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Disclaimer: Characters and concept belong to Kevin Williamson and WB.
series is set immediately after the second season episode "Tamara's Return"
and goes off in a completely different direction. For once I have acknowledged
the existence of the McPhees. (Don't worry, I won't make a habit of it.)
One: Swimming with sharks
Pacey roamed the corridors of the highschool after last period, in search of anyone he knew to tell them about the beach party that night. Everyone was talking about it, excitement for the event creating such a buzz that the party itself would undoubtedly not live up to. Pacey didn’t care. Though there was no real reason for the beach party — holidays were still far away and midterms were looming — it was Friday and Pacey was ready for any excuse to celebrate the coming two days of freedom. He spotted Andie McPhee by her locker and a wicked grin broke out on his face.
"Well, if it isn’t Little Miss Perky herself. How goes it, McPhee?" Pacey settled into his usual sarcastic tone he liked to bait Andie with. Since he had found out about her little trip to Dawson’s house, he had taken to teasing her shamelessly. The truth was he didn’t know how else to react — it wasn’t every day he found out a beautiful girl was interested in him.
"Pacey Witter… Witter by name, not so witty by nature," Andie retorted lightly, but her expression was noticeably cheerier now he was there.
"I’m truly hurt," replied Pacey, his voice mournful. "And here I was about to ask what you were doing tonight…"
Andie blushed slightly and her eyes shined. "Why? What sadistic torture do you have in mind?"
"There’s a huge beach party on tonight, I thought maybe you’d want to come."
"Do you see anyone else asking?"
"Sure, I’ll try anything once," Andie smiled, secretly thrilled down to her patent leather shoes. She had been wondering if Pacey was ever going to get around to asking her out.
"Cool, a whole bunch of us are meeting up around eight down on the water front. I’ll see you there."
Pacey had sauntered off down the hallway before Andie even registered her disappointment at his casual comment. A whole bunch of us. A small frown creased her brow as she tossed a couple of books into her locker. So close and yet so far… Andie sighed and headed off for class.
* * *
Joey sat on the deck of the Icehouse, putting the finishing touches to a drawing for Laura Weston’s art class she had the next day. Jack was sitting opposite her filling salt shakers and watching her intently out of the corner of his eye. He was so distracted by her graceful fingers flying over the sketch pad that he had spilled an unlucky amount of salt on the table. Every now and then he would superstitiously fling some of it over his left shoulder to remove any curse that might befall him. Jack figured his life was cursed enough as it was.
Joey caught him staring at her and half-smiled, slightly embarrassed. "What?"
"Nothing," Jack replied hastily. "It’s looking good. Your use of shadow gives it real emotional depth. "
"Well, I don’t think it’s quite up to Jarvis’s standards yet, but thanks." Joey liked the fact that Jack seemed genuinely interested in her talent. It was something Dawson couldn’t be, even though he did try his best. There was something forced in the way her boyfriend complimented her on her work, whereas Jack’s comments were always thoughtful and sincere. She smiled at him again, this time with meaning.
"Hey you," a third voice sounded.
Joey turned around, momentarily startled, and saw Dawson approaching the table. Jack immediately ducked his head and was suddenly fascinated with the salt shaker in his hands.
"Hey, Dawson." As he bent to kiss her, Joey closed the sketch pad so he couldn’t see what she was doing. She had started doing it self-consciously, but she was beginning to realize she just didn’t want to include him in this part of her life.
"I see you’re run off you feet as usual," he teased gently, noting the smattering of patrons at the Icehouse.
"This is just the calm before the storm, right Jack?"
"Huh?" Jack muttered, not expecting Joey to even notice he was still there now that Dawson Leery had arrived. "Oh yeah, I guess."
Dawson looked pointedly at the guy, waiting for him to get the hint and give he and Joey some privacy. But Jack just continued to sit there with a slightly dazed look on his face. Dawson wondered to himself how Joey could stand to have such a dope working with her.
"Hey, Jack, you still on shift?" he asked.
"Can you get me a Coke, then? No ice."
A look flashed in Jack’s eyes but his expression did not change. He knew the request was really just Dawson’s none too subtle attempt to get rid of him. Jack pulled himself up from the seat and gathered up the salt shakers, only managing to spill one of them before he retreated inside.
