The Answer by: Kelli
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Author’s Note: Thank you to all who have been reading and reviewing. You feedback is much appreciated!! Thanks especially to boschette and Jess for all of your kind words. Hope you enjoy this update!! And remember Pacey is watching all of this with Joey’s mom. Any part now that is in all italics will be parts with ‘watching’ Pacey and Lilly. Thanks for reading!!
Pacey sensed Joey’s presence. He was struggling to escape the comatose prison he was trapped in, and he felt her, knew she was with him. He felt the light, feathery, tender touch of her soft fingertips as she caressed his cheek, the sensation it created breaking through the darkness around him. Her comforting warmth surrounded him as she pressed her body to his, burying her face into his chest. He could hear her muffled whimpering while she talked to him, her body quivering as she sobbed. Although he couldn’t make out her words, the sound of her voice soothed him, and the sense of urgency, fear and need in her pleading pulled at him. Joey was fighting for him, trying to free him from the sea of unconsciousness that he was drowning in, and she was winning. He followed the strong sensation of her, reaching for it, for her, his lifesaver, to pull him out… And she did.
"Pacey! Oh thank God! You’re awake!" Pacey’s eyes fluttered open, and the first thing he saw was her, his rescuer, his savior, his angel of mercy… his Josephine. She was beaming at him, as if looking at him for the first time, her face radiant with relief, her eyes shining with happiness. His vision was somewhat blurry, but he focused on her eyes and the light shining within them. He loved the light in her eyes and easily lost himself in their bright beauty, the glow they cast conquering the remaining darkness around him. He was free.
"W-what…" He tried to speak, but his words were not coming easily. He attempted to take a deep breath in, hoping this would help him speak, but was met with a sharp pain that felt like a dagger being thrust into the left side of his chest. He became frightened then as he tried again only to be met with the same agony. Panic filled his mind. Why can’t I breathe?
"Shh," Joey soothed brushing her thumb lightly over his lips when she noticed the look of distress in his eyes. "Don’t try to speak."
"But…what…happened?" he panted gasping for air with each word.
Pacey’s return had rendered a strange calmness over Joey, and she gently answered him, trying to choose her words carefully, but not finding any other way to say it. "We had an accident, Pace." No matter how Joey put it, Pacey didn’t like the way it sounded.
Accident? His gaze moved past Joey to fall on the smashed windshield in front of him and it all came flooding back in one huge wave of terror. He and Joey had been in a car accident! He sat up in horror and leaned forward, trying to get up. He had to get them help!
"Whoa, Pacey." Joey gripped his arms firmly and reassuringly, easing him back down against the cool leather of the seat. "You’re not going anywhere."
"But…I…have…to…get…" he protested.
"You have to get nothing. You’re hurt, Pacey. So, I’m not letting you move a muscle. Now please just try to stay calm." She gently stroked his arms, her touch warming him again and temporarily numbing his pain. He was about to obey her orders when he saw the blood on her hands. His eyes went wide.
"Joey…you’re…hurt!" He grabbed for her hands, staring at them, as if making sure the blood was real. He didn’t know that it was his blood covering them. Joey squeezed his hands. "Pacey…" She tried to reassure him, but he was fighting her again.
"Pacey!" She grabbed his face between her hands. "You did not hurt me! Do you hear me? I am fine! It’s you that I’m worried about! I thought you were…you were…" She trailed off, tears spilling out her eyes again. She bowed her head trying to rid her mind of the thought. Pacey was not dead…yet. She had to stay strong for him. She had to help him. She felt his cold, shaky hand on her chin.
"Jo," he choked out tilting her face up to look at him. Their eyes met, and he saw that the light was gone, replaced with a dark fear. He took a trembling finger and brushed away a tear that was rolling down her cheek. Joey drew in a shaky breath.
