Seek and Go Hide
part one

Jack hadn't been back in Capeside for very long - long enough for the strangeness of his return to have faded but not long enough to have really settled in and feel like he had a life. Returning to Capeside had sure seemed like the right thing to do - he would teach at the school he had graduated from not that many years ago and make sure no kid had to deal with the shit he had had to deal while there.

It was all very noble really. So why did it feel like he'd thrown his life away? He missed Jen and Grams and being a part of a community that didn't constantly judge and hate him. Capeside may have mellowed in recent years but it still wasn't easy being out here. For every person who was accepting and kind there was a least one who felt it was their right - no their duty - to tell him that who he was was wrong, that he was going to hell, that he was a freak. And for every one of the vocal homophobes there were probably ten silent one who wished he'd just shut up and keep it to himself.

But here he was and here he'd stay, for at least a year. He had signed a contract with Capeside High after all and he wasn't going to back out on that. No matter how much his new life here sucked.


Doug was, as usual, bored. He had thought the promotion from deputy to sheriff would end the boredom. There was more work sure, but he still felt empty inside. Like a giant part of him was missing, or worse, dead. Wasn't he too young to feel like this?

But that kind of thinking wasn't going to get him anywhere! Time to get busy! He had finished all the paperwork at the office and his place was immaculately clean so he'd have to figure out something else to do. Sometimes he wished Capeside had a slightly more active criminal element but no, except for the Potter scandal, the Capeside P.D. thrived on speeding tickets and drunk and disorderly citations and very little else.

So that left a movie, a video rental or a drink somewhere. Doug had seen the new releases and truth be told he just didn't feel like going home. So he figured he'd head on over to the Yacht Club, have a drink, maybe some dinner and who knows maybe he would even run into someone he could have an actual conversation with. That would be nice for a change.


Jack wasn't surprised that the Yacht Club looked exactly the same as the last time he had been there. Most things in Capeside stood still - they stay what they were - evolution need not interfere. It was both comforting and annoying. Jack sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. He hadn't planned on ending up here but this is where his walk had taken him. Well one beer and then he'd walk home.

Seven beers later, he heard a familiar voice from behind him. "Jack McPhee. Newly returned to Capeside and already reverting to bad habits I see."

Jack turned to see Doug Witter, Pacey's older, cop brother, smiling at him. His bright smile took the edge off the taunting words that had almost succeeded in pissing Jack off further than he already was.

"Well if it isn't Deputy Doug" said Jack trying to be good humored despite his dark mood. He wasn't mad at Doug; in fact it was a relief to see a somewhat familiar and friendly face. Jack had spent the better part of his evening talking to and at one point, out and out arguing with, various 'concerned citizens' who wondered how 'appropriate' it was for 'someone like him' to be teaching the impressionable youth of Capeside.

He had assured them that his credentials were excellent and when that failed to reassure them, he informed them that he had no intentions of teaching "Become a Homosexual Now: 101." But he made sure to stress, that he did intend to teach them about tolerance and understanding and hopefully something about English Literature. It had been a long, frustrating evening and Jack was quite near the end of his rope.

But Doug didn't know that. So Jack tried to put on a happy face for the brother of one of his best friends. He tried to be polite, "Please have a seat. Unless you're here to judge and condemn me, if that's the case, please just leave me the hell alone." So polite didn't stick. He sighed.

"Jack, are you ok?" asked Doug, obviously concerned. He didn't know Jack very well but he had always admired him. How he managed to deal with the entire town knowing about and constantly commenting on his personal business was a mystery to Doug.

Jack shrugged and turned back to his beer. Doug sat down next to him and tried again. "Long night at the Yacht Club?"

"Something like that."

"Look if I'm bothering you Jack, I'll go. But if you want to talk about whatever it is…" Doug's voice trailed off as Jack turned to face him, his eyes searching Doug's face as if to make sure he was serious.

"You're serious?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"You don't really know me. We aren't friends. Why would you possibly care about me? Trust me, you don't want to sully your squeaky clean reputation being seen with Capeside's newest resident pervert!" spat Jack, his temper finally getting the best of him when faced with genuine concern.

"You're a pervert now?" asked Doug. "I mean I knew you were gay but when did you become a pervert? And if you don't mind me asking, what kind of pervert are you exactly?

Jack stared at Doug blankly.

"You're not one of those people who has sex with Jello salads are you?" Doug whispered conspiratorially "You can tell me. Or, it's not, please tell me it's not some horrible gingham fetish!" Doug's eyes sparkled. He wasn't sure why he was teasing Jack, who was obviously really upset; it had just seemed like the right thing to do.

Jack stared at Doug a split second longer then burst out laughing. "How did you guess!" Doug laughed too and all the negative energy in the air seemed to evaporate around them. He was glad he had been able to make Jack laugh. Most people thought Doug was a stick in the mud because he took his job seriously and didn't have many friends. The truth was Doug was funny and smart, but he didn't let very many people get close enough to see the real him. They saw the uniform and stopped looking.

"Let me buy you a beer," said Jack, slurring just a little.

"Ok. But only if you let me buy you a cup of coffee," countered Doug.

"After the night I've had, now you're calling me a drunk?" challenged Jack.

"I'm not calling you anything Jack. But I've seen enough to know that the last thing you need right now is another beer."

The two men stared at each other in a small test of wills. Jack found himself thinking that Doug had the most beautiful blue eyes, so kind and deep. He wondered if Doug knew how handsome he was. That thought more than anything convinced him that Doug was right and that he needed to sober up. He looked away just as he started to blush, "You win. Coffee it is."

