Disclaimer: All right, so here's the deal. Everything Dawson's Creek and Roswell
is copyright the WB television network and various
other people. Infringement is really, really not intended. Storyline is all
mine, backstory is theirs, title is from Albert Camus' book of
the same name, I think it fits...
Summary: Pacey Witter is forced to move to Roswell, New Mexico. Everything changes with locale.
Category: After Hours
Authors Note: Feedback: I want it. I need it. Please send me your validation or I will shrivel up and die a horrible and miserable death. Whaddaya think?
|"Pacey!!! Could you come downstairs, please?" The sound of Pacey Witter's
mother's voice carried through the house, wafting over
him as he sat on the edge of his bed, fingers running furiously over the
"One second, Mom!" He called out, never taking his eyes from the screen. When a moment of breathing space availed itself, he pressed pause and walked down to his mother in the kitchen. He was caught off-guard by the sight of his father, out of uniform for a change, standing behind where Mrs. Witter sat at the kitchen table.
"Hey?" He said inquisitively. "What's up? Is everything all right?" Pacey searched his mind for something that he could have done to warrant his father's presence in the house, without police gear on, on a Saturday afternoon. Nothing came, nothing at all.
"Sit down, Pacey." His father motioned to the chair opposite his wife's as Pacey stared at her. She gave him nothing, zip, zilch; he got nervous. Whatever this was, it was big. Pacey hadn't seen this kind of tension since, well... ever.
"Honey... your father quit his job today." Pacey's mouth hit the floor. What the hell is going on here? Are we living in some kind of alternative universe?
"Pacey, your mother and I have talked this over and I've been offered a job across country, in New Mexico. I've decided to take it. We leave in a week." Just like John Witter to drop a bomb like this without blinking an eye.
The shock refused to register. Pacey felt the blood drain from his face and his mouth collecting dust under the kitchen table. How could they do this without consulting him? How could they simply up and move him just a week into his senior year? His mind swam.
"But... But, Pop... I just started my senior year, I can't move now. I don't want to go..." He knew that his voice had regressed to that of a six-year-old's, but suddenly he felt like one. No decisions of his own, completely at the mercy of his parents. "I'm almost 18, I'll stay here." He tried to sound as if he'd pulled it together, but it still came out as almost a whimper.
"Oh, sweetie... your father and I think that this will be a good move for all of us. And even though you're almost old enough to decide for yourself, we want you with us. Our family needs to stick together right now." There were the beginnings of tears in his mother's eyes as she thought about her oldest son, Doug.
Deputy Doug Witter had been shot in a robbery just a month prior, and everyday had been difficult to get through for the Witter family. He had been called to the scene of a routine robbery on a silent alarm, and when he'd arrived and come through the grocery door, the assailant had turned and in one motion, emptied his gun into Doug's chest. He'd hardly had time to get off a shot himself before he'd fallen to the tiles, dead. This was a small town, he wasn't wearing a vest. John Witter, Chief of Capeside Police, was devastated, he blamed himself.
"We're moving and that's it. Get to packing, kid." Ever the hard-ass, Pacey knew that his father was hurting but would never show it. He would never admit that Doug's death had made his job, his life even, unbearable in Capeside.
Doug had always been his father's favorite. The prodigal son, the one to take over the family legacy and become a cop, just like every other man in the Witter family. Pacey and his father had never been close, but at least over the past few years they had reached a sort of balance in their relationship. It could even be looked at as a mutual respect. They'd gotten through their differences and it had made the dynamic between father and son less tumultuous. At the very least, they treated each other like human beings now.
Pacey stood and left the kitchen fogged in a haze of disbelief.
"You're kidding me, right? You can't actually be moving to Roswell, that's that alleged UFO crash place in the middle of the desert, right? Jeez, Pacey..." Jennifer Lindley sat next to Pacey on his right, looking surprised and irritated.
Pacey had gathered his friends together to tell them the horrible news all at once. He didn't think that he could explain everything too many times without getting overly emotional.
"Yeah..." He took a deep breath and exhaled it with a long sigh, "I wish this was some cruel prank. I keep hoping that I'll wake up and find out that it's just a nightmare or a practical joke, or something... but, evidently, Roswell lost their Sheriff and my father put in for the job. It's a done deal. I'm gone on Thursday morning, oh-seven-hundred."