"I thought you were dead, Pacey. I thought you left me." Her voice broke a little, but she fought back the lump in her throat. She was determined to keep her wits about her. Pacey, though, who was always her comforter and protector, saw past her disguise of strength. Although he was the one in bad shape, he didn’t care about himself. He only wanted her to be okay. He forgot about the pain in his chest and his labored breathing. He didn’t even notice the stabbing in his left leg, or feel the warm blood seeping from the cut on his forehead. He only saw her and the pain in her eyes. He moved his hand from her cheek to the back of her head and pulled her to him. Joey let him, needing him just as much as he needed her. She pressed her face into his neck and felt his arms go around her, not sure where Pacey was getting the strength to hold her. It took some effort, but he moved his lips down to her ear and whispered into it,
"I’m not…dead. I won’t…leave…you, Joey."
"Promise?" She asked, not moving away from him.
"I…promise." That was all she needed to hear. The lump in her throat burst forth allowing the tears to flow again. He held her tighter and stroked her hair gently. They clung to each other finding peace for a few moments despite the chaos around them. They were together, and that was all that mattered. A sound coming from off in the distance broke through their peaceful reverie. Joey’s ears perked up, and she lifted her head slightly from Pacey’s shoulder to listen. It sounded like… A car! Yes that had to be what it was! She quickly pulled away from Pacey and moved towards the passenger side door.
"What…is…it?" Pacey asked in alarm.
"I think I heard a car!" She exclaimed as she scurried out the door, stumbling a little as her feet hit the ground. She regained her balance and peered out at the road, her head swinging back and forth trying to find where the car was coming from. Then, two blazing beams of light came around the corner illuminating the black pavement in front of it. Joey almost jumped for joy as the car appeared, creeping towards them over the icy road. She waved her arms at it frantically calling out, "Hey! Over here!" Upon seeing Joey, the car pulled to a stop beside her. The window rolled down revealing a middle-aged man with a kind face.
"Ma’am, you had an accident!"
He exclaimed as he gestured to where the mangled Jetta sat with its front end firmly against the tree. "Do you need some help?"
"Yes! Please!" He started to get out of the car, but Joey stopped him, rushing up to the open window.
"Sir, please, I just need you to find a phone. My cell phone isn’t working, and my friend is badly hurt! We need to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible. He needs an ambulance and I can’t help him! I don’t even know where we are!"
"Okay," he replied patting her hand, "calm down, honey. I’ll get you some help. There happens to be a little roadside diner just up ahead a little ways. I know there’s a phone there. I’ll call 911 for you. What’s your name?"
"It’s Joey, and my friend is Pacey! He’s not doing very well," she babbled, her words barely even making sense to her. "He’s bleeding, and he can’t breath, and I think his leg is broken, and…"
"It’s alright, Joey." He squeezed her hand and looked at her with calm eyes. "You just stay calm and go back with your friend. It will only take me about five minutes to get to a phone, and then I’ll come back and wait with you."
"Okay," she nodded resisting the urge to throw her arms around the stranger and kiss him out of sheer happiness and gratitude.
The man smiled at her one last time. "And don’t worry, dear. Help will be here soon." Joey returned his smile, praying that he was right. She watched as he rolled up his window and continued on down the road. Joey let out a sigh of relief as she headed back to the car. She finally had good news for Pacey. "I have good news, Pace!" She leaned her head into the car and started to climb in. Her heart dropped to her stomach as she saw that Pacey’s eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving and she feared she had lost him again. She jumped into the car and scurried over to him. "Pace!" She grabbed onto his shoulders and shook him lightly. "Pacey, wake up!"
He stirred a little and Joey heard a moan of pain escape his lips. His eyes fluttered open. "I’m…awake. I…just…feel…so…tired." He shivered as he spoke. His voice was thin and distant. Joey ripped her coat off, not even noticing the bitter cold she felt. She threw it over Pacey, tucking it tightly around him.
"I know you’re tired, Pace, but you have to stay awake just a little longer," she said gently. "Someone is going to help us. They’re going to call an ambulance and then we can get you to a hospital and get you fixed up. Please, try to hold on until they get here."
"I’ll…try," Pacey said weakly, his eyes dropping closed again.
