Breathing Room by: Jeannie


Dawson glanced in the mirror with a satisfied smile playing on his lips. Dawson grinned amazed at how he did something so bold, and daring. So, out of character of him. Running his hands through his newly cut hair he laughed. His blue eyes inspected himself carefully in the mirror until he acknowledged he look good. Dawson's eyes danced happily and his spirit rose. The reflection in the mirror was not of the same lovelorn fool, but of a new confident suave Dawson Leery. Dawson gave the mirror a dazzling smile and spoke in a self-confident voice; "Hi I'm Dawson Leery." Dawson took one look at the stupid grin on his face, and burst out laughing. He could not believe how him a sensible guy could so easily be taken in by a commercial. It was not like him, but lately not everything he did was like him. He felt like he did not know himself anymore. Dawson's smile vanished, and again his hopes crashed. Talking to his reflection in the mirror said, "This is preposterous. What have I done? To actually believe that an alteration of my appearance would win Joey back is ludicrous. I can't rely on animal magnetism to sway her decision." Dawson dropped the comb he had been holding in his hand, and sunk onto his bed. His burst of tenacity had faded, and he was left with a sickening sense of anxiety. Dawson knew what he told Pacey was lie; he was far from over Joey. Dawson tried to convince himself he could go on, but alone in his room, he realized he could not accept it could be over. Dawson could easily lie through his teeth, but he could not lie to his heart. He loved Joey, and this separation was slowly killing him inside. Dawson understood Joey needed time for her, and they had a rocky start to their relationship, but what he could not comprehend was why Joey kept pushing him away. If she needed distance he would give her distance, but Joey made it seem like he had cut himself completely off from her for her to figure things out. Dawson did not want to be excluded from Joey's life. In the past they always solved their problems together. Now Joey was determined to be on her own, and accept no assistance from Dawson. All Dawson wanted to do was be there for her, have her confide in him, and be able to comfort her. He wanted to feel needed, but Joey would not accept his help, and that left him feeling unwanted and unloved. Dawson felt lost and like everything he did lately was in vain. This was not about losing his girlfriend, especially since Dawson already knew the humiliation of being dumped. This was about loving and losing his best friend, the one person Dawson could not live without. Everything good in his life could be traced back to Joey. She made the good days, and brightened the bad days. It was hard for Dawson to explain in words, but Joey was the light in his life. She had a glow about her that just filled Dawson with happiness. Without her, his life was like it was now, dark, empty, and hollow. Dawson felt like he had fallen in a black hole. The farther he fell the darker and deeper the hole became. This thought made Dawson frown deeply, and sink deeper into depression. Without Joey, Dawson was alone, a frightening feeling he dreaded. Standing from his bed, he picked up the telephone. Dialing a number, Dawson was determined not to ever be alone, and knew just who to call to make sure that never happened.

Joey sat wearily at the table across from Jen at the Icehouse. Jen gave Joey a sympathetic smile, "Tough day at work, Joey."

Joey barely able to lift her head off the table nodded. "The toughest," Joey replied, "It seems like every person in this town had to eat here, and I had to be the one to serve them. God Jen, I feel like today I just can't catch a break."

Jen listened sympathetically to Joey's protests. "I totally understand and sympathize, Joey. I have those days myself…and more than I want to count," Jen said thinking of the last month of her life.

"Life sucks," lamented Joey. Jen nodded and started to smile at how easy it was to talk to Joey. Jen was really enjoying this new friendship, although it was still premature. Joey was very easy to get along with, well as long as you were not competing over the same guy with her. Jen hoped they could keep their promise to not let Dawson come between them again. Jen still loved Dawson, but considered keeping those feelings to herself when around Joey. It was best to avoid mentioning her torch for Dawson, especially because Joey was still raw from the breakup. Jen took a sip out of her coke still listening to Joey's emotional tirade.