The wheels were turning in Dawson Leery's head, obviously trying to come up with some sort of alternative. With Pacey moving clear across the states, Dawson would be left with only the girls around him. They were all very close friends, but Pacey was Dawson's main source of male bonding, they had been friends for as long as either of them could remember. He would still have Jack to keep him company, but he didn't really count, and they had never been all that friendly.
"Pace--How about this? My dad and I have the spare room, you could move in with us for the rest of the year. They've got to go for it. You'd be "supervised", have somewhere to stay, and you'd be able to finish school in Capeside. Mitch would have no problem with it." Dawson's words flew at a mile a minute, as if he had it all sussed out from the start.
Pacey smiled tenderly at his best friend. "Thanks, D. You know that means a lot to me, and I wish that staying behind was an option, I really do. But, with the girls spread out across the country and Doug, well... you know... I'm all they have left. I've got to go with them."
Joey Potter hadn't said a word since Pacey had told them. No glib quips, no obnoxious banter, just thick silence. The look on her face told volumes, though. Another person that she loved was going to leave her. She should have known, they always did.
"I have to go back to work, my lunch break is over in five minutes," she said in monotone, leaving the cafe without looking back.
"She'll be all right, Pacey. You know how she gets." Jen's eyes followed Joey's quick and steady gait towards the marina where she worked, waiting tables at yet another Yacht Club eatery. Pacey looked at his hands folded on the table. Even though he'd gone over this scene over and over since his parents had broken the news, he'd never once realized how difficult it would actually be. He loved his friends; they were everything to him.
"Hey, Jo..." Pacey stepped out from behind his brother's car, his car, and walked towards Joey as she left work. They had not spoken in three days, ever since she had walked away from them at the cafe. Pacey first thought that leaving her alone was the best thing for both of them, they didn't need the added drama in what was already a bizarre relationship. She would come to him when she was ready, he'd thought, but then she hadn't. And time was running out. He was leaving in less than twenty-four hours. The goodbyes had already been said, hugs exchanged, boxes packed and shipped, and no Joey. There was no way in hell that he was going to leave without resolution.
"I figured it out, Jailbait. Your parents finally found out that you're an alien and they're returning you to the rest of your people." She smiled that crooked half-smile of hers and hoisted herself onto the hood of the Jeep.
"Yup, you've got it all sussed, Potter. When I go home, I climb into my pod, shed this tight, human skin, and turn into a little, slimy, green guy." He leaned his elbows on her knees and rested his chin on his hands, looking up at Joey.
"This sucks, Pacey."
"Yeah... I know..."
Scooting up next to her on the hood, they sat quietly for a moment, watching the moon glow across the water and thinking. Their relationship was so strange to both of them, filled with subtext and codependency. They leaned on each other when things got rough and helped pick each other up. It would be difficult for both of them to be so far apart. Especially now, when they'd gotten so close.
He looped his arm over her shoulder and pulled her into him.
"Whaddaya say we go get drunk, Potter?"
"Sounds terrific. Your liquor cabinet or mine?" She slid off the hood and hopped into the passenger seat of the Jeep. Pacey joined her behind the wheel and pulled a bottle of Herradura from a paper bag.
"Mine." Tires screeching, they headed off back to Pacey's house, to the clearing at the edge of the backyard where they spent quality time together.
A couple of hours had passed. Thoroughly tanked, Joey leaned across Pacey for the half-empty bottle of tequila he was hoarding. He snatched it from her hands.
"How're you planning on getting home? You're too drunk to walk," he murmured in a jumble of intoxication.
He rolled over to face her. "You're not?"
"Nope." She looked at him with intoxicated indignance. "Not goin' home. No drivin', no movin'. Stayin'" She nodded her head sharply, punctuating each work obstinately. Pacey simply stared at her. What was this girl getting at?
"Yup?" Flopping onto her back, she stared up through the boughs of the huge oak tree they lay under in the grass. Pacey passed her back the bottle and she put it to her lips, excess tequila that didn't make it into her mouth slid down her jaw. Pacey wiped at it with the side of his thumb. An innocent gesture. One he'd made a half-million times.
"You wanna stay here tonight? You wanna stay at my house? With me; at my house, with me?"
