Disclaimer: I don't know why everyone even bothers to write these. If the DC people actually had enough time on their hands to go after all us little fanfic writers, the world would be a sad place. Anyway, the characters are not mine, I'm just borrowing them.
Author's Note: There's not much fanfic out there yet that's post-season 2 so I thought I'd break some ground. This takes place after Parental Discretion Advised when Dawson returns from his summer internship in Philadelphia.
PS: Any feedback (positive or negative) would be greatly appreciated. I will love you forever and ever and ever. If you tell me you like it, it will help me get motivated to keep writing. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dawson looked around the room and let out a big sigh. He'd missed his room. Mom's apartment in Philly was nice, but it would never really be home. He felt secure seeing all his posters and possessions. He heard thunder outside and the patter of the rain on the roof. Mechanically, he went to the window and closed it. As he walked away, he turned and looked back. The closed window. Joey. Not that she would be coming, but being home again made it feel like she'd crawl in any minute with a snide comment about video night. It brought the pain back, not like it had been, but just a kind of emptiness. There were some good things-- his parents seemed genuinely happy to see each other again. His Mom had come with him just to make sure everything would be okay back at the house. His parents had greeted each other with a large hug and they were still talking. Dawson was hoping that the separation would bring them closer.
The door opened.
"Pacey, got the videos?"
"Yup. A back to school fest. Did you know that there are no movies that portray high school in a good light? Even the sappy teacher movies start out in the inner city with a bunch of no-good slackers. So I figured we could just be depressed. And since we have no girls, I figured--go for the male bonding." He held up a copy of 'Dead Poets Society.' "Oh, and also 'Billy Madison.'"
"Pacey--" Dawson started, disgusted.
"I know, not your idea of stellar film making, but I identify with the guy, " Pacey defended.
Dawson thought for a second. "Well, except for the fact that Billy may be the more mature one. But you are both slackers and you both got it on with your teachers."
"And he sings that great Back to School song."
"Well, let's go for 'Dead Poets Society' first." Dawson reached for the pile of videos and found there was another one Pacey hadn't shown him. "Pacey?"
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun??"
"It's one of Andie's favorites," Pacey admitted.
"Is she back?"
"No, not yet. But I guess she's doing great. She's trying to convince her dad that she can get along now here in Capeside with the therapist she had."
"Must've been a long summer."
"You have no idea."
"Did you hang out with anyone in particular?"
"Not really. I took summer school courses to make up the stuff I failed my freshman year. I kinda buried myself in it to forget about Andie."
"Oh." There was an awkward pause.
"Dawson, I know what you're curious about and I'm just going to get it out so we don't have to continue beating around the proverbial bush. I haven't seen Joey. At all. In fact, it's almost like she's gone into hiding."
"How about Jen?"
"I talked to her a few times. Mostly because of Jack. He lets me know how Andie is. She and Jack seem to have bonded or something."
"Are you okay, Pacey?"
"No, really." Dawson let a little concern seep into his voice. "I mean, you haven't let out a witty remark all night."
"Oh, c'mon. I'm sure I've had a couple."
"Dawson, my man, what can I tell you? It's hard to be totally here when part of me is someplace else."
"Okay, now I know something is wrong. When did you become the romantic, brooding, melancholy type?"
"When you became the disillusioned one. What happened to Mr. Optimistic? The ultimate idealist? The man whose glass is always half full?"
Dawson looked Pacey straight in the eye. "He woke up."
Jen walked with Jack down the hall, looking at her schedule.
"I do not understand the point in having a homeroom. It's just another opportunity for everyone to catch up on gossip. Or sleep. Or do their homework."
"Actually," Jack said, "I think the principal said it was for the purpose of student unity."
"It sounds like we're some kind of congregation. Pretty soon they'll get up and urge us all to join the fold."
"C'mon," Jack urged, "it'll be fun. We have a class together, even if it's homeroom. We can sit in the back and I'll teach you how to throw spitballs."
