The woman in front of him was undulating her hips seductively. Her arms swayed over her head, as she grinded to the steady pulsating bass of Lenny Kravitz' "American Woman." Her long legs were bare, clad in only 3-inch heels. She was obviously going for the Demi Moore look from Striptease, her hair swinging free as she removed the clip securing it. The cropped white man-tailored blouse she had on was knotted at her midriff above the shortest and tightest black skirt he'd ever seen. Her slim, long-fingered hands began sliding up her body at the thighs, pulling the material tight over her writhing form, as she whipped around in time to the music. Her back to him, she bent double and winked at her captive audience through the spread V of her legs.
He stared, a man transfixed. His eyes widened with her every movement and in her current position, he was getting quite a view. The hem of her skirt climbed a few inches as she stretched, her muscles standing out in definition, and he caught a glimpse of the tan lines on her upper thighs. He inched forward, unaware he was even moving, his mouth literally hanging open.
She straightened and swiveled simultaneously, biting back a smile as she locked her eyes on his. She moved slightly closer to him, her legs straddling his outstreched limbs, and she rocked her hips downward, nearly squatting over his crossed ankles as she untied the knotted shirt and rubbed the loose shirt tails against her body. He could hear himself breathing heavier as her fingers quickly worked the buttons loose. Then she gripped the front of her blouse with both hands and he knew she was going to rip it open a la Demi and flash him. Unable to stand it anymore, he cried out.
"WHOA!!" One hand lifted to cover his eyes and he jammed down the stop button on the boombox next to him with the other. "Aw geez, Joey! What the hell are you doing, trying to blind me?? Button your shirt up!"
Joey Potter was rolling her eyes, but she re-buttoned her top, quickly re-tying the tails in a tight knot. "Oh please, Pacey, spare me your tortured Oedipus routine." She snorted in a most unladylike fashion, "Don't tell me you thought I'd show you the goods?" She laughed and continued dryly, "No need to pop a vein, I have a bikini on. Besides, weren't you the one who oh-so-charmingly told me just yesterday that your greatest aspiration in life was to become an OB/GYN?"
He opened his eyes and through the cracks of his fingers, he saw a covered-up Joey wobbling on one leg then the other as she removed her heels. Inwardly, he heaved a sigh of relief and let his hand drop. "Yeah well I don't want to start practicing with you."
"I don't know how women wear these on a daily basis, they should be declared a form of cruel and unusual punishment." She frowned and chucked the shoes into the duffel bag on the floor next to Pacey's nightstand. Turning back to face him, she raised an eyebrow. "So what'd ya think?"
There was no way in hell he was gonna tell her what he'd been thinking.
He covered quickly. "One, where the hell did you get those clothes? Two, where the hell did you get those moves?" He cocked his head and chuckled in a bemused way, "And three, and most importantly in my humble estimation, why the hell did you just do a striptease for me? I mean not that I'm not grateful and all, but --"
The smirk she'd been wearing was replaced by irritation as he droned on and she had to interrupt. "Pacey! It's part of the plan, hello? Remember, you promised to help me get Dawson back? I mean I know your brain is about the size of your average rodent's but it was only this morning." She shook her head and walked around him to pop the tape from the boom box.
Pacey flopped back on his bed and watched her with incredulous amazement. "You were serious…about getting a job at the strip club to make Dawson jealous? Okay, what planet are you from and what have you done with Joey Potter?"
She shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm still Joey, just a more interesting version of her." Her bravado faltered for a moment and she looked away, her voice turning brittle. "After all, we both know the old one wasn't exactly holding his attention." The vulnerability left immediately, and her eyes were steeled as she turned back to him. "I'm just fighting fire with fire."
She walked over to the doorway of his attached bathroom and paused, looking back over her shoulder and flashing him a cold smile. "Besides, you said it yourself. It's a new year. Things can be different."
She walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. Pacey rolled over and groaned out loud, wondering what kind of monster he'd created. The door opened again and Joey peeked around the corner, an impish grin tugging at her lips. "Oh hey, Pace, I won't take too long to change, I'm sure you want to shower before we go out."
"Nah, it's alright I took a shower earlier."
"Um, I meant a cold one." Her eyes lowered meaningfully to his lap and she laughed, slamming the door behind her. Safe in the solitude of the small bath, Joey slumped over the cold porcelain sink, her hands gripping the edges of the basin as she stared at herself in the mirror. She saw nothing remarkable, certainly nothing that would indicate she had what it would take to be a stripper.
