Crying by: Becci

Author's Notes: Hi! Yet another story! I keep thinking of new ideas. I'm nearly finished on part thirteen of True Love, it's the final part and it's gonna be quite long. The Parenthood and the Everyone Says I Love You stories are being put on hold 'cause I get no comments telling me to carry on writing those. I'm still working on the What Can I Do? story, but I don't know if they're up on any page yet. Can anybody who's got my stories on their page please e-mail me the URL? I can't remember where I've put them. Apart from Lisa's that is. BTW, Lisa? You rock. And Angie does too. And Laura! OK, on with the story……

Spoilers: Everything up to and including Pretty Woman. There may be references to any of the episodes before this. Pretend Breaking Away never happened, okay?

'It was so much easier before you became you.'
Sheryl Crow - Anything but down

Joey groaned as she opened her eyes. It was morning. Her carriage had turned back into a pumpkin. She'd run away from Prince Charming, and she doubted he'd ever come back with her glass slipper. He was probably too frightened. Now she had to go to school, and face him. And all those people who had seen her public embarrassment last night. She rolled over to see the time. Great! It was half past seven. Now she was going to be late too! She jumped out of bed. There was no time for a shower. She'd have to race to get changed, grab something quick to eat, and race out of the door. And she had to leave in ten minutes. Panicking, she opened her wardrobe. As if it was taunting her, the first thing Joey spotted was the dress she'd worn the previous night. She quickly grabbed a pair of jeans and a short top, shutting the door to keep the memories of last night hidden.

Dawson jumped as he realised his mother was shouting at him. He turned to face her.

"Dawson! Your father asked if you wanted a ride to school," Gail repeated. She was concerned at her son's mood.

"Yeah, sure," Dawson mumbled weakly.

"Then you'd better get in the car," Gail pointed out. Dawson stood up and took his bag. He walked out of the kitchen, and out of the house. His father had the car started in the driveway. Dawson opened the passenger door and entered the car. His father pulled out of the driveway, and Dawson stared out of the window, lost in thought.

He still couldn't fully understand his feelings. He'd been thinking about himself, his feelings for Joey, his feelings for Jen, Joey's feelings for him, and most of all about the situation last night. Despite what Joey believed, it wasn't just last night that he'd fallen for her. He'd known for a long time now that he had feelings for her. Not just the feelings you have towards your best friend. Until last night, he'd tried to ignore them. But last night, he'd lost the battle. And now, every time he thought of Joey, he couldn't get the image of her in that dress out of his mind. Suddenly, he knew the word that defined their relationship. It wasn't friendship or siblingship. It was a simple word that he'd often used and yet never fully understood. It wasn't an SAT word, and it had only one syllable. It was love. Pure love. He loved her. And he thought she loved him. After all, the song that she'd sung was all about unrequited love. There had been so many clues that he'd missed until last night. She'd been trying to wrestle with her feelings for months now. And yet, when he'd nearly confessed his thoughts to her, she'd run away. He didn't understand why. He'd just began to analyse the evening when Jen had asked him if they could get back together. He'd known immediately that he couldn't. It wouldn't be fair on Jen or on him. And if Joey truly did love him, it would break her heart. He couldn't do that to her. Not knowingly. But what could he say to her today at school?

Joey entered the classroom, late for her first period English class. She quickly scanned the room, and discovered the only seat was next to Dawson. Groaning inwardly, she sank into the seat, and tried to ignore Dawson's stare.

"Welcome, Ms Potter," the teacher said cheerfully. Mr Walder was fairly easy about studies. As long as his pupils tried their hardest, he was satisfied. "And may I congratulate you on last night's performance? You were absolutely stunning. We were just discussing the rights and wrongs of pageantry. On reflection, we are very lucky in that we have the second placed contestant, the only male competitor and the young man who filmed the proceedings in this class. Could I possibly ask you to come up in turn and discuss this subject?" The teacher didn't pause for an answer, only for breath. "Mr Witter, you first. Come up here and tell us why you joined the list of budding beauties?" Pacey grinned, and stood at then front.

"I did it to show that these contests are sexist and biased," Pacey said. "I found out that because of my gender, I wasn't entitled to an equal chance to the prize. If it had been a woman, there would have been outrage. As it was only me, no one cared. And that sucks! It really sucks!"

"OK. I think we'll stop you there," Mr Walder announced, realising that Pacey was about to put his foot in his mouth. "Ms Potter? What about you? What are your feelings on this subject? You've always been fairly articulate."

