The Long Road Home by: Tessa

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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything but this story. I also don’t own the song “Loving Arms” by The Dixie Chicks (Yeah, yeah, I own the CD)


The Long Road Home

Pacey read the note from Tatum for the thousandth time. She had written in it that she would call as soon as possible, but she had been gone for two weeks, and no one had heard from her yet.

“Can I come in?”

“Yeah, sure, Andie.” Pacey replied without looking up.

“Haven’t heard anything, huh?” Andie sighed.

“Nothing. Doug said no one around town’s seen her in two weeks. She hasn’t called, neither of the notes she left said anything about where she was going. For all we know, she could be half way to China.”

“I know we’ll hear from her soon.” Andie insisted.

* * * *

Tatum looked around the hotel room. She had been there for two weeks. She had managed to pay for the room by getting a job waiting tables at a local restaurant. During the day, she watched TV and listened to music to stave off homesickness, but she was beginning to break down. She thought about her family and friends constantly. She was sure that they were probably worried sick about her, but she knew if she called them to let them know she was ok, they would somehow convince her to come home, and she just wasn’t ready for that. She sighed and checked the clock.

* * * *

“What’s gotten into Abby?” Jen asked.

“A lot of coffee.” Joey replied.

“Uh-huh.” Abby said “And then I started popping No-Doz, so now I’m worrying about Tatum *really* fast!”

Dawson stood up “You know what? I’m going to go hide those chocolate-covered espresso beans.”

Abby grabbed the box “No, let me have them. Maybe I’ll get so speedy I’ll be able to go back in time and stop Tate from leaving."

“I kind of blame myself for this.” Joey sighed.

“Uh, duh. We *all* blame you.” Jen told her.

“Don’t mind me, kids.” Bessie said as she came into the room “I’m just going to check the answering machine and see if she’s called yet.”

“Again?” Joey moaned “Bess, if she had called in the past five minutes, which she hasn’t, we would’ve told you.”

Bessie gave her a look “I’m not so sure about that.”

“Ok, you know what?” Joey snapped “I am getting really sick of the way you’re acting towards me. Tatum left, ok? Stop acting like it’s all my fault.”

“Well it sure as hell isn’t my fault.” Bessie said “But I can’t get into this little blame game right now. All I can say is that you had better pray that your sister comes home safely. If not for her sake, then for your own.” she turned around sharply and walked out of the room.

“Can you believe the way she’s acting?” Joey asked her friends. All of them avoided eye contact and shrugged.

* * * *

“You’re late!” the hostess said as Tatum hurried into the restaurant “Gina had to cover three extra tables.” she pointed to the other teenager.

“I know, I’m really sorry.” Tatum called “Not my fault, the damn bus was late.”

“It’s alright, just get to work”

* * * *

“Busy night, huh?” said Gina as she and Tatum cleaned up after the restaurant had closed.

“Very.” Tatum replied “I thought that things were bad at the restaurant my family runs back home.”

“Your family runs a restaurant?” Gina asked “That must be really exciting.”

“Not particularly.” Tatum admitted “It’s a small one. Just my half sisters and a few teenagers work there.”

“What about your parents?”

Tatum shrugged “Don’t really have any.”

“That must be rough.” Gina said “So why’d you run away?”

“I just needed to get away, clear my head.” Tatum sighed. She was beginning to get uncomfortable “I really should get back.”

“What’s your rush?” Gina asked “I was just going to go meet my friends at this hangout that we go to on Fridays, wanna tag along?” “I guess.” Tatum said “As long as it’s not the meeting place of some satanic cult. Oh who the hell am I kidding? At this point I don’t even care if it’s a satanic cult as long as there’s no smoking. Not good for the baby, you know?”

Gina nodded “Don’t worry. His Holiness the Dark Priest of Lucifer doesn’t allow smoking.”

* * * *

“Have you heard anything from her yet?” Pacey asked.

“Not since the last time you called.” Joey replied.

“Damn, that was over half an hour ago.”

“Pacey, listen. I don’t know why everyone is so worried.” Joey said “Tatum is a big girl, she can take care of herself.”

“Figures you’d say something like that.” Pacey muttered.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Joey asked “Just because Tatum and I had a fight doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all my fault that she left. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not at all worried about her, and it doesn’t mean I’m not sorry that we had a fight. My sister is gone, Pacey. I don’t know where she is and I don’t know if she’s ok and it’s tearing me up.” struggling to hold back tears, she hung up the phone.

* * * *

“What is this place?” Tatum asked.

