Places in the Heart by: Kilby

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[Previously in "Out for Justice": Mitch is released on a minimal sentence for punching Captain Witter. Mitch reassures Pacey that it is not his fault, and Pacey finally feels like a part of the family. Joey and Pacey try to maintain the distance as per their agreement, and only share a moment when Joey reassuringly touches Pacey's hand after the ordeal at the police station. Natasha tries to be Joey's friend, but Joey resents her growing relationship with Dawson. Pacey and Jen bond when they talk about the accident, and she reveals to him that she has HIV.]

Dawson was slowly walking down the street, because he couldn't exactly remember which house Natasha had said was hers. When he came upon the one that he thought was it, he was surprised by its size. It was an old Victorian home, painted in white and had green shutters. As he stood on the porch, he admired the stained glass above the door. The house was really beautiful. He was partially awestruck by it, and partially scared that it wasn't the right house. Natasha emerged from behind the large door with a smile on her face. "Hi Dawson," she said.

"Hey," he said smiling nervously. "I wasn't sure if this was the right one."

"It is," she said. "Please come in. You don't mind if I finish doing the dishes?" she asked, turning to look at him as he followed her down the hall.

"No," he said.

They entered the kitchen, and she motioned for Dawson to take a seat at the table. He was surprised to see how eclectic the furnishings were, considering the style of the house. "Can I get you something to drink?" she asked.

"No, I'm fine," he said. "You have a really beautiful house."

"Thank you," she said, beginning to wash some plates. "So how's everything going?"

"Not so bad," Dawson said.

"How's Pacey doing?"

"Stubbornly independent," he said.

"It seems like he's having a lot of trouble dealing with what happened."

"He is. It's just going to take some time for things to go back to normal. You've really just scratched the surface of Pacey. He has a very stratified personality."

"I know," she said. "I like Pacey though. I hope that I can get to know him better. I'd like to know Jen and Joey better, but I can tell that they don't like me."

"It's not that," he said. "Maybe I can spend some time today filling you in on us."

"You know, it's not really my business, and the last thing that I would want to do is get involved where I'm not wanted."

"Jo and Jen will come around," Dawson said. "Pacey asked me to bring you by the house later, so that he could talk to you."

"He did?" she asked, with a small smile.

"Yeah, I think that he was kind of hurt that you didn't come by to see him. I think he sort of bonded with you while he was there."

"We didn't talk a lot, but he is interesting. I just thought that it might be too strange coming to your house, when I don't really know you that well."

"Well," Dawson said, "I would like to get to know you better."

The telephone rang, and Natasha was frustrated because she couldn't continue the conversation with Dawson. She said, "excuse me," as she picked up the receiver. "Hello. . .Hey Nate, what's going on?. . .You're not giving them any trouble are you?. . .Good. . .It's nice. . .yeah. . .sort of. . .When do you think you're going to come?. . .sure. No, I understand that, but mom and dad are just a little uneasy about you being there. . .It's not going to be the same, but I think that you might like it if you gave it a chance. . .There are nice people here. . .sure, but. . .yeah. . .uh-huh. . .So what's going on at the old homefront anyway?. . .well, tell him that I said hello, but I'm not going to call him. . .what? Why?. . .yeah, but it's in the past. . .I know that he's your friend. . .yeah, but you're going to need to make some new friends. . .Okay, I'll tell them that you called. Please behave yourself, and stay out of trouble. . .Okay. I'll talk to you later. . .Bye."

Dawson's overactive imagination quickly went into action. 'Who was she talking to? Who was she talking about? Who's coming?' he asked himself. His mind already began creating old boyfriends, much better looking than he was, and probably more interesting. She smiled at Dawson, and saw his confusion.

"That was my brother Nathan," she said.

"Oh," he said, "I wasn't aware that you had a brother."

"Yeah," she said, "he's your age."

"So why isn't he here?"

"My brother is what some people would call spoiled," she said, drying her hands on a dishtowel. "When he found out that we were going to move, he refused to leave. My parents finally gave in, and he's staying with some friends of theirs. He's supposed to come out in June when the school year is finished. Who knows if he'll come then? He might even come earlier if they can't keep a handle on him. He's a little wild."

