The conversation ended as abruptly as it had started. They returned to safe ground once again tossing salad.
As Bessie grabbed her usual cup of coffee while she combed for a job, the phone rang.
"I've just had the weirdest sense of deja-vu," she muttered. "Hello?" she said, cautiously into the receiver.
"Joey, it's me."
She frowned when she felt a slight tug at her heart, which could only by described as delight? She was disturbed by the thought and that feeling of uneasiness was conveyed in the tone of her voice. "To what do I owe this honor?" she asked flatly.
"I have something I need to talk to you about. You want to meet somewhere?"
Joey thought he sounded nervous. Pacey, nervous around her? That was an anomaly in itself. Then she dismissed the idea. He was probably just up to something.
"Can't you tell me over the phone?"
"I'd rather not," he replied.
Her suspicion was confirmed. "What is this about?"
"Nothing!" he said defensively. "Gee, can't a friend ask another friend out for a drink anymore?"
"All right!" she grumbled. "Don't get all teary-eyed on me. You can be such a baby sometimes."
"You too," he retorted. "Outside Screen Play Video, in fifteen. Don't be late." He hung up before she could say another word.
He gestured for her to enter the store first while he followed closely behind. She proceeded with small steps, half-expecting someone to jump out and frighten the living daylights out of her. She made it to the counter and was still clueless until Nellie Olsen, the daughter of the owner of the place, chose to show her face.
"Well, well, if it isn't Joey Potter."
Joey turned to Pacey and her glare demanded a quick and thorough explanation, nothing less.
"Well, you've been looking for a job, haven't you? I thought you might think about working here since there's a vacancy."
"I would have preferred someone else but my father wants the position filled ASAP since Dawson Leery left without so much as a warning," Nellie said arrogantly. "If it were up to me, I wouldn't even have agreed to give you an interview."
Pacey, standing behind Joey, tried to shut Nellie up by waving his arms frantically. His face fell when he saw Joey's shoulders stiffen.
"To tell you the truth, I feel kind of sorry for you and your sister, with the Icehouse gone and your father back in jail. It's a tragedy, really," she went on, oblivious to Joey's silence or Pacey's hard stare.
"I guess I should never take your word for it when you promise to be civil," he said angrily to his smug employer, who was smiling triumphantly. He wrapped his arm around Joey and turned her in the direction of the door, prepared to walk out of the store.
But Joey's next words wiped the smirk right off.
"When do I start?" she asked softly.
"What?" Pacey asked, wondering if he'd heard wrong.
Joey looked unflinchingly at the other girl. "When do I start? It's a simple question."
Nellie narrowed her eyes and through thinned lips, she managed to say, "You'll work with Pacey the Loser here," before disappearing to the back in a huff.
One for the home team, Joey thought.
They walked back out into the daylight and Pacey tried to find the right words to say to her.
"Pacey, I'm not made of glass. I won't break every time someone mentions Dawson, the Icehouse or my father. It's reality and I have to deal with it."
"Still, I can't help but feel responsible for subjecting you to all that, for a job that you might not even have accepted."
"But I did," she paused in her step. "And I would have, all over again. Nellie was desperate to be let off the hook and I knew it. I wouldn't have given her the satisfaction of seeing me upset if she was going to offer me the job anyway." Looking at him, she continued, "A job, by the way, I could use. Thanks."
"Hey," he shrugged. "It was no skin off my nose."
Slowly, her lips spread into a smile. "Did you see the look on her face?"
Pacey laughed. "How could I miss it?" Holding on to her arm, he said, "Come on, let's go celebrate."
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