Part Three: Kissing a Fool
by Daizy

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, yada yada yada, except for Molly who is my creation.

Author's note: Yea, I hate it when fan fic writers add new characters, but we've lost Chris and Abby, so I figured i had a right to add someone. You don't see her much here, but she will be back. I'm sorry if you hate her, I just thought she gave lots of opportunities for conflict in the storyline. You'll see......

So far in Capeside: Dawson's home, Andie's in Providence, Dawson and Joey have decided to be friends again, and I think that's all the important stuff. Amazing how you can sum up two long fanfics in like 10 words.

PS: Okay, it may be really big headed of me, but I've gotten lots of great feedback. If you like my fic, PLEASE vote for me in the 99 fanfic awards! I'm pretty new, so I'm hoping for all the votes I can get since people don't know much about me. I'm trying my best to get more posted. Just be patient. Oh, and once again, here's my email address for feedback!

Dawson had trouble keeping his eyes on the screen. He shifted his position. He checked the time on his watch. He ran his hand through his hair. Finally, he burst.

"Jo? Is this weird to you at all?"

Joey turned to face him. She had an innocent questioning look. She smiled, somewhat guiltily. "Yea, it is," she admitted.

"I know we agreed to start over and put our disagreements behind us, and I think I've done that but I still feel...awkward."

"Well it probably can be attributed to the fact that a few months ago we were having make out sessions on movie night."

"You know, Joey, I've been thinking, and all relationships do is cause trouble."

Joey's eyebrows came down sharply and she looked at him questioningly.

"Really, I'm serious," he continued. "Everything just gets so complicated. I've got plenty of complications in my life. I could use more simplicity."

Joey blinked, confused. "That doesn't sound like you, Dawson. What happened to happily-ever-after and riding off into the sunset? Winning the damsel in distress?"

"After the sun sets, it rises again. There is no ever after. Days keep coming. Life keeps moving."

"Aren't you the skeptic."

"No. I'm just trying to incorporate a little dose of reality into my outlook. Learning from my mistakes."

"So going out with me was a mistake?"

"Learning from my *experiences*," he corrected.

"Okay, I admit, I've had my share of pitfalls."

Dawson smirked at her.

"What?" she cried.

"Jo, your life is a soap opera."

"It is not."

"Jo--" he prodded.

"Okay, so I have my mother is dead, my father is a convicted felon, and my sister is an unwed mother."

"And," Dawson added, "you've had 3 breakups in within a year, two of them being with the same guy, and the other because your boyfriend turned out to be gay."

She rolled her eyes at him. "Fine, I admit it. But what can I do?"

"Well, you could write to Days of our Lives and give them some new material--"

"Dawson," she chided.

"Or--you can fight back. Simplify."

"How do I do that?"

"First--avoid romance."


"Stay away from doctors. Especially neurosurgeons with names like Bryce and Nicholas."

"Okay. Avoid romance."

"Yup. Let's make a goal."

"Dawson, this is getting cheesy."

"C'mon, Jo, listen. Pinky swear. No romantic entanglements."

She reluctantly locked her pinky with his.

"No romantic entanglements."

"So, Dawson, now that we're officially just friends, I guess I'll have to hang out with 'the group.'"

"What group?"

"You know, you, Pacey, Jen, Jack, the four of you are very often together."

"Jo, it's not like we're a clique or anything. We just have fun together."

"I know, but I'm just a little nervous."


"Because Pacey is my long-time sparring partner, Jen is my arch-rival and Jack is my ex-boyfriend."

Dawson shut his locker to see Joey looking at him with concern.

"Jo, you'll be fine. There's no need to be nervous. I'll see you at lunch."


As soon as Joey was gone, Pacey slid up next to Dawson.

"So, how's the whole 'just friends' thing going?"

"Well. I think."

"I have to admit, I have my doubts."


"Because it's impossible to be friends with your ex-girlfriend when you're both single."

"That is not true."

"It's never been done."

"This is getting too 'When Harry Met Sally'-ish for me. Are you coming to Homeroom?"

"Actually, no. I have an appointment with the new guidance counselor."

"For what?" Dawson scoffed.

"College prep. Make sure I'm doing all I should."

"Pacey, I can't believe it. You're actually ahead of the game."

"Well, your junior year is the most important one in your high school career. Pretty soon, we'll all be applying to colleges."

