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I'll Take That As A Sign by: Kelli

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Disclaimer: I don't own Dawson's Creek or the characters. The song Counting the Stars belongs to Waking Ashland. The poem How Do I Love Thee was written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Author's Note: Thank you all for the positive response to this. It made my day, especially since I'd never written anything like this. With that being said, you all have inspired my to expand this little fic into something much bigger. I've now decided to turn it into a 'Trilogy' of sorts, with all of this happening now being the first part. The second and third parts will be leading up to and during the series finale. I've decided to really fill in what might have happened between Pacey and Joey leading up to the finale. Again, I've always wondered about some things, and I guess I'm trying to answer those questions, and entertain you all at the same time!! I hope you enjoy this part. I actually got a little teary-eyed while writing it, but I'm the type that cries at everything, even commercials!! LOL! Thanks again for reading, and as always, let me know what ya think!

I'm so unprepared
But you don't seem to care
I'm hardly a man
But here I am…

La da da da
The stars align for you and I tonight
La da da da
I need you in my life

La da da da
The stars align for you and I tonight
La da da
I'll take that as a sign…

Joey was lost, lost in a sea of endless darkness. She wanted to open her eyes, but she couldn't. She was reaching for thoughts, trying to grasp where she was and what had happened…because something had happened, but what? Suddenly, she had the sensation like she was rocking gently back and forth in swift, even, rhythmic movements. This calmed her. She inhaled deeply, still not opening her eyes, and was surprised by the familiar salty scent of the sea that hit her nostrils. It was then that she heard the ocean, murmuring its quiet symphony…

'If I didn't know better, I would think I was out on the True Love again,' she thought, 'but I couldn't be…'

Joey needed to end the blackness that she was engulfed in; she had to force her eyes to open. Joey struggled with her heavy lids, finally opening them to reveal a breathtaking view of the star-filled sky.

"Where am I…?" she murmured groggily.

"Ah, I see the fair Sleeping Maiden has finally awakened, and she appears to be somewhat confused."

"What?" Joey sharply turned her head to look at the young man who was lying beside her.

Pacey smiled at her. "Jo, I think you may have inhaled too much of this wonderful ocean air," he teased, propping himself up on his elbow and gazing down at her, "because you've clearly lost it."

Joey ran a hand through her long chestnut locks and shook her head, as if trying to rid herself of some terrible memory. "I guess I must have been having a nightmare or something. It made me forget where I was."

"Well, let me remind you," Pacey said, his voice growing soft as he leaned in closer to her, his face now hovering inches from hers. "You're on OUR boat, the True Love, drifting on the Atlantic Ocean, and heading for the Florida Keys, which we should reach sometime tomorrow, by the way. You're with the man who loves you more than anything or anyone else in the world, and who considers himself the luckiest man in the world because he has your love in return."

"Is that so?" Joey asked, smiling up at Pacey, all of the fear and confusion she felt minutes ago leaving her as she stared into his sapphire eyes, the look of intense love she saw in them mirroring her own.

Pacey nodded. "Yes, it is most definitely so."

"Hmm…I'm not sure if I remember yet. Everything is still a little hazy," she said, squinting her eyes and rubbing her temple, pretending to be confused. "I think I need you to remind me some more," she grinned slyly at him.

Pacey caught her meaning and was happy to oblige.

"I guess I'm going to have to use these secret weapons I call lips to refresh your memory."

"Secret weapons?" Joey giggled, rolling her eyes at him. "Are you sure I'm the one who's lost it?"

"Joey, are you questioning Wonder Witter and his special, secret, super power, the Killer Kiss?" Pacey pointed to his mouth and continued. "I'll have you know these lips have been known to render more than a few ladies completely and totally powerless."

"Pacey…" Joey said, trying to cut off him and his little super hero diatribe, but he kept rambling.

"I can see that you doubt me. Since you are obviously a non-believer, I guess I'm going to have to unleash my powers on you and…"

"Pacey!" Joey yelled. "Will you just shut up and kiss me already?"

"God, woman! Are we a little desperate?" he asked, pretending to be annoyed, but loving every minute of their little game.

"I hate you," she hissed, but tilted her head up toward his.

