Summary: How the gang might have met years ago as kids.
Category: Pacey and Joey romance. You’ll see it eventually.
Author’s Note: This time round, I’m going to attribute my inspiration to great romance novelists - Judith McNaught, Barbara Freethy, Barbara Boswell, Jude Deveraux, Jill Barnett, Johanna Lindsey. Their stories have got me thinking up feasible plots every single minute of the day and it’s pretty worthwhile. Pacey and Joey deserve the best storyline I can come up with.
The sky was a mass of different colors. It was a beautiful summer evening.
She saw him, hands in his pockets, looking out to the water.
As she gazed at his frame by the railings, all the memories, bad and good, came flooding back. She crossed her arms and could not help but smile, in spite of her turmoil.
If he turns back before the boat crosses the line, I’ll tell him, she decided.
She hadn’t even realized she had been holding her breath until she slowly expelled it.
The boat had crossed. He hadn’t looked back.
She took one last look at him. And then she walked away.
“Doug, have you seen your brother?”
Douglas Witter looked up from a box of compact discs that he was sorting out and saw his mother standing in the doorway.
“Have you seen Pacey?” she repeated.
“Who cares?” he replied and returned to his task. “I’ve got better things to do than take notice of his whereabouts.” He looked up to meet his mother’s disapproving gaze and reluctantly divulged what little information he knew.
“He said something about exploring the place.”
“It’s getting dark.” Margaret Witter walked towards the window and look out anxiously. “I’m worried.”
Shrugging, Doug told his mother, “He can take care of himself.”
Margaret did not respond and did not seem to have heard a word as she continued to stare out the window.
“Dad was screaming his head off at him again. Nothing new really. He’ll be back soon enough.”
“I hope you’re right,” she sighed.
She was so deep in thought, she did not hear footsteps approaching. Someone came up from behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.
She jumped in surprise and swiftly turned around. “You scared the hell out of me!” she shouted. “Who are you?” she demanded to know.
“Hey, no need to bite my head off.” The voice was accompanied by a movement in the darkening surroundings as the stranger sat himself beside her on the bench. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Sticking out a hand, he said, “The name’s Pacey. I’m new around here.”
Joey looked into a pair of mischievous blue eyes and into the face of a boy no older than herself. He had dark hair and was dressed in jeans and an Aerosmith T-shirt.
She ignored his friendly gesture and made a move to start the walk back. He followed her.
“Hey, what’s with you?”
She walked faster. He had no problem keeping up with her speed and was beside her in one easy stride. Joey was tall for her age but this guy was going to tower over her by at least four inches in the future. Not that she cared.
“It’s getting late. I’ll walk with you.”
“No, thanks. I can manage,” she replied rudely.
He tried to stop her by standing in front of her but she just walked around him. “Isn’t it a bit premature to judge me? Or do you treat everyone like that?” he said to the back of her head. She did not turn around.
“Fine,” he said.
Joey heard him retreating and paused in her step for a moment. She sneaked a glance behind her and saw no one. Good riddance, she thought. She had never been in a worse mood. She felt a twinge of guilt for snapping at the boy but what’s done was done.
About 50 yards from the house, a shadow from the corner leading to a path collided right into her. She gave a loud shriek as they both hit the ground.
“Oh damn! I recognize that voice.”
Joey squinted in the dark and caught sight of a blue sneaker. Then the voice spoke again.
“Miss Grumpy, is that you?”
It dawned on her.
“Why the hell are you following me?”
“I wasn’t following you and why the hell do you keep cursing?”
She got to her feet and dusted the gravel off her clothes. He stood up, a bit more gingerly as he favored his left arm and muttered an obscenity (that any adult wouldn’t have condoned, really) under his breath.
“Now, look who’s cursing,” she retorted sarcastically. Without waiting for an answer, she made her way to the nearest house and rang the doorbell.
“Joey, where have you been? Your mother called-” The woman in her mid-30s started to ask as the latter side-stepped her into the house. “Who’s your friend?”
