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“This movie theater is freezing!” Tatum whispered.
“No kidddding!” Abby shivered.
“You need a coat in here or something!” Andie said.
“Or you could, and I know this a radical suggestion,” Pacey told them “wear something a little more, oh I don’t know, warm.” he pointed to the halter tops they were wearing “I mean come on, it’s January!” “Not our fault they’ve got to thermostat set to ‘Arctic Ice Storm!’” Tatum whispered.
“Shh!” Dawson hissed “Come on, shut up!”
“Ok, Mr. Gene Shalit. Yeesh.” Tatum muttered.
Suddenly, the lights came on and the movie was shut off. An usher stepped in front of the screen “Is there a Mr. Pacey Witter here this afternoon?”
Pacey raised his hand ‘Yeah, right here.”
“Mr. Witter, there is an urgent phone call for you in the lobby.” the usher told him “It’s your brother.”
Everyone in the theater was clearly irritated by the interruption.
“How many times do I have to tell him?” Pacey joked, his face turning bright red “The VCR goes on channel three!”
* * * *
“He’s been gone for five minutes.” Joey observed “Tatum, why don’t you go see what the holdup is?” “Why me?” Tatum asked “Because you’re his girlfriend.” “Oh that’s a reason.” Tatum muttered as she stood up “Down in front! Sit down!” Someone yelled “Aw, sit on this!” Tatum replied, sticking up her middle finger. She made her way across the row of seats and headed for the lobby.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come over there?” Pacey was saying when Tatum got to the lobby “Well, ok, call ne at Tatum’s house as soon as you hear anything. Ok, bye.”
“What is it?” Tatum asked as Pacey hung up the phone.
“My father was shot.” Pacey said softly.
“Oh my God! Is he ok?” Tatum asked.
“I don’t know, Doug said he’d call me at your house as soon as he knew.”
Tatum nodded “Ok, I’ll go get the others.”
* * * *
Tatum stared at Pacey. He looked like he was in shock. “I’m sure your dad’s going to be fine.” she whispered, patting his arm gently “Did Doug say what happened?”
Pacey nodded “They were going after some punks who had just knocked over a convenience store. Doug wasn’t there, but one of the other guys said that one of the kids’ guns went off by accident and got my dad right in the chest.”
“That’s awful.” Tatum said softly.
The phone rang. For a moment no one moved, then Tatum stood up and answered the phone.
“Hello? Hi, Doug, he’s right here.” she handed the phone to Pacey.
“How’d he sound?” Dawson asked.
“I couldn’t tell.” Tatum replied.
“Yeah, Doug, what’s going on?” Pacey asked. His face fell “Ok. Alright, tell mom I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.” he hung up the phone and stood with his back to his friends for a moment.
“Pacey?” Tatum said.
“He didn’t make it.” Pacey told her.
* * * *
It was a good day for a funeral, if such a thing even exsisted. The dark gray clouds in the sky matched the mood in the small church. Throughout the service, Tatum couldn’t take her eyes off of Pacey. Usually, she was able to tell what he was thinking just by looking at his face. But now it was impossible for even her to see what was going on in his mind.
“How do you think he’s handling it?” Joey asked.
“I don’t even know.” Tatum whispered “He won’t even talk to me about it. I’m worried about him.”
“Maybe you should talk to him.” Joey suggested “I mean, he’s probably more likely to open up to you.”
Tatum just nodded.
* * * *
“Dawson, have you seen Pacey?” Tatum asked.
“Not in a while.” Dawson replied “He just wandered off on his own.”
“I better go talk to him.” Tatum said “I don’t think he’s dealing with this too well.”
“Well how would you deal with it?”
Tatum sighed “I don’t know. When my mother died I wasn’t really sure how to react. I felt so guilty because I thought that I should’ve been more upset. I thought I should have gotten all depressed and started hanging out with the bad kids and doing drugs and coming home drunk and smelling like some guy’s cheap cologne like those girls in TV movies, but I just wasn’t that upset.”
“How close were you and your mom?” Dawson asked.
“Not very close at all.” Tatum said “I didn’t really know my mom. As far as I could tell, she was an asshole.”
“Well, I’m sure Pacey told you all about his relationship with his dad, right?”
Tatum nodded “I can really understand how he might be having trouble figuring out how to deal with this. I better go find him.”
* * * *
“I thought I’d find you here.” Tatum said as she walked onto the dock.
“How’d you know?” Pacey asked.
“I’m not sure.” Tatum replied as she sat down next to him. They were both silent for a minute, then Tatum spoke up “Are you ok?”
Pacey shook his head “I don’t know. It seems like everyone either expects me to be miserable or thrilled that my dad’s gone.”
“It’s ok to be upset, Pacey.” Tatum said.
“And what if I’m not?"
“That’s ok, too.” Tatum told him “I wasn’t upset when my mother died.”
“Did you ever feel guilty?” Pacey asked.
Tatum nodded “But you shouldn’t. I mean, it wasn’t your fault that your dad died. And you guys were never close, you can’t be expected to be totally crushed over the death of someone you never got along with.” she stood up “I really should get going. I mean, unless you want me to stick around.”
