Part Six
By Alisha

Disclaimer: Pacey a bitter, bitter man? Now would the real owners of him do that? Nah. He's not mine, and neither is Joey.

Author's Note: As always, feedback is very appreciated. Also please do not post without my explicit permission.

Recap: Joey's disenchanted when she wakes up to a bitter, cold Pacey/Mike. After playing some games, he goes to speak with her. They talk a little about life, most specifically Joey's wedding. Pacey stops Joey when she attempts to get him back into bed.

"We take entirely too much for granted when we shouldn't. We abuse what we should be doing our damnedest to protect. We hurt the people who love us, and wonder why our lives are so fucked up -- excuse the language."
-- From Terry McMillan's Waiting To Exhale

Joey sighed as she laid back, and closed her eyes. She rested the book she was reading her lap. The sun was warm on her face, and the waves were the source of rather soothing sounds, but still she felt stressed. Last night's visit from Pacey was stuck in the front of her mind. She wanted to see him, but she wasn't sure what she would do when she did. Thinking about it was like beating a dead horse. She took a deep breath, and looked back at the book.

She was reading How Stella Got Her Groove Back. It was a book she picked up at the airport before her flight from Los Angeles. The cashier had suggested it. Saying it was inspiring for a woman going on vacation alone. Like I'm going to find some man, and he's going to solve all my problems.

You found one who's the source of all your problems, she scolded herself. Pacey was quickly at the front of her mind again. Since the conversation they had last night, it was all she could think of. She knew there were things that needed to be resolved between the two of them, but wasn't sure how to do it.

She focused on the book once again. Maybe reading about Stella and Winston could make her forget about Joey and Pacey.

"What are you reading?" she heard a soft voice say. She looked up, and saw him standing in front of her.

"A book," she mumbled, looking him over. He was wearing his normal polo shirt and shorts, holding an empty tray between crossed arms. His eyes were covered by sunglasses.

"I figured," he said, sitting in the lounge chair next to her.

"How Stella Got Her Groove Back," she said finally.

"Sometimes you have to break a few rules to free your heart," he mumbled.

"What?" she asked.

"Something from the movie."

"The book's not like the movie."

"And movie's aren't always like life."

She gave a soft laugh. "I guess that was the philosophical bartender stuff I didn't think you had the other night."

He didn't say anything, but he did give an ever so subtle smile. He stood. "I've gotta go, but enjoy your book."

"Are we going to talk?"

"You know what you want to say?"


"Me either." He turned around for a moment, rubbing his neck nervously. "We can meet here later," he said. "Like eight?"

"Okay," she said. He nodded, and started to walk away. "Thanks," she added after he was gone.

* * * * *

Joey sat on one of the lounge chairs near the ocean, and somewhat away from the hotel. She rubbed her arms slightly, her bare skin reacting to the cool air.

She saw a figure walking toward her. He had a bottle in one hand, and was moving a cigarette to his mouth with the other. She knew it was him. "God, Pacey, why do you drink so much?" she mumbled to herself.

"Hey," he said softly, as he sat in the next chair, resting backward. He put his cigarette out in the sand on his right, and focused his gaze on the ocean.

She watched him intently, examining every nuance of his face. She was comparing the man sitting next to her to the person she had known so many years ago. His face was rather expressionless. Whatever he was feeling, he wouldn't dare let it show. It still looked rough, though; like he was wearing emotional battle scars. His hair was lighter than she remembered, his eyes darker, sadder. The motivation for growing the goatee was probably the same that caused him to start smoking, to start drinking. The funny thing was that he was a mystery to her, but no more so than he had ever been.

Pacey Witter had secretly fascinated her since they were about fifteen. He was the antithesis of Dawson Leery. When Dawson was over-analyzing the implications of sex and puberty, Pacey was successfully pursuing his thirty-something English teacher. When Dawson debated how he felt about Joey for months, Pacey attempted to kiss her just one day after he figured out that he could tolerate her. Pacey was spontaneous; Dawson often stagnant. Pacey was brooding and skeptical, yet lighthearted. Dawson was annoyingly idealistic, and had this way of whining when things turned out the opposite of how he thought they should. Dawson was her first love, and Pacey was -- he was . . . something she never really figured out. She didn't know what she had felt for Pacey. It was something she never wanted to put into words, knowing that would limit it if it ever came to fruition.

