10 Years Past

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, well, ok, the one's you don't recognize, belong to me. You can use them (i can't imagine why you'd want to) but please ask first.

Josephine Potter-Layson looked at the sign on the highway and took the exit that led her to Capeside, Massachusetts. Biting her lip, she thought about her current destination. She hadn't been back to her childhood home in years, and was only returning now for Grams' funeral. The thought brought tears to her eyes. Grams gone. This brought on another sigh. Turning again on the road she drove into the center of town. Her breath caught as she felt herself pulled back in time. Practically nothing had changed. When she saw her sister's restaurant, the sign The Bess, proudly hanging over the door, she smiled. Pushing open the front door, Joey looked around. The place was huge. Bessie's back was facing the door and she turned when the door bells jingled. A look of pure delight crossed her features.

"Jo!" She threw down the dish towel she'd been wiping down a table with and dashed towards her younger sister. She hugged Joey tightly. Joey's arms hung by her sides limply. Slowly, she lifted up a hand to Bessie's arm. The action caused Bessie to squeeze tighter.

"Oh God, Jo, how long's been? Five years at least." She snapped her fingers. "Oh that's right! At the wedding! How is um...I'm sorry hun, I can't remember his name." Her voice lowered a tad, and she began whispering to herself. "Your artist was Walker, the journalist was Paul, the new husband was...Peter! How is Peter?" Joey visibly stiffened, and looked down at her hand where a wedding ring should be.

"We're in the process of getting a divorce. He served me papers last month. I can't say I was surprised. I was going to do it myself, he just got to it first." Bessie was taken aback by the tone of her younger sister's voice, but didn't say anything.

"Oh. I'm sorry." She murmured. She wiped her hands on the white apron she was wearing. "Well where's your stuff? I'm sure your tired from the flight and the drive, I'll have Body take you home with the new speedboat." Joey looked at her sister cooly, and Bessie couldn't help but wonder just how her sister's sparkle had disappeared. Joey fingered the string of pearls at her neck.

"Oh Bess, it's alright. You needn't put yourself out. I have reservations at a hotel." Bessie's eyes widened. "After all, I won't be staying here all that long. I'm flying out after the...after the funeral tomorrow afternoon." Bessie stared at her openly, causing Joey to look nervously from side to side.

"Now look here Jo, you're just going to have to cancel your reservations. You haven't been back in almost ten years and I'd like to spend the little time we have together, together." Joey frowned. For a moment Bessie saw beneath the cool outer exterior.

"I don't..." She trailed off. "Well, the thing is..." That didn't work either. "You see..." Try as she might, Joey couldn't find a plausible excuse for not staying with Bessie.

"No matter what you say or who you pretend to be, you're from here as much you might want to erase your past. Now you've made something of yourself-and that's great, but not matter how aristocratic you may seem, this is your home." Joey shook her head.

"No it's not. Not anymore. I-I'm-my home is in New York." She sighed. Tears were coming. Was there any wonder she hated this place?

"And who loves you in New York Jo? Who takes care of you?" Joey stiffened.

"I don't need taking care of." Joey spat back coldly, through clenched teeth. Bessie's eyebrows rose.

"Really? Is that why you've been married and divorced twi...three times? Because you can take care of yourself? Or do you think so because you have a large apartment and fancy clothes?" She stopped for a moment and shook her head sadly. "Go, Jo. I'll see you at the funeral. After that who knows. Maybe at your next wedding." With those parting words Bessie turned back to the counter. Joey pushed open the door and walked out into the sunlight, and without thinking crashed straight into Pacey Witter.

"Well excuse me Ma'am. I didn't see you coming. My apologies-I must really be out of it not to notice a lady so-Joey?!" Startled, Joey idly looked up at him.

"Josephine." She corrected out of habit. Pacey looked her up and down. Her hair was pulled up in a tight chignon, and she wore a silk men's suit. It had been cut down for her especially, and showed all the right curves. She wore no shirt underneath, but a black tie over it. She'd deemed it appropriate the night before when packing for the disastrous trip home. Now, she wished she'd picked out something more...common.

