A Thin Line Between Love and Hate by: Kilby

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[Previously in "Awakenings": Pacey comes out of his unconscious state, asking Joey if she's okay, and for his family to not be permitted to see him. Dawson meets Natasha, a hospital volunteer who is new in town. Jen is jealous of Dawson's reaction to Natasha, and he tries to ease her mind when she asks him about it. Pacey learns that his memory may have been affected because of the accident. The next day. . .]

It was the kind of Monday morning that Joey dreaded. By the dark clouds, she could tell that it was about to start pouring rain. "Hey," she said, climbing through the window. Dawson was sitting on the edge of his bed, looking at his shoes.

"Hey, Joey," he said. "What's up?"

"I thought that you might have heard how Pacey was," she said.

"You'll have to ask mom," he said. "Weren't you there last night?"

"Yeah," she said. "I just wanted to make sure that nothing changed."

"When did you leave?" he asked, picking up a shoe.

"Like eleven," she said. "They made me go. And of course, Bessie is insistent upon me going to school today."

"Pacey's fine," Dawson said. "You should go."

"I know," she said. "I just feel bad leaving him there all day."

"What is going on between you two?" Dawson asked.

"I don't know," she said. "All I know is how I felt when I thought he was leaving me, and I know that I don't want that."

"Did you tell him that you loved him while he was awake?" Dawson asked.

"Yeah, just after he woke up," she said. "I know that we need to talk about what's going on, but I thought that I should wait for him to be conscious for a little while."

"Yeah," he said with a chuckle.

"Dawson, can I ask you something?"

"Go ahead."

"Are you getting mixed up in another crazy love triangle?" Joey asked.

"What?" Dawson asked.

"Well, I know that you were talking about getting back with Jen, but you seem really interested in this Natasha girl."

"Jen and I are taking things slow this time around. We agreed that we would date other people. As for Natasha, I'm not ready to ask her to have my child yet, I just met her," he said sarcastically.

"You like her," Joey said. "Don't deny it."

"I'm not," he said. "I just want to get to know her."

"In what sense?"

"Not the Biblical one, if that's what you're getting at."

"Nope. You're the one who went in that direction."

"She's a good potential friend," Dawson said.

"Sure," she said, rolling her eyes. "Just be careful, Dawson. I don't want anyone to get hurt while you work on your ever expanding network of ex-girlfriends turned friends."

"You worried about Jen?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "She doesn't deserve to be hurt just because someone new rolls into town. I know how that feels."

"Obviously, the accident didn't just bring you closer to Pacey," he said perceptively.

"Well," she said. "Strange things come out of tragedy."

"He's fine, so it's not a tragedy," Dawson said, trying to keep her from feeling guilty. "Don't worry. Let's go call the hospital," he concluded, leading Joey down the stairs.


[Song: "It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate" by H-Town]

Dawson was sitting at a round table in the cafeteria with a lunch tray in front of him, talking with Joey and Jen in between bites of taco salad. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Natasha leaving the lunch line. She looked like she was lost, and nervous, not knowing where she wanted to go. Dawson threw his hand in the air, motioning for her to come join them. Joey rolled her eyes, and Jen let out a sigh of frustration when they both realized what he was doing. It was clear that they were not going to be easy on her.

"Hi," Natasha said, sitting next to Dawson. "I wasn't sure where I was going to sit. You saved me," she said to him.

"It's not like you were drowning," Joey said.

Dawson cleared his throat, trying to let Joey know that he disapproved of her attitude. He could tell that she disliked Natasha by the tone of voice she was using. "I thought you had decided not to come today," Dawson said, "because I didn't see you around."

"No, I'm here," Natasha said.

"Can I see this?" Dawson asked, pointing to her schedule on her lunch tray. She shook her head. After examining it for a moment he said, "oh, I didn't know that you were a junior."

"Yeah," she said. "I thought I told you that."

"No," he said. "But that would explain why we don't have any classes together." She smiled, because Dawson seemed so sweet. "How's it been so far?" Dawson asked.

"Nice," she said. "A lot better than I thought actually. I didn't know how well I would be received here."

"That's good," Dawson said.

Joey, feeling left out, said, "I'm going to call and check on Pacey before I get my lunch."

"I'll go with you," Jen added quickly, desperately wanting to leave so she wouldn't have to listen to Dawson flirt with Natasha.