"No, Pacey! Keep your eyes open. I need to see them! I have to see that beautiful blue that always makes me think of the sky on a clear summer day."
Pacey managed to open his eyes and roll them at her. "Jo…your flowery…words…will have…no affect…on me."
"And why not?" She grinned, glad to see that Pacey hadn’t lost his sense of humor. "I thought that was a pretty good line!"
"You forget…who you…are talking…to. I am…the master…of pickup…lines."
"Oh! You think I was trying to hit on you, Witter." She laughed and shook her head. "If I wanted to pick you up, I wouldn’t need to use words." She winked at him, the sparkle back in her eyes. Pacey chuckled and tried to ignore the gnawing pain in his chest.
"What…would you …use?"
"My killer body, of course." She shrugged nonchalantly. "That’s what got you to notice me in the first place." Pacey knew she was referring to the day they went looking for snails and he ‘accidentally’ saw her naked. He had told her about it AFTER he was dating her and allowed to see her in the buff. He grinned at her.
"You…were always…sexy to me, Potter. But, that…wasn’t what I …first noticed…about you."
"It wasn’t?" Joey looked at him skeptically. He shook his head. "It was this." He reached up to tap the side of her face.
"My cheek?" Joey asked, narrowing her eyes at him in confusion.
"No. It was…your…whole face, Jo." He spoke softly, his eyes wide open now and holding her gaze. "I…noticed…what a…beautiful…face you had. Those…big…brown eyes that…dance when you…laugh, and that…smile that turns me…to mush. Those lips…that…are so kissable…Your cheeks…that are as…soft as…silk…and your…chin that…fits perfectly…in my hand…" He cupped her chin gently in his hand, running his thumb over her bottom lip. "If I died…right now…and your…face was…the last thing…that I saw…then I would…die a …happy man."
Joey was overcome with emotion again, her lower lip quivering. She wasn’t sure if it was the tears that were threatening or Pacey’s touch that caused it to tremble.
"Pacey," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "Don’t talk like that! You are not going to die! Remember, you promised not to leave me."
Pacey stroked her cheek tenderly. "I…won’t leave…you," he promised again. Joey reached up to her cheek and covered Pacey’s hand with hers.
"Good," she said as she laced her fingers through his, "because I…I need you, Pacey."
"Yes," she whispered, bringing his hand to her lips and kissing it. She took a deep breath before continuing, looking for the courage to say what she desperately needed to. "In fact, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you in it."
"What are…you saying…Potter?" Pacey asked still battling with his heavy lids. Oh God! What was she trying to say? She searched her mind for an answer to his question, even though she already knew it. He was her answer. He was the answer to all that was missing in her life. She would have no life at all if he were gone. She loved him, but how did she tell him that? After all these years and all the things she put him through, how could she just come out and say that he was the only one she wanted? She paused for a moment to look up at the sky through the broken windshield. The sky was clear again and the stars seemed to be shining brighter than ever. She was reminded of the flashback she’d had earlier to their time on the True Love, when they tried to count the stars. She knew then how she could explain to Pacey what she meant.
"Pace, do you remember the night we were stargazing out on the boat, and you wondered how many stars there were in the sky?"
"Yes," he replied. "You know…that I could…never forget…one minute…of our time…on the boat."
She smiled. "Me either." Their eyes met again as an unspoken understanding of what that summer meant to them passed between them.
Joey continued, "Remember how we decided that there were too many to count, an infinite number?" She waited and watched as he nodded, his eyelids still fluttering to stay open. "And then you compared your love for me to the stars. You said that your love for me would go on forever even after the stars we were looking at had stopped shining."
"I do, but what…does…that have…to do…with…all of this?"
Joey chewed on her bottom lip for a minute. Should she say it? She had to. "Well, Pace, that’s how I feel about you, too. My love for you has never ended, and I know that it never will. It still burns brightly within me after all this time, and even after the stars have all gone out, it will still burn brighter than anything else in me."
