In the Heat of the Moment by: Laura

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Joey gazes at the flier in her hand, seemingly pondering something and pondering hard.

"What are you looking at?" Jack asks, appearing behind Joey and startling her out of her wits. She practically jumps a mile in the air, twisting around in surprise to look at the stealthy person who had snuck up on her. Realizing it's only Jack, she subsides into annoyed manner.

"Jack, I absolutely hate it when people do that to me," Joey exclaims. Jack throws his hands up jokingly, in defeat.

"Okay! Okay! Sorry. I won't do it again," he smiles, looking over her shoulder at the pale yellow colored paper she's holding. "Habitat For Humanity, eh? That's where you go help build houses, right?"

"Yeah," she replies. "They gave them out to all the kids in the volunteer program - got them in homeroom today. I don't know if I really want to do it or not."

"Well, why wouldn't you? It sounds like fun," Jack inquires, not catching Joey's confused glance across the hall to Pacey. He's holding the same flier, reading it silently. As Andie walks up to her boyfriend, Joey quickly shifts her eyes away from him and back to Jack.

"I don't know...I might be to busy. With work and school and all."

"Let's're supposed to meet over one Rushmore Avenue on Friday afternoon...I'm not working then, and as far as I know, you're not, so...wanna go and do this together?" Jack looks at Joey hopefully, his heart waiting anxiously for Joey to utter the word "yes". She doesn't look over-enthused with the idea, and Jack notices. His face falls. " don't *want* to do something with that it?" Joey quickly tries to cover her tracks, turning her back to Pacey. Just being able to sense his presence made her nervous and pained. They still hadn't uttered a word to each other since their huge fight, and that had been almost two weeks ago.

"No, no, of course that's not it, Jack. Don't be silly. I love hanging out with you. It's just I've got this project coming up for History and I'm sort of stressed about it. I don't want to take on any extra work load," she assures him, forcing a bright and happy smile, touching his arm lightly with her hand. "I'd do it if I could."

"Come on, Jo, that history project isn't due for another two weeks. Your good-will spirit has rubbed off on me and I'm really interested in doing this. Say you'll come with?" Joey looks like she's weakening. "I'll buy you a sundae afterward!" Jack adds. Joey laughs.

"Oh, a sundae huh? I don't think I can resist that offer," she giggles. The hallway is beginning to clear out.

"So you'll go then?" Joey catches Pacey, walking by, out of the corner of her eye and shrugs uncomfortably, searching for an answer.

"Yeah, I'll go," Joey finally answers, after a moment of consideration. "But you owe me," she adds as an afterthought. Jack grins and kisses her on the cheek.

"Great! I gotta go to gym now. I'll catcha later," he dashes off down the hall, disappearing around the corner as the bell rings. Not even remembering what class she's supposed to go to, Joey looks around the now empty hallway, a bit confused.


Pacey stomps his feet extra hard on the pavement of the sidewalk, frustrated. Andie had decided to accompany him on his walk to work, and all he really wanted to be was alone.

"So, I'm going for this job interview on Friday after school, so I can't come to that volunteer thing," Andie explains, happily walking alongside him. Pacey slows his pace.

"A job interview? Where?"

"Down at the book store. I decided that it's time Andie McPhee join the work force, you know? If Jack can do it, so can I."

"So, no Habitat for Humanity then...well, okay...yeah," Pacey registers this information, trying to process it through his mind. His head felt like it was about to explode. All he could think about was Joey. And he knew that wasn't right at all. "Then I guess I can wait and do it another time, then. So...job interview, huh? Are you excited?"

"Yes, and nervous too. What do you think I should wear? I only have two days to decide, so..."

"Of all people to ask, McPhee, I would not ask *me* about proper job interview etiquette. I got my job through Dawson, so I've never even *had* an interview. Go ask Joey or something," Pacey laughs. Andie shrugs, the mention of Joey's name bringing a look of concern to her face.

"What is going on with you and Joey anyway? Are you ever going to tell me what the huge fight was about or is it going to be like, this mystery that I'll never know?"

"It's no big deal, Andie, really. Me and the Ice Queen fight all the time," Pacey attempts to sound convincing, but clearly knows he's not pulling it off.

"Pace, you haven't been the same since...I know how hard it is to fight with someone you've been friends with for so long. It really does help to talk about it." Pacey sees Screenplay Video getting closer, as they walk down the street, and he starts walking faster toward it, eager to escape.

"Look, I appreciate what you're trying to do, Andie, really. I promise, that if I ever have a time when I need you to be there for me, I'll let you know. But trust me, a little squabble with Joey is nothing to burst a vein about." They both stop in front of the video store, and Andie sighs, looking up at Pacey pleadingly with her big blue eyes. Lightly, she tugs on the edges of his shirt.

"Okay, Pace, be cut off and secluded. I love a guy with the emotion of a rock," she teases. Pacey doesn't respond. He watches her fingers playing with the edge of his shirt. He wanted to tell her what was wrong...but what could he say? It's not like he could tell her the awful things he'd said to Joey, or that the reason he's been avoiding Joey was because he feels guilty about being attracted to her. He wanted to tell Andie that he was happy with her, and that he loved her, but then why couldn't he keep Joey from taking over his thoughts? "Just...know, Pacey, that if you do decide you want to get...*whatever* it is off your chest, I'm here okay? That's what girlfriends are for." She wraps her arms around her neck and kisses him on the cheek.

"Oh....*that's* what girlfriends are for? I was wondering about that," Pacey jokes. "I was beginning to think their only purpose was for a little fooling around." Andie gives Pacey a kiss on the lips with a small laugh.

"Yep, girlfriends are good for that too," she agrees, giving him another kiss, this one longer. "I've gotta go. Call me after work, all right?"

"All right," Pacey replies. "Bye." He waves to her and slips inside the store, letting out a depressed sigh as soon as the door closes behind him. As he heads to the counter, Dawson walks in, pulling on his work vest.

"Hey, Pace," he greets his friend happily. Pacey grunts a reply, taking his place behind the counter reluctantly. Dawson eyes him. "What's up with you?"

"Nothing," Pacey mutters. "How about you?"

"Not much. Just the usual girl confusion. You know how Andie and Jack hung out with me and Jen...two Saturdays ago? Well, Jen has been acting weird ever since."

"How do you mean...weird?"

"Distant. Detached. It's almost as if something's on her mind, but she doesn't want to tell me what it is. Have you ever gotten that sense about something?" Pacey just shakes his head, too uninterested to mumble a verbal reply. Dawson continues. "Whatever it is, I wish she would tell me, because I feel like such an idiot. I thought she was really interested in me again. And here I am, trying to get Joey out of my life and get Jen in it, all at the same you think I'm tackling too much at once?"

"For you? You can never take on too much, Dawson," Pacey tells him, barely looking up at him. Dawson sighs.

"Maybe I shouldn't give up on Joey so quickly. Maybe this thing with Jack is just some sort of fling, a meaningless encounter between two people who really don't connect in any way whatsoever besides the fact they both happen to like art. Art can't keep two people together forever. Long lasting friendship is what makes people stay together. Understanding one another makes people stay together."

