"Hey, Joey," said Pacey cheerfully into the phone.
"Aren't you meant to be too exhausted to be cheerful?" she asked. He'd rung just after dinner, trying to catch the time difference. Most of the time he did quite well, though there had been a few strange hours.
"No. Today was my day off. Anyway, what I wanted to know was-how 'bout you and Alex come to California for the summer. We'd put you up here, take you to see the sights, let you enjoy the beautiful weather."
"You'd let me? I don't think I need your permission," she said. "But I don't know Pace. We were going to go to Cleveland."
"Come on, Joey," his voice beginning to beg. "You have to be in the state on the sixth, so you may as well spend some more time with us. In fact, why don't you come up on about the second or so, and come with us to Los Angeles. We're driving down the coast. Dawson wanted it that way."
"Thank God you brought that up. What is that invitation all about?"
"You don't know?"
"Okay, don't get annoyed with me. But I don't know if I should tell you-perhaps Dawson wanted it to be a secret."
"Pacey," she said warningly.
"Alright. Dawson wrote a script and it was picked up by Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox. He made it over the winter, and now it's done, it's having it's premiere."
"Dawson made a film?" The shock was clearly evident in her voice.. "Like a real one?"
"Yep. It's called 'Give.'"
"What's it about?"
"Now even I don't know that. He hasn't revealed a word. But come on Joey. Bring Alex and let me see you. Please? Ple-ease?" his voice was starting to whine.
"Just to shut you up, I'll come. I think I'll try and arrive on about the third. You cannot let Alex near any fireworks on Independence Day though. Understood?"
"Yes," he submitted meekly. "I'll talk to you soon, Joey. I have to go."
"Okay. And thanks for inviting me."
"I miss you."
"I miss you, too," she said softly, and hung up.
Pacey would kick himself later. Dawson would also kick Pacey later. Dawson would enjoy it more.
Pacey had dragged him all the way out here, and what they were doing at the train station was rather beyond even Dawson's usually functioning intelligence. Pacey seemed to know exactly what he was doing, and stood, jiggling one of his legs.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on, or am I going to be left in the dark?" Dawson looked around for some clues, but in a twist of fate, there were no signs telling him which train they were waiting for.
"Hey, you have your secrets," said Pacey, referring to Dawson's script. Dawson shrugged, and figured he'd know soon.
The train pulled into the station, and from what Dawson could tell, it seemed to have arrived late. Pacey grew even more impatient as the door began to open. People flocked out of the carriages, children, elderly women carrying bags-this was Interstate, Dawson could tell that much. Most of the passengers were well rugged up, so it had come from somewhere closer to the eastern side of the country. His observation skills were really being put to the test.
Suddenly Pacey exhaled sharply, and raced away from him. Dawson tried to follow Pacey, but lost him in the crowd. He belatedly began to trace Pacey's steps.
Joey saw Pacey straightaway, and his eyes caught hers two seconds later. Without thinking about Alex, she dropped her bags and flew straight to him, throwing her arms around his neck. Pacey spun her around and around, and she saw Alex was right beside them, watching with curiosity.
"Hi," she tried to say, but just held him tighter and let him kiss her. At least he didn't try anything. She laughed long and loud, her eyes finding his. He let her down gently, grinning like a fool, pulling her back in for another hug.
"This is Alex," she said, taking the boy's hands and pulling him close to her. Pacey knelt down.
"I'm Pacey," he said.
"And I'm surprised," said Dawson from where he stood a few feet away. She squashed down all the thoughts that rose at the sound of Dawson's voice.
"What?" said Joey easily. "How do you think I was going to get to Los Angeles?"
Alex was practically speechless as he looked around. San Francisco was so different from Chicago that he dawdled along, tugging on Joey's hand. Pacey was happy to meander, spending a lot of time grinning like a jester. The hills were steep, but the weather was lovely and the Downtown area offered a lot to look at.
Joey carried her bag and Pacey carried Alex's. Alex's was bulging with toys and games and his action figures. Joey's was the smaller one, with only her clothes, the rest of her things in a duffel bag she'd taken on the train with her.
"I can't believe I missed you so much," he was saying. "You-Josephine Potter, Capeside's most annoying source of gossip."
"Watch it-you wouldn't want to hurt yourself with your new found revelation." He grinned at her. "Come on Alex," she said. "Or I'll have to carry you." Alex hurried up.
Dawson hadn't said much, walking along with his hands in his pockets, his eyes not focusing on much. "I'll talk to you later," Pacey whispered, gesturing his head in Dawson's direction.
"This is our humble abode," said Dawson restlessly, strangely nervous, Joey realized. She looked at the old brick block of apartments, with the large bay windows and steps up to the first floor. They were on Third Street and she knew they'd passed the Museum of Modern Art. Up ahead she could see a sign saying Folsom Street.
"What area of town are we in?"
"This is SoMa, Joey, or South of Market where the night creatures of San Francisco comes to have a good time."
"Yeah. It's pretty weird to be living in something that's also known as the cell body of a neuron."
"You really are a doctor aren't you?"
"Yeah. I can even tell how you're doing after your frontal lobotomy."
"Very funny. This place does look pretty interesting, in a this-is-not-Capeside, gays-in-full-force, drink-till-you-pass out kind of way."
Pacey grinned at her. "You'll fit right in. Tomorrow I'll take you down to Brainwash, where you can do your laundry and have a cup of coffee.."
Joey just raised her eyebrows, and asked, "How many apartments are there in your building?" She shaded her eyes against the sun as she looked around the neighbourhood. They actually lived in the metropolitan area, within the city, near the waterfront, for she could smell the tang of the salt air.