Joey wriggled out of the skirt she'd borrowed from Bessie, and folded it carefully, looking thoughtfully at the material. She looked in the mirror again, apprehension clouding her features. What had possessed her to come up with this idea? For a second, she saw Dawson with her mind's eye, then like a camera pulling back for a panorama she saw that bleached blonde in the skintight clothes that had been with him when he crashed the boat. In an instant, her fears were replaced with steely determination.
Pacey had told her the blonde had temporarily worked at a strip club downtown and her crazy idea had been born. Maybe she wasn't Cindy Crawford but she could do this. She would do this, she'd just have to learn to be sexy. She smirked slightly at her reflection. And she had a good idea of who she'd use as a guinea pig. For once, Pacey's oversexed libido might come in handy. She finished changing then looked at herself one more time before she exited the bathroom. She inhaled and straightened up, her usually rounded posture corrected and tightened her hand on the doorknob. She wasn't going to lose Dawson. It was all or nothing and she was playing for keeps. Capeside better get ready, because there's a brand-new Joey Potter in town.
The next day, Pacey shuffled into the lunch room and spotted Jen Lindley and Jack McPhee eating at a nearby table. He walked over and plopped his tray down next to theirs, sliding into a seat and listening to their gossip.
"I know, she's practically succeeded in outskanking me today." Laughing, Jen gestured to her outfit. Capeside High's new Minutegirl head Cheerleader had the traditional uniform on, with some decidedly untraditional ripped fishnets and a pair of heavy black leather combat boots.
"Yeah, and she's wearing like more makeup than I even thought she owned." Jack chimed in, obviously perplexed.
"So who's the hot topic, setting Capeside's lunchroom tongues wagging?" Pacey asked, chuckling, as he took a sip of soda.
"Joey. Have you seen her today?"
Looking at them warily, Pacey tried to recall. "I don't think so."
"Oh you'd remember if you'd seen her, she's dressed rather...unforgettably." Jack said shaking his head slightly. Pacey groaned and put one hand on his forehead.
"Don't tell me, white blouse tied at her stomach, really short, really tight black skirt?"
Jen and Jack exchanged a look. "Um, no. But obviously you've seen signs of this fashion disaster before Either that or I just learned way too much about Pacey Witter's fantasy life." Jen shuddered in jest.
He cracked a smile and shook his head. "Yeah you could say I've seen a sign or two." He added under his breath, I almost saw a whole hell of a lot more than that, too. "The new look is part of this crazy scheme she's got to get Dawson back."
They both looked at him quizzically and he realized they didn't know what had happened at the party. "She went over to the party last Saturday and pretty much offerred herself to him and he chose the mysterious blonde from the bus instead."
"You're kidding?" Jack scoffed, "Dawson rejected Joey, for that bimbo, Eve? What a fool. Poor Joey."
"Maybe he got sick of her games," Jen said with irritation as she nibbled on a fry. "I mean come on, she strung him along like a toy on a string all last year. Maybe he finally got sick of living life at the whims of Joey Potter."
Pacey interrupted before they could start squabbling, "Yeah, well guess who he drafted to play babysitter? She was really upset, and he asked me to watch out for her and make sure she doesn't do anything stupid. As if I can control her. The only reason I agreed is because I don't have anything better to do till Andie gets back. Speaking of which, do you guys want to come Friday to pick her up in Providence?"
"I'd love to, but we got the pep rally." Jack said, and immediately made a face. "How weird is that?"
Pacey laughed, "That's right. I'm in the big league now, sitting with the Head Cheerleader and the Capeside Minutemen's secret weapon! Jack McPhee playing football, and Jen Lindley shaking pompoms, Andie's gonna flip when she hears this."
"Yeah, well you might want to tell her a little about your new best friend's sudden changes, while you're at it." Jen said, nodding to the doorway. "Frankly the new Joey Potter makes us look about as interesting as week-old bread."
Pacey swiveled sharply and his eyes bugged out. She was wearing slinky black jeans that looked they'd been painted on her, a tight black bodysuit with a v-neck almost down to her navel, and a pair of thigh-high heeled boots. Her hair was teased and she had on heavy black eyeliner and fire engine red lipstick. He was up and crossing the room in just a few seconds, observing the leering stares from guys in the lunchroom and getting angrier with each step. Her eyes were scanning the lunchroom and she barely registered his approach.
