When She Was Bad Part Five by: Tara

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Joey sat at the dressing room table, her fingers gently massaging her temples in a vain attempt to get the dull pounding in her head to stop. Her skin felt slightly clammy yet hot to the touch and she wondered if she was coming down with something. The pounding in her head seemed to be getting louder, echoing over the dull buzz of the other girls who were talking and laughing as they applied makeup and costumes, without a care in the world. After a moment of confusion, Joey realized the pounding wasn't a figment of her overtaxed imagination, but actually someone at the door. Lou called out, "Joey, you're on in 20," then she heard his heavy footsteps recede down the hall. The lightheadedness and knot in her stomach were just nerves, she told herself without much conviction. She looked at herself in the mirror and tightened the two ponytails she'd put in earlier in anticipation of her pre-boob job Britney Spears-esque performance. Lily, a somewhat-faded Southern belle who was pushing 40, came by and laid a hand on Joey's shoulder. "Sugar, you look positively green. You sure you're all right?" Lily herself always looked tired. She'd been working at the club for more than 10 years, though none of the girls were sure exactly how long, and she acted as sort of a den mother to them all. "I'll be okay, Lily, I'm just a little nervous." Joey tried to smile confidently at her reflection in the mirror but instead of confident she just looked nausous.

"Well, don't worry about a thing honey," Lily's fingers squeezed her shoulder. "I was probably twice as nervous my first time and as soon as I got out there, it all faded away. You'll do fine." She walked away, treading back over to the costume rack. Her head still throbbing, Joey was rifling through a drawer in search of some Tylenol when her eyes alighted on a bottle sitting on the back of Lily's counter just as Pacey slipped inside the door and hissed her name. On wobbly legs, she eased herself into a standing position and made her way across the floor, as Pacey goggled at the other girls in their various states of undress. He was smiling like the Cheshire cat, nodding and waving to their amused chorus of hellos and catcalls, none of them the least bothered by this teenage boy in their midst, as Joey gripped his arm and pulled him out into the hall. "Ow, hey, stop manhandling me. I don't think I like this new Joey Potter," he griped, rubbing his arm as she glowered at him. Pacey took in the short schoolgirl skirt, tight white sweater and thigh high leather boots and did a double take. "On, second thought, she's definitely got better taste in clothes."

Joey's temper had reached its breaking point and her head was spinning. "PACEY!" She folded her arms over her chest, although she knew it was silly, since he had already seen pretty much all there was to last weekend. "Just tell me you brought Dawson."

"Would I let you down? The irresistible charm of Pacey Witter is not gender specific. Of course I talked our fine friend Dawson into making a trip to the house of ill-repute. He was more than happy to accompany his broken-hearted, now single friend to a night reveling in the feminine mystique…" Joey sagged against the wall and closed her eyes, relieved but suddenly very tired. "Good," she answered absentmindedly, tuning the rest of his monologue out. Now if she could only make it through the next half-hour.

"Hey, are you alright?" Pacey's concerned tones infiltrated the fog in her head. He felt her forehead and winced. "Joey your head's on fire. I think you have a fever. Maybe you shouldn't go on tonight."

"NO!" Joey's eyes flew open and she pulled herself up and grabbed Pacey's shirt. "Dawson is here and I have to do this tonight! I have to show him, I can be just as…" she searched for the right word, "as… BAD as that bleached blonde vixen he was so smitten with."

"Alright, alright! No need to claw a hole in me," Pacey said, uncurling her fingers from around his shirt. "God, relax, would ya. You'd think you were about to parade around naked in front of 50 drooling drunks. Oh wait, you are aren't you? My bad." He grinned wickedly at her.

Joey's stomach did a quick nervous flip and she grimaced. "Cute Pace, like I'm not nervous enough…" she trailed off as a tall redhead named Roxie sashayed past them and said, "You're on in five, kid." Pacey saw a momentary flash of fear dart across Joey's face. He put his hand on her chin, nudging her head up to look at him. "Hey, Jo, don't worry. The way you look, you'll knock 'em dead. Dawson won't know what hit him." He stared at her hard, until she smiled, then he turned to go back to his table.