"Jack McPhee, you're a spitball thrower?" Jen stopped in her tracks and smiled at him.
"In junior high I was in detention 9 times for spitballs. Truthfully, I haven't done it since eighth grade, but the first day of school always makes me feel a little rebellious." He smiled mischievously.
Dawson was relieved as he finally got his locker open on the third try. He felt like a freshman struggling with it for so long. He put his bag in, removing only his pencil, notebook and schedule. He heard a groan of frustration and a pounding on the locker next to his. He looked over.
Their eyes met. Her eyes widened in surprise briefly before her expression froze and she turned her gaze back to the locker.
"Do you need some help?" Dawson offered.
"No, Dawson. I'm fine," she replied, making it obvious she didn't want to talk to him.
There was a pause.
"So," Dawson muttered, "When do you have english? Pacey and I have it 4th period."
"Too bad. I have it 3rd."
She turned to walk away.
"Joey!" Dawson called after her.
"What, Dawson?" She stared at him coldly.
"What's wrong?" He asked, really concerned and showing it.
"I think I made my feelings perfectly clear the last time I saw you."
She turned and walked away leaving a hurt Dawson behind.
Dawson turned to see Pacey.
"You ready, man?"
"Sure, let's go."
Joey took a deep breath and stared at herself in the mirror. She was shaken. She'd taken refuge in the girls' bathroom to compose herself. The bell had rung already, but she remained there, wondering why she was so upset. She'd known she'd see Dawson at school and she'd have to face him. But even after the long, lonely, tired summer months, she still wasn't ready. For a split second, she'd wanted to smile and ask him how his internship in Philadelphia had been. Part of her wanted to run back to him and ask what they would be doing for movie night this week. It was one thing to hate Dawson while he was far away. It was another to hate him when he stood right there and smiled at her.
Another deep breath and she was ready to go. She walked slowly down the hall, part of her hoping Dawson would be in her class and part of her dreading having to see him again. Then she caught sight of him inside a classroom with Pacey, Jack and Jen. They were all talking, laughing together. Only for a second did she stop and watch them, then she turned the corner and continued walking to her own class.
Dawson caught site of Jack and Jen during lunch and joined them at their table.
"Hi, Dawson," Jen replied.
"Tired of school yet, Dawson?" Jack asked.
"Actually, some sick part of me is enjoying it."
"Yes, Dawson, that is sick," Jen teased.
"So," Dawson said, "I hear the two of you are attached at the hip."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Jen said.
"We just spend a lot of time together," Jack added.
Dawson snickered. "Yea, in each other's bedrooms."
"Okay, occasionally there's a pillow talk session, but only very rarely," Jen admitted. "Things are going great. Grams loves Jack. He helps her cook dinner and do laundry. She thinks he's a good influence on me despite her opinions about his sexual preference."
"Congratulations, Jack. I think you're the first guy Jen's grams has ever approved of." Dawson said.
"Probably because she knows he won't try to jump me," Jen smiled.
"Hey, Jack, I was wondering, have you talked to Joey at all this summer?" Dawson asked.
"Not really. After the fire, I got another job and kept busy. I only ran into her a few times and she always came up with some excuse to go before I could say ten words."
"You're not still hung up on her, are you?" Jen asked.
"Well--" Dawson hesitated. "I don't know. All I know is I still care about Joey Potter, my best friend. And she seems to have cut off all contact with the outside world. I'm just worried about her."
"I'm sure she's fine." Jen said. "Joey knows how to take care of herself."
Joey set her stuff down as she came in the door and collapsed on the couch.
"Joey?" she heard Bessie calling.
"What?" she answered.
Bessie came in with Alexander in one arm.
"How was school?"
"What happened?" Bessie sat next to her and set Alexander on the floor.
"Aw, Jo. You can't let him get to you."
