Waiting to Exhale by: Kilby

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Rating: PG-13

This takes place approximately one week after "Moving."

Much to his surprise Dawson, jumps up from his bed when he hears someone coming through his window. "Joey, hey," he said to her.

"Hey Dawson," she said uncomfortably.

"I haven't really had a chance to talk to you in a while. So how are. . .'things?'"

"Okay," she said. "How about yourself?"

"Fine. You know, I just rented this new movie, if you want to watch it," he told her.

"Actually," she said, becoming even more uncomfortable, "I'm. . .I'm here to see Pacey."

"Joey, you've been here seeing Pacey like every night this week. I thought that when you came through the window that you came to see me."

"Look Dawson, I'm sorry. I knocked, and no one answered. I didn't know that you would be here."

"The other night. . .," he began, "well, you said that we would still be friends no matter what I did."

"I meant it," she said sympathetically. "It's just. . .things are. . .I've just been trying to help Pacey with his schoolwork, because he doesn't want your mom and dad disappointed in him."

"Since when are you nice to Pacey?" he asked laughing.

She headed for the door, tired of the same redundancy, and rolled her eyes. "Since I lost my best friend," she said under her breath.


Pacey was relaxing on the bed in Dawson's guest room, which he had seemed to make his own over the past week. Joey peeked in on him, before she actually went in. He had a book open in front of him, but he was concentrating on a basketball game he had on the television. It looked like he was studying during the commercials. 'It's a start,' she thought to herself. "Studying hard?" she said walking in the room.

"Now, if I were to say 'hardly studying' that would be just way too obvious wouldn't it?" he said with a smirk.

"Pacey, I thought that you were serious about working harder to get better grades."

"I am," he said turning the television off. "Let's talk about DNA," he said with a sly smile. They both began studying for their biology test tomorrow.

Dawson was curious, and a bit jealous, so it wasn't a surprise that he snuck up to Pacey's room to spy on what he and Joey were doing. He felt a wave of relief to see that they were actually studying, but was jealous of the banter that was taking place between them. His heart ached when he heard her laughing again, because he realized that her laugh may never be for him again. He returned back to his room. Joey and Pacey continued to study.

"It's nine o'clock," Joey said getting up out of the floor, and heading to the door. "I've got to go."

"Okay. Jo?" he said.


"Thanks for your help."

"Sure Pacey," she said. She looked at the door, and thought of Dawson. She closed it completely, and Pacey looked up from his book in surprise. She walked over and sat next to him on the bed. "I think we need to move along with our plan."

[Song: "Whatever" by EnVogue.]

Pacey's mind started off on its own tangent. Having her there next to him, he thought of taking Joey out, holding her hand, kissing her, and he knew that he would have just a taste of being her's, and if the plan was successful, she would be with the man that she really wanted.

"Pacey? Did you hear me?" she asked.

"Yeah Joey. Look, I don't think that we need to," he said.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because," he began, ". . .he's already jealous. You saw him at the funeral the other day, he didn't like seeing us together."

"Yeah," she said. "And I saw him tonight, and he's jealous, but. . .Pace, he still hasn't done anything. I mean, he didn't leave her to come to me. He stayed beside her. If I want him completely, I think we need to keep this going."

"Joey, I don't know," he said.

"If you're having second thoughts. . .I mean. . ." she said, hoping that he would stop her.

"Okay. I'll think of something after the test tomorrow," he said just because he could hear the desperation in her voice.

"Thank you," she said.

"You have to go now?" he asked, sounding quite desperate himself.

"I have a Spanish test tomorrow too," she told him.

"Sorry, I can't help you there. I take French."

"You do?" she didn't remember that. "The language of love, Pacey?" she said sarcastically.


"Say something to me in French."


"Yes," she pleaded to him.

"Okay," he said. When he began you could hear how nervous he was, but when he spoke the words came out smoothly, like they were rehearsed. "Je reve de toi. Tu as ma coeur, ma ame, mon monde. Je t'adore. [translation: I dream of you. You are my heart, my soul, my world. I love you.]" When he was finished speaking he looked up from the floor, and into her eyes.

"That was beautiful, Pacey."

He realized that he shouldn't have said that. Trying to save himself he says, "it does sound nicer than saying that you're ugly in English."

She playfully punched him in the arm. "Is that what you said to me?"

"Yeah," he lied.

"Well, as much as I would like to kill you now, I've got to go."

"See ya, Jo," he said. With that she left, and Pacey couldn't study anymore. All he could think about was the mess that this could become. He wondered if Joey was just as dense as Dawson was, or if he was such a good actor that Joey couldn't tell he had feelings for her.


Dawson looked at Jen from across the classroom, because she looked unusually shaken up. When the bell rang he left the room to find her at her locker in a daze.

[As Dawson looks down the bustling hall; Song: "What about us?" by Total (with Missy).]

"Hey," she said in a sad voice.

"Is something wrong Jen?" he asked her.

"I'm okay," she said.

