Independence Day by: Jeannie

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The next day at school was horrendous for Dawson. All he did was walk around in a daze thinking about Joey. Dawson stood at his locker collecting his books, and thinking back to the proceeding night when Joey pulled away.

Joey finally able to pull away whispered, "it's time for the speech, Dawson. The one you don't want to hear, but I have to say."

Dawson confused asked, "what speech, Joey?" Joey lost in Dawson's eyes reached out to stroke his cheek. "I need you to be in my life, Dawson." Joey realized these words would hurt and pulled her hand back, "But not as my boyfriend. I want us to be friends again. I miss you being my best friend."

Dawson, hurt, refused to accept her words. "I can't…how can I when all I do is look at you, and want more? I'm not going to give up like you did…I still want us to be together."

Joey stared at Dawson's determined face, her eyes red and puffy from crying. "I'm not giving up…I'm trying to save us. It's over, and we need to move on. We need to salvage our friendship. You know, the one we have spent years building."

Dawson's face was wet, but he did not acknowledge he might be crying. "I don't know if I can just be your friend. I love you."

Joey fought the tears cascading down her cheeks. "Try. If not for yourself then for me….I need my best friend right now."

Dawson caressed her tearstained face and smiled, "I'll do anything for you, Joey. You know that. I love you too much to let go, so if you want me to, I'll try."

They touched foreheads one more time, and shared a sweet kiss. The kiss was salty and wet from their tears. It signified the end of something not so simple, and the beginning of everything else. Joey left shortly after that. Bessie came and picked her up, and Joey waved as they drove away.

Dawson dissolved from this dream like state, and leaned his head against his locker. Feeling the pain and heart ache, he butted his head repeatedly into his locker. Dawson was hoping to pound out all the hurt and confusion but only succeeded in giving himself a headache. Ignoring the pain it brought him, pounded his head hard and harder.

  "Hey, wouldn't a hammer be better," joked a voice from behind him. Dawson turned to see Pacey standing smirking behind him. Dawson's eyes narrowed, and his face hardened.

"Go to hell, Pacey," snarled Dawson.

Pacey taken back but Dawson's hostility said, "whoa man…take it easy. You know I didn't mean anything…I was trying to get you to laugh. But by the looks of it…that's not possible." Dawson started to hurl his books into his locker.

"Yeah, well what do I have to laugh about? Not my girlfriend…oh excuse me ex-girlfriend, Joey dumping me again."

Pacey finally understood why Dawson was upset. Trying to calm Dawson down said, "hey, sorry man. I swear I didn't know. I guess that means last night didn't go as expected then."

Dawson getting more frustrated yelled, "Well it depends on what you expected. It wasn't how I expected since my ex-girlfriend Jen came by since I forgot to cancel our plans, and she and my other ex-girlfriend, Joey got in an altercation…then Joey dumped me again and this time plunged the knife deeper in my heart by requesting we just be friends. No, Pace, it wasn't anything how I expected."

Pacey, amazed, teased, "You mean Joey and Jen actually fought over you? That's wild, I'm sorry I missed it. Did anyone extract their claws or was there any hair pulling?"

Dawson shot Pacey a look that said you're treading on thin ice my friend. Pacey trying to lighten Dawson up said, "cheer up man…you should feel lucky."

Dawson depressed sighed and said, "I don't quite follow your point…how is being dumped a reason to feel lucky?"

Pacey rolled his eyes, "not that, Dawson…the part where two beautiful babes fought over you. That's every guy's fantasy and you actually lived it. Stand tall and feel proud…cause now every guy envies you including me. The part about Joey sucks, and I'm sorry."

Dawson, distressed, shook his head. "Don't be sorry, Pacey. Joey said it wasn't meant to be, so there's no need to be sorry. After all Joey knows everything," Dawson bitterly said.

Dawson, suddenly enraged, ripped all the pictures of Joey and him off his locker. Dawson felt better, like unleashing this anger was healing his wound. Dawson swung the door to his locker wide open, so it rattled on the hinges, and started to throwing stuff out of his locker. Dawson tossed Joey's and his stuff on the ground in attempt to rid himself of her. After they had begun dating, Dawson and Joey started to share a locker. It was natural for couples to do that, and it gave them an opportunity to spend time together, and pass each other notes during the break between class periods. Dawson had spent many times a day meeting her there, and sharing kisses with her when he was supposed to be gathering textbooks. After they broke up, Joey moved back to her own assigned locker, but left her belongings in his. Dawson couldn't stand the constant reminder of her stuff, especially when he couldn't have Joey. Dawson picked up Joey's blue jean jacket, and held it to his chest. Pacey watched helplessly, hesitant to do something since Dawson looked like he completely lost it. Dawson, still reeling from his outburst threw her jacket roughly on the ground, and finished cleaning out his locker. When he finished littering the floor, he shut the locker door and pounded his fists into it. Dawson didn't care about the crowd forming around him, after the last few weeks, he gave up caring what other people thought of him.