"And art doesn't."

"Precisely. So, you think I'm jumping the gun on this one? Should I wait around for Joey to come back?"

"You shouldn't ask me, D, but I say move on. Joey's not going to want back a pathetic loser who sat around moping for a month while she dated someone else."

"Good point," Dawson takes a stack of videos out of the return bin and starts sorting them into categories to be shelved. "Someone actually rented Senseless?" he asks Pacey, finding it unbelievable. Setting the movie next to other returned comedies, Dawson turns his attention back to his own life once again. "Man, I wish I had it all set, like you and Andie do. Just to be able to say, "This is my girlfriend" would be so nice."

"Everything has a downside, Dawson. Nothing is perfect," Pacey mutters, still trying to sort things out in his head while Dawson drones on about his Jen and Joey inner conflict.

"Yeah, but Andie is pretty close to it. She reminds me of Joey, Pacey. You're lucky to find a girl like her - hold onto her," Dawson says, smiling at his best friend. "Don't let her near any art buffs. It only leads to trouble," he jests laughingly and takes a stack of videos and heads down one of the aisles. Pacey thinks about Dawson's statement.

"You're right, Andie is a great girl..." Pacey sits up. "Hey, D-man, let me ask you something...where are you?" A hand shoots up from behind the Drama rack. "Okay. Let's say, there's this guy, with this really awesome, talented, pretty, girlfriend-"

"This is you, right?" Dawson asks, sticking his head into the aisle to look at Pacey.

"Shut up for a second. But let's say, this guy...although he does really like the girl he's going out with...feels this overwhelming attraction to another girl. Like, *very* overwhelming."

"What girl are you attracted to?"

"Shut up, Dawson! Just listen for a second. Should...this guy...take a risk on the unknown and pursue this girl even though the odds are *majorly* stacked against him, or just try to be content with the girl he just likes...not desires?" Dawson walks back to Pacey, and takes a seat on the countertop.

"Stay with what's safe, Pacey. If you're meant to be with the other girl, fate and destiny will take care of it. If not...then the other girl really isn't worth it anyway, you know?" Dawson falls silent. "God, I should really take my own advice, shouldn't I?" Pacey looks at him, confused.

"How do you mean?"

"On one hand, I have Jen, who is one of my greatest friends, not to mention sexy and beautiful...and on the other hand, I have Joey, who, even though I love her, and want her *so* bad, I am *not* getting back, plain and simple. Maybe it's time I took the high road and stop taking Jen for granted, huh?" Pacey nods.

"Maybe." Dawson is quiet, his brain busily working away at this new idea. He looks at Pacey. Nodding, Pacey gently shoves his friend off the counter. "Yeah, I'll cover for you. You go find Jen and do that talking thing you do so well." Dawson beams.

"Thanks, Pacey. You're the best."

"I know," Pacey mumbles, as Dawson takes off his vest and runs outside, heading straight for Jen's.


Joey looks at her reflection in the mirror as she combs her hair into a ponytail. Jack had called her after school, but it wasn't to ask her out. It was to ask her to come into work and cover for Sarah.

"Had to call in sick today, didn't you?" She asks no one in particular, looking at the phone. The last thing she wants to do is waste away another night flipping burgers and waiting on nasty customers, but it looks like it's unavoidable. Sighing reluctantly, she tosses her brush down onto her dresser and stalks from her room, cursing under her breath.


Andie walks along quietly and happily, heading to the Ice House to bother Jack. Her homework was all done, and with Pacey working, she was getting bored. She glances up at the clear blue sky with a content smile, taking a deep breath of the autumn air. It was surprisingly warm for October, and she was enjoying every minute of it. Coming to a stop at an intersection, she spots Dawson across the street, waiting impatiently for the light to turn green. Andie waves. The light turns color, and Dawson walks across the street toward her.

"Hey Andie!" He greets her.

"Hey, Dawson! I thought you were working today, with Pace?" Andie asks him, laughing slightly.

"Oh, yeah, well...I'm supposed to be, but Pacey's covering for me. I sort of have this...*thing* I need to take care of while I have the incentive and spirit to accomplish it," Dawson explains. Andie raises her eyebrows.


"Yep...where are you headed off to?" Dawson changes the subject quickly, not really knowing why. For some reason he felt like he *shouldn't* tell Andie he was off to Jen's...or maybe he just simply *didn't* want to to tell her. Dawson mentally slaps himself, wondering what he was thinking. "Why should I feel guilty for trying to start something with Jen?" he puzzles inwardly, trying to force the deadening feeling in his stomach away. Andie looks at him, as if she's trying to figure something out herself.

"I was going to the Ice House to bug my brother, but I'd like to go with you, where ever you're going! I am bored out of mind," Andie complains, tugging on her hair. "There's nothing to do in Capeside."

"Actually...I was going to Jen' try to figure out some...*things*, I guess," Dawson replies unsurely, looking at the ground. Andie raises her eyebrows teasingly, with a small light laugh.

"There's those *things* again. Are you going to ask her to get back together, is that it?" Andie asks, sick of playing the guessing game. Dawson looks up at her, setting his mouth in a firm, determined line.

"The truth is, Jen's been acting really weird toward me lately, and I thought things were getting better between us. I'm not sure if we're on the road back to couple-doom or if we're better off as friends, but I'd really like to go talk to her and find out. Cause I'd really like to start going out with her again," Dawson states clearly, telling himself that he should be able to tell Andie anything. She was only his best friend's girlfriend, right? He should trust her like a friend. Why would it possibly be awkward telling her he wants to get back together with Jen? Dawson takes in Andie's reaction. For a second he thought he saw her face curl into a disappointed frown, but a perky smile replaces it quickly enough to make Dawson believe it was just his imagination.

"Well, I think that's great, Dawson. I mean, if you and Jen started dating again, it'd just be so sweet. You two look great together," Andie forces out, not quite sure why the thought of Dawson Leery asking out Jen Lindley gave her the sudden impulse to punch something. She clenches her fingers into her arm, trying to relieve some of her anxiety. Her smile grows tighter across her face, and she takes a step away.

"Yeah, I guess Jen and I do make a good couple," Dawson replies, half-mumbling. "I guess I'd better get going, though. I'll see you later?" Andie nods, her grin still plastered across her face. She gives him a small wave good-bye, turning to cross the street.

"Yep, see ya," she says cheerfully, then hurries across the street. Dawson continues on his way to Jen's house, only looking back once at Andie's retreating form.


Joey storms into the Ice House, taking her apron off its hook on the wall and swinging behind the counter, throwing an angry glare at her sister. Bessie just rolls her eyes at her younger sibling and turns her attention back to the order she's taking. Trying to dig out her notepad from the shelves underneath the cash register, Joey lets out a frustrated sigh.

"Joey-" Joey stands up, hearing her name, and collides right into Jack, who is standing almost on top of her.

"God, Jack! Could you get a little *more* in the way?" Joey exclaims at him, slamming her fist on the counter. "Where the hell is my notepad?" Jack hands her a small pad of paper with a nervous smile.

