Disclaimer: see part 1
Author's note: I know that not all of you will like this fic, but darn it, I'm going to write it anyway. I guess it's sort of healing or something for me. I'll elaborate more when I get to the end. Anyway, I still have no clue how long this one'll be. I'm kind of winging it. I usually have big time planning going into everything, but this time is kind of an experiment. Work with me. So feedback is especially important. I always appreciate it. Send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The car ride was silent. Joey had attempted to spark up numerous conversations, but one after the other was shot down. She hadn't expected Jake and Dawson to be so uncomfortable together. Of course, Dawson was an old flame as well as a close friend so Jake had a right to be jealous. And Dawson was forever over-protective of her. She didn't know of any other reason why they shouldn't be friends. She always thought the two of them would've been close if it weren't for a fight Jake and Pacey had in 3rd grade. Then they'd become sworn enemies and had never spoken a word since.
Joey glared at Jake and motioned towards Dawson. He rolled his eyes but conceded.
"So, Dawson, how are things going?" he asked.
"Good," Dawson answered. Joey kicked his seat. "Really good," he added. Joey threw daggers at him with her eyes, and he caught them through the rearview mirror. He hung his head in defeat.
"So Jake, when did you know Joey was 'the one?'" Dawson asked with a snicker.
Joey was sure Jake knew that Dawson's only intent was to make Jake sound like an idiot, but he answered anyway.
"Actually, it's a funny story. See, when I saw Joey in college, I knew she looked incredibly familiar. And then her roommate called her name. And as soon as I heard her say, "Jo," I knew we were meant to be."
"Really?" Dawson said, acting interested.
"Well, my older sister always used to watch Melrose Place and on that show, one of the couples was Jake and Jo. So that's how I knew. It was fate. It wasn't until after that when I realized that we'd gone to school together."
"Well imagine that," Dawson said with mock excitement.
"We started dating and we've been going strong ever since," Jake said with a smile, putting his arm around Joey. She squirmed in his embrace. She felt stupid, with Dawson watching them. It was like she had to be down to earth and sarcastic now when just minutes ago, she'd been flighty and sweet.
"Dawson," she said, changing the subject, "how are things going with the girl of the week? What was her name again?" Joey asked, feigning seriousness.
"Her name was Amanda," Dawson said, more serious now, "and we broke up. And it wasn't a week, we were together for 2 months."
Before Joey could apologize, Jake blurted, "Well there's your problem. Her name's Amanda!"
Both Joey and Dawson gave him blank stares.
"You know," he said, "Amanda on Melrose Place? Complete vixen. She was bad news."
Dawson turned his eyes back to the road and Joey felt herself slumping down further in her seat.
The car pulled up in front of Joey's old house. She smiled as she saw it. Jake got out of the car and pulled the bags out of the trunk. Joey stopped at Dawson's window.
"So, you're not going to be hanging out with Melrose boy this whole time, are you?" Dawson asked.
"Well, he is kind of my intended, but I think I can squeeze you in somewhere," Joey smiled.
"Okay, well I've got to go, but give me a call tonight and we'll figure something out. I want to spend a little time with Joey Potter before she becomes…"
"Joey Gustafson," she filled in.
"Gustafson?" Dawson said, incredulous. "Wow, that's a mouthful."
"I'll see you later, Dawson," she said, ignoring him. But she couldn't ignore the look in his eye. There was something so familiar in that look. She bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll call you."
He drove away and she almost forgot about Jake standing beside her. He took her hand and she followed him up to the house.
Joey walked quietly through the house. Bessie hadn't been feeling too well and Joey had insisted she go off to bed. She'd tucked Alexander in herself and now she had the nice quiet house to enjoy. It was nice to take in all the familiar sights and sounds of home.
She sat on her bed, indian style, and pulled the phone down in front of her. She dialed Dawson's number, the one she'd called millions of times.
The phone rang twice and then Dawson picked it up.
"Hey there," she said, knowing she didn't need to say who it was.
"Hi, Jo. What's going on?"
"Not too much. Everyone's in bed," she said.
"Oh. Jake's not there?"
"No. He's at his parents' house. I'm staying here. We'll be living together soon enough, we might as well be apart for now."
"Hey, so do you want to come over?" he asked.
"Will your parents mind?" she asked, barely able to believe she said it. Would his parents mind? Had they minded for all those years before?
"Of course not. Come over, Jo. Let's talk."
She smiled. "Okay. I'll be right there."
The house looked just the same as always. The ladder was still there. She hadn't been to Dawson's the last several times she'd come home. They'd never visited at the same time. But she knew he'd come back to Capeside just for her, so she was sure he'd made sure the ladder was there.
She climbed through the window slower than she used to. It felt like a much smaller space. He was sitting on his bed, just like always. The movie posters were still on the wall, as outdated as they were.
"Hi," she said.
"Hey," he answered, seeing her eyes run around the room. "I thought of getting a hotel room and just coming in for a few days, but with the fiasco with Amanda, I thought I could use a vacation. So I'm regressing to my roots. Staying in my old room. Living with my parents. And now you. It wouldn't be home without you."
She smiled and sat beside him, tenderly putting her hand on his leg. "I almost don't want to talk. I wish I could just sit here silently for a while and think. And remember all the nights we spent in here."
"I know. I don't even know what to say. Everything's so different," he said.
She could tell he was uncomfortable. "Things change, Dawson. We both knew that someday we would move on and grow up and-"
"It's more than that, Joey. I've been thinking about it. In fact, it's been the only thing on my mind since you told me you two were engaged. I've just been thinking about us. And how we were together in high school and how good we were. I guess I realized that I never thought you would actually go off and marry some other guy. I think I always assumed that you and I would end up together." He shrugged. "It's just another in a long line of stupid adolescent fantasies."
"No, it's not," she said, looking him right in the eye. "You know it's not. I mean, I'd be lying if I said I didn't picture myself ending up with you. We've always been two of a kind."
There was a long pause and Joey started to feel nervous.
"After all," she said quickly, "we'll still be friends, right? We'll always be friends. And I'll always be able to run to you about anything."
"Sure. We'll still be friends. You just won't be able to climb through my window anymore." The sadness of that thought struck Joey like a ton of bricks. She smiled quickly, trying to cover up the distress she felt.
"No, I guess not," she said.
End Part 2
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