Author's Note: Man, I don't even have anything to say here. That's just sad.
Recap: Joey spends a romantic evening with Pacey, only to marry Dawson the next day.
"Come on, Jo, it's tradition," he said. "I'm supposed to carry you over the threshold. So just sit still and it'll be over in a second."
"You've told me that before," she said dryly.
"I could drop you flat on your ass, you know," he said.
She sighed. "Get it over with."
He stepped through the doorway effortlessly and dropped her to her feet. His face was close to hers as he whispered, "Welcome home, Mrs. Leery."
She smiled and laid a soft kiss on his lips. "Some traditions aren't so bad," she murmured.
"I have a few ideas about what we should do now," he said, grinning mischievously.
"You've had the same idea for the past seven days, Dawson," she smiled.
"You were the one who wanted to abstain before the wedding," he said in a fake, scolding voice.
She didn't understand why he had to go there. She rubbed her eyes. Things had been easy in Hawaii, but now they were home. They were married. They were facing pressue he didn't even know about.
"I was kidding, you know," he said, looking concerned.
She fought to smile, hoping her cheeks would be able to hold the tears back. "I know," she said. The guilt was paramount, however. "I, um, I just didn't realize you'd be so . . . hungry."
He smiled at her choice of word. "There isn't anything that could keep me from wanting you, Jo," he whispered, wrapping his arm around her waist, pulling her closer.
"I can see that," she grinned, her fingers leisurely trailing along his chest, hovering below his belt.
"You're not hungry?" he asked. "Not even a little?"
"We definitely have to christen this place, Mr. Leery," she said, leaning in and kissing him hard.
Joey wrapped the white towel securely around her wet hair and went in search of her purse, hoping to find a lifesaver or something. Dawson had gone to get some food, but she was already starving. Her search was interrupted by a knock at the door.
She knew that it was inevitable, but didn't understand why it had to come so soon. His reaction was similar, as she noted how quickly his face paled. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said. "I just . . ." He stopped, knowing better than to continue. The last thing she would want to hear was that he came just to see her. She wouldn't believe it. She wouldn't like it.
"Dawson went to the store," she said. "I don't know how long he'll be."
"I take that to mean you want me to go," he said dejectedly.
"I'm glad you understand," she mumbled, attempting to push the door closed.
But he pushed back. "What was I supposed to do?" he asked.
She laughed, stepping back and letting him inside. Unconsciously she pulled the belt of her robe tighter. She watched him seriously, nervously twisting her wedding band. "Say your peace and then go."
He shook his head. "I don't know what to say."
She rolled her eyes. "There's nothing to say. I think that . . . the past is the past."
"And you're married."
"I guess that I was just supposed to bust up the whole wedding, declare my undying love for you, and carry you out of there like we were straight outta An Officer and a Gentleman," he said.
"Maybe. I don't know what you were supposed to do," she said, shutting the door, and walking past him.
"You're the one who got married," he said.
"You're the one who let me."
"Let you my ass. I don't control you."
She shook her head, pulling her hair out of the towel, trying desperately not to look at him. "You could've told me what you wanted."
He moved closer to her, placing a gentle hand on her damp cheek. "Maybe I wasn't sure about what I wanted. Maybe I just wanted you."
"You stood there and let me marry someone else. I don't see how that could be you wanting me too much," she said. She pulled away from him, turning away. "I don't get you."
"I don't understand what you want from me," he said, walking over to the picture window and looking down on the city.
"I don't want anything from you," she said, causing him to look back over his shoulder at her. "I don't need anything from you," she added.
He nodded and walked toward the door. "I guess that's all there is to it, then."
She exhaled, lifting her eyes to the ceiling. "I'm not . . . I'm not trying to hurt you."
He grasped the doorknob tightly with his hand, refusing to look back at her. "I know that," he said. "You and I are just . . . nothing."
"That's one way to look at it."
"At this point, it's the only way to look at it," he said, turning the doorhandle. "Tell Dawson I said welcome back, and . . . congratulations."
He walked out the door, refusing to look back.