"Uh, here it is. I already got it out for you so you wouldn't have to look for it," Jack says meekly, looking at Joey with a small sense of fear. "I hate it when she gets like this," Jack sighs to himself, sticking his hands in his pockets and taking a step away from his flustered girlfriend. Joey wrenches the notepad from Jack's loose fingers and flips it to a new page, then turns back to the shelves in search of a pen. Jack quickly hands her one. She takes it with out a thank you and hurriedly dashes out into the eating area to start filling out orders. Jack watches her for a minute, until Bessie calls his name.

"Jack! I'm not paying you to day dream. Get back out here and start working," Bessie says in a low, tense tone as she passes by him on the way to the kitchen.

"Yes, Bessie," Jack complies sheepishly, tying his apron tighter around his waist and heading back out into the foray of impatient, noisy customers. A few minutes later, the front door of the restaurant opens, and a hesitant looking Andie makes her way through the tables toward her twin brother, looking a bit startled that the place is so crowded.

"Jack! Jack!" She finally makes it past two jammed tables and hurries over to him. "Hey!" Jack looks at her with an annoyed smile.

"Hey, Andie." Before she can start to speak, Jack ushers her out of the way. "Listen, Andie, I'm sort of buried in work right now, I don't have time for a buddy-to-buddy chat, all right? Bessie's already on my case. So if you could just kindly stay out of the way, you know, that'd be great." He gently pushes her out of the way and hurries to the kitchen window to hand Bodie an order. He rushes past Andie on his way back to the front eating area, not even acknowledging her presence. She opens her mouth to call to him, but gives up mid-word. Let down and feeling a bit alone, Andie stands silently, trying to figure out what to do next. She sees Joey handling some things behind the counter and takes a seat at a stool. Giving Joey a small wave, she takes a menu from the counter top and starts flipping through it absent-mindedly. Joey eventually makes her way down to Andie.

"Hey, Joey. What's new with you? It's really jammed here today, isn't it?"

"Wow, one point for Andie in the category of astute observations. Care to choose another category or go for the bonus question?" Joey replies sarcastically. Andie is a bit hurt. Joey notices and repents. "Sorry, Andie. I'm in a really bad mood right now. I wasn't even supposed to work today."


"So, do you want to order anything?" Joey asks, trying to sound nice, but her hidden agitation adding an edge to her voice. Andie quickly surveys the menu in front of her, picking out the first item that looks half-way appetizing.

"Um, mozzarella sticks sound good. Oh, and a Pepsi too," she folds the menu hastily and hands it to her annoyed friend, who scribbles down the order and rips the page off, handing it back to Bodie with another deep sigh. Joey runs her hands through her long brown hair and looks around the room, seeing if anyone hasn't been helped. Stunned, she realizes that there's no one left to take care of.

"Dear god, I can actually take a minute to breathe," she mutters, rubbing her neck and closing her eyes. Andie looks at her curiously, wondering if she should even bother to start a conversation with her again or to just leave her alone. Jack walks behind the counter and gives his sister a smile, obviously in a little better spirits.

"Hey, Andie. Listen, sorry about before. It's a little hectic in here." Andie nods.

"Yeah, I can see that," she replies, looking at him sympathetically. "Having a rough day?"

"You could definitely say that. It's been horrible."

"Tell me about it," Joey interjects, anger in her voice. "I think all of Capeside's rudest are out to eat today." She sees someone gesturing for a waiter and clenches her fist tightly, ready to punch someone. Jack notices this and almost jumps from behind the counter and goes to take care of the customer.

"Looks like you're having more worse of a time than Jack. What's the matter?" Andie asks, surveying Joey's angry face. Joey rolls her eyes.

"Besides working on my day off, nothing," she replies tightly, picking up a rag and wiping the countertop fiercely. Andie rolls her eyes.

"Please, Jo, I'm not that blind," Andie laughs lightly. Joey looks away from her.

"I just...I just don't want to talk about it, okay?"

"Is it about Pacey?" Joey looks at Andie, alarmed. What did she know? "Because Pacey feels really bad...about whatever it is that happened, and I think if you-"

"Yeah, I'm sure Pacey's heartbroken," Joey smirks, trying to act like she doesn't care.

"He won't even tell me what the fight was about. You care to clue me in?" Andie asks pleadingly.

"It was nothing. We both said some things we shouldn't have said, and that's the end of it. This stuff goes back a long way with me and him, so even if you wanted to help, you couldn't. So maybe you should just stay out of it," Joey bites, turning and stalking away in a huff. Andie is clearly hurt and upset. Walking away, Joey immediately regrets her words, but only hurries away, embarrassed. "What would Andie do if she knew what I was really angry at Pacey for? What is she knew that I was mad because his mere existence sets my head spinning and my heart pounding? Worse, what if Dawson knew that I keep having erotic dreams about his best friend?" Questions and worries fly through Joey's mind at top speed. Looking around the crowded room, she suddenly feels trapped. Turning, she runs from the restaurant, needing to escape.


Dawson knocks on Jen's door and patiently awaits an answer. After a few moments, he knocks again, but still no one comes. He tries to peek inside through the window of the door, and realizes no lights are on. Sighing, he turns to go, and jumps a mile as he practically crashes into Jen, who is coming up the steps.

"Dawson? What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you, actually," he smiles at her, but she barely manages to reciprocate. " are you?" "Fine. You?"

"Okay. I was wondering...I mean, are you mad at me or something?" Dawson asks outright. Jen looks away.

"No, what makes you think that?"

"Well, it's just that you've been acting different...lately...and I was wondering what happened. I mean, are you not interested in-" Jen looks at him.

"Dawson, of course I'm interested. But..." she trails off. Dawson looks at her, waiting.


"The other night, with Andie. Dawson, you were more interested in her than you were in me. How do you think that made me feel?"

"Jen, what do you mean?"

"I mean that you were so infatuated with her that I felt like a complete idiot sitting there, while you two flirted the whole night long." Dawson looks at Jen, completely surprised.

"We were *not* flirting! How could you think I'd be interested in Andie in *that* way? She's Pacey's girlfriend." Jen doesn't reply. "So that's what this is about?" Still no reply. "Jen, just because me and Andie were really getting along doesn't mean that I like you any less. I've just been missing Joey so much that it was nice to have someone to banter with."

"And you can't 'banter' with me?" Jen asks, hurt. Dawson sighs.

"You know that's not what I meant." They're both silent for a second. "Look, Jen, I'm really sorry that I made you feel left out or ignored that night. It wasn't my intention, at all. Andie is just a friend, okay? I've never thought about her that way," Dawson lies through his teeth. "I don't know where we're going, Jen, honestly I don't. But just know that whatever we are or whatever we become, it's not going to be threatened by Andie McPhee, of all people, all right?" Jen looks at him for a minute, then smiles slightly.

"Okay," she murmurs, then runs her hand through her hair. "I'm sorry. I just...I guess I'm really insecure about this thing we have going on and I saw how well you and Andie were acting together and...playing the invisible date that night really hurt, you know?" Jen gazes up at Dawson earnestly, the hurt still evident in her eyes. Dawson frowns slightly.

