Stand By Me Part Five
Elements of Survival by: Amanda

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Andie sighed as she pulled out a box of cereal from the cabinet. She didn't feel like eating, but she knew she had to. She didn't really care what kind it was-lately, everything tasted bland to her.

When Tim died, Andie still had the ability to carry on after the funeral, even though she was a little frozen and isolated, but with Pacey, every task was unbearable. Walking, taking a shower, eating, was as if she had been killed, too.

She knew eventually she'd have to let go, but she didn't want to. Pacey had meant so much to her, and he had supported her and loved her when she felt like no one else did-even when there seemed to be no chance of their love ever thriving.

Andie remembered what she had told Joey about her preference to sad stories- "I've just always felt it's more powerful that go on loving someone when there's no chance of that love ever thriving-that's romance."

Well, she had her sad story, all right.

Joey never realized how lucky she was in these past days-at least there was a possibility to reunite with Dawson-at least he was alive. Andie now had her sad story for life, whereas Joey and Dawson's had the chance to be only temporary.

Pacey was dead. His sad story with Andie could not be replaced with a happy one.

Dawson yawned as he awoke from his heavy sleep. He looked at his clock and saw that it was 7:08. Unfortunately for him, he had inherited the gene from his mother's side of the family where he couldn't sleep late. 7:08 *was* late for him.

He stretched out his arms and remembered the events of the previous night. Joey had been there for him, just because he needed her. He would never have thought that she would have done that for him before yesterday. He had thought she meant what she said in that moment after he father was carted off to prison.

Even if she hadn't, Dawson wasn't sure if he could really ever get over the impact that event of his life had left on him. He may have not been really, truly scarred for life, but he was pretty sure that a tiny fracture of the pain he felt would never go away.

But just because Joey had been his shoulder to cry on hardly meant they had made amends. They had so much to discuss because they had hurt each other, and each had always been too stubborn to swallow their pride.

Dawson had to forgive Joey for de-railing his mind; he might have gotten into UCLA if what had been said had not been so. But that was the past, and it could not be changed. Dawson had a lot of time to himself in the past seven years, and it had been an opportunity to re-evaluate everything in his life, and during that evaluation, he realized that he needed to stop analyzing every single event that took place, because it didn't serve any purpose. Analyzing what had happened and what had been done was useless; Dawson realized that he needed to concentrate his mind on the future and not dwell in the past. He also realized he had live for the moment once in a while and not spending hours making decisions.

There had been so many crossroads in his life, and Dawson had usually taken time to analyze each way, it's pros and cons. During his re-evaluation of events in his life, he realized that he needed to follow his heart every now and then. However cliché it sounded, Dawson knew he had to, because planning his life out was worthless. Things did not always go according to the script, and Dawson had learned that the hard way.

Joey opened her eyes slowly as the sounds of her nephew, Alex, and her niece, Aimee, fighting awoke her.

She remembered what she had felt last night-she felt like she was doing the right thing. Dawson had always been there for her, but she had never been there for him, and though she felt that she hadn't measured up to what Dawson had done for her, that it would have to do for now. Joey knew that Dawson wouldn't want her to repay him for his loyalty, but she was determined to do so.

She was so ashamed that she hadn't seen what was so clearly obvious before. Joey had put Dawson at fault for her father going to prison. She hadn't really meant it, but had tried to convince herself that she had.

Dawson had forced her to go to the police because he was protecting her because no one else was. No one was protecting him now, and she had to do that for him.

The first time she broke up with him, Joey had done it because she felt that their relationship revolved around Joey being dependent on Dawson. But now, she realized who Dawson really was, and she knew that she had perceived it all wrong. She hadn't realized it at the time because she had been too oblivious, but it was clear to Joey now that their relationship had revolved around him needing her.

Dawson ran his hand through his hair for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. He had decided that this was just unbearable. He had to go talk to her.

Bessie still lived on the other side of the creek. She had added on to her house last year, Mitch told Dawson, because of her two children. Dawson hadn't seen Alex since Mr. Potter was taken to prison for the second time, and he had only seen a picture of now five-year old Aimee.

