Part Nine
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. I can lay a proud claim to Carlos, though.

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

Recap: A fight about their past ends in sex on the beach for Joey and Pacey. Feeling completely fucked over, Joey tries to drown her sorrow and ends up going home with Carlos.

"Life is pain . . . anyone who says differently is selling something."
-- Westley in The Princess Bride

He heard laughing, as he walked around the corner. "I can't believe you kicked me out, you prick!" he heard her say, still laughing.

Pacey stood still, watching Joey. She leaned against the wall. Her hair was a mess, her clothes half-on, and she was clearly inebriated. Next thing he knew, Carlos' door had opened again, and two shoes bounced off the wall. Unbalanced as she was, Joey tried to pick up her shoes.

"Are you okay?" Pacey asked, almost in a whisper. He recognized the scene, of course, but something inside him just wouldn't let him walk away.

A wave of seriousness came over her. "Never been better," she said, maliciously smiling.

He shook his head. "What have you done to yourself?"

"Oh, go fuck yourself, Pacey. I don't have time for this," she snapped. "I don't need a lecture from the whore of all whores."

"Fine," he said, walking toward his room.

"He was better than you," she called.

He stood still for a moment, with his back toward her. It was a quick debate. She had said that just to annoy him, and he knew it. Somehow, he saw the need to clarify for her, to make sure she knew he was more amused than he was jealous. He walked back toward her, and looked her in the eye. "I don't care what you do, Joey. You can screw who ever you want."

"Well, you know what they say, Pace. A hard man is so good to find," she slurred.

He grabbed her upper arm in his left hand, and pulled her toward his room. "Let go of me!" she screamed.

He let her go, pushing her inside, and leaned against the door. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm having some fun on the last few days of my vacation," she said. "There's no harm in that."

"Who's this about, Joey?" he asked. "Because I'll bet it has nothing to do with Carlos."

"Oh, trust me. It had everything to do with Carlos," she said smoothly.

"Trying to forget is a bitch, isn't it?" he asked in a biting tone.

"I wasn't trying to forget," she said. "I was trying to remember what it's like for a man to want me, what it was like before I slept with a bastard like you."

"I can't believe I'm even trying to talk to you when you're like this," he said.

"That's because there's nothing left to say," she said, calmly. "We took care of everything this afternoon." He shook his head, and a loud, stinging slap echoed through the room as her hand met his cheek. "Don't pretend like it was nothing," she warned.

He grabbed her wrists at her next attempt to smack him, then he picked her up, throwing her body across his shoulder, holding her legs firmly. She pounded her fists in his back as he walked into the bathroom. Pacey shoved her in the shower, and turned on the cold water full-blast. After the initial shock, she fell to her knees and began to sob.

"We'll talk about this when you get yourself together," he said, leaving the bathroom.

Joey must have paced the length of the bathroom for a good forty-five minutes, before deciding to come out and face him again. She tightened the belt on the robe she was wearing, took a deep breath, and opened the door.

Pacey was standing on the balcony smoking a cigarette. She decided to walk out there, not willing to postpone the inevitable any longer.

They stood in relative silence for a long time, neither one sure what to say.

"You have something you want to talk about?" he asked.

"Everything," she mumbled. "It just hurts to think."

"It'll go away," he said.

"I think that everything that happened today has just been insanely . . . out of the ordinary. I feel like I should explain."

"You don't have to explain yourself to me," he said. "Your life is your own."

"I want to," she said. "Today, when you left me on the beach, I felt like I hit rock bottom. I just didn't know how to deal with it."

"So you get drunk off your ass and sleep with a perfect stranger? That's completely rational," he said sarcastically. "That's so unlike you," he added as an afterthought.

"Maybe I'm unlike me too, Pacey. You need to understand that. As much as you've changed, so have I. And I just cannot take anymore of this game we're playing," she said. "I decided to end it. Carlos was a nice guy. He acted like he didn't want to be anywhere but with me, and he was gentle. I knew that he would be everything I wanted you to be."

"So maybe you should stop trying to make me what you want me to be," he said. "I don't know why you think that you coming back into my life can change me."

Joey paused for a moment. "I want to say that's not true," she said honestly. "But it is. I want to change you. I want you to open up to me again, and to be gentle and sweet like you used to be. But, Pacey, today I realized that all that was gone. I don't know what caused it, but that part of you is gone."