"I'm really sorry, Jen...if there's anything I can do to make it up to you, then, just tell me," Dawson sets his hand on her shoulder. Jen glances at his hand, then back to him. Her mouth curves slightly upwards in a shy smile.

"Well, this may be a bit forward, considering our relationship is sort of in post-Joey break-up limbo...but I would really like it right now if you kissed me." Dawson doesn't reply. Matching her smile with his own, he slowly leans toward her and kisses her lightly, moving closer to her ever so slowly. Gently running his hands through her short blonde hair, Dawson brushes his lips against hers softly, a bit hesitant to allow himself to take a risk and *really* kiss her. Then he pulls back, opening his eyes. Jen's own eyes remain closed, treasuring the moment in her mind.

"Would it be okay if I did that again?" Dawson asks softly, half-teasing but half-serious.

"Most definitely," Jen murmurs, gently taking his collar and tugging him closer, before his lips melt into hers, allowing their kiss to become more passionate than the tentative one of a mere moment earlier. Jen's mind whirls, not quite sure if Dawson Leery was really kissing her or if it was a dream. When they'd been together before, his kisses had never been like this ; maybe this wasn't really happening. The feel of Dawson's hands running up her back assure her that it is very real. Wrapping his arms around Jen and pulling her close to his body, Dawson's mind is temporarily empty of everything but the girl in his embrace. But it wouldn't be for long.

A more outwardly calm Joey Potter serenely strolls along the dock, the seething anger inside her beginning to subside. Shoving her hands in her pockets, she stops along the railing and gazes out onto the water, taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Spotting someone sitting on the end of the pier which outstretched away from the dock, Joey's heart jolts. Pacey.

After mentally panicking for a few seconds, Joey glances around the waterfront to see if anyone else is around. There's no one. "No better time than now to face him," she reasons, and slowly heads down the pier to where Pacey is sitting, his long, muscular legs hanging off the edge. He doesn't hear her coming, so when she takes a seat next to him, he looks at her, startled. Joey finds herself speechless, her mouth feeling like it's suddenly full of cotton. His dark green eyes search hers deeply for a minute ; Pacey, likewise, couldn't think of a single word to utter. Sitting silently for a minute, Joey looks down at the water, wishing the slow moving ripples would spell out an answer to the questions swimming around in her brain.

"Um...Jo....?" Pacey finally squeezes out unsurely, stealing a sideways glance at her.


"About what happened last Saturday...I'm really sorry." Joey looks at him as he speaks, entranced with his face.

"I'm sorry too..." she almost whispers, her heart suddenly in her throat. Their eyes meet, their gaze unwavering as they continue to talk.

"It's just...I don't know what came over me. I just wanted to hurt you."

"That's sort of what happened to me too, I think," Joey murmurs back. Pacey nods. "I just don't know...I don't know *why*, Pace. I was so *something*...even before we fought." She breaks the gaze, turning her eyes back to the water. Pacey watches her intently. All he can think about is how much he wants her, to take her in his arms and kiss her at that very moment. Taking a deep breath of preparation, he explores his consciousness for a way to tell her the truth. If he could bring himself to admit his guilt out loud.

"Um...Joey...well, I don't know about you...but as far as I go...the whole thing was more about being angry at you for making me...for" Pacey breaks off, losing his nerve. He couldn't think, not with her being so close to him. She was moving closer, her skin lightly brushing up against his elbow. He didn't know if she knew it or not.

"For what, Pacey?" Joey asks, her mind feeling a bit out of order. Pacey smelled so good...his words weren't even registering. Suddenly a large gust of wind blows by, sending the dry autumn leaves that had blown onto the dock back into the air, swirling and flying in colors of brown and gold. A couple of small leaves come to rest in Joey's dark brown hair. Before she herself can move to take them out, Pacey finds his own hand running through her hair gently. Joey doesn't take her eyes off of him, silently wishing that he would keep touching her. The lust growing inside her was confusing but overpowering...she moves closer to him.

Reaching her hand up, she runs her own fingers through his hair, pretending to return the favor, even though she knew he had no leaves in his hair. Yearning to keep the feel of him underneath her fingertips, Joey caresses his cheek, not even thinking about what she's doing but knowing it feels right. Moment by moment, second by second, their faces slowly inch closer to one another's, their lips searching for the one kiss to finally let their hidden passions burn free. Not breaking the intense gaze they're sharing, Pacey's hand drifts down to her shoulder, then down to her right leg, aching to feel her lips on his. Joey immediately feels his hand on her thigh, and for a moment accepts the gesture readily. But as they both move in for the kiss, just as his lips brush against hers, an alarm goes off in her head and the dream world that she had slipped into crashes into the ocean faster than Titanic sunk.

"Oh my god," Joey pulls away from him, not knowing what to do or where to go. She gets up quick as a flash, felling dizzy and shaky. Joey looks at him for a second, shocked with herself. Pacey barely has time to return to reality and realize what's happening before she's off and running. Sighing deeply, Pacey buries his head in his hands, not believing what just happened.


"Jo! Hey, Jo! Wait up!" Jack races down the school hallway after Joey. "Joey!" He calls loudly, but she only slows a little. Out of breath, he finally manages to catch up with her. "Didn't you hear me?" She looks up at him, almost petrified.

"Hear what?"

"Me calling you. I've been yelling for you to wait up since you came down the stairs," he eyes Joey's pale face with concern. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"You don't look too good. Are you sure you're feeling all right?" Jack feels Joey's forehead, and she pushes his hand away.

"I have a little headache, but I'll take some aspirin, I'll survive," she mutters. Jack shrugs.

"All right. Do you still want to go to the Habitat for Humanity thing after school? I mean, if you're not feeling good..."

"I'm really okay, Jack. Really. I bet this headache will be gone before the end of next period," she assures him, trying to force a smile, but inside she feels guilty as her boyfriend gives her a kiss on the cheek.

"Great. I have to go make-up this quick Spanish vocab test I missed after school, so I can't walk over there with you, but I'll definitely see you there. I'll just be a little late, okay?" Joey nods. "Okay. I gotta go. Feel better!" He squeezes her hand with a smile and hurries off down the hall to his next class. Joey lets out a long deep breath, feeling terrible. How was she going to get through the rest of the day with Pacey on her mind? Ready to start crying, she ducks into the girl's bathroom, only to crash right into Andie McPhee.

"Oh. Sorry," Joey murmurs, not looking up.

"Joey! Hi!" Andie exclaims with a large friendly smile.

"Um, hi," Joey replies, less enthusiastically, feeling like a criminal. "What would Andie say if she knew I almost kissed her boyfriend last night? What would she do if she knew how much I had wanted Pacey to take me, right there on the dock? Why is Pacey making me feel this way? This isn't supposed to happen!" Joey's inner questions pour out all at once, the guilt building as she tries to return Andie's grin. "Uh, what's new?"

"Nothing much. Um, listen, sorry about the Ice House last night. I didn't mean to get in your way or hold you up or anything," Andie tells Joey. Joey's heart practically bursts open.