"I hate you more," he shot back, but he too inched closer to her.

Their mouths finally met in a kiss that had a powerful affect on both of them. Their lips danced together magically, casting a spell that made the world around them melt away. For a brief moment, everything was perfect, as if the stars had all aligned in the heavens above them. They pulled away from each other, but the spell was not broken. Pacey rested his forehead against Joey's as they got lost in each others' eyes, both overcome by the intensity and beauty of the moment. Never had either one of them felt this way before. Words could not explain these feelings, but none were needed. One look between them was all it took; they knew what the other was thinking – They had found the person they were meant to be with, their true love.

"I love you, Jo," Pacey whispered, caressing her cheek lightly.

"I love you, too," Joey said, as she snuggled in close to Pacey and they laid back down on the deck. Joey sighed in contentment. "So, why are we sleeping up here on deck and not down in the cabin?"

"Because some sleepyhead decided she couldn't stay awake while her boyfriend was talking to her," Pacey said, poking her playfully in the ribs. "We were lying here gazing at the stars, at your insistence, I might add, and I was pointing out some of the constellations, when you started snoring!"

"I do NOT snore!"

"Yes you do, but that's beside the point! You were the one who insisted we stargaze before bed, and then YOU bowed out on me, giving in to sleep."

"I'm sorry, Pace," Joey apologized. "I must've been really tired, but I'm awake now," she turned her attention heavenward, "and the stars haven't gone anywhere." She sighed again as she took in the canopy of stars above them. "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?" she asked.

"No," Pacey replied, but he wasn't looking at the sky. All he could see was Joey.

Joey felt his gaze on her, and turned to him, blushing. "Pacey, I meant the stars."

"I know," he replied as he reached over and brushed a few loose strands of hair from her cheek, "but it's hard for me to even focus on them when I already have the most gorgeous creature in the galaxy right beside me. Their beauty pales in comparison to yours."

Joey modestly tried to fight the smile that was forming on her lips. "You're such a goofball," she said, trying to downplay his compliment.

"Well, that's what love does to you," he said, pulling her tighter to him.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, just gazing at the stars and reveling in the comfort and safety of each other's arms.

Pacey broke the silence. "I wonder if anyone's ever tried to count them?"

"What, the stars?" Joey asked, knitting her brows in confusion.

"Yeah. I wonder how many there are?"

"Some astronomers estimate that there are over 250 million stars, but obviously we can never see that many at one time," Joey said matter-of-factly. "On a clear, dark night like this about 1,000 to 1,500 stars are visible."

Pacey groaned at his intelligent girlfriend. "Leave it to you to have a scientific answer to my deep and rhetorical question."

"I'm sorry," Joey said sheepishly, biting her lip. "I couldn't help myself."

"I know. You have so much knowledge in that pretty little head of yours that you like to share with mentally challenged morons like me."

"Pacey, you are not a moron!"

"Oh my God!" Pacey exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. "It's a miracle! After all these years I've finally gotten Joey Potter to admit that Pacey Witter is NOT a moron, and no one else was around to hear it!"

"Then I'll make sure the whole world hears it," Joey exclaimed as she sat up, "because they need to, and so do you." Joey jumped to her feet.

"Jo, what are you doing?" Pacey asked, sitting up and staring at Joey like she was crazy.


"How was that?" she asked, as she plopped back down beside him.

"That was wonderful, a little nuts, but wonderful. I'm sure that the whole world did hear that, with as loud as you screamed."

"I don't really care, just as long as you heard it. You're not a moron, Pace."

Pacey smiled in amazement at Joey, wondering how on earth he had ever gotten so lucky. Sometimes he was afraid he would wake up and this would all be a dream, but instead it was a dream come true.

"You know, I still wonder how many there are," he said, tilting his head back up to the sky.

This time Joey gave a different answer. "I don't know, Pace. We could count them all night, and still never know how many there are."

"You're right. It's kinda like trying to count all the reasons why I love you; there's an infinite number of them that all calculate up to one thing."

"What's that?" Joey asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

"My love for you will go on forever, even after the stars we're looking at have stopped shining."

Joey's eyes welled up with tears then, and she was unable to speak for a second.