He was confused, and feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable. Suddenly, in his eyes, Joey had fallen. It was what he had been waiting for. It was a sign of weakness that made her more like him; falling prey to the alcohol and the stranger's bed. It was almost as if he had been hanging around rock bottom, just waiting for her to join him.

Now, there she was.

It seemed like a good time for him to start working through this. He needed to talk about it. It was way past time for him to start getting rid of his demons, to start getting over it.

"You caused it," he admitted, careful not to raise his voice. "You hurt me really bad, Jo. I never got over it."

She closed her eyes and held her breath. "I never meant to do that," she said finally.

"Just imagine, you finally start to figure out where you want your life to go, and when you tell the person you love how much she means to you, she spouts off a thousand reasons why you shouldn't be together, a million of why you're not good enough for her."

He looked at her for the first time. "I'm not sure if that's better or worse than being screwed and left in the wet sand," he added.

She was confused: It showed on her face. "So you wanted to get even?" she asked.

"No," he said. "It was just something I did. Sometimes I need distance from . . . from everything."

"From me?" she questioned.

"Yes," he said. "Never thought that you'd end up in Puerto Rico."

"But I did," she said, "and I guess I made a mess of things for you."

"I don't let my guard down--ever. It's nothing personal," he told her. "I just . . . it's so different with you. There is just no emotion that suits you and me. We're too screwed up to be in love, too mental to be in lust, too crazy to even know what we are. And I just . . . I have to protect myself, because I can't feel all of that again."

"So you don't feel anything?" she asked softly.

"I get mad," he said. "Nothing else. You were on the receiving end of it today. I was more angry at myself than I was at you."

She stopped for a moment, replaying his words in her head. It was unclear to her if that was the only way he knew how to apologize, or if it was worded specifically not to be an apology. Silently, she prayed it was the former.

"You have an effect on me that's different from anyone else. Pacey, even back then, I didn't know how to handle that. I still don't."

He leaned against the railing, and lit another cigarette. "Something we have in common, then," he said. "After all, I've been so totally messed up since you got here, I can barely remember to breathe."

"So why has it been like this?" she asked.


"Why does it have to be that way?" she asked.

"We're not meant to be," he said. "Cosmic, karmic, whatever. It's just not in the cards."

"Destiny," she mumbled.

"Yeah, destiny," he echoed.

"So why am I here?"

"Torture, regret, anger," he offered.

"You don't think it's because we belong to each other?" she asked.

"I think that trivializes why I've spent six years in purgatory," he said. "Being meant to be means love and happiness. The pain I've been through is very real."

"This is life," she said. "It's painful, and things hurt. Love hurts. The happiness takes work. If there's one thing that I've learned, it's that."

"Some people's fate is sealed when they were born. It doesn't waiver," he said.

"And we don't have any control over our own lives?" she asked.

"I lost control of my life a long time ago. The best I can hope for is that I will still wake up the next day," he said. "I drink, I smoke, I pour drinks, I get laid. That's my life in a nutshell."

She stood there quietly. "You took the control from me," she said softly. "You shouldn't have left."

"You don't understand," Pacey said. "You were the one person that I cared about more than anything. And my world came crashing down on me when you turned away from me. I didn't want to have to subject myself to hearing that conversation over and over again every time I saw you."

"Abd you still don't understand," Joey said. "When I said what I said that last night, it was because I was scared. Standing there in front of you, the only thing that came to me was to play on all your insecurities. I thought it was the only way to hide my own."

"Self preservation wins yet again," he said. "That's how it's always been for both of us, right? Protect yourself at all costs? Well, it's time you start to understand that's what I'm doing now. I'm not going to give you the power to destroy me all over again."

"Did you really feel so strongly about me that I had the power to destroy you?"

"I was in love with you. I wanted you more than anything. I would've traded my life for yours. You were everything. And that's why it hurt so bad."

"I loved you," she said. "I was scared too."

He didn't say anything. He tapped his cigarette on the railing, and kept himself from looking at her. He could feel it--again. The power was shifting toward her, as he began to forget his anger. He didn't want to do it, but he was.

"How do you feel about me now?" she asked.

That was the question. He knew it was inevitable. "It's been a long time, Joey," he said. "Lots of things have changed."

"You don't want me anymore?" she asked, although it sounded more like a statement than a question.