"Don't apologize, Andie, really...*don't*. I was in a really bad mood - it wasn't your fault," Joey says hastily, moving past Andie so Andie can't see the look on her face. "It was mine."

"No, it was really stupid of me. I knew you guys were working and it wasn't a good time to bring up your and Pacey's fight." Joey moves farther away from Andie, guilt weighing down heavily on her shoulders. "But, I was just worried. I love Pacey, and you're a great friend. And when you two are unhappy, it makes me unhappy." Joey tries to smile at Andie, but she feels like bursting into tears.

"Why does Andie have to be so nice? Why can't she be a complete bitch so I wouldn't have to feel bad about kissing, no, *almost* kissing her boyfriend?" Joey tries to find a reply to Andie's heartfelt statements, but could only come up with: "Thanks, Andie...but I just didn't feel like talking about Pacey then. Or now."


"Um, trust me, you'll be the first person I talk to when I feel like talking to anybody, okay? Okay." Joey slips into a stall before Andie can add anything else. She peers through the crack in the door at her friend, who looks downfallen. Andie shuffles her feet and turns to the door slowly.

"Oh. Well, okay, Joey. Just, let me know when you're ready to talk, all right? I'm here for you...and I promise, I won't be biased just because I'm dating Pace. He can be a jerk sometimes, I know," Andie laughs lightly, trying to get Joey to say something. Tears beginning to run down her cheeks, Joey doesn't trust herself to reply back so she remains silent. Andie sighs. "So...I'll just see you later then. Bye, Jo." Taking a last look at the stall door with a frown, Andie leaves the bathroom. Joey lets out a long sigh of relief and steps out of the stall. Going to the sink, she turns on the water and splashes her tear-stained face, feeling a pit forming in the bottom of her stomach. Confused and angry at herself, Joey stares at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, beginning to hate the person she saw there.

"I have to find Pacey and tell him...whatever this is, it has to stop."


"So, Pace, you're going to that Habitat for Humanity thing today after school, right?" Dawson asks, starting to unpack is lunch. Pacey just nods, not breaking from his sullen state. Sitting across from Dawson, slouched in his chair, Pacey looks terrible. "Okay, Pacey, what's wrong? Did you get a bad grade or something that you're upset over? Because it's not the end of the world, as far as I know."

"Please, Dawson. I know I'm doing better in school, but me? Upset over a grade? Take a reality check." He looks around the cafeteria, not interested in the lunch sitting in front of him on his tray. "I'm not even upset."

"Could've fooled me," Dawson mutters under his breath. They're both silent, until without warning, Pacey picks up his tray and stands up.

"I have to get out of here," he says exasperatedly, and stalks off. Confused, Dawson watches him walk away. Debating about whether to go after him and see what's wrong, he is joined by Jen and his thoughts are diverted by the kiss she lays lightly against his cheek.

"Hey, there," he says, turning to her with a smile.

"Hey, Dawson," Jen smiles back, and opens her lunch bag. "How's your day going?"

"Weird, actually. Pacey's acting like his body was taken over by a pod person."

"Really? I wonder what's up with him," Jen replies, pondering it. Dawson just shrugs.

"I'm sure he'll tell me if it's something serious." Joey and Jack both walk into the cafeteria together, and Dawson sees them. To his ultimate surprise, his pulse didn't quicken when he saw Joey toss her hair over her shoulder in that sexy way he used to love, and his heart didn't fill with envy when he noticed Jack was holding Joey's hand. Joey didn't look too thrilled with being around Jack, but even seeing that doesn't make Dawson any more interested. His thoughts distract him from what Jen is saying, however, and she notices.

"And Andie was saying that...what is it, Dawson?" Jen asks, following his gaze over at Jack and Joey. She sighs. "Oh."

"Jen, do you know what it feels like to be over someone?" Jen looks at him, a bit astonished.

"Excuse me?"

"Because, for such a long time, all I could think about was Joey, and how much I hated Jack, and how much I wanted her back. But you want to hear something funny? When I saw the two of them come in, I didn't think 'Man, Joey is so beautiful, I love her, I can't believe we broke up...' I thought, 'I wish Joey would come over for movie night or play JAWS in the closet,' " Dawson raises an eyebrow at Jen. "I'm beginning to think maybe I've over-rated my emotions for her. Cause right now, all I'm really yearning for is that little Joey Potter to come over and tell me my E.T. obsession is dumb and rudely ask me if I've gone to the next level with you yet." Jen laughs.

"I take it that's what she used to do?"

"Yes, back in the good old days where I obsessed over the way your hair blowed in the wind and the specks of gold color in your eyes," Dawson grins sheepishly. Jen blushes.

"The good old days, huh?"

"Yeah, the good old days," Dawson reminisces. And they were good. Before Joey and his relationship had made everything that was once comfortable and familiar into something entirely new and different. When Jen was the object of his affection and Joey was the best friend a guy could have. "Maybe it can be that way again," he says, not realizing he's saying it out loud.

" you and I are dating?" Jen inquires, trying to hide the hopeful note in her voice. Her facial expression gives it away though, and she tries harder to repress her delight, not wanting Dawson to think she's too eager.

"Yes, like you and I are dating. Definitely." They both grin at each other, somewhat giddily. Dawson runs his statement through his mind again, and it immediately sends silent questions flying. "Am I ready for this? I may be over Joey, right now, during this lunch period, but what about tomorrow? How can I be sure?" he asks himself, all the words jumbling together, streaming by at an impossible speed. Not wanting to even consider the various possibilities or weigh out the pros and cons, Dawson acts on an impulse and pulls Jen to him, pressing his lips to hers, forcing the doubts and worries out as a wave of heat flows through his body.

Breathless, he breaks away after a few moments, a bit amazed at his own forewardness. Jen glances around the cafeteria, with a little giggle as her face turns a pale shade of red.

"What was that for?" Jen questions, slightly amazed herself, but clearly not minding Dawson's gesture. Normally the strong, I-make-the-first-move type, Dawson was suddenly making her feel like a light-headed teeny bopper who was going ga-ga over a cute guy.

"For...just because. I had to emphasize the 'definitely' with an action that markedly meant 'definitely'. Theatrical technique," Dawson jokes. Jen nudges him in the ribs and laughs.

"Ha ha, very funny," she remarks, and turns to her lunch. " for this definitely stuff, what do you say we go out tonight? Our first actual date as a, as a second-time-around couple."

"Sounds great. What do you have in mind?" Jen looks at him slyly.

"Well, I don't have anything in mind yet...but I want to plan it. Give me until seventh period. I'll cook something up," Jen tells him. He nods.

"Excellent," Dawson is about to say something else when he glances at the clock. "Oh, shit!"

"What?" Jen is alarmed.

"I forgot, I'm supposed to meet Mr. Gold in the film lab at half past. I gotta go. I'll see you seventh?"

"Yep!" Jen replies, relieved that it wasn't anything having to do with their date. "See you seventh." Dawson gets up, kisses her on the cheek, and races out of the lunchroom. On his way out, he almost crashes into Andie, who is coming out of the lunch line.