She hoped he was right. In fact, she was depending on it.


Quickly Pacey made his way back to a table near the stage, where Dawson was sitting looking decidedly uncomfortable. "Where the hell have you been? I've been sweating bullets that someone was going to come over and ask for ID."

"Not a problem, D. Let's just say I know the right people." He lowered his voice as the lights went down and the announcer began his introduction. Joey was the first act of the night. "Enjoy the show, Dawson. I think you'll be …uh…pleasantly surprised."

Dawson shot him a curious and suspicious look then watched the spotlight settle on the faded velvet curtain at the back of the stage. "And introducing, in her first appearance at PURE GOLD, Miss Trixie Cinnamon."

Dawson guffawed loudly and leaned over to whisper to Pacey, "What kind of name is Trixie..." His question remained unfinished as his eyes caught sight of the leggy brunette that had just slipped out from behind the curtains and he froze, staring in wide-eyed shock.

The fog machine was cranking at full blast and as she stumbled out from behind the curtains. Joey was momentarily blinded by the bright lights shining full on her face. She heard the opening beats of Britney Spears' latest hit cranking at full volume over the PA and instinctively, she slipped into her routine, strutting forward as her eyes scanned the crowd for Dawson. She saw him sitting at a table with Pacey to the right of the stage. He looked stunned...and not pleased in the least. Her stomach flopped as she crossed the stage and Joey bent to gesture towards a client. Her head was swimming and she nearly lost her balance and fell backwards. She felt like crap. Shakily she straightened and crossed over towards Pacey and Dawson, she threw them a wink, despite the fact that her churning stomach seemed to be trying to climb into her throat.

Dawson was literally openmouthed, his jaw hanging as he watched Joey, his Joey, gyrating on the stage, her nimble fingers slowly, teasingly freeing the buttons on her cropped sweater. Then his mouth snapped shut, his lips narrowed into a thin line and his nostrils flared in indignation. He was glowering at Joey, who had moved to the other side of the stage and was grinding in front of a thirty-something geek whose glasses were literally fogging up. He turned to Pacey and growled, "What the hell is this? Did you know about this?" The grin faded from Pacey's face as he turned from the stage towards Dawson. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion suddenly. It was obvious from the chagrined look on his friend's face that he'd been clued in from the beginning. Seeing red, Dawson stood up and pushed away from the table so hard he nearly overturned it, then he pivoted and stalked towards the door without another word.

Pacey jumped out of his seat calling out over the pulsing music, "Dawson!" but his friend was already gone, the door bouncing angrily behind him and Pacey stepped forward and grabbed his keys, ready to start out after him and minimize the damage if possible. He headed for the door, thinking about all the spin control he was going to have to do on this. Dammit. He'd known it was a stupid idea from the start, he had no idea what had made him let Joey go ahead with this. He should've carried her kicking and screaming from that freaking interview with Lou. Shit, he was struck by a worse thought. Another fucking rejection from Dawson, this was gonna kill Joey.

A thud and shocked cries behind him stopped Pacey as he laid his hand on the door and he turned to see Joey lying on her side on stage. For a wild second, all he could think was that he'd been right and Joey'd had a stroke from seeing Dawson leave or something. His buddy forgotten he bolted over to the stage. The music screeched to a halt and Pacey hopped up onto the runway with ease, kneeling over Joey and trying to stir her. One rather lascivious looking older man brushed his hand across Joey's ribcage and Pacey elbowed him square in the chest. He glared at the guy, "Touch her again and I'll break every bone in your hand." The old man, already 2 ½ sheets to the wind and working steadily at getting that third flapping, merely shrugged as one of Lou's overstuffed bouncers moved forward to escort him back to his seat. Some gawkers lingered, pressing closer to the stage as Pacey pulled Joey into a sitting position and smacked her cheeks lightly trying to get her to wake up.