The boy made his way up to the porch. “Pacey Witter, ma’am. I just moved here.”
Joey popped her head right back. “Witter? Your father is the new town sheriff?”
His disarming grin faltered for a brief second. The moment had passed so quickly, Joey thought she had imagined it.
“Yes, I am his son.” He smiled an all too charming smile. Joey rolled her eyes heavenward.
“And I’m Gail Leery. Joey here, goes to school with my son, Dawson.” Her attention was momentarily diverted by the sight of his left elbow. “You’re bleeding. We’d better get that cleaned up.”
Pacey waved it off politely. “It’s no problem, Mrs. Leery .”
“I’d better take a look at it, “ she gestured. “Dawson isn’t home at the moment. He’s out looking for her,” she said as she pointedly regarded Joey who was still peering around the door.
Joey had an expressive face that never failed to give away her true emotions, no matter how hard she tried. This time was no exception. Guilt was written all over her face.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked in a softer but still distant tone.
Pacey looked her in the eye. “I’d love to make you feel bad for a long time, but unfortunately I’m sure I’ll be fine.” He caught her by surprise again when he smiled sincerely albeit briefly. “I’m really all right, Mrs. Leery. I should get back home.”
“Okay, but be careful. We’ll see you around then, Pacey.”
“Oh you bet.”
Joey knew it was a promise directed to her.
“I can’t hear you!”
“This Pacey guy! What does he look like?”
Dawson squinted against the sun as he stepped onto the first few rungs of the new ladder that he and his father had just fixed against the side of the house.
“I don’t know. What do you mean?” she shouted from her position at Dawson’s bedroom window.
“I mean exactly what I said. What does he look like?” He jumped on the ladder to make certain it was secure and then motioned for her to come down. “Let’s hope this works. Mom loves you like a daughter but you’re driving her nuts by ringing on the doorbell every twenty minutes.”
Joey crawled out the window, rear end first. As she made her way down, she was muttering more to herself than answering the question.
“He’s all right, I suppose. Tall, brown hair, blue eyes. You know, typical. Pretty annoying personality as well.”
Dawson noted the tone of her voice. “Is there anyone our age, besides me of course, that you actually can stand?”
She jumped off the last rung onto the grass and faced him, hands on hips and replied indignantly, “I like people.”
He was about to head for his next class when he spotted her. He walked over and leaned against the locker next to hers. “Hey, Miss Grumpy.”
She glanced at him and then looked back into her locker.
“Fine, ignore me,” he said.
From Joey’s other side, a blond head popped out. “Monday’s not her day.” The boy ignored her killer stare and reached over to shake Pacey’s hand. “Hi, I’m Dawson.”
“My mother’s told me about you. How’s the elbow?”
Pacey touched the band aid on his wound in reflex. “Just a scratch,” he shrugged off. “I’ll live.”
Joey closed her locker with a bang and addressed Dawson directly, still paying no attention to the other boy. “We should go.”
“Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you join us in the cafeteria later, Pacey?” Dawson ignored Joey’s stare once again. “It’s liver day.”
Pacey caught sight of the irritation on Joey’s face and grinned widely. “Delighted to,” he accepted.
All his doubts dispersed as he saw Dawson Leery waving at him from his table. He returned the gesture and let out a breath he had been holding. He was more relieved than he cared to admit.
He got a tray and waited in line. As he tapped his fingers against the counter and half-watched the boy in front of him negotiate his plate of liver for two burgers, he found his gaze drifting toward the brunette beside Dawson.
Unlike most of the girls in school who wore skirts, Joey was dressed in baggy overalls. Her shoulder-length hair was tied up in a ponytail and much of it was covered with a cap worn backwards. His sisters would freak out if they ever caught sight of her sense of fashion.
He, on the other hand, saw her as distinct from the crowd.
“So, Joey. What exactly is your full name?” he asked abruptly as he settled himself down at their table.
