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"Hey, did you know lap dances are illegal in Tampa?"
Pacey looked up from the sports section he was reading in surprise. "Well, hello non sequitor. Nice to meet ya." His eyes flitted curiously over to the folding screen in the back of the room, behind which Joey was trying on some outfits for her routines. She'd woken him up at 9:30 this morning-a free and clear Sunday morning that he'd planned on snoring away till at least mid-afternoon, he might add-to nag him about giving her a ride to the club so she could rehearse without an audience before her big performance next Saturday. That was D-day. Pacey was to bring Dawson to the club, without telling him anything about Joey's surprise of course. Even if she wouldn't admit it, she was nervous. "And pray tell, Miss Josephine, how such an innocent naïf like yourself would come across such knowledge? Part of employee orientation?"
Joey rolled her eyes as she selected a white leather vest from the hanging rack next to her and pulled it on, fastening just the first few buttons. "They are you know." She stretched up on tiptoes to grab off a high shelf one more item to complete the outfit. "So .have you ever had one?" As casually as possible she sauntered around the screen and walked over in front of Pacey.
He glanced up at her, tearing his eyes away from the college basketball standings to survey the latest ensemble, and his jaw dropped. Not at the question, but at her appearance. Joey was standing clad in the briefest pair of red satin shorts he'd ever seen, one of those tiny red bandanna tops, a white leather vest and matching chaps and red suede cowboy boots, perched on her head was a white Stetson. His eyes couldn't quite take it all in, and he ran them up and down her body over and over until he finally noticed she was standing there with her arms crossed, looking at him expectantly. "Oh uh...what were you saying? Did I ever have one what?"
"A lap dance, Pacey." He was silent. "Earth to PACEY!"
"What?" he leaned forward, dragging his gaze up to her face, as the paper slipped out of his hand and thwacked unobtrusively on the floor.
Joey sighed and turned away looking in a floor length-mirror behind her, as she tried the cowboy hat at various angles. "Come on, it's not that bad is it?" She gazed at herself in the mirror, straightening her shoulders and stiffening her spine in the ludicrous outfit. A few seconds later, her shoulders slumped again and she sighed. "Ok, so I look like the trashiest Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader ever." She ditched the chaps and the vest and started to reach for the hat.
"Leave the hat. It's sexy," Pacey chimed in, finally feeling his heart rate cycle back down to a normal rhythm.
Joey gave his reflection a disbelieving semi-grin, but dropped her hands. "So you didn't answer me, did you ever have one?"
"When?" her voice dripped with suspicion.
He stroked his chin, pretending to mull it over. "Well, Doug's 21st birthday party "
"Pacey, we were only 12 when Doug turned 21!"
He grinned wolfishly and chuckled. "I know."
Joey rolled her eyes at him in the mirror, as she adjusted the skimpy handkerchief top over her chest.
"Then of course there was the lonely period this summer while Andie was in Providence."
Joey whirled around, indignant. "You were here being entertained by strippers, while Andie was stuck in a mental hospital?"
"Oh please, it's not like you can even touch the girls," he sneered. "Besides, I know for a fact, that Andie was seeing a lot more action than I was this summer."
An awkward silence settled and Joey immediately felt bad for her blunder. It'd been a few weeks since the homecoming from hell and Pacey had just about gotten over the bitter, angry stage of their breakup, edging into the morbid depression arena. Before he started brooding again, she thought she'd better distract him, seizing on the first thought that came to mind. "So you can't touch them huh?"
It worked. Pacey shook his head. "Unh uh, that's a big no-no, unless you want some guy named Gino threatening to break off your pinkies and eat them like Kit Kat bars Hey what's the sudden interest in my prurient entertainment choices anyway?" Realization dawned on his face and for the second time in the past 10 minutes his jaw dropped. "Don't tell me .Do NOT tell me Joey Potter's going to do the bump and grind?"
That earned him an expected glare. "Has anyone ever told you how unbelievably crude and infantile you are?"
"Oh plenty of people, never one who gets dollar bills stuffed down her g-string every night though." He grinned at her, waiting for her to return the volley.