"Oh, god, sorry, Andie. I didn't mean to almost knock you over!" Dawson steadies her milk, which is tottering a little. Andie smiles.

"Don't be sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going. I'm Andie, the eternal klutz," she re-gains balance of her lunch tray, looking a little frazzled. "I've been making huge mistakes all day."

"Like what?"

"Joey, for one."


"About her and Pacey's fight? Don't try talking to her about it, it only makes her more angry. Take my word for it." "Pacey and Joey fighting? That's pretty normal," Dawson informs her, as if she didn't know. She shakes her head, dismayed.

"No, this isn't their usual bickering. It's something major. But I've just about given up on getting them to talk. Pacey's totally unreceptive." Dawson takes in what Andie is telling him, wondering if this fight with Joey is what Pacey was in such a terrible mood about. It must've been really bad, if the two of them are actually upset over it. Not leaving him time to puzzle, Andie looks over to the table where Jen is sitting. "I saw you kiss Jen...I take it as a sign you two have decided to give it another go-round?"

"Yes, that we have. But, I shall tell you more about that later, cause I gotta run. Meeting to go to," Dawson pats her on the arm and hurries out of the cafeteria, not noticing the slight downfall in Andie's perky expression as he happily told her he is back with Jen. Taking a deep breath, she heads over to Jen's lunch table, sitting down next to her.

"Hey, Jen. Have you seen Pacey?"

"No, I think he left just before I sat down. It must be a never-ending cycle today. When one person leaves, another takes their place. I took Pacey's, you took Dawson's."

"So, Pacey left? Did Dawson say why?"

"No, he didn't. Sorry," Jen replies. Andie looks at Jen, not quite knowing what to say.

"Well, Dawson told me the good news. I guess you've been the one selected to fill Joey Potter's void, huh?" Andie bites her lip. "Where did that nasty slight come from?" she asks herself, bewildered. Jen looks a bit hurt, but tries not to show it.

"Oh...I don't think of it like...taking her place, like it was some position to be filled. I don't really believe that Dawson is over her, no, but...I'm willing to be the rebound girl. And something more, hopefully," Jen says.

"Yeah, but Joey's shoes are going to be hard to fill. Do you really think you can be something 'more'?" Andie finds herself saying, bitingly. Realizing what she just said, she tries to make a save. "I mean...I definitely want you two to be happy together...but I don't want to see you get hurt. You deserve better than a guy who's hung up on an ex."

"Thanks, Andie, but with my previous history, I tend to believe I don't deserve a lot of anything, much less a great guy like Dawson." Jen sighs. Andie tries to think of something supportive to say, but too many other things were crowding her mind to think of something good, so she just keeps her mouth shut. Taking a french fry off her tray and eating it slowly, Andie wonders why Dawson going out with Jen is eating her up inside, desperately telling herself that it couldn't possibly be jealousy or envy. Why would she be jealous? She barely knew Dawson. She has Pacey. Then why did she feel so strange?


Joey slowly walks into the skeleton of a house, looking at the wooden 2 X 4's stacked up on top of the plywood floor. A bit confused to find that she's the only one there, she takes off her backpack and pulls out a pamphlet, checking to see if she's at the right spot. Seeing she's right where she's supposed to be, Joey lets out a deep sigh and looks around. There wasn't really much accomplished, when it came to the actual framework. Obviously, the foundation was down, and the first floor had been started. Walking around the rectangular hole in the floor which dropped down to the basement, she heads to the back of the house, to where she assumes the kitchen will be. Hearing the gravel of the driveway crushing and crinkling, Joey turns, a little startled. A dark red pick-up truck is pulling in the make-shift driveway, filled with more wood and other various supplies. She heads out toward it as a tall man with a very muscular build steps out of the truck and begins unloading the heavy planks with ease.

He notices her approaching and stops what he's doing, taking off his work gloves to extend his hand in greeting.

"Hi, you must be one of the volunteers. I'm Rob," he smiles at her as they shake hands.

"I'm Joey."

"Well, Joey, looks like you're the first one here. Want to give me a hand with these until the others arrive?" Rob asks, gesturing toward the bed of his truck. Joey nods.

"Sure," she grabs a box of nails and lifts it up, letting out a grunt as she realizes it's a lot more heavy than she thought it was. Re-arranging her grip to support it, she unsteadily heads toward the garage where the tools and wood are being kept. Setting the heavy container down as fast as possible, she turns to go back to the truck and sees Pacey walking up to the garage with a sheet of plywood and her heart drops to her feet. Almost at the same time, Pacey realizes the girl staring at him is Joey, and almost lets the piece of wood fall to the ground. Quickly trying to act normal, he proceeds toward her, sets down the wood, murmurs an almost inaudible hello and hurries back to the truck. Joey looks around guiltily, wondering if anyone could tell what was going on between them. "I'm getting paranoid. All he did was say hello and walk away!" she groans to herself.

More people are arriving, but to Joey the only one there is Pacey. His mere presence is driving her insane. The afternoon sun is beating down, the weather unusually hot for that time of year. Joey begins to sweat, but she isn't quite sure if that's the result of the rising temperature or the result of her nervousness. Taking another box of nails from the truck, she tries to focus on the task at hand instead of her problems with Pacey, but her hands feel slippery and shaky as she unsteadily makes her way back to the cool of the garage.

Pacey, likewise, is in a state of turmoil, not knowing what to say or do. Their almost-kiss of the night before was an image he just couldn't get out of his mind. He kept re-playing it over and over like a video tape, still feeling the heat of Joey's body so close to his. If he had known that she was going to be here, he definitely would've made up an excuse not to come. How's he going to last until seven o'clock if he's having trouble keeping his thoughts straight for five minutes?

Seeing Jack walking down the road toward the project house, Joey straightens herself out and takes a long, deep breath, accidentally inhaling some saw dust in the process. Gasping and coughing, her eyes start to water horribly. A few people passing ask if she's okay, and she manages to nod them away. Finally regaining control of her respiratory functions, Joey starts toward Jack. She can feel Pacey's eyes burning into her back, but resists the temptation to glance back at him. "Jack's my boyfriend, Jack's my boyfriend," Joey whispers inwardly. When had Pacey started to have this horribly weakening affect on her? It was hard to believe a few weeks ago she was telling a bunch of thirteen year old girls what a jerk Pacey was, and now all she could think about was how much she wanted him. Pacey, her ex-boyfriend's best friend...not to mention the boyfriend of her current boyfriend's twin sister. When the hell did her life turn into such a confusing jumbled mess? Joey was about ready to scream.

"Hey, Joey! Did everyone just get started?" Jack greets her. He walks past her slightly before she realizes she needs to turn around and go back to the house, and she quickly falls in step beside him.

"What? Oh. Yeah, you didn't miss much. We're just unloading the truck."

"Cool. Guess what. Andie has a job interview, but after, she's gonna stop by, bring us a snack. I ran into her as was leaving. She's all flustered and worried over this interview - she's never even had one before."

"Oh...really?" Joey tries to act focused on what he's saying. "Um, where's she applying?"

"Down at Capeside Book Barn."