"Jen, I just don't get it…lately my life has been hell. I cannot concentrate, or eat…. I cannot even sleep anymore. Cause when I do I just dream…and we both know who that's about", Joey said struggling not to scream out in frustration.

Jen watched Joey grimace while thinking; "I know what you mean, Joey." Jen was trying very hard to let go of Dawson, but that did not mean she did not think or even dream about him. Jen blushed slightly realizing that lately her dreams had become quite erotic and pornographic when it came to Dawson. Jen started to drift off thinking, "Especially the one from last night, the way Dawson…" Joey noticed Jen was not paying attention to her and was blushing with a far off look in her eyes. Joey waved her hand in front of Jen's face, and called out her name repeatedly. Jen smiled remembering her dream while Joey bit her lip and grew agitated. Crossing her arms over her chest rudely called out, "Jen? Jen? Earth to Jen? Return from the planet of the bimbos, and come back to Earth."

Jen snapped out of her fantasies and looked at Joey confused, "What?"

Joey rolled her eyes in annoyance. "Are you even listening to me? I mean you are the one who wanted to give this friendship a shot. I know I am new at this whole female bonding thing, but isn't one of the requirements to listen to the other person? Come on, I am sitting here making an effort…spilling my guts out to you. You're not even listening to a single word I said."

Jen started to feel shameful and looking into Joey's dark eyes gave her a guilty look. Jen quietly said, "I'm sorry, Joey. I just kind of spaced there for a second. Please do not be mad. Yes, of course I want to be friends'…maybe someday-best friends. I'm just new to this too. I already told you I didn't really have close girlfriends back in New York, so I don't really know what to do either", Jen said pleadingly.

Joey looked away embarrassed she got so upset. "I'm sorry too, Jen. I guess I just got a little steamed. Lack of sleep will do that to a person," Joey said in a strained voice.

Jen smiled glad that little fight was over. Trying to be helpful Jen whispered, "Want to talk about your dreams, Joey?"

Joey shook her head and blushed a deep crimson turning her attention to her hands perched on top of the table. "I can't, Jen", Joey said avoiding eye contact. 

"Why not? Joey, aren't you the one that just through telling me friends listen to one another. I want to be a good friend, and listen to you."

Joey sighed and crossed her arms again over her chest. Joey leaned down like she was talking to the place mat and said, "Believe me, Jen, when I tell you this isn't something you want to hear," shaking her head Joey admitted, "No, this isn't a topic of discussion for us. No way…no how."

Jen pouted and whined, "Why, Joey? What makes you think I do not want to listen. I'm a good listener."

Joey sighed frustrated and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Jen, I'm not questioning your listening skills…I'm sure you're a great listener. This isn't about how well you listen, this about what I would have to say." Flustered Joey said, "Oh, nevermind, let's just drop this, okay?"

Jen pouted harder and stuck out her bottom lip. Jen did not want to forget it; she wanted Joey to open up to her. "No, I don't want to drop this, Joey. If we are ever going to be close friends, we have to be able to communicate. That means even talking about subjects that make us uncomfortable. If we're ever truly going to be friends we must be open and honest, Right?" Joey feeling uneasy as Jen stared at her said, "Yeah…I guess."

"Good then…now that's settled tell me what's going on?"

Joey met Jen's eyes and evenly said, "Jen. Take a wild guess what I am dreaming about, and with whom. I think if you ponder it long enough, you'll realize why this conversation can make us both very wearisome."

Jen's face turned white realizing Joey's intimation of her dreams, and then red from the image of her own. Jen's cheeks flushed as her voice barely audible said; "Now I see your point."

Joey breathed a sigh of relief while Jen giggled to herself. "Oh, Joey, if only you knew how much we really have in common", Jen thought. Jen smiled slightly agreeing with Joey, "I guess now I understand why this topic isn't suitable for discussion."

"Yeah, well as much as you want us to be open and honest, there's just some stuff we can't talk about."