"I DO NOT get dollar bills stuffed down my g-string every night." She paused, then looked haughtily at him. "I get twenties." She couldn't hide her grin, as Pacey looked at her almost admiringly and shook his head. "Actually, I don't get much of anything. When all you do is wait tables at a strip club, the tips are pretty slim. Most of the customers save their change for the women who show 'em bare asses not beer glasses." She looked at him quickly, then averted her eyes, her voice dropping an octave. "That's why I thought I might try lap dances."
Pacey looked at her in confusion, "I don't understand, Jo, why don't you just ask Lou if he'll let you strip? You'll make more money and you don't have to play fireman with some old pervert."
Joey wrinkled her forehead. "Fireman?"
"You know, sliding down the pole and all "
"PACEY! Ew!" He looked the picture of innocence. "Besides, I can't go on stage yet."
"Oh right, your big plan," he mocked. "Come on, like Dawson's even gonna know."
"It has nothing to do with Dawson! I have stage fright, alright? I threw up all three times I was supposed to go onstage already."
"A stripper with stage fright! Priceless." Pacey cackled so hard, he nearly fell out of his chair.
Joey picked up the newspaper and smacked him with it. "Shut up Anyway, Lou thought I might want to try something where I only have to face one person instead of a whole room."
Pacey sobered up and took a deep breath. "I don't know Potter, I just don't think it's such a good idea "
"Well it's a good thing I'm not asking for your approval then! I'm a big girl. I can handle this. I just need someone to help me get started."
"Help you get started?" he repeated in a skeptical voice. "And I suppose I'm that someone? Look Jo, I know you're captivated by my stunning good looks and all, but can't you ever ask Dawson or Jack to help you with these things?"
Joey looked at him like he was crazy. "Um no! I don't want Dawson finding out about any of this until it's time, and somehow I don't think Jack would be a good barometer to tell if I'm doing it right."
"Let me get this straight. You want me to instruct you on how to do a lap dance?"
She looked a lot less sure of herself now. "Yes."
Pacey looked at her for a long minute, then shook his head in disbelief. "Any other woman in the world said that to me and I'd be rejoicing, but no, it's gotta be you Potter. Figures, just my luck "
She cut him off before he could ramble on about his miserable life. "Are you going to help me or not?"
He leaned back in the chair, threw his arm over the back of the seat and crooked one finger at her. "C'mere."
All kinds of misgivings suddenly ran through her mind. She needed his help. There really was no one else she could ask for this, and if she didn't start bringing some more money in soon, the Potter sisters would be fast on their way to the Poorhouse. Still, it was Pacey. She was too old to believe in the concept of cooties anymore, but if there was one guy that it was just too weird to get close to, it would be him. And now she'd practically begged him to let her give him a lap dance. Ah well, insecurity was the bane of the old Joey Potter, not the new and improved one. Of course, the fact that they were actually the same person was of little consolation to her. But she could fake it. Hell, she'd faked everything else.
She walked over to Pacey , straddled his thighs and gingerly sank down, her butt nearly perched on his kneecaps. He looked at her expectantly. It was an awkward moment to beat all awkward moments. Averting her eyes, Joey began moving tentatively, telling herself all the while that this was ok. It was nothing more or less than what she had done in front of Pacey in the past. He'd seen her practice plenty of times, and they were both fully clothed. Well-all the important parts were covered anyway, she thought as she looked down at her outfit, to make sure that was still true. Without much idea of what she was supposed to be doing, she moved over him. The club was so silent, she could hear the rain beating on the tin roof of the club and Joey felt utterly ridiculous.
She didn't feel much better when a minute later, Pacey's loud guffaws filled the empty dressing room. She froze. Smirking, he raised his eyebrows at her, "What exactly are you doing Potter?" She flushed and opened her mouth to answer, but he jumped in. "Don't tell me you'd consider that a lap dance? Sweetheart, this is a strip club, not romper room. Bouncing on my knee isn't gonna get it done."
Defensive to the last, she scrambled off his lap. "Forget it Pacey, this was a stupid idea. I'll just figure it out myself." Joey refused to meet his eyes, busying herself with adjusting her clothes.
"Well let's not be too hasty now." She aimed a surprised look at him. "I admit, I wasn't bowled over by the prospect at first, but now that I've seen how thoroughly in over your head you are, I feel it's my duty to help you out. Not to mention all those poor suckers paying scandalous amounts of money to have a barely legal sexpot do a hell of a lot more than play giddy' up horse-y on their leg."