"Well, let's keep our fingers crossed that she gets the job then, right?" They cut across the torn up, dirt-filled yard to the framed-out house, and Jack quickly surveys it.

"Yeah, let's keep out fingers crossed. Ready to get to work on this fine house?" Jack rubs his hands together.

"Fine house?"

"'s not much now. It's got potential. It may not look great now, but with a little work? Greatest house in Capeside."

"Oh, really?" Joey replies, managing one of her teasing smiles.

"Sure. After all, if you're working on it, how could it not be?" Jack gives her a kiss on the cheek and takes off his jacket and backpack, setting it in the now-empty bed of the truck where everyone else seemed to have dumped their stuff. "Ready, m'lady?" He gestures to the house. Joey sees Pacey already set to work laying down some plywood with another volunteer, and rolls her eyes.

"As ready as I'll ever be."


Andie pulls her silver Saab to a screeching halt in front of the unfinished house, a bit surprised to see the amount of kids who had turned up to help out. Maybe she should've made her job interview for another day and came. Spend a little quality time with her boyfriend and help out the needy. Everyone wins. Andie laughs a little at her own stupid thoughts and climbs out, grabbing the small cooler from the passenger's side seat. Wobbling uneasily as she tries to make her way up the uneven driveway in her heeled sandals, she sees Pacey and Jack standing in the garage, obviously taking a break.

"Hey, you two. Why are we standing around, may I ask?" Andie asks. Pacey wipes the sweat from his forehead, tired. He lets Jack reply.

"When did it decide to get so hot? It's five o'clock. It should be cooling down," Jack complains. Andie shrugs.

"Do I look like a meteorologist? It's usually snowing by November, so I don't have the faintest clue what's going on, but it's probably el Nino or whatever they call it," Andie guesses. Walking out of the garage, Pacey looks up at the sky.

"I wish it would rain," Pacey finally says. "Then we could go home."

"Aw, is Pacey sick of doing his part for the community already?" Andie jokingly pouts, opening up the cooler. "Here, have a sandwich, at least that'll make you feel better." She spots Joey and waves to her happily. "Joey! Hey! You want something to eat?"

Joey stops, looking at Andie, Pacey and Jack, debating if she even wants to deal with it right now. Her stomach grumbles loudly, overriding her nervous anxiety of being near Pacey. Slowly, she heads over to them, mentally planning something normal to say in advance.

"Hey, Andie. Um, you brought food?"

"Yeah, turkey sandwiches and Pepsi."

"Thanks. You didn't have to do that," Joey smiles, keeping her eyes away from Pacey. At some point he had taken his shirt off and it was hard to stop herself from admiring his finely toned stomach and arms. She runs her hands through her messy hair self-consciously and wishes she wasn't sweating so profusely. But Pacey was too busy admiring the way her tiny tank top clung to her chest and how her short khaki shorts showed off her long, thin, tan legs to notice anything else. Feeling a bit heated, Pacey takes a cold can of soda from the cooler and rolls it across his forehead with a deep sigh. Joey and Jack each take one also, snapping their own can open almost simultaneously with each other. Jack smiles a little at this, but Joey is too dazed to realize the similarity of their actions.

Andie feels the tension in the air, and assuming it's only because of the fight between her boyfriend and friend,dismisses it without a second thought. "They better make up soon because this whole Joey and Pacey not talking to each other thing is getting annoying," Andie whines inwardly, staring at her boyfriend, trying to mentally will him to tell Joey he's sorry. For whatever it was he did. Jack looks at his girlfriend, who is nervously focusing on the ground, as if it's the most interesting thing in the world. He's about to say something when she looks up, glancing at Pacey. She sets her can of pop down on the cooler lid with a small shrug.

"Um, I'm not really that hungry anymore...I'm going to go back to work," she murmurs, almost imperceptibly, and turns around and walks away. Jack is a little put off by this, but decides to follow her.

"Hey, Jo? Is something wrong?" He asks, concerned.

"No, what makes you say that?"

"Nothing, really. You just don't seem like yourself, that's all. Like your mind is some place else." Joey laughs off Jack's comment.

"I'm fine. I'm just...really tired. It's been a long day."

"You sure you don't want something to eat?"

"Positive," Joey replies, looking back over to where Andie's imploring Pacey to try some of her sandwiches. He doesn't appear to be hungry either.

Dawson slowly walks up the steps of Jen's porch and rings the doorbell. Jen quickly opens the door, smiling.

"Hey, Dawson. Come on in," she greets him, stepping out of the way to let him walk inside. He steps in, slipping off his jacket and letting Jen hang it up on the coat rack.

"Wow, it smells great in here. What was your grandmother cooking?"

"Actually, Grams is at a bible meeting. I'm making lasagna." Dawson looks at her as she winks mischevously. "I told you I was cooking something up."

"I didn't think you meant *literally*," Dawson laughs. Jen looks a little bit alarmed.

"You didn't already eat, did you?"

"Oh, no. I was thinking we'd go to the Ice House, but hey - this is ten times better, I think," Dawson gives her a reassuring smile and she nods.

"Well, good, because I made a lot," she heads to the kitchen, and Dawson follows. Jen opens the stove and checks on the food, and Dawson watches, silently admiring her. When she turns around, she blushes. "Now what are you looking at, Mr. Leery?"

"Your grandmother actually trusted you to be alone with me, 'that wretched devil of a young man'?" He asks slyly. "Because right now I'm very tempted to kiss you, but I'm afraid some alarm will go off and Grams will come storming out of the closet sounding her virgin alarm, like like robot in Space BallsJen laughs.

"Sounds like her, except I'm not a virgin," Jen replies, moving closer to him and letting her lips lightly run over his. Letting the kiss deepen for only a few seconds, Jen teasingly turns away. "I hope you're hungry, you 'wretched devil of a young man."


6:30. Only half an hour till they got to go home. It had cooled off slightly, the sun almost gone from the sky. Joey is hurriedly trying to finish up nailing a board into place when Pacey comes up to her, holding a level in his right hand.

"Joey, wait a second there. That looks crooked."

"What?" She asks, a bit startled.

"I said wait," he sets the thin, black metal instrument on top of what will, in the future, be the boxed out window sill in the kitchen. Joey back away from him, clutching the hammer she's holding tightly for fear it will slip right out of her sweaty hand. She watches as he eyes the center, seeing if the bubble stops between the two lines. Joey sighs as she realizes that the board was in fact crooked, coming down a little on the right side. Pacey adjusts it and then turns to her, not wanting to admit that he didn't care about leveling window sills ; it was just an excuse to be near her for a minute or two.

"Thanks," Joey murmurs, every nerve in her body realizing that Pacey is moving closer to her.

"No problem," he practically whispers, fighting back the urge to kiss her. "What else do you have to do before you go home?" Having trouble putting a coherent thought together, Joey merely points to a plank on the floor and gestures to the doorframe which leads to what will be the dining room. Pacey gets the gist, though.

"Want me to help?" Ordinarily, Joey would've been offended by Pacey assuming a girl needed help and would've bit back with some witty comeback, but now her mouth was suddenly dry. She nods.

