Disclaimer: Characters and concept belong to Kevin Williamson and WB.
Note: This is a sequel to "Just Between Friends" and draws upon events from the series.
It Happened One Night cont'd
They strolled along Bailey's Wharf after dinner, watching the twinkling lights from the moored yachts in the marina dancing on the rippling water. They could hear music coming from the boats, forming a strange collaborative melody of indistinguishable tunes. Pacey and Joey walked in a companionable silence, both enjoying the warm breeze and the enchantment of the evening too much to spoil it with words. Too caught up in their own thoughts anyway, they drifted along the pier until they reached its end. Staring out over the water, they heard the faint strains of a love song drifting across the creek.
My love must be a kind of blind love
I can’t see anyone but you
Joey smiled when she recognized the tune. "‘I Only Have Eyes For You’," she whispered almost to herself.
Pacey looked at her in surprise. "Excuse me?"
Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright
"The song. It was my mom’s favorite. My dad used to sing it to her when they first met."
The moon may be high
But I can’t see a thing in the sky
I only have eyes for you…
You are here and so am I
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you
The song finished but Joey still stared nostalgically across the glimmering water. Pacey watched her, entranced by her beauty as the light reflected off the creek and onto her face and arms. He was suddenly struck by how much he loved her. He would have given anything to reach out and touch her cheek gently, to pull her into his arms and tell her exactly how he felt. But once again he stopped himself. He just stared dumbly at her and wondered if he would ever be able to overcome his fear. If she rejected him like she had three years ago, he knew in his heart it would spoil their friendship. To lose that would be the worst possible thing he could imagine.
Pacey forgot he was still gazing at her, but Joey had stopped looking at the water and had noticed his stare. She smiled at him with a confused expression, and for a moment he thought she could see the truth written all over his face. But then she just nudged him good-naturedly in the ribs and grinned. She treated him like her old pal Pacey, and nothing more.
"It’s getting pretty late," he managed to say as he overcame his disappointment. It was a familiar task he had learned long ago.
"Wouldn’t want to turn into a pumpkin." Joey hoped to get him to smile, but she wasn’t quite successful. "Thank you for tonight, Pacey, it was wonderful. It really meant a lot to me."
She hugged him firmly, resting her cheek on his chest. Pacey shut his eyes as he fought his usual urges and wrapped his arms around her. Joey sighed contentedly as she listened to the comforting beat of his heart, and was lulled by the rhythmical thud. She could have stayed in his arms for hours, but he abruptly pulled away from her.
"Your chariot awaits, milady," he said gallantly, offering her his arm.
"Thank you, kind sir." She was glad to see his bright mood had returned. But even though his words were light, Joey could still see a strangely distant look in his eyes that remained as they headed back to the truck.
* * *
They arrived back at Joey’s house, and Pacey brought the truck to a gentle stop. They sat there in silence for a moment, neither wanting the night to end. Joey could see that Bessie’s bedroom light was still on, and the curtains twitched as her sister peered out to check who had just driven into their yard. She withdrew from the window discreetly when she saw it was them. Joey was thankful for it — the last thing she needed was round two of Bessie’s meddling. She glanced over at Pacey who was still sitting with his hands on the steering wheel, biting his bottom lip nervously.
"Well, thanks for dinner, Pace," she said, trying to evoke some sort of response from him.
"Huh? Oh, you’re welcome." When she made a move for the door handle he saw that she thought it was all over. "Oh, wait, let me do that."
Pacey quickly jumped out of the truck and sped around to her side so he could open the door for her.
"How chivalrous you are this evening," she said jokingly, taking his proffered hand.
"Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do — see to your door and wish you a pleasant evening?" he grinned.
"Maybe, if this was a date." Joey had said the words in jest, but Pacey’s face fell as they walked to her porch.
He realized he had been right all along. Joey would never see him as anything more than a friend. Pacey thought he had done everything but get down on his knees and declare his undying love for her, and she still only saw him as her best friend. He was annoyed he had set himself up for another fall. He was crazy even to think the night could end any other way.
Joey saw his disappointment and she immediately felt guilty. She hadn’t meant the words to come out the way they had. She was so confused over the whole night that she barely knew what she was thinking, let alone saying. She didn't want to hurt Pacey, but this evening had reminded her just how different things were between them and it made her nervous. She didn’t know quite what they meant to each other, but even Joey recognized it went beyond simple friendship. She looked into his captivating eyes now, so naked with emotion that they seemed to swallow her up.
"What I meant was, um—" Joey licked her lips nervously, unable to stop staring at him. "If it was a date we’d have to go through that whole goodnight kiss trauma… I mean, ‘Will he kiss me? Won’t he kiss me? If he won’t, why not?… Should I kiss him?’"
