Dawson done with his cold shower quickly dressed and climbed out his window. Dawson realized going through the window meant he wouldn't have to endure anymore-unsolicited fatherly advice. Walking away from his house, he didn't see Jen watching him from her window. Rowing his boat over to Joey's house, he docked. Knocking on Joey's door, he prepared how he would greet Joey. Softly he whispered several different greetings, and quickly discarded each of them. Still waiting he decided to just let her say something first, and then he could take his cue from there. Still not hearing any voices or movement from behind the door knocked again this time louder. Dawson found it odd that Joey hadn't appeared yet. She usually opened the door before he even rapped on it. Always wearing a scowl from her dealings with either Alexander or a smile. After pounding on the door until his fist hurt, he went around to the front of her house. Seeing Bessie's truck gone he realized Joey left without him. Dawson suddenly felt depressed, even more than this morning's awakening encounter. Sitting on a bench behind her house, he contemplated the situation. Joey never left without him. They had been walking to school together since they were little. There was only that short time when he was dating Jen that they didn't. Dawson had found it more desirable to walk hand in hand with his girlfriend than side by side with his best friend. Sitting there alone Dawson realized just how wrong he had been to choose Jen over Joey. Not only did he shun his best friend in favor for his obsession with the girl next door; he was the one that drove the wedge between them. It had not been Jen that came between them; it had been his juvenile fear of change. He had been afraid of losing Joey, so he reasoned never let things change between them and he would not. An idea that was absurd considering the only way it would work is if he lived in denial. Denial those things had been changing for years, and they were always going to change. Dawson had seen subtle changes in Joey for years, but would never acknowledged he knew. It had been easier to live in denial, but not happier. Joey being just the girl down the creek changed when she walked out on that stage. Seeing her standing there it was like the final moment of clarity. The exact moment fantasy and reality emerged into one. All those lingering doubts faded away, and left was this unknown wonderment. She was still the same person, but everything Dawson felt or thought about her changed. She wasn't just 'Joey the girl' anymore; she was 'Josephine the woman'. The progression from girl to woman had come quickly and abruptly to Dawson, but now he realized it had been there all along, he just refused to accept it. Now that Dawson knew, he had to learn to live with it. The real her. Dawson sat there for while wondering how he was ever going to understand her if she continued to isolate herself from him.
Joey rode to school with Bessie. Staring out the window, she watched the passing scenery around her. Bessie, aware of Joey's silence, tried to lighten the mood. "So what is happening at school today?"
Joey shrugged still preoccupied and said, "same old same old, Bess. Classes. Homework. Looks of disgust from fellow classmates. No real big change."
Bessie nodded her head in big sister understandment. "I remember high school…and what a social nightmare it can be. The work, teachers, and judgmental peers. I don't envy what you go through, Jo. I feel responsible for some of it. I know people talk about me, and the choices I made. I am not ashamed of who I am, but I am ashamed it affects the ones I love…like you. Just remember I am always here you, okay?"
Joey broke her trance and gave a small smile. "Thanks, Bess."
Turning her attention back to the window, she zoned out again. Bessie sighed realizing she wasn't going to get through to Joey while she was like this, so just turned her attention to driving again.
Dawson knocked on the door, and waited for someone to answer. Opening the door was a pretty brunette with green eyes and long dark lashes. Smiling brightly she said, "Hey. Good morning, Dawson."
Dawson returned the smile and asked, "hey Maryanne, is Pacey around?"
Maryanne nodded and yelled for her younger brother. "Hey, geek boy, your only friend's here." Giving him another charming smile she asked, "so how are you?"
Dawson sighed and answered, "um, fine, I guess. Not the greatest but not the worst either. I'm in the middle."
Maryanne laughed and batted her long eyelashes flirtatiously at Dawson. "Glad to hear that, Dawson."
Dawson, forcing a smile, nodded. Luckily, before Maryanne could further come on to Dawson, Pacey arrived. Pulling his book bag on his right shoulder said, "hey Dawson. Didn't expect to see you this morning. Where's Joey?" Pushing his sister aside walked out, and shut the door in her face. Dawson laughed and Pacey rolled his eyes.
"She still likes me doesn't she, Pacey?"
Pacey rolled his eyes again and replied, "That girl has been in heat for you since the eighth grade when I ate her ice-cream sandwich and you gave her yours to be nice."
"She's nice, Pacey," Dawson said wriggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Pacey gave Dawson a dirty look and said, "Don't get any ideas, Dawson. You have enough female troubles. Or must I remind you of the buxom blonde and the fiery brunette?"
Dawson sighed and said, "like I could ever forget."
"Besides she's older than you, Dawson," Pacey said still thinking of his sister's crush on Dawson.
Dawson raised his eyebrows and his smile widened. "Only by a year, Pace. Besides aren't you like the one with a fetish for older women?" Dawson teased.