Gawking customers parted like the Red Sea before Moses as Lou approached the edge of the stage. Pacey growled at him angrily, baring his teeth like a dog guarding a water bowl, "What the hell did you give her? She was fine before the show."

Lou bristled. "Look kid, I didn't give her nothing. I don't run that kind of joint. You get her out of here and take her to a doctor, then you call me. I want to know how she's doing." Pacey looked up and saw the concern in Lou's tired eyes and thought better of arguing. Silently, he jumped down off the stage and picked Joey up. Cradling her lifeless body, he walked as quickly as he could to the exit and hoped the night air would wake her up.


The first thing Joey noticed when she regained consciousness was the quiet. She didn't hear the pounding bass she'd become so accustomed to in the club. The next thing she realized was that she was moving but her feet weren't touching the ground. She wondered idly if she was floating for a few seconds until she tried to move her arm and hit a solid wall covered in cotton. Someone was carrying her, the thought flitted through her unfocused mind. She thought about opening her eyes, but it seemed to take too much effort. She turned her head slightly and her chin brushed against warm flesh. Her nose immediately filled with the scents of smoke and fabric softener and mingled with the breezes from the ocean. The smell was familiar and held something else she couldn't identify for a moment…Pacey. He must be the one carrying me, she thought disjointedly. Suddenly it all came back to her, the club. Dawson. The wooziness in the pit of her stomach, the sensation of falling. They stopped moving and her leg pressed against something cold and metallic then she heard the familiar creak of a car door opening. Her body settled gently on the cool leather seat. "P-Pace," her breath came out in more of a sigh than a word. She wanted to talk, to ask him about Dawson, but her tongue felt about the size of an air mattress stuffed into her mouth. Her fingers were numb and her arm was heavy but she managed to grasp his shirt sleeve. Pacey, leaned over her trying to find the seat belt, felt the weak tug and looked at Joey. Her mouth was moving and she was whispering. "Joey! Jo! Look at me, wake up, okay. I need you to wake up. Open your eyes, Potter." Slowly with great effort, Joey lifted her lids to stare at him. Or rather them. There were two Paceys swerving crazily in front of her.

"Did you take something at the club, Joey?" Pacey spoke slowly and loudly like he would to a small child who was hard of hearing. Joey nodded, her head thudding against the seat back. "Two ty'noll." She held up two fingers, like a peace symbol waving crazily in the air.

"Two Tylenol?" Pacey sighed. "Call me crazy, Potter, but I don't think that turned you into a wet noodle. Do you feel okay? Do you want to go to a doctor or you want me to take you home?"

She spoke slowly, stumbling over the syllables. "Okay….dizzy…Home…Dawson?"

Pacey swallowed and didn't look directly at her. "Well, I think he didn't really enjoy the show."

Joey looked at him forlornly and didn't answer. She just closed her eyes and leaned back.

Pacey shut the door and jogged around the car to slide in behind the wheel. As he strapped his own seatbelt on, he wondered how he kept getting into these situations. Soon he'd be able to list "taking care of Joey" under part-time jobs on his college applications. God knows he'd spent more time doing that than working at the video store lately. He shook his head and drove, keeping one eye on Joey and one on the road as they made their way through the night to her house.

When he pulled up in front just five minutes later, the house was dark and silent. Pacey thanked God for small favors; he wouldn't want to have to try to explain this to Bessie. Somehow he managed to cajole his woozy passenger out of the car and slung her arm around his shoulder, half-dragging her into the house. Joey leaned heavily against the breakfast nook and closed her eyes. Pacey exhaled wearily and rubbed a hand over his jaw. He walked over to the phone, picked it up then quickly punched in the digits for the club. Lily answered.

"Hi, this is Pacey Witter. I'm a friend of Jo…uh Trixie's. I'm just calling to let Lou know she's okay. She's dizzy but she's awake and she said she only took two Tylenol."