Joey’s voice trailed off, her dark eyes searching his own. With a start, Pacey realized she wasn’t speaking hypothetically — she was talking about them. The look of surprise was not lost on Joey, and before she could talk herself out of it she leant in quickly and pressed her lips to his own. She kissed him softly and withdrew her face slowly so as to prolong the moment, enjoying the lingering feeling of his warm breath on her cheek. When she looked into his eyes again, a blush stole across her face. Joey opened her mouth to stammer some kind of excuse, but finding none, she just smiled ever so slightly at him.
Pacey frowned as he stared back at her, unsure how to respond or react. The kiss had taken them both by surprise and he was fearful she regretted it. But as she looked intently at him now, the faint smile still on her lips, Pacey let himself hope again. She had kissed him, she had instigated the entire thing. His heart swelled with the notion that she too felt the intimacy between them that seemed to hang tangibly in the air. Pacey reached out and ran his thumb across her cheek, feeling the exhilaratingly flushed skin.
For once in his life, Pacey didn’t doubt himself. He didn’t listen to the voice inside his head that told him she wasn’t being serious, that she didn’t care about him at all, that this was a huge mistake. He silenced all of those thoughts and just concentrated on Joey’s face before him and the surge of love he felt for her. Without even contemplating the consequences, he kissed her back, allowing his longing for her to finally surface. In that one kiss he revealed exactly how he felt about her, how much he had loved her for so long.
Joey was dizzy in his embrace, never having felt such a passionate declaration of love. She felt frozen in time, the kiss seemed to go on forever. It was only when they heard the telephone ring inside the house that they both pulled away, slightly embarrassed. The real world had intruded and the moment was gone. Joey stared at him with new eyes as she tried to get her breath back. She had no idea what she could say that would not spoil the intimate moment they had shared. Pacey seemed just as unsure of himself and they just stood there in silence.
Pacey would eventually say something, he had to. He had to tell her exactly what was in his heart if she was to ever appreciate how much she meant to him. He had practiced the words over and over in his mind for several years, but now to his dismay he was tongue-tied. All the eloquent phrases he had devised, the romantic utterings of a love-sick teenager, were now redundant. They didn’t mean anything in light of what had just happened between them. But she was standing there so expectantly, and he forced himself to open his mouth.
Before the words came out however, they were interrupted by quick footsteps in the house and then Bessie suddenly appeared on the porch. She threw open the door and stopped awkwardly, seeing how close Joey and Pacey were standing.
"Oops, sorry," she murmured. Joey blushed crimson and took a step back from Pacey. Bessie frowned in apology. "Um, Pacey, there’s a phone call for you. It’s your mother."
"My mother?" Pacey stammered, wondering why on earth she was ringing him here. 'Why here of all places, but more importantly, why now?' he moaned silently. He was about to tell the woman of his dreams how much he loved her and his mother was calling?
"I think it’s important."
Joey glanced quickly at Pacey and the worried look that suddenly appeared in his eyes. She knew he was concerned about leaving his mom alone with his father after he moved out. Though Mr Witter had never been violent with his wife or daughters, Joey knew he was the kind of leopard that could easily change its spots. She followed him up the steps as he stalked into the living room and over to the phone. Bessie and Joey waited in the corner as he picked it up and began speaking.
"Mom?" he said sharply. As he listened to her at the other end, Joey frantically searched his face for any indication that something was wrong. Pacey stood there silently with the phone to his ear, not revealing anything. After a long minute he began responding. "When?… … What did they say?… … Okay… … I’m coming now."
Pacey turned away from Joey and her sister and set the receiver back in its cradle. He took a deep breath before he could face them again. Joey could contain herself no longer and she walked up behind him, her voice fearful.
"Pacey, what is it?"
He turned around, his face still composed if a little stunned. He saw how worried Joey was and tried to smile, but he wasn’t able to. "My father," he said dully. "He had a heart attack tonight… he’s in the hospital in Hyannis."
Joey heard Bessie gasp in the corner, but she wasn’t sure what she should say herself. She didn’t know what Pacey needed to hear. This was his father, a man he reviled. She looked at him helplessly, ashamed she did not know how to react.
"They don’t think he’s going to make it," Pacey continued in a voice devoid of all emotion. He stood there silently, trying to work out what it meant, and what he was supposed to do now. "I have to go to the hospital."
"I’m coming with you," Joey said automatically. She wrapped her hand around his and looked over at Bessie. Her sister nodded back in a silent understanding.
Joey and Pacey walked back outside towards the truck. Pacey seemed lost in his own world and he barely noticed she was there. He started the truck in auto-pilot, not actively concentrating on the task at hand. He was too absorbed in his own muddled thoughts to recognize the familiarity of the scene. The sense of déjà vu was not lost on Joey however. They were driving towards Hyannis Hospital together once more, just as they had when Doug was beaten by his father almost three years ago. It was the same night Joey had gotten her first glimpse at what Pacey's life was really like, and it was the night that brought them together as friends.
The only thing Joey didn't know was, what were they to each other now?