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[Previously in "Set it Off" (my last story): Dawson and Joey agree to try to make a relationship work. Joey tells Dawson that she slept with Pacey, even though it isn't true. Jen asks Dawson for another chance, he tells her that he's not ready to be in a relationship with her not knowing when she'll get tired of him. Dawson fears that Pacey used Joey and confronts him about it. Pacey goes along reluctantly with her plan. About three weeks later. . .]
While Dawson and Joey have a movie on, Dawson can tell that there is something wrong with her. Wanting to help, he says, "Is something wrong?"
"I don't know, Dawson," she said.
"What is it, Joey?"
"This is just too strange."
"What?" he asks. "Us?"
"Yeah," she said.
"I thought that this was what you wanted," he said.
"It is. But look, our little foursome is no more. You're the only one who's talking to me."
"Well, I would prefer if you didn't talk to Pacey anyway."
"Why?" she asked.
"He could care less about what you. . .what you, you know," he said.
"God Dawson, not this again," she said.
"What he did to you just wasn't right."
"Pacey didn't do anything to me," she said. "I initiated it. I was willing," she said.
"Fine," he said. "We just won't talk about the sex thing anymore."
"I would appreciate it," she said. "Does he talk to you?" she asked him.
"Just a little. Since you left him, it's just like he shut off from the rest of the world," he said.
She knew that was true, and it was probably one of the things that bothered her the most. The truth was that she missed him. Even though everything that she had with Pacey was supposed to be fake, she knew that he was the only thing that had made her forget Dawson in the past few months. She truly believed that she did love Dawson, but even though they were now a couple, things hadn't changed that much. She had only pretended to date Pacey, and it changed her more than three weeks with Dawson had. When she thought of Pacey, she missed him, because no one seemed to understand her like he did.
"Joey, is something the matter?" Dawson said, interrupting her thoughts.
"I just wish that things could go back to the way they were," she said.
"Do you mean that?" he asked her.
"Even us?" he asked saddened.
"No," she said. "I just wish that I could blink and fix everything. So that Pacey didn't hate me, so that you didn't hate him. And Jen was still trying to wear me down to be her friend," she said with a chuckle. "It's like with one thing I've eliminated my only other friends."
"You have me," Dawson said.
For so long all she wanted was Dawson, and now that she had him she lost everything that she had grown to love. Pacey in particular.
"Actually, I came to see Alex for a minute. That is, if it's okay with you," he said.
"Sure," she said, leading him towards the kitchen. She picked up a dish from the sink, and Pacey figured that she must have been washing before she answered the door.
Alex was in his baby seat on the counter. "Hey big A," Pacey said. He took his fingers and began to tickle Alex's stomach, and Alex smiled back at him. Bessie was amazed to see how good he was with the baby. "I brought you a present," he said to the baby. He opened the bag he had, and pulled out a plush basketball that was about four inches in diameter. "You can start practicing now, so you can get a big NBA contact and take good care of your family," he said with a grin. It had a strap for the baby to grab onto, so Pacey slipped it on his hand. The bright orange color delighted Alex, and he shook with laughter. When he heard the bells inside the ball jingle, he laughed even harder. It delighted Pacey.
"That was so nice of you Pacey," Bessie said. "He obviously loves it," she said looking over Pacey's shoulder after she finished her dishes. "You want to give him his bottle?" she asked.
"I'd like that," Pacey said. She prepared a bottle, and handed it to Pacey. He carefully took Alex out of his seat, and held him in his arms.
"Come and sit down," she told him. He followed her to the couch, sat down, and began feeding the baby.
"I haven't seen you in a while," she said. "I know that Joey's seeing Dawson now, or something," she said. "I can't keep up. But I didn't think that, well, I just didn't think that you wouldn't still be friends."
"We didn't break up very amiably," Pacey said.
"You were good for her. She is somewhat a tortured soul, and I think that you gave her pleasure to take some of that away." She paused, "well, you made her laugh, and she needs that. She needs someone like you."