"What did you think of that speaker?" he asked her.

"I don't really want to talk about it now," she said.

"Are you sure that you're okay?"

"Sure," she said. "Well,. . .maybe I could use someone to talk too. It's pretty complicated, and pretty intense, but if you're willing. . ."

"I want to do whatever I can for you," he said.

"Can I come to your house tonight?" she asked.

"Sure. I'll see you then."

"Yeah," she said walking away.


"How did you do on your test?" Joey asked approaching Pacey in the hallway.

"Not too bad I guess," he told her. "Thanks again for the help."

"No problem," she said. "Have you thought of the next step in 'the plan?'"

"Yeah. . .um. . .I thought that we could go do something romantic, and make sure that Dawson knows about it."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. A picnic at the beach or something," he said.

"How about at the ruins?" she asked.

"Better," he said.

"What night?" she asked.

"Friday?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "Can you make sure he knows. You know, casually mention it."

"Yeah," he said. "You too."

"Okay," she said. "I'll see you tonight."

"Tonight? For what?" he asked confused.

"Just to visit."

"Okay." He didn't want to argue with that.

[Song: "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" by Maxwell]

Dawson was going crazy thinking about what could've bothered Jen so badly. She entered his room, and sat down without a hello.

"What's going on Jen?" he asked.

"You know, Dawson you may not want to get involved with this, and I don't think you need to know," she said.

"I want to help. I'm ready for anything you can tell me," he paused. "Is this about class today?"

"Yeah," she said, not really wanting to continue.

"Did you know someone with AIDS in New York?"

"This isn't easy for me," she said looking away holding her left pinky finger in her right hand twisting it around.

Dawson became concerned. "What is it Jen?"

"It's no secret to you that my past is sort of, um, shady."

"Everybody makes mistakes," he told her.

"What the speaker said today, it hit home because. . .well, I could be her someday."

"You have AIDS?" he asks. He's thinking, 'I can't believe I wanted to sleep with someone who could have AIDS. What was I thinking?'

"No," she said. "I mean, the last time I was tested I was HIV negative. But you know that it takes a while for the virus to show up, and sometimes their wrong, and. . .and. . ." she began to cry.

"You did something to put yourself at risk for HIV?" he asked her.

"Dawson you know that I was promiscuous."

"Yeah, but I couldn't imagine that you would have sex with someone who could've had HIV."

"And how would I be able to tell?" she asked, pissed off.

"You know how 'they' look," he said.

"People with HIV don't look sick. It's not just one type of person that has HIV, Dawson. Did that girl we saw today look like one of 'them?'" she asked angrily. "Anybody can get it with a wrong decision. And I made some."

"I'm sorry. I don't know how to get my foot out of my mouth after saying that. It was insensitive, and I apologize. But you have to know that everything will be okay."

"I need to go for another test," she said. "I'm scared."

"Don't be scared. Everything will be okay," he said. "I can go with you, and get tested too. If you want."

"You don't need to go," she told him.

"If you want me to go with you, I do need to go."

"You mean it?" she said.


"I'm going on Friday," she said. "To Providence."

"You can't get tested here?" he asked.

"I can," she said, "but the last thing I want is everyone in this town to know that the possibility even exists."

"I see your point," he said. "I'll go. I don't mind."

She shook her head in agreement. They were interrupted when they heard wails coming from downstairs. They got up to see what it was. When they looked downstairs, Dawson saw Pacey and Joey wrestling over the clicker on the couch. They were smiling and laughing, and he was jealous. Jen got frustrated when she saw Dawson's reaction. She and Dawson said their goodbyes quickly, and she left without neither Pacey or Joey seeing her.

Dawson waited until Joey left so that he could speak with Pacey. "Pacey," he screamed as he walked by.

"Yeah man," Pacey said as he walked back in front of Dawson's room.

"Can I talk to you?" Dawson asked.

"Sure. What's up?" Pacey said, sitting next to Dawson on the bed.

"What's going on with you and Joey?"

"I don't know D, I mean we're just having fun together."

"Okay," Dawson said.

"Wait a minute. You wouldn't mind, if we. . .you know, got together would you?" Pacey asked.

Dawson pauses. "Naw Pacey, I mean. . ."

"Good, because we have plans on Friday," Pacey said. He was so surprised at how easy it was for him to execute his plan.

"Plans? Like what?" Dawson asked.

"Well," Pacey said with his slyest grin, "I think I'll take her on a picnic at the ruins. That'll be romantic right?"

"Yeah, sure," Dawson said. His mind was wondering. He desperately wanted to watch them to see what is actually going on between Pacey and Joey, but he had already promised Jen he would help her. In seconds, it seemed as though he had an epiphany.


It was Thursday night, and Pacey could tell that Dawson was up to something when he met him on the stairs. Dawson was carrying his video camera, and had a mixture of looks. His face was somewhat mischievous and somewhat concerned "What's up with the camera, D?" Pacey asked him.