"Well, all right, then." Glad that's settled. Pacey cocked his head towards her, trying to see into her mind and read what precisely she was saying. There were times when he had thought of her romantically, even times when he'd fallen head over heels in love with her, but they had always remained friends. Only friends. Pacey made no moves beyond the failed kisses sophomore and junior years, and he'd assumed that she wasn't really looking for them.
Josephine Potter's tortured sexual subtext was reserved for the boy next door, Dawson Leery. Pacey's best friend. Keeping all of this in perspective, Pacey kept his hands, and his heart, to himself. So, again, what the hell was she getting at? Pacey decided it was best to just follow her lead. Nothing really mattered anymore. He was leaving town in seven hours and in a year, they would all be spread around the country, in college, growing up and moving on with their lives.
"I don't wantcha t'go..." Joey slurred, pouting.
"I know... I don't wanna go, but I really have no choice in the matter, I gotta..." He slid his arm under her neck and pulled her in closer.
She rolled in towards him and rested her head on his chest. "I know... but I still don't wantcha to..." And then she kissed him. Her lips were soft, they tasted of tequila and lime juice, her tongue snaked out from between them and played at his closed mouth. How could he not open up to her and allow her entrance? He accepted her kiss and deepened it, Joey climbed over him, and straddled his legs.
When they breathlessly parted, she rolled back to her prescribed spot on the grass and lifted the bottle again. "I always wanted to know what that would be like..."
"It was nice, just like I thought it would be."
"And are you finished?" He just wanted to be kept abreast of the situation, is all.
Joey shrugged, taking another swig off the bottle and passing it back to Pacey. "I dunno... should I be?"
"I don't know," He rolled onto his stomach to look at her. Closed eyes, lips moist and parted, her hair fanned out on the grass, he wanted her to kiss him again. But, he had the rest of the night to go forward with anything. He could wait, he'd waited this long even though he hadn't known until this moment what he'd been waiting for. She opened her eyes and his face was just inches from hers, his chin resting on the flat of her chest.
"You're leaving in the morning... And who knows when the next time we'll see each other will be..."
Pacey nodded his head. If she kept going on like this, he was pretty sure he was going to cry. And he really didn't want anyone to see him like that. Not even Joey. Not even if she cried first, which looked inevitable. She wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him. Her voice was barely a whisper, "I don't wantcha t'go... I love you, Pacey."
And she did love him and he loved her, and it wasn't necessarily a romantic kind of love, but it was something that they were both going to miss in a really big way. If spending Pacey's last night in Capeside came down to them fooling around or whatever, maybe it would make them feel like they never missed out on anything together. He kissed her again. This time more persistent, with more hunger, and with more desperation.
Pacey's alarm went off at four-thirty in the morning, shaking him rudely from his sleep. Slapping the off button he turned to the sleeping body beside him and pressed his face into her hair, breathing deeply. His head was pounding and he felt like crap, but a headache couldn't stop this day from starting. He just wanted to slow it down for a minute. Joey turned into him and nuzzled her lips into the curve of his neck, nipping at his skin and rubbing against him.
"You're a really good lay... How come you never told me what a good lay you were?" Her tongue slithered across his chin and into his mouth.
"It never really came up in conversation, Potter." Kissing her back, sucking her tongue between his teeth, running his hands up her sides to her breasts. They had spent the entire night in each other's arms. From Pacey's kiss outside, they had barely made it into the house and to Pacey's barren bedroom before she'd gotten his clothes off. It had sobered them more than they thought it would, making love all night, falling asleep only an hour or two before the alarm came to rip the sleep from them.
And there they were.
"One more time, Potter, for old time's sake?" He lifted her buttocks and pulled her onto him again, feeling her close around him like a vice, her arms wound around his neck, his hands guiding her on him as her back arched and her hair brushed his ankles.
And then he was gone.
Crossing the country, following his family in the Jeep through miles of America, places he had no time to see as he sped through tiny towns and huge cities. This was his first time seeing most of the country and it was flying by him too fast. Every six places or so, his father would wave him off the highway and they would eat in some diner type place. Pacey would call her, and they would whisper how much it really did hurt to be apart like this. He called Dawson, and Dawson said the same. Friends should be together.
They slept in small motels, their packed cars parked outside the window.
It takes five days to drive across the country if you stop a million times and sleep in tiny motels. Roswell, New Mexico. It's smaller than Capeside.
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