Conspiracy Theory by: Kilby

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[Previously in "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate": Dawson and Joey discuss her feelings for Pacey, and his feelings for Natasha. Joey and Jen try to make their dislike of Natasha obvious, and Natasha gets the message. She becomes fast friends with Pacey, and he asks Joey to try to be nice to her. Pacey learns that his memory may not recover, and Joey continues to blame herself for the accident. Jen receives a mysterious call from the hospital that makes her worry about the appointment that she has the scheduled for the next day.]

"Hey," Joey said, climbing through Dawson's window.

"Hey, Jo," he said, looking up from a book.

She walked over, and sat on the bed. "So, what's going on?"

"I know that you want to ask about Pacey," Dawson said.

"I was just trying not to be rude," she said.

"Since when?" Dawson asked with a chuckle. She shot him a sharp look. "He's fine, but he is sleeping right now. Coming home must've really tired him out. He hasn't been awake since I've been here."

"Maybe he wasn't ready to leave the hospital," she said.

"No," he said, "that's just the first thing that he's done that's different since the accident. All he did was lay around in the hospital. Coming home was going to tire him out. The pills he's taking are probably making him sleepy too."

"Did your dad say how he was?" she said. "He was dizzy walking, and still has that horrible headache. Dad said that he was pretty irritable too, so maybe you should wait to see him until tomorrow. He will probably sleep through the night anyway."

"Yeah, but I don't want to him to think that I didn't come here to see him," she said.

"He won't think that. You have barely left his side since this whole thing started."

"Do you think that it was my fault?" she asked.

"No," he said. "If it's anyone's fault, it was that guy who couldn't drive."

"No," she said, "I was the one who was in the middle of the street. If I hadn't stopped there, he wouldn't have been in the way."

"Joey, you need to stop this," Dawson said. "If you're waiting for him to blame you, he's not going to. If he doesn't think that it's your fault, then you shouldn't think so."

"Dawson, you just don't know what this has done to me. I mean, I feel responsible. I feel like I destroyed his world. His life is going to be different because of this."

"Joey, you have to understand that Pacey's life was changing anyway. We can't stop things from happening anymore than we can go back into time to change them. It will be okay. You might just have to put a little bit of trust in fate."

"Dawson, what's going to happen?" she asked quietly.

Dawson grabbed her, and gave her a tight hug. "I don't know," he said. "I just don't know."


[Song: "There you Are" by Sam Salter]

After her talk with Dawson, Joey decided that she would sneak in, and just check on Pacey. She walked across the floor quietly until she stepped on a squeaky floorboard. Pacey didn't move though. She sat in the desk chair next to his bed, and watched him for a while. He looked peaceful sleeping. It hauntingly reminded Joey a bit of his unconscious state. She knew that Dawson was right, and that he probably wouldn't wake up, so she searched through the drawers of the desk for some paper. She took a pile out of the bottom drawer, and grabbed a pen from the top of the desk. She wrote him a short note that read:


I came to see you, but didn't want to wake you. I'll see you tomorrow.

Love, Joey.

She looked down to place the paper back into the drawer. She saw something folded up, and sitting on the bottom, but didn't think anything of it, as she placed the unused paper back into the drawer. She sat her note next to Pacey's pills, and looked at him for a few more minutes. She quietly stood up.

As she bent down to kiss him on the forehead, she whispered, "I love you, Pacey." She walked out of the room, and said to herself, "now if I could only tell you that when you're awake."


Joey walked up to Jen when she saw her standing at her locker fumbling with her books. Jen looked horrible, with dark circles and bags underneath her eyes. Joey decided not to mention that she looked like she hadn't slept at all last night. "Hey Jen. Bad day?" she asked.

"Something like that," she said. "So how's Pacey?"

"I didn't see him yesterday. He was sleeping when I was there," Joey said.

"Oh," Jen said.

"You know, I've been thinking about what we could do to this Natasha girl," Joey said.

"What?" Jen asked, confused.

"You know, get her to back off of Dawson."

"Oh," Jen said. "You should work on that."

"I was thinking that we could. . ."

