It was about the end of their second week on the boat that Joey wrote to Dawson. It had been an impulse really. She hadn't thought it out, hadn't discussed it with Pacey, or considered how it would make Dawson feel. She just got out of bed one night about 2 am, and removing Pacey's arm from around her, sat down at the little table in their cabin with a piece of stationary and a pen.
Her letter was sprawled out across the blue page and it contained words that she meant from the very depths of her soul.
Dear Dawson, it read.
I miss you and I am thinking about you. Despite what happened back there in Capeside, you will always and forever be my best friend, Dawson. I need you to know that you can come to me with problems and when you need to analyze things to death.
I love you and Gale and Mitch. You are truly my family. Maybe what's happening with me and Pacey… well, maybe you can just think of it as adding another family member? No, maybe that's too much to ask…
I want to thank you for giving me my freedom. I never would have left if you hadn't said what you had, and you knew that. Yet you said it anyway. That makes you a true friend. And it means you really have grown up. You are not the same person you were a year ago. You loved me enough to let me go.
Please take care of yourself. Give Gale, Mitch, Jen, Jack, and Andie my love. I'll see you in August… I promise.
Joey S. Potter
With that, she stuck the small rectangle of paper into a matching envelope, licked and sealed it shut, and stuck on a stamp. The next day they stopped in a town, she sent it off.
She told herself she wasn't telling Pacey because she didn't need to explain her actions. She had a perfect right to write a letter to whomever she wished. However, in the back of her mind, she knew it might have made Pacey jealous and caused tension.
The trip had been almost completely without tension and Joey wasn't ready to give that up yet. She was happy living in her fantasy world where this trip went on forever and ever and they never had to go face the ruins of their friendships in Capeside. And out on the ocean, they didn't have to worry about the problems that a relationship has to face when other people are around. There were no families, friends, acquaintances or other people to hinder them.
The absolute truth was that both of them had words haunting them that they could avoid until the summer was over. Joey's were of Dawson asking how things could get magically better with Pacey. Pacey's were of Doug saying that he would end up alone in the end. Joey often scratched away in her diary, pondering love and how she herself went about loving. Pacey's thoughts remained contained in his head, as he examined the possibility of Joey forgetting him and going back to Dawson.
The night that "True Love" reached the docking area in the Florida Keys, Pacey and Joey celebrated by renting themselves a nice hotel room for the night, complete with a mini bar and Jacuzzi like thing in the bathroom.
Joey went straight for the shower as the boat didn't have one and she had had to bathe in the ocean for the past four days straight. Pacey went to the mini bar and opened it with the key the bellhop had provided.
"Joey," he yelled as the shower stopped running. "Check it out, there is like alcohol in here."
"Pacey, are you crazy?" She came running out of the bathroom in a bathrobe and towel wrapped around her head. "Put it back! Put… it … back!" She yelled, grabbing the small bottle of colored liquid from him and shoving it back into the small compartment.
"How in God's name did we end up in this room with alcohol? Hmmm? Is this even legal?"
"Well, see, Jo, not technically… I mean, you're sorta supposed to be eighteen to rent a hotel room and…" The words were barely out of his mouth before she began smacking him.
"Pacey, you bafoon! You could get us arrested! Do you have a fake ID? Is that it? I knew we should have just stayed at a Best Western!"
"Ow.. Jo… Ow… You're hurting me…"
"Good," she said, eyes flaming.
"God, you're sexy when you're all riled up," he commented, raising his eyebrows suggestively, before grabbing a pillow and hitting her lightly on the head with it.
"Oh, that's it you're dead!" She yelled, grabbing her own pillow. They fought with their pillows for a good while before both dropped onto the bed exhausted.
After lying down for ten minutes, Joey got up and went into the bathroom to change into her night clothes. Pacey picked up the remote control and turned on the tv. Seeing nothing good on television, he searched through their movie options.
Seeing Gone With The Wind, he chose that and the opening credits were already playing when Joey stepped out of the bathroom. Smiling brightly when she saw what was on the television screen, she hopped into Pacey's lap to watch the movie.
By the end, Joey was crying. Pacey had expected this to happen. It was a completely given fact that this movie made every girl cry, and for the life of him he could not figure out why.
When it was all over, they turned off the light and snuggled up to go to bed, the way they always did. This night was different however, because Pacey woke to hear Joey sniffling beside him.
"Jo… Jo… what's going on? Potter, what's wrong?" He leaned over groggily to turn on the small lamp beside the bed. She shook her head unable to speak through her tears.
"Joey, you're really scaring me here. Are you homesick? Is that it? Do you want to go home?" She shook her head again. "Are you sick? You don't feel good?" Once again, her head shook no. "Well, you're going to have to help me out a little more here, Jo. I'm terrible at guessing games." He put his arms on her shoulders to steady her as she took deep shaky breaths to calm down. "Jo, just tell me."
"What—What if I'm like Scarlett?" Of all the things that he had thought might have come from her mouth, that was probably the one Pacey least suspected.
"What… what are you talking about? What do you mean?" He asked, puzzled.
"What if everywhere I go I leave a mess? What if I can never love anyone right? What if I can't love YOU right?" She began to cry.
"Joey, you're going to have to catch me up here, because I think I am definitely missing something."
"It's just that," she ran her hand under her nose, trying to wipe away some tears, "Look at what I do to people, Pacey." She gestured obscurely with her hand.
"Look at your best friend. I not only managed to break his heart, no, I managed to do it three times! We always ran from each other the second life got hard."
"This is about Dawson," Pacey said somewhat harshly, removing his arms from where they had been protectively encircling her.
"No… No! This isn't about Dawson, you idiot! It's about you!" She said hysterically. "I have never, ever felt like this before. I am completely mystified by you. I am always on my toes with you and I love it. And I love you… a lot. And I'm scared, because I do not want to screw this up. I just want to freeze every day because I am terrified that on the next one I'm going to do or say something that will ruin this beautiful thing you and I have."
"Joey listen to me," He tried to take her hand, and she removed it. He grabbed it again. "Listen to me. I'm scared too, you know. You're not the only one that's blind in all this. I never ever expected to have what we have now. But I know that I love you and I know that whatever the future brings, we have the past and the present. And that's enough for me." She leaned into him.
"I love you, Pacey."
"I know. And I am so thankful for that…"
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