"Josephine Potter," Joey answered gruffly into the phone, barely looking away from the computer screen.
"Joey," he said softly.
Suddenly she stopped. Her fingers quit moving and her mind went blank. "What are you calling me for?"
"I don't know."
"Phone sex counts too," she whispered.
He laughed faintly. "That only happened once."
"I'm trying to work, Pacey," she said in a poor attempt to get him to hang up. A poor attempt because she didn't really want him to hang up.
"I'm sorry about yesterday," he said, his voice soft and low.
She nodded her head, forgetting he couldn't see her.
"Jo?" he asked.
"Yeah?" she said, her mind off on a million tangents at once.
"I'm sorry," he echoed. "For yesterday . . . for everything."
She closed her eyes, thinking for a moment. It was always easier for her to resist him when he was being stubborn and self-righteous, but when he showed vulnerability by apologizing, her resistance would always crumble. The first time she'd been with him was when he was at a low point, when he let himself show through in a moment of sadness and frustration.
When the long silence on the phone continued, he spoke again. "That night," he began, referring to the night before her wedding. "I . . . you . . . you left. I took that to mean it was our last night together and that you were still going through with the wedding. I didn't think I had the . . . right to question that."
"Maybe you should have," she said softly. "It's not like I'm getting any younger, Pace. It was time. And you . . . you never told me what you were thinking, how you were feeling. God, I don't know how many times I was with you, and . . . I still don't think I know you."
"It wouldn't have been so easy if you had," he answered, his voice still in a hushed tone.
"What's that mean?" she asked. She so desperately wanted to understand him and rid herself of him at the same time.
"Nothing," he answered.
"I want to see you," she said suddenly. She wasn't exactly sure where the words came from, but they were sincere. She wanted to know what he was being so cryptic about, and she just wanted to lay her eyes on him again. She couldn't go completely cold turkey after having looked at him so many times before, after having been so intimate with him.
"That's probably not a good idea," he said guardedly.
"Dawson's working," she said, for her own clarification more than his.
"I'll be home tonight after my shift," he said after a pause. "You can stop by . . ."
Her need to see him was outweighed by her fear of what may happen if she ended up with him in his empty apartment. It was risky. But it was a risk she needed to take. "I'll see you around one, then," she said.
Joey sighed as she leaned against the wall. Finally, she slid down its length, and brought her knees to her chest. She looked at her watch and saw it was nearly 2:00. She wasn't sure what was keeping him, and she hoped he was okay.
Pacey worked as an EMT, and she often wondered just how safe he was out in the city late at night, especially considering the world was so dangerous. Of course, she always thought that something about the uncertainty of it excited him, the adventure fed a thirst that he needed to quench. Sort of like her, she supposed.
He'd give these long dissertations about how everyday going to work was exciting and about never knowing what the next call would bring. He didn't drive a BMW like Dawson did and he didn't have as nice of an apartment and she and Dawson. But the look in his eyes was unmistakable--when he went to work, he was happy.
Yet, she worried. She shouldn't, but she did. Even though he'd said they were "nothing" to each other, they were still something. She'd have these horrible, morbid dreams sometimes about her reaction if she were to find out that something had happened to him.
He came around the corner and smiled a tight, half-smile at her. "Hey," he said.
"Is something wrong?" she asked. She looked him over carefully. His hair was ruffled, his face covered in ash, and he had a nasty looking abrasion on his left forearm.
He followed her eyes to his arm and shrugged. "I was getting out of the bus, and fell," he said, chuckling softly, as her turned his key and opened the door. She still hated to hear him call the ambulance the "bus."
"Let me help you clean it up," she said, following him inside.
He looked at her silently, not sure how to answer. This situation could be classified as awkward, at best. "I just really want a shower," he said gently. "Maybe we should do this some other time."
"I'll wait," she said, softly.
She sat on the sofa in Pacey's living room while she waited, listening to the running water in the shower, as she flipped through and old copy of Psychology Today that was on his coffee table. She concentrated on the sound of the water, letting her imagination go wild when she didn't want it to. Her cell phone was ringing, and she absently picked up her purse to answer it. "Hello," she said.
