A Matter of Convenience, Chapter 11

A/N:  This is it.  I'm sorry it took so long and I hope you enjoy the last chapter.  I'm pretty much disappearing from the DC world after this, but if you are interested in my writing, in general, I have a fanfic and original board called Gumboot Mafia:    There is a lot of good stuff up there, so I would recommend checking it out.  If not, well, I hope you liked the story and thank you for your feedback.

The Last Chapter:

Guests she'd never met where arriving and Joey's errant husband-of-convenience had still not arrived from work.

Honestly, what did one have to do for so long at a Dance Club during the day?  It was barely seven.

Plus, the fact that he had not had the grace to be present for her mood swings today was highly unappreciated.  Pacey was the one doing this to her, dammit, so he should at least have the decency to show up!

"Joey, you here?" Jack poked his head in the kitchen.

Joey smiled in relief, "Someone under forty, thank god!"

"That bad?" he laughed.

"This is going to be such a nightmare," she murmured, leaning against his chest for comfort.

He chuckled, hugging her.  "It'll be okay, Jo, nothing can go wrong today."

"What's got you so happy?" she mumbled grouchily against his chest, unwilling to let go and face the reality of the dinner situation.

"I have to tell Jen about it first or she'll kill me."

On any other day, Joey would have stepped back to look at him, but she didn't want to move, it was too traumatizing, "She'll kill you anyway, just tell."

"Perceptive call, but I couldn't be the amazing guy I was if I couldn't keep a secret."

Joey rolled her eyes and pulled away.

**

It didn't bother him that just as he got home, his wife was involved in a long embrace with another man.  Pacey didn't at all want to take Jack into the next room and smash his face against the wall.  That would have been a fit of ridiculous, jealous rage.

And Pacey was above that sort of thing.

"Hands off my woman, McPhee," he punched Jack playfully.

"Ow," Jack muttered, rubbing his shoulder.

Joey rolled her eyes, "About time we saw you, is Jen here yet?"

"Yeah, they just pulled up…I didn't know Jen knew Drue."

"Drue?" she swallowed, looking at the door, "She brought DRUE?"

Pacey winced, "Yeah, I'm sorry…but I didn't know what I could say about it."

"It's fine," Joey shook her head, groaning.

***

What else could possibly go wrong?  Her ex-boyfriend's parents were in her house, not knowing that she and her husband weren't ACTUALLY together, though…the thought didn't sound nearly as bad as it once had.

And here was Drue, who was already suspicious of them, coming in to crash the party.

Perfect.

What else could go wrong?

There was a knock on the door and Gayle rushed to let Jen, CJ and Drue in the door.

Gayle smiled in delight, "Well, won't this be fun!  Kind of a multi-generational gathering!"

Joey cringed:  The death knell of any party.

"I expect to have just a splendid time, Mrs. Leery," Jen threw a smirk at Joey as she introduced her male friends.  "This is my friend, Drue…and my boyfriend, CJ."

"Knock, knock!  Gayle, I'm not late yet, am I?" a voice called out from beyond Joey's friends.

"Tamara!  No, come right in!"

A striking woman in her early forties entered the room and Joey heard Pacey swear under his breath.

***

Joey turned to look at him and Pacey tried to force himself to calm down.  To relax.

There was no way she could look at Tamara and know she'd been the one to deflower him all those years ago.  And even if she could, it had no bearing on the situation.

They weren't together then.

Not…that they were together now, either, of course.  For they weren't.  He didn't care if she knew about his youthful indiscretions, in fact, he could just tell her about it right now.

But on the off chance that she harbored some kind of vague respect for him, he kept his mouth shut. 

It could only hurt his case, after all.

Tamara's eyes turned to him and he knew the second she recognized him, for the blood drained from her face.  "P-Pacey?"

"You know each other?" Gayle exclaimed in delight.

Pacey cleared his throat, "Ms. Jacobs was my English teacher back in the day."

"An apt pupil, I'm sure," Gayle smiled.

Jack smirked, "That's one word for it."

Turning a murderous gaze on his friend, Pacey's threatened the fires of hell.

"Slacker, were you, Pace?" Jen raised an eyebrow in his direction.  She knew, damn Jack, but at least she didn't feel the need to bring it up right this second.

"Wait…" Joey's eyes narrowed on Pacey and then flew to Jen, "What grade was this?"

"Who can remember that far back?" Pacey shrugged nervously.

"What grade do you teach, Ms. Jacobs?" Joey smiled at her guest.

"Tenth grade, isn't it?" Gayle gave her friend a brilliant smile, "Let's all take a seat in the dining room, shall we?  The Witters have such a lovely view."

***

Drue looked between Pacey and Joey, to the retreating figure with Mrs. Leery.

The dinner was looking more exciting by the second.