"Did you get a call about that bone marrow thing?" Jen asked, interrupting her.

"No," she said. "Did you?"

"No," Jen said, defensively. "I. . .I, um, I just thought that they would call and tell us that we had been registered or something."

"I think that they just call you if you can give the marrow to someone," Joey said.

"Yeah," Jen said. "I'll see you later."

"See ya," Joey said, unsure what to make of Jen's peculiar mood.

As Jen walked away from Joey, she started to think that maybe Joey was right, and they wanted her to give someone bone marrow. For some reason that didn't ease her mind, because that was something she thought the person who called would've been able to tell her over the phone.


Jen sat in the waiting room, becoming very nervous as time progressed. Her leg was shaking the People Magazine that she was trying to look at. She shut the magazine and threw it on the table, because she had no idea what she was reading anyway. She didn't know what to think, and although she knew that speculation was going to do nothing but make her worry more, she couldn't help but to do it. Every time the nurse would appear from behind the door, she would look up at her hopeful, but three times she called a different name. Finally, she came out and said, "Jennifer Lindley."

Jen got up, and followed the nurse down the hall to a small office. The room had a large mahogany desk covered with papers in the center. All around the room there were shelves covered with books. One wall had certificates and diplomas hanging on it. She took a seat in one of two large paisley chairs facing the desk. She looked around the room, as she waited for the doctor. Her heart felt like it would fly out of her chest because it was beating so fast. She almost jumped out of her skin when the doctor walked in.

"Hi, my name is Dr. Morgan," the short Asian woman said. "Are you Jennifer?"

"Yes," Jen said, taking Dr. Morgan's outstretched hand. Dr. Morgan sat behind her desk. "What is this about?" Jen asked her.

"I am sure that you are aware that you gave a blood sample so that your information could be added to the National Bone Marrow Registry," she said.

"Yes," Jen said.

"In running the necessary tests on your sample, we became aware of something that we are obligated to tell you." She paused. "You are HIV positive."

"What?" Jen asked. "I was just tested a couple of months ago. This can't be happening," she said, as she let her head fall into her hands, and began crying.

"Sometimes it takes a period of time for the virus to show up in the test," Dr. Morgan said.

"I'm going to die?" she said, sounding desperate and confused.

"Jennifer, we are making great strides in treatment of HIV. It seems as though we have caught the virus very early, and with the right treatment you will not be sick for a very long time, or may not even get sick at all. A cure is on the horizon, and you just have to wait, and stay as healthy as possible until it comes."

"That's no answer," Jen said, angrily.

"Everyone is going to die," she said, bluntly. "The difference is going to be how you attack this, and whether or not you let it win as to when that time will be for you."

"What am I going to do?" Jen asked.

"I am an infectious diseases doctor. You can choose to see me, or find another doctor, but it is very important that you make an appointment as soon as possible."

"I'll see you," Jen said, wanting to act quickly.

"We will make an appointment for tomorrow. I will need to do a viral load test, and begin some medications. We will go into what all this means tomorrow. We are going to need to discuss the precautions you need to take, and we can discuss support groups and other possibilities," Dr. Morgan said. "Do you have any other questions?"

"I can't think of any," she said, wiping her tears away. "I can ask them tomorrow, right?"

"Yes," the doctor said. She pulled some papers from a pile on her desk, and said, "I need you to fill out this medical history by your appointment."

"You have to keep this confidential, right?" Jen asked, taking the papers from her.

"Yes," she said, "but it may be in your best interest to tell someone."

"I don't think so," Jen said as she stood up, and walked out of the door.


Pacey was laying in his bed reading a book for his English class. He would read a chapter, and then read it again, and then write notes about what he had just read. It was a painstaking process, but he was determined that the memory problems were not going to slow him down, or keep him from doing what he wanted to do.

"Are you sure that you feel like doing that?" Joey asked as she walked through Pacey's door.

"Yeah, I'm going to need the extra time to keep everything straight," he said. "I'm sorry that I missed you last night."

"It's alright. You were tired," she said. "Do you feel like taking a break?"

"Yes," he said.

"I was wondering if we could talk," she said.