"There may be hope for you yet," Dawson said.

"Why?" she asked.

"It seems like you might have as many complications as the rest of us."

"You don't know the half of it," she said, leading him back down the hallway. She stopped and pointed to a picture on the wall. "That's Nathan," she said. Examining the picture of Natasha's family that looked to have been taken at a picnic, Dawson was surprised to see that Natasha's father was white. She noticed his reaction, but choose not to address it. Often people thought she was just a light-skinned black girl, when, in fact, she was biracial. She was a little concerned, because she wondered if this would be an issue that Dawson would want to address. She also knew that being biracial made her even more different in this small town.

"He'll probably be here for a visit in a few weeks. I hope that you have the chance to meet him," she said.

"Me too," Dawson said.


Pacey was tired of staying at the Leery house all the time, and it was becoming as unpleasant as the hospital was. When he left the house, he wasn't sure where he would go, but somehow his feet led him to the Icehouse. Joey hadn't come to see him yet, and he knew that he just needed to swallow his pride, and apologize for being so unwavering. As he approached, Bessie saw him, and began to wave frantically. When she finished taking a couple's order, she ran to him, and gave him a strong hug. "Ouch," Pacey said.

She pulled back and put her hand over her mouth. Her eyes were wide open, "I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Just a temperamental clavicle," he said.

"Still making jokes, I see," she said. "How are you feeling?"

"Good," he said.

"I don't believe it, but I'll accept the answer all the same," she said with a grin. Her look became more serious. "These may not be the right words, but I just want to say thank you."

He and Bessie seemed to have some mental understanding about the accident. "Those are fine words," he said. "I'm glad that I could do something about it." With that, he had alluded to wanting to end the topic there. Bessie got the message.

"I wanted to bring Alex to see you, but I wasn't sure if you were up for it. You'll let me know when you will be?" she said.

"I am already," he answered. "I would love to see him."

She smiled, and said, "I'll make sure of it, then."

"Is Joey working?" Pacey asked.

"Yes," Bessie said. "Why don't you have a seat at the counter, and I'll go grab her."

"Thanks," he said, while he took his seat.

[Song: "How Could You?" by K-Ci and JoJo]

A minute later, Joey emerged from the kitchen, looking around. She saw Pacey, and her look of confusion turned into one of sadness. She walked around the counter, so that she could sit next to him, in an effort to avoid having to look into his eyes. "Hey," she said softly.

"Hey," he said. He didn't quite have the gumption to say what he knew he needed to say, so there was just silence. "I, uh, think that we should talk," he said.

"Look, I know that I said I would come see you today, but I had to work, and figured that because of what you said last time that another day wouldn't matter, so I decided just to wait, and I know you may not like it, but that's my decision," she blurted out, as she shrugged her shoulders several times.

"It did."

"It did what?"

"It did make a difference," he said looking down.

"I'm sorry," she said, not sounding remorseful, "but that's what I needed to do." She didn't want to continue the conversation, because she knew that she didn't have the time it would need, and she didn't want it to take place in public. "Look, I really need to get back to work," she said.

"Okay," he said, sadly. In that moment he thought that he had ruined everything, and that his heart had ruined the one relationship that he valued more than anything.

She heard something in his voice, and as badly as she wanted to be cold to him, she couldn't be. "I'll come see you when I finish working," she said. "We can talk."

Pacey shook his head, as he got up to walk away.


Natasha and Dawson were sitting in a small cafe near the college eating at a small round table. "I'm sorry that I took you to that," she said. "It was horrible."

"No, it wasn't" Dawson lied.

"You don't have to pretend. Those paintings weren't anything that could be remotely confused with art," she said.

"Okay," he said, agreeing. "But it was nice being with you."

[Song: "Don't Let Go (Love)" by EnVogue.]

"Yeah," she said. "Can I ask you something, without you being offended?"

"I don't think you could offend me."

"You thought that I was black, didn't you?"

"Yeah. Does that matter?" he asked, afraid that he may have irritated her.

"No," she said. "A lot of people think I'm just black. What do you think about it?"

"About you not being black?" he asked confused.

