In The Summertime by: Jade
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Author's Note: This will be one of my many imagined scenarios of how Season Three could possibly go
probably worlds apart from what *actually* happens in the script.
"What do you mean you may be tired of being her man? You don't just fall out of love with someone, especially not with someone like Joey."
Dawson rubbed his temples as the pain in his head got worse. "Pacey, I don't want to talk about it, all right?"
"Well, don't! Talk to her."
"I've tried calling her house so many times I think Bessie's going to disconnect the phone. She doesn't want to see or speak to me."
"Maybe all she needs is some time and space. It's only been two weeks."
"I've given her all the time and space I can give!" he said, a little too loudly. "I'm just so sick of this."
There was a moment's pause on the other end of the line.
"What do you want me to do?"
Dawson breathed a sigh of relief at his words. "I know you hate to be in the middle of this but I can't help worrying about how she's been dealing with the aftermath."
"You know you still love her."
"Yeah, but what does that matter?"
"I'm not going to beat around the bush. Dawson sent me over to check on you."
He was standing on her front porch, face-to-face with a girl who hardly looked like Joey.
"Don't mind my saying, but you look horrible." He pushed past her and entered the house.
"What do you think? I had a hand in imprisoning my father, who was responsible for the burning down of the Potters' livelihood and my best friend since pre-school, who also happened to be my boyfriend, sorry, ex-boyfriend, betrayed my trust." She crossed her arms. "Tell me, Pacey, how would you look under such circumstances?"
"You know Dawson had to do what he did."
"No, I don't," she said, walking over to the couch, "and even if I did, I still wouldn't be able to stay on with Dawson and live with the guilt."
She took up more than half of where she was sitting but Pacey ignored the hint and tried to squeeze her out of some space. Reluctantly, she moved aside to let him ease back on the couch.
"Why are you doing this?" she asked.
"You guys are my best friends. I hate to see either of you like that. Isn't there a chance you could work this out in a civilized manner?"
She chose not to answer the question and instead, got up and walked to the door. "I need to take a breather," she said.
He followed her outside.
"Will you just leave me alone?"
He grabbed her hand and pulled her down the few steps leading to his father's truck, parked in front of her house. He opened the passenger door for her and waited for her to get in.
"What is the meaning of this?" she demanded to know.
"If you want to wallow, you might as well have fun at the same time. Get in."
"Dawson asked you to check up on me, not be my bodyguard."
"Humor me, all right?"
"I'm not going anywhere with you," she insisted.
"Fine, suit yourself." He settled himself onto the driver's seat and slammed the door shut. Turning on the ignition, he stepped on the gas and reversed the vehicle.
She stood there, watching him until she heard a baby's cries, followed by an adult yelling her name, from the house. "Wait!" she shouted.
He watched as Joey got into the passenger's seat and strapped in her seatbelt.
"I changed my mind, okay?"
He tilted his head. "Did I say anything?"
She ended up at the annual summer carnival, cotton candy in one hand and popcorn in the other.
"We're going to OD on sugar," Joey commented as she took another bite of candy. "But who cares?"
Pacey emptied his pockets of empty wrappers and wiped his fingers and mouth clean with a tissue Joey handed him. "Want some ice-cream?"
She laughed. "You missed a spot," she said, gesturing with her box of popcorn toward his face.
"Where, here?" he asked, wiping his cheek.
"It's still there. Hold this." She handed him her popcorn and used her free hand to rub the spot above his lip. "Got it," she said and then she licked it off her finger and took back her snack.
Pacey was a little surprised by the gesture.
"What?" She gave him a weird look. "It's just chocolate," she explained. Her attention was immediately diverted by a ring toss.
"Can we?" she asked, excited.
"Sure," he replied, still fazed by Joey.
She put down her food and handed the man a dollar and he gave her four times the allotment of rings. Most customers would have given him a quarter but Joey knew her aim was less than accurate and true enough, all of her tries fell wide.
Pacey was watching her with amusement. "Just exactly which prize are you aiming for?"
"The beads." Her eyes shone like a child's as she whispered to him.
"Are you sure you don't want something a little more attractive?"
"I've never had a gaudy necklace before and that one's perfect. I remember when we were younger, Bessie and I fought over one-," she paused suddenly as though what she was about to say was meant to be a secret. "-our dad won at a fair." She looked down at her feet and started playing with her fingers. "Bessie got them in the end. She probably lost them years ago." Still not looking at Pacey, she continued, "Come on, let's go."
"Hang on," he said. His voice was so gentle and reassuring, she had to meet his eyes. When she did, she was surprised by their sadness, which quickly disappeared under her gaze and was replaced by a twinkle.
He handed the man a quarter. "Your wish is my command." And he landed all three tosses perfectly on target. With a smile, the man behind the counter handed him the beads.
"Here," he said, turning her and put them around her neck, "All yours."
She touched them gingerly, afraid they might fall apart in her hands. "Thank you," she replied quietly.
He smiled. "You're welcome."
An awkward silence began to fill the air. Clearing his throat, he hurried her along. "Now, can we please go get some ice cream?"
She grinned. "Yeah, sure."
"Okay, maybe all that junk food wasn't such a good idea after all," he groaned in pain.
They were sprawled out in Joey's porch, rubbing their protruding bellies as they prayed for digestion to take over before they exploded.
"I'll say," she agreed as she grimaced. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"Not in front of me, please. I don't think I could take it now."
Trying to take her mind off how she felt, she asked him the question that had been bugging her all day.
"Is it just that simple?"
"Are you here just to make sure I don't kill myself?"
"We didn't think you were going to kill yourself," he answered truthfully.
