War of Nerves by: Becci


Summary: A year after the last part, Joey and Dawson are reunited under similar circumstances.
Author's Notes: It’s been so long since I last wrote a part, I’ve almost forgotten what’s been going on. Still, if you want me to write more, you gotta tell me.

Thanks to – Susannah, who turns 18 tomorrow. Stop being a Dawson and enjoy being able to buy alcohol legally, unlike the rest of us!

‘Monday on the line, when you know that now's the time,
to leave and be free, beware of your destiny,
when that moment arrives, wild visions through the mind,
and all I see is what used to be, my life could seem like a memory.

(Chorus) I don't ever wanna feel pain,
wanna be ready when you call my name,
I don't ever wanna feel fear
coz every night, feels alright, when you're near.........

Battle through this war of nerves,
when your life, it takes a turn,
what I have is what I feel,
well in my mind, you're lying here,
Feel that un-holy dread, there's a piece of me, in all he says,
all kinds of big stuff inside my head,
this stage fright in my own bed.....


Don't wanna be like a voice without words,
coz I need you here with me,
Don't wanna be alone in this world,
(Now that I), Will I surpress my fears?
And will I beat this war of nerves?

I don't ever wanna feel pain,
when its over will I feel the same?
I don't ever wanna feel fear,
This war of nerves that I reserve for when you're here............


- War of Nerves by All Saints

Dawson stood alone in the airport, listening to various foreign voices and accents. Everybody seemed to have a purpose, unlike him. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing there. Except for a piece of card in his pocket. The invitation. He’d received it in the post a few weeks ago, and had worried about coming or not and what the implications of either would be. The envelope was written in Bessie’s careful handwriting. She’d had to redirect it after having it sent to her. She’d been given that instruction. Inside the envelope was a piece of white card with the words that had made Dawson’s heart drop and stomach rise. After reading it, he’d actually let go of the invitation. In a simple yet elegant curled font read the words, ‘Mr and Mrs Gerald Higgins request the pleasure of the company of Dawson Leery and guest to the wedding of their son Mark Anthony Higgins and Josephine Elizabeth Potter’. It then went on to give the name of the church and dates and times. Included in the envelope had been a return ticket first class from Boston to Heathrow Airport and a note in Joey’s familiar handwriting. ‘Dawson, Don’t bother about the RSVP. I’d like you to come, but if you’re too busy, don’t worry. JP’. That was it. A simple note that could have been written to anybody. And her old abbreviation. She’d preferred JP until the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ had come out, when she’d reverted to Joey.

“Hey buddy,” Pacey said as he and Jack approached. “Sorry we made you wait, but apparently I look like a drug smuggler. But hey, I found Jack, so are you ready to get going?” Pacey had also received a similar invitation, but without a partner, he had come alone. Dawson had done the same.

“I’m not sure I want to go,” Dawson said after shaking Jack’s hand.

“Dawson, you have to. We’ve been through it a hundred times. Let her marry this chap. Let her be happy. If the two of you can’t be together, then be apart,” Pacey said.

“How can she be happy with someone she’s known for such a short time?” Dawson asked. “She’s only been here a year. And she only left your house nine months ago,” he said to Jack.

“Well, at least let’s go and see her. She hasn’t called me in months,” Jack revealed. “I for one want to go and meet the man she’s prepared to marry.” Dawson nodded dumbly, and they made their way out of the terminal to the car park, where Jack’s car lay waiting.

“So, what do you think he looks like?” Pacey asked.

“Who knows. Joey probably doesn’t go for looks,” Jack pointed out.

“After all, she went out with all three of us!”

“And most of the population of the United States,” said Dawson, quickly regretting it. “Sorry, it’s just… I don’t know what to expect. Is she gonna be a wild spirit like in New York? A confused and vulnerable woman like in Las Vegas? Or a mixed up yet undeniably sexy teenager from Capeside? Or something completely different?”

“She’ll always be Joey,” Pacey said wisely. “And you’ll always love her.” Dawson shrugged, unable to put his feelings into words.

It turned out that she was none of the above. And completely different from what they were expecting. Dawson’s first glimpse of the changed Joey was when Jack pulled his car into the drive of the Carters’ home. While they had booked themselves into a hotel, all three wanted to go and see Joey. While Pacey and Dawson had been warned by Jack that, contrary to American films, not all English people lived in castle or sprawling estates, this was hardly a two up, two down semi-detached. The house was in a rural community, only fifteen minutes by car from the outskirts of London, yet easily filled three acres. And as they got out of the car, they saw a young woman stood with three small children. As they approached, they heard one of the children cry, “I hate you!” before giving the woman a swift kick in the leg. She then ran off. One of the others ran straight after her, while the other seemed to apologise before following the others. As the men approached even closer, the woman turned around to face them. It was Joey. She smiled as she recognised the familiar faces.