***

As they sat down, Joey's irritation with Pacey as she recalled the interesting story she'd heard from Dawson was taking a back seat to the contemplative look on Drue's face.

He was far too sharp for comfort and the situation was nerve wracking enough.

"So, when do we break out the wedding pictures?" he smirked at her as they all sat at the dining room table.

"Oh, yes, dear, we should all see those!" Gayle grinned at Joey.

"We haven't gotten them back yet," Pacey shrugged, "Or we'd love to show you."

Gayle nodded in understanding, "Well, call me when you get them, I'd love to see your dress!  Is it here?"

It was, of course, upstairs in her closet.  She'd almost worn it, but ruled it out based on Murphy's Law and the fact they were having lasagna. 

Like she could tell the kids someday she'd spilled tomato sauce on her wedding dress because she wore it for some dinner party with her former-boyfriend-turned-gay's parents.

This idea assumed she would stay married, though, so she pushed it away immediately.

He could go back to his teacher for all she cared.

***

Joey was pissed.

In what he feared might be a Lorena Bobbitt type way.

She wasn't talking, she wasn't looking at him or even smiling at Jen.

Instead, she ate.  Slowly consumed everything in front of her.  Every piece of lasagna she cut was identical to the last, as though her entire concentration was on the cheesy concoction in front of her.

But soon, he felt sure she would explode and though officially, he had nothing to lose save several more important limbs…

It was becoming more and more clear there was more at stake.

The phone rang, interrupting whatever story Gayle was telling.

"Expecting a call?" Joey asked, her first words to him since figuring out the woman responsible for his deflowering was eating off her $1/plate china set from IKEA, the freakish Swedish super store.

"Uhh, no, I'll grab it."

"Could let the machine get it," Jen smiled devilishly at them.

"No!" Pacey leapt from the table and Joey echoed his exuberance, shaking her head vehemently.

"Worried it's a woman?" Drue smirked.

He was, of course, as was Joey, but he still scoffed as though this was the most ludicrous possible suggestion.

"Hello?" he answered the phone as the machine clicked on, going through the whole annoying message he'd insisted on putting on there.  "Sorry about that, I'm here."

"Oh, hey Pace!" Dawson's voice echoed out over the dining room and Pacey had the sudden urge to throw his shoe at the answering machine as Joey's eyes widened.  "I'm home!"

"You…what?" Pacey asked faintly, the key advantages to the situation melting away before him.

"Just couldn't stay away man, you do crazy things for love!"

Joey's mouth gaped open and Pacey winced.  So this was it.  It was over.

"Well, why don't you come on over, man, your parents are here."

"What?  Weird.  OK…I'll just be over in a bit, then."

"Yeah," Pacey muttered, "Bye."

He hung up before his friend got another word in and sat back at the table.  This was perfect.  Marvelous.  Never fucking better.

They could have this little party become a wedding and divorce announcement in one.  Why waste time?

***

So this was it.  Dawson was home.  Embracing his love and all that crap.

Joey wanted to throw her cheap china against the wall and scream.  He was the one cheating on her and yet now he was happy with the man of his dreams while hers was ignoring her.

It didn't help that the fool's English teacher, Mrs. Robinson-Jacobs was here to make everything all the more pleasant.  Slut.

"So tell me, Mrs. Jacobs," Joey smiled at the uncomfortable looking woman, "Do you enjoy working with children?"

"I…yes," Mrs. Jacobs nodded, "It's very rewarding."

"I'm sure they're never quite the same," Jen smirked.  "Ow," she frowned at Pacey.

"My sister is getting out of the hospital," Jack interrupted the conversation, smoothly distracting everyone from the topic, much to Joey's irritation.

"WHAT?" Jen shot him an alarmed glance, "Andie was in the hospital?"

He nodded, "It was a…mental institution.  She didn't want me to tell you until she got out and she was okay."

Jen's jaw worked, "And you were okay with that."

"Jen, I promised—"

"Fuck you, Jack!  You said you loved me!  Andie was my best friend, how could you?!?  Either of you?  How could you look me in the eye and not tell me?"

CJ was looking between the ex-lovers in confusion.

Love sucks, CJ, get used to it, Joey thought dully.

"I couldn't, Jen, that's just it.  I couldn't look at you, I couldn't say anything, I—"

Jen's face fell as comprehension dawned, "That's why.  That's why you gave us up…just for a PROMISE TO YOUR SISTER?" she slapped him.

Drue grinned from ear to ear and Joey looked at Dawson's mother in alarm.

What a marvelous dinner party this was turning out to be.

"Jen, I'm sorry, I didn't know what to do, I couldn't betray Andie—"

Jen nodded, "So you betrayed me.  You think this announcement would fix things, Jack?  Because it just makes it worse."