Then he was gone, exiting her life as abruptly as he had changed it. Pacey had always been persistent, and she never imagined that one thing she said would drive him away permanently. It wasn't necessarily one thing, but the right thing. It was scripted with the ill logic of a girl who was so confused she could barely see straight.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked softly.

"You," she responded unconsciously. Suddenly she realized that she was sitting there with him, staring. He nodded, but didn't respond.

"Do you ever think about me?" she asked.

"Sometimes," he said, unwilling to elaborate.

"The first time we were together, it was a mystery to me. I never really understood it."

"There are some things that reason can't explain. That was one of them. To understand a situation fully, you have to get all of the parts. I never really got you."

Though that hurt, she managed a small laugh. "And just think, compared to you, I was an open book."

"No you weren't."

"What was it like for you?" she asked, barely realizing her thought had come out in words.

"Our first time?"


"Confusing. I had known I wanted you for a while."

"How long?"

"Weeks. Months." He sighed. "I didn't think he was satisfying you: I thought that I could."

"I'd like to think that I was more than a challenge."

"You were," he mumbled. "The challenge was me staying away. You were his, not mine. It wasn't my job, . . . but for some reason, I wanted it to be."

There was silence. "You were so subtle," she mused. "But at certain times, . . . there was just something in the way you looked at me . . . I could see it . . . all over you."

Pacey laughed. "It wasn't one-sided."

"I know," she said plainly. She plucked the bottle from his hands, and stole a swig, hoping it would give her the gumption to continue. "I didn't know that I wasn't satisfied," she said. "Sleeping with Dawson was all that I had to go on, but I was . . . I was curious."

He slowly shut his eyes. "You slept with me because you were curious?"

"I don't know if curious was the right word. I just . . . one day I never . . . I knew that I wanted you, and there was no going back." She looked at him, daring him to meet her gaze. "It never went away."

"I don't get you," he said. "What happened to you, Joey?" he said, very, very softly. "Why did you let me do it?"

"Don't give me that, Pacey," she said, growing defensive. "We both wanted . . . we were both willing and able."

"But it wasn't just about you and me," he said. "You were supposed to be in love."

"Sometimes love doesn't turn out how we want it to."

"Is that the best you can do?"

"I guess it is," she said, defeated.

"Doesn't say much for love, does it?" he asked, allowing the question to hang in the air. "You know, they say that having something once is worse than never having it at all." He took a drink from the bottle, and then let out a long-held breath. "Whoever they are, they were right." He shut his eyes, and leaned his head back, as it were physically paining him to say it.

"I agree," she said softly. There was another long, uncomfortable silence. "I thought it would be exciting," she admitted. "I thought that cheating on him would be exciting, but then it would be over. I thought that I would sleep with you, and realize that I was happy with him. I thought that it would cure everything." She looked at him, and saw that for the first time he seemed to be intently listening to her, and suddenly she didn't want to continue.

"I guess it didn't do what you wanted it to," he said.

"No," she responded softly. "It made things more complicated. And after what we shared, I knew that I couldn't love him."

Pacey didn't say anything. He knew that she didn't love him. Maybe she didn't love Dawson, but she didn't love him either.

"As insane as it is, I thought that sleeping with you would make it better," she continued. "I'd figured that I would find out I wasn't missing anything, and that I'd have everything I wanted in him. But I didn't, Pacey. You had what he was missing."

"And he had what I was missing," Pacey said bluntly.

Joey felt her chest tighten. Pacey had pegged her right on that one. That was what she had thought. She couldn't tell him that, though. "I was with him for over seven years," she said softly. "In hindsight, I know that's not true. I was miserable."

"But five days ago you were going to vow to spend the rest of your life with him."

She laughed, at herself mostly. She had been as stupid as he just made her sound. "Misery loves company."

He looked at her seriously, doing the same inventory of her that she had done of him earlier. He wasn't so analytical or reflective in his assessment. Finally, he broke the gaze, looking at the stars above him, taking another drink from the bottle.