"About me being biracial." She paused, and looked up at him. "This is a little awkward for me to say." He shook his head, reassuringly. "When I met you, I really liked you, and I thought that we had some good chemistry. I thought that you were going to ask me out, and I wasn't sure why you didn't. At first I thought it was because of Jen or Joey. But later I started to think it was because you only dated white people."

"I do like you," he said. "As sad as it is, I haven't even dated enough girls to even have a standard, racial or otherwise. I'm just not really lucky in love. I seem to mess things up. I guess that I'm a little scared."

"Scared of what?" she asked.

"Maybe you didn't like me. Maybe you didn't date white people. Maybe you wouldn't want to be subjected to the scrutiny that the people in this town would put us through."

"Maybe I was scared too," she said. "I was scared of showing you who I am. You don't really know me. I'm stubborn, and independent, and opinionated. I haven't shown you that because I was afraid. I know that nothing has changed, and I know that nothing is going to make me white."

"I want to know you, the real you," he said. "It doesn't matter whether you're white or not."

"I understand," she said. "I mean, I understand if. . .ahh," she said in frustration, rubbing her temples. "It doesn't make any difference when you're like me, and not really one thing or the other. Love doesn't know color. I know how I feel about you, but the last thing that I want to do is pressure you. I can understand if you feel like you've been painted in a corner, just because I decided to bring this up now."

"I don't feel that way," he said.

"Don't you understand that your insecurity still exists? The people here don't seem to be the most open minded. Not only would you be involved in an interracial relationship, but you would be dating the product of one."

"It seems to me, if anything, you are the product of love. I don't care what other people think. If I did, I wouldn't get any sleep. Some people are just determined to find a reason to alienate people. Whether it's because you don't accept reality, or your family is a little different, or you don't do things how they think you should, or you don't fit some predetermined ideal of what someone's race should be. Those people are always going to find something that they don't like."

"Can you take it, though? Dawson, I see it. It's good that you think that, but not everyone does. I see it every day."

"You said that you like me, and you want to try to go out, right?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, growing a little frustrated.

"So what's stopping us?" he asked. He wondered how he became the one who was pushing for this, when she had started the whole conversation.

"I just want to make sure you're ready for all it entails."

"I am," he said. "Besides, once you get to know me, you might want to rethink your position," he joked.

"I'm usually a good judge of character," she said. "I hope that I can learn some of that idealism from you."

"Well, it wouldn't hurt for me to pick up some of your cynicism either, I guess," he said, laughing. He took a drink of his soda. "Let's not get too formal about this," he said. "Why don't we go see a movie tonight?"

"I'd love to, Dawson," she said, finally feeling some relief, but losing none of her reservation. "Can we make this work?"

"We can try," he said. "Just don't expect the worst."

"I won't," she said. "Maybe this time that'll work."


Pacey was sitting on the couch watching television, when Dawson came down the stairs. "I didn't know that you came home," he said.

"Yeah," Dawson said, "a couple hours ago."

"So did you have fun?" Pacey asked, playfully.

"Yeah," Dawson said.

"So why are you so dressed up?"

"We're going to a movie."

"You and Natasha?" Pacey asked. Dawson shook his head. "So is it official?"

"What?" Dawson asked.

"Are you dating?"


"It took you long enough," Pacey said.

"I've only known her for a week," Dawson reminded him.

"Yeah, and you liked her for a week."

"There were just some issues," Dawson said. "Insecurities."

"Why because she's black?" Pacey asked.

"She's biracial."

"Oh. You didn't want to date her because of that?"

"No, it's not that. It's just I was a little scared of rejection, failure," Dawson said.

"D, you just need to learn to embrace life, and stop being so scared of what might happen. You just need to do it, and forget about the consequences."

"Yeah," Dawson said. "You should take your own advice."

"I don't need a lecture," Pacey said, changing the tone in his voice.

"I just hate seeing this. You and Joey, you are. . ."

"Dawson I don't need this right now. Let my poor pathetic life be my own."

"Did something happen today?" Dawson asked.

"I went to see her," Pacey said.

"What happened?" Dawson asked, thinking he was about to hear bad news.

"She told me that she was busy, and she made a choice not to see me today," Pacey said. "She didn't have time to say anything else. I left."

