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"No brain bimbos!"

"Huh?"

"They have to be! Why else would they be giving Pacey of all people, the time of day?"

"Joey, have you ever looked at Pacey? I mean really looked at him?" Jen asked.

"I've had to put up with his ugly mug most of my life. Why would I want to take a closer look?"

"Well, if you did you might realize that he's actually quite cute."

"Pacey?" Joey looked over to where Pacey was conversing with a couple of giggling Barbie lookalikes.

"He's tall, dark, has a nice physique. On top of that he's quick-witted, funny and, quite sexy."

Joey guffawed. "Jen, you've lost it. Seriously."

"And, seriously? He could charm the pants off any girl if he set his mind to it - even an English school teacher."

Joey's jaw dropped. "You don't actually believe that rumor, do you? You know what a braggart Pacey is!"

"Why else do you think those girls are even giving him the time of day?"

"Uh, their brains are in their boobs?"

"While a lot of kids are giving him hell for trying to pass off as truth that he could even come near to scoring with a hot older woman like Miss Jacobs, there are some wondering if it could be true, and that if it is true, then what does Pacey Witter have that could hold the attention of an older woman like that."

Joey shook her head with disbelief. "What do you think?" Joey's eyes were trained on Jen's, who grinned widely.

"Oh, I think it's true. Most definitely."

"Jen!"

"You can easily find out you know. There's one person who knows the truth-"

"I am not asking Pacey if he's screwed his English teacher!"

Jen rolled her eyes. "I'm talking about Dawson! If anyone can confirm it, it'll be Pacey's closest friend - who also happens to be your closest friend."

"Not that I'm really interested in knowing anything about Pacey's sex life. I don't even know why we're discussing this!"

"Because you're as curious as the rest of us girls to know what Pacey has in his pants to hold Miss Jacobs attention." Jen laughed hysterically at Joey's red face.

"I don't even want to think about Pacey's pants, much less what he's got in them. Eww, Jen you deserve to die a thousand deaths for putting such a visual in my head!"

"So I take it Pacey's charm doesn't work on you?"

"What charm?" Joey snorted.

"So you're immune to it?"

"Pacey doesn't practice his charm on me."

"Of course not, not for real, but hasn't he ever managed to sweet talk you into doing something that he wants?"

"No!"

"Hmm, you turned up to Cliff's barbecue with Pacey, didn't you?"

"Ye-es"

"He asked you, I presume?"

"Yes, but-"

"Okay, so when Pacey asked you to go to Cliff's barbecue with him what did you say?"

Dawning realization flooded Joey's face and she began to scowl. "I said no."

"What did you say the second and third time he asked you?"

"Undoubtedly no and no again."

"Tell me again who you went to Cliff's party with?"

"Pacey." Joey sighed, dramatically, then suddenly shot an aggrieved look at Jen. "In my defense that was more to do with another reason. Pacey does not have an easy time getting round me." She caught Jen's dubious expression which quickly disappeared with a clearing of her throat. "Anyway, what do you mean, of course he wouldn't practice his charm on me? What's wrong with me?"

"Nothing's wrong with you, but aren't you two arch enemies or something like that?"

"Something like that, yes."

"And no offence Joey, although you don't seem to see it, I think you're gorgeous, but I doubt Pacey even really sees you as a-"

"Woman?"

"Girl, even." Jen looked as apologetic as she could.

"I thought that was Dawson's misfortune." Joey muttered. And Jen looked a little discomforted for a second, but Joey continued, blithely. "All it means Jen, is that I haven't been lumped in the same bracket as the boy mad, air-heads that Pacey drools over! And that suits me fine. Life is good." She smiled widely, but couldn't resist a glance back at Pacey who was now walking out the school doors with the two blondes on his arm.

 

**************

"Jen said the funniest thing yesterday." Joey shook her head with amused disbelief. She was perched on the windowsill of Dawson's bedroom window.

"What?"

"She actually believes there's something in this Pacey and Miss Jacob's scandal! Can you believe that?"

Dawson averted his face, switching the TV on. "Uh, well, Pacey's riding the crest of a pretty big backlash to this 'scandal.’ So I'm sure she's in the minority."

"But this is Pacey we're talking about. The one who only ever seems to have sex on the brain." She watched Dawson's face carefully. "It was only a matter of time before his fantasies in league with his big mouth got him into trouble."