"Sure, if Joey says it's not right then it's not right. It doesn't matter that I still love her, and only want her. No, why does it matter how I feel since she doesn't care? It doesn't matter that I'm lonely and miserable without her. All that matters is that I smile and try not to flinch while she rips my heart out. Well screw her, Pacey…it does hurt. It hurts a lot. She means everything to me, and look how she treats me."

Pacey, at a loss for words, just stood there. Dawson punched his fist into the metal again leaving a dent. Pacey, trying to comfort Dawson calmly said, "Dawson she still loves you. Just give her time to come around."

Dawson laughed bitterly, "No, she doesn't need time. She made her decision and she just expects me to accept it. Well guess what…I'm done banging my head against a wall, and chasing after her. If that's the way she wants things to be then so be it. If she doesn't want me then I don't want her. I'll move on like she wants…it's over. Done…finished…final."

Dawson picked up his book bag, and playfully punched Pacey in the arm. "Thanks for the help, Pacey. I am a hundred percent over Joey Potter."

Dawson stepped over the possessions on the ground, and pasted a smile on his face as he walked through the crowd. Pacey watched him walk down the hall before stooping over to clean up the mess.

Pacey spoke quietly, "No, Dawson…this is far from over."

  Dawson made it through the rest of day wearing that fake smile, and pretending to be all right when he was falling apart inside. Dawson wasn't going to let Joey know how much he still wanted her. If she wanted him back then it would be up to her to chase after him now. Dawson acted reserved and calm when he saw her, which wasn't often since she continued to avoid him. Dawson made peace with Jen, and hung out with Pacey. When lunch time rolled around, Dawson entered with a huge smile on his face. To his disappointment, Joey didn't show up. He heard from Pacey that she was studying in the library. Dawson laughed and tried to act natural, but deep inside the ache for Joey throbbed. Dawson welcomed the end of the school day, so he could retreat to his room for some serious brooding and moping. Flipping on the television he flopped on his bed, and reached for the remote. Dawson's hand froze in mid air as he heard the last strands for a commercial.

"Have you ever felt alone, and misunderstood? Ever wonder why?"

Dawson's eyes glued to the television silently whispered, "this sounds like me."

"Well maybe it's time for a change…and a new look. Time to try Color Me Beautiful hair color."

Dawson laughed and, shaking his head, hit play on the VCR. Dawson laid back on his bed waiting for the opening credits and thought, God, I have lost it…I actually believed the key to my troubles was held inside a ludicrous advertisement for a hair dye. I really need to get a grip or next thing I know I'll actually believe that jargon and change my hair color to win Joey back. Dawson sat there still laughing, but his laughter was forced as the wheels inside Dawson's head started to turn. Pushing stop on the VCR jumped off his bed, and ran down the stairs yelling, "Mom…I have a favor to ask you."

Joey tried to study, but just sat there staring out into space. Joey felt depressed and couldn't seem to concentrate on the mounting homework perched in front of her, all she could think about was Dawson. Earlier in the halls, Joey had witnessed Dawson's uproar, and felt as defeated as he did. Joey talked to Pacey, and helped him clean up floor. Pacey gave her a serious look and said, "Dawson's hurting, Joey. Go easy on him because he's upset and very volatile, which we both know is unlike him."

Joey explained what happened the previous night. "I miss him, Pacey, but I need time to myself right now. Dawson isn't the only one hurting over this break up. I need time to figure out what is left between us…where we go from here. I have spent so much time pining away for Dawson…I forgot who I was. I want to know if it's true love or a crush. After Jen and I had it out, I realized how jealous I have been…I can't help wondering if it wasn't more jealousy than love…I do love him but I'm just not sure how much anymore. I can't stand the agony it brings me to be in love with Dawson Leery. All I do is cry…I have cried more over Dawson than I did when I lost my mom. I don't want to fight with him, Pacey. I just want my best friend back."