Dawson watched him go with a satisfied smile on his face. He slid into the seat beside Joey. "Alone at last."
"Dawson, that was rude," she commented sharply. "You didn’t have to be so obvious about it."
"I’m sorry Joey, but the guy just bugs me," Dawson answered, still unfazed by her annoyance. He was in too good a mood to be concerned with the likes of Jack McPhee. "Listen, when do you think you could get off tonight? There’s some big beach party happening after eight. I thought maybe we could go if Bessie doesn’t need you too late."
Joey caught the hopeful tone in Dawson’s voice and forced herself to smile. She really had no desire to go to any beach party, not after the last time when she'd had too much to drink and made a fool of herself flirting with some guy. Beach parties were definitely not her scene, nor Dawson’s really. But Joey knew she hadn’t been spending enough time with her boyfriend of late, and that was probably why he was so keen to go out tonight. Joey had been too preoccupied with her new artistic skills and sorting out her own life to consider Dawson’s needs first. She admitted to herself that one night down at the beach wasn’t really too much to ask.
"Come on, Jo, Pacey and Andie are going, everyone’s going to be there…" he coaxed.
"I thought you were trying to talk me into this. That isn’t exactly going to swing it for me, Dawson." Joey’s tone was light-hearted, she’d already decided to agree to go.
"Please… We can’t go to your place or mine. We need to expand our social horizons."
"Well, if you put it that way… I’ll make sure Bessie lets me off in time. I’ll meet you down there when I finish up," she said as enthusiastically as possible.
"Great." Dawson grinned happily. Finally he would get to spend some time with her.
Jack returned then with the soda, the glass defiantly half-filled with ice. Dawson took one look at him and stood up, not bothering to remove the smile from his face.
"Here’s your order."
"Sorry, Jack, I gotta go. Why don’t you have it for me?" Giving Joey a quick kiss, he bounded off, already looking forward to that evening.
Joey waited until he was gone, then looked up at Jack apologetically. "Sorry about that, he’s just distracted by the idea of some stupid beach party tonight."
"You don’t need to apologize for him." Jack sighed and set the Coke down on the table. "Are you going to this thing too? I can cover for you here if you are."
"That’s okay, Sara’s supposed to be closing with Bessie anyway." Joey noticed the saddened look in Jack’s eyes and wondered why it was he always appeared so withdrawn and down. The only time she had seen him animated was at the art exhibit they had visited the week before. The rest of the time he seemed to exclude himself from social activities, and was even more anti-social than she was. Quite a feat, Joey thought to herself.
"Listen, Jack, why don’t you come too? Bessie won’t need you and it’ll be a good chance for you to meet some of Capeside’s wildlife. It’s an experience not to be missed, I assure you."
Jack pondered her words a moment. "What about Dawson? Somehow I don’t think he’ll take too kindly to me showing up."
"Don’t be silly, he won’t mind. Anyway, there’s a whole group of us going, including Pacey and your sister… You never know, you might even have some fun."
"At a beach party?" he said without conviction.
"Well, maybe not… But it’s better than hanging out here all night."
"Okay, I guess if you’re going…"
"Good." Joey smiled at him and gathered up her sketch pad and pencils. "I’ll go and break the news to Bessie."
On her way inside to the kitchen she was stopped by an impatient clicking of fingers.
"Oh, waitress!" came the annoyingly patronizing vice of Abby Morgan. "A little service if you don’t mind."
Joey frowned and swallowed back the biting retort on the tip of her tongue. Abby was one person who had always rubbed her up the wrong way, and she despised the girl. But she was supposed to be working after all.
"Can I take your order?" she asked as sweetly as her loathing would allow.
"Do you have anything on this menu that isn’t swimming in grease?" Abby tone was disdainful.
"Why, are you watching your figure? Probably a good idea… How about sucking on a lemon?"
"I’ll just take a cappuccino… assuming this excuse for a restaurant serves cappuccino," Abby bit back. "And don’t burn the milk."
"Coming right up," Joey muttered under her breath. She took the order inside before she said or did something she would regret.
Abby had a self-satisfied smirk on her face as she watched Joey go, but then the expression faded when she spied Jen Lindley walking towards her. Abby hardened her glare and her mouth.