"Wow," Natasha said, "is it just me or don't they like me?"

"I don't know," he said. "We don't do so well with new people sometimes. It's probably nothing personal. We've had a lot going on."

"What's the story with you guys?" she asked, sounding very confused. Since she met Dawson yesterday, she had been trying to figure out their relationships with one another.

"Well, it's pretty complicated," Dawson said, not knowing exactly how to explain. "Joey, Pacey, and I are friends from way back. Joey is my best friend in the whole world. Jen, she kind of just fell in with us. She's my neighbor. I thought that I was in love the instant that I saw her. We broke up on not so good terms, and it was very hard for us to establish a friendship. Joey hated Jen because Joey had this thing for me. I dated Joey for a while. We had some really rough times as a couple, and decided that we were better off as friends. Jen and I are thinking about dating again, but not exclusively," he finished, able to breathe again.

"I guess that it is complicated," she said. "So how does Pacey fit into this? Joey's his girlfriend, right?"

"That's where it gets a little sketchy," he said. "He's her ex, and evidently she thinks that she loves him. Who knows what he thinks, because no one wants to push him because of the accident. Pacey is our friend too. Everything about us is pretty complicated."

"I see," she said. "You said he got hit by a car, right?"

"Yeah," Dawson said. "It's a pretty amazing story. Joey was in the street, and he got hit because he pushed her out of the way. It was a hit and run, and the damn Mayberry PD still hasn't found the guy." He began to think, "I should make a movie about it," he added.

"A movie?" she asked.

"Yes. My one true passion is movies, and my life's ambition is to be a film maker."

"That's interesting," she said. "Have you. . ." she began, interrupted by the return of Jen and Joey.

"If you know what's good for you, you won't get him started," Joey told her. She was trying to be nice to Natasha, because Pacey had asked her to when she spoke to him on the phone.

"He's that bad?" Natasha asked.

"Trust me," Joey said.

"How's Pacey?" Dawson asked.

"Good," she said. "He's ready to come home."

"Mom said that he can't come home until tomorrow," Dawson said. "You think that he really feels like it?"

"I don't know," Joey said. "He sort of sounds like himself, but who knows how he really feels."

"Yeah," Dawson said.

"Do you know anything about concussions?" Joey asked Natasha.

"People getting over them usually have nasty headaches. A lot of times they're irritable, but he didn't seem like that when I saw him yesterday," Natasha said.

"Do you know its effects on the memory?" Joey asked.

"Not really," Natasha said. "Is he having trouble with his memory?"

"Sometimes when you tell him things, he doesn't remember. Like he remembers you, but couldn't remember your name." Joey continued, "it doesn't look like he's going to be able to latch onto things quickly."

"I'm not sure, but I think that it's common after a head trauma for the person to have problems with their memory. If you give it time, it might repair on its own," Natasha said. "Maybe you should talk with the doctor about it."

"Did the doctor speak with your mom again?" Joey asked.

"No," Dawson said. "You'll probably see him at the hospital tonight."

"Can I ask something?" Natasha interrupted. Dawson shook his head. "Why is your mom the one taking care of Pacey?"

"Oh," Dawson said. "Pacey lives with us. It's a long story. . .more complications," he said. Natasha shook her head in agreement, realizing that it wasn't her business to pry.

They sat in silence after that. To Joey and Jen it seemed like Natasha was becoming too involved in their lives, too fast. They didn't like her, and didn't want her involved. However, it appeared that they didn't have any control over her budding relationship with Dawson.


Pacey was sitting in his hospital room watching "General Hospital" intently, when he saw Natasha poke her head around the door. "Pacey, hi. It's Natasha. Can I come in?"

"Yeah," Pacey said. "What's up?"

"I just wanted to stop by, and say hello. I also have a message for you." She looked out the door like she was preoccupied. "Do you know there's someone out at the desk asking to see you?"

"Who?" Pacey asked.

"Some cop," Natasha said.

"God. That's great. Just what I need. Can you keep him out of here?" he asked her.

"What?" she asked confused.

"Please," he said. "That is the one thing that will hinder my recovery."

She saw Doug approaching the room, and looked back at Pacey. "Okay," she said. She walked to the doorway, shut the door, and stood in front of it with her hands grasping the doorknob.

"Excuse me," Doug said to her.

"No problem," she said with a smile, not moving.