"Oh right!" Joey made a show of smacking the heel of her hand against her forehead. "It must have escaped my cranium that this is Pacey the Good Samaritan in front of me, not Pacey the horndog who jacked off in the girl's locker room after getting a little attention from the cheerleaders last year."
He just grinned. "God, you're beautiful when you're eviscerating a man. Anyone ever tell you that?"
She rolled her eyes, but couldn't hide the little smile his comment had evoked. He'd gotten into the habit of dropping little comments like that every now and again. It wasn't like they were real compliments, because Joey knew he was joking, but still it was kind of nice to hear. When had she started to find it impossible to stay mad at him, anyway? He held out a hand. "Come on Jo. I promise to keep my mighty sword of love sheathed, wouldn't want you to be overcome with desire for me after all. Hell, I'll even sit on my hands, like they do in the real private rooms."
Joey choked back the uncharacteristic giggles that had sprung up at the mention of Pacey possessing a mighty anything. She hadn't known that about the private rooms. Well if he was sitting on his hands what was the big deal. She could do this. "Gee, with an offer like that, who could resist?" she joked. "Fine, fine...but I'm turning on the radio. It's too quiet in here, and I can't move without music anyway." She walked over and flicked the radio dial on, trying to tune in a song and compose herself.
"Well, I'll have to file that for future reference." Pacey cracked, as she finally settled on a station and walked back over to him. She sent him a look that would wither a lesser man and sank down on his legs again at about mid-thigh, as the strains of Kid Rock's Cowboy filled the empty room. She looked at him and shrugged, pointing to the hat, "I figured it was appropriate."
Pacey nodded but didn't say anything, leaning back and folding both hands beneath his butt as promised. Swallowing thickly, Joey inhaled and began moving again, more smoothly this time, her hips moving in slow circles. Joey wasn't sure if it would be weirder to do this with a complete stranger or with Pacey. You never knew what to expect with a stranger, what if the guy was totally disgusting? Then again, she and Pacey usually stayed clear of any and all physical contact, never mind bumping intimate body parts against each other.
She thought maybe it'd be better if she closed her eyes, that way she could pretend she was alone. The twangy reverb of the guitar chords flooded her ears and Joey concentrated on the music, immediately relaxing. She extended her arms on either side of his head, her fingers resting on the back of the chair just above his shoulders. Joey rose up on the balls of her feet, her hips swiveling, her movements more fluid as she felt the music. Her head tilted back and the cowboy hat fell to the floor.
Pacey watched her in amazement. In his wildest dreams-and admittedly that included some pretty raunchy ones-he'd never imagined Josephine Potter, innocent, girl-next-door Joey could look so utterly erotic. Her eyes were closed, her skin slightly flushed, her face relaxed and for the first time in all the years he'd known her, she looked unashamedly comfortable in her own skin. She didn't slouch, in fact there wasn't the least curvature to her spine-until she slid back down onto his lap, stretched out her legs and arched backward to pick up her hat. Joey's hair flipped downwards, beating gently against his shins, as she held the back of the chair tightly with one hand and reached to the floor, snagging the hat in the other. Her body made a perfect arc, the smooth skin of her stomach stretched in front of him, looking incredibly inviting. Suddenly, Pacey felt a compelling need to touch.
As she swung upright, he slid his hands out from under him and grasped her hips. Disoriented, her eyes flew up to meet his and she suddenly became very aware that her shorts really didn't cover much at all. His hands were big and warm, and the feel of their bare skin touching was disconcerting to say the least. She looked at him in puzzlement, "I thought you said no touching."
His eyes were bright, ravenous as they locked onto hers, and in one swift movement, he pulled her toward him, her thighs skidding against his, her hips crashing into his. "I lied," he whispered, shrugging and continued in a normal voice. "How can I instruct you without touching you? Besides, you weren't touching me, and that's kind of the whole point of this thing."