Jen bit her lip feeling insecure about their friendship. Did she not just tell Joey they could talk about anything, no matter how uncomfortable? It was hypocritical to say that then not agree to discuss what was bothering Joey. Jen sighed, "No, I have to disagree Joey. Sure this is not my topic of choice, but I am your friend. I want to help you. I do not want there to be this friendship barrier where we cannot talk about certain things…"

Joey ran her hands through her hair disappointed Jen would not let this drop. Rolling her eyes she tried to speak calmly, "Listen to me, Jen. We just cannot talk together…about things. I can't tell you everything pertaining to my life, and I know you can't either. Look we can still be best buds, we just have to avoid some discussions…" Joey started to trail off but then said, "One being a common denominator for both of us…our ex-the great looking with a boyish charm, Dawson Leery"

Jen smirked and coyly asked, "So you think Dawson's sexy?"

Joey blushed which deepened the smile on Jen's face. "Jen, that's not the point. It doesn't matter what I think about him…it just matters we can't discuss him."

"Oh, c'mon Joey, forget our old squabbles and put it behind us. I want to move on…and stop rehashing the past. I already told you, I am over Dawson. I will not be throwing myself at him as you eloquently put it. For things to be okay with us…we have to stop letting Dawson force a wedge between us."

Jen raised her eyebrows and firmly said, "Now answer the question. Do you or do you not think Dawson's sexy?"

Joey's eyes turned downward and whispered, "Yes. You know I do."

Jen smiled feeling apprehensive, "So what is it you find sexy about him?" Jen was very curious to know why Joey chose Dawson to be the object of her affection. Joey looked up and in a trite monotone said, "His Spielberg fetish. Ooh, it just turns me on."

Jen rolled her eyes exasperated. "Joey, I'm being serious."

Joey forged ahead, "So am I, Jen. I cannot help it. When I go in his room and see his posters littering his walls; he whispers sweet nothings about how life is like a Spielberg film; makes me watch that mutant and little reject boy on a bicycle…it makes me hot. Oh man I just want to grab him, tie him to the bed, and ride him to his eyeballs pop out."

"Okay, Joey, you can stop at anytime I get the message. Your sarcasm was just dripping just enough to relay your point," Jen spat. Crossing her arms said distressed, "I guess it's just too hard for you to be honest with me."

Joey frowned and retorted, "Jeez Jen, what do you want from me? You ask me something personal like my feelings for Dawson, and you didn't expect me to be sarcastic. I don't know what say?"

"How about the god to honest truth, Joey. I'm trying to reach out to you right now, and you're shutting me out," Jen said getting increasingly hurt.

Joey sat there silently staring off into space, which infuriated Jen. Jen stood from the table having enough of Joey's attitude, and turned to leave. "I don't know exactly where to begin…its kind of hard to explain why I find Dawson sexy," Joey whispered softly looking up at Jen's angry face. Jen sat back down and calmly said, "Well I guess I can understand that being that you guys have been best friends for so many years." Joey half grinned and joked, "too many years."

Jen broke in wide grin and remarked, "I always envied your close relationship. Dawson never would confide in me as he would with you. You're the only one he trusts, Joey."

"I don't know how much Dawson trusts me now. Nevertheless, yeah we use to be close…. Closer than I ever thought we would be. Dawson and I have known each other since we were in diapers, and been best friends since we were seven. Our mom's use to take us to the same park, and we would play in the sandbox together. He use to love to pour sand all over me", Joey said laughing. Jen listened quietly while Joey reminisced. "I remember I got so upset one time that I held him down and made him eat sand." Joey laughed and blushed. "Mrs. Leery wasn't very thrilled but Dawson just spit it out, and laughed. He didn't care, all he said was 'my juvenile antics would catch up with me one day'" Joey rolled her eyes before adding, "He had a verbose verbiage even back then. Dawson was unlike any person I ever met, or could meet. I mean he's weird, but in a good way. Just take his ridiculous obsession with Steven Spielberg…come on the guy is a great director, I'll give him that, but he's not God."