Pacey shot him another look. Dawson laughed. "Don't worry, Pacey. The last thing I need is to get involved with your flirtatious older sister. I do, as you pointed out, have my own love triangle to figure out."
Pacey smiled, "so how's that going? Ready to confess you're in love with a certain sexy friend and only obsessed with the playful neighbor girl?"
Dawson shrugged undecided. In an uncertain voice said, "I don't know yet, Pace. All I do know is that Joey's on my mind a lot lately. More than I think Jen ever was."
"Well, Dawson, it's about time you come down from cloud nine and evaluate the situation. If you don't sooner or later you'll have no control over the choice, and lose them both."
Dawson nodded miserably and uncertain said, "that's why I can't decide, Pace. My decision will subsequently end with me losing one of them…and I am not prepared to lose either one of them yet."
"Yeah, Dawson, but you can only be in love with one of them at a time. So choose who it is and get on with your life", Pacey said exasperated.
"But it's not that simple, Pacey. They both mean so much to me. I can't imagine my life without either one of them. They are both just too important. I mean how do I choose between my best friend, the person that knows me better than anybody and who I share everything with, and the girl who opened my eyes to love and is my first girlfriend."
Pacey trying to be fair said, "Hey, I never said it would be an easy decision, but it's one you must make. You can't keep stringing them both along like this. Joey's been through a lot concerning you, and it's unfair to make her wait while you figure things out."
Dawson eyed Pacey curious and questioned, "Why all the sudden are you the advocate for Joey? I thought considering your deprecating relationship she'd be the last person you would every defend."
Pacey shrugged trying to arouse attention to the fact he liked Joey. "Things change, Dawson."
Dawson groaned loudly shaking his head. "Not you too. Not that word again. All anyone ever says to me is that things change. Joey. My dad. Now you. Don't you all realize that I am aware how many things have changed. I am not as oblivious as you many all think."
Pacey inwardly sighed in relief that he had averted Dawson's attention away from his new truce with Joey, and back onto Dawson's narcissistic life. Listening to Dawson rant and rave the rest of the way to school Pacey felt content.
Joey quickly retrieved her books from her locker, briefly looking around nervously. Glancing down the hall, she chewed on her lip. Any minute he would arrive, and she would mercilessly be dragged into another awkward subtext with him. Gathering up the last of her books, she breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't there yet. She could escape the moment that had plagued her all morning. Smiling she shut her locker and arranged her books in her arms. Still smiling she started to turn around.
Joey jumped and screamed in surprise. Dropping all her books to the ground and scattering them all over the floor. Her heart still pounding in her chest she turned around. Jen was standing behind her with a huge smile on her face. Joey's forced a smile and breathed deep to calm herself down. Jen kneeled beside Joey as she picked up her books off the floor. "Sorry I didn't mean to make you jump out of your skin. I save that for, Dawson," Jen said still smiling.
Joey continued to force a smile and thought about what Jen said, and why she thought to bring Dawson into their conversation.
"It's okay. I guess I wasn't paying attention."
"Well it's okay, neither am I most of the time. There's just something unnerving about Mondays…I know I wish it was still Saturday, don't you?"
Joey thought back to the beauty pageant, it was on Saturday. Sitting there biting her lip she wondered still if she over reacted with Dawson. Dawson. Why was she still willing to wait around for him to wake up? Before Joey could further analyze, the situation Jen handed her the last book and held a hand out to her to help her up. Joey took Jen's hand and let her pull her back to her feet.
Joey still feeling uncomfortable talking to Jen, said "Uh, thanks, Jen."
Jen smiled and said, "Anytime, Joey. That's after all what friends are for, aren't they?" Joey looked down and nodded mumbling, "I guess."
Joey still hadn't gotten use to thinking of Jen as a friend yet. It was strange to imagine that the girl she would of liked to permanetly make go away was now her newest buddy. Joey still felt awkward talking to Jen. She wasn't sure what to say, or how to act. Jen was nice, sometimes Joey thought too nice, but nice none the less. Why did it still feel weird not to hate her? Joey had to get past it, just like she needed to get past Dawson. Dawson. There she goes again thinking of him. What was that like a second without thinking about him? A world record for Joey. Joey wanted to let go, but she couldn't, and standing there still staring at the ground, she knew that neither would Jen. Dawson and Jen were both unaware but Joey had heard Jen ask for another chance and Dawson's hesitation to give her one. After she ran away from him on the docks, she had decided she needed to apologize and explain her actions. Seeing him walk home, she followed. Sitting so sad on his front porch steps, she just watched him. Just like she had been doing for a long time now. Just standing there in the shadows memorizing every feature of Dawson. The way his eyes glazed over, and his head lowed staring aimlessly at the ground. Right before Joey was going to make her presence known, Jen showed up. Standing still in the shadows Joey listened to them talk. Right before Jen left, Joey did, and quickly went home before Dawson looked up from his trance. Going to bed that night, she made herself a promise, no matter what she would get over Dawson. It was time.
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