"Sure," she watches as he pick up the piece of wood and then follows him over, picking up some nails and her hammer. He matches the board up with the rough doorframe and makes sure it's aligned. Joey hands him a nail, but he thinks for a minute, realizing he can't hold the board and hammer at the same time.

"Here, get right here for a second and hold this," he says. Joey steps underneath his arms, between him and the frame, and takes hold of the wood, holding it tightly into place. For a second, Pacey forgets what he's supposed to be doing when he feels Joey's skin against his. She jolts him from his trance by handing him the hammer.

For a few awkward, intense moments, they both stand there. Pacey inhales her sweet scent, closing his eyes. Joey, too busy with other thoughts to even wonder why he's not hammering, is entranced by the sound of his deep breathing. Slowly, she loosens her grip on the two by four, her fingers itching to touch him. Daringly, Pacey runs his hand down the side of her body, causing her to shiver. Stepping away from him, she takes the piece of wood and lays it on the ground, turning to face him in the dim light of dusk. His eyes are burning, full of passion, yet she's unaware her own eyes burn just as brightly, if not more so. Joey's just about to give into her desire and press her lips to his when another voice crashes through the intense quiet like a knife.

"Joey! There you are." Joey quickly turns around to see Jack walking toward her. "I've been looking all over for you. Rob says we can call it a day. It's getting too dark to get anything more accomplished tonight." Joey barely nods before hurrying past her boyfriend toward the garage. Jack watches her fly by, then looks back to Pacey to ask what was going on. Instead, he says, "Andie's looking for you too, Pace. She's waiting out front."

Andie. Pacey had almost completely forgotten about Andie. She had decided to stay and help out for awhile, since she really didn't have any particular desire to go home. What if she had walked in on him and Joey, and they had actually kissed? He glances guiltily at Jack, wondering if he can tell what he's thinking. Boy would Jack be surprised to know that he and Joey weren't fighting anymore, they were lusting, and lusting for each other completely.

He walks out front, to where Andie is waiting, shivering slightly.

"It was 75 before...and now it's like, 40," she whines, rubbing her arms. Pacey lets out a small laugh.

"I wouldn't exactly say it's *that* cold, McPhee." Andie smiles.

"What are you doing now, Pacey? You want to catch a movie or something? Go to the Ice House?" Andie asks, hopefully. A thought flashes through Pacey's mind. His dad and brother were both on duty tonight. One sister was at a friend's house, and his mom and other two siblings were off on some female bonding getaway. He'd have the house to himself. But it wasn't Andie he was thinking about giving this information to.

"Actually, Andie, I'm pretty beat. I think I'm just going to go home."

"Oh," Andie is a little let down, but tries not to show it. "Well, can I at least give you a ride home?" Pacey looks at her ; she's apparently set on spending a little extra time with him, so he gives in.

"Yeah, sure. Sounds great. Just...let me go get my stuff, okay?" Andie nods to him, and he walks to the truck to dig out his backpack. He also finds Joey's. Opening his own, he rips a corner off a homework paper that's crumpled in his bag and finds a pen, hurriedly scrawling a message. Then he sticks it inside Joey's backpack. From a distance, Joey watches him do this, but waits until he walks away to investigate. As Pacey climbs into Andie's Saab, Joey opens up her backpack and takes out the paper.

"My house. 10:00," she reads silently to herself, then crunches the paper up and sticks it back into her bag, looking around guiltily to see if anyone had seen. What did it mean? Well, she knew what is *meant*, but in terms of...what did Pacey want her to do at his ten o'clock...? Was this secret meeting to talk, to kiss...? A million things were running through her head, and every one of them made her heart race wildly.

"Hey, ready to go?" Jack asks, taking his backpack from the truck bed. Joey looks as if she's killed someone, biting back a nervous shriek as Jack suddenly intrudes into her fantasy world.

"What? Oh...yeah, I'm ready." With that, Jack takes her hand and the head toward home. Joey looks down at their intertwined fingers, wondering what is the matter with her. She could have Jack, or Dawson. They both liked her. Then why in the world was she already making plans of what to wear to Pacey's? Pacey has a girlfriend. She has a boyfriend. It just didn't make sense...but for some reason she realizes she just doesn't care.


Staring at Jen across the table, Dawson is entranced by the way the flickering candelight is playing across her soft face. "She's so beautiful," Dawson thinks. "Not Joey, but beautiful." He mentally slaps himself for the thought. Why did he compare everyone to Joey? Joey wasn't his. She never really was. Eager to replace his train of thought with a new engineer, he lets it become blantantly clear that he's staring at Jen.

"What?" she asks, self-consciously.

"Nothing," he chuckles. "It's so funny, I've never seen you as the cooking type."

"Well, I'm full of surprises, don't you agree?" "Yes, you are the most surprising person I know, Jen Lindley," Dawson replies, letting his mind wander back to their first run as a couple, where Jen has more "startling news" about her past for him around every corner. But luckily for him, that was all out of the way and hopefully this time they could start with a clean slate. "And I just would like to give my compliments to my fine chef, who made the most excellent lasagna I've ever tasted in my entire life." Jen beams as Dawson slides over to the chair next to her and takes her hand, kissing it with joking debonair smile. Lightly, she outstretches her hand and traces her finger down his jawline, tipping his chin upwards and looking deep into his eyes. Slowly, they both lean toward each other in the dim, romantic light, closing their eyes and waiting for the moment to come. Gently and sweetly, their lips converge, melting into one another's with the cautious care of two people not sure if it's like, love or lust.

At 10:10, Joey rings the doorbell to the Witter house. It's dark ; at first she thought no one was home. Pacing nervously back and forth across the porch, she waits for someone to answer. Tugging nervously at the tiny white lace tank top she had thrown on before she had snuck out to make the trek to Pacey's, she considers going home. What is she doing here, anyway? The whole thing was beginning to seem silly. There she was, standing in the dark on Pacey Witter's front porch, not even knowing why, but just knowing he had told her to be there.

"I can't believe I'm here," she whispers to herself, but nevertheless she rings the doorbell again. This time, the door opens. Pacey is standing there ; she can't quite read the expression on his face.

"The doorbell doesn't work, you know," he tells her quietly. "I was beginning to think you weren't coming...but then I looked out the window and there you were."

" I am..." She gazes at him, trying to resist the way his emerald eyes glistened in the dark. "And why am I here, Pace? I'd really like to know. If this is about what happened at the docks, or at the house, or even at the hospital...I mean, we have to think about Andie. And Jack. Because....Because...Because..."


"Because..." Joey can't find anything to finish the sentence. Without another word, Pacey steps out onto the porch and pulls her to him, their lips finally meeting in a kiss of unfathomable passion. Her hands immediately went to the buttons on his shirt, eagerly beginning to pry each button open. His tongue plunges into her mouth, his hands trying to touch her everywhere possible as quickly as he could, for fear the moment wouldn't last long enough. After a few minutes, they break away from each other, breathless. "Because this is wrong," she finally finishes, but presses closer and lays another kiss onto his soft lips.

"I know." Pacey merely replies, and pulls her inside, shutting the door tightly behind them.

To Be Continued...

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