CHAPTER EIGHT: IT'S A DATE

After leaving Drue's house, Joey and Jen had considered going out to breakfast for what would be one of Jen's last selfish moments before all of her money was spent on things for the baby. But seeing as how Jen's stomach was still acting funny, due to what they now knew was morning sickness, they had at the last second opted against the idea; instead deciding just to part ways and head home for the day.

"Are you sure you don't want to come inside? You know you don't have to go home yet-you can stay here as long as you want."

"Thanks Jo, but I can't hide from my Grams forever...I think she's going to know somethings wrong if I suddenly can't be in the same room with her for more than a couple minutes at a time without hiding my still flat stomach behind a pillow. She's pretty observant that way."

Forcing a small smile upon her face, Joey outwardly told Jen to call her if she needed anything and then afterwords told the woman she'd see her later before making her way inside the B upon her arrival being greeted by an all knowing Bryan.

"So, when's she due?"

Without even bothering to hide her look of disbelief, Joey questioned how he knew.

While fastening Angie into her high-chair, the older man let out a slow sigh before saying: "I had my suspicions the other day when you told me she was still out sick with a stomach virus. But it wasn't confirmed until she called early this morning asking for you. I figured for you to run out of the house that early in the morning on your day off from school, someone either had to be dying, or somebody was pregnant. Sad to say, I was kind of hoping it had been the former."

I wish it had been too...Joey inwardly commented to herself, before taking a seat on the living room couch next to Bryan; afterwords asking the older man not to say anything to anyone since Jen still hadn't told her grandmother yet.

"That's not my secret to tell...how's Drue holding up?"

"Surprisingly well," Joey admitted, while glancing at her niece who was happily staring up at the ceiling fan on top of them; fascinated by the slowly moving tiers. "I couldn't hear what they were saying but it was like he wasn't phased at all by the entire thing. He told her that he wanted to wait until she had seen a doctor though before telling his parents or Mrs. Ryan about the baby."

"He's probably hoping that that will buy him some time and that it will turn out to be a false positive-I know when Becca first told me that she was pregnant with Angie, I was praying to God that the test had been wrong and that I wasn't going to be a dad-now, I can't even remember when I was anything but a dad."

Feeling herself stiffen up a little at the mention of Angie's mom-or better yet, as Joey and Jen liked to call her, the woman formerly known as Angie's mom-Joey decided to switch topics; preferring to talk about someone or something else that didn't make her blood boil every time it was mentioned.

"So, have you decided what you want for Christmas yet?"

Sensing what his sister was doing since she was known for doing it every time Bryan mentioned his ex-girlfriend Rebbecca, the older man decided to let the topic slide and tell the younger woman it didn't really matter to him. "I'm sure whatever you pick out for me will be just fine. You still haven't told me what you want for Christmas though."

As the doorbell rang, announcing there weekend's guests, Joey figured out exactly what she wanted.

"Two weeks vacation."


December 22, 2003

After spending the next two days cleaning up after a house full of guests and a teething baby, Joey was rather grateful for the interruption when Bryan announced to her early Monday afternoon that she had a phone-call.

That's probably Jen...she told me she'd be calling me after her and Drue left the doctor's office this morning.

With that thought in mind, Joey took the cordless phone from her brother's hand and after saying hello, she was surprised when a male voice replied:

"Hey, I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

After realizing that it wasn't Jen, but Pacey on the other line, Joey allowed a small smile to spread across her face while replying: "No I was just pulling hair out of a clogged shower...but that can wait... what's up?"

"Well, I was about to go and do some last minute Christmas shopping when I realized I have no idea what women want and was hoping, if you weren't too busy, that you might be able to lend me a hand and help me pick out something for my sisters-if you're not too busy, that is."

Having been dying for an excuse to get out of the house for two days now caused Joey to quickly turn her attention towards Bryan; hoping the pleading look she had on her face right now was good enough for her to win him over with. "Is it okay if I sneak out for a couple hours? Pacey needs some help buying his sister's gifts for Christmas and wants to know if I can ride with him...I promise to be back in time for dinner. I'll even make dessert."

After rolling his eyes at his sister's puppy dog pout-while silently wondering where she picked up that trait from-Bryan outwardly agreed to the deal, "Just be home by seven. The news has been calling for snow all week long and I don't want you to be out on the road when it finally touches down, all right?"

After telling Bryan all right, Joey turned her attention back to the phone that was in her hand and told Pacey that she just needed to take a shower and should be ready to go in a half n hour.

"Okay, I'll see you in a bit."


Two hours later

Due to the fact that Capeside was not known for its indoor shopping facilities, Pacey and Joey didn't really have that many stores to choose from so they decided to take their chances on the highway and traveled an hour and a half outside of Capeside to the nearest shopping plaza-which was located in downtown Boston.

"You know, if Bryan even thought for one second I was in Boston right now, he'd probably blow a gasket on the spot."

"Well, then it's probably best if we don't tell him about our little road trip-at least not until I'm about a hundred miles outside of Capeside. Then by all means."

After slightly smirking at Pacey's joke, Joey took a second to scan the mall directory in front of her; outwardly wondering where they should start first.