"Bessie, I can't help it. He doesn't have to say anything. The simple fact that he exists gets to me."
"What happened between you two?"
"Nothing. I mean, he talked to me and I just blew him off."
"I thought you didn't want to see him anymore."
"I don't.....but I do. I miss him, Bessie. And seeing him today just made me realize it. You've been my confidant ever since Dawson left. And, no offense, but I miss talking to Dawson."
"Well, what about Jack? I thought you two were close."
"We were. But he's got this whole Jen thing going on. And I'm not comfortable with that."
"I think you just need someone to talk to about it. There's got to be someone you know."
Pacey looked up as he heard his name.
"Joey, what are you doing here?"
"Am I prohibited from the video store now?"
"Well, I just haven't seen you here in a long time. It's a little odd. What're you looking for?"
"I wanted to talk."
Pacey sighed. "About what? The way you've snubbed all your friends? Or the way you treated Dawson this morning?"
"That's why I'm here to see you. I want to know how he feels....about me."
"Jo, you're asking the wrong person. Why don't you just ask him yourself?"
"Because I can't."
"Joey, nothing is physically preventing you from talking to him. There's no way you can't talk to him."
"Pacey, if I do, I'll just get mad at him. Whenever I see him, I automatically get frigid and start throwing out insults. I really need your help." She looked at him with pleading eyes.
"Okay, but I'm only helping you because you used to share your pudding with me at lunch, which, I may point out, you no longer do."
"Seriously, I just want to know if Dawson will take me back."
"How? You have to be specific here, Jo. As a friend, a girlfriend, what?"
"Anything. As anything. I miss him, Pacey. I've spent all summer trying to make myself not miss him. But I do. I always will. He's a part of me."
"Do you have a camera? I think this is a kodak moment."
"Pacey-" Joey chided.
"No, really. I'm getting all misty-eyed."
"Jo, I don't mean to be cruel, but maybe you should've thought of that before."
"Pacey, please. Just tell him, okay?"
"Okay. I'll talk to him. But you owe me big time. No more free rentals for a year. And I'm expecting pudding."
She smiled slightly before she walked out of the store. Pacey turned and said to himself, "Why do I have the feeling that I should never have gotten mixed up in this?"
"Okay, so what am I looking for?"
Mitch stood on a chair in the kitchen, balancing the phone between his ear and his shoulder, shining a flashlight down Dawson's throat.
"Dad--"Dawson interjected, trying to break away.
"Hey, come back here--What, Gail?....White patches? Okay, hold on.....Hold still, Dawson. Okay, yea I see white spots on his throat. Alright.......Okay....Yea, I will. Talk to you later. Okay, Bye."
Dawson looked at his father. "What's the verdict?"
"You've got strep. You're staying home. Tomorrow we'll go to the doctor's office. Today, I'm busy so you'll just have to stay here and take care of yourself. Can you handle that?"
"I'm 16, Dad. I think I can manage."
"Okay, if you need anything, call the school. I'm going to be late. Bye, Dawson." His dad raced out the door.
Dawson looked around the kitchen glumly. "The one time I actually want to go to school," he muttered.
Dawson had made it through Jaws, ET and Saving Private Ryan by the time Pacey got there.
"Hey, D-man, what's up?"
"Pace, you may want to stay over there. I"m contagious."
"Okay. So--" Pacey paused for affect, "Joey came to see me yesterday."
Pacey waited for Dawson to perk up. He didn't.
"Don't you want to know what she said?"
Dawson shrugged. "What'd she say?"
"She wants to know if you'll take her back. As anything." Pacey waited again. "Well?" he insisted.
"What do you want me to say, Pacey? Yes, Joey, come back and save me, my life has been empty without you? I don't know. I don't know if I need her anymore. I've been thinking today, like all day, and maybe it'd just be better not to get involved with Joey at all."
"Whoa there, Dawson. Are you sure? I mean, you guys have been friends for a long time."