"I need someone like her," Pacey said.
"So why don't you guys give it another chance?" she asked.
"She's with Dawson. That's what she wants, and that's what makes her happy. I want her to be happy," he said, honestly.
"Pacey, how do you feel about Joey?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
He was coming very close to disclosing his feelings, and that was the last thing he needed. He knew that would make things too complicated. "She's a good friend, and I just want the best for her." He looked down because he noticed the baby had stopped sucking on his bottle, and was fast asleep. He smiled.
"What about you Pacey?" Bessie asked. "What will make you happy?"
Then the door opened and he saw Joey. It was amazing how the answer to Bessie's question had just appeared in front of her. Joey was taken aback to see Pacey, because, mutually, they were avoiding each other.
"I thought you were working," Bessie said.
"It was slow, so I left," Joey said. It was silent, because no one, including Bessie knew what to say. Finally, Joey said, "Pacey can I talk to you?"
"Sure," he said. He stood up, and carefully handed the baby to Bessie. He woke up, and began crying. It was clear that he wanted Pacey back. "Don't worry little man," Pacey said to him. "I'll be back to see you soon." Pacey tickled him on the belly again. He laughed, and shook his new basketball with delight. Bessie quickly shoved his bottle back into his mouth. "Thanks Bessie, for being so nice, and letting me visit," Pacey said.
"Anytime," she said. "Remember what I told you."
"I will," he said. He followed Joey outside, and sat down next to her on her steps.
"I didn't expect to see you," she said.
"I know," he said. "I, uh, I thought that you were working, so I thought that I would drop by to see the baby."
"You didn't want to see me," she said, hurt.
"No," he said.
"You know that you can see him when you want," she said, referring to the baby.
"Yeah, Bessie said it was okay."
"He likes you a lot."
"Yeah," Pacey said. There was a very awkward silence.
"Pacey, I miss having you around," she said.
"I miss you too," he said looking down. "I was. . .I was just, just keeping up with the plan."
"Don't you think that we've been on the outs long enough?"
"Yeah, but if I really loved you, I wouldn't want to see you with Dawson," he said, knowingly.
"Who cares?" she said. "We don't have to keep this up now," she said. "It's over, and if he finds out now, he finds out."
"It may not ruin your relationship with him," he said, "but it might make things bad for me."
"Worse than him thinking you slept with me?" she asked, making all of the sense in the world.
"You're right," he said. "It's just a little awkward," he said.
"Why?" she asked.
'I don't want to see him with you, I want to be with you,' he thought to himself. 'Can't you see it?' he asked her in his mind. She couldn't though.
"I don't know what happened to us," she said, trying to continue the conversation.
He began to speak from his heart. "Joey, I want you to know that you will always be a part of me. You'll always be my friend. Nothing will change that."
"But what about you? What you said about being lonely? Dawson told me that you seemed to have shut off from the world."
The dreaded "D" word. Pacey began to hate it. He hated to hear that word come from the lips that he used to kiss. "Dawson doesn't talk to me any more than you have lately," he said. "I've just been concentrating on my finals."
"I'm expecting good grades," she said, playfully.
"I've done my best the past few weeks," he said.
"Now, I don't think you could do any less," she said with a smile.
"Thanks," he said, feeling slightly better.
They sat in silence for about a minute. "Is this what it's going to be like?" she asked.
"What?" he asked.
"You know, chance meetings. No more long talks. We can't talk without mentioning Dawson. When you find out your grades, I'm not going to be the one you find to tell."
"Joey, I just need time. I think that I took what went on a little too seriously."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Nothing. I mean. . .it's just that I know that you are busy with Dawson, and after what we went through, I don't want it destroyed. I don't want him to be more angry with me, and I don't want you to lose what you have," he said, trying to save himself from having to tell the truth.
She knew that what he said, was not what he was talking about before. "Pacey, you know that it's not going to be that way." She paused, lowered her voice, and said "What good will it be if I have Dawson, and I lose you?"