"Four: one opposite us, two on the upper floor and our apartment. Downstairs is the laundry, and the phone."
"Hey, Alex, I want you to smell really hard for me," Joey said to Alex. He sniffed.
"I can smell something-strange. What is it?"
"That, Alex-boy, is the sea. You were born near the sea, and spent the first part of your life near there-and don't you forget it."
Pacey gestured for them to go first up the stairs. "Guests first."
"You're gonna break your spine sticking your neck out so far for us Pacey. You really shouldn't endanger yourself."
"I do but live to serve," he said as Joey pushed open the front door. Instinctively she moved to the left. "How did you know?" he asked, a little amazed. He was searching through his pockets for his keys.
"I remember you telling me the view out of your bedroom window offered an interesting perspective on female anatomy, through a window. On the right of the building is a newsagent's."
He stared at her, and continued to jiggle his pockets, but no sounds emerged. Silently, with a pained expression Dawson handed Pacey his keys.. "You never remember," Dawson admonished.
"No, but then again, I always have you, Dawson, endless fountain of keys."
Alex looked a little apprehensive but Joey pushed him in and stopped short. "No Dawson," she said. "I'm more surprised then you could ever imagine." Alex had his arms around Joey's waist, knowing something was wrong.
Jen turned at the familiar voice. "Joey," she said faintly.
"Well done," was Joey's sarcastic rejoinder.
Pacey looked between the two women as if they were throwing a ball between them and helplessly turned to Dawson, who wasn't showing much sign of exercising any control over the situation. Jen's face had gone from surprise, to curiosity, to contempt when she saw Alex.
At this, Joey rose up to her full and intimidating height and took control with a skill that astounded Pacey, gladdened Dawson, alarmed Jen and made Alex smile.
"What a surprise," said Joey, all charm. "I guess I just wasn't expecting to see you. But it is lovely Jen-I've thought about you a lot lately. But I believe Alex and I would like to change-we didn't get the opportunity to on the train.
"Which one's your room Pacey?"
Pacey weakly pointed to the middle door of the far wall of the apartment. Joey quite calmly picked Alex up, who didn't squirm, and literally sailed over there, carrying both bags at the same time. The door closed and Jen didn't miss a beat.
"What is she doing here?" she demanded in a low voice.
Pacey sat down and prayed Dawson could do some creative editing.
Gail left the keys in the ignition and swung out of the Range Rover. She walked through Mitch's door without knocking, and bumped head on into Mitch's girlfriend of the moment-Maureen.
"Hi," said Gail brightly. She knew Maureen wouldn't last a second. Mitch would find a flaw in her and then the relationship would be over.
"You'd be Gail," said Maureen a little unhappily. Maureen was quite obviously intimidated by Mitch's ex-wife. Most of his girlfriend's were. Gail shuddered to think where he found these women. He kept going for such simpering fools. The exact opposite of her, she liked to think.
"I would be Gail. Maureen," she said almost as an after though and the girl was even more unnerved. She pulled at a strand of pale blonde hair, and tried to look straight through Gail.
"Well, um, Mitch is…"
"Packing," Gail said, enjoying the look of surprise and jealousy that passed over Maureen's face.
"How'd you know?" Maureen asked, unable to control her curiosity.
"You're married to someone long enough you know them like the back of your hand." She raised her voice for Mitch's benefit. "Mitch always leaves his packing until the last minute."
"Hi, pleased to see you too," said Mitch sarcastically from the bedroom door.
"You were packing though, weren't you?" said Gail with a wry grin.
"Yes, I was. Of course, far be it for me to mention that I'm sure you packed before you flew out the door, in a bid to be early."
She threw him a dirty look. "Okay," she turned back to Maureen. "Mitch and I will be back in roughly ten days. I guess he'll see you then." Maureen tried to glare, but she was still in awe of Gail and her easy relationship with Mitch.
Gail turned away so she wouldn't have to watch Mitch kiss the little idiot, and when she could tell her was behind her, she moved out the door.
She threw him the keys, knowing he'd like to drive and climbed in the passenger seat. There was a peaceful silence between them as they made their way out to the airfield, Mitch handling the car with ease.
"So," he said, as they took the turnoff for the Capeside Airfield where they'd catch the light plane. "Where are we staying in L.A?" She could practically feel his eyes undressing her.
"You are unbelievable," she said, trying to retain some kind of moral standard. "You're seeing another woman and you want to know if we have separate rooms or a shared one."
"That's not what I asked!" he exclaimed.
She rolled her eyes. "You didn't have to."
"Oh come on Gail, you just tried your hardest to upset Maureen before, going out of your way to irk her."
"Didn't have to try very hard," she muttered, but he caught it anyway.
"Gail, we made the decision about our relationship together. We like it this way. In passing, I sometimes wonder, but we both know we'd kill each other if we lived together again. We're too set in our ways now. So this is what we do have."
There was a silence as Gail acknowledged the point he always made. If he did wonder in passing, he certainly showed no qualms about their purely sex-based relationship.
"Shared," she told him quietly, and pushed his hand away. "Not in the car," she told him airily.
He parked the car, and they jumped out. "When's Dawson arriving?"
"He's coming down the night before. He said he, Pacey and Jen should all arrive at about six on the fifth."
Both he and Gail shared a glance over Jen and then another one over the absence of a name. "Always feels wrong," he said. "Joey shouldn't be wherever the hell she is raising that kid and trying to make a life."
"I know," was Gail's quiet reply. However much both had tried hard to forget Joey like Dawson seemed to have, they had a soft spot for the jaded young girl who'd been like a daughter.
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