Jen laughed, sipping her coke again, and argued, "I think Dawson would beg to differ with you, Joey."

Joey in agreement held up her hand, "Exactly, Jen. Dawson lives in a dream world, where nothing gets through to him. I know I have tried."

Jen smiled and her eyes clouded over. Thinking out loud in a dreamy tone said, "Isn't that one of his endearing qualities though, Joey? That he is hopelessly romantic and a dreamer who wants live in a perfect world. I mean that is in my opinion what makes Dawson special. That's partly the reason I am attracted to him."

Joey shifted her eyes, so she met Jen's "Life's not perfect, Jen. Dawson…refuses to face up to that possibility but I do," Joey sadly looked away before whispering, "I guess that what makes letting go so hard. I have always wanted to live in that perfect world with Dawson…a world that does not exist outside the realm of Dawson's mind. I even tried to, but look how that turned out…reality reared its ugly head. Of course I can say from the short time I spent living a fantasy…it was the best I ever had."

Jen smiled warmly and reached across the table to squeeze Joey's hand. "You know what they say, Joey? Fantasies fade but the memories last a life time."

Joey pushed her hair behind her ear. Laughing pitifully said, "My life is really turning into a cliché, isn't it?" Jen laughed too.

"Do not worry, so is mine", Jen assured Joey.

Joey smirked, "I guess that what's we get for getting swept in by Dawson 'oblivious' Leery. The things we'll do to get that guy to notice us."

Jen truthfully admitted, "I can honestly say once you are loved by Dawson, your life isn't the same. Just look at my life. When I came here from New York, I thought my life was basically over. I had been shunned by my parents, shipped off to never be able to return home, and left to feel unwanted. I tried to put on a happy face, but I was really ready to throw in the towel. Then I met you guys, and my life changed. I finally thought that for once I might have a chance at making my life turn out all right. Pacey was a cute flirt, and I could have easily liked him…but I picked Dawson. He was not more appealing, well maybe, but there was just something about him. It wasn't physical since I have already dated guys better looking and more built than him but it was, I don't know spiritual? It was his sweetness and well umm, his intense blue eyes. Dawson made me feel special, beautiful but for more than my looks, and even something I was always missing…loved. That was the one thing no ever guy, except Gramps, ever made me feel. In New York I was constantly, looking for that verification in the guys I became involved with…the closest I came was Billy. And you know how he is, the Fonz/James Dean type." Joey and Jen laughed while Jen went on, "Dawson made feel like I was really worth something, and gave me a reason to believe. He was understanding, patient…well at least most of the time, and honest. The only nice guy I know. I think I would have fallen apart if I hadn't had Dawson by my side, well at least for a little while. As silly as it seems I thought of him as my white knight."

Joey sat in awe speechless over Jen's confession. Finally someone, the most surprising someone, knew and she truly could relate to over her feelings for Dawson. Joey thought of Dawson the same way Jen did, and it shocked her when she realized Jen really did love Dawson. It was not a ploy to use him, he meant something to her. This had a very profound effect on Joey. Joey did not feel the slightest bit jealous knowing how deeply Jen cared, that amazed Joey. She never imagined sharing something so personal and close to the heart like her love for Dawson with anybody, but she knew she could, she could confide in Jen. Joey swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and inquisitively whispered, "You really love him…don't you, Jen?

"Yeah, I guess I do. Of course, to my chagrin not in time. I didn't realize the extent until it was too late, and he wasn't mine anymore," Jen said meekly.

Jen withdrew her hand and spoke with her voice cracking. "Joey, I have for the most part always known that he loves you…I tried to deny it but it didn't work. Every time I saw him smile, laugh, touch, or talk about you…I knew. It became so clear who he preferred in the blonde or brunette scenario."

