Stand by Me Part Three
Anywhere But Here by: Amanda

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Disclaimer: Why on EARTH would you think I owned Dawson's Creek, The Age of Innocence, or Shakespeare in Love? I'm almost 17, (okay, not birthday is December 14), I don't have enough responsibility to own such important things!

Author's Note: Thoughts, flashbacks, and something to show that a word is being enunciated are in **, so you'll have to figure that one out on your own. Also, this is set when the gang is 23.

Author's Note #2 (ALL OTHER AUTHORS PLEASE READ): This totally and completely came from my own imagination, so if there's a part of your story that somehow got into mine, it's purely coincidental, so please don't send me hate mail! Someone did it to me and I was completely unaware I had used some of her story in mine, and she was extremely harsh and rude about it. So if you feel the need, please make it non threatening!

Dawson sighed heavily as he sank down in his old room. It was the only part of the house Nicole hadn't really done anything to, since Mitch said it should always be the same as it was when Dawson actually lived there. She had given it a new coat of paint, but that was pretty much all. It was the only sign of stability he could find in his house, considering everything that had been there when he left for college was still present in the room. Everything except the movie posters.

It had been odd for him to sleep in the room the previous night, because though the placement of the bed and the television and the cabinets were familiar, the bare walls were not. He had taken his posters with him to California, and they were now stored in the back of his closet. He had done everything to forget his past, but his posters were a haunting reminder.

Suddenly, he noticed a box by his desk. He leaned down and picked it up, and the label read "Dawson's Pictures." He smiled weakly.

Dawson set the box on his bed and lifted the lid, trying not to wince in pain of the memory that lay before him. A picture of him, Pacey, and Joey when they were about seven. They were sitting on the docks and were soaking wet because Doug had just pushed them into the creek and Joey, Dawson remembered clearly, had started to cry. When Doug walked away, still laughing, Dawson and Pacey comforted Joey and...they all promised to never to make each other cry.

Promises. What a joke. Joey had broken that particular promise after Homecoming when she broke up with him. She broke it again after her father was carted off to prison the second time. She had broken it again this afternoon when he cried for the first time in seven years. That was when Pacey had broken that promise, too. The first time he had ever broken a promise to Dawson.

Dawson wasn't sure if he had broken that promise to Pacey, though. He knew Joey had cried over him, but he wasn't sure if he had done anything to make Pacey cry. Pacey was the strong one of the trio: Joey had always been brokenhearted and scared and Dawson was afraid to move forward. Pacey had cried over Andie but...that was understandable.

And then they both left him. Joey was furious with Dawson for doing the right thing to the point that she didn't "want to know him anymore." Pacey had died and was no longer here to give Dawson the advice he so desperately needed...but, in truth, he had left him long ago...after Andie left for Providence.

But now he was truly gone. Dawson would never hear the reassuring tone of his voice or see him stride so confidently into Screenplay Video. The last time he saw him was that morning. But he had been dead.

Dead. Dawson hated that word with all his being. It was so harsh. Dawson could say that Pacey had passed on or that he died, but not that he was dead. It was just impossible could not accept the fact that he would never see Pacey again.

Dawson shut his eyes and remember the last thing Pacey had said to him. It had only been a few days before he died... "Don't you worry your pretty little head off about moi, D-Man. I'm not going to make it here...but when you win 'Most Likely To Be The Next Speilberg Award,' mention me in your speech, okay?"

*Pacey,* Dawson thought as a tear escaped the corner of his eye, *the only reason you didn't make it is because no one gave you a one believed in you. Except me and Andie.*

"God dammit!" Dawson shouted impulsively as a flood of tears rolled down his cheeks.

What did he do to deserve to hurt like this?


Joey knelt down and stared at the piece of stone. She remembered the last time she was there and how Dawson held her hand...she remembered how understanding he was.

Lillian Josephine Potter. Joey's mother may not have been an internationally known actress or a famous promoter for world peace, but she was the bravest woman Joey knew. She knew that so much of herself was her mother...the independence, the stubbornness, the beauty...

She never believed she was beautiful. That's what her relatives told her, but she never felt it. Especially after her father had been sent back to prison a second time and she told Dawson off. She felt so ugly when she saw him and he was miserable. Because of her.