But that wasn't the reason he needed to go over there, of course. It was because of Joey. He wished that she would realize that everything had been for her...he had become a director because she loved his work. He made her go to the police because he loved her too much to see her get hurt.

He had lived in misery so that she would never have to speak with him again.

Dawson pulled up slowly to the dock on Joey's side of the creek. He looked at the house that lay before him, and he could barely recognize it. It seemed as though Bessie had knocked the house down and totally rebuilt it.

It was now brick and much wider and taller; it probably had two stories. The tacky lawn furniture they used to have was gone. If it looked as good on the inside, it was probably one of the best houses in Capeside. What a change from the shack they used to live in.

Dawson had come back to Capeside once in the past seven years; for his father's birthday in December during sophomore year at L.A. Community. He had been too afraid to see Joey, prompting him to stay away from the town his once called home.

Pacey came out to California to see him, once every three months. Mitch had paid for the airfare, because he knew how much both men relied on the other for advice and support; he knew that Pacey was the only solid thing in Dawson's life. Pacey had never judged Dawson and had been his friend through everything, no matter how much his life sucked or however how selfish Dawson had been. Dawson was like Pacey's long-lost brother, and although he had heard the saying "Blood is thicker than water" many times in his 23 years, Pacey knew that his friendship with Dawson was like the ones that few friends have. Mitch knew all this, so he made an effort to keep the two in touch. He knew that Dawson could not afford another loss.

But his efforts had gone in vain, for now Pacey was gone. It was not Mitch's fault, and Dawson could thank him for doing what he did in the time that Pacey had been alive.

Dawson stepped on to the porch and took a deep breath before ringing the doorbell. It would be awkward between Joey and him, but that was the least of his worries now.

"Yes, how can I..." Bessie's voice trailed off into a look of shock. "Dawson?" she questioned.

Dawson nodded his head and she hugged him. "I supposed you're not here to see me, are you?" Aimee ran up behind her mother.

"Mommy, who is he?" she asked, look up at Dawson.

"An old friend of Aunt Joey's, Aim," Bessie answered, affectionately patting her daughter's head.

"Hardly," Dawson muttered under his breath as Aimee hurried off to terrorize her brother.

"To go to Joey's room, go up the stairs, third door to your left,"Bessie instructed.

"Okay, thanks, Bess," Dawson replied as he hurried up the stairs.

"And, by the way, the house looks great!"

"Thanks, Dawson," Bessie shouted back, shutting the front door.

*Joey, please don't be difficult...I know Dawson could make you happy if you listen to a word he has to say.*

Joey began putting lip liner on as she realized the oddity of what she was doing. When had she started to care about how she looked? Even this showed that everything had changed.

Her thoughts were ended when someone knocked on her door. "Bessie, what do you want?" Joey shouted, irritated.

"Um, it's not Bessie," a voice answered quietly. Joey looked up and dropped her lip liner.

"Dawson," she replied, amazed that he was here, "what are you doing here?"

"We need to talk. Not just about last night, but about what happened between us," he responded, sitting on her bed

Joey nodded and noticed he was holding something. "What are you holding, Dawson?"

He held the letter up higher as his gaze turned to Joey. "It's a letter from...Pacey. Mr. Witter found it and gave it to me this morning. He found it in Pacey's room. It's dated October 12, 2006...a week before he died."

"Oh my God,"Joey murmured under her breath, shutting her eyes. She opened them and sighed. "Are you going to read it?"

Dawson took a piece of college-ruled paper out of the envelope and handed it to Joey. "I don't want to read it to you."

Joey nodded and took the letter from Dawson and started reading.

Dear Dawson,

I never thought that I'd be the kind of person to write a goodbye letter to someone...I never thought this was how it was going to turn out. I just have this feeling that I'm going to die soon, and I just wanted to say goodbye to you.

I know you're probably thinking, "Who are you, and what have you done with the real Pacey?" but I just want you to know what you have done for me has meant a lot. You never judged me by my station in life, even if it was a living hell.

When Joey broke up with you and you were miserable, you were still there for me. Sometimes you got a little too absorbed in your relationship, but I forgive you. Even when you lost your dream, you still encouraged me to pursue mine, and that has always meant a lot to me.