Pacey heard a gasp on the other end of the phone. "Oh ma Gawd," Lily drawled, her southern accent dripping through the line. "She must've taken my valium. I cracked the little brown vial last week and had to dump 'em in an old Tylenol bottle. No wonder she's dizzy the poor dear. You just tell her how sorry I am and that she'll be fine after she sleeps it off, Ookay Send her my love."

Pacey hung up the phone and turned to Joey. "Well, Potter, turns out the Tylenol you thought you took were valium. Lily's. She put 'em in the wrong bottle. So come morning you'll have a clean bill of health again." He touched her arm and was alarmed to find her skin was burning. "Or not. You are hot, Miss Josephine and I am not just talking about your act. You got a thermometer in this joint or what?"

She opened her mouth to answer but a sudden wave of lightheadedness passed over her and her knees started to buckle. Joey sank down onto a chair as nausea threated to overcome her and she laid her forehead down against the cool countertop. Suddenly conversation seemed way too strenuous. She barely mustered up the energy to mumble some disjointed phrases. "Bathroom cabinet…top shelf."

"So, where's Bessie and Alex? Oh, it's Tuesday right, they must have that Mommy and Me class." Prattling all the while, Pacey ducked around the corner into the bathroom. "You know, how incredibly sexist is that, anyway? Why is it, no one believes the man can be the loyal, responsible one in a relationship?" He sneaked a glance in the mirror, patting down a few stray hairs before exiting the bathroom. "Oh noo, because that would interfere with the "all men are dogs" post-modern Ally Mcfeminism crap that--"

He trailed off as he rounded the corner and saw Joey passed out at the counter. "Oh, hey, Jo, not again, Joey, come on, wake up" he grabbed her hand and tried shaking her a little. Mightily relieved when she started groaning softly, he tried to coax her into standing up and walking towards her bed in the hallway. With Pacey holding her hands and leading her like a blindfolded person, they had only taken a few steps when Joey's knees buckled again and Pacey quickly leaned forward and slid an arm around her before she hit the floor.

Crouched in an awkward squat, he sighed and tried to pull Joey up into a standing position again, much to her dismay. "No....need…floor…lie down." She slumped over his forearm, practically boneless, as Pacey frowned in frustration. "No, need bed in other room, walk," he corrected sternly and attempted once again to pull her into a standing position. A second time she slid back to the floor like a puddle. Pacey had half a mind to leave her there but he figured Bessie would be pretty freaked to come home and find her little sister on the kitchen floor with a temperature running as hot as if she'd just walked out of a raging volcano. In truth, he was also a little worried that if she didn't cool down soon, she might just implode. Realizing he only had one option left here, Pacey slid his free arm under her bent knees and picked her up, carrying her through the hallway. Joey, who had roused slightly at the sudden departure from the nice cold floor, looked at him with unfocused eyes, confusion etched on her face, but she slid both arms around his neck and giggled. "Thanks, Superman." Pacey smirked, Joey was really not going to be happy with him when he reminded her about this when she was in a more lucid state. He looked down at her but she had closed her eyes, her head lying on his shoulder. God, even with smeared stage makeup, she was beautiful and she actually looked kind of sweet when she was sleeping. Pacey shook his head, wondering if he'd somehow caught her fever and become delusional. Angry at himself, he clomped down the hallway and dropped her rather unceremoniously on the bed. Joey moaned and made angry noises but didn't actually wake up.

Pacey coaxed her into opening her mouth, and slid the thermometer under her tongue. He walked back down the hall to the bathroom and ran a facecloth under the cold water. Fleetingly, he thought this wasn't exactly how he'd imagined spending his night. He'd figured once Andie came back he'd be spending almost all his quality time with her, that things would be better than ever between the two of them. Instead, he was single, nursing a broken heart and playing Florence Nightingale to Joey. Still, he thought now, as he wrung the facecloth once and turned off the faucet, he hadn't thought about Andie in the past half-hour, he'd been too distracted. Maybe that was the key. Hey maybe he should get a job as a candy striper at the hospital...Pacey snorted, not likely.