"I remember you crying," he said softly, reverting back the topic of their first night together. "You were turned away from me, but I could tell."

Her head snatched up a bit as a result of the surprise. She didn't know that he knew. "That's what I always loved about you," she said softly. "You were always so damn perceptive. You always knew what was going on with me."

"Why were you crying?"

"I was scared. I had changed things between you and me, between me and . . . him. I knew it was going to turn my entire world upside down." She paused to take a breath, and to reflect on what she was going to say next. "I was confused. I didn't know what was happening, and I wouldn't explain it. After that, I knew there weren't going to be any easy answers." She looked at him, and gave a small smile. "I was happy too. I thought that I found everything I was looking for. And sad because I knew I'd never have it."

"Joey, you don't have to pretend," he said softly. Somehow, he saw this as a chance to exercise his demons, to make all the wrongs right. "I know that you didn't love me."

She choked down the lump that had quickly formed in her throat. "I didn't know," she said. "I never knew how I felt about you." She moved her gaze to the ocean, purposely avoiding having to look at him. "Love is funny. Romantic love anyway. You hear all these stories about it, but no one ever knows how to put it into words. You don't know what to expect, but you think you might know it when you find it. The thing is, you find something, and you label it love. Then something else comes along that is so much more deep, and more involved . . . and you don't know what to call it."

"Are you saying that you felt something deeper than love for me?" he asked.

She nodded reluctantly. Suddenly, tears began to fall out of nowhere. "I messed up," she cried. "I've had to live all these years knowing that I fucked up, and knowing that there was absolutely no way to fix it."

He didn't know what to say. She was crying, she was hurting, and there was nothing he could do about it. He held his hand beyond the space between them, and she looked up at him teary-eyed. Tenderly, he took her hand in his, forgetting about everything but making her feel better.

She moved, situating herself next to him. She looked into his eyes from her new, close position. "I never meant to hurt you," she said in a tone that was barely audible.

He closed his eyes, and gently shook his head. "I don't want to talk about it now."

She wiped her tears, and composed herself. "I'm sorry," she whispered. He leaned forward and enveloped her in his arms.

After laying in his arms in the quiet for a while, Joey knew she needed to break the silence, but didn't know how to. She was close to him now, her back rested against his chest, his arms wrapped around her.

She didn't understand why he was doing it. He was supposed to hate her, and she hadn't said anything that would really change it. Maybe it was for just what he needed to do. Either way, she was glad to be there.

"You finish that book?" he asked softly.

"No," she said. "She just left him in Jamaica, but she misses him."

He reflected a moment, but couldn't think of anything to say. "Do you still write those stories?"

She smiled. He remembered. The last few months of their junior year she had become obsessed with writing, and tried several stabs at a romance novel. She thought it would be a quick way to make some cash. More importantly, it was a way to escape reality. "Sometimes," she said softly. "I finished a novel."

"You send it out?"

"No," she said. "Dawson talked me out of it."


"I don't know."

"What was it about?"

"A girl who fell in love with the boy next door, and slept with his best friend, only to find what she had been missing."

"Happy ending?"

"No," she said. "She lost the one she cared about the most."

"Let me hear some of it."

"I don't have it memorized."

"You can do it."

Joey shut her eyes and thought for a moment. "She nervously looked around the room, not able to concentrate on whatever they were watching. He was staring blankly at the television, and she wished that she knew what he was thinking. He was sexy; he was so damn sexy she couldn't think straight. Why did the forbidden have to be so damn appealing?

"She felt her body shudder as she watched him unconsciously lick his bottom lip. He looked at her and smiled coolly. 'What are you doing?' he asked her. She laughed nervously. 'Can't we watch something else?' she asked. He looked at her challengingly. He was trying to act like himself, but she could see the same wanting in his eyes. You've got to find something you can watch, she told herself. She reached over him, to grab the remote control from the nightstand, but stopped mid-action when she realized that she had pressed herself against him. Leaning halfway over top of him, her nipples hardened from the slight contact at his chest.

