A life less ordinary
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Thirteen: Shine

Find some inspiration,
It's deep down inside of you.
Amend your situation,
Your whole life is ahead of you.

("True Reflections", Dave Matthews Band)

Pacey was smiling as his father packed his last bag into the back of their car. After four months, he was finally going home. He turned in his wheelchair and saw the line of staff waiting to say goodbye to him. Pacey smiled at them, and knew he would never be able to repay their many kindnesses to him, or thank them for looking after him for so long. 

He hugged and shook hands with a number of the staff including Emma Bradshaw and his other doctors, Jason and Doris… and then there was Annie. Pacey stopped in front of her, not wanting to say goodbye.

"Don't you go getting all mushy on me now, kid," Annie joked, but deep down she was sad to see him go. "I'll be seeing you around anyway."

"Okay, I'll see you Annie." Pacey smiled, grateful that he would still be able to talk to her. The months to come would be filled with new challenges like going back to school and adjusting to life in the real world. Pacey didn't delude himself that he would not need Annie to help him through these transitions. 

Annie winked and chucked him under the chin. "You get going now."

Pacey did his occupational therapist proud as he got himself into the back seat of the car without his parents' help. Mr Witter looked just as proud as he folded the wheelchair up and put it in the back of the car. Pacey turned and waved to everyone as they drove towards the hospital gates, suddenly sad to think he would no longer be seeing those special people every day. Once they had left the hospital grounds, he turned around and face the open road, breathing calmly. He was really going home.

Beside him, Joey reached out and held his hand. She knew this wasn't easy for him, but he was putting on a brave face. Pacey looked over at her and smiled, glad she was there for him. He was going to need all of them over the coming months.

They arrived back at the Witters' house in good time, and Pacey looked with wonder at the house he had grown up in. Everything was just the same, save the new ramp that lead up to the front porch. Pacey knew his father had spent months modifying the house to accommodate his wheelchair. They had built a special bedroom for him on the ground floor that looked out over the creek. Pacey had seen all of the photographs and now he was excited to be seeing it all for himself. He was glad to be home.

"Now, I still have to fix some gripping tape on this ramp, but it's sturdy," Pacey's father explained as he approached the ramp for the first time.

"It looks good, Pop," said Pacey, grinning at him. 

Mr Witter nodded and mussed his son's hair that had begun to grow to its normal length.

"Come on in and see your room… you should see what we've got in the new downstairs bathroom too…" Mr Witter said proudly, rushing up the ramp to hold the door open for Pacey.

Joey smiled with Mrs Witter as they followed father and son into the house. They spent the next hour exploring the modifications and getting Pacey settled into his new room. By the time it was all done Pacey was tired, and Joey took it as her cue to leave.

"I'd better get going, school tomorrow," she said.

"I'll see Joey out," Pacey piped up so he could be alone with her for a moment. His parents tactfully retreated to the living room and let them be. 

"It'll be good to have you back at school next month," Joey ventured once they had gotten outside.

"Except in the meantime I have a mountain of work to catch up on," Pacey said with a groan.

"Oh well, I think I know someone who might be willing to tutor you…"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah." Joey grinned. 

"I might just take you up on that, Potter."

"Good." Joey looked at her feet as silence fell between them. "So, I guess I should get going… Welcome home, Pacey."

"Thanks." He stopped at the foot of the ramp. Joey began to walk away. "Hey Jo?"

"Yeah?" She turned around to face him.

"I just wanted to say…" Pacey began awkwardly. "Um, I just wanted to tell you how much you helped me while I was in the hospital. I don't think I could have gotten through it without you."

Joey smiled softly, but she didn't need Pacey's thanks. She got her reward ten times over whenever she looked at him now, living his life properly once more. 

Mrs Witter appeared on the porch then, and cleared her throat to get Pacey's attention.

"Son? Andie's on the phone for you."

"Thanks, mom." Pacey looked back at Joey who was still standing there. 

She smiled at him, broader this time. She was glad Pacey and Andie had become friends. He might bemoan her unfailingly perky behavior, but Joey knew that Andie was good for him. She made him happy, even if he didn't like to admit it. And that was enough for Joey.

"You better get in there," she ordered with mock authority.

"Okay. I'll see you around, Jo."

"See you, Pacey."

He pushed himself back up the ramp and into the house. Joey sighed quietly and looked out over the creek. The water was glistening in the sunlight and a cool breeze touched her cheek. Joey looked around her and was suddenly overwhelmed with such a sense of happiness. She smiled to herself and headed for home.


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