She nodded, for once, not challenging him. They sat still for a moment, neither one willing to make the next move. With the cowboy boots on, Joey was taller than him and Pacey had to lean his head back slightly to look at her. Their pelvises were flush together but they were still leaving a good six inches for the Lord between their chests. Grams would be proud, Pacey thought irrationally. The awkwardness was nearly palatable. The cacophonous chords of the chorus overtook the room and apparently provided Joey with inspiration. She lifted her arm to set the cowboy hat on his head then let her open hand run down the side of his cheek, her palm sliding over his neck and down his chest to his waist, hooking her finger through the belt loop on his jeans. She rolled her hips under his hands, which spurred Pacey into action. He moved her slightly, shifting her weight so it was more evenly distributed on both legs, and her crotch was centered directly over his. His voice shook slightly as he started to speak. "Well, first thing you gotta do, is you have to make sure you're right in the middle, cause nothing'll kill the mood more than a ruptured testicle."
They both grimaced at that thought, and Joey fidgeted somewhat impatiently, wiggling around to find a more comfortable perch. She hadn't done that much lap-sitting in her short professional career, and saying this felt weird would be the understatement of the year. She should think of this as a challenge, Joey thought to herself. If she could do this stuff to Pacey, she could do it to anyone. Not that he was gross or horrible or anything, it was just...weird. But kind of fun too. She knew Pacey was the last person to think of her in any kind of sexual way-well except for Dawson maybe, she thought bitterly,-so using him as a guinea pig of sorts for her "plan" was fitting. If she could get a rise-literally-out of a Pacey, she'd figure she had what it took or could at least fake it till she did. Yet, he was also safe, because they didn't have any weird history, and for as much as he could be a flirt at times, he'd never make a move on her. Really it was the ideal situation. And she had to admit, it was kind of fun playing with him, she grinned as she shifted again.
Pacey mistook her movements, and stilled her by squeezing her hips. "Uh, not like that. Like this " His hands tightened on her and he began guiding her hips, pulling her against him in short, swift movements, bucking her body against his, then sliding her back over his thighs in time to the music. Joey grabbed his shoulders, her fingers digging into his flesh as she was thrown off-balance by the sudden movements, but she quickly got used to the rhythm he was showing her. She concentrated on the music and the feel of his thumbs pressing against her pelvic bone. She shut her eyes and moved instinctively, letting him pull her over and against him.
Pacey watched as she seemed to relax almost unconsciously, her body loosening, her arms climbing and twirling in the air as she moved over him. He couldn't stop staring at her. It was so incredible to see her completely let go like that. Joey was normally wound up about as tight as a corkscrew, but now, seeing her like this, it was like she was a whole different person. A whole different person who happened to be riding him like he was a fucking bronco. Pacey nearly groaned and closed his eyes--in desire or in despair, he wasn't exactly sure which, nor was he sure it even mattered at this point. He felt the stirrings of an erection he could use to pound nails. She froze for a second, and he knew she'd felt it as well, even though her expression was carefully neutral. Well, she'd wanted to know what it was like, hadn't she? At least, it was honest.
Suddenly, Joey leaned forward, pressing the length of her body against his chest. The Lord can't help you now, Pacey thought idly, as she slid both hands over his chest, her fingers splayed, to rest on his shoulders. She slid her legs backwards, pressing her knees against his and running the toes of her boots up and down his calves. In surprise, Pacey let go of her hips, and let his hands slide down the backs of her thighs, as she basically lay on top of him. She stole back the cowboy hat and placed it back on her own head, cocking it slightly over one eye. Her face inches from his own, she angled her head slightly, bringing her lips close to his ear, saying in a breathy whisper. "How am I doing?
Pacey exhaled softly. Her hair was in his face, the smell of her pear shampoo flooding his nostrils, clouding his mind. "Oh, better every second." He lifted a hand to brush her hair away and was tempted by the smooth skin of her shoulder. Pacey wanted to kiss it, bite it, suck on her skin, for God's sake. His internal devil was playing havoc with his impulses, goading him to move closer, his mouth just a hair's breadth away from her skin, as his internal angel screamed at him that this was Joey he was having such decidely impure thoughts about.
Suddenly she shot up, pulling back from him and narrowing her eyes suspiciously at him. "You were trying to look down my top, weren't you? Is that part of your 'instruction'?"
"Well you do have to take it off you know." She glared daggers at him. "You want those twenties, you're gonna, have to go topless Potter."
