Author's Note: I hope you guys are enjoying the story, please let me know what you think. Also, please don't post without my express permission.
Recap: Pacey's pal Carlos tried to remind him that the women who came to the island were always only after one thing. Joey confronted Pacey, seeking answers he said that he didn't have. Some not-so-kind words were exchanged.
"Excuse me," she said to the man behind the bar. "Is . . . Mike, is he working tonight?"
The man smiled at her. "No, ma'am," he said. "He's off tonight."
"Thanks," she said, removing herself from the stool.
What am I going to do now? How in the hell am I going to find him? She surveyed the lobby, as she stuffed her hands in the pockets of her over-alls. Before she had time to think about it, she found herself at the front desk. She plastered on her best fake smile, and looked at the receptionist. "Hi," the receptionist said cheerfully.
"Hi," Joey said, widening her smile even more. "I was actually looking for Mike -- that tends bar," she said pointing toward the bar. "I was wondering if you could tell me where he stays."
"I'm sorry ma'am," the receptionist said, "but we are unable to direct guests to the staff quarters."
"Is there any way that I could persuade you to alter that policy in this one case?" The receptionist just raised her eyebrows, and gave an exaggerated shrug. "Ten bucks?" Joey asked.
The receptionist's eyes darted to the left, then the right, and then the left again, before she finally nodded. Joey slipped the bill across the desk, as the girl pocketed it. "Other end of the hotel," she said. "Room 284. Knock."
Joey nodded. "Thanks." She slowly walked to the opposite end of the hotel. The short trip had an eerie feeling -- like she was walking to her own execution. Dammit, Joey. What are you going to say when you get there? she scolded herself.
Finally, she stood outside his door, and reluctantly knocked. "Go away," she heard him yell from inside.
"It's me," she said. After some silence, she heard the lock being turned, and the door peeked open.
"I'm not up for it now," he said to her. She wasn't sure of what he meant exactly. He looked rough, his hair uncombed, dark circles underneath his eyes, liquor on his breath.
"I just wanted to see you . . . for a minute," she said softly. She was no fool. As much as she refused to acknowledge it, she knew that he probably slept with a lot of women, just as he had with her last night. "If you're busy, this'll just take a second, and you can get back to . . . whatever you're doing."
"I'm not . . . I'm not busy. I'm just not in the best of moods right now. I really thought that everything that needed to be said was said last night."
She shut her eyes, and exhaled. "Just a few minutes. Please?"
He began rolling his head, trying to reduce the growing tension in his neck. His eyes darted to the ground, as he stepped back, reluctantly allowing her inside.
She walked in the room, and slowly took in the new surroundings . It was probably as nice, if not nicer, than the one she was staying in. It was large, clean, and barely looked to be lived in. There was an assortment of bottles on the dresser, and a few clothes in a pile near the closet. It didn't take her seconds to see a pile of broken glass in the far corner, where Pacey had, no doubt, thrown one of his bottles in anger.
As she spun around, she noticed that he was resting against the door, his hand still on the doorknob. "Go ahead," he said.
She wrinkled her forehead, looking to be deep in thought. "I'm not exactly sure what I want," she confessed. "I know that I don't want to talk about last night, or about the past. But I'm missing something." She looked at him trying to peg his reaction, but his expression was unreadable.
"I want you," she continued. "We don't have to talk about yesterday. We don't have to talk about tomorrow. I just want to be close to you, to feel you, to taste you." He continued to watch her with the same blank stare.
They stood there, locked in each other's gaze for what seemed like three eternities. "I wouldn't mind getting to know Mike. I might like him."
He stood, extending the quiet further. "You know what you had last night?" he asked. She nodded her head, although still confused. "That's what I do. There's nothing else to know about me."
She closed her eyes, hoping to suspend the tears that were forming. The man she was looking at wasn't Pacey. This cold, bitter man standing before her was something of her own creation.
She shrugged, walking toward the door. "It was worth a try," she said. "I guess I'll see you around." He turned the knob, and slowly opened the door. "You never had enough faith in yourself," she whispered, meeting his eyes, before hastily trying to make her exit. The door shut before she could go.
He closed his eyes, and swallowed. "You don't expect anything from me?" he asked softly.
"I just want you," she whispered.