He knew that was sincere. She was reaching for him, so he decided to take the opportunity, before she realized what she was doing. "Jo."
"When I get my grades, you will be the first one that I find," he said, taking a small step towards trying to begin rebuilding a friendship with the girl that he wanted as more than a friend. "I promise."
She smiled at him. "Thanks," she said. He made her feel so special. Their time apart hadn't changed what they had. Just like when he kissed her, saying that made her feel like she was the only other person in his world. Their love for each other had grown that much in three weeks. They had a special connection, a deep psychic bond. It had become so much more than a physical attraction. It was amazing how well they knew each other, but Pacey's thoughts of how Joey couldn't love him kept him from realizing that she could. Just as her thoughts of how Pacey couldn't love her kept her from realizing that he did.
"Hey Jen," Dawson said as he sat next to Jen on her steps, similarly to how Joey and Pacey had sat.
"Hey Dawson," she said. "How's it going?"
"Not well," he said. "Joey and I. . ." he paused. Jen looked at him hopeful. ". . .we feel like we've ruined, you know, the group."
"I don't get what you're saying," she said.
"You won't talk to her, neither of us talk to Pacey. It's like Joey and I have ruined our friendships by finding each other."
"I still like Pacey," she said, dancing around the Joey issue.
"Pacey's not really what I wanted to talk about. I thought that maybe you could try being friends with Joey."
"Dawson I've tried to be her friend. She just doesn't want me to be," she said.
"She told me that she did," he said.
"I don't know Dawson," she said.
"Could you do it for me?" he asked her.
"I guess I can try," she said, "but I'm not making any promises."
"Thanks Jen," he said giving her a peck on the cheek. She knew that this may be the only way for her to try to win her way back into his heart.
Pacey looked down the crowded hallway at school searching for Joey. He saw her at her locker and smiled. Just as he had found her, she began to walk away. She was quite far down the hall. He took off running, with a piece of paper flapping in his hand, dodging people as he went, and yelling "Joey."
She turned around and smiled as she saw him.
"Hey," she said, as he finally stopped. He was out of breath, and bent over to put his hands on his knees. She giggled as she watched him. "What are you doing?" she asked him.
"I'm just trying to keep my promise," he said, handing her the paper.
She looked it over, and smiled. "Pacey this is great," she said, giving him a hug.
"It's not all that," he said, rolling his eyes, just as she tends to do so much.
"Pacey this is great. I am so proud of you."
"I owe it to you."
Before she could respond Dawson walked up to her, and kissed her on the cheek. "Hi Pacey," he said, with a bit of contempt.
"Dawson," he said, trying to give some of that contempt back to him.
"Look at Pacey's grades," she said.
Dawson examined them, and looked at her. "I don't know if all C's is really something to write home about," he said.
"That's okay, Dawson," Pacey said, "because I really don't have a home."
"I'm sorry Pacey, I wasn't thinking," Dawson said.
"It's okay," Pacey responded, trying very hard to be forgiving, if not for anything more than Joey.
"Pacey, it's great," Joey said, handing the paper back to him.
"I'll see you later," Pacey said to her.
"Okay," she said. "Oh, and Pacey?"
"Yeah," he said.
"Thanks," she said.
He gave her a smile, and turned to walk away.
Joey and Dawson were quietly sitting in his room, and Joey felt a great deal of tension. "What's wrong?" she asked Dawson.
"What was that with Pacey today?" he asked.
"We're trying to be friends again," she said.
"Ah, just as you were starting to hate him again," he said sarcastically.
"Dawson, do we have to do this?"
"Are you planning for him to be your splakavelli or something?"
"God where do you pick this slang up? Have you been watching MTV again?" She thought that this was his attempt to be more like Pacey.
"Are you?" he asked.
"I don't know what that is," she said.
"A man who is not your boyfriend who you use to service your body," he said.
"Someone you're unattached to that you have sex with."