"Jen," CJ lay a hesitant hand on Jen's and her eyes slipped back to his in alarm. 

"I'm sorry, I…I-"

***

"Just what we need, another love triangle," Pacey laughed bitterly.

Everyone's eyes flew toward him and Joey looked horrified.

"Pacey…" she licked her lips nervously.

"Oh, like it's some big secret he's coming back for you?"

"Pacey!" Joey kicked him hard under the table and he winced.

"Fine, have it your way.  We're happily married and having a wonderful dinner party.  Your ex boyfriend isn't coming back to declare his undying love to you.  Pass the salt?"

"He's NOT in love with me!" she hissed.

"Really, then all that stuff about love was for who, then?"

Joey's eyes darted to Mrs. Leery and she gritted her teeth.  "Let's step outside for a minute, Pacey."

"Oh, feel free to stay," Drue grinned.  "I knew something was up with you guys."

"Terrific," Joey muttered, glaring at him, "That's TERRIFIC, Pacey!"

"Hey, this wasn't my idea, remember?!?  Blame your dearest love, Dawson!"

"Dawson?" Gayle's eyes shot between Pacey and Joey, "What about Dawson?"

"This is better than TV," Drue sighed with pleasure.

Everyone in the room glared at him.

He cleared his throat, "I believe we were talking about the Dawson and Joey affair?"

"There's no affair!  We're over!" Joey glared at Drue.

"When were you TOGETHER?" Gayle looked at her in alarm.

Jen smirked, "You know, this is actually making me feel a little better…"

***

Joey glared at her best friend.

"What? It is."

Ignoring the traitorous blonde, Joey turned back to her husband.  "Pacey, please, it's nothing like that anymore."

He rolled his eyes.  "OK, Jo, but just remember one thing when he gets back here…"

"What?" she frowned.

He looked hard into her eyes, "This."

And he kissed her.

Drue's muffled laughter and Jen's encouraging comments were drowned out in the swirling, dizzy feeling of the moment as Pacey explored her mouth so thoroughly and possessively, she felt as though she were both floating away and stuck so firmly against him she'd never be free.

And she didn't want to be.

"Hey Mom, Jo-whoa!" Dawson's voice interrupted them and Pacey backed away from her immediately, leaving her mind grasping for some semblance of thought.

"Bad time?" Michael asked from the doorway.

"You're the expert on that," Joey muttered darkly.

"Wow…there's a lot of people here," Dawson looked around nervously.

"You PROMISED," Michael whined petulantly.

***

For those few seconds of the kiss, she'd been his.  He knew it.

But now, the sour expression on her face crushed his lungs until he wanted to give up breathing.

Pacey wanted to say something, anything, or at least leave the table as Dawson opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn't make himself move.

"Listen, I know you guys are surprised to see me.  And I don't know what Pacey and Joey told you…"

"We're not quite sure what they told us either," Drue smirked.

Jen hid a smile, but kicked him under the table.

"But I wanted to introduce everyone to my boyfriend, Michael," Dawson took his roommate's hand and looked around the table.

Pacey blinked as the meaning of Dawson's words made repeated attempts to make themselves known.

The entire room was silent as he slowly processed the information that his brain seemed so unwilling to accept.

"Wait…" Pacey swallowed, "You really ARE gay?"

"Umm…yeah," Dawson shrugged.

"Well, no WONDER," he sighed in relief, falling back into his seat and turning to Joey, "You knew?"

"I walked in on it," she muttered wryly.

Pacey winced, "I'm sorry you had to see that, sweetheart."

Joey smiled as he took her hand, lifting it to his lips.  "Me too."

"Hey!" Dawson muttered in annoyance.

"What do you say we end the party early?" Pacey smiled at his wife.

"Even when you wouldn't believe me?" she sniffed haughtily.

"Forgive a man struck stupid with jealousy?" Pacey quirked an eyebrow.

"I think it was struck jealous by stupidity," Joey smiled wryly, but winked and turned to her guests, "I'll see all you lovely people later.  We need to be heading upstairs."

She pulled him toward the stairs and he laughed.

"Can't believe we're doing this?" Joey smiled.

"I'm sure I'll get over the shock in sixty years or so," he kissed the wedding ring on her finger and pulled her up the stairs. 

***

He stopped in front of his bedroom and looked at her.  "I have two questions for you."

"Shoot," Joey wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed his neck as he stifled a moan.

"Well first," he coughed hoarsely, "Are you really sure you want this?  I've never been more serious about something."

"Positive," Joey smiled.  "Why, do you want a divorce so we can start over?"

"Hell, no, I'm not falling for that," he grinned.

Chuckling, Joey pulled back, "So what was the other question?"

"How could we not notice Dawson was gay?" he shook his head, "Seriously."

Joey covered his mouth and led him into the bedroom.

THE END