"Well, Josephine how have you been?" He asked tilting his head slightly to the side.

"Fine thank you. And you...?" She purposely trailed off letting him think she'd forgotten his name. It didn't faze him.

"Just great actually. I own my own pub in Boston now, and my own house." Joey nodded. Why would she care? Why did she care? What was it about Capeside that made her think, say, and do all these crazy things?

"Well that's um...good-nice. It was nice to see you again. Good day." She tried to push past him, but he grabbed her arm.

"What about a cup of coffee for an old friend? My treat?" Joey opened her mouth to say no. All her instincts told her to, but the word that popped out of her mouth though not warmly said, was in the affirmative.

"Alright."

Five minutes later they were seated in Carla's Coffee Cup, a new shop in Capeside but apparently quite the tourist trap.

"So," Pacey had asked. "You're in town for the funeral." Joey nodded taking a sip of her large black coffee. He nodded back. "Me too, though I must say I still spend a lot of time in Capeside. I help out Mrs. Leery when i'm here. But not you! How many years has it been since you've been back? You look so different." The comment, whether it was meant as complement or insult didn't faze her.

"Ten years." She replied her tone cool. She bit her lip. Her tone was always cool. It had been for a time. When was the last time she'd actually laughed? Pacey snapped his fingers.

"That's right! I read about your wedding. I saved the clip too, you being an old friend and all." Joey frowned. She cleared her throat and took another sip of her coffee.

"Which one?" She asked under her breath.

"What?" He asked loudly. So loudly in fact that people turned to stare at them.

"Which one?" She asked again, not meeting his gaze. "Which wedding?" Pacey's eyes widened a bit. She could see the cranks working in his head.

"Oh it was about 5 years ago I think. Bessie went, right?" Joey frowned. The mood between them was so tense. For a split second she wished that things were different. They weren't of course, and she snapped out of her reveri angrily. "Have you gotten married again since then?" He asked. Joey shook her head no.

"Twice before though." She muttered wondering why she was giving him all of this information. Pacey's eyes widened again. He swallowed and stared at her incredulously.

"Twice before you were 24, and then even before that?" Joey nodded slowly taking another sip of her coffee. Did he really want to hear the story? How long had it been since someone had actually listened to her talk?

"It's not important. Nothing scandalous or anything." Pacey's brows lifted saying nothing that she did could be construed as scandalous. She sighed.

"First there was Walker. He was amazing. From Ireland. We actually got married so he could stay in the states."

"What happened?" Pacey asked scratching his chin.

"He's gay." He bit his lip to keep from laughing. "We're still good friends though."

"Who was next?" He asked. Why did he care? It felt horrible having her past indiscretions thrown in his face.

"Paul was next. We weren't together for long. We were married in Vegas. It was a shotgun wedding." Pacey's eye brows rose.

"A shotgun wedding huh? What happened?" Joey rolled her eyes.

"I was just out of college-literally. Some friends and I were down in Vegas and that's where Paul and I met. Well, he bought me a drink at the hotel bar. We were got drunk that we thought it would be fun to get married." Pacey nodded slowly, taking time to let her words sink in.

"So, what happened? Why aren't you still married to Mr. Shotgun?" He asked. Joey rolled her eyes at him. She cleared her throat quietly.

"He was engaged to someone else...she was pregnant." Pacey bit his lip to keep from letting his mouth fall open. He put his hand down on her arm. She visibly stiffened from the contact. Pacey cleared his throat again.

"Do I dare ask about wedding number three?" He asked trying to lighten the mood. Joey sighed.

"Number three is the least interesting," she began, her voice as back to its aristocratic haughtiness. "Peter and I had the perfect courtship, the perfect wedding, the perfect life." Pacey was listening intently. Mixed with that aristocratic haughtiness was deep sorrow.