"But if we become friends, then we'll want to be more than friends and then we'll be a couple and everything will be perfect until she ruins my life again. Pace, she's broken up with me twice. And even when we were happy, we still fought a lot. I don't know if Joey and I are really meant to be together. Or if we are, I don't think we're ready for that. When we're together, we both get insanely protective and jealous and we take out all our anger on each other."
"Slow down, Dawson. Remember when Jen moved in and Joey was automatically hostile to her the minute she saw her relationship with you was threatened? Now she's doing the same thing to you because you threatened her relationship with her father. You just need to give her time to get over it."
"But you forget," Dawson pointed out, "Joey still hates Jen. I just think that for the past two years, I've been involved with either Jen or Joey practically nonstop. I think I may need some time by myself. Or with someone else."
"This is wearing me out. You and Joey are supposed to be the ones who analyze everything to death. I don't know if I can take this."
Pacey was surprised to find Joey out in the rowboat as he left Dawson's house. He walked over to her and sat on the dock, dangling his feet over the water.
"So?" she questioned. Despite his anger at her for her treatment of Dawson, he softened when he saw her face.
"Well, Joey, I can tell you one thing. No more mediating for me. I am tired of being a relationship counselor."
"Pacey," she pressed.
"I don't know. I wouldn't bet on it. He's still pretty upset. You know, you did the one thing I never thought possible. You turned Peter Pan into a cynic. You took this bright-eyed, whole-hearted, ambitious dreamer and turned him into a doubter. He's concerned about you. But I think it's just because he's still trying to get you out of his system."
"I don't know what I was thinking," Joey muttered.
"Well, I can't give you much advice, but just be careful. If you do get him again, be a little gentler this time."
Joey snickered. "When did you become so sensitive?"
Pacey smiled. Joey waited for his comeback. It didn't come. He walked away.
Joey put her head in her hands. Everything was wrong.
When Jack saw Joey coming up to the house, he'd asked Jen if she could go upstairs. She'd eyed him suspiciously for a moment and then she heard the knock at the door and saw Joey. She obeyed.
Jack opened the door and saw her. She looked tired. He felt regret for not making an effort to be with her, for getting so caught up with Jen.
"Hey," he said. "How are you?"
"Okay," she lied. "Can we talk?"
"Sure." Jack joined her out in front of the house. They sat opposite each other. "What's up?"
"I just wanted to see how you were." Joey wasn't looking at him. She stared at the floor.
"Oh. Okay, uh--I'm alright. Jen's grams is really great, helping me out. I have a new job. Andie's doing better. Things are actually looking really good."
"That's great." Things were strained, Jack could tell. He wasn't sure why she'd come. But he knew something was wrong.
"Joey, are you okay?"
"Sure, Jack. I'm fine."
Another awkward pause followed. Joey shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
"Um, you know, I should go. I have to help Bessie." She stood abruptly. Jack stood too. He looked at her hard. He knew he couldn't make her open up to him.
"Are you sure?"
"Yea. Bye, Jack."
He watched her go. Jen came out a few minutes later.
"Nothing. We talked about absolutely nothing for a total of 45 seconds and then she left. She's upset about something." His frustration was evident in his tone.
"She's probably searching for a Dawson substitute. I can relate."
Jack smiled at her. "So that's what I am? A Dawson substitute?"
"Of course not, Jack." She smiled back at him. "You came along after I realized there was no substitute and I would have to get used to life without him. At least, without him as a boyfriend. And when I figured that out, I finally was able to be his friend."
Dawson sat on his bed and wanted to scream. It was his second day home from school and he'd already seen every movie he owned twice. He'd attempted to watch daytime tv, but he'd quickly changed his mind. Since it was only the third day of school, there were no assignments to work on. He sighed.
Then he remembered. E-mail. He needed to write Patrick, a guy who was in film school that he'd met during his internship. Maybe Patrick could give him ideas for a new script.