Jen choked back her tears and spoke in a whisper, "If this whole fight was over Dawson's heart…it have been no contest. I cannot compare to you in his eyes; you will always be his choice. I am ashamed to say now that I liked driving a wedge between you two. I really did want to be friends with you. However, if it came down to your friendship and Dawson…I would have done anything to get him. I would have thrown you aside. It's sick I know but that's how important Dawson is to me. I can't lose him cause if I did; I don't know what I would do. I was incredibly jealous of you, it's safe to say a bright shade of green when you were around."

Joey eyes filled with sympathy said, "I can't even begin to tell you how much I understand that, Jen. Of course I don't know why you were jealous of me…you are the one Dawson wanted. I was just the girl who stood on the sidelines longingly waiting for my turn."

Jen interrupted saying, "Yeah, but what Dawson felt for me wasn't love, it was lust. Granted it wasn't just my prettiness that attracted him, but his feelings were not deep. Our whole relationship was on the surface…it had to be because he was all ready connected to you. I enjoyed making you lose your temper and say spiteful things to me, and flaunting my relationship in your face. It was the only way I could keep you from coming between us. I knew that once you did it was all over for us. Remember the night you brought the cookie dough ice cream over, our first bonding experience? Well I meant it when I said 'he is only in love with one of us', and I knew it was just a matter of time until he realized just who it was. Of course, while Dawson sorted it all out, we knew in detention. After a kiss like that it was hard not to know…I just wish I had been the one sharing that kiss with him."

Joey shook her head sadly. "I always thought Dawson wished it had been you too. I use to listen to him talk about you for hours, especially about how perfect and beautiful you were. It made me sick inside to know he would never look at me the way he looked at you. He couldn't I was just the tomboy from down the creek with the dysfunctional past…. Not gorgeous like you. See Jen, there's no reason to feel ashamed about feeling jealous because I acted just as badly as you did. I disliked you since the day you arrived here…. Moreover, because you were what I wasn't. You're pretty, popular, and Dawson's fantasy. I thought I could never compare to you, so I didn't try. I just decided at of spite and jealousy to submarine you every chance I got. I hoped if I did it enough you would get sick of me, and go back to New York. Leave Dawson alone, so maybe he would finally notice me."

"But Joey, that's all it was…a infatuation. You did not need to hate me because I never posed a threat to you. You had Dawson's heart, not me. Besides he did notice you," Jen sputtered.

Joey rolled her eyes, "Yeah he did. The night I got all dressed up…let you transform me into 'little Miss Josephine'. Dawson 'winner of the clueless award' finally opened his eyes."

"Yeah, well would you have liked to change places with me, Joey? Stand right beside on the sidelines while he drooled over someone else. Try to express how you truly feel while he becomes captivated by another", Jen muttered bitterly.

Joey laughed amused and then retorted, "I was you, Jen." Jen blushed foolishly while Joey groaned. "That's where I have been since you arrived. Sucks doesn't it?"

Jen nodded and shot back, "Definitely." Contemplating it for a few minutes added, "But I think it was worse knowing you weren't some passing physical attraction. He wanted you for you."

Joey grew serious and said, "I guess we never understood what the other one went through until we switched places. I finally got my wish for Dawson to notice me, but became disappointed after he did." Joey took a deep breath lamenting, "I felt so superficial and shallow. I wasn't myself. Sure I got him to stand up and take notice when I walked in a room, but it only cost me my integrity. I gave up who I was for a chance…a chance that would have been trivial and short lived. I couldn't be just a babe in a tight dress with a pound of makeup; I had to be myself. Dawson had to see and want me for me. See who I really was, not who he wanted me to be. Not Joey 'the tomboy' or Joey 'the beauty queen' but Joey Lynne Potter…the complete package. That's why I walked away from him that night when he told me I was beautiful. I could not settle for just a passing fling…I need more. I needed him to look at me and understand how incredible we are together."