She felt ugly when she saw him and felt the pang of regret flash inside her when she saw his face that was no longer happy. She hated herself so much for hurting the one person who believed her and never gave up on her...she hated herself for killing the spirit inside of him. It was that spirit that made her fall in love with him.

She felt ugly when she saw him that morning at the funeral parlor and looked like he wanted to die to get rid of the burden of pain. When he walked, he didn't stride with his head up in the air, with radiating determination like he used to. Now when he walked, he stared at the ground, afraid that if he looked up, someone would see inside him: he was afraid that someone would see the heartbroken and scared little boy that he really was. When she looked at him, she knew that she had left him trying to salvage the shattered fragments of what used to be a dream.

A tear fell down Joey's face, but she wiped it away angrily. She was crying because she was selfish. She was crying for her own loss, and not because she was compassionate and was crying for Dawson, but she was crying for herself.

Dawson has feelings, too, she thought, more tears flowing down her cheeks, but this time, she didn't bother to wipe them away. He hurts, too, you know, and it's your fault, Joey. She hit her mother's gravestone.

"How could you leave me, Mommy?!" she shouted at her mother angrily. She knew that it was childish of her to hope that her mother would magically reappear and rock her to sleep like she used to before attacked by cancer. She knew that it was childish to want her mother to come back, but it was what she wanted.

Joey began pounding on the stone, harder and faster. "How could you, how could you..." the 23-year old sobbed.


Dawson heard someone sobbing, screaming, "How could you, how could you..." as he walked over to Pacey's newly buried grave.

Pacey James Witter
June 11, 1983 to October 19, 2006
Loving son, brother, and friend
"His candle goeth not go out by night."

Dawson spontaneously began to cry. It had just become too much for him. He cried for himself, for all the losses he had suffered at such a young age. He lost his parents, who had been too wrapped up in their own little world that they had failed to notice that his life was rapidly unwinding. Dawson knew they loved him like parents should love their children, but it wasn't the same as it used to be. He lost Pacey to a world a misery and grief for his loss of Andie. He lost Joey to her father's selling of drugs for the second time and trying to protect her; he lost Joey because he loved her.

But mostly, he cried for the most recent loss of Pacey. He had lost him before, but now he had really lost him. Before, he could have seen Pacey, living and breathing, but now he wasn't even granted that privilege. Everyone he loved, Dawson had ultimately lost.

Dawson squeezed his eyes shut and tears escaped them in a river. He knew it was selfish of him to cry for the losses that he had suffered, but it was time he stopped being so unkind to himself in going along with the actions of others.

He bent down further and placed a bouquet of white roses on his best friend's grave and rested his head on the cold stone next to it. Dawson let the tears fall on the grave and wept harder for himself. He didn't know what he had done so terribly wrong to deserve this merciless torture. So he could have handled Mr. Potter dealing drugs a bit better, but was his mistake really that much? People make much worse mistakes everyday...they are reckless with the hearts of others, they deal drugs for the second time, they don't notice the depression of their loved ones. People Dawson knew who had committed these crimes weren't punished as he had been.

He shook his head. "You left me, Pacey," he sobbed to a helpless body that he had recognized as his best friend that morning. But now that best friend was buried underground, and soon he would be a skeleton...and after that, an empty casket. Well, that best friend was gone and wasn't coming back to tell Dawson what to do in his times of trouble. "You left me out in the cold, Pacey, you left me when I needed you!" he sobbed harder, all the pain and heartache of the past seven years catching up to him and coming up to the surface in one day. "You left me, Pace, when I still needed you!"


Andie saw Dawson in the distance at what must have been where Pacey was buried and sighed. He had it almost as hard as her, and she understood his feelings that he was uncomfortable speaking of. She understood how he felt abandoned by Pacey, who was supposedly his best friend. She understood how he hated himself for crying for himself instead of for Pacey, whose end came so abruptly. She knew how he felt like everyone he loved had left him, everyone that he loved, he had lost.

Then, she looked over and saw a weary Joey, whose eyes were puffy and red from crying. "Is everything okay, Joey?" Andie called out, trying to help.

"No," Joey sniffled. "Everything's screwed."

"Enlighten me," Andie offered. "I don't have anywhere to go."

Joey ran her hand through her hair. "Everyone that I loved has abandoned me," she began, her voice cracking.