"I'd like to see my brother," he said.

"Oh, Pacey," she said. "I'm sorry. He's sleeping. He really needs his rest. Maybe you could come back later," she said, not taking a breath until she was finished.

"I don't think that's necessary," Doug said. "I just want to see him."

"I'm sorry," she said. "Doctor's orders."

"Fine," he said, angrily. She watched him walk away, and wasn't sure if she should mess with that guy. 'He definitely has a short fuse,' she thought to herself. She walked back into Pacey's room, and shut the door behind her.

"Did you get him to go?" Pacey asked.

"Yeah," she said.

"Thank you," he said. "You have just made a friend for life."

"Well, you just make sure that I don't regret it," she said.

"My brother is a real bastard," he said.

"I figured so much," she said. "Look. You don't have to explain. It's none of my business."

"Thanks," he said. "You said that you have a message for me?"

"Yeah. I ran into Joey after school, and she wanted me to tell you that she would be by, but she had an errand to do. I think that she said she was going to come with Dawson, and his mom and dad."

"Thanks," he said, "for everything."

"Don't mention it," she said. "Let me know if you need something."

"I will," he said.


[Song: "Together Again" (Original Version) by Janet Jackson]

Pacey's face lit up when Joey finally walked into his room. "Hey," he said.

"Hi. I'm sorry, but I had something to do before I came. I hope that's okay," she said.

"It's fine," Pacey said, "just as long as you're here."

"You knew that I was coming," she said. "Have you seen the doctor today?"

"I saw him this morning," he said. "He is supposed to be back later."

"What did he say?" Joey asked.

"He told me the side effects from the concussion."

"Did he say something about the memory loss?"

"He just danced around it," Pacey said. "It could go away. It could be long lasting. If my memory doesn't go back to normal, I just have to live with it, because there's nothing they can do about it."

"It's going to be okay," Joey said.

"Joey you can't expect that everything is just going to suddenly be the way that it was. We have to be realistic about this. You're going to see it. I mean, when you have to tell me something over and over again, or I can't remember where I was going. It's going to happen."

"You think that I like this?" she asked. "You think that I like knowing that this is my fault. I don't."

"It's not your fault," he said.

"Look, I don't want to get into this now," she said. "I think we have a lot to discuss when you get home. Let's just wait until then, maybe you'll be feeling a little better."

"Fine," he said. He didn't know what to say to her to make her realize that this wasn't her fault, and he also knew that he couldn't hide his own frustration. Before they could continue their discussion, Natasha walked in.

"Hi," Natasha said. She looked at Joey, "hey Joey," she said. "Is there anything you need?" she asked, turning her attention back to Pacey.

"Well," he said, looking to the ceiling with his eyes, and placing his finger on his chin. "Naw," he said, thinking a sponge bath joke wasn't the best way to go. "Thanks, though," he said flashing her a smile.

"Are you feeling okay?" she asked.

"Not too bad. I'm just ready to get out of here. I don't know why you want to spend your free time around this place."

"It's different when you're not the patient," Natasha said.

"I'm sure that there are other patients who need you more," Joey said, being everything but subtle.

"Joey," Pacey said, sounding very aggravated.

"It's okay," Natasha said, feeling hurt, but trying to hide it. "She's right. I'll see you later Pacey."

"Thanks Natasha," Pacey said. She walked out without looking back. "Joey, what is this about?" he asked.

"What?" she said, knowing entirely what he meant.

"Why did you say that to her?"

"I don't like her."

"Joey, I know that you don't receive people very well, but that was so wrong. She is nice, and she has done everything for me that she can to help me. Why can't you at least be civil?"

Before Joey could respond Dawson and Jen walked in.

"How are you feeling?" Jen asked with a smile.

"Okay," he said. "Not bad, I guess."

"You look a lot better," Dawson said. Pacey shook his head. They continued the usual conversation that people carry on in the hospital; small talk, with little substance.

"Joey, why don't you come with me to get a soda?" Jen asked her. Joey shook her head, and followed Jen out of the door.

Pacey looked at Dawson, and gave him his patented devilish grin. "So I hear that you have a thang for. . .," he closed his eyes and thought for a second, "Natasha," he added.

"Did Joey tell you that?" Dawson asked.

"Yeah," Pacey said. "Do you?"

"I just like her. I don't have a thing for her."

"Sure Dawson," he said.