For the first time in years, his heart screamed at him, overpowering his head. He knew he would regret what he was about to do, but it was something he needed. "Stay."
"I don't want to hurt you," she said, afraid of breaking the somber mood by raising her voice the slightest.
"I won't let you," he said. She nodded, watching him intently for moments. He was so handsome, so ruggedly handsome. Dark. Brooding. Pained. Angry. Resentful.
Her stare was putting him in excruciating pain. He moved across the room, and began throwing the pieces of broken glass into the trash can nervously, shakily. "Sorry about the mess," he said.
She gingerly sat down on the bed next to where he was kneeling, and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "It's okay," she whispered. "Don't be nervous."
"I'm not, I'm not nervous," he stammered.
"Okay," she said soothingly. As hard as it was for her to put on her brave face, she knew she had to do it, just to be near him. It was difficult for her not to want to rehash their past, to apologize. She knew she couldn't. "As much as things have changed . . . well, just realize that you can still be comfortable with me. That's how I want things to be."
He took a deep breath and stared at the broken glass for a moment. He couldn't allow himself to be comfortable with her, and he had made the first mistake by showing her how nervous he was. In his mind, he figured that this must be God's sick revenge for all the things he had done. Letting her taunt him was nearly torturous. I should've never let her inside, he told himself, not sure if he meant the room, or his life.
He pushed the wastebasket back next to the wall, and sat next to Joey on the bed. "I don't know if this is--"
"Please," she interrupted.
"What is it that you want from me?" he asked softly. "Really."
"I just want the feeling of being near you. I don't care how I have to do it." She looked up at him. "I'm not going to say the other reason, because last night you told me that I didn't have a right to feel that way."
"I'm not the person that you missed. Not anymore."
"I know that," she said. "Can't you just indulge me?"
"There are plenty of men--"
"I just want you."
"Just for tonight," he said, trying to be firm. He thought that setting guidelines would be the best way to have her, but still make it appear as if she hadn't gotten to him, when she actually had.
She nodded. "Sure. If that's what you want."
He sat for a moment, his wheels spinning. It was difficult to be in the room alone with her, and he needed to get out. "You wanna play pool?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
She looked at him questioningly, because that hadn't been the exact activity she had in mind. "That sounds fun," she said.
"Follow me," he said, as he headed for the door, stopping only to shove a pack of cigarettes in his pocket.
Pacey watched Joey intently as he stood, his arm and head propped on a pool cue. The small talk they were sharing had been enough to ease his tension. She had talked about some man on the plane. He had told her a story or two about Carlos. Music was playing from some speakers scattered around the relatively dark room. There was very little activity in the game room, except for he and Joey at one of the tables, a young man stuck to a video game, and a young couple engaging in a rather high stakes game of air hockey. Pacey laughed as he saw them out of the corner of his eye. He'd never seen anyone play strip air hockey, and was pretty sure that they weren't going to be around much longer, as the man had just literally lost his shirt.
His attention turned back to Joey, who had managed to sink all but one ball on the table. He watched her slowly walk around the table sizing up her last shot. Finally, she bent over the table. Her ponytail cascaded down over her right shoulder, as she squinted, eye balling her shot. She sunk the eight ball with relative ease.
He smiled. "Now let's see," he said. "Either you've been working part time as a pool shark, or you're going to tell me that this is just basic physics and geometry."
"It is," she smiled, as she began digging the balls out of the pockets, and placing them back in the rack. "But I'm sort of a natural. I played a lot in college. My roommate used to take me to bars with her when she was on a serious man-hunt." She smiled at him. "You know what they say about practice."
"It makes perfect," he said quietly.
"You up for another ass whuppin'?" she asked.
He shook his head, as he took a drink from his glass of bourbon. They were interrupted by giggling as the air hockey couple made their exit. "Air hockey. Now there's a game."
"We gonna play like them?" she asked, grinning suggestively at him.
"I don't think so," he said.
She raised an eyebrow. "What do I get when I win?"
"Satisfaction for a job well done?" he asked. In that moment he felt like nothing had changed; that all the years hadn't passed since they were last together. He felt like Pacey again.
"Here's the deal," she said. "When I beat you, you're going to dance with me."
"I don't dance," he said.
"Don't lose," she said, raising her eyebrow challengingly.