I don't know how I know I'm going to die soon, but I know. Someone will find this letter in my room and give it to you, I know it. I just think that my life isn't worth living anymore-I don't deserve to live. But you, Dawson, you have so much potential, something I never had.

I know that you have this whole tumultuous relationship with Joey right now, but you'll find a way. You always have. Anyway, the way it was supposed to be was that you and Joey in an enormous house in Los Angeles, watching your two children swim around in your Olympic sized pool. I know you don't script things out anymore, but that's what the script says, at least in my book. Maybe I should be in that scenario, too, but maybe it's too late now.

I've used a page and a half to express my gratitude toward you, when really, all I want to say is thank you. Thank you for putting up with me, never giving up on me...but most of all, thank you for being my friend.


Joey dried her eyes. "I never thought Pacey was capable to be so corny," she smiled weakly.

Dawson laughed and smiled back. "I just wish...I wish he could be here right now." He paused. "Maybe I'm cursed or something..."

"Dawson, why would you say a thing like that?" Joey questioned curiously.

"Everyone I've loved, I have lost. It's ultimate. I know my parents love me, but it's not the same as it was before my mother moved to Philadelphia. It used to be that they loved me as a family, but now, just divorced parents. I lost you, and now I've lost Pacey."

"Dawson, I'm sorry for what happened that day...I was so angry at myself for wearing the wire and I took it out on you, even though you were protecting me. I mean, I would have been killed in that fire if it wasn't for you...I wish I had been."

"Why would you wish that upon yourself, Jo?" Dawson asked.

"Dawson, your life was ruined because of me. I took all my anger out on you and your filming ability decreased so you didn't get into UCLA or NYU or any of the good film schools out there!"

"Don't blame yourself, Joey. It gave me the time to re-evaluate everything. I realized that I can't analyze things that have been done because I can't do anything. There was this song that my friend from work, Eve, always sings...she learned it from camp, and part of it went, 'We cannot return, but only look behind from where we came,' and I realized how true that really was. I can't go back to change my junior and senior years so that I might have gotten into a good film school, as much as I wish I could."

"Dawson, the past seven years have been a living hell for me. I realized what I mistake my reaction was, because not only did I ruin your life, I ruined mine. I spent so much time wanting to swallow my pride and go crawling back to you, because you were everything I ever wanted...and 16 years old. You were bound to make a few mistakes and it was unfair of me to create a perfect image of you."

Dawson got up off the bed and headed for the door. "I should really get going, Jo, I guess I'll see you later." He just wanted to get out of her room before anything could conspire between would just be too much right now.

Joey got up from the chair to her vanity. "Wait, Dawson!" She ran over to him. "Yeah, Jo?" he asked.

"Why'd you come here, Dawson?" Joey unintentionally began to get closer to him.

"I don't know...I forget," he answered, closing his eyes as he leaned closer.

Their lips touched, and everything came back to them. The pain of their messy breakup, how they hadn't kissed anyone else in the past seven years, just waiting for the other to come around.

The kiss got more passionate as tears streamed down Dawson's face. He didn't know how to react to this. It felt so good, but at the same time, he knew it wasn't right.

"Joey, I can't do this," he told her as he walked out the door, his letter in his hand. He was halfway down the hall before Joey realized she was losing him again.

"Wait, Dawson!"

"Joey, I've waited for seven years. I can't wait any longer!" he called back to her, reaching the staircase.

"Why don't you let me help you? I know you have feelings, but it's almost as don't feel them anymore..." Joey replied.

"Hiding your feelings is all part of the elements of survival, Jo, and nothing will change that!" he yelled to her as he ran down the staircase and out the door.

The next part will be the last. I know this is not my usual wall flowery writing, because this is not happy. It will not end happily. No one is going to be happy, but I don't care. It'll probably make me cry because I hate sad endings, but I just feel that this is not the kind of stories that end with the two lovers riding off into the sunset.

Beside...if Pacey doesn't get a happy ending, nobody does...I know. I'm seriously obsessed.

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