"What do you think of her?" Dawson asked Pacey.

"She's nice," he said. "She kept my brother out of here earlier."

"She did?"

"Yeah," Pacey said, "how can I not like someone who would do what I asked when she barely knows me?"

"The girls don't like her, and she can tell," Dawson said.

"Well, you should've seen her a Joey just before you got here. It seemed important for Joey to let her know that she didn't like her. She wasn't very nice to her. I tried telling Joey she was rude, but she didn't seem to hear it."

"I don't understand it," Dawson said.

"Dawson, you have to admit that this is like deja vu. You immediately latch onto the new girl at school, and try to make her 'one of us.' You have to know that they aren't going to like it. She's a threat to them."

"Why does every girl I talk to have to be a threat?" Dawson asked, frustrated.

"God, Dawson, you act like it's a bad thing. They just care about you, and don't want to see your attention taken from them. Joey has experienced it. Jen was a cause of it. You just have to be careful."

Before Dawson could respond Joey and Jen returned, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Leery. The small talk continued, and as monotonous as it was, Pacey enjoyed it. He was glad that all these people cared enough about him to come visit him, especially considering how awkward hospitals are for some people.

The doctor also paid a visit. He told them the exact same things that he had been telling them since the accident. He said there was nothing to do about his memory problems, and basically sat there and said that Pacey was lucky that it was his only problem. To Pacey, there was no luck involved, because this seemed like it would still cause trouble in his life. The one bit of good news was that Pacey could probably go home tomorrow, and might be back to school as early as Friday.

The visitors seemed to leave two-by-two, first Dawson and Jen, then Mitch and Gail. Joey was there with Pacey, but she didn't have much to say to him. "Jo, I'm getting a little sleepy, and I know that you have to go to school tomorrow, so why don't you go?"

"You want me to leave?" she asked.

"I'm just tired, and I don't want you to be out too late."

"Okay," she said, a little hurt. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow after you get home."

"It'll be a nice change to see you outside these dingy walls and florescent lights," he said.

"Yeah," she said with a smile. She began to walk out, and turned back to see that his eyes were already closed. 'He must be in pain,' she thought. She would probably never get over the guilt that she was feeling, and she didn't exactly know how to make things right with Pacey. Part of her just wanted him to yell at her, blame her, something. She wondered how things would turn out now, now that everything had changed so suddenly. Once Pacey got home from the hospital, she knew that they would have the talk that they desperately needed. However, she was a bit worried as to what it might bring, and how it may change their relationship.


Natasha approached Dawson as he was gathering his things from his locker at the end of the school day.

"Hey," she said. "Is Pacey coming home today?"

"Yeah," Dawson said, "my dad was supposed to go get him this afternoon."

"That's great," she said. "I don't want to keep you. I just wanted to see how things were going."

"They're going okay," he said. "I guess as good as can be expected."

"Yeah," she said with a smile. "I guess that I'll see you tomorrow."

"Sure," Dawson said. "Thanks. . .for, you know, checking on Pacey, and taking such good care of him at the hospital."

"It was nothing," she said. "I'll see you later."

"Bye," he said. He knew that something was holding him back from asking Natasha out, but he really wasn't sure what it was. He just thought that maybe he needed time to get to know her better. He was making a conscious effort to keep himself from repeating past mistakes.


Jen rushed into her house, because she could hear the telephone ringing. She didn't know where her grandmother was. "Hello," she said, as she picked up the phone, and was trying to catch her breath.

"Hello. I would like to speak with Jennifer Lindley if it is possible," a female voice said.

"This is she," Jen answered. "How can I help you?"

"I'm calling from the hospital about the blood sample you gave to be added to the Bone Marrow Registry."

"Uh-huh," Jen said, a bit confused.

"We were wondering if you could come in and speak to one of the doctors about the test," she said. "Is it possible to schedule a time?"

"Sure," Jen said. "What is this about?"

"We would like to schedule an appointment so the doctor can address the problem. Could you tell me what time would be good for you?" the voice said.

"I guess sometime after school," Jen said, becoming worried.

"How about tomorrow?" the lady asked.

"Okay," Jen said. "Can't you tell me what this is about?"

"I'm sorry, Miss. I don't know what this is about," she said, "but we will see you tomorrow."

"Okay," Jen said. "Thank you." She hung up the phone, afraid of what might happen tomorrow.

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