Pacey rubbed Joey's shoulders and whispered, "He's still your best friend, Joey. Dawson's just upset, and hurt. You know how he gets when things don't go his way…he pouts, whines, and holes himself up in his room watching movies. Just give him a day or two and then talk to him. You two will fix this, you've been friends too long to throw it away over a bad relationship."

Joey shook her head sadly and gathered her belongings off the ground. "I'm not so sure, Pacey. I've never been the one to hurt Dawson…what if he can't forgive me? How do I go on without him? I need him. I gotta go, thanks for being so understanding. I am glad we are finally civil to one another, Pacey. I care about you, and you're a good friend even though I don't say it."

Pacey taken back by Joey's sincerity smiled and said, "don't go soft on me, Josephine. I still intend to fight with you, but I agree you're a good friend and I'm glad to have this moment with you."

Joey nodded, "bye, screw up."

Pacey smirked, "bye, Cruella…be careful of falling houses."

Joey and Pacey laughed and Joey walked away feeling slightly better.

Joey's thoughts were interrupted by a ringing doorbell. Joey rose from her chair, and making sure the baby was asleep walked to the front door. Peering out she opened the door puzzled.


Jen smiled nervously, "Hi, Joey. May I come in for second I need to talk to you?"

Joey warily welcomed Jen into her house. Jen bit her lip and said, "sorry to disturb you, but I figured after last night we better talk."

Joey laughed and smirked, "didn't we do that last night, Jen?"

Jen looked at Joey's smiling face and felt relieved Joey wasn't angry. Jen felt herself smile and meekly whispered, "yeah…but this time I am planning on apologizing."

Joey, having no hard feelings toward Jen, said, "no need…I said just as many hateful things as you did. If anyone should apologize I should for starting the fight in the first place. Jen, last night I was upset…and I took my anger out on you. I have been bottling my feelings up for so long, they just kind of exploded. I didn't mean the things I said, I just needed to say them. It felt good for once to just release the tension I have been experiencing. I have been harboring a grudge against you for the wrong reasons. I used Dawson as an excuse to hate you, but I can't do that anymore because I don't really hate you. I listened to what you said to me last night and realized mainly what you said was true…you're right I am a bitch."

Jen shook her head, "no you're not…I am for being indecorous and jealous. I shouldn't have agreed to go to movie night…I did it knowing how furious you would be. I'm ashamed of the way I have been acting lately…you're right I would have done anything to get Dawson back. I realized it didn't matter what I did last night when he ran out after you, he'll always love you. I just need to accept it, and I will it just going to take some time. But I did mean it when I asked for us to be friends…I know I don't deserve your friendship after the way I have treated you but I'm hoping you might find it in your heart to forgive me and try again."

Joey rolled her eyes, "cue violins. Jen stop sugar coating everything you say…it's really annoying when you do that. You give me a tooth ache, you're so sweet, and I know being friends with you will no doubtedly give me a cavity. But I guess it would be wrong of me if I didn't try to give a friendship a chance, especially since Dawson isn't a viable option for either one of us anymore."

Jen smiled and said, "yeah, well no more chasing after the boy next door for me, I learned my lesson. I should have known no guy is worth throwing away a friendship for. No matter how cute and sweet he is but Dawson is also more than that he's…Uh, why don't I stop while you still like me. So friends, Joey?"

Joey arched an eyebrow and deciding she would probably regret her decision later said, "Friends. I guess it's better to be friends with you than enemies especially after I saw how down and dirty you fight. I see you have some spunk after all, and we need that around here. It livens up this back watered dump of a town."

Jen blushed at the mention of her insult. "Another thing to add to the growing list of things to be sorry for. I love it here, and didn't mean it. I mean my life as you already know wasn't exactly rosy back home in New York and, this place is peaceful. I feel at home here."

Joey walked to the kitchen and pulled open the fridge door. Retrieving something from the freezer walked to Jen sitting at the table. "Well, welcome home, Jen. I don't know what's supposed to happen during this female bonding moment but I suggest we celebrate over some cookie dough ice cream…after all a good sugar rush does the body good."

Jen accepted a spoon and dug into the carton. Holding up her spoon with a glob of ice cream on it said, "here's to friendship, Joey."

Joey held up her own spoon, and they clanked them together. Joey imitating Humphrey Bogart said, "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, sweet heart."

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