"I don't want you to be in control of me anymore," he corrected. "I've lived too much of my life wishing I had you, or hating you because I didn't."

"When I leave in three days, do you want me to pretend like I don't even know you're here?" she asked.

The silence stuck in her ears as he thought about the answer to that. He knew the answer--it was no. He wasn't really ready to lose her all over again, but somehow he didn't think it could be any other way. He could feel all the old emotions clogging his head, and as good as it felt, it scared the hell out of him. But, they seemed to win out this time.

He placed a gentle hand on her cheek. "That's not what I want," he said. "But there's a lot in the way that will keep us from living happily ever after."

"Pacey, I just want to end this battle of wills," she sighed. "I don't want to hurt you."

"I don't want to hurt you either," he said. "It's just not that simple."

"I know that I made a mistake," she said. "I'd give anything to go back and fix it, but I can't do that. What I can do is not let this opportunity to be here with you pass me by."

"You have been with me," he said.

"Don't you understand, Pacey?" she asked. "I don't want you to fuck me, I want you to make love to me."

"There's no difference."

"There is a difference," she said. "Making love is slow and sweet and gentle. It's the warm caress of an arm, a gentle stroke of the hair. You're there with someone, and they feel like the only other person in the world. You try to drag every second out, hoping that it would last forever." She looked up at him, and for once she saw his eyes were less hardened. "I know, because I had that with you."

"It's not that simple anymore," he said, his words paining him. "That person is gone."

She moved a hand to his cheek, and forced him to look into her eyes. "Let me help find him."

Her touch sent chills down his spine, a reaction he had fought that still happened. "Do you know how hard it will be for me to let you do that?" he asked her.

"Yes," she said. "Trust me this time. I promise I won't fail you."

He wanted to believe her more that anything, and he could feel his guard slipping with every word, every touch.

"We don't have to live like this anymore, Pacey," she whispered. "We can be happy."

He shook his head in disbelief. Joey placed her fingers under his chin, and turned his face back to hers. "I know it's a huge thing for me to be asking you to even begin to let me in," she said. "But please . . . just trust me and try to let me in."

She stared back into his eyes and could see the pain and hurt they held. "Please," came her last plea.

He gingerly nodded his head.

She threw her arms around his neck, and held him tightly. Neither of them was sure what he was doing, but something about it felt right. If he was going to be miserable anyway, he might as well try to crawl from this hole he'd buried himself in. There was no where to go but up.

"How does it start?" he whispered in her ear. She pulled away, and he could see she was crying.

She smiled at him softly. "Like this," she said. She gently ran her hand along his cheek, and then kissed him softly on the lips.

He gently ran his thumbs along her cheekbones, wiping the tears away. "Don't cry," he whispered.

Placing her hand behind his neck, she just pulled him close, staying still for a moment. He ran a gentle hand through her hair, and let out a deep breath he felt he had been holding for years.

She kissed him again, gently on the lips. "Make love to me, Pacey," she whispered. She laced her fingers around his, and led him back inside.

Laying in the bed with her, feeling her soft kisses and gentle caresses, everything felt different.

She was right. There was a difference. He didn't know what had done it, but everything had changed that quickly. Right now, he wasn't thinking about ravaging her body, but was content by the soft caresses of her lips on his. He wanted to stay there forever.

Joey laid in the bed, secure in his arms. This was a different feeling, nostalgic in that she thought he would never let her go. His hand was playing with a strand of hair, as she rested her head on his chest, able to hear his heartbeat.

"Tell me what you have to go back to in the states," he said.

"Not very much," she answered.

"I doubt that," he mused. "I always imagined you working your ass off at college, and having a successful job--one where you wore pastel business suits and clicky heels."

"I'm a secretary," she said. "I do wear the clicky heels."


"After we got engaged, Dawson and I moved to L.A. Entry level stuff was all I could find," she said. "It's funny how you stay with someone so long you start to lose yourself." She took a deep breath. "Dawson was the only constant in my life. I didn't want to lose that."

"So you lost yourself?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "Joey Potter seemed to fade away more and more everyday, as she was slowly replaced by Josephine, the future Mrs. Dawson Leery."

"I don't think that Joey Potter is gone," Pacey said.

She looked up at him, running a finger along his chin. "For what it's worth, I don't think that Pacey Witter is gone either."

* * * * *

To Be Continued . . .

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