He walked back into the room and checked the thermometer. The mercury hovered just above 99 degrees, nothing to be too alarmed about. Pacey perched on the bed next to Joey and began wiping her face with the cloth, removing the traces of makeup still caked on her face, then resting the clean side against her forehead. She sighed in contentment, but didn't open her eyes. Satisfied that she wouldn't pass out on him again, Pacey moved around to the end of the bed and looked at her, his hands on his hips, wondering what he should do next. Jo wouldn't be too happy if she came around to him removing her clothes, in fact she'd probably scream bloody murder. Still, her skin was pretty feverish. Torn, he stood for a minute deliberating, then decided to hell with it. If Joey wanted to give him hell for helping her, he'd let her and then give as good as he got. As the irony of the situation dawned on him, Pacey couldn't help but laugh. For all Dawson thought he was some kind of Casanova, Pacey had never really undressed a woman before. Tamara had had to tell him exactly what to do and Andie had always insisted on removing her clothes herself, sure Pacey would tear them or more likely, drop them on the floor in a messy heap, which was absolutely correct. Still, he had to chuckle at the fact that a zoned-out Joey Potter would be his first experience with undressing a woman. Never in a million years would he have imagined this scenario. Frowning slightly he realized, the more time he spent with Joey lately, the more unbelievable situations he'd gotten into. Going on an interview at a strip club, getting a lap dance from a topless Joey….hmm better not to dwell on that one. Yes, there were quite a few things about the past week that he never would have imagined. She groaned suddenly, distracting him from his thoughts and Pacey figured, what the hell, it's now or never.

Squatting near the end of the bed, he lifted Joey's boot-encased right leg and propped it on his knee. His wide hands spanned the circumference of her slender calf, snug in the butter-soft leather, as he fumbled for the diagonal zipper. His fingers caught the clasp and he slid the runner down the length of her stocking-clad leg to her ankle. The unzipping echoed loudly in the silent house, sounding somewhat obscene. "Witter, that dirty mind of yours is going to get you in serious trouble someday," Pacey grumbled to himself as he tugged off the boot and hurriedly followed suit with the other. Joey's inert body slid forward with the movement and he made the mistake of looking up. Pacey's cheeks colored slightly as he realized his movements had made her already short skirt ride up several inches to reveal a glimpse of the tops of her thigh-high stockings. Guiltily, he peeked at Joey, but she seemed to be knocked out again, only the steady rise and fall of her chest indicating that she was asleep. He stood up, resisting the urge to tickle the soles of her feet, knowing it'd probably earn him a kick to the face that his already once-broken nose shouldn't risk. He walked up the bed and his hands reached out to the hem of her skirt to pull it back down into place when he spied the thin strips of white lace firmly attached to the top of each stocking by a hook.

Pacey smiled bemusedly. He had to admit he was intrigued, he'd always figured Joey to be a sensible pantihose-wearing kind of gal, definitely not thigh highs. Of course this wasn't her usual attire, it was probably just part of the costume from the club. It was probably one of those lacy garter belt rigs that the girls in the nudie mags stuffed in the back of his closet wore, the kind that went around her waist and rested above a really low-cut pair of bikini underwear. Of course, he couldn't imagine Joey wearing anything that blatantly obvious… or sexy…except, well he could. Last Sunday's escapades at the strip club had burned a decidedly erotic mental picture into his head that it was a little difficult to shake. Of course, before the picture was only half-completed. Now an all-too-clear image popped into his head of her decked out in the whole nine yards, the white lace standing out innocently contrasting with the tanned skin of her stomach and her thighs… Joey moaned and tossed slightly in her sleep. Instantly, Pacey snapped out of his reverie to discover he was absentmindedly tracing one of the straps stretching up under the short pleated skirt with his finger. Immediately, he jumped upwards and back nearly tumbling right over the stuffed armchair near her bed. His head was spinning slightly and he was breathing hard. He reached up and felt sweat beading on his forehead. Jesus, a few weeks as a single guy and he was turning into a total horndog, barely able to control his hormones around Joey of all people. He closed his eyes and shook his head slowly, as if to clear the image burned into the back of his eyelids. There was no way in hell, he was touching those stockings again, she could just sleep with them on, he'd move on to safer territory.