"I like the way you do math," she said, when she had regained her composure.

"Just call me 'Dr. Pacey, Mathematician of Love'," he grinned, his cocky personality taking over as he winked at her.

"Ooh, stop. You're turning me on," Joey giggled, once again gravitating to him.

"If you liked that, then why should I stop when I'm on a roll?" he asked. "I'm now going to wow you even more with my intelligence by combining Math AND English!"

"How are you going to do that?" Joey asked, having no clue what Pacey was getting at.

Pacey smiled slyly and took Joey's hands in his. Then he began reciting a love poem to Joey, counting out just how much he loved her. "Josephine, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace."

Pacey paused then and kissed Joey lightly on the cheek before continuing.

"I love thee to the level of every day's most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise."

Pacey stopped again, this time placing a soft kiss on Joey's other cheek. Joey sat there in a breathless trance, mesmerized by the sound of Pacey's voice as his declaration of love went on.

"I love thee with the passion put to use in my old grief's, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints."

Joey received another kiss from Pacey, this time on her forehead.

"I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

Pacey finished and gently took Joey's face in his hands, wiping the tears that were now streaming down her face with his thumbs. He drew her face to his then and kissed her tenderly.

"How was that?" he asked softly as he pulled away, still holding her face in his hands.

Joey didn't know what to say; Pacey had rendered her speechless. "Wow…I…I didn't know…you could…I mean…" Joey stammered.

"You didn't know I had it in me?" he laughed. "I paid attention in English class from time to time, especially when we discussed 'How Do I Love Thee' this year since it made me think of you. I wouldn't remember an entire poem for just anybody."

"And I wouldn't fall head over heels in love with just anybody, only you, Pacey. You're the only one I want, now and forever."

Pacey didn't need to hear anymore. He caught Joey's lips in another kiss, passion overtaking them as they fell gently back onto the deck. Joey's head began spinning then, and her body felt dizzy and light, as she got lost in Pacey. She almost felt like she was floating…

Wait, she WAS floating, up and away from Pacey! She could still see him; he was still kissing her on the deck of True Love, but now she was watching it happen, too! Joey's mind began racing as she tried to figure out what was going on. Why was she having an out-of-body experience?

Joey became frightened again as everything began to get farther and farther away…

"Pacey!" she tried to call to him, but he didn't hear her, probably because technically he was still kissing her…

None of this made sense to Joey…

"Pacey!" she yelled again, with no luck.

Then, just as quickly as the floating sensation took over Joey, it left. She began to fall. She looked down, panicking, searching frantically for Pacey, but he was gone. Now all that was left was darkness again.

"PACEY! HELP ME!" she cried, but was met with silence as she continued to plummet into the blackness.

Feeling completely alone and totally helpless, Joey shut her eyes and tried to concentrate on Pacey and his love for her. For some strange reason, all she could hear in her head at that moment were his last words from the poem…

"And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death…"

DEATH. The word rang out in Joey's mind like a loud warning bell screaming endlessly.


The word came over and over as Joey kept falling and falling, picking up speed as she raced toward some unknown destination…

Joey tried to scream again, but nothing would come. All she wanted was Pacey, and all she could think of was death. Then, just when she thought it would never be over, she could feel herself nearing the ground. Soon, she would make contact with something, she just didn't know what. She shut her eyes tight, holding her breath, and bracing herself for the inevitable impact…


"Pacey," Joey mumbled, her words coming out slurred. She had just been having the strangest dream about Pacey. Or, maybe it wasn't a dream, but more a memory because, in her dream she was reliving one of the wonderful moments they had shared aboard the True Love.

But then that moment was gone, and a nightmare was in its place. Joey kept her eyes shut as she tried to block out the terror she had felt, but it wasn't going away.

Why? Where was she at, and why was her head throbbing?

Joey searched her brain, desperately trying to remember what had happened. The events of the evening began to come back to her in bits and pieces…

She had been talking with Pacey in front of the B&B about the stars…and then she remembered the phone call.

Jen! Jen was in labor and Pacey was driving her to New York City to be with her.

Or, at least he was trying to get them there, until he got them lost, of course.