"Hey, Jo," Dawson replied easily. "I just tried home and you didn't answer."
"I'm not home," Joey said quietly. "Why? Is something the matter?"
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Pacey had a rough night at work and couldn't sleep. He called to see if I wanted to go for coffee." She wondered if that response had sounded rehearsed. It wasn't, but lying like this had become easy for her.
"Oh," Dawson said. "Tell him I said hi."
"Sure," Joey said.
"I should be home around six, barring no unfortunate disaster," Dawson said. "I love you."
"Okay," Joey said. "Me too. See you in a couple hours."
"Bye, Jo," he whispered. She hit end, and turned the phone off. She didn't want him calling again.
"Hey, Jo?" she heard Pacey call from the bathroom. "Will you still help me out?"
"Sure," she said, walking back toward the bathroom. She stopped in the doorway when she saw him. He was leaning against the sink wrapped only in a dingy white towel at the waist, his head still dripping wet. He was looking at his arm, trying to figure out how to clean his abrasion. "What's wrong?" he asked, looking up at her.
She shook her head. He laughed. "It's nothing you haven't seen before."
She supposed he was right. Maybe he just had more self-control than she did. When he was around, especially when he would look at her a certain way, or say a certain thing, or stand there like he was now, the line between right and wrong became so blurred she wondered if it ever existed at all.
She walked over to him, and took the alcohol prep from his hand and began to clean his arm. She stopped when he sharply sucked in his breath. "You're such a baby," she laughed.
He sighed, and closed his eyes as she continued. "I was worried about you, you know," she said, trying to keep her tone light and airy so that it would seem to be nothing more than in passing.
"I'm fine," he said. "A little rougher for the wear."
"You could work an earlier shift, you know," she offered. "Things wouldn't be so hectic."
"I like it hectic," he said.
She laughed, not letting her eyes leave his arm. "I know."
"Baby, I--" he began, stopping mid-sentence. "Joey, I'm . . ." He stopped again and shook his head. "I'm just trying to make it."
She looked at him briefly. "That's what we're all trying to do."
He nodded his head slowly. He watched her as she spread antibiotic ointment over his arm. He got caught up in examining her face with a strict look of concentration, as she bit on her lower lip. Her eyes met his, and her breath caught in her throat. "All better," she whispered.
"Mm hm," he mumbled, staring intently at her. "I can hardly feel a thing."
She moved closer to him, pressing her body against his in a gentle, but unwavering manner. He opened his mouth to speak, but was caught off guard when she gently began to suck on his bottom lip. She was slow and thorough, almost tortuous, as she sucked, stopping to gently nibble on his lip. She loved the feeling of his hot breath against her face.
He slowly moved his tongue along her lip, and she finally fulfilled his silent request, meeting him in a kiss. She curled her hand around his neck, as he moved his hands around her back. She felt him lift her shirt and gently begin to stroke the small of her back, just as he'd always done. His touch was more rough than she'd remembered, but even his calloused fingers had a soft, gentle touch. His fingers left goose pimples in their wake as they traveled up and down across her skin. They trailed lower with each sweep.
Her hand slowly crept across his face, down his chest where she grasped the towel he was wearing. She felt his hand on hers as she attempted to pull the towel from between them. He pulled away from her, his eyes remaining closed, his fingers stopping, but lingering on her back.
"You should go," he whispered.
She shook her head, resting her hand on his cheek. "I don't want to."
"Go," he said, raising his voice a bit.
"You made the choice."
She laughed, stepping back from him. She wanted to cry, but she'd be damned if she'd let him see that. That was all he was trying to do. He was using all his intimate knowledge of her to hurt her. And it was working.
She should've known that it would be like this. Wanting him could go away just as easily as it had come when he did something like this. Now, he was teaching her a lesson. She'd made a choice without even knowing it, and she'd chosen Dawson. It didn't take long for the novelty to wear off. It hadn't been two days since she got back from her honeymoon, and there she was, ready to screw Pacey against his bathroom sink.
Even if he was being a bastard, this time he was right. She should go.
To Be Continued . . .
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