"I'm still having trouble adjusting to this whole responsible thing you're in."

"What can I say? I'm a new man."

Jack sat alone at the table. The cafeteria was just starting to fill with students. He knew the whole group would be there eventually, but he still felt uncomfortable there by himself. He could feel people's eyes on him. Because alone he would always be Jack "the guy who came out." When the others were there, it was different. His identity returned. People respected him more. But alone he was always vulnerable.

At first when he saw Joey, he didn't think much about it. But then, all of a sudden, she was there. At the table. Sitting by him.

"Hey, Joey. What're you doing here?" he asked, making his confusion obvious.

"Well, me and Dawson made up."

"Wait-- like you're back together?"

"No. Just friends. Close friends. So, I'm going to attempt to merge in with all of you and the whole group thing you've got going."

"That's great. With just the guys and Jen, it's been a little heavy on the testosterone. And it's starting to become me and Jen in the same vicinity as Dawson and Pacey. It's not really a group. Maybe you'll help things out."

"Truthfully, I'm kinda nervous. Even though I know you guys already, I still feel kind of awkward. I've never been good at the making friends, social butterfly type thing."

"You'll be fine. Just promise you won't ignore me and only talk to Dawson."

"Of course not, Jack. You know we're friends."

"I know, but I haven't seen you in a while."

Joey shrugged. "You've been with Jen all the time. And me and Jen are not exactly bosom buddies."

"If you ask me, I think you and Jen would be really good friends if you didn't have that history with Dawson."

"She told you about that?"

"She tells me a lot. I think you two should try to patch things up. After all, she's over Dawson and so are you."

Joey sighed and looked around cautiously. She lowered her voice. "To tell you the truth, Jack....I don't know if I really am over Dawson. But I don't want to start anything."

"Why not? I thought he was crazy about you."

"He was. But now he's in this anti-relationship phase."

"That's common. A lot of people go through that after a break-up."

"But I think he has a point. When we're together, we fight about the stupidest things. We both get so stubborn and pig-headed and psychotically jealous. And even when we were happy, I felt like I was always questioning it. I was constantly evaluating our relationship and analyzing everything and it was exhausting to say the least."

"Joey, I'm not the resident expert on dating, but in my experience, that's natural. Insecurity is a classic teenage struggle."

"But with Dawson and me, it seems like it's always more."

"Then the important thing to consider is--were you happy?"

Joey paused, bit her lip and looked down.

"Sometimes." She smiled a little and looked back at Jack. "A lot," she corrected. "And it wasn't just happy, it was complete contentment with the world."

"Maybe you should do a little more considering."

"I'll think about it."

"So, Pacey, how'd your advisor thing go?"

"Well, folks, it looks like the incorrigible Pacey Witter may be college bound after all, and not just as a janitor. I may be able to get in. They said if I do summer school again next year, I'll clear up all my failed classes. And if I get decent SAT scores. I may even be able to snag a scholarship or two."

"Wow, I'm impressed," said Jen.

"So, you're off to Harvard or what?" asked Dawson.

"Actually," Pacey said, in his best english accent, "I'm more of an Oxford man myself." He returned to his normal voice. "But then again, Jack here will be famous by then due to his brilliant acting career."

"Not quite," Jack smirked.

"That's right, your audition," said Jen. "I forgot. So what's the play anyway?"

"It's called Flowers in Spring. Mr. Gordon wrote it. It's about teenage love."

"What would Mr. Gordon know about teenage love? Dinosaurs roamed the earth when he was young," said Dawson.

"For your information, D, some people find the Tyrannosaurus extremely attractive," Pacey interjected. "I hear they're great kissers."

"No, it's really not that bad," Jack defended. "It's about first love."

"So, let's guess--" Jen said, "Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Girl tragically dies."

"Well, I don't want to give it away, but he actually gets her only to discover she's not what he wanted after all."

"Where's the drama in that?"asked Jen.

"Don't you see, that *is* drama. It analyzes a lot of teen emotions."

"Sounds extremely psychologically probing," said Dawson. "What do you think, Jo?" He nudged her.

"She'd started to tune out the conversation. She jumped as Dawson's elbow touched her. "Sorry, I was kinda out of it. What were we talking about?"

Joey slipped her bag over her shoulder. She saw Dawson coming towards her from across the hall. Suddenly, she wanted to hide. But there was no reason to. She shook off the feeling.