Joey grimaced, and made her way to the front. Pacey sat back down in his seat, somewhat dejected. Joey took a deep breath. She knew the whole class was watching her. Particularly Dawson. She looked at him briefly. He was staring right at her.

"Unlike Pacey, I knew that beauty pageants are biased, and cruel. I thought it was degrading, an archaic display of how townspeople judge people by how they appear. And if it hadn't of been for the money offered, I never would have even thought of entering. I've always pitied those that did. And now I'm one of them. The reason I entered was not to prove anything to anyone. It was to win the money on offer so that I might get to university at some point in my life. I know that people look at me and judge me by my family. I know you all see me as Josephine Potter, convict's daughter. You see my sister and Bodie, and you judge them. And what's worse, you judge me because of their actions. But last night, I put aside my hatred of this whole town to try and win some money. And I wish I hadn't. It's my biggest regret. I got all dressed up, and destroyed what little stability I have in my life. I may have ruined the only true friendship I've ever had, and all I got in return was a free beauty day." Joey paused, and shrugged. "That pageant stood for everything I hate. I entered, and became a part of it. But I don't think they should be ceased. Let there be other fools like me. At least I learnt a lesson this weekend. And Pacey did too. And maybe you all will. Then my screw up will have had some purpose." She stopped here, feeling hot tears fill her eyes.

She looked at Mr Walder, who nodded, giving her permission to sit back down. She did so, not looking into Dawson's open eyes, which were full of love. He couldn't believe that she thought it was all her fault. He blamed himself entirely. Why did she think she's done something wrong? It was his cowardliness that had ruined things. He knew he needed to talk to her. To tell her he loved her. To stop her suffering. Just as he began another self indulgent analysis, the teacher called him.

"Mr Leery? Would you please come here and discuss the media's love of pageants? Why exactly do you think they asked you to film the evening's proceedings?"

Dawson got up and stood in the place that Joey had filled just moments earlier.

"Well, I suppose it was to fill people's curiosity about such events," Dawson began. He looked straight at Joey, whose head was looking down at the table. "Like Joey and Pacey described, people judge way too easily. That's the reason for these contests existing. And my report would have enabled other people to analyse and judge the contestants. Like Joey, I regret doing it. The story falls under the heading of 'Human Interest', but I don't see the fascination in watching small minded people say who's better than who. But last night, I realised for the first time that whilst outward appearances do matter, it's the inward ones that attract a person. It's the personality that leads to proper friendships. The contest made me take off my blinkers and look at both sides of people. And I have a lot more admiration and respect for my two best friends because of it." Dawson sat down silently. Joey looked at him for a second, and half smiled at him.

"Well, thank you all for very emotive speeches. Maybe beauty contest are a reflection of our failings as society. I think you've all given us something to think about…" Mr Walder congratulated.

Joey slowly put all her books back in her bag. She was biding her time. She saw Dawson waiting, and then slowly walk out of the room. She waited a few more moments, to make sure he wouldn't see her. Then she too left the room. At the doorway, she turned left. A hand reached out to grab her. Busted. Sure enough, there was Dawson. He'd waited for her.

"Dawson. Please. Leave me alone," she said weakly. It was too painful to be around him right now.

"Jo…we need to talk about last night…" he pleaded. She looked at him, and a lump formed in her throat.

"I'm going to be late for Biology," she tried to explain.

"Come on, Joey. We need to discuss this. Don't hit and run again."

"We've got a free period fifth, haven't we?" she asked rhetorically. She knew his timetable better than he did. Dawson nodded. "We'll talk then. I'll meet you at my locker, k?" she asked. He let go of her arm, and she quickly hurried off down the corridor. He sighed, not knowing what he could tell her. No, that wasn't it. He knew what he had to say. But he didn't know how to say it.

'You recognised my barrier to love, I know there's nothing worse than unrequited love.'
The Corrs - Love To Love You

Joey paused for a moment before approaching her locker. Dawson was waiting there for her, but he hadn't yet seen her. She looked at him. Really looked at him. Wiping any memory of his persona from her mind, she remembered what he had said earlier in English. She had previously thought that she was in love with him. But since then, she had considered the thought that she loved the person he was. She'd accused him last night of only falling for the exterior that she had created. She wanted him to love her as a person. Now she realised that she had never looked at his exterior. She'd spent the past few hours thinking about how, for any relationship to be successful, she'd have to be in lust as well as love. Dawson was tall. She'd never really thought about it before, but he was. She knew that she was tall, but he was still a few inches higher than she was. His body was in perfect proportions. As a child, he'd been tubby, but now… His hair was good too. She knew that he didn't spend hours on it, so it must be naturally…good. Joey suddenly smiled at the knowledge that she was attracted to him physically. As if he knew he was under her scrutiny, Dawson turned around and saw her. He smiled back. She walked over.