He laughed before he placed a serious look on his face. He grabbed the puck, and looked at Joey as she took the other end of the table. "You ready?"
"Bring it on," she said.
He flipped on the air, and dropped the puck.
After their allotted five minutes had passed, the score was tied at six each. The puck fell in front of Joey as the air shut off, and she quickly shoved it Pacey's way, hitting the target. Pacey sighed, and rolled his eyes. "You cheated."
She shrugged. A smile crossed her lips, as she grabbed his hand, and led him to the center of the now empty room. When a slow song began to play, he took her into his arms, knowing there was no use arguing. He was happy he had lost just because he could hold her for a reason.
She uneasily rested her head on his chest. It was just as thrilling as ever to be in his arms. This was what she was missing all those years.
He inhaled her scent, a mixture of lilacs and baby lotion. She was as beautiful as ever, even if he was seeing a different person. She was making it so hard for him to continue hating her. After six years of being away from her, she was still able to weave that invisible spell over him, to put him under her power. He raised a hand to her hair, gently caressing it.
She looked up into his eyes, and felt naked, almost as if his gaze was piercing though her entire being, studying her soul. He moved his finger slowly along her jawline. His head moved forward cautiously until very close to her. She moved the final inch and began kissing him hungrily.
When he pulled away, he could see a passion, a longing in her eyes, and he could feel the same thing in his own body.
"Can we go now? Please?" she whispered.
He nodded, as they quickly headed back to his room. It was time for them to fulfill some of the passion. It had been too long.
She wasn't sure what to do. It was strange laying there in his arms after all these years. The moment had passed entirely too quickly for her, as she was aware that it would be back to reality soon. He had promised her just one night, and it was slowly winding to an end.
She sat listening to him breathe, her hand carelessly resting on his chest. She had missed him so much. More than he would ever realize, probably. There were so many questions she had, especially after last night. She wanted to know where he'd been, what he'd done. She wanted to know why he left, how he felt about her. They were all off limits, of course. It was a promise she had made to him. More than anything, she just wanted to understand what was going on in his head. She wanted to know why he was so angry, so bitter, why he drank so much, and her part in all of it.
She began lazily tracing his chest with her fingernail. "Pace?" she asked softly.
"Yeah," he replied, no longer caring about what she called him.
"You sleep with a lot of women?" she said, not concerned if that was the most eloquent way to ask him, and not even sure why she wanted to know.
He sat up. "Why'd you ask me that?"
"I don't know," she whispered, pulling the sheet tightly around herself as she sat up as well. "Do you?"
"Yeah, I do," he said.
She thought that it would be horrible to ask him why, especially when she really knew why, at least in the back of her mind. "You . . . you protect yourself, don't you?"
He looked at her, and wasn't sure exactly how to answer that question. Genuine concern showed on her face. "We used a condom," he said. "You don't have anything to worry about."
She touched his cheek lightly. "I'm not worried about me. I'm worried about you."
She noted that his eyes looked child-like as he stared back at her, trying to process the words. "Don't worry about me," he said huskily.
"You've got to start taking care of yourself," she said.
He looked at her incredulously. She instantly knew that she had crossed the line. "Let's not do this," he said. "I can see where it's going." He stood up, grabbed his pants from the floor, put them on, and went out onto the balcony.
She watched him for a moment, before getting out of the bed, wrapping the sheet securely around herself, and walking out on the balcony. "Should I go?" she asked.
He moved his cigarette to his left hand, and lifted his right hand to stroke her soft hair. "I need you to go," he whispered, "but I want you to stay."
"Then let me stay," she said.
He began to caress her cheek with his fingers, slowly, gently. She shut her eyes, and felt a tingling sensation run down her spine. His face was so close to hers, she could feel him breathing. He pulled away a bit when she tried to kiss him. "I know that I've been weak tonight," he whispered, "but this doesn't change anything. It's just one night."
She looked at him, barely comprehending his words, already feening for his kiss. "Pace, I--"
Before she could continue, his lips were touching hers, his tongue invading her mouth. She forgot what she was saying.
He picked her up in his arms effortlessly. Inside, he laid her down on the bed, and began his slow approach to her body. They continued fervently, but this time much more slowly, both desperately trying to extend the moment, and hoping to make it last.
To Be Continued . . .
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