Doug had seen Jack's confrontational stare turn into an admiring gaze but pretended he didn't noticed. For Jack's benefit he told himself. He motioned for the bartender and ordered two cups of coffee for them and a side of fries for himself.

"I haven't eaten yet," he explained to Jack. "So tell me what had you so worked up anyway."

"It's just…this town you know. I don't know if I forgot what it was like or if I just brainwashed myself into thinking that things would be different now that I wasn't some awkward teenager fresh out of the closet. I thought I could just be me - Jack McPhee. But no, I'm still 'that gay football playing gay boy who is totally gay'. Gay gay gay."

"Not to state the obvious," said Doug "but you are gay Jack."

"I know. But that's not all I am! I want people to see that I'm not just that one thing! I'm a teacher, an athlete, a possible borderline alcoholic." Jack laughed a little and continued, "I'm a brother, a friend, a man. I'm a whole person! How would you like it if everyone defined you as a cop and nothing else?"

Doug smiled, a small bitter smile, "They pretty much do."

"Then you know what I mean! Don't you get sick of it? Don't you want them to see you as a whole person, a real person?"

"It's safer if people don't see the whole, real me," said Doug, surprised by his response to Jack's unexpected question.

"Why is that? What are you afraid of?" Jack was about to press the issue further but just then the bartender arrived with their coffee and a huge side of fries.

"Man these smell great. We better get another order because I plan to eat a lot of these." And with that, Jack began to happily chow down.

Doug breathed a sigh of relief. Thank god the fries had distracted Jack from his current line of questioning. Doug motioned for another order of fries and tried not to think about the way his stomach tightened up when Jack so cavalierly asked what he was afraid of.

"These are great. You better have some before I eat them all" said Jack his mouth half full.

"Seriously man, do not eat all my fries!" Doug playfully shoved at Jack's hand and reached for the ketchup.

They spent the rest of the evening talking about sports and movies and cracking jokes. Jack had no idea that Doug was so funny and interesting. He had always taken Pacey's word for it that his older brother was an uptight jerk. Plus Doug was a cop and considering the misspent way Jack finished out his teenage years and started his twenties, he wouldn't have wanted to hang around a cop.

Something Doug said set off a faint bell in the back of Jack's mind and he couldn't help but feel he had had an important question for Doug. But he couldn't remember whatever it was. So he just tried to relax and enjoy the company. He tried also to not think about how good looking and sweet Doug was.

As for Doug, he was also enjoying hanging out with Jack. It was nice being able to kick back and laugh with someone who didn't seem to care that he was Sheriff Witter. People often seemed to be on pins and needles around him as if they were afraid they would say something that would land them in jail. But Jack cheerfully told stories of underage drinking and college pranks and bad judgment. Doug found it very endearing that Jack was willing to tell stories where he looked like a total ass and said so.

"Well, if it's one thing I've learned from all the mistakes I've made, it's that the past is what it is. And there's no point in sugar coating it or hiding from it. I've just got to be honest about it. I mean it made me the lucky bastard I am today right?" laughed Jack feeling better and more solid than he had in a long, long time.

"Right" agreed Doug, smiling and looking at his watch. He had completely lost track of time and it was later then he expected. "Damn. It's late and I'm working tomorrow so I better get going. But this was fun. It's good to see you again Jack."

"You too Doug. We should do it again. If you want. But with less drama and stupidity on my part. Probably." Jack felt suddenly vulnerable, after all Doug wasn't really his friend. Maybe Doug was just being polite spending the evening with the drunken friend of his little brother. He probably just wanted to get out there having done his civic duty and sobered Jack up.

But Doug surprised him again. "That'd be great Jack. You play pool by any chance?"

"I'm not the greatest, but yeah, I shoot some stick."

"Great. We'll do that next time."

Doug stood up and Jack did too, careful not to crowd Doug. "Thanks for babysitting me tonight."

"You didn't need a babysitter Jack, you just needed a friend."

"Yeah. Well thanks for being a friend then."

"Anytime Jack." Suddenly Doug wasn't quite ready to end their evening and say goodbye. "Do you need a ride home? How did you get here?"

"I walked actually…" Jack didn't want to impose on Doug but the thought of the long walk back to his place wasn't appealing.

"Come on, I'll give you a lift and before you argue, it's no trouble."

"Far be it from me to argue with an officer of the law! Lead the way Deputy Doug."

As the two men walked out of the Yacht Club toward Doug's car, Doug said, "Uh Jack, I'm the Sheriff now."



"Good to know." Jack tried to remember all the stupid things he had said that night and wondered if any of them would get him in trouble or come back to haunt him. Well, it was too late to worry about that now.

They rode home in companionable silence, listening to the music on the radio and enjoying the warm breeze that gently blew through the car.

It's not the final destination
It's the journey on the way
And I can feel these times are changing
And nothing could stand in my way

I wanna be free, free to find where I belong
Free to find my way

I know at times I act a little crazy
And I've made mistakes along the way
But I can see the silver lining
It's about to bring the change I have been waiting for
Hey, Hey

I wanna be free, free to find where I belong Free to find my way
I wanna be free

I won't fight this feeling
It's leading me so far away
Believe in me my baby
`Cause everything's gonna be okay

Well I don't know where I'm going
And I don't know where I might be
But I can feel these times are changing
And that's alright by me

`Cause I'm free, free to find where I belong
Free to find my way
I wanna be free

By Marie Wilson