"I can understand that, Joey. That is why I dumped him, well one of the reasons. I know I told him I needed time but that was not the real reason. I did need time, but the real reason is I could not go on living in your shadow. Eventually I knew he would wake up and push me aside. The night I dumped Dawson he told me when I finally did come crawling back he would be with 'someone capable of a committed relationship and nothing like me' I knew you were who he was talking about, and deep down he did too. That is why I wouldn't let go because then I really would have lost him without any hope of getting him back. I never did tell him I loved him."

"I don't know how much that changes things, Jen. I did and look at us now…we aren't together", Joey said even more sadly.

Jen shook her head and protested, "But Joey, you could be. He loves you."

Joey threw her heads up in frustration and cried out, "I don't know anymore what being loved by Dawson means. Lately all it means is pain and sadness. I have already had enough of that in my life; I do not need anymore. I don't want to go to bed every night crying myself to sleep, and waking up every morning feeling like a cargo van ran over me. The only peace I get is when I'm asleep and he fills my dreams now too."

Joey ignored the ache in her heart and bravely said, "Right now I just need to take a step back, and re-examine how I feel. Differentiate from jealousy and obsession to happiness and true love. I can't do that with Dawson leaning over my shoulder wanting to make everything better for me. And I have enough trouble trying to resist him without him giving me puppy dog eyes and sad smiles."

Jen bit her lip trying to control her hope Joey did not really want Dawson. After everything they just shared, she scolded herself for being so callous. Not trying to look too interested asked, "You don't really think you're just infatuated with Dawson…do you?"

Joey closed her eyes and reopened them before mumbling, "No, I don't think I am." Then added more loudly, "But how do I know unless I take time to break away from him? Test the waters. I have been wrapped up in Dawson for so long, I don't even notice other guys exist."

Jen studied Joey's confused face before jumping in with, "So you want to date other guys?"

Joey shrugged her shoulders. Uncertain said, "I don't know. I mean no, necessarily, but how do I know Dawson's 'the one' if I do not look around. I think he is, and I know I want him to be, but I'm not sure." Joey then set her jaw straight and said with certainty, "There's nobody I want to be with except Dawson, matter of fact I would be willing to do anything for him. All he has to do is ask." Joey lowered her eyes trying not to let Jen see the blush darken on her cheeks. Talking into her hands, Joey mumbled, "Lately all I can think about is how much I want him." Joey smiled to herself. "When I'm near him my heart races, my palms sweat, and I feel like I am on some sugar high. All he has to do is look at me, and my knees turn to jelly. It's amazing what people get addicted on; some choose drugs or chocolate; I chose the boy next door."

"Yeah, well drugs will fry your brain, chocolate makes you fat, but there's not side effect to getting hook on the boy next door," Jen said thinking about her own addiction to Dawson.

"Well if you don't count a broken heart", Joey said thoughtfully.

Jen nodded but questioned, "I think we sort of bring that on ourselves though, Joey. Don't you?'

Hesitantly Joey remarked, "Yeah I guess we do." Then firmly replied, "That's why I need a break, so I don't keep getting hurt. I know Dawson would never intentionally mean to hurt me, but I keep getting my heart stepped on by him. I can only take so much, and right now I have had my fill." This whole situation would be easier if I didn't keep finding myself attracted to him," Joey said with an embarrassed grin.

Jen countered, "Well that's normal. Dawson's an extremely good looking guy." Jen smiled imaging just how good looking while she thought back to last few weeks when he became irresistible to her. Joey thought the same thing, and then blushed harder putting her head in her hands.

"I didn't mean just physically, Jen," Joey struggled to say while still laying her head down.

Jen blushed but teasingly said, "So I guess these dreams you keep having are of a sexual nature."