"Oh hey, Pace," she said, straining up on her toes to see over his shoulder.
Pacey moved closer trying to block her body from view of the chattering lunchers with his own. "Hey Joey, or should I say Catwoman? What are you doing Potter? Showing off your ample charms for the student body? I know Bessie didn't let you leave the house like that."
She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, which only made the thin shirt strain tighter against her body. "Good let 'em stare. Word about the new me will get back to Dawson, faster that way." She frowned, "And not that its any of your business but Bessie had to take Alex to a doctor's appointment this morning. Who are you anyway, Father Knows Best?"
"No, I'm a friend who's trying to save you from looking like a piece of meat in front of the entire school." His voice had raised involuntarily, and he grabbed her arm and by the time he'd finished, the tables around them had gone quiet, staring at them, entranced in the drama.
Her composure gone, she practically shouted at him now. "Yeah, well who asked you to? Who asked you to save me from anything Pacey? I don't need you charging in on your white horse, pretending to care, alright? So your job is done, you can tell Dawson, I'll be perfectly fine thank you."
She moved to turn away and saw his look of surprise and guilt before he could squelch it.
"What, you figured my powers of deduction were so poor I wouldn't be able to guess all your grand gestures of friendship this weekend were prompted by Dawson? Give me some credit, Pacey."
He shut his eyes for a moment, trying to hold on to the last vestiges of his patience, then opened them to see a hurt and angry Josephine staring at him. "Yes, Dawson asked me to watch out for you for a few days, but that's not why I'm standing here now, telling you that you need to forget about this crazy plan. Joey, there's just no way this can come to a good end. Sure, maybe you can handle a crowded lunchroom of leering boys, but can you honestly say you're going to be okay with going up on that stage at a strip club and taking it all off, for some slobbering drunks who are desperate to get a look at some underage flesh? Call me crazy, but I don't think they'll let you keep your bikini on."
She was still angry, but he could tell she was thinking about what he said and having some moments of doubt. Then her face changed instantaneously and she broke into a big smile and said through clenched teeth "Don't turn around."
Just as he was about to ask her what the hell was wrong with her addled brain now, he saw Dawson and Eve walk up to them out of the corner of his eye.
"Hi, guys" Dawson smiled his usual guileless self. Next to him, Eve none-too-subtly nudged him and smiled cattily at Joey. "Uh, you remember Eve, Pacey and Joey."
Eve smiled at Pacey and turned to Joey quickly. "Well we weren't formally introduced, but I do seem to remember you. You're that little gas girl from the marina, who got, well quite an eyeful of our little accident the other day," she feigned embarrassment then raked her gaze over Joey and sniffed.
"Well, look at that, you clean up nicely. Who would've guessed?"
Joey was smiling brightly, a little too brightly in fact. Pacey stepped closer, laying a hand on her arm and preparing to grab her quickly, just in case she decided to rip out Eve's bouncy blond hair strand by strand. But she only murmured, "Who indeed," and smiled patronizingly. Sensing the tension, Dawson decided to break this party up before any blood was shed. He was slightly agog at Joey's attire.
"Interesting outfit, Jo. Uh, Pace, I'll call you tonight alright?"
Pacey nodded, watching Joey stare intently at Dawson, urging him to say something with her eyes. As they walked away, he saw her shoulders tremble slightly and a wave of disappointment passed over her face. Eve's cackling giggle floated back to them over the din of the lunchroom, and was followed by a throatier guffaw from Dawson. Joey flinched, and Pacey knew she thought they were laughing at her. He slid his hand up to her shoulder for support, but she stepped back quickly, her eyes carefully averted. She didn't want to see the pity in his eyes. In a low tremulous voice, she said, "Don't touch me."
He let his hand drop and they stood for a moment in silence. Then the bell rang, signifying the end of the period. Students swirled around them and Joey straightened finally, her chin set, her head high, she pivoted and slowly walked down the hall.
Pacey stood absorbing the jostling elbows and getting his toes trod upon, but he noticed none of it. He just watched, shaking his head as she was swallowed by the crowd, and murmering to himself, "I just hope you know what you're doing, Josephine." Then he turned and walked in the opposite direction.
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