"Hey, Jo."


"So what was up with you?"

"What're you talking about?"

"Don't play dumb with me, Joey Potter. You know perfectly well what I'm talking about. You were practically mute at lunch today."

"I'm sorry, Dawson. I had a lot on my mind. I get my art project back next period and I put a lot of time into it. I'm kinda preoccupied."

"Are you sure that's all it is?"


He looked at her quizically. "Okay, well I'll see you later."

"See ya, Dawson."

Jack sat tensely, shifting his position almost constantly. He took a deep breath and started to go over his prepared monologue again.

"Hey." He turned his head. A smiling red-headed girl stood before him.

"Hey," he replied. He attempted to return to his lines without any further conversation.

"You're not getting off that easy." She extended a hand to him. "I'm Molly."

He reluctantly put a hand forward and shook hers. "Hi. I'm Jack."

"Hi, Jack. It's nice to meet you."

"You, too." He gratefully looked back to his lines, hoping she'd go away and end the conversation.

"I'm betting Gordon casts you as the lead."

He looked at her again, stupefied. "What?"

"Out of all the guys I've seen here, of which I might add, there aren't too many, none of them seemed to care at all. You do. I've been watching you."

"I doubt it. I've never even acted before. I'll be lucky if I get Boy #2."

"Well, I hope you do. I auditioned yesterday. And I'm close friends with the student director. She told me I basically got the lead role, so I came to scope out the prospects for my leading man."

"Congratulations, but don't bet the farm. If I even find the guts to audition I'll be satisfied."

"Actually, I think you'll be surprised, Jack. I've got a feeling about you."

Joey caught sight of Pacey up ahead. She quickened her pace to catch up with him.


"Hey, Joey."

"Um...could we talk?"

Pacey stopped and stared at her increduously. "Why?" Then he paused and looked at her knowingly. "Oh, it's about Dawson. No, wait that's not it."

"Pacey, c'mon."

"No, Joey, I know what you want and I just can't give it to you."

"What're you talking about?"

"No, Joey, I will not go out with you. I know I'm irresistibly attractive and that my sly wit and eloquent sarcasm is terribly captivating and you just can't keep your hands off me, but I am already spoken for, and I can't do that to Andie."

"Pacey, grow up," she said with a cold glare.

"Oh, the ice queen returns. I wondered what had happened lately. You've been almost civil to me lately."

"Pacey, please." He looked at her. "I'm serious."

"What? Dawson?"

"Can we just go somewhere and talk, please?"

"Looks like we're already somewhere. Shoot."

"Okay, um, I know you're not exactly the person I want to be telling all this, but if I don't tell someone soon, I'm going to burst."

"Wait, wait--what happened to Dawson the best friend, Jack the sensitive listener, Bessie the caring older sister? Why are you talking to me?"

"Jack's busy, Bessie's working, and Dawson is what I need to talk to you about."

"Look, Jo--"

"No, Pacey, could you please eliminate your so-called 'eloquent sarcasm' and let me get a word in edgewise?"

He folded his arms. "Fine. Spill it."

She sighed angrily. "I just, I"m not sure of what to think of this whole Dawson thing. He's so set on this new friendship thing we have going and I"m just still feeling weird about it. I mean, sometimes I find myself wanting to hold his hand or kiss him without even thinking about it, but I can't because I'm still not completely over the whole fiasco with my father. And in between all these feelings, I'm struggling with it. But he just gives off this persona of being so independent and--"

"I know what it is," said Pacey, insightfully.

"Oh, do you?" Joey said, doubtfully.

"You're worried Dawson's over you and you're still not over him."

"No, Pacey, that's not it."

"Sure it is, you're not over him but he's completely over you and even though you're too proud to get back together and too stubborn to admit it, you haven't moveed on. And he has."

"That's not it. That can't be it."

"Hate to break it to ya, Jo, but it looks like Dr. Pacey has found your problem."

Dawson lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. He heard the door open and looked to see Pacey.

"Hey, Pace."

"Hey, D. You know, that Joey Potter is one odd girl."

"Yea, speaking of Joey-"

"Oh no, not you too."


"Nothing." Pacey sighed.