"That's a bit harsh, Jo."

She shot him a dubious look. "Dawson, you have to admit he's reaping the rewards of his own - "

"Joey, come on." He turned away from the speculative gleam in her eye.

"Do you think it's true?"

"Is what true?" he hedged.

"You know what."

"Since when have you cared about what Pacey gets up to?" he sighed with the knowledge that Joey had the bit between her teeth with no intention of letting go.

"Actually, I had a very sympathetic chat with Pacey yesterday before my baby nephew was almost born on your lawn. We bonded over the disturbing similarities we have in our lives. A dysfunctional family life, being the butt of scandalous gossip. But that doesn't answer my question, Dawson." She stood and advanced into the room, raising her eyebrows in anticipation and folding her arms.

"What question?"

"Dawson! This is me. Joey, your best friend."

"Pacey's my best friend, too."

"He didn't share your bed most nights till he was fifteen."

"Oh, please." Dawson guffawed.

She tapped her foot impatiently, then dropped down on the bed beside him, looking earnestly into his face.

"Is it?"

Dawson sighed heavily, switching the TV off. He sat up. "Does the phrase, 'throbbing neck muscles' mean anything to you?"

"Yyyyeaahhhh." She drew the word out warily. She had secretly admired those neck muscles accidentally caught on Dawson’s film at the ruins.

"That was Pacey - and Miss Jacobs on the video tape."

Joey stared, her mouth dropping open, her eyes rounding wide. "Are you kidding me, Dawson?"

"Don't you remember Pacey freaking out when I mentioned it at lunch a few days ago? You thought he was just being his usual, annoyingly horny self. But when I got home later that evening from work he was almost trashing my room searching for it. That's when he told me it was true."

"Pacey and Miss Jacobs," she murmured.

"And I didn't believe him when he indignantly insisted that she was flirting with him when she first came into the video store weeks ago."

"What else has he told you about her?"

"Nothing. He was here tonight, not long before you turned up. He did talk about her, but he didn't go into detail. He never has. I'll tell you this much. It wasn't all about sex. I get the impression that this thing with her went fairly deep for him. He's made himself the ridicule of the whole school to ensure she didn't get into trouble. It's definitely over though. She told him yesterday that she'd given in her resignation leaving Capeside. In fact, she's probably left by now."

Joey nodded, still trying to get her head around the idea of Pacey having an affair with his English teacher.

"Why would - okay, I can see why Pacey would go there. She's the stuff of schoolboy wet dreams, right? But what was her motive? A mature, responsible woman in a position of authority - "

"You mean what did she see in Pacey?"

Joey felt inexplicably embarrassed and shrugged nonchalantly. "Well, I mean, Pacey Witter. Cocky, arrogant, horny, annoying Pacey Witter. I mean, couldn't she see all he was interested in was losing his virginity in the best kind of schoolboy fantasy possible?"

"Don't ask me. What man can understand the workings of the female mind?"

"Ha! Funny!"

"Why don't you ask Jen?"

"Um, hmm, anyway, I'm beat." She stood up and stretched. "Not that I get much sleep tonight, I'm sure."

"How is the little man?"

"You haven't heard him all the way across the creek? He's loud! Very loud." Joey scowled, but grinned as she said, 'but cute! Mrs Ryan was great yesterday, wasn't she?"

"Oh yeah, would you have in a million years expected Mrs Ryan of all people to deliver your nephew?"

They chuckled.

"I'm glad it was her. She's not so stern really, is she?"

"Nah."

"See ya, later!" She called over her shoulder as she exited through the usual window route.

"Bye Joey."

As she made her way back to the dock she noticed a lone figure sitting at the end of it. Pacey.

Pacey glanced up at her as she appeared beside him, but said nothing whn she sat down. She studied his face as he gazed out over the creek. The moon was full enough to illuminate them and the water. He looked...very sad. His lips pressed together, their corners down turned. Joey felt a funny twist in the region of her heart. He had been down when they spoke yesterday, but this quiet, brooding Pacey unnerved her. She wasn't sure she knew how to handle a Pacey that wasn't giving her a hard time.

"So what you doing out here?"

"Thinking."

"About what?" she asked hesitantly.

"You don't have to pretend to be interested, Jo."

"Pacey!"

