Author's Note: Yeah, you can tell that I like Third Watch just a little too much. Oh well...
Recap: Joey tries to push Pacey away, but it still vulnerable to him when he acts as if he needs her. Even though she knows he's playing her, she can't resist him. Pacey pulls away when they're locked in a passionate embrace in his bathroom and tells her to leave.
It wasn't openly weeping or even sobbing. Her chest didn't heave, and the rhythm of her breath didn't change. The tears just flowed easily from her eyes, blurring her sight, and refusing to do anything other than fall down her cheeks and softly seeped into her jeans, others hitting the tiles.
He had no right to have this much power over her. Most of all, she was angry at herself for allowing him to. She was married. She was married to the man that she'd loved since she was fifteen years old. Why wasn't that enough?
The tears fell harder, and her vision blurred more. She wasn't sure, but somehow she made the transition from sad to livid. She was angry. Pacey was the obstacle keeping her from her happiness. He shouldn't be. But why did the anger fade just a quickly as it came? Now the tears were more real, and she was sobbing.
Her first mistake was ever letting it be about more than sex. He never should have been able to hurt her. She closed her eyes, and could see him so clearly. The way that he would stroke her back after they made love. The way he would whisper in her ear when they were together. The way he'd pay attention to every single solitary thing about her, doing something as simple as kissing her fingertips. She could see his smile, hear his laugh.
But she could also feel the pain. Being with him hadn't been easy. He was distant and closed off. He knew how to manipulate her just as he had the same evening. For everything she loved about him, there was something she hated about him.
And she was married. God, she couldn't let herself forget that.
She heard a faint tap on the door. "Jo? You in there?"
She began to wipe her eyes when she heard Dawson. In the mirror, she saw her eyes were puffy and red. Before she left the bathroom, she prayed that he didn't have the light on.
She climbed into bed with him, not saying a word. He said something, but she didn't hear. She was too consumed with her own thoughts. They didn't stop as he snuggled next to her and slowly drifted off to sleep.
This couldn't go on for much longer.
Pacey walked into work slowly. It was snowing outside and cold. It just wasn't a night he wanted to be working. Inside the fire station, he threw his things in his locker and made his way to the kitchen.
"Witter, you've got a visitor in the conference room," his boss said, passing by. "Take as long as you need, but be ready to go out on a call. It's been hell out there today."
"Sure, Doc," Pacey said. He changed direction and headed for the conference room.
He shook his head when he saw her, perched at the opposite end of the rickety, old, long table. Her palms were placed on the table, and she looked back at him coldly.
"I'm at work," he said, his voice painfully even.
"We need to talk," she said.
He exhaled, shaking his head. "Not now."
"You have no right," she said, unwilling to leave as he wanted her to. She needed to have this conversation now, after a day of stewing over what she wanted to say.
He shut the door and leaned against it slowly. "I have no right to do what?" he asked with a patronizing tone.
"You have no right to ruin my life!" she shouted.
He shook his head, half humored, half angered by her audacity. He sat down in the chair, cockily putting his leg on the table as he leaned back. "You're the one who waited for me last night and you're the one who wanted to fuck me in my bathroom."
She walked up beside him and leaned on her hand, moving closer to him. "Don't think for one second I didn't know exactly what you were doing last night," she spat.
He sat up straight in his chair and looked her in the eye. "Just tell me how I became the bastard in this scenario," he said calmly. "Tell me."
"You've always been the bastard in this scenario," she bit back.
He laughed bitterly and shook his head. "You slept with me. You got married. You want to have an affair with me right now."
Her hand made a resounding noise when it connected sturdily with his face. "Fuck you, Pacey," she said, her tone low and angry.
He stood up, and backed her firmly against the wall, his hands resting on each side of her shoulders. "Who the hell do you think you are, Joey?" he said, his voice rough and hard. "Don't you dare play the victim in this for one single, solitary second."
"So I suppose you're the victim?" she asked.
"What exactly were your intentions coming to my apartment last night?" he asked.
"I wanted to talk to you," she said.
He laughed, shaking his head slowly. "There was nothing left to talk about. You know what you came for."
She held her left hand up in front of his face, wiggling her fingers. "I'm married," she emphasized.
"Does that matter?" he asked, raising his eyebrow. "You were sleeping with me when you were engaged. You slept with me the night before your wedding. How are things so different now?"
"Maybe now I see you for who you really are," she said.
He pulled away from her and scowled. "Get out," he spat coldly.
"I'm not done," she said, not moving from her spot.
"We just have the same argument over and over again, and I'm sick of it. I'm not going to let you blame me anymore. I just want you to go."
He was doing it again and she wanted to scream. It was so hard to tell the vulnerability from the manipulation. As much as she knew that he was probably using whatever means necessary to get her out of there, she couldn't help but to weaken just a bit.
"Pace," she said, her voice much more reserved. She reached her hand out, but he pulled his away.