"Sure," he said, "what's up?"

"There are just a couple of things that I need to address. Like where the fault of this lies."

"Joey, it's not your fault. How many times am I going to have to tell you that? If it's anyone's fault, it's my own. I made the conscious decision to do what I did."

"What?" she said. "Conscious decision. You mean a split-second decision. You didn't think about what you did. No one would consciously jump in front of an oncoming car."

"What? Am I too much of a coward to do something noble?" he asked, a bit offended.

"No," she said. "It's just that. . .I know it's my fault."

"It's not your fault Joey. You cannot blame yourself. I'm alive. I'm not dead. I got hit in the head by a car, and all I have is a broken bone, some cuts, and bruises. That's not so bad," he said.

"Don't make light of this," she said. "You know that you did almost die. And, oh, that's fine," she said mocking him, and throwing her hands up in the air. "You didn't know what was happening. I was there. I saw you. I watched you. I worried about you. I prayed for you," she said pointing her finger at him each time she said I. "Don't you dare make it sound like it's nothing, because to me it was very, very, very real."

"Now I'm supposed to apologize for being unconscious?" he asked.

"No," she said, "you just need to understand that this is serious."

"You don't think that I understand that this is serious? Look at me," he said raising his voice, almost yelling. "Do you realize that I could've read this whole book before in the time it's taken me now to read and retain three chapters?"

She looked down. "Look at me," he said. She didn't. He threw the book across the room, knocking a hairbrush off the dresser. "Look at me dammit!" he exclaimed. She looked at him, on the verge of tears. He stopped, and didn't realize why he was so angry. "I don't want to fight about this," he said, softly. "I'm sorry," he said, using his palm to wipe a small tear from his eye.

"I don't either," she said. "I'm sorry that this happened to you Pacey. I don't know what I can do to fix it."

"You can't fix it," he said, "you can only tolerate it." He paused, thinking about what to say next. "It's going to be like this," he said. "I'm going to get like this. I'm going to yell and get angry, and get sleepy, and not remember. It's going to happen. Some strange cosmic force wants my life to be this way, and who am I to argue. It's going to be hard, and I can understand if you feel too guilty, or if you just feel too weak to be around me. If you want to walk away from me, a man who can't remember, or can't keep his attitude in check, I will understand."

"You think that I could just walk away?" she asked.

"If that's what's best, yes."

"How many times, whether you were conscious or not, have I told you that I can't live without you. If anything came out this whole mess, it did prove that to me. It. . .it hurts me that you think I could do it so easily."

"Why are you here Joey? I mean why has this been such a big thing to you?" he asked. "I know that we're friends, and I can understand the concern, but where is the rest of it coming from? Is it guilt? What?"

"I don't know," she said.

"You don't know why you feel what you feel. Joey it's not hard to understand. What is this?"

"I don't know," she said, sounding more and more like her friend Dawson. "I just have these feelings, and I don't know where they're coming from, or why I feel them, or why I can't express them when you're awake. I just don't know Pacey. I mean, I don't have all the answers."

"What answers do you have?" he asked. She didn't respond. He looked out the window, away from her, and said, "you know, I really don't want to say this."

"Say what?" she said.

"That I don't want you around just because of pity or guilt. I don't want you to think that I am some kind of obligation," he said.

"Then don't say it," she said.

"I already did."

"So what does this mean? You're going to tell me how I feel now?" she asked.

"You said that you don't know how you feel. It just seems like you are here because you think that this is all your fault. As much as it hurts me to say it, I just don't need that now. I don't want to think about the accident. I don't want to look into your eyes and only see sympathy for me. I don't want any part of that. I want to move on with my life. Don't you understand that I don't want to be better than I was on Sunday? I want to be who I was on Saturday."

"For someone who doesn't want to make me feel like this is my fault, you're sure doing a good job of it."

"Jo," he said, "I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want your guilt. I don't want your pity. I don't want your gratitude. I just want things to go back to the way they were." Although the words he was saying were harsh, he tried to deliver them as softly as he could.

"Fine," she said. "Fine. I just wanted to be there for you. I don't even know why I try."