"Is it always going to come back to the sex thing?" she asked.
"You can't answer my question with another one," he said.
"No Dawson, I just want my friend back."
"You have me."
"Can't I have him too?" she asked, realizing that was a poor choice of words. "I mean his friendship."
"I can't talk you out of this, can I?" he asked.
"No," she said.
"Fine." He would just have to find a way to deal with Pacey, but his jealousy was worse than ever. He believed that he was being cheated, because Pacey had shared something with Joey that he hadn't. He was right, in a sense.
Joey and Pacey were working very hard to be friends. Pacey was happy enough with the arrangement because he believed that being her friend was better than nothing. Although, he was sometimes pained to be around her.
He and Dawson, however, were a mess. Pacey couldn't believe that he and Joey's goal had ever actually to be to make Dawson jealous, because now he was more jealous than ever, and he was just horrible. Dawson was extremely overprotective of Joey. Pacey ached when he saw them together, and couldn't believe that Dawson was so jealous, because he was the one with nothing to worry about.
Pacey trudged down the stairs of the Leary house, to find Mr. Leary dancing to Gladys Knight's version of "Heard it Through the Grapevine." While doing a spin, Mitch saw Pacey, and stopped. They both started laughing.
"Nice moves, Mr. Leary," Pacey said.
"Thanks Pacey," he said, smiling. "What's going on?"
"I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute," Pacey said.
"Sure," Mitch said. "What's on your mind?"
"Mr. Leary, I really appreciate everything that you have done for me. I mean, I came here confused, and upset, and you welcomed me into your home with open arms. I will never know how to thank you for that."
"Pacey, you don't need to thank us. We are very glad you're here."
"You don't have to say that," Pacey began. "I know that I've worn out my welcome, so I figured that it was time for me to go."
"You have somewhere else to go?" Mitch asked him.
"No," Pacey said.
"So why do you want to leave?"
"I don't want to take advantage of your kindness."
"Pacey you aren't. Do you want to go home?" Mitch said.
"No, Mr. Leary, but that doesn't mean that I can't find somewhere else to go."
"Pacey you don't need to. We want you to stay. You are a good member of this family. You help around the house, your grades made a great improvement, you don't bite the guests," Mitch said laughing.
"Thank you Mr. Leary, but I really don't want to impose any longer."
"Pacey you're not imposing. Is this about Dawson? I've noticed there has been some tension between you two. That sometimes happens when people live together."
"I think it's much deeper than that," Pacey said.
"Joey?" Mitch asked.
"Huh?" Pacey said surprised.
"Is this about Joey?" Mitch asked.
"I don't know," Pacey said.
"You're doing perfectly here," Mr. Leary said. "I think that it is best that you stay here. Just give it a try, and I'm sure that Dawson will come around. And if this is about Joey, she has enough of herself to give to both of you."
Pacey just realized that Mitch didn't know what he was talking about with that last part, but said, "Okay, I'll stay. I still want to thank you though."
"Pacey, you thank me by you being you. If you keep improving your grades, and you keep working hard, you can leave all of the past things behind, and emerge as the person you are. I would be proud to call you son," he said.
Pacey was touched by what Mitch had said, and he didn't know how to react. On the Cosby show they would've hugged, so that's what Pacey did. For the first time in his life, he felt like he belonged, and was part of a family.
[Song: "Why I Love you so Much" by Monica]
Joey was sitting alone in her living room. She saw Dawson just a Pacey did. He was driving her crazy with his jealousy, and his pettiness. For the first time, she could see why Jen may have given him his walking papers. He was making things very difficult for Pacey and her. The thought of Pacey brought a smile to her face. She reached up and sentimentally touched her lips. She saw the little basketball that Pacey had brought Alex, and she couldn't believe that Bessie got him out of the house without it, because he loved it so much. She picked it up and held it. She lifted it to her nose and took in a deep sniff. As soon as she got past the baby smell, she swore that she could still smell Pacey. In that moment, she wondered what she was doing.
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