Pacey tried to process the meaning of her words in his mind, which was hard to do when he was already working it overtime in order to stay awake. Did she just say that she still loved him? "Jo…you don’t…have to say…all this…now…just because…you think…that I’m going…to die."
"That’s not why I’m saying it, Pacey." She took his face in her hands again. "I’m saying it because it’s the truth, and it would be whether you were hurt or not. You need to hear it. You should’ve heard it a long time ago. I love you, Pacey."
"Jo…I…" He was stunned and didn’t know what to say. Plus, the pain in his chest was worsening and he could no longer ignore it. He wanted to cry and scream in happiness. He wanted to tell her he loved her, too, but he could feel himself slipping away from her again. His left leg was practically numb with pain and his head throbbed. He couldn’t hold on anymore.
"Jo…I…love…" His voice trailed off as his eyes closed again. He could faintly hear the wail of sirens off in the distance, signaling that help was near, but he couldn’t stay awake for it. He slipped back down under the darkness.
"Pacey!" Joey screamed frantically. "You what!? What were you going to say?" But Pacey didn’t answer her. An anger like she had never felt before welled up in her. She was angry with him for leaving her again and angry with herself for letting him. He promised her he wouldn’t leave her! "No, Pacey! You can’t leave me again! You promised!" Still nothing… "Pacey, please! Don’t leave me! I love you!" she begged him, clutching at his arms. She wouldn’t let him go, couldn’t let him go. She couldn’t lose him too. She had already lost so many people she loved. Surely God wouldn’t be so cruel to take Pacey from her too? The ambulance came barreling down the road then, coming to a screeching halt beside Pacey’s car. Joey barely noticed as the Paramedics rushed to them, shouting questions at her. Their words sounded far away to Joey, and everything seemed to be going in slow motion. She felt like she was falling again, falling away from Pacey. She could see him, but couldn’t reach him. He was slipping away from her…
"Pacey…" She couldn’t get to him. They were taking her away from him. She fought them, but they were too strong. She could hear them asking her to calm down, but she couldn’t. They couldn’t take her away from Pacey. He needed her! She kept struggling with them until she felt a jab in her arm… She called out to him again. "Pacey!" That was the last thing Joey remembered.
Pacey had not moved in the last thirty minutes. He was in shock as he watched his life being played out before him. He was still having a hard time believing that he was watching all this, but wasn’t really there. The drama and intense emotions that he had just witnessed took a hold of him and wouldn’t let go.
Lilly took his hand and squeezed it. "How are you doing?"
"Truthfully?" He raised his eyebrows in question.
"Not so good. I don’t know if I can watch anymore."
"I told you it wouldn’t be easy, but there’s more you need to see."
Pacey rubbed his hand over his head and turned from the picture in front of him, which was now fading to black. "I don’t know if I can. That was hard to watch for so many reasons."
"Now do you see how much she loves you?" Lilly asked.
"Yes," he sighed. "But…"
Lilly threw her hands up in frustration. "But! But what? Why is there always a but with you? Why can’t you just admit that she loves you and be happy?"
"Because I can’t, okay!" He yelled, whirling around to face her. "No matter how much she tells me, or I hear it, I can’t be happy about it!"
"Well, HE looked happy about it." Lilly nodded to the Pacey that was being loaded into an ambulance while the scene continued to fade.
"He’s a fool. I’m a fool to think that she would really love me enough to actually stay with me. She may love me, and I may love her, but it’s never enough to make her stay. Just watch. She’ll leave me again, as if she never told me any of that."
Lillian cast her eyes down in sadness. This was going to be a lot tougher than she thought. "I guess we’ll see. Ready for some more?"
"No, but do I have a choice?"
"You do. I told you that you could stop this at anytime, but you’ll have to decide if you want to stay or go back. Are you ready to make that choice?"
He really wished he was because watching this was killing him. Joey’s confession of love was killing him. He wanted so badly to believe her, to believe in her, but he had been abandoned by her one too many times to do that. Still, his damn curiosity got the better of him.
"No, I’m not," he told her.
"Okay, well then let’s keep watching…"
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