"Anyway, she's really confusing me. She gets all gung-ho about being friends but she just keeps getting quieter and more reserved. I don't know if she really does want to be friends. Maybe she's still hung up on that whole argument we had about her dad, I don't know. But something is preventing her from being normal."

"Are you ready to be friends?"

"Wait, I'm talking about Joey."

"And I'm talking about you. Are you ready to be friends? You're *completely* over Joey?"

"I don't know. It was a long summer. At first, I was on this idea that I'd done the right thing and that I did it because I loved her and soon she would see that. But being the martyr is tiring. No one cares. And after a while, I just got really mad at her for ruining everything we had. But I think I've just always had this underlying belief that we would get back together. And I'm starting to doubt that."

"Dawson, you didn't answer my question."

"No. I'm not."

"You know, you two drive me up the wall. Why do you have to play all these games and see who can wait the longest to admit the truth? It's right in front of your faces. Just do it. And quit consulting me."

"Pace, are you okay?"

"I'm fine." He slammed the door behind him.

Jen sat out in front of the house waiting for Jack. She consultetd her watch for the 50th time. She drummer her fingers on the arm of her chair. Finally, she spotted him, and she stood excitedly. Then she saw the girl talking to him animatedly, laughing. Her face fell, but she tried to cover it with a smile.


"Hey, Jen. Uh---this is Molly. Molly, Jen."



There was a pause.

"So," Molly said, "you must be pretty proud of Jack, here. He just snagged the lead role in the play."

Jen's jaw dropped. "Jack, uh--that's incredible. I don't know what to say."

"He's incredible," Molly continued, "a very charismatic actor. I'm so excited we get to work together."

"Then you're his--"

"--leading lady." Molly smiled.

Jen smiled fakely. "Great."

"Well, I've gotta run, Jack. But I'm really excited about everything. We'll be in touch, 'kay?"


Molly ambled off, leaving a practically fuming Jen behind her.

"I can't believe you have to work with that....steamroller for the next three months."

"She's a little forceful, but she's nice."

"A little forceful?! She practically ran me over!"

"Give her a break. C'mon, let's go in."

Jen looked at Jack with concern on her face.

"Jack, do you have to kiss her?"

Jack smiled suspiciously. "Yea, why?"

"Just curious." Jen frowned.

Dawson smiled as Joey came through the window.

"Hey, Jo."


"Do you know what's gotten into Pacey? He kinda chewed me out for no reason."

"Look, Dawson, just because we're not all in a perpetual good mood like you--"

"Why is everyone so on edge?"

"News flash, Dawson. Life sucks. We have a right to be bitter, cynical and jaded."

"Fine. Sorry I brought it up."

Joey threw herself on to the end of the bed. Dawson looked at her thoughtfully. She was staring at the ceiling with angry eyes.

"Are you okay, Jo?"

"Yea, I'm fine."

"Jo, I thought we were going to be best friends again. And when we were best friends, you used to tell me everything. C'mon, spill."

He could see her cracking. "I dunno, Dawson. I was just so excited about these art classes I was taking. Laura told me I was really good. And I trusted her. But I got my project back today and I got a C. A C! I mean, I put my whole soul into that project. And I don't know what I did wrong. I'm doubting myself. Maybe I'm not really good at it."

"Jo, that's nothing to worry about."

"Oh, fine. I'll just forget it," she remarked sharply.

"No, listen. Maybe your teacher was just looking for something different. I mean, no offense, but you're still pretty new at this stuff, and it's not just going to come. It takes time and work. I bet if you talked to your teacher, it would be fine."

"You really think so? You're not just giving me some Brady Bunch uplifting answer to my insignificant adolescent troubles so I can say, 'Gee thanks' and be off on my merry way?"

"No. I really mean it."


He sat next to her and put his arm around her. She moved closer to him. He knew she was upset, more than she'd like to tell him. He knew this went beyond her art project, but he wouldn't ask. He just held her.

She stood to go.

"Are you leaving?"

"Yea, uh--I'd better take off. Homework."

"You're okay?"

She shrugged. "Sure."

"Nice try," he smiled. "You can't fool me."

He stood and went to her, putting his arms around her again. She gave in to his embrace this time, holding him tightly. When they pulled apart he looked at her. She was looking down so he wouldn't see her tears. He put a finger under her chin and brought her gaze up to him. She had that vulnerable look on her face that broke his heart. He smiled at her. Then---he kissed her.

End Part 3
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