"If everything was perfect where is he?" Joey inhaled sharply and she shivered.

"Peter served me divorce papers last month. He's marrying his 22 year old secretary in Bali in three weeks. They're expecting their first child about a month after that." She finished her coffee and stirred the contents with her index finger. Pacey sighed and looked at Joey, really looked at her. On the surface she seemed the epitome of coolness and professionalism. He saw underneath the facade though, he'd always been able to. She was sad and alone and lonely. He put his hands down on hers and held them. It seemed so natural just to hold her. Almost like old times. All of a sudden Joey looked down at her watch and jumped up.

"I-I I have to go. I'm sorry I took up so much of your time." She ran out forgetting her purse. Sighing and throwing a few bills on the table Pacey grabbed Joey's purse and followed.

"Jo," He said a few moments later when he caught her coming back in through the door. "I think this belongs to you." He handed her her purse and she grabbed it quickly.

"Thank you." She replied. She bit her lip uncomfortably. He was looking at her again.

"Jo," he began. "Would you go to dinner with me tomorrow?" Joey couldn't breath. Dinner? Tomorrow? With Pacey?

"The funeral's tomorrow." She replied. Some of the light disappeared from his eyes, and he nodded grimly.

"That's right. When do you leave to go back to New York?" He asked. "Tomorrow night. Right after the funeral." She responded. Pacey nodded, then smiled.

"I guess our coffee will have to suffice after all." The words were meant to rattle her, but a look at Joey's face showed that she was millions of miles away. "Jo?" Pacey breathed, softly touching her cheek. She looked up at him the dazed look still shining in her eyes.

"Did she suffer?" Her voice seemed much younger. All of her defenses were down as she looked at him.

"Not very much. It was a very quick illness. She was diagnosed on a Wednesday and died the following one." Joey shuddered. Tears were forming in her eyes.

"I didn't even get to say goodbye. I talked to her every week, you know. Haven't talked to Jen in years but I talked to her grandmother every week as if she were my own." Her voice sounded detached. Very young and detached. As though she were watching this happen to someone else.

"She felt like my grandmother too. I went to see her every Sunday afternoon and took her to her rose garden. Winter or summer, rain or shine she loved spending my visit there." Joey but her lip to keep from crying out. The tears had spilled out onto her cheeks and her mascara ran.

"I can't believe she's really gone." Were her last words before she collapsed into Pacey's arms and let the tears flow.

"Shhh, Jo." He smoothed down her hair and wiped away her tears. Joey realized with a start that they were embracing in broad daylight, on a street corner. She tried to get out of his grasp but he wouldn't let her go.

"Pacey," She whispered her voice desperate. "Anyone can see." Abruptly he let her go.

"I'm sorry for letting you display such a public display of affection." He replied his tone cool. "I have to go back to work. I guess I'll see you tomorrow." He nodded curtly at her and walked away. Joey sighed and turned back to her car.

"We are gathered here today to remember the memory of a wonderful woman. It is a tragedy to lose Evelyn Ryan," he had to stop for a moment to wipe his eyes. "But her suffering has ceased. She is in Heaven now and she will forever be remembered." The priest closed the bible he was holding and nodded grimly at the people in attendance. Joey stood and smoothed down the front of her dress. Wiping her eyes she sniffed a little bit and walked towards the casket which was being lowered. Dropping the daisy she'd been holding she turned and began walking away.

"Joey?" Joey stiffened when she heard the voice. Jen. Slowly she turned around and her eyes widened. Jen had completely changed. Her hair was dark- almost back which suited the black outfit and eyeliner she wore. Her eyes were rimmed in red and she was sniffing.

"I-I'm so sorry. I loved her too." She leaned forward and touched Jen's arm. Jen stiffened.

"Thank you." She murmured distractedly. When she walked away Joey couldn't help but noticing a drastic weight change. Biting her lip to keep from disrespectfully laughing out loud, Joey once again turned to walk towards her car. She heard her name being spoken yet again. Turning around she steeled herself for a confrontation, but saw only Jack McPhee. With a sigh of relief she threw herself into his arms.

