Author's Notes: A huge thanks goes out to everyone who wrote to support me on this new story. Fanfic feedback keeps me going!!! Especially Becci. Hon, you are the best! Thank you so much.
Things continued slowly, paced, for the next week. After school, Dawson would go visit Joey, making sure she ate, showered, and did her make up work for school. Officially, under the school's registrar's, she was an excused absentee.
Unofficially, Bessie had been attending numerous meetings with principals, guidance counselours, and teachers, with Joey's therapist in attendance. Bessie had quickly explained to Dawson that they had decided to take it day by day. If Joey did the make up work she could keep up with the other members of the Junior class. It was a fight to get Joey to concentrate, one that required both Dawson and Bessie's efforts.
On the weekend Dawson showed up at the house grinning. Joey answered the door in her usual bathrobe. However, Dawson was happy just to see her voluntarily out of bed. Joey scowled at him. God, she hated that grin! It was so mocking and cocky. As if he knew she would do what he wanted!
"What do you want, Dawson?" She sat back down in front of the Flinestone's. She asked this even though she had known he would come.
Dawson smirked, "Now's not the time for that. We're going on a walk today."
"Like hell we are."
"I bet you haven't had breakfast yet, have you, Jo?" Joey put on her own smirk.
"As a matter of fact, I have. Bessie made me some cereal before she left for the law office she's receptioning for."
"Hmm," Dawson seemed to consider this. He walked toward the kitchen purposefully.
"Dawson! Dawson Leery! Where do you think your going?" When Dawson reached the kitchen he picked up a new box of Cheerios, unopened.
"This the cereal you ate, Jo?" He asked politely.
"She threw the old box away," Joey defended herself. Dawson lifted the garbage lid and shook his head.
"Don't lie to me, Joey." Joey turned her head away.
"Haven't I been good Dawson? Haven't I been eating? Why are you pushing me like this!?" Dawson grabbed her by the shoulders.
"Because I care about you okay? Isn't that a good enough reason?" He paused. She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to yell. Go get dressed, Joey." Quietly, with no further protest Joey turned and walked away. Dawson sighed as he got eggs out of the refridgerator. He put a hand up to his head. It occured to him that Joey was very sick and with one wrong move he could make it worse.
As he fried Joey an egg (only one, he knew she wouldn't eat more) he had a thought. As soon as he went for a walk with Joey down the creek, he would go talk to the only person who could really understand and give him advice.
"So, how is Andie?"
"She's doing better," Pacey nodded. "She's coming along. The doctor's let her leave the hospital, so now she's living at her home in Providence."
"Any word on her tearful homecoming?"
"Not yet," Pacey's face slumped.
"You must be anxiously anticipating it," Dawson reached over to take a handful of chips out of the bag sitting on Pacey'snightstand.
"Anxious is definitely the right word," Pacey paused.
"What do you mean?" Dawson asked curiously.
"Nothing. Nothing, man," Pacey brushed off his question. Dawson shrugged. If Pacey didn't want to talk about it no way was he going to force the issue. He was having enough stuff on his mind pertaining to Joey.
"So, Dawson," Pacey took a long draught of his Coke. " I don't think you came here to watch ESPN and talk about my love life. What's on your mind, bro? A certain brunette?" He grinned. Dawson rubbed his eyes.
"Pacey, be serious."
"Okay," the grin disappeared. "What's going on?"
"What's going on is that Joey is in such a fragile mindset I am absolutely terrified that at some point all of my intervening will set her back." Pacey nodded.
"And.. I don't want to do that to her. All I want is for her to get better, to come back to school, to go on living and being us, Dawson and Joey."
"You still want a relationship?" Dawson shook his head.
"I don't know. But I want something... I.. I love her."
"Then there's only one thing you can do," Dawson looked up, ready to absorb the advice. "Be there."
"That's all? Be there?" He seemed skeptical.
"That's all," said Pacey, putting a hand on Dawson's shoulder. "Anything else and you'll pressure her. Maybe I can.."
"What? You can what?"
"Maybe.. Maybe I can help," Pacey stared, deep in thought. Dawson looked at him hard. What was he thinking?
Joey tossed and turned. The nightmares continued to haunt her. It was always similar, she was at a huge party, all of these people surrounding her, Dawson on her arm. She was laughing and enjoying herself marvelously.
Suddenly people began to fade out. Her family: Bessie, Alex, her mom; then all of her friends, all of the people of the past and future, until only she and Dawson were left.
"Dawson," she whimpered. "Don't leave me."
"I don't love you anymore, Josephine. You're just Joey, the convict's daughter; just Joey, the waitress; just Joey, the little girl; just Joey, just Joey, just Joey..." Dawson began to fade out.
"No, Dawson! Don't leave me! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Joey screamed hysterically and slumped to the floor.