There was one new message. From Joey. Dawson hesitated a moment before reading it.
"I know I don't have a right to even talk to you right now after what I did and said to you. And I would completely understand if you never wanted to see me again. But I feel like our friendship is something that's been really beneficial for both of us and I know that when we were friends, I was a lot happier than I am now. So if you want to, maybe we can try and salvage what we had before, and maybe this time we can find away through all that hormonal stuff.
He started to reply:
"I don't know if I'm ready to let you back into my life. Somehow, it always ends up complicating thing. At least, it has ever since we started high school. Remember when you said you needed space? I'm starting to understand. I find myself reevaluating my whole life and about to face a major crossroads. I want to get everything figured out before I have to make all those decisions."
He stopped. It was all true, what he'd written. But he still wished he could have Joey with him without the inevitable awkwardness.
A voice pulled Dawson from his reverie.
He turned. Pacey, Jen and Jack entered the room with their arms full.
"What're you guys doing here? You can't come in here. I'm contagious."
"We noticed." Jack said.
"Your dad happened to bring his flashlight to school with him and sent us all home for strep," Pacey added.
"We figured since we were all sick, we might as well be miserable together," Jen commented.
"We have here," Pacey said in his best announcer voice, "all the latest new releases from the video store."
"And chicken soup compliments of Grams," added Jen.
"Great." Dawson smiled.
"So," Jack said, "I'm thinking of doing theater." Jen and Dawson laughed hysterically. "What?"
"Jack, there's nothing wrong with theater in general," she reassured. "But theater at Capeside High is not where you want to start."
"The drama teacher, Mr. Gordon, is convinced he's got real performers on his hands. He tries to put on performances that have no chance of being successful."
"Last year, he put on 'Death of a Salesman' and 'Waiting for Godot,'" Jen said.
"And before that," Dawson added, "He attempted to do 'King Lear.' And made the whole school watch it. It was miserable."
"The kid playing Lear was some 15-year old freshman and Cordelia was a 20-year old who was repeating the 12th grade for the third time."
"Well, maybe Jack should join. He could reform things," Dawson said.
"Sure, why not," Jen shrugged. "Go for it, Jack."
"I'm glad I have your support," he said sarcastically.
Pacey re-entered the room.
"Hey, Pace, how's Andie?" Dawson asked.
"Good. She sends her love to all of you, especially me. And her therapist says she should be back in school, hopefully in Capeside, by Christmas."
"That's great," Jen said.
"And--I promised her we'd watch 'Anne of Green Gables' for her."
"You didn't," Dawson said.
"You must really love her, Pacey," Jen said.
"I have seen that movie more times than any guy should ever have to. Never again. I've suffered enough," Jack said.
They laughed. Dawson felt good, really good, for the first time in a long time. Without Joey. He hadn't even thought about her since they'd come and he'd deleted the email he'd been writing. He was proud of himself. Maybe life without Joey was possible.
A gust of wind blew the curtains around and papers on his desk flew in the air.
"Hey, Jack, could you shut that window?" Dawson asked as he got up to put everything back.
The window shut. It startled Joey and she practically lost her balance. She exhaled slowly and leaned back against the house. She could still hear their muffled voices and laughter. She drew her legs close to her and wrapped her arms around them. The window was closed. She looked up, the sun was setting. She felt her lip start to quiver. She bit it and willed the tears to go away. She put her head down, hoping that just maybe the window would open again, that it had been a mistake. No, she'd closed that window. She'd done it. Joey closed her eyes. Someday she'd climb through that window again. She decided right then. And someday Dawson would welcome her back with open arms.
End Part 1
Main Page | Part 2
That's it for now! Parts 2 and 3 are already written and I'll post them shortly. But Part 4 is still in the works. I expect this to go out as long as I can possibly extend it. So if you have any suggestions or just feel like saying hi, send me some feedback at email@example.com. Thanks!