"Okay, fair enough. But tell me, Pacey, what else is on your mind?"
He would never have guessed that she would be able to read him that well. "I thought I had that part covered pretty well."
"Apparently not well enough." She shrugged. "So what is it?"
"Well," he said as he sat himself up, "the idea only popped in my head this afternoon." He hesitated but she hurried him along with his explanation. "You know the school's allowed me to re-sit my finals?" He waited for her nod before dropping the bombshell. "I need help. And fast."
She didn't move or say a word.
"Well, I normally wouldn't bother you with this. I know there are much better ways to spend your summer," he hastily explained, "but Andie's not here and I really need someone to make me follow a strict regime. What better alternative than you?" He laughed a little but his smile died down as she raised her brow at the subtle insult.
"Not that being all-work-and-no-play is a bad thing. I mean, I love Andie for it and all." He watched her eyes open wider. "Okay, I should shut up right about now, yes?"
"That will be my guess, yes."
"Forget I asked. I'll just have to rely on self-discipline."
This time, it was her turn to laugh.
"Ha, ha, hilarious," he replied.
"You're not going to declare your attraction for me again this time, are you?"
He looked at her and it dawned on him as she started to grin. He smiled as he thought back to the time they had to work together on the marine biology project. "Well, I promise I'll try not to kiss you this time."
She sighed. "That will have to do for now, I suppose." She reached out a hand and they shook on it.
"Deal," she said.
"Pacey, we've got eight days left. Will you please sit your butt down and stop rummaging through my kitchen for food?"
Observing the books and papers sprawled all over the coffee table, she grabbed another aspirin and took a huge gulp of water. In the background, there was the sound of a kitchen cabinet closing and the refrigerator opening.
"You want something to drink?" he yelled.
"Pacey!" She gritted her teeth. " If you don't get in here in the next twenty seconds, you're going to have to suffer the consequences and I don't mean just failing!"
"All right," he assured her as he came back from the kitchen, with a pack of potato chips and a can of soda. "Re-"
"Don't tell me to relax!" She clenched her fist and made the motion that she was about to lose her patience and punch him in the stomach.
"Okay." He took her hand and unclenched her fingers one by one. "Just breathe," he said and he took a deep breath and let it out in an exaggerated manner. "Just let all that hot-headed blood from your head flow back to where it came from."
She tried to look stern but her forced expression gave her away. She took a deep breath and let it out softly. "I don't know how anyone can stand to be your tutor."
"Joey, we worked hard on that project together just so I didn't have to go to summer school. I don't think repeating my sophomore year is going to be any more glamorous, do you?" He put down his soda and made the sign of a cross on his heart. "Cross my heart, hope to die. I will have all this," he gestured toward the books and papers and pointed to his head, "in here by Tuesday. Take it easy, will you?"
"I'll try," she relented, "but it won't be easy."
"Pass me the hose."
Dawson handed it to him. "So
," his voice drifted off.
Pacey gave him back the hose and returned his attention to washing the car, having promised his father to do so in return for using it.
He sighed and threw the cloth on the bonnet. "Dawson, why don't you just get it off your chest and ask me?"
"Ask you what?"
He crossed his arms. "Dawson," he warned.
"All right, all right." He lifted his hands in surrender. "I give. How's Joey?"
"She's fine." He picked up his cloth and started cleaning the windshield wipers.
"You've been spending all this time with her and that's all you can tell me?"
"She hasn't exactly been pouring her heart out to me and anyway most of the time, we're studying."
"Give me something more."
" He came around the car and took the hose out of the latter's hands and turned it off. "Let's sit."
They settled themselves on the front steps to Pacey's house and opened two cans of Coke.
"Look, I promised I'd look out for her and I have, really. But she always evades the 'How are you truly feeling' question of the day and I just can't get her to say more than 'Pacey, what the hell are you doing'. Believe me, I've tried."
"I'm not sure what it is that I want to hear. I don't know if I want her to say that she was wrong and that she misses me and she wants me back or let's go back to just being friends except that's impossible now." He made a face of utter disillusionment. "Argh!" And then he buried his face beneath his hands.
Pacey opened his mouth to say something but changed his mind and wrapped his arm around his best friend instead.
"Very good," she admitted, pleasantly surprised after Pacey had just displayed his impressive knowledge of As You Like It.
He took a bow. "Thank you."
"Once again, I may have underestimated your talents."
"Why, Joey Potter," he said, hand on his chest, in exaggerated horror, "Are you admitting you're wrong?"
She rolled her eyes in reply. Inwardly, she was actually amazed at how quickly Pacey had absorbed all that school material in so short a time. She really hadn't given him enough credit.
"You know, you've really changed."
"No." He shook his head. "I've always been me. The intelligent-" he said, looking at her pointedly in slight humor as she shrugged, "-part of me just chose to remain hidden until Andie came along."
She didn't miss the slight tremor in his voice as he mentioned his girlfriend's name.
"You miss her."
He walked over to the window and she didn't think he was going to answer.
"Yes, I miss her so much it hurts. They only let her make one phone call outside of the family once every two weeks for fear of slowing down her progress."
"It sucks." She got off the couch and walked over to where he was standing. "If it makes you feel any better, you've helped me."
He looked back at her, puzzled by what she said.
"You've kept my mind off my problems by being you," she teased but in a more serious tone, she continued, "I cut down to thinking about my father from every five minutes to just under an hour."
"I'm that good, huh?"
They smiled at each other. He leaned the side of his head against the pane and shut his eyes for a moment.
"Thank you," she said softly.
He opened his eyes. "Things can't get any worse, can they?"
She had no answer to that.
To be continued
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