“No, I’m ok.” Pacey told her.
“Alright.” she bent down and gave him a kiss “You know, if you need to talk about anything, you know where to find me.”
Pacey nodded “Thanks.”
* * * *
“I’m home!” Tatum called as she walked through the door the next afternoon.
“How’d it go?” Bessie asked.
“Uh, school or the job interview at the bookstore I just went to?”
“The job interview.” Bessie said.
“I think it went well.” Tatum replied as she hung up her coat “If they only knew that after they hire me I’m just going to sit around reading ‘Cosmopolitan’ all day long.”
“Oh, I almost forgot.” Bessie told her “Pacey stopped by. He asked me to give you this note.”
Tatum unfolded the night and read it.
“What’s it say?” Bessie asked.
“He wants me to meet him at the dock.” Tatum told her.
* * * *
“Pacey?” Tatum called “I got your note. What’s up?”
“My mom’s gone.” Pacey replied without looking up.
“What?” Tatum asked “What do you mean gone?”
“She left. She and my sisters went to L.A to live with my aunts.” Pacey explained “When I got home from school, Doug was already there and they were gone.”
Tatum sat down “I don’t believe it. Do you know when they’re coming back?”
Pacey shook his head “All their stuff was gone. In her note, mom said she’d call tomorrow while we’re out of the house to explain.”
“So, what are you guys going to do?” Tatum asked.
“What can we do? We’re just going to wait for them to come back. If they ever do.”
“I’m sure they will.” Tatum said softly.
“I don’t see why they would.” Pacey said “With dad gone there’s no reason for them to come back.”
“That’s not true. What about you and Doug?”
“Mom probably figures we can take care of ourselves.” Pacey told her. he buried his face in his hands and started sobbing.
Tatum put her arms around him “It’ll be ok, Pacey.” she whispered.
* * * *
“Pacey? Hey, wake up!” Tatum whispered, shaking Pacey gently.
“Where am I?” Pacey yawned.
“In my bed, silly.” Tatum told him.
Pacey rubbed his eyes and looked at her. Sure enough, she was lying in the bed next to him, wearing an oversized T-shirt and ripped black leggings “What am I doing here?”
“Don’t worry, nothing happened.” Tatum said “You were such a wreck last night, so I let you stay with me.”
“Do your sisters know?” Pacey asked.
As if on cue, Joey walked in “Tatum, I-Oh my God, Pacey what the hell are you doing here?”
“And that’s a big fat ‘no’.” Pacey muttered.
“Uh, um, ok, Jo, I know this looks bad.” Tatum stammered “But nothing happened, ok? See? We’re both fully clothed, we didn’t do anything, so there’s no need to tell Bessie or anything.”
“Ok, calm down.” Joey said “You guys better get a move on if you’re going to be on time for school.” she shut the door behind her as she left.
“School. Ugh. She said the ‘s’ word.” Tatum moaned as she fell back against the pillows “Do you want to blow it off?”
“Nah.” Pacey said “We might as well go.”
“Ok.” Tatum yawned as she sat up again “You sure you’re up for it?”
Pacey nodded “I’ll be fine. And I don’t just mean today. I think you were right, Tate. I’m gonna be ok.”
Tatum smiled and hugged him “Glad to hear it.” she kissed him “I’m gonna go change.”
“Wouldn’t that be too much to ask?” Pacey joked.
“Oh, shove it!” Tatum giggled, hitting him with the pillow.
* * * *
A week later, Tatum was standing at her locker when Abby came over to her.
“Tatum!” Abby called.
“Hey, girl, whassup?” Tatum said.
“My hair.” Abby moaned “I must’ve slept on it weird or something.”
“Not funny.” Abby scowled “Well, yeah, it is. How’s Pacey doing?”
“He’s doing just fine, thank you very much.” Pacey said as he came up behind the two girls. He wrapped his arms around Tatum and kissed her neck “You ready to go?”
“Sure.” Tatum replied “Just let me get my bag.”
“Where are you guys headed?” Abby asked.
“Pacey’s gonna give me a ride to my new job.” Tatum said proudly.
“No way! You got the job?” Abby squealed “Girl! I knew you would!”
“Now all you have to do is keep from getting fired.” Pacey said.
“Like you’re an authority on that.” Tatum teased “Just how many times has the video store fired your sorry ass?”
“Only twice.” Pacey told her.
“So, Pacey, how’re things at home?” Abby asked.
“I’m grounded again.” Pacey groaned “Second time this week that Doug’s overreacted. He’s on some kind of sick power trip.”
“How long do you think this one’s gonna last?” Tatum asked.
“Meet me at the Ice House at seven.” Pacey replied “I’ll blare my stereo at full volume, he’ll be *begging* me to leave the house in five minutes. Ten, tops.”
“It’s not that bad all the time is it?” Tatum said.
“Actually, he’s been pretty cool.” Pacey said “I know, it’s weird, but we’ve been getting along really well.”
“I had a feeling you would.” Tatum told him as she shut her locker door “Come on, let’s jet.”
* * * *
Part 15 coming soon!
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