"Joey! Joey!" Dawson shook her furiously. "Wake up!" After leaving the Witter's, Dawson had returned home to finish some chores. Then he'd driven his car over to the Potter's five minutes ago to get Joey ready for her therapist. He had wondered, as he climbed the steps, what would Bessie have done if he hadn't come back? He ignored the thought, and ran up the steps. As he entered the house, he had heard her yelling.
Joey gasped and automatically hugged Dawson tightly. On auto pilot, Dawson put his arms around her, shocked at hownatural it still felt. Joey sobbed and sobbed until she didn't have any tears left in her.
"It'll be okay," Dawson repeated softly, over and over again. Finally, when she was done crying, Dawson helped her get dressed. The nightmare and crying fit had spent what little energy she had, so Dawson was forced to button her cardigan over her t- shirt for her. Then he put on tennis shoes over her thick socks. He sighed as he realized she must have been cold again. Why wouldn't she just eat more?
Joey sat there miserably, vaguely aware that Dawson was dressing her. For the past three months her mind had been in a thick fog. She hadn't cared. She hadn't wanted to break through the mist. Now she was just beginning to see what was beyond the cloudiness. Maybe if she tried harder... no, she was too tired. Tired of it all.
She stood up. Why was she standing? Oh, Dawson had lifted her up. That explained it.
Dawson looked at her. Joey's eyes had the glazed look again, the one that terrified him so much. He found himself reaching out to slap her. He didn't do it hard, just lightly on the cheek. He was shocked at himself. He swore up and down that he would never hit a girl. But once Joey got too far into the glaze he knew he would lose her for at least a couple of days.
Joey, startled and showing the first real sign of the old Joey in months, slapped him back. Hard. Dawson grinned and took her hand, leading her to his car.
"How are you, Joey?" The therapist shifted in her seat.
"Fine," Joey mumbled. Annie Stevensen tried another technique.
"Do you want to talk about anything?" Joey shrugged and pulled her knees up to her chest in the easy chair she sat on.
"C'mon Joey. We were doing better than this. We started talking last week." Annie paused. "Have you had that dream you told me about again?" Joey nodded miserably, continuing to stare at the huge fish tank across from her. "With Dawson leaving you?" Joey nodded once more. "Joey, is Dawson the boy whose been bringing you here for the past few weeks?" Another nod. "Why don't you tell me about him.. and you. Your relationship?" Joey finally looked up at the therapist.
After a few prolonged moments, she whispered, "Okay," and she began to talk. She talked and talked and talked to Annie's amazement. She told her about their friendship, when she first realized she loved him, their break up and make up, until she finally got to that day. The day no one talked about.
"Let me ask you a question," said Anne. "Do you blame Dawson for your father's arrest?"
Joey turned her head back to the fish tank. The little blue fish seemed to be chasing the yellow one. "No."
"No?" Anne repeated, surprised.
"But you told him you did.. why?" Joey refused to look at Anne as she answered this question.
"When I was dating Dawson, every time our relationship.. escalated.. I got scared. Terrified that he would find out I was not the person he wanted. Terrified that I couldn't have a good relationship, like it was a bad gene from my dad or something."
"So it was about commitment?" Joey shifted uncomfortably.
"Kinda. The first time it was about, well, sex." She glanced up at Anne to see if it was okay to talk about this. Anne smiled encouragingly. "We were getting to that point, y'know, when you can't go back. And I was scared that we'd start doing something and he would see.. just me. Just Joey. Just his best friend. And then, when he put me and my welfare ahead of his own wants in keeping our relationship going, I freaked.. I.. I knew it wasn't right, but I kept thinking, he'll regret this someday. When he figures outhe could have so much more. I knew it was all my fault my fahter was dealing drugs again. I wasn't a good enough daughter. I asked for too much. When Dawson realized what I had done, who I really was, he would want out. I tried to set him free."
"But he kept coming back."
"Yeah," Joey smiled a little at Anne. "He did, didn't he?"
"Maybe his best friend was what he wanted. You told me how well he knows you, he must know what is in your heart. You can't blame yourself Joey." Joey bravely looked Anne straight in the eye.
"I don't know how to stop," she whispered.
"Wonder if you ever see me and I wonder if you know I'm there if you looked in my eyes would you see what's inside would you even care? I just wanna hold you close but so far all I have are dreams of you, so I wait for the day and the courage to say how much I love you, yes I do..."
"How'd it go?" Dawson asked, holding open the car door.
"Kay," said Joey, noncommitedly, climbing in the car slowly.
"Well, what'd you talk aobut?" Joey looked him levelly in his eyes before looking down to her seatbelt.
"You," she said softly.
"Oh," Dawson raised his eyebrows and slammed the car door shut before climbing into the other side.
Later that night, Joey lay in bed, deep in thought. He had loved her, everything he had done for her. The white picket fence, the support, the love; the past weeks he had dilligently taken care of her. Why? Was it really possible he still... loved her?