Since her failed seduction of Dawson, Jen had been avoiding him at all costs, spending all of her time with Abby. But now her friend was annoyed with her because of the marina guy, Vincent. Abby had set her sights on the good looking older man, but he had been interested in Jen, a fact which had not pleased Abby Morgan at all. Now she was refusing to speak to her, and Jen was determined to try and smooth things over. She had realized that Abby was her only friend now, apart from her grandmother. Jen didn’t want to lose the one person who’d been even remotely nice to her lately, even if she did have a questionable personality.
Abby was sitting at the table surrounded by shopping bags. No doubt her plan to defraud more allowance from her parents had worked, Jen thought. She noticed Abby’s eyes sour when she saw her, but she stood her ground nonetheless, insisting on being acknowledged.
"Well, if it isn’t the man stealer," Abby said sarcastically, provoked by the innocent expression on Jen’s face. "Come to continue your work? Sorry, I seem to have run out of admirers for you to seduce."
"Abby, I came to apologize. I’m not interested in Vincent, and I wasn’t trying to steal him away from you," Jen answered, tired of saying sorry for something she didn’t do. But if it meant getting her friend back, she was willing to do it.
"You certainly did a good impression of it down at the marina."
"I didn’t do anything! He was the one who hit on me."
"Whatever," said Abby dismissively. "He’s all yours, I don’t care."
"I don’t want him, I want my friend back… Abby, you’re the only friend I have in this dump and I’m not going to let some stupid guy come between us."
Abby thought about this for a moment before a small smile appeared on her lips. She didn’t like to admit it, but Jen was the only friend she had too. Abby couldn’t understand it, but she wasn’t popular with her peers — not the females ones anyway. She just assumed they were jealous of her, and had decided she didn’t need any of them. But Abby realized she did like having a girlfriend, someone to gossip and shop with, someone she could scandalize with her impure thoughts and schemes. Abby wanted her friend back too.
"He was a bit of a no-brainer, wasn’t he?" she ventured. "If only he didn’t look so good without a shirt on…"
"You could do a lot better."
"Yeah." Abby’s smile increased and she leant back in her chair.
"Friends?" Jen asked hopefully.
"Good," Jen sighed with relief. She took a seat at the table beside Abby.
"So, what’s been happening with your little Dawson project? Still lusting after the film nerd?"
"A big zip, that’s what’s been happening. He’s been pretending he doesn’t even know who I am since I went over to his house that night to work on our econ assignment." Jen’s spirits dropped immediately at the mention of Dawson, and the way she had shamelessly thrown herself at him. She wouldn’t have been ashamed about it, but he had turned her down cold. The rejection still stung.
"The poor, deluded boy," Abby commented, looking over her shoulder at Joey who was inside the restaurant taking another order. "I still don’t know what you see in that guy. But the fact he is with that trailer trash Joey Potter instead of you is something we’re going to have to rectify."
"I think I should just forget about it, Abby. Dawson’s in love with her," Jen conceded.
"Correction, Dawson thinks he is in love with her. You just need to change his mind. What is this defeat I hear in your voice? What happened to Jen Lindley, wild girl of New York City?"
"I don’t know…"
"Are you going to the beach party tonight?"
"I wasn’t planning to."
"Well, now we are," said Abby decisively. Her eyes twinkled as she started formulating a plan. "I just overheard your beloved Mr Leery ask his witch of a girlfriend if she wanted to go. Maybe tonight is the night…"
"I doubt it."
"That’s not the attitude to have, Jen," she said with an exasperated sigh. "You have to get out of this negative mind set. I’ve told you before… Make-it-happen."
"But he’s taking Joey. I don’t need to spend an evening watching the two of them attached at the hip."
"Are you going to let the Ice Maiden stand in your way? Jen, you’re a sex-kitten and she is a repressed control freak. If you were a red-blooded adolescent, who would you choose?"
Jen didn’t answer immediately, thinking conspiratorially.
"Besides, she just did a very good job of convincing that waiter guy over there to go with them. I smell trouble in paradise…" Abby’s eyes gleamed with the hint of a challenge — just the chance to mess with somebody’s life held great appeal for her. "You’ll never know if you don’t try."
Jen’s mouth twitched with the hint of a smile. Abby’s anticipation was infectious, and she felt herself being persuaded once again by her scheming friend.
"Beach party here we come," she said decisively.
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