"Well one hot summer," Joey started, "The three of us spent all our time swimming down at the local pool. I guess we were about ten at the time. Dawson, back then was a lot scrawnier and little chubbier, he had not gone through puberty yet so he had not filled out. Even I was taller than he was. Well, anyway we spent so much time there; the chlorine turned his hair green. Dawson also was really badly sunburned, as if he looked like an over done lobster. Well his great aunt Beatrice came like she always did in the summer, to stay a few weeks. WE called her the pincher, the reason being she loved to pinch our cheeks. She also loved to call me Josephine. She took one look at Dawson after pinching Pacey's and I cheeks' and shrieked. 'My little Dawson looks just like a…what do you call those creatures, Ah yes! An oompa loompa.' It seems Auntie Bea had just come from New York where she saw 'Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory' on Broadway. The woman was pretty disllusional so it didn't surprise me when a couple years back she cut all her relatives out of her will and left all her money to her cat. I will never forget the look on Dawson's face after she called him that. Dawson was completely mortified. Pacey enjoying his discomfort teased him mercilessly singing the song and everything. Dawson would get so upset, especially when everyone at school started calling him that. Pacey, in his torments, actually went as far to replace Dawson's prized copy of ET with the movie. Pacey hid the remote and rigged the VCR so it played repeatedly. It nearly drove Dawson insane. Fortunately for Dawson, two years later he sprouted up, filled out considerably and hair turned blonder from the sun than before. Then when Pacey, who was shorter than Dawson was, said anything Dawson would put him in headlock. I, by that time had developed a crush on Dawson, and would never of thought to call him oompa loompa."

Joey shook her head sadly thinking, "It must have really hurt Dawson for Pacey to bring up such a childhood nightmare as his nickname. Especially since Dawson was trying to impress you so much."

"I bet it did, but knowing that story makes me finally understand why Dawson was so insecure about us. So how long have you been in love with him?"

Joey sighed and gave her half smile. "Oh I'd say about three years…of course I didn't know exactly that it was love. I kinda thought of it as a crush. Dawson was the first guy; I have been really close to in my life. We shared a bed for over eight years…we even bathed together once when we were babies. I never really thought much of Dawson's body until one summer before our eight grade year, when I saw him in his underwear. It was an complete accident, I didn't go looking for a peek, but I just sorta stumbled in on him changing." Joey continued to talk to Jen while she flashbacks.


Dawson, Pacey and Joey were all at Dawsons' uncle's beach house. They went there every summer while Dawson's parents went off to play humpty dumpty in the shrubbery. Dawson being an only child was always allowed bringing his friends. The house was the size of mansion, and located on a private island. IT was sort of like a resort. There was fishing, swimming, camping, beaches, parks; they even had a mall. While Dawson's aunt and uncle spent their time playing couples tennis and golf, Dawson and company spent theirs on the beach. Well one day, the gang spent all morning on the beach. Joey lay out on a towel catching some rays, while the guys played Frisbee. Joey feeling peaceful fell asleep under the rays of the sun. The game of Frisbee ended, and Dawson announced to Pacey that he was sweaty and going to take a shower. Pacey told Dawson he was going to head down the beach where a volleyball tournament was being held. Pacey knew there were going to be toned tanned babes. He was hoping to enter the contest, and impress them. Pacey winked and Dawson rolled his eyes. Calling after Pacey said, "Go get them, Casanova." Dawson checked on Joey after Pacey left. Touching her shoulder, he noticed the warmth of her skin. Dawson worried she might get burnt gently laid a towel over her and brought the umbrella closer to her. Dawson brushed her hair off her forehead and walked to the house. Dawson took his shower while Joey started to stir and awake. Joey frazzled noticed everyone was gone, and she was wrapped in a towel. Joey stumbled to her feet, and started to gather up her gear. Joey packed up her beach supplies while Dawson emerged from his shower in only a towel. Dawson dried his hair off while Joey started up the stairs. Standing in his boxers, Dawson picked something clean to wear from his bag. Joey unaware what lay behind the door (Dawson, and hers since Pacey flipped her for the other one and she lost), and opened it. Dawson froze dropping his clothes while Joey gasped in surprise. At the sight of Dawson, Joey's cheeks flushed, her eyes widened and her mouth fell open. Dawson quickly grabbed a pillow off the bed, and unsuccessfully tried to cover up. Joey just stood there gaping amazed at how he looked. Joey took notice how he was not the under developed squirt she was use to seeing. He was taller, broader in the shoulders and chest, and well more…. developed.