"Why the hell would he?" She muttered to herself, turning over. She lay there, depressed, until she heard the phone ring beside her. She sat up, wiping a few stary tears from her eyes, and answered.
"Hello?" she asked monotonically.
"Joey!" A voice screeched over the phone. Joey held the reciever out away from her ear a bit. "It is sooo good to hear your voice! How are you? I mean, I know how you are, obviously, because I talk to Pacey, but how do you feel?" Joey actually cracked a grin.
"Hi, Andie," She replied. "What's up?"
"I'm okay," said Andie breathlessly. "But I'm worried about you. Pacey told me whats been going on. Joey, I understand what your going through." Joey closed her eyes and leaned against the headboard of her bed.
"No you don't, Andie. You can't know how this feels."
"Please, Joey. Think about who you are talking to. I've had people talking about me before; about my wacked out family-- y'know, the gay brother, the nutty mom, the MIA dad..."
"Andie, people aren't all that this is about, it's--"
"About Dawson," interupted Andie. "You think I never tried to push Pacey away when I was hurting? I wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear and just let myself wallow. Pacey had to remind me so often that he loved me, that even though I had a mental disorder and felt crazy, I was still worthy of his love."
"Andie, there is--"
"Other stuff! I know. You resent your dad and are angry at your mom for leaving you. Can I remind you that I have a deceased brother and a dad who bailed on my family completely for a year?"
"Andie--" Joey couldn't get a word in edgewise.
"Look, Joey. You have to make a decision right now. You have to decide if life is worth it. You have to decide if you want to live through all the pain and the depression and endless, pointless therapy sessions to get to the other side. The side where your sister loves you and Dawson loves you, and you get to have the most amazing future with kids and a house and a career--"
"Wait! What did you just say, Andie?"
"I said you get to have a great future."
"No! The part about Dawson."
"Oh. He loves you?"
"How do you know that?" Joey asked frantically.
"Dawson told Pacey.. I figured you knew."
"I gotta go, Andie." Said Joey quickly. "Thank you so much!"
"You're welcome," said Andie, surprised. CLICK! "I'll send you my pyschiatric bill." Looking at the phone puzzledly, she hung up. "Well," she said aloud. Wandering from room to room in her large house in Providence, she thought about Pacey.
God, she missed him so much. She couldn't wait to go home-- yes, Capeside really was home now. Pacey was home. She worried though. Things had changed-- she had changed. All of her therapy sessions, the numerous discussions-- she couldn't be dependant upon Pacey anymore. One day he might not be there and then where would she be?
"Late at night when all the world is sleeping, I stay up and think of you And i wish on a star That somewhere you are Thinking of me too. Cause I'm dreaming of you tonight, Till tomorrow I'll be holding you tight And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be Than here in my room Dreaming about you and me,"
Andie worried that her not needing him as much might change their relationship. "Well of course it's going to change our relationship!" She said aloud. Andie heard her dad get up and come rushing from his study. She hit her hand to her head as he poked in his worried face.
"It's okay, Dad." She laughed. "I was just thinking aloud."
"I'll be dreamin of you tonight' till tomorrow I'll be holding you tight and theres no where in the world I'd rather be than here in my room, dreaming about you and me.."
Back in Capeside, Dawson was taking a bathroom break from his night of teenage Shakespearean take offs. Next on his list was Ten Things I Hate About You. Before he had been watching Ronnie and Julie. When he reopened the door to his room, he was shocked to see Joey. She was sitting on his bed, examining the video tapes.
"Joey!" He exclaimed. "You haven't been here since--" He broke off, not wanting to bring it up. Joey continued to examine the video tapes closely. "Did you-- row over?" he wouldn't have thought she was strong enough.
"Bessie drove me," still she didn't look up. What was up with her?
"Well," Dawson tried to be casual. "I was just about to--"
"I love you," Joey interupted him. His eyes opened wide. She shrugged, still not looking up. "Just so you know. I love you and I want you to help me get better." When she finally looked up, her eyes were glistening. She was amazed to see tears streaming down Dawson's face. She stood up and walked over to him, placing her head on his chest.
"Jo," he whispered. "Jo. Oh, God. You have no idea.. I wanted you to say that so badly." She nodded, wetting his shirt.
"There's a lot we still have to talk about, you know."
"Yeah," he said. "But we have time."
"Yes, we do," she said softly. He took her by the chin and tilted her head upward.
"I love you too. And I forgive you."
He shook his head. "No, thank you." He put his lips to hers and they shared a soft kiss.
"Late at night when all the world is sleeping,
I stay up and think of you,
And I still can't believe
that you came up to me a
and said I love you,
I love you too.
Now I'm dreaming of you tonight
till tomorrow and for all of my life
and theres nowhere in the world
I'd rather be
than here in my room
dreaming with you endlessly..."
Copyright, Selena.. "Dreaming Of You"
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