You seem not to be the only one, Joey, Andie thought, looking over at Dawson again.

"My mother died when I was twelve and my father was cheating on her while her health was deteriorating. That year was also when my father was sent to prison for selling marijuana. Three years later, he came back and was selling cocaine. Dawson saw and told me, making me go to the police, who bugged me and then my father was carted off to prison again. Dawson said we did what we had to do and I said I'd never be able to forgive him and that I didn't want to know him anymore. That event is what made him the way he is today, and it just makes me want to break down and apologize. But," she sighed at this point, "but now it's been too long."

"It'll turn out okay," Andie reassured her. "You and Dawson have hurt each other, and you've both changed over the past seven years, and it'll take time for you to connect with him again. It's not going to go back to the way it was immediately, but it will eventually. And maybe this separation was for the best. You and Dawson have had the opportunity to live without the other one, and however much it hurts, left your childhood behind, though false hopes and dreams that you've managed to save some of are still here."

"You're right, Andie," Joey replied after a moment of thought. "I let go of my childhood a long time ago, and from the look on Dawson's face, I just know that he has, too. It used to be that I could just look into his eyes and know what he was feeling, but now I look at him...I don't see any feelings. It's almost as if he doesn't feel them anymore."

"Inside, Joey," Andie countered, "Dawson is a little boy, scared to have anyone love him because he knows the repercussions of love, both good and bad. But unfortunately for Dawson, he has had more experience with the bad results rather than good. It scares him to love you because of how the messy end of your relationship affected him. He just thinks you stopped loving him a long time ago."

Joey shook her head good-naturedly and laughed. "You and your brother must train with and Indian shaman, I swear. Your advice is always right on the button." She sighed. "I just hope one day we can overcome our differences and he to realize that I never stopped loving him."

"Maybe, Joey," Andie began, "maybe it was supposed to be one of those tragic love stories, like The Age of Innocence or Shakespeare in Love, where even though the two lovers can't overcome their circumstances, they still go on loving each other. I've just always felt it's more powerful that go on loving someone when there's no chance of that love ever thriving," Andie sighed, "that's romance."

Joey went weak in the knees, remembering how that was almost the exact same thing she told Dawson at their last movie night. "It is, isn't it? I feel the same way, Dawson says it's tragedy." She laughed in spite of her current situation. "He asked me if I thought it would affect my own love life, and I said it didn't matter, because...because we'd get the happy ending. I wonder if he still wants a happy ending with me," Joey commented, her voice breaking.

"He may feel different now," Andie countered as she glanced over at Dawson. He had gotten up and she thought he might have looked over at them. He turned around and walked the other direction.

"Andie? Andie?" Joey questioned, but her advisor was concentrating solely on Dawson. Joey glanced in the direction Andie was staring at and froze for a few seconds in shock. "Oh my God," she muttered under her breath. She suddenly started running after the figure in the distance. "Dawson! Dawson!" she shouted at the top of her lungs.


"Dawson! Dawson!" Dawson stopped and turned around after hearing his name being called. He could have sworn that it was Joey's voice and that there was a woman whose dark brown hair was flying in the wind that was yelling for his attention., it couldn't be, Dawson thought wistfully. She wouldn't come back now...not after all these years.

But as the figure came closer, Dawson realized that it was his ex-girlfriend, his ex-best friend...she may have been his been his ex "everything- you-can-supposedly-can-count-on," but she was still his dream.

After the realization had processed, Dawson realized that he might have to talk to her. To talk with the person who had broken his heart and ruined his talk with the person who he still loved.

So he did the only thing he knew to do. The thing you do when you're scared or hurt or wanting to rid yourself of the burden of knowledge.

He ran as fast as his legs could carried him, because he couldn't talk to her. Not now. Not after all this time.

I'm trying to write as much as I can now because I'm going to be sleep away camp on July 27 and won't be back until August 8, so I don't want anyone to be going through serious withdrawal just because of my absence. =) By the way, I've already had a bunch of people e-mailing me, saying how great they thought the first two parts to the "Stand By Me" series was, and I just want to thank everyone who did that. I don't know if it was because they didn't want me to blow up the world like I threatened to, or because they really liked it.

I'm hoping they really liked it.

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