He looked at her and saw the hurt in her face. He turned back to the water.

"About her,' he sighed, 'I was walking along the beach, but the sea was too noisy and too near to her house, so I swung by Dawson's and then decided to sit out here for a bit. It's quiet, peaceful. I wanted to think about her for awhile before closing the lid on that box forever."

"You really liked her, didn't you?" Joey asked softly.

"I'm not all about sex you know." He threw a wry smile her way. "Oh, it might have been about that in the beginning, but after the-the first time I didn't expect to feel so-so overwhelmed. And so fucking lucky that this beautiful, incredibly sexy woman wanted me. Me. Pacey Witter. When she looked at me, she saw straight through to the real me." His breath hitched as the words tumbled out of his mouth in a rush."Not a fuck up, not a loser, but someone worthy of her time and care and affection. You know?"

He looked for Joey's reaction and response and she nodded, sympathetically, slightly enthralled to hear the way Pacey was talking, opening up to her, displaying his raw emotions. Her eyes were trained on his. She wanted him to see she was taking him seriously and listening intently and understanding every word.

"Oh, I'm not stupid,' he continued, looking out across the creek, 'I knew it couldn't last forever, but I so wanted it, too." He exhaled deeply, and Joey saw the tears brimming in his eyes and trickle down his face. She looked down at his clasped hands in his lap, tempted to cover them with hers, but she and Pacey didn't have that kind of friendship.

"When I saw her yesterday I was hoping...but she told me she had given up her job and leaving Capeside. I can't say I blame her. I fucked up. If I'd just kept my big mouth shut she'd still be here. We'd still be together. Instead I had to say good-bye to her."

"It wasn't your fault, Pacey. All you did was talk to Dawson."

"It was my fault! Like she said, the only stipulation of our relationship was to keep my mouth shut and I couldn't even do that! I shouldn't have said anything - not even to Dawson. Who knew that freaking tattle tale Danny Murphy would be hiding in the toilets! Now she's gone!" He clenched his hands into fists. "I wanted one last night with her," he whispered, looking off into the dark, his voice so low Joey strained to hear him. "When she hugged me I could smell her hair and the perfume on her skin against her neck. I'll never feel her body against mine again.” He drew in a shaky breath. “It was bittersweet. I'll never ever regret what I had with Tammy. Never."

He seemed to come to himself and turned back to Joey. He laughed a little self-consciously.

"It sounds like it was a very special relationship."

"Come on, Joey you know you don't approve. She was my teacher!"

"Well, you're right, I don't exactly approve, but who am I to judge? And it doesn't take away what you both felt for each other. It was obviously something very special. At least you got to experience that with her."

"He'll open his eyes one day, Joey."

She eyed him warily. "I don't know what you mean,' she muttered, glancing away.

Pacey was silent, but his gaze was intent on her. Slowly she turned back to face him looking extremely embarrassed. His gaze flickered all over her face and he smiled faintly.

"What?" she scowled. Had she allowed some bitterness to creep into her voice?

"He must be completely blind,” he murmured.

"W-why?" The warmth in his eyes was making her stomach do funny flip flops and she couldn't tear her eyes away from his.

"You're smart, Jo. Intelligent. And intelligent women? Very sexy! And you're witty. You almost rival me. Almost!" A light-heartedness had returned to his voice.

"W-what-?"

"And you have big, expressive eyes that change color all the time depending on your mood. I can see everything in your eyes, Joey."

"Pacey-"

His eyes grazed her mouth and he raised an eyebrow.

"You've got that funny lopsided smiley thing you do which is actually very cute! Even your perpetual scowl has its charm." He grinned at her, very amused by her round-eyed stare. Then his tone became low and husky as he tried to convey to her that he wasn't joking. "That's why. That's why he's blind. How can Dawson look at you and not see how beautiful you are?"

He said it like it was a simple clear truth. Joey drew in a sharp breath and her eyes expressed her disbelief, but he held her gaze, willing her to believe him. This town was only big enough to house one loser.

"Don't worry, Jo. He'll get a clue one day."

Joey shook her head, breaking their gaze. She laughed, a little, her cheeks flushed. She slid a sly look at him, shyly.

"Why are you saying all of this? You're the one who needed cheering up. Not me."

"Maybe I just wanted to return the favor. Because you have made me feel better, Joey. Just by letting me talk. Just by listening."