"Jo, don't be angry," he said. "You have been better to me than anyone. It's just. . .I don't know. I just want things to be how they were. That's all I can say. You didn't pity me before."

"So you just don't want me come around anymore?" she asked.

"That's the last thing I want," he said, looking down.

"You're confusing me."

"Maybe you should just take a break from me for a while. Maybe things will be better then. We just need a couple days to think about and process what's going on."

"Okay," she said reluctantly, "if that's what you want. I'll see you on, like Saturday."

"Good," he said. "Things will be better then."

"Sure," she said, walking out of the room.


After talking to Pacey, Joey wanted to go talk to Dawson, but she didn't know what she would say to him, and she didn't want to put him in the position of having to say something. She found herself wandering over to Jen's. She knocked on the door, and it opened slightly. When no one answered, she slowly made her way inside. "Jen," she called.

Jen was in her room trying to fill out the medical history papers the doctor had given her. She had to stop several times because her eyes would fill with so many tears that she couldn't see anymore. When she heard Joey call her, she quickly shoved the papers into a book, closed it, and hurriedly began putting some clothes that were laying on her bed away in the closet. "Up here," she said, wiping her tears.

"You really shouldn't leave your door open like that when you're here alone," Joey said, trying to hide the hurt she had gained after speaking with Pacey. "I've seen enough horror movies with Dawson to know not to do that."

"Yeah," Jen said. "You don't normally come here. So what's going on?"

"I know that we're not the best of friends, but I thought that we had sort of gone through a transitional period over the past week, and I just. . .well, I just thought that I could talk to you."

"Oh," Jen said. "I wouldn't mind, but now's not a very good time."

"Okay," Joey said, "I don't want to bother you then." She began to walk out, but stopped. "Jen," she said, "is there something wrong?"

"Wrong?" Jen said. "No. . .I've, uh, just had a lousy day."

"Are you sure that there's nothing I can do to help?" Joey asked.

"N. . .no," Jen said, shaking her head.

"Okay," Joey said. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah," Jen said. Joey walked out feeling very concerned, but she didn't know what to do.

Jen watched her leave, and said, "there's nothing anyone can do for me." She fell to the bed, and began crying again.


[Song: "Are You That Somebody?" by Aaliyah]

Dawson looked confused as he ate his lunch alone amidst the bustle of the cafeteria. Jen was sitting at the end of a long table, staring off into space, not eating anything. When Joey left the line, she headed straight to Jen. Dawson just didn't understand what was going on. Joey had been in some kind of funk. She told Dawson this morning that she had a not-so-good visit with Pacey yesterday afternoon, but wouldn't give him any details. Jen looked like she had been the victim of a body snatcher. She was going through her daily routine, but not talking, or changing her expression. Dawson thought that she looked like someone had come along, ripped her heart out of her chest, and was using it to lead her lifeless body around.

"Hey," a voice said, interrupting his thoughts. He looked up to see Natasha, who was setting her tray down on the table.

"Hey," Dawson said. "I haven't seen you in a couple days."

"I know," she said. "They are definitely not easy on the new girl here."

Dawson shook his head in agreement. "Are things going okay?" he asked.

"Sure," she said. "Is there something wrong?" she asked, because she just heard something different in his voice.

"Naw," he said. "It's just that Jen and Joey, they're acting a little strange today."

"Strange?" she asked.

"Just like they have things bothering them," he said.

"Maybe they just need some space. They might be going through something only another girl understands. Give them a day or two, and if they're not better, then talk to them. It's probably just a one-day thing."

"You're probably right. So what have you been doing to keep busy?" he asked her.

"Same old, same old. I've been trying to do the work. I had to work at the hospital last night. I will be so glad when the weekend comes," she said.

"Me too," he said. "Maybe things will be back to normal."

"Do you like art Dawson?" she asked.

"Sometimes," he said. "What kind?"

"Paintings, I guess. I'm not exactly sure what kind of paintings though."

"What do you have in mind?" he asked with a small grin.

"There's an exhibit at the college this weekend, and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me," she said.

"Sure," he said. "I would love to."