“You came!” she cried as Jack and then Pacey hugged her. Dawson kept back slightly. She released Pacey and looked in his direction. They shared a moment of silent acceptance, before she broke into a bigger smile. “I was so sure that you wouldn’t come,” she whispered, her voice dense with emotion.

“How could I miss it, kiddo?” he asked grinning as he picked her up and swung her round. As he placed her to the ground, he realised how different she looked. She was as tall as ever, but skinny. She couldn’t weight more than 100 pounds. And she looked pale, with dark rings around her eyes that had obviously been coated with make up in an attempt to hide the shadows. Her once long, curly, luxurious hair had been harshly cut into a blunt bob just below the ears, and the dress that she wore was ill fitting, hiding her figure. In other words, the exact opposite of the typical blushing bride-to-be. As if sensing what he was thinking, Joey pulled her arms into a defensive hug around herself. She chewed on her lip for a split second before turning to the other two.

“So! Jack! I’m so sorry I haven’t called for a while. How are things going with Tom?” she asked.

“Well, actually we broke up. But…” Jack began.

“Oh no. Still, he wasn’t good enough for you anyway. You’re better off without him. Actually, there’s this guy who works in the local supermarket who’s gay and really cute. You might like him…” she rambled before Jack cut him off.

“We got back together, and it’s going really well,” he continued.

“What?” Joey said as if she hadn’t heard him.

“You didn’t let me finish,” Jack explained.

“Oh…” Joey said, before realising what she’s said about Jack’s now very serious boyfriend. “Oh…”

“Don’t worry, you’re not the first,” Jack comforted her.

“Pacey, how are you doing? Please don’t tell me you’ve broken up with and then made up with some woman. Actually, as you’re not here with a partner, I assume that she’s back at the hotel.”

“Nope. No woman, hence no partner. But thanks for assuming that I did have someone,” Pacey said smiling.

“Oh dear. Well, look at me! Where are my manners? Please, come inside. I know that Mark’s just dying to meet you all. And no doubt you want to meet him, give him the once over.” She pointed them towards the house and the open door. As Dawson passed her, she grabbed his arm. “Dawson, can you do me a favour?”

“Depends on what it is,” he replied.

“I’ve told Mark that you were my best friend from childhood. He doesn’t know about most of my past, and definitely not about us… He think I’ve never been with a man before.” Dawson’s mouth dropped open.

“What is he? Some sort of Victorian?” Joey shook her head.

“It’s nothing like that. I’ve just not told him, and I don’t think it’s the right time with you being under his roof, OK. Promise me you won’t say anything?” Dawson looked at her incredulously, but seeing something close to fear in her eyes, he consented. And they followed Jack and Pacey into the house.

As they entered the house, a voice called out, sounding like that of an old lady.

“Joey dear? Is that you?”

“Yes, Kay. It’s me. I just wanted to introduce some guests to you,” Joey replied as she led the men into the living room. They found an elderly couple sat in armchairs. “Kay, Gerry, meet Jack, Dawson and Pacey, three of my best friends from when I was at school,” Joey presented her friends.

“How delightful,” Kay exclaimed as each of the three young men kissed her cheek, then shook Gerry’s hand. “What charming young men. Are you all American too then?”

“Yeah,” Jack said. “But I live in Manchester at the moment. I moved here a couple of years back.”

“If you’re all such old friends, then why haven’t we be told all about you?” Gerry asked. Joey shrugged.

“She doesn’t tell us a lot about her past,” Kay informed Dawson, Pacey and Jack. “Still, she’s a lovely girl, and a friend of hers will always be welcome in our home.”

“Kay, you’re embarrassing me,” Joey pleaded, her cheeks faintly pink.

“Would you lot like a drink? Please sit down.”

“Don’t be so silly,” Gerry said. “Don’t think you have to stay here with us. Why don’t you take them down to the pub to have a chat away from your future parents-in-law? When Mark comes home from work, we’ll tell him where you all are.”

“OK. Come on, guys,” Joey said, her face showing signs of strain. The three men followed her out of the room.

“Parents-in-law? I assumed they were this Mark’s grandparents,” Pacey whispered to Dawson, who nodded in agreement.

“Why are her only friends men?” Kay whispered to Gerry, who nodded in agreement.

Sorry there’s not much here, but I’m gonna try and hurry up a little with this story. Please make sure you send back some feedback or suggestions. I’m a brave girl, I can take some criticism.

In the next part: How old is Mark? Why is Joey so thin and quiet? What is she afraid of? Will Dawson let her marry this man? And why are Joey’s friends all men? This and more coming soon (I hope).

Becci Wooster
22nd November 2000


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