Dawson watched as Joey made her way to him. How could he never have realised how beautiful she was until now? They'd been friends for years, and only now did he appreciate her fully. In truth, she probably looked better today than she did in all that makeup. He'd never been one for cosmetics. And Joey was beautiful without them.

"Dawson," she greeted.


"So, where shall we talk?" she asked, quickly exchanging books with her locker.

"Let's go to the Icehouse. I could do with some lunch." Joey's face fell slightly. "Come on, my treat!" Dawson offered. Joey smiled at him, and they both made their way off down the corridor.

Luckily, the Icehouse wasn't too busy when they got there. Only a few tables were being used. The pair went up to the counter, where Bodie was taking orders.

"Turkey Club, heavy on the Mayo and a coke please," Joey asked. Dawson smiled at the memory of Jen ordering the same thing in a more feminine style. Bodie wrote down the order, and looked up at Dawson expectantly.

"I'll have the same," Dawson said cheerfully.

"That'll be six dollars fifty," Bodie said. Dawson dug about in his bag for his wallet. Bessie came up to the counter, and smiled at Bodie.

"But with staff discount, it'll be on the house," she said. Joey smiled at her. "May I ask why you two aren't in school?" she asked.

"May I ask you to mind your own business?" Joey shot back in good nature.

"We've got a free and we need to discuss something," Dawson explained. Bessie smiled at him.

"Have fun," she said, walking back to the kitchen.

Joey nervously ran her hand through her hair. They'd been eating for over 5 minutes in complete silence. She decided to initiate the inevitable conversation.

"I'm sorry about last night, Dawson. I wish I could turn back the clock, but I can't. So can we just try to pretend it didn't happen? It's best in the long run."

"Sure, Jo. If that's what you want. But you were wrong last night. That wasn't the first time I'd had sweaty palms around you. It won't be the last." Silence once more enveloped the pair, as his words sunk in.

"But Dawson, we're friends. Can we really handle anything other than friendship?"

"I don't know, Joey."

"When Jen came, I knew exactly why I hated her. It was because I felt threatened. Pacey was your best guy friend. I was your female stroke generic buddy. You would play about with him, and talk to me. And then suddenly, you were opening up to Jen. And I didn't know who I was anymore. I'd always hoped that our relationship would, at some point, develop romantically. But there was Jen. You were kissing her. I was so jealous. And so lost. We need to clear all this up. We need to know exactly where we stand. We need to stop the sweaty palms." Joey stopped, and looked into his eyes. She penetrated his soul with her dark eyes. He was mesmerised. "Dawson, do you want us to be best friends? Do you want us to be 'just pals', or do you want something else? You need to decide. I don't know if I deserve to be any of those after my behavior over the past few months, especially last night." Joey stood up, with tears in her eyes. She'd laid her cards on the table. And she couldn't stand there whilst he refused her. She began to run away. She left Dawson standing behind in the Icehouse, staring after her.

'Make it last forever - friendship never ends.'
The Spice Girls - Wannabe

Joey sank down to the ground. She had stopped running and found herself outside Dawson's house, on the dock. She took off her shoes and socks feverishly, and dangled her feet in the cool water of the creek. She shut her eyes in an attempt to forget the scene that played over and over in her mind.

Her reverie was broken by a familiar voice.

"Jo?" It was Dawson. She sighed, knowing that this was it. The end of their friendship. Her heart was breaking already.

"What's the answer?" she asked timidly. She was scared. When silence ensued, she looked up at him. He was staring down at her. He held out his hand. She accepted it, and he helped her up off the floor. She stood for a few moments without breathing. She was only a foot away from him. She felt her face turn pink under his scrutiny.

"Are you in love with me?" Dawson asked finally.

"Yes," she replied.

"Good. Because that will make this so much better," Dawson said. He put his arms around her waist, and pulled her close to him. He quickly licked his lips in anticipation. The he leaned down, and kissed her.

Feedback time! Do you like it? It was originally going to be just one part, but if you want, I can continue it. Please send me some comments. Thanks to those who have already done so. I promise I don't bite. Please send criticisms and praises. Thanks for reading this!

©Becci Wooster
13th February 1999

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