"He looked into her eyes, not allowing her to get away easily. He licked his lip again, and something inside her finally broke. Her inhibition had vanished, and she knew that she needed him -- now. She took a deep breath, swung her right leg over him, and straddled his legs. His look was confused, but it vanished when she pressed her lips to his. The passion and intensity was more than she could fathom. Their tongues were doing a sweet dance, as she began running a hand along his arm to feel his skin. His strong hands settled on her back, and pulled her closer to him. His fingertips were haphazardly swirling near the small of her back.

"She was so lost in the sweet torture of his touch, he had removed her shirt with relative ease. His lips traced a trail down past her neck to her chest, as he removed her bra. His mouth moved to her breast and began to gently suck. She threw her head back moaned in pleasure. Gently, she tugged at his t-shirt, finally able to remove it, and wasting no time heading for his pants. 'What are we doing?' he panted. 'Just do it, don't talk about it,' she demanded. He shifted his weight, spinning her around the bed, the end result of him lying on top of her."

"Stop," Pacey interrupted. "You asked me what I was doing. I was the one who told you not to talk about it."

"It's just a story," she countered.

"Our story," he said softly. "I can't believe you remember it with such clarity."

"How could I forget?" she whispered. He laughed. "What?" she asked.

"So me licking my lip was what turned you on?"

"I think that just about anything you could've done would've turned me on that day. But there was too much going on around us. Expectations, affiliations. We were no match for that." She paused for just a moment from her reflection, resting her head on his shoulder, looking at him. "It was never just about sex," she continued. "But you made me feel so good, and I've missed it for so long." She gently grazed the side of his face with her hand. "Even if everything is so different, I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to have it again."

"I wasn't supposed to let my defenses down," he said. "But as badly as you hurt me, I've missed you so much." He paused for a moment. "The reason I didn't tell you who I was when you first got here was because I thought I could have you without giving in."

She sat there in silence. After all, there was nothing to say. She sighed, as she felt him stroke her hair. It was tender and gentle, just as she had remembered he could be. It made her want to ask; It made her need to ask. "Is it true that you missed me too?"

He was silent, and didn't answer. That silence made her very uneasy. "Yes," he said. Chills ran down her spine when he laid a gentle kiss on her collarbone. "I missed you. Despite everything, I thought about you every day. I hated it, but I did."

"I missed you," she said. "There's a reason we're together again."

"We'd better head back to the hotel," he said, drastically changing the subject. His attempt to stand was in vain: She wouldn't let him up.

"I don't want to be alone tonight," she said. More silence. Damn him, she thought. Why does he have to think so much? She knew the answer really. She had hurt him once, she could hurt him again.

"You can stay with me tonight," he said finally.

She stood, and offered him a hand to stand up. "Thank you," she said. They walked inside, for some reason, not looking back.

* * * * *

Joey sat on the bed, silently examining the dark room. There wasn't anything interesting for her to look at even. She heard the water turn on in the bathroom. Pacey must've started his shower. She didn't know why she was there, really. Just hoping that he would accept her again. She was convinced that she'd give up her whole life to stay there with him forever.

Running a hand through her hair, she found it was tangled. She went into the bathroom, thinking she would be able to find a brush. Quietly she opened the door. Her mouth opened to speak, but the words didn't come out. She saw him standing there in the shower, behind nothing more than a plain glass door.

She admired him like she was looking at a sculpture, starting at his dark brown legs, passing his perfect ass, his muscular arms, his well-shaped torso. The water bouncing off his body from every angle. He was beautiful. He rolled his neck, as he washed it with the soap. In seconds she was in acute arousal.

Pacey stopped washing, and opened his eyes when he felt something touch his lips. He saw Joey. She had stepped into the shower. Her white t-shirt and green shorts were being soaked by the water, and her hair was growing limp as it got wet. He kissed her finger softly, and looked into her eyes. She traced his lip with her finger gently, slowly, seductively. He gently began suckling on her finger. Her breath became more labored, as she tried in vain to remain composed.

Finally, she pushed his back to the shower wall and began to kiss him hungrily. He tore at the t-shirt, as the water made it more clingy. He threw it to the floor of the shower. She pinned his arms beside him, as she made her way down his chest, kissing every inch of every muscle she had admired. He looked down, watching her. It was going to be a long night.

* * * * *

To Be Continued . . .

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