Sighing, he went back up to the head of the bed and managed to sort of push and pull a groaning and generally unhelpful Joey into a sitting position. "Hey, dead weight, you want to do your share here? Or should I just keep stripping you?" His words sounded harsh, and incredibly vulgar, in the silence following them. Then she uttered a mumbled grunting that he could have sworn sounded awfully close to the consonant sounds of "bite me" before Joey dropped her head back against the headboard and closed her eyes. Fine, it looked like he wasn't going to get any help here. Maybe he should just forget this and let her sleep in her clothes and roast to death. He turned and cranked open a window thinking perhaps some fresh air would do them good. A second later he shut the window, realizing it was even warmer outside than it was in there thanks to the unnaturally hot Indian Summer they were having. He looked at Joey, who was writhing somewhat uncomfortably in the short angora sweater she had on over the white blouse she wore when she first did her striptease act for him. He felt her neck and her skin was clammy, and slick with sweat. Decisively he stepped forward. He'd get the sweater off her or die trying. Probably the latter.

He removed the cloth and felt her forehead and cheeks and realized thankfully the temperature seemed to have dropped a bit. He took a deep breath and grabbed her hands raising them over her head. Pacey let go and reached down to pull the thick sweater up, only to have her arms crash down on his shoulders. Sighing, he raised them again and tried to rest them against the headboard, Joey being of no help whatsoever, whimpering with her eyes still closed. This time he hadn't even managed to grasp the hem before one of her hands bounced off the top of his head. Pacey groaned in frustration and grumbled. "You're really trying to make this difficult aren't you?" Sighing, he stood up to survey the situation. He just couldn't get the sweater off her from this angle. Gingerly he eased himself down straddling her legs, planting one knee on each side of her hips. Joey mumbled something he couldn't quite make out but didn't awake, Thank God, as she probably would murder him if she woke up now. Changing tactics, he grasped her wrists again, this time raising them and pinning them above her head with one hand. He reached down and slipped his free hand under the hem of her sweater and began sliding it one side at a time up her body. His hand skimmed over the thin crisp cotton of her blouse, trailing up over her ribs and lightly brushing the sides of her breasts as he awkwardly slid the sweater upwards. Without any effort on his part, his mind started revving, playing over and over the tantalizing events of last Sunday's "lesson" at the strip club. Knowing exactly what was under the clothes beneath his hands, wasn't making this any easier. Pacey could feel the heat of her skin through the thick material. His hand was warm and it lingered on the swell of her breast just below her armpit. Joey moaned slightly and he was embarrassed to see his hand shake. The utter sensuality of this situation wasn't lost on him. His body was stretched over hers, his hand holding her arms over her head, her lips once again just inches from his. If he moved just an inch to the right, if he tilted his head slightly to the left, they would be….

What the hell was he thinking? Joey was nearly unconscious and he was thinking about how he could make his move? Disgusted with himself, he hopped off the bed and pushed the sweater's hem up over her head. As he was trying to pull one of her arms out from the silky material, Joey suddenly screamed (a muffled scream, albeit) from inside the depths of the sweater. "PACEY, what are you're doing?" It seemed Miss Potter was now very much awake, although her speech was still lazy and slurred. Unperturbed, Pacey got her arm free and yanked the sweater none too gently over her head. An angry scowl greeted him first as the sweater slid up to reveal her eyes, now wide open, and a brow creased in confusion. "I'm taking your clothes off, Josephine. Feeling better?" He turned away to throw the sweater onto a nearby chair and hide the grin he couldn't suppress. He might as well have a little fun with this.