She folded her arms and glared at him. "Yeah well, you want to get your rocks off, you gotta pay to play WITTER. When I see you reaching for your wallet, then you can see me topless. You just want me to take my shirt off so you can have a cheap thrill."
He smirked. "Ah the trademark Joey Potter comeback, all talk and no action. All right, you want me to put my money where my mouth is?" He pushed Joey back and shifted, jamming his hand into his back pocket and came out with a $20 dollar bill. He waggled it in the air between two fingers, and stared at her, the challenge in his eyes mocking her. "Let's play."
Ugh. He was purposely goading her, knowing full well she'd protest and smack him and call him a pig, but not take her shirt off. Sometimes she hated how he knew exactly the way she'd react to any given situation. Then again, that wasn't necessarily true. He knew how the old Joey Potter would react, but he had no idea what the new Joey was capable of. She could shock him, she'd done it before. At times it seemed their entire relationship was one big game of Truth or Dare and Joey wasn't one to back down from a dare. She looked evenly into his clear blue eyes and nodded, snatched the 20 from his hand and tucked it into her shorts. Pacey's smirk faded. This was going to be good.
"You know, I never thought I'd say this but you're right Pacey. If I want to get good tips, I gotta learn to feel more comfortable with my body right?" As she talked, her hands went behind her back and she began working the knot loose on her handkerchief top. "I can't be all shy and wallflower-ish whenever a guy wants to touch me or wants me to strip for him, and I'm going to have to take it off when I get on stage anyway. I mean, not completely off, it's a topless only club, but " Shut up Joey, she thought to herself, stop rambling, get yourself under control! It's only Pacey. As if that thought was comforting. Still, she was supposed to be pretending to be seductive, not making his ear bleed.
The sole occupant of her captive audience was staring her with something akin to fascination. He'd watched her slide that 20-dollar bill that had just been in his hands, into her shorts and nearly burst out of his skin. He'd tuned out the rest of her babbling after he'd caught on to the fact that she was actually going to take her shirt off. She'd been struggling with that knot for an awfully long minute now. Pacey was torn between wanting to turn her around and just rip the damn thing open with his teeth or shrinking in horror and covering his eyes. He'd only been teasing, he never ever expected her to .She wasn't supposed to take him up on all his lewd comments and harmless banter. That wasn't what the script called for. All such disrobings and/or displays of nudity on the behalf of Joey Potter were supposed to be reserved strictly for Dawson. Witty banter and insults were the only stage directions for the Pacey-Joey scenes. Shit, he thought randomly, she must've forgot her lines.
Well, that was Ok. He could read the cue cards. He knew what he was supposed to. "Jo I was just kidding, you don't have to " Pacey was reaching up to still her arms, when she stopped and the taut material over her chest went slack. Their eyes caught and held and for a moment they were both reflecting the exact same emotion: sheer terror.
Joey stopped breathing for a second, then inhaled deeply-which was obviously the wrong move as it caused her chest to puff up and almost made her drop the ends of the bandana she was clutching tightly behind her back. Pacey's eyes flicked down then back up to meet hers again, and he looked truly tortured. For some reason, that made her relax. Maybe it was the shift in power. What the hell she figured, it's now or never. She opened her palms and the thin material fluttered down and draped itself gracefully across their intertwined legs.
Pacey locked his gaze on hers, staring at her with a ferocious intensity. He willed himself not to look down. But it was almost as if her breasts had some bizarre magnetic quality as his entire being was infused with the desire to do exactly that. He wanted to look, even worse he wanted to touch. He gripped the baggy material on the thighs of his jeans instead. Damn his peripheral vision for being so sharp. Just below the fuzzy ridges of his cheekbones he could make out the soft curves of her body, the gently rounded swell of her breasts. Joey inhaled suddenly and her chest rose sharply. Pacey's gaze dipped as low as her chin, before he regained his composure and dragged it back up to her eyes. It was too late though. Within those mere seconds, he'd sized her up, the edges of his vision possessing a clarity they'd never taken on before. She was average, not too big or too small, probably about a 36B-having a plethora of sisters who'd left their underwear draped all over the house while growing up had instilled him with some unusually handy skills- and her areolas were large, her nipples a dark rose, the same shade her face usually got when he embarassed her or made a pointed remark about her feelings for Dawson. Pacey struggled not to close his eyes and start picturing lurid fantasies about what they could do with some of those costumes and props behind the changing screen. He stared blindly at Joey, not really seeing anything but her perfect chest in his head. Well at least he could take some pleasure in the fact that he'd seen that he wasn't the only one who was aroused.