"God Jack, New York missed you." She mumbled squeezing him tightly. Jack laughed and squeezed closer. He kissed her forehead as they began walking towards the car again.

"Ms. Josephine is that your warped way of saying you missed me?" He asked. Joey nodded and yawned.

"Mmmhmm. There was no food in the morning. No coffee. No company on my way to work. Those were the hardest three weeks I've ever spent." Jack smiled, but after a moment his smile dimmed.

"I had to come back she..." he trailed off for a moment trying to regain his composure. "You understand don't you Joey?" She nodded reassuringly, and tears brimmed in her eyes.

"I should've come. I couldn't get away from work. I didn't know she was that sick." Jack wrapped his arms around her and she cried on his chest. Walking by Pacey felt a pang of jealousy that Joey could cry into Jack's arms but not his.

"Joey?" Joey and Jack turned to see Dawson Leery walking towards them.

"Hi, Dawson." She let him kiss her cheek and then took a step back.

"Joey it's so good to see you. It's been years." Joey nodded, and wondered what could have possibly attracted her to this man.

"Yes it has." She smiled kindly, pitying Dawson just a bit. He nodded at Jack.

"Did you get my e-mail?" He asked his voice practically dropping to a whisper. Jack nodded, clamping his teeth down on his lip to keep from laughing.

"Yes. I'm supposed to pick up our tuxes at from Ducky's tomorrow at 1." Joey nodded along with them, a look of confusion crossing her features.

"Tuxes for what?" she asked. Shivering slightly in the cold. Out of habit Jack's arm rounded her shoulders. Dawson blushed slightly. Then he said something unintelligible. "What?" She asked. Jack bit his lip again.

"Dawson would you like to tell her or should I?" Jack asked. Joey frowned and looked between the two of them.

"Tell me what?" She asked. Jack looked down. Joey, though a calm, professional woman, stomped on Jack's toe with her high heeled pump. "Tell me what?" She demanded. Jack looked at Dawson sheepishly. "One of you, spill."

"I'm getting married on Saturday." A look of delight crossed Joey's face and she rushed forward and gave him a hug.

"Congratulations. To whom?" She asked feeling extremely sheepish. It felt strange asking him-as if she should know. Which was strange in and of itself because she hadn't seen Dawson in ten years.

"Jen." He coughed the word and two spots of pink appeared at the tops of his cheeks. Joey smiled.

"Congratulations. I'm so happy for you two." Dawson breathed a sigh of relief. Jack squeezed her arm slightly and Joey nodded. They began turning away when Dawson said,

"I'll see you at the dinner tonight." He paused for a moment and said to Joey, "You're invited too of course Joey." Joey started to protest, but then she noticed Pacey walking by with his arm around the shoulders of a pretty young girl. Pacey nodded at Dawson.

"See you at the rehearsal tonight Daws." Pacey said, and frowned to himself as he passed by Joey. She was lost in thought.

"Joey? Can you make it tonight?" Joey's eyes snapped to attention. She bit her lip.

"Sure. I mean I'd love to." She dimpled one last time at Dawson and led Jack out of the parking lot. Pacey frowned.

"Jack, what do I wear to a rehearsal dinner?" Jack gave her a questioning look.

"Jo, you're not getting married, so what does it matter?" Joey tossed him an evil glare.

"Jack, I haven't seen these people in years. I want to look presentable." Jack rolled his eyes at her.

"Joey you always look presentable." Jack rolled his eyes at her and she rolled her eyes right back.

"Jack-"

"Joey-" They looked at each other fiercely for a moment then burst into laughter. Jack wrapped his arm Joey's shoulders, and squeezed.

"Joey could this urge for an outfit be springing from the looks I saw you giving Pacey Witter all throughout the service?" Joey's mouth fell open and little tears appeared in her eyes.

"I was-I was-I was not looking at Pacey Witter during the funeral."