Just between friends
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Nine: A room with a view

"Pacey, you do realize what this means, don’t you?" Dawson sighed as he stretched out on Doug’s — now Pacey’s — couch, making himself at home. "No parents, no rules, an awesome bachelor pad at your disposal. Parties, women, total rebellion—"

"Sorry to disappoint you, D, not in this lifetime." Pacey set down a pile of books on the coffee table and nudged Dawson’s feet off the sofa.

"What are you talking about? This is what we’ve been waiting for!" Dawson couldn’t believe Pacey’s blasé attitude when he had no parental supervision and his own apartment. It was only a small one-bedroom flat but the possibilities were still promising.

"I have to study, okay? I’ve got a pile of catching up to do and two extra credit projects due. Plus I start work at the Icehouse tomorrow, so my back’s against the wall here, buddy."

Dawson huffed in disgust. His friend had had this place for a week and so far all they’d done is have an impromptu movie night with Jen and Joey. It didn’t make any sense. He knew Pacey was trying to turn things around for himself at school and would need to take on extra part time work to pay his bills, but it seemed to Dawson they could have at least one party… He looked expectantly at Pacey again but he had already opened his biology book and was ignoring him pointedly.

"Okay, okay, I’m going. But let me just say I’m very disappointed in you, young man. You make a mockery of the teenage credo."

"Bye, Dawson," Pacey said, not looking up from his book. But he smiled when his friend sighed sadly again and closed the door behind him.

Finally, some peace. Pacey glanced around the apartment contentedly. Things were still a little disorganized with a lot of Doug’s stuff lying around in boxes, but all in all things were shaping up for him quite nicely. His dad had been excruciatingly polite to him on the few occasions they saw each other, even offering to help move some furniture in. Pacey wondered what kind of blackmail threat Doug had used to ensure their father would let him move out so easily. The emancipation papers had been signed without protest and Pacey had a social worker assigned to him who wasn’t too bad. Things would be fine so long as he kept up a reasonable grade point average and was able to take care of himself. Pacey had never felt so at peace with himself — or so free.

He smiled again when he heard a soft knock at the door, knowing exactly who it was.

"Come in, Jo," he called. She appeared in the doorway, a mischievous smile on her face.

"How’d you know it was me and not some female groupie?" she grinned, coming in and dropping her knapsack on the table.

"‘Cause they’re not due ‘til four," he replied, checking his watch. "Plenty of time."

She rolled her eyes and sat on the sofa next to him, pulling out her school books. "So, where’d we get up to yesterday?"

"Um, chapter five," he murmured, watching her carefully. When she finished fishing for her books she noticed he was staring at her.


"Before we start working on bio, can we talk about something?"

"Sure." Joey wondered why he was being so serious all of a sudden. He seemed almost nervous, she realized.

"I have something I want to give you."

Now she was really intrigued and, to her dismay, a little unsettled. "Okay."

Pacey smiled at her and paused. A similar smile began to creep over her face as she became nervous as well. Before Joey could become too curious, Pacey finally thrust a small, flat box into her hand.


"What is it?" she grinned.

"I hate when people ask you that when you give them something. Just open it."

Joey pulled off the crude string that held the box together and pulled the lid off. Inside was a shiny new key. She look up and met Pacey’s eyes, unsure what to think.

"It’s nothing untoward, I promise," Pacey explained hastily, seeing the confusion in her countenance. "I just wanted to do something to thank you for everything you’ve done for me—"


"No, let me finish, Jo. You’ve been such a great friend to me since all this happened. You’re helping me pull my grades up and got me the job at the Icehouse. I just needed to do something to show my gratitude. But apart from buying you a ticket to New York City or Los Angeles or wherever, there’s not much I could think of that you could use while we’re still stuck at highschool. So, in the meantime, before we get out of here, I have decided to christen this sofa the Official Joey Potter Memorial Couch. It is to be used by said honoree whenever she needs to escape the screaming fits of her beloved nephew, or the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements at her best friend’s house."

Joey was surprised, but touched by the gesture. She didn’t know what to say.

"The way I see it, this place is my sanctuary. So I thought, why can’t it be yours as well?" he said carefully, in case she was to misinterpret his meaning. "My intentions are honorable, I assure you. I just wanted you to have your own key so you can come and go as you please."

"Thanks, Pacey, I love it," she replied finally, throwing her arms around his neck.

"Good," he said, a little embarrassed now. The less said, the better. With a small smirk, he picked up his notes and suggested they get started on some work. "Oh, I finished the snail report. Ready for your perusal and approval, Ms. Potter."

"Thank you, Mr. Witter," Joey answered, their joking mood restored. She glanced over his scrawling handwriting and was surprised to see the report wasn’t half bad.

"Now we’ve just to think of a snappy title," Pacey continued. "I know you nixed my previous attempts to capture the imagination of a nation with our brilliant scientific findings, but I’ll throw some ideas for a title into the ring… I’m thinking along the lines of ‘Snail Order Bride’."

Joey groaned and thumped him with a cushion.

"Oh, you don’t like that?" he cried, arming himself with a pillow too. "All right then, genius, you think of something!"

She laughed, her eyes flashing wildly as he prepared to pounce on her with the cushion. She was choking back the giggles as he pretended to time her, counting down the seconds before he would dish out her punishment.

"Okay, okay… ‘You’ve Got Snail.’"

"Judges?" Pacey questioned the air, before making the noise of a penalty buzzer. "Oh, I’m sorry, that bites."

"‘Snail to the Chief!’?" she gasped, backing away from his threatening pillow. " How about ‘Snails from the Crypt’?"

"Three strikes! That’s it, you’re out." Pacey unleashed a barrage of wild swings and she collapsed on the floor, laughing uncontrollably. Their study would have to wait.


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