Joey was frozen. It was the shock of sitting very close to naked on Pacey's very appreciative lap, she was sure. She couldn't move a muscle and every bit of her skin that touched his felt as though it would burst into flames at any minute. What had possessed her to take off her shirt? she thought, even as the answer flitted through her brain. It had been the challenge in his eyes that she'd responded to. Damn him, he always knew exactly what buttons to push with her. And now of course, she was stuck. She couldn't just pick up her shirt and put it back on, because that would make her look every inch the virgin schoolgirl she was trying so hard not to be. It didn't help that he was staring at her like he was concentrating very hard on trying to make her head go whirling off her body. Her other option of course was to play it out, stick with the false bravado and just grind away on him. Either way a no-win situation. The very air in the room seemed electrified. She moved almost imperceptibly and felt the length of his now iron-clad erection slide against the slick material of her shorts, pressing the crinkled corners of the $20 he'd impulsively wagered into her skin. Instinctively, her muscles tightened and Joey had to bite back a whimper. It'd been so incredibly long since anyone had even held her or kissed her, not to mention how thoroughly out of practice her more intimate areas were at accommodating someone else's rather-demanding desires. Both she and Dawson had been turned on plenty of times when they'd gone out but that was nearly a year ago and Joey had forgotten just how sharp the yearning and the longing could be and the incredible adrenaline that even the softest brush of a finger on bare skin could have. Feeling like she was having trouble breathing, Joey inhaled, nearly gasping for air and immediately realized what a wrong move that had been. She watched Pacey's eyes flick downwards then back up again. He'd only looked down for a second, but it was clear from the expression on his face, that that had been enough.
She looked away from him, her gaze flitting over to the radio, which had long since progressed from Kid Rock to the syrupy strains of an overblown Celine Dion ballad, then down at her top which was still lying innocently across their legs. It reminded her of their earlier conversation. She would indeed have to go topless with her customers, doing a lot more than sitting motionlessly on their laps. All this awkwardness was ridiculous really, Joey thought. She was the one making this into a big deal. So Pacey got aroused and maybe he caught a glimpse of her chest. So what? Why did that have to be some sort of cataclysmic event? He was only doing what any guy would really right? She was the one freaking out about this and it was silly. It was time for Joey Potter to act professionally.
She picked up the bandana and twirled it in her hands. "So I'm topless. Now what?"
Pacey stared at her for a moment in surprise, but when he spoke his voice was calm, even. "Well, you just keep doing more of the same really. Um...some women, usually the ones with the...er...more ample cleavage, tend to....well...rub or um...uh squeeze rather...a man's face-"
Joey cut him off. "You don't need to spell it out, Pacey.... I know what you're talking about."
The tips of her ears had turned that dull shade of red and it took every single ounce of his strength not to look down. Instead, he tried to be flippant, raising his eyebrows at her. "Oh, really and how would you-"
Drolly, she cut him off, "I watch a lot of TV." She paused. "And before you get any ridiculous ideas in your head about me doing anything remotely like that to you, you might as well put those lurid notions to rest right now."
Back on solid ground, Pacey bantered playfully. "Come now, Potter I believe I am a paying customer at this point."
She leveled a glare at him. "You gave me a $20. That entitles you to only the most basic of lap dances, no touches, no chest nuzzling, and absolutely no pole sliding whatsoever."
He nodded, hiding a grin that faded, as another fast song came through the radio speakers and Joey began moving on top of him again. He watched her face, careful not to let his eyes drift downwards as she writhed and bucked on his lap, her arms swaying, her head tossing. She noticed him watching her and spoke. "So you want to rent a movie later or something?"
Sure, Debbie Does Dallas, 91/2 weeks, Good Will Humping. " Ok," he answered absentmindedly, struggling to focus on the conversation, as Joey pulled off the cowboy hat and tossed it on the table behind him.