Then there was the freezing rain, along with the argument that Joey and Pacey had…

'Wait,' Joey thought, her fear becoming stronger. 'Freezing rain and arguing…and a tree down in the middle of the icy road…'

'Oh my God!' Joey's stomach jumped up into her throat as the grim realization of what had happened hit her. Flashes of the little Jetta flying out of control across the road and straight at a tree raced through her mind.

'Oh God, please let it be a dream!' she prayed, still afraid to open her eyes. 'Calm down, Joey,' she told herself. 'Just calm down and open your eyes. Pacey will be there, and once you see him it will be alright.'

But, wait, what if Pacey wasn't alright?

Thoughts of Pacey being hurt, or worse, were all the motivation that Joey needed to open her eyes. She forced them open, ignoring the shooting pain in the right side of her head.

The sight she saw in front of her confirmed her worst fears. The windshield was completely smashed, but through the cracked and broken glass she could see the tree that the little car had plowed into, ultimately stopping its dizzying ride. Joey couldn't see very well, but she didn't need good vision right now to see that the whole front end of the silver car was smashed in, and there was now smoke rising from underneath the demolished hood. It was all just a mess.

Joey was in a daze as she took in the disastrous sight in front of her.

'Pacey. I have to make sure he is okay.'

She pried her eyes from the windshield and turned toward the driver's side. Nothing could've prepared Joey for what she saw there.

Pacey was slumped over the steering wheel, his body lifeless. There was a long stream of dark red blood running down the right side of his face, and Joey couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. He looked…Joey couldn't even think it.

A terror like Joey had never known came over her then, taking over her heart and clouding it in a veil of darkness, as for a brief moment Joey feared that Pacey was dead. She tried to make herself move so she could see if he was breathing, but she was frozen with fear. All she could do was stare at his limp body…At Pacey. HER Pacey – The arrogant smartass who drove her crazy almost every day of her life for the past twenty years; the caring and generous guy who was also one of her best friends; and the handsome, intelligent, funny man who she had once vowed to love forever…

And whom she still loved.

The saying 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone' rang true in that moment for Joey as she imagined her world without Pacey in it. It was a cold and dreary place, one that she didn't want to continue living in. That's when she knew. She knew then without a doubt that she didn't want to live in a world without Pacey, that she didn't want to live a life that didn't include him. Without him, she was incomplete and empty, like she felt right now.

Oh, how she had taken him for granted! He had loved her unconditionally and given his heart to her, no questions asked. And she had taken that love and wasted it! The horrible realization of all the time with him she had squandered, thinking that he would always be there, that the possibility of their love would always be there, hit her like a freight train. She had so many opportunities with him that she had thrown away, and for what?

Was it for Dawson, a man that she hardly knew anymore? No, it wasn't him, and deep down she knew that. While a part of her would always love Dawson, it was completely different from the love she felt, still felt, for Pacey. She and Dawson did share a deep connection, but it was a connection fueled by friendly love and familiarity. Dawson was and forever would be her 'safety net', the one she ran to when she couldn't handle the real world and all the scary things that came along with it…like her love for Pacey.

Everyone had expected her to fall for Dawson and be with him forever; they were the 'soulmates.' No one, Joey and Pacey included, expected Joey to fall for Pacey. She knew Pacey certainly didn't plan to fall in love with her either, but it had happened. And it was definitely unexpected. Joey by nature did not do well with the unexpected. She was afraid of it, and her natural instincts told her to run from it. Try as she might to overcome her fear, she never quite could. The love she felt for Pacey was so overwhelmingly deep and real, she just couldn't handle it.

Joey was afraid of love; she was afraid to love and let herself be loved. Mainly because two of the people she had loved most in life left her, in one way or another – her mom and dad. The pain Joey experienced from that was so great she never wanted to feel that way again. So, she ran from love, from Pacey, afraid of loving him, and losing him, and the pain that came along with it. But now she was faced with the possibility of losing him for good…

He could be dead, and he would never know that she loved him, that she had always loved him. What was the last thing she had said to him…?

"Really, Pacey, why does everything with you and I end in disaster?"