"I'm here practically unconscious and you decide it's time to practice your seduction techniques. Typical Pacey. Although I'm sure you thought I should be honored, after all why wouldn't I just be thrilled to wake up and find the Capeside's answer to Cassanova pawing at me?"

Her words tumbled out so quickly and her consonants were so blurry, he could only make out about every other word, but Pacey got the general gist of her anger. "Would you just relax, Little Miss hot to trot? I was not pawing you. You had a fever of astronomical proportions and I just thought you might be a little more comfortable without that horses' hide on." As he explained with faux-patience, his fingers started unhooking the buttons on her skirt. "A little appreciation might be in order here, I could've left you on the floor in the kitchen and went on my merry way. But no, the good samaritan that I am, I thought I'd stay and help my friend Joey. And this is the thanks I get?"

Joey eyes widened and she slapped at his hands, clutching the waistband back together. "Thank you Pacey," she said, a little too sweetly to be genuine. "But really, not necessary. I can do it myself. Could you wait outside?"

He looked at her in surprised amusement. "Oh, don't tell me you're gonna get all bashful on me? Potter, I've seen parts of you I'm sure you intended no man would ever see. You think I'm going to get some jollies off eyeing you in your skivvies? Besides, I've already seen every pair of underwear you own."

She blushed slightly, and met his skeptical gaze, with what she hoped was a sultry, confident gaze. She WAS trying to cultivate a reputation to live up to after all. "Not these." She pushed off the bed and stood before him, shrugging nonchalantly. "But, hey, if you want to watch, I guess there's nothing I can do to stop you. I mean, you are right," she watched him, staring at him evenly as her hands quickly undid the buttons on her white blouse. "You have," she paused, her voice dropping as she walked forward, struggling not to sway on her feet, "seen pratically all of me." She pulled off the blouse and threw it on the bed, batting down the instinctual desire to cover her nearly-transparent white lace bra with her arms. Joey forced herself to stay dispassionately sure that Pacey would be the one to fold first. It was like poker, and she was getting awfully good at bluffing. Still keeping her eyes on his, which were scanning her body rather frantically, she slid her hands down to her skirt and slipped another button out of its hole. "Well, you do what you want, I'm getting undressed." He was soo close to cracking, she could see it in his eyes. She inched the skirt down over her hips, going slowly, hoping he'd leave before she got to the white garter belt and g-string set she had put on at the club.

Pacey gulped and fell silent, marveling at how their entire relationship was fast becoming a game of chicken, and he kept losing. He watched her--he couldn't not watch her--as she pushed the plaid skirt down, amazed that she showed no signs of bashfulness. If he stayed in this room, things were going to get very out-of-hand, very fast. Her fingers were tugging the fuzzy material down and he could just spy a hint of white lace peeking through the opening. "Uh, I'll be right outside if you need me." He practically leapt around the corner and Joey couldn't help it, she collapsed laughing against the headboard. The look on his face had been priceless. She stood up and stripped off the thick wool skirt and her stockings, and instantly felt her body temperature lower a few degrees. She walked over to her bureau and changed into an old football jersey she'd snagged from Pacey's closet last time she was there and a pair of boxers, then pulled the ridiculous pigtails out. Joey picked up the damp washcloth she'd thrown on the nightstand and wiped the remaining traces of eye shadow and blush from her face. This was the first time in weeks she hadn't had layers of gook on and Joey's own appearance surprised her. She looked into the mirror over her nightstand and stared at herself, surprised that she looked so young and innocent without the makeup. She certainly felt a lot older. And anything but innocent. Not that she'd really done anything….well except for that silly practice lap dance with Pacey last week and nothing had really happened there anyway, she insisted to herself. And the job at the club had turned out to be about as unerotic as working at the Ice House so far. Not that Dawson would believe that, she thought sadly. She'd seen the look on his face before he'd bolted for the door….he'd been furious and disgusted, and certainly not turned on from the looks of him.