"My place or yours?" Whose got the bigger bed? "What?" he looked up in surprise, his concentration shot.
"Pick your poison. We can watch the movie at my house and attempt to actually enjoy ourselves over the din of Bessie trying to cajole Alex into take a bath or we can go to yours, and hope to dodge the umpteenth million comment of what a lazy bastard you are and shady look at me your dad likes to send us."
He watched as she moved almost automatically, her thighs squeezing his hips, her hands piling her hair on top of her head then letting it spill down over her shoulders to graze the tops of her- "He's not there. He, my mom and Doug all went to some police training seminar in Manchester for the week." Even before he finished speaking, his mind was racing with the possibilities stirred in his mind by the thought of a night in his deserted house watching movies in his bedroom with a hot-as-sin chick who'd spent most of the day bouncing around half-naked on top of him. Pacey never would have imagined there'd come a day when he'd be looking forward to movie night as much as Dawson Leery did.
"So your place it is." She grinned at him, self-consciously, realizing that this conversation had some definitely naughty tones to it. It must be the atmosphere. The thunder crashed overhead as if to second the motion. She started to toss off another saucy remark, but as she moved, the heel of her boot caught on a hole in the worn rug beneath Pacey's chair and Joey pitched forward.
Instinctively, Pacey's arms encircled her, his hands sliding up her naked back. "Woah you ok, Potter?" He knew he was holding her too tightly. He could feel her body molded to his, her chest flattened against his own. But he couldn't let go.
She looked down at him, all thoughts of a snappy self-deprecating comeback about her clumsiness flying straight out of her head. Her hair in messy disarray around her face, which wore mingled expressions of confusion and surprise. He was so close, she could smell the aftershave he wore. Her throat thickened and her head spun crazily for a second. Joey didn't trust herself to say anything, so she just nodded. Uncomfortable under his scrutinizing gaze, she pushed against his shoulders with her hands to sit up, but Pacey didn't break his hold on her. One hand slid up almost of its own volition to push the hair from her cheek and Pacey tugged her chin down, angling her mouth towards his, moving closer and closer, until-
"HELLO! ANYONE HERE?" Lou's bellowing rang out in the storeroom below and Joey nearly twisted her ankle, she jumped off Pacey's lap so fast. She snagged her top from the table where she'd tossed it and wrapped it around her, her fingers quickly tying the knot securely again as she ran to the doorway and called down the stairs. "It's me Lou, I'm in the dressing room, trying some costumes. I'll be down in a minute."
She turned and walked back in the room, her eyes studiously avoiding Pacey's. "I'm gonna go change and we can get out of here." She started to turn away, but then looked back at him, somewhat mischievously. "Assuming the lesson is over that is?"
"Lesson's over. You're cool." She grinned at the familiar quote, noting that he'd caught her earlier reference to one of her favorite movies, and ducked behind the screen.
Seeing she was once again safely out of sight, Pacey dropped his head in his hands. He'd been about to kiss her. Her, Joey Potter, raging sexpot? Who knew?
Behind the screen, Joey shrugged into her sweater and tugged on her jeans, as she thought about what had-and had almost-transpired that afternoon. What a completely confusing day. Well, she thought, as she popped up on tiptoe to put the cowboy hat back on the shelf, at least she was sure of one thing.
She was never, ever, doing another lap dance. For Anyone.
Dawson let out a bone-weary sigh and checked the clock. He still had two hours on his shift. Screen Play was deserted, no one was foolish enough to brave the sheets of pouring rain coming down outside. He stood up, stretched and circled the counter to throw the old copy of Premiere he'd been leafing through back on the magazine rack. As he perused his options of reading material, he heard the doorbell jingle. He turned just in time to see a sodden Joey Potter dart into the "s" section. For a moment or two, he just looked at her. For once she didn't have tons of makeup on, but she was all in black again, jeans and a big sweater, and she was wrapped in a huge black nylon jacket with a hood that read Capeside Police Department on the back. It was about five sizes too big for Joey and obviously Pacey's. Out of the corner of his eye, Dawson could see Sheriff Witter's SUV idling in front of the store.