"I just wanted to do some film of the town," Dawson said. Pacey knew better. A few seconds after Dawson rushed out of the door, he followed him. Pacey was surprised to see that Dawson had gone to the ruins to set up the camera there. He came to the conclusion that Dawson was going to tape his date with Joey. He wanted to become enraged, but he knew that this was the whole point -- to make Dawson jealous, to make him want to know. He went straight to Joey's house to tell her.

"That's good, I guess. A little sick though," she said.

"I know," Pacey said. "So what should we do?"

"We should do what our good friend Dawson would do -- script the evening." They began to work on what they would do.


Not long after returning from school, Dawson came down the stairs with a bag for his trip with Jen, because they were going to stay the night, which her grandmother had no idea. He walked in the kitchen when he saw Pacey packing a basket of things that he obviously bought from the store. "So what are you doing tonight?" Pacey asked Dawson.

"I'm going somewhere with Jen," Dawson answered.

"Where?" Pacey asked.

"I don't know yet," he lied. "You have fun with Joey," he told him.

"Thanks," Pacey said. When he saw the bags, he said, "Aren't you coming back tonight?"

"No," Dawson said, "but you can't tell anyone."

"Sure," Pacey said. He knew that there was something suspect about all of this.


After Dawson and Jen boarded the bus they would take to Providence, things became very quiet. Dawson was being plagued by the one question that he wanted to ask Jen. He thought about how it may affect her, but decided to ask her anyway. "Jen, can I ask you something?" he said.

"Sure," she said.

"Don't take this the wrong way," he began. With that, she became uneasy. He lowered his voice, "did you not sleep with me because you thought you could have HIV?"

"Honestly?" she asked.

"Sure," he said, not knowing what to expect.

"No," she began, wondering what to say next, because she could clearly see that Dawson's ego was hurt. "I know that condoms can stop someone from passing the virus. With that, I think that if I had really wanted to sleep with you that I just would have." She paused, because she knew what she was saying wasn't coming out exactly right. "Dawson, don't you see that I was trying to make changes in myself, and I wanted what we have. . .had to be more than sex."

"I guess that I understand. But, um, did you ever want me?" he asked her.

"I did," she answered, not trying to explain how badly she had sometimes.

Dawson was happy with the new found honesty that were beginning to share.


[Song: "Gotta Be" by Jagged Edge.]

Joey came to meet Pacey sometime around dusk. After they were out of the house, he told Joey that Dawson was going somewhere with Jen, and that's why he was taping their night. He didn't tell her that he wouldn't be back tonight, because he knew that it would hurt her.

When they arrived at the ruins, Pacey layed out a blanket, and set the food out quite nicely. Joey was a bit impressed. They went on with their evening just as they had rehearsed. Laughing, talking, and when it came time for the kiss, Pacey grew nervous. He didn't want to do it, because he knew that after one kiss, that all he would want to do was kiss her. For her own happiness, no matter how miserable it would make him, he decided to go through with it. It was to be short, just enough to convince Dawson that they could be making the transition from friends to more than friends.

Joey saw that Pacey was drifting off, and she knew that the kiss was next. She couldn't help but to think of the reservations that he had about this, but she was glad he was helping her. "Is something wrong Pacey?" she asked.

He looked up at her, and knew he needed some good adlib to kiss her now. "It's just that I've been thinking about how I much I wanted to kiss you," he said, winking at her to let her know that he was going through with the plan. With that, he leaned in, and kissed her on the lips, softly and gently, for just a few seconds. He pulled away, and she was still, and had not opened her eyes. By that one small thing, she had made him feel good about himself.

He couldn't stand to know that he was on camera for another minute, and he was a bit uncomfortable because of him having been with Tamara there. "Let's go for a walk," he said to her.

Before she opened her eyes, she let out a long breath. She shook her head in agreement to the walk. They picked up the remainder of the things and repacked them in the basket. He took her hand as they walked out the range of the camera. They continued onto the docks, where they stood looking at the water.

"That was perfect," she said to him. "That line was classic."

"Yeah," he said. He was upset, because to him it wasn't a line.

"You know, as devious as this sounds, I'm having a lot of fun."

"Fun?" he asked. "This is supposed to be torture for you." 'The torture that it is for me,' he thought to himself.

"I know that it's supposed to be. But, Pacey, for once in my life, I'm not just sitting around analyzing how things are. Like I did with Dawson. Now I am actually going out and making this happen. It feels good."

"That's great that you feel that way Jo," he said, genuinely happy for her.

She looked up from the water at Pacey standing next to her. She looked at him concentrating on the water, and said, "Pacey, I know that you may be having some conflicts about doing this, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Before this, I never could've imagined that we could be like this. I didn't think that you could be anything more than someone to trade insults with, but you are so much more."

He looked at her, and their eyes met. This time it seemed right. He leaned in to kiss her, and about three inches from her face he closes his eyes. Their lips are about an inch apart when Pacey felt her finger on his lips. He opened his eyes. She smiled at him and whispered, "Pacey, let's save it for when Dawson can see."

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