'Oh no, oh no!' Joey desperately wanted to take those words back now, to tell Pacey he was not a disaster, but a blessing in her life. He was a gift that only God could have given to her. And all those 'disasters' that she was referring to, were not disasters at all. Instead, they were golden opportunities that fate handed to her on a silver platter that were disguised as disasters. Each of those times destiny had thrown them together in some way to show them they were supposed to be together. It was like God was saying to her, 'Look, Joey! This is the man for you! You may think it's Dawson, but pay attention to the signs! It's Pacey!'

"It's Pacey," Joey whispered, as a tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek. "It's Pacey," she said again, this time a little louder. "I love Pacey. I want to be with Pacey," Joey was practically shouting now.

A burst of courage surged through Joey as she spoke, allowing her to move. She unbuckled the seatbelt that was still restraining her and leaned over towards Pacey, feeling slightly dizzy. She shook it off. She didn't have time to worry about herself; Pacey needed her.

Joey reached her hand up shakily and put two fingers to the side of Pacey's neck, praying that she would feel a pulse there…

Joey felt a glorious tapping on her fingers and cried tears of Joey. Pacey was alive! Now, she had to help him. She gingerly pulled him back away from the steering wheel as carefully as she could, remembering afterwards that she probably shouldn't have moved him, but it was too late. She hoped that she hadn't hurt anything as she surveyed the damage his body had endured.

He had a large gash in his forehead, and Joey speculated that he might have hit the windshield, but she couldn't be sure. All she knew was that is was bleeding badly and she needed to stop it. Instinctively she opened the glove box and rummaged through it until she found some napkins. They weren't bandages, but they were better than nothing. She quickly pressed them over the cut and applied as much pressure as she could.

It was then that she noticed how rapidly he was breathing. She was happy to see the rise and fall of his chest, but it was going up and down so fast. He seemed to be having trouble breathing. Joey forgot about his cut for a minute and she hurriedly undid his seatbelt, thinking maybe that would help.

While she was freeing him, she looked down and noticed Pacey's left leg. It was twisted in a funny angle and just seemed to be hanging there. It didn't look good.

Joey sucked in a breath and tried to remain calm. It was obvious that Pacey had multiple injuries, and she had to get help quickly. Not taking her eyes from him, she dug in her pocket for her cell phone. She flipped it open, ready to call 911, when she stopped, reading the message sprawled across its little screen:


"NO!" Joey cried. "It has to work!" Maybe if she got out of the car she could get a few bars of service. She hesitated, looking at Pacey. She hated to leave him, but she had to.

"Pacey, I'll be right back. I promise. I need to get out of the car and get my cell to work so I can get you some help." She lightly touched his pale face before sliding across the seat and opening the door. Thankfully, it opened.

She swung her legs carefully out the door and tried to stand. As soon as she did, the world around her started spinning. She gripped onto the car door, and steadied herself, willing her body to move forward.

'I have to do this for Pacey.'

She took a few tentative steps away from the car and felt a shooting pain in her right leg. She looked down and saw blood seeping through her jeans over her knee. She knew she had a cut there, but didn't have time to worry about it.

She looked at her cell then hopefully, but it still said she had no service. She continued to walk back and forth by the side of the car, staying in the little patch of grass to avoid the still slick pavement, but after five minutes, she still had no service.

"Damn!" Joey shouted in anguish, flipping the cell shut angrily.

Now what was she going to do? She had no way to call for help, and even if she did, Joey realized she would have no idea how to tell them where they were. They were lost, and Joey didn't have a clue where they had crashed! The freezing rain was slacking off some, but the road was still shining with a layer of ice. The roads were not in good driving condition, which meant that the chances of someone driving by and finding them were slim to none.

She crawled defeated back into the car and looked at Pacey, who was still unconscious and looking worse by the minute.

Joey, who had been trying to be so strong, could not control her emotions anymore. Tears started to pour down her cheeks as she buried her face in Pacey's shoulder, seeking comfort from the one person who always made everything better for her.

"Pacey, you have to wake up! Please!" she begged through her tears. "I love you and I need you. We're trapped here, and I don't know how to help us!"

But Pacey remained unconscious, and the highway was quiet.

It appeared that help was not coming anytime soon…

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