She was about to pop a fry into a mouth when he surprised her with his question. “It’s none of your business.” The tone of her voice reflected her infuriation.
“It’s Josephine,” Dawson quipped.
She swung her head toward her best friend. “You say another word,” she warned, “and I’m out of here.”
He raised his arms in surrender. “Okay, alright.”
“So, Josep-” Pacey started.
“Don’t call me that!” She grunted in irritation and then stood up and walked out, with her tray, leaving the two boys staring after her.
Pacey leaned back in his chair. “What was that all about?”
Dawson shrugged in response. “You have to know Joey. She’s a great friend but she’s got a terrible temper sometimes. Once she gets to know you, you guys will get along fine.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
Pacey Witter. What sort of a name is that anyway? Joey rolled her eyes as she answered her own question. “I’m one to talk,” she mumbled.
She realized that he had been unfairly made to bear the brunt of her recent temper, which was fueled by the fact that no one in her family wanted to talk about anything. Her mother was acting strange, her sister pre-occupied with high school and boys and her father, well, he was never around. Their family was falling apart and she seemed to be the only one who cared enough to do something about it. Maybe it would be easier if she just pretended everything was all right.
“Pacey, don’t be rude.”
He had been lying on his bed, hands behind his head and staring into space when his mother had knocked on his door.
He sat up in anger. “It’s my first day at a new school and he doesn’t ask me how my day was, did I make any friends, do I hate my teachers...something, anything!”
“Mom, I don’t want to deal with this anymore.” He immediately regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth as he watched his mother’s expression change to an all-too familiar one.
“Pacey,” she said, sitting herself beside him on the bed and cupped his face in her hands. “I’m so sorry.” Her voice quivered. “For everything.”
Each time they had a conversation like that, his mother got more and more emotional and what she said became more and more puzzling. Pacey, by this time, had memorized the haunting look in her eyes whenever they broached the subject of John Witter. He had been seven when he had noticed a change in his father’s attitude toward him. When he asked his mother about it, she had avoided his gaze altogether and swiftly changed the subject. Over the years, he had got nowhere close to the bottom of the matter. Although he wanted to know badly enough, it wasn’t worth upsetting his mother over. He was certain she would tell him when she was ready to tell him.
He leaned forward to hug her. “Mom, please don't get sappy on me.”
Sarah Potter stood in the doorway of the girls’ bedroom for a second before turning away and heading downstairs.
“Uh oh,” Bessie said, from her position by the dresser and looking toward Joey, who was doing her homework on her bed. “Sounds like she wants to talk.”
Joey slapped her book shut. “Maybe now we’ll know what’s been bothering her.”
“Mom, please.” Pacey was at his study desk, trying to make sense of his homework, while he tried his best to evade his mother’s inevitable question.
“Why is that?”
Sometimes he wished that he would just harden his heart and let her cry during their routine conversation just so she wouldn’t stop and turn into a nagging parent. It sounded stupid but he was, after all, only nine years old and that meant he didn’t always make sense.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to make what Dad says about me a reality,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Mom, I’m trying to do my Math.”
Joey remained silent as her sister shot their mother an accusing look.
“The cancer’s gone,” Sarah calmly replied.
Bessie was angry now. “That’s not the point. You were sick and you didn’t tell us! What if you hadn’t got better? Would you only have told us when you were lying in hospital dying?”
Sarah reached for her hand but she stepped aside and ran upstairs, slamming the bedroom door shut. The former was clearly distressed as she looked to her younger daughter for comfort and assurance.
Joey looked up from her hands and her face was expressionless. “Are you sure it’s gone?” she asked in a steady voice. One would have assumed that she was calm if they hadn’t noticed she was playing with her fingers or had heard her heart racing so fast she thought it was going to jump right out of her chest.
“They removed the lump from my breast during the operation.” Sarah moved to sit beside her daughter on the couch and took her hand. “I’m fine now. I promise.”
“If you say so.”
To be continued...
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