Slowly he walked over to the end of the aisle Joey was standing in. He watched her quietly for a couple minutes, as she picked up various video jackets and read the backs, smiling at one and adding the movie to the one she already held. God she was beautiful. The familiar feelings of affection and longing swelled up and it was all Dawson could do to run right over to her and tell her he'd been wrong, so wrong, that he never should have rejected her and he wanted to get back together. But he couldn't. It had been so awful between the two of them for so long. They needed time apart, he couldn't go back to her. But he still missed her. He wished they could be friends. Maybe it was time to try and do something about that.
He walked up the aisle as quietly as possible. "Hey Joey."
She whirled around and for a moment, he thought she looked as if she was actually happy to see him. But then her face changed, he wasn't sure what about it was different, but when she smiled he knew it was fake.
"Hi, Dawson." She turned back to the shelves, barely acknowledging his presence.
"So I haven't seen you around much lately. I guess at Andie's was the last time, and you managed to sneak out of there pretty quickly."
"Mmmm." She nodded, noncommittally, wandering a little further down the aisle, her eyes skimming the rows of films.
Dawson followed her. "So, uh, what beguiling pursuits have been occupying your leisure time lately?"
Joey couldn't help but smile at his overstatement. "Work, mostly. I got a new job."
"Oh! You're not working at the marina anymore?"
"Well, my boss turned out to be a lecherous tyrant so I decided to retire before I was forced into siccing the ACLU on him."
"Ah, he obviously wasn't familiar with the Joey Potter wrath." She turned and stared at him warily. Bad choice of words. "For, uh lechers, that is." He racked his brain for something, anything to change the subject. "So, where are you working now?"
Instead of answering, Joey sighed and walked over to the counter. "I'm waitressing again. You've probably never heard of the place." She wore a funny smirk that Dawson wasn't exactly sure he liked.
This was awful, even worse than after they broke up the first time. He went around the other side of the counter and leaned against it. "So, aren't you going to ask me what I've been doing?"
Joey turned to look at him, her eyes frozen. "No, Dawson. I heard all about what you've been up to. And who you've been up to it with. Have fun at the pep rally?"
Dawson blanched. He'd been hoping she wouldn't hear about that. "Look, Joey, Eve-"
She thrust the movies at him. "Dawson, I really don't care what you and your Maliho Barbie are up to this week, alright? Can you just ring these up?"
Dawson nodded, trying to keep the smile from his lips. Her little barb proved that despite her words, she did care. "Don't tell me you're having movie night with someone else?"
Joey softened slightly. "Just Pacey. He's waiting outside."
As he scanned the movies in, he noted the names that popped up on the screen. "Showgirls, Striptease and Some Kind of Wonderful. Interesting selection."
A little smile danced on her lips and she shrugged. "Inside joke." She took the bag he handed her and started to turn. "See ya, Dawson."
He watched her move towards the door, and Dawson couldn't help feel a pang. She was having movie nights and inside jokes with Pacey, instead of him. Even though he knew Pacey was just doing what he'd asked, looking out for her, Dawson couldn't help feeling like he'd been replaced. He missed his best friend, his soulmate, his everything. He couldn't let her go like this.
"Joey, wait." She paused, one hand on the door, and waited for him to catch up to her. "I know things have been, well, strained, ever since I got back from Philly. But I just wanted you to know that Eve is Eve's gone."
For the first time, he got a genuine smile from her. "She is?"
"Yeah, she disappeared last week and she hasn't been back. I don't think she's coming back, and I don't care really either. I just I want you to know," He paused and took her hands in his. "Even though we're not together, even though we can't be together," he clarified, "that doesn't mean that we, I hope that we can still be friends."
"Friends." Joey repeated dully as she pulled her hands away. Just then, a horn blared long and loud. "I better go. You know how cranky Pacey gets when he's not ogling naked flesh." She shook the bag in her hand slightly, then blushed furiously for some reason.
"Ok, but I'm really glad things are back to normal with us, Jo." He beamed at her.
"Yeah, normal." She said weakly, as the horn blared again. "I gotta go, Dawson. See ya later."
He watched as she slipped out the door, pulled the huge hood down over her head and bounded through the puddles to the truck. Pacey leaned over and pushed the door open, and she hopped in, pulling the door firmly shut, not looking back at Dawson once as they sped off into the storm.
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