"Well, let's see.." Pacey began, also looking at the directory in front of them. "The last time Gretchen was here, she was complaining about the weather saying that it was too cold for her taste-especially given the fact that she refused to buy a winter jacket for herself when she still needed to buy all of our nieces and nephews gifts for Christmas. So, I guess we can go to Burlington Coat factory for her. And with five little mouths to feed, Carrie barely has time to treat herself to anything so I figured we could hit up Victoria Secret and buy her one of those scented gift baskets they have."

Seeing as though the slightly older male seemed to have everything figured out already, Joey asked what she was doing there. "Sounds like you pretty much know exactly what to get your sisters for Christmas. You don't need my help at all."

Knowing that he had been caught red-handed caused Pacey to chuckle slightly while turning around, leading Joey in the direction in which Victoria Secret was located in. "You got me. I didn't really need any help, per say..I just don't like the thought of going shopping alone. And since my cousin had more important things on his to-do list today, I figured who better to keep me company today then my favorite Capeside tour guide..I hope you're not too mad at me."

With a face like that, who could stay angry at you.. Joey commented to herself while playfully rolling her eyes at Pacey's mock apologetic frown. "I think I can find it in my heart to forgive you, but only on two conditions...first you have to help me find something for Bryan for Christmas."

"Fair enough.." Pacey commented, while allowing Joey to walk inside of Victoria Secret in front of him before stepping inside behind her, "And the second condition?"

"And the second condition..." Joey began; waiting until they were standing in front of the scented gift baskets to continue. "You have to buy me lunch..I refuse to shop on an empty stomach. Got it?"

After taking a second to see if she was serious or not, Pacey began to slightly chuckle while replying:

"You got yourself a deal, Potter."


Food court - Two hours later

"Ugh, I'm stuffed...I can't eat another bite."

After looking up from his foot-long sub, Pacey had to raise an eyebrow at the contents of food that was still left on Joey's plate. Only half of her foot-long sub was gone and she had barely touched her chips.

I've seen birds eat more than she just did...
Pacey commented to himself, but knowing from previous experiences with his two older sisters that you never comment on how much a woman eats, he instead of voicing that statement out-loud made fast work of finishing up the rest of his sub before taking a long sip out of his Pepsi cup and commenting that it looked like it was about to start snowing outside. "You want to look at any other stores before we get back on the road?"

Having already found something for Drue, Jen, Angie, Dawson and Bryan, Joey was pretty much finished her Christmas shopping. The only person left on her Christmas list to buy something for was Pacey. And she knew she couldn't do that with him being there, so she casually replied: "I found everything I needed. Did you want to check out a couple other stores-you said you hadn't found something for your mom yet."

While standing up, taking both his and Joey's tray with him, Pacey waited until he had emptied both trays into the garbage can beside them before nonchalantly replying: "I've got plenty of time to find her something. Her and my dad wont be here until New Years so I'll just wait until the after Christmas sale begins...I hope you don't mind coming back here with me then-I'll even throw in a drink to go with your food, next time."

Even though she knew he was just kidding with that last part, Pacey's comment about not seeing his parents until New Years caused Joey to furrow both eyebrows in confusion. "Wait..you're not going home for Christmas?"

"Nah..being the new guy on the squad, Dougie has to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and since I'm not as cold hearted as some people think I am, I decided to stay here in Capeside so we could at least spend Christmas morning together before he has to go in for his shift."

Wow...

After taking a second to tell Pacey that was really sweet of him, Joey asked Pacey what his plans were for the holiday while Doug was at work.

Not having really thought that far ahead caused Pacey to shrug his shoulders slightly before replying: "I'll probably just lay around the house watching back to back episodes of It's a wonderful life until I bore myself to sleep-you know, the usual Christmas routine. What about you?"

While waiting until they had pushed both chairs in and were starting to make their way back towards the entrance of the mall, Joey replied that she would be going to Dawson's house for Christmas Eve. "Every year his parents invite everyone in town to their house for their annual Christmas eve party. They have live music, catered food and enough egg nog to tide you over until next year...you should come..Drue and Jen will both be there, as well."

"Mm, I don't know.." Pacey began, while holding the exit door open for Joey; having to throw his hands in his pockets afterwords as a sudden gust of wind hit him. "I don't really know Dawson too well and I don't want to inconvenience anyone."

While ignoring the slightly icy wind that was hitting her at the moment, Joey quickly replied that he wouldn't be inconveniencing anyone. "I insist you come with me. Bryan is taking Angie to visit her grandparents and Jen and Drue wont be there til late. They always come after they exchange gifts with one another, so you'll be my escort...and then after Doug leaves for work, you can come to my house on Christmas day and spend the rest of the evening with me, Jen and Drue. They usually come over after spending the morning with their families. It's kind of like a tradition of ours so you have to come."

After taking a second to stare down at Joey's determined gaze, Pacey couldn't help but slightly chuckle to himself; afterwords replying what the hell.

"All right, Potter, you got yourself a date...now, let's get in the car. I think my ass is about to freeze off."