"Considering the adversarial relationship we have I'm surprised you confided in me."

"So am I. I guess I needed to let it all out after all. Besides, don't forget the bonding session we shared yesterday. I appreciate your concern, Jo."

"Ah, it's nothing,' she dismissed, casually, 'as long as we get back to our regular scheduled program tomorrow."

He held up his right hand and assumed a solemn look. "This conversation never happened. I did not confess to being jail bait or crying tears that stained my manliness."

"Ahh, ammunition..."

"Don't even think about it."

She giggled. Then sobered up. "Is the box closed now?" she asked.

He nodded. "I think so. Time to go back to my regular extracurricular activities!"

"Porno videos and chex mix?"

Pacey grabbed hold of Joey and rigorously began tickling her. She squealed, falling back on the dock in her attempts to get away, begging him to stop.

He did so, slumping back against the dock next to her as he did so, as they got their breath back. "You see that Potter? I have my own arsenal of weapons against you and I'm not afraid to use 'em!"

He heaved himself up on his side, supported by his elbow as he looked down on her. She tried her best scowl on him, but couldn't hold it, despite his smug smile.

"What on earth do Cindy and Tara see in you?"

"Who?"

Joey rolled her eyes. "You don't even remember their names! I'm talking about the walking boobs you went out the school doors with yesterday! One on each arm."

"Of course, I remember their names. And Joey? There's no need to be jealous. You have great boobs, too!" He smirked.

Joey's mouth fell open and she struggled up to smack him on the arm. "Pacey! I am not - oh! - I cannot believe-" She was speechless.

Pacey fell back against the dock again his body shaking with laughter. "Oh, Joey."

"Besides, mine aren't as big as theirs!" She pouted.

"They don't have to be big to be nice,' he assured her, looking straight at them, which earned him another smack.

"I cannot believe I'm discussing breasts with Pacey Witter."

He sniggered and then sighed heavily, staring up at the night sky. "Nothing happened with Cindy and Tara. Their sudden interest in me would have been welcomed at one time, but...well, you know."

"Yeah." They were silent for a minute or so.

"Well, I guess I better get home." Pacey said, his voice tinged with reluctance.

"You sound eager."

"That transparent, huh?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Yeah, well, even though nobody's there, I'm not really looking forward to going home."

"Where are your folks?"

"Dad's working all night and the rest are out of town. Besides, I'm not really sleepy."

Joey jumped to her feet and threw out a hand to Pacey. "Come on."

He peered at her hand and frowned. "What?"

"Come on, get up." He accepted her help and got to his feet, looked at her expectantly.

"As much as I adore my little nephew, he has huge lungs, so I'm certainly not going to get much sleep tonight and seeing as you're not sleepy and the Witter clan are away..."

"Yeah..."

"I'm coming over to yours,' she declared. "There must be something fun to do at the Witter household."

"Porno vids and chex mix?" He raised his eyebrows and smiled widely.

Joey narrowed her eyes meanly and poked him in the chest with her finger. "I was thinking more a movie and popcorn, actually."

"That's what I just said! Pornos and chex mix!"

"No!"

Pacey pouted adoringly, but couldn't hide the grin as he turned around and headed back up the dock. "Okay, we'll play your games first!"

Joey grinned to herself as she followed him, suddenly remembering, with a certain smug satisfaction, that Jen was wrong. Pacey had noticed she was a girl. He'd noticed a lot about her, in fact - and that made her feel good. Very good.

She ran up to him, shoving him to one side. "Whatever other games you're thinking of, you can keep them just where they are - in your dreams!"

"Joey Potter, you are just no fun! You need to hang out with me more. I'll learn ya!" He slung an arm around her shoulders pulling her close. Joey accepted the closeness for a second or two before poking him in the ribs and shoving him away.

"Don't push your luck, Witter! I've got a mean left hook!"

"Oooh, baby, how'd you know I like that kinda stuff? You really know how to turn a guy on!" He dodged Joey's fist and ran away from her. She gave chase, giggling. Dawson ducked his head out of his window, hearing the commotion, watching the two of them run past. They waved up at him and he shook his head, waving back, smiling faintly before going back to watch his movie.

"Potter, you run like a girl!

"Witter, when I catch up with you, you're a dead man!"

The End
(Nov 2002)