Joey's cheeks flushed again and she stammered, "Sorry Dawson…I …I didn't mean…. Uh…I think I'll just go." Joey took one more look at Dawson before shutting the door firmly behind her. Dawson dropped the pillow and stood there stunned. Joey leaned on the other side of the closed door, smiling. A half-hour later, Dawson was standing on the beach. After Joey shut the door, she took off. Dawson figured out of embarrassment, but the truth be told it was because Joey liked what she saw. Joey after almost seeing him naked felt it was better she got some air, and cleared her head. Dawson worried about her went to find her. And he did, Joey was sitting on the pier feeding the seagulls. Dawson watched her for a few minutes trying to gather up his courage to go and talk to her. Dawson cleared his throat, but Joey did not pay any attention to him. She just kept ripping off pieces of bread, and throwing them into the water. Dawson sat beside her and studied her face. Her brown eyes were glossy and she looked like her mind was a million miles away. Dawson took a piece of the bread, and started to break it up. Joey blushed acutely aware of Dawson's close proximity, and the image of him still burned in her mind. Dawson did not notice her flushed cheeks; he was too busy staring off at the water. Dawson turned his head to look at her.

"Joey, we need to talk," he said earnestly.

Joey looked at the bread in her hands and said, "About what, Dawson?"

Dawson sighed frustrated, "About the incident earlier."

Joey turned her face away. "I'm sorry, Dawson. Next time I'll knock before entering", Joey said quietly.

Dawson softly replied, "Next time I'll have more common sense to remember to lock the door while changing." There was silence again until suddenly in unison they said, "It's my fault." They both looked at one another and burst out laughing. They were relieved the tension had been broken. Dawson smiled and Joey grinned while throwing more bread into the water. Dawson waited until Joey met his eyes before saying, "So we never discuss this again, deal?"

Joey relieved grinned and said, "Deal." Dawson reached his hand out and they shook. Joey tried to ignore the shock that shot up her arm when Dawson touched her, but so did Dawson. They let go of their hands and sat there again in silence. Unlike the last though, it wasn't awkward. Finally, after awhile curiosity got the better of Dawson and he asked,

"Hey, Jo, can I ask you something kinda personal?" Joey nodded.

Dawson took a deep breath and rambled, "Umm, about earlier since you did see me. What did you think…of me I mean." Joey looked at him for a few minutes silent then turned her face away and blushed. Joey could not believe Dawson would ask her that. Dawson still blushing regretted asking. Trying not to let his voice crack said, "Nevermind…forget it." Dawson was feeling insecure about himself, and just wanted an honest answer. Dawson did not trust anyone more than Joey to give him one. Dawson feeling increasingly awkward started to stand.

Joey suddenly said, "You looked fine, Dawson." Joey met his eyes, and they both smiled.

"Really, Jo?"

"Really, Dawson."

Dawson's smile deepened and whispered, "Thanks."

Joey, still gazing into his eyes whispered, "You're welcome." When the stare started to get intense they both looked away.

Dawson laughed nervously and said, "Remember we never talk about his again. It never happened." Dawson then playfully hit Joey in the shoulder and walked off. Dawson wrinkled his forehead and arched his brow thinking about how weird he felt when Joey was looking at him before. He felt something, but brushed it aside chalking it up to hormones.

Joey watched him go and quietly to herself whispered, "If only I could, Dawson."

Jen enjoying the story said, "You guys have had some history together."

Joey smiled thinking about all the good times. "Yeah, we have. That's what you get for being best friends for so long. No matter how embarrassing or tough times get between us…we can always get past them. I hope this time we do too."

Jen smiled knowingly and said, "You will. You guys worked too hard to throw it way…besides it obvious you were meant for each other." Joey looked at Jen seriously and whispered, "I hope you're right, Jen. I hope you're right."


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