"Go," he said.
"What's going on?" she said, her voice in a whisper.
"You want me to fight with you," he asked, moving closer to her. "That makes it easier, doesn't it?"
She shook her head and looked down at her feet. "Nothing about this is easy, Pacey."
"Tell me what you want."
She looked up at him, her eyes shining mysteriously. "I want everything to be okay."
"That's not going to happen," he said.
She laid her head on his chest for just a moment, breathing slowly. She pulled away when he didn't put his arms around her like she'd hoped he would. She didn't know why she wanted him to do it, but she did.
He stared into her eyes for a moment, watching her mysteriously. "You should go, Jo."
"You want me to go?" she asked softly.
"I think you should go," he said.
"What do you want?"
He looked back to the door when he heard someone knocking heavy handedly. "Witter, we've got a call. Let's go."
"I have to go," he said. He didn't wait before turning and leaving her alone in the room.
There was no way she could make it better. If anything, seeing him just made it worse. Maybe she couldn't see him anymore.
Joey watched her husband as he slept. He looked peaceful, so unaware. She wanted that. She missed that. She missed the times when she could watch him sleep and not think of anything else. She missed the times when she could fall asleep because she was happy with him and had nothing else to worry about.
Those times were gone.
The sound was faint, but she could hear her cell phone ringing from the bottom of her purse. She leaned over the edge of her bed and searched for the phone. There was only one person it could possibly be, and while she knew that talking to him would only make things worse, she knew she had to do it. "Hello," she answered softly, trying not to wake Dawson.
"Yeah, Pace," she whispered. "It's me."
"I need to see you," he said. There was a tightness in his voice she couldn't ignore. Something was wrong.
"Please," he said softly.
"Okay," she said. "Give me fifteen minutes."
When she got to Pacey's apartment, she used her key. She'd told Dawson as he lay half-asleep that she had a client who'd tried to kill herself, and had to go to the hospital. She supposed her job came with built-in excuses like that. Maybe the ease of being able to lie to her husband made up for the low pay.
Inside things were dark, quiet as she maneuvered through the room. He was in his bedroom, sitting in the corner on the floor. His elbows rested on his knees, as some light from the street poured in through his window. She dropped her purse on the floor and leaned her head against the door frame. She watched him for a moment, as he was in such silent contemplation, and she wondered what had made him like that.
"Hey," she said, keeping her voice soft as to not disturb the somber mood.
"Hey," he returned.
She walked toward him slowly, sitting beside him, her back against the closet. "Is something wrong?" she asked.
"I delivered a baby tonight," he said softly. "Woman in premature labor and it came so quickly."
Joey watched him quietly, because she didn't understand how something so joyous could've affected him so negatively. "It was nice," he continued. He looked at her, his expression unreadable. "It was life, Joey."
"That's nice, Pacey," she said, stroking his face softly.
"Her husband held her hand . . . and all the sudden they went from a couple to a family." He looked at her seriously. "I'm not going to have that."
"Is that what's wrong?" she asked.
He nodded. "You and Dawson are going to do the same thing. And I'll be left as . . . Uncle Pacey. I'm going to be a man who dies with no one really loving him, no nothing. That's going to be my payback for all the mistakes that I've made."
"Don't say that, Pacey," she said, shaking her head and closing her eyes.
"Why hide from the truth, Jo?"
"You're not unloved," she said softly. She saw the vulnerability when he looked back into her eyes, and she knew only one way to make it better. "You're not," she echoed, pulling him closer and laying a soft kiss on his lips.
He squeezed his eyes shut tightly, as he pulled away slightly, his hand grasping the hair at the nape of her neck. "I'm not supposed to need you," he said defeatedly.
She could feel the tears in her eyes, and she so desperately wanted to cry. It was never supposed to be like this. It was never supposed to be wrong. She was never supposed to be this person. "I'm not allowed to want you."
"God, Joey, I've fucked up so bad," he said, his voice forced as he continued to hold on to her for dear life.
"So did I," she whispered. She kissed him again, trailing up to his eyes, laying soft kisses on the lids. "It doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters . . . nothing but you."
He kissed her back this time, and he reminded her of everything, of all the times that she needed him so badly, the times when she wanted him so badly. And it was wrong. That's all it was. It was wrong. But that didn't matter. He was all that mattered.
He was low, and that was when she loved him the most. And even though she'd never said it, she did love him. He was so gentle and so slow as he laid her down on the floor. Her tears mixed with his as they stayed locked together. He was slow and tender as he made love to her, and things were fine in that moment.
The problem would be when she would have to leave. She would have to look at the real world through a different set of eyes. As Pacey moved slowly inside her, all she saw were his eyes.
She didn't think about the consequences of having to look into her husband's eyes and know that she had broken her vows. That would be important tomorrow, and she couldn't let it be important before then.
To Be Continued . . .
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