Joey sighed and walked to the door to stick her head out to tell Pacey he could come back in. She flopped down on her bed again feeling tired, her head still woozy from too much thinking. Pacey sauntered back in and sprawled out at the foot of her bed, locking his hands behind his head and staring up at the ceiling. "Well, this was one hell of a night, eh?"

She sighed heavily. "You can say it you know. Go ahead, I'm sure you're dying to rub it in, to say 'I told you so, Jo, this was a stupid plan,' It was a stupid plan, I was crazy to think I could ever compete with… Dawson probably hates me."

Pacey rolled his eyes and sat up. "Dawson could never hate you, Joey. I'm not going to say I told you so, but I will say it was a stupid plan," he slid closer as she shot a venomous look at him for agreeing with her insecurities. "Don't look at me like that. It wasn't stupid because you can't 'compete,' as you put it, with Eve or Jen or whoever you think Dawson's developing a severe case of blue balls for this week." She couldn't help but smirk a little at his vulgar turn of phrase. He laid a hand on her shoulder, as he continued. "It was stupid because you don't have to."

She shot him a glance like he was crazy. "Look, Josephine, one of these days you're going to look in that mirror," he pointed to the one over her nightstand, "and realize what the rest of us poor shlubs have known for a while now. That Joey Potter is one drop-dead gorgeous, sexy as sin woman." She blushed and started protesting, but Pacey talked right over her. "You think Dawson hasn't seen that, that you haven't long since replaced Katie Couric as his prurient image of choice?" he chuckled at the outraged yet embarrassed face she was making. "I know he's clueless, Jo, but the guy's seen it. It's exactly why he walked out of that club tonight. Dawson's always thought of you as his. In fact, if he could I think he would've slapped a label that read "Personal Property of Dawson Wade Leery" on you years ago. This cockamamie plan-entertaining though it was, don't get me wrong-didn't work because Dawson's got you on a pedestal. It's okay for girls like Eve to work in a strip club or Jen to have a less than pristine past, but Joey Potter's different, she's gotta be as angelic as they come, because you're his."

"Pacey, I'm no angel. I mean, it's not like I have a wealth of experience or anything, but I'm not the type to sit on a pedestal. Look at me, my father's in jail-again, Bessie and I are barely making ends meet, and I'll always live on the wrong side of the creek. And…well I'm not perfect, no one is. I can't live up to that," she said, her voice rising somewhat frantically.

He shrugged. "I hear you, Jo, but you know Dawson, he is and always will be a dreamer. It's part of that Spielbergian vision he's got of the world. You do know that none of Spielberg's leading ladies ever get any?" He sighed. "Look, don't worry about it, okay? I'll talk to Dawson, when he understands why you felt you had to do this, he'll come around."

"He better," Joey said, showing a little fire. "I'm getting a little sick of being rejected by him."

Pacey chuckled to himself, knowing that no matter how indignant she was acting, if Dawson came over right now and crooked his finger, she'd be wrapped around it faster than the girls at the club could shimmy down a pole. "Alright, tiger, well it's pretty late, I'm hitting the road. You'll be okay here?" She nodded. "Okay, just promise me your medicinal intake will be limited to Flintstone vitamins, from now on alright?" He stood up and walked over to the door, as Joey climbed into bed pulling the covers up around her.

"Night, Jo." He turned off the light and stepped out, reaching back to grab the knob and shut the door behind him.


He paused. "At your service."

"Thanks." Her voice was soft in the darkness.

"For what?" he feigned innocence. "I only did what any concerned friend would do in this situation."

"Then thanks for being concerned."

Pacey laughed softly. "No problem, Potter." He turned to leave again, then stopped once more. "And Jo, just for the record, fevers and drug influences aside… you were hot tonight! I like you bad."

When she spoke again, he could hear the smile in her voice. "Goodnight Pacey."

"G'nite Lois." He swung the door shut and Joey curled up in bed, wondering vaguely why Pacey had called her Lois, as she drifted off to sleep, lulled by the sound of his footsteps echoing down the hall.

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