“Well, the bowling alley’s over there.” Gina said “The arcades over there, and the dance floor’s over this way.” she noticed three teenage girls sitting by a pool table “Hey, guys, over here!”

“Hi!” the girls called. They ran over “Who’s your friend?”

Gina turned to Tatum “Tate, this is my cousin Lilith, and our friends Zoe and Chloe. They’re twins. Guys, this is Tatum Potter.”

“Nice to meet you.” Tatum said as she shook hands with the girls.

“You must be new in town....” Zoe observed.

“....We’ve never seen you around school.” Chloe finished for her.

“I just got here two weeks ago.” Tatum replied “I don’t go to school?”

“How come?” Lilith asked.

“I’m not staying here.” Tatum explained “I left home a couple weeks ago. I just needed some time to myself.”

“You ran away from home...” Chloe said.

“...To decide what to do about the baby.” Zoe finished.

“That’s right.” Tatum said “Do you guys always finish each other’s sentences?”

“Twin thing, y’know?” Gina giggled “Come on! ‘Nuff talking, it’s kareoke night!”

* * * *

“Oh my God.” Lilith giggled “Do you remember the time we brought the guys here?”

“Oh yeah!” Gina laughed “You don’t forget humiliation like that!”

“What happened?” Tatum asked.

“Well, we brought our boyfriends here.” Gina explained “And they had stolen some brewskies, so within twenty minutes they were pretty damn hammered, and they made complete jackasses of themselves. First, Lil’s boyfriend Larry got up on stage and sang ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’ which quickly turned into an audience participation number. Then Zoe and Chloe’s guys, Sam and Jonathan, sang ‘Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.’ They were both wrong. But the highlight of the evening was when my boyfriend, David, got up on stage and performed a haunting rendition of “I Feel Pretty.’ during which Sam joined him on the stage and translated into Klingon.”

“” Tatum giggled “That must’ve totally sucked.”

“You have no idea.” Lilith said “So, come on now, Tatum. It’s your turn, get up on that stage.”

Tatum blushed and shook her head “No, I couldn’t.”

“Oh come on!” Gina encouraged her.

“No way.” Tatum insisted.

“Alright, fine.” Gina said with a shrug “I’ll go.” she stood up and took the microphone “Alright, ladies and gentlemen! We have got a special treat for y’all tonight. It’s time to give it up for that fab vocal stylings of Miss Tatum Potter!”

Tatum turned bright red.

“Come on...” Zoe said.

“...Go for it!” Chloe finished.

“Ok, ok.’ Tatum giggled. She got on the stage and nervously took the microphone from Gina as ‘Loving Arms’ by The Dixie Chicks began. As Gina returned to her seat, Tatum began to sing;

“If you could see me now
The one who said
That she’d rather roam
The one who said
She’d rather be alone
If you could only see me now
If I could hold you now
Just for a moment
If I could really make you mine
Just for awhile
Turn back the hands of time
If I could only hold you now
I’ve been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Takin’ any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
Lying in your loving arms again
If you could hear me now
Singing somewhere through the lonely nights
Dreamin’ of the arms
That held me tight
If you could only here me now
I’ve been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Takin’ any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
Lying in your loving arms again
I’ve been too long in the wind
Too long in the rain
Takin’ any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for
The freedom of my chains
Lying in your loving arms again
I can almost feel
Your loving arms again”

As the song ended, Tatum returned to the table as the other people in the club applauded.

“Ok, I’m completely embarrassed now, happy?” Tatum said to the others.

“Are you kidding?” Gina asked “You were great!”

Tatum blushed “Thanks.” she looked at her watch “It’s getting pretty late.”

“Do you have a place to stay...” Chloe asked.

“ shouldn’t be alone.” Zoe finished.

“I’ll be fine.” Tatum replied “I have my boyfriend. And my family. And my friends. They’re probably worried sick about me. I’ve just been so mad at my sister for being so mad at me.”

“Boy, do we now how that feels.” Zoe said.

“And how!” Chloe agreed.

Tatum smiled “Thanks, guys.”

“Good luck, Tatum.” Gina said.

* * * *

Tatum hesitated for a few minutes before picking up the pay phone in the bus station. Someone picked up the phone on the third ring.


“Pacey?” Tatum burst into tears when she heard her boyfriend’s voice.

There was a brief silence on the other end “Tatum.” Pacey sounded beyond relieved “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine.” Tatum sobbed “I’m fine and the baby’s fine.”

“Thank God.” Pacey sighed “Just tell me where you are and I’ll come get you.”

“No, it’s ok.” Tatum insisted “I’m getting on the bus right now. I’ll be home in an hour. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

* * * *

Part 22 coming soon!

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