"Good," she said. She gave him instructions to her house, before they began talking about what kinds of art they liked. Natasha really enjoyed being with Dawson and admired his idealism, and she thought that she would be a good person to give him a dose of realism once in a while.


[Song: "Hopeless" by Dionne Farris.]

Pacey was pacing his floor, tired of looking at the same four walls. He grabbed his coat, and walked outside. He wasn't very dizzy, and his head didn't hurt too badly, so he thought for a moment that things might be slowly moving toward normal. He walked down to the dock outside of Dawson's house, and sat on the edge.

It was serene as he looked at the still water. Longingly, he gazed at Joey's house. He was very regretful of what he said to Joey, because he already missed her. He still loved her, possibly more than he had, but he couldn't bare to see her feel so obligated to him. The only way he wanted to have her was if she chose to be with him. He didn't want her out of guilt, or pity. If was difficult for him to imagine that he could even have her any other way, but, still, he believed that he was doing what was best for her. If what he said yesterday was a mistake, he knew that he would just have to deal with it. It wasn't like it would be the first mistake he made.

"Hey," Dawson said, interrupting his thoughts.

"Hey," Pacey said, as Dawson sat next to him.

"You sure that you feel like being out here?" Dawson asked.

"Yeah," Pacey said, "I was just really sick of being inside. I needed some new scenery."

"You've been looking at this scenery for sixteen years," Dawson said with a slight laugh.

"Yeah, but I'm seeing it through different eyes." Things were quiet for a second, as Pacey watched Joey return home from school. She glanced in his general direction, but he didn't think that she had seen him.

Dawson was concerned. "What's going on, Pace?" he asked. "Joey said that you had a rough visit yesterday."

"I screwed up," Pacey said. "That's all. It's not like it's the first time that I've done that."

"Pacey, you can drop the attitude with me. I can tell something's going on."

"I, uh, I told her that I didn't want her to come around for a few days."

"Why?" Dawson asked.

"I don't know D. I mean, Joey she seems like she has been like my whole entire life for the past few months. She came to see me, and stuck by me, but she just won't shake the guilt."

"Because of the accident?" Dawson asked.

"Yeah," Pacey said. "I see the pity, the guilt in her eyes. I don't want her to be around just because she feels some strange obligation."

"What if it's more than that?" Dawson asked.

"I don't know. I just want to put the accident behind me, and I can't seem to do that with her. She wants me to talk about it, blame her for it. I just want to forget it."

"Pacey, you're not going to forget it."

"I know," he said. "I messed up. . .again."

"You're just confused. It's about time that you don't know what you want. We've all been waiting for you to be confused."

"It just took getting hit in the head," Pacey said, laughing. Dawson smiled. "So how's life at Capeside High?" Pacey asked, kind of missing the place.

"Just as normal, of course without your sparkling personality."

"How's Natasha?" Pacey asked, grinning.

"Good," Dawson said.

"I thought that she would swing by and see me," Pacey said.

"She asks about you," Dawson said. "I just don't think that she feels comfortable enough coming to our house yet."

"Your house," Pacey corrected him.

"No, our house," Dawson said. "We're going to this art thing on Saturday," Dawson said, "maybe you'll feel like going too."

"I don't know," Pacey said. "I'm supposed to see Joey again on Saturday. Maybe you two should swing by though. I'd like to thank Natasha for all of her help."

"Are you trying to play cupid?" Dawson asked, suspiciously.

"No, that always ends in disaster," Pacey said, remembering his plan with Joey. "I don't know. I like her, and if you are going to date her, I want to be her friend," Pacey said, sounding brotherly.

"That's good," Dawson said, smiling. "We should get inside. You shouldn't do too much."

"Okay, Dad," Pacey said, sarcastically. Dawson stood, watching Pacey. Pacey put his hand on the dock, and when he put his weight on his arm, he quickly winced in pain, and grabbed the area between his neck and shoulder. He instantly remembered his broken clavicle. When Dawson offered him a hand, he used his other hand to take it and get up.


Note from Kilby: If you want free, confidential information about AIDS and HIV, you can contact the Center for Disease Control's National AIDS Clearinghouse through the web at *****

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