"Is that it?" Dawson said. "You're going to end a lifelong friendship over this accident."

"I was ready to apologize, and move on, but she didn't want that, so I respected that. She muttered something about coming by tonight, but I just figured that she wouldn't come. She obviously decided that she doesn't want to be around me any more."

"That's not it. She is just trying to respect you and what you asked from her. It killed her to do it."

"So why didn't she welcome me with opened arms when I saw her this morning?" Pacey asked.

"I don't know," Dawson said. "The one thing that I am sure of, though, is that things aren't going to change unless you talk about them. Pace, you have to tell her how you feel."

"I can't do that," Pacey said. Dawson gave him a look of disappointment, and figured that he and Joey were the two most blind individuals in the world not to know how much they really loved each other. He couldn't believe how stubborn they were both being, and felt as if they would hide their feelings from each other for the rest of their lives.

"Pacey what's the big deal?" Dawson asked growing angry. "I know that you love her, and she loves you. Fate only brings you so far, and the rest is up to you. You are both there, and all that you need to do is tell each other. You have it. You both have what some people dream their whole lives of getting. You have it. And you are letting fear keep you down. I don't understand this."

"Excuse me if I don't take your word for it Dawson, but you are the least perceptive person that I know. You see what you want to see."

"Maybe you see what you want to see Pacey," Dawson said. "I see the look on her face when she talks about you. Once you get through all of the sadness that is a result of the hell that you've created for each other, a blind man could see it. All I know is that I never saw that look in her eyes when she was with me."

Pacey lowered his voice, almost to a whisper. "I saw the look. It was for you, and I saw more of it than I cared to. She was in love with you, and now somehow she's not. She doesn't feel for me what she felt for you."

"No," Dawson said, "she feels much more deeply for you than she ever did for me."

Natasha had been standing on Dawson's porch for a few minutes, but heard the arguing, and thought it best not to go inside. When it subsided, she lightly knocked on the door, and Dawson appeared. "Hey," he said. "Come in."

"Thanks," she said. "Hey Pacey, how are you feeling?" she asked when she saw him.

"Not too bad," he said. "I have one hell of a headache right now, and a pain in the. . ."

"Okay," Dawson said, rolling his eyes. "I get the point."

Sensing the tension, she tried to change the subject. "Dawson said you might have been a little disappointed that I didn't come see you. I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Pacey said, with a sly grin. "I just thought that I might get a little home care from you."

"Sorry, I don't do that," she said, smiling back at him.

"We'd better go if we're going to catch the movie on time," Dawson said.

"Okay," she said. "I'll see you later, Pacey."

"I'll see you in school," he said.

"Good," she said, walking out the door. Dawson wasn't sure, but he thought that she may have been flirting with Pacey. At that moment, he made a promise to himself that he would suppress his jealousy, because it was so disastrous last time.

As they were walking it seemed like Dawson was preoccupied. "So," Natasha said, "I, um, overheard you arguing with Pacey."

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't be," she said. "I just wanted to let you know that you could talk if you want."

"Well," Dawson said. "Joey and Pacey used to date. They are so in love with each other, but they won't tell the other how they feel. Now they're not even on speaking terms, and it's just hard. I was just trying to make Pacey see that he needed to tell her, but he won't listen to me."

"They probably just need some time to sort through their feelings, and I'm sure that they will realize that they can't stay apart if they are truly in love."

"I think that I may need to intervene," he said.

"Don't butt in yet, Dawson," she said. "It's still early."

"Okay," he said.


Pacey turned off the television in disgust, because out of a hundred channels he couldn't find one thing to watch. He walked over to the radio and turned it on. He lay on the couch, hoping that he could get lost in the music.

[Song: "Before You Walk Out My Life" by Monica.]

His goal was not achieved, however, because all the song did was make his emotions surface, and make him think of how important it was for him to make things right with Joey. "Dammit," he said to himself. "What's wrong with my life?"

Minutes later, he heard a knock at the door. He trudged over, and opened it to see Joey. "Hey," she said quietly, as she walked in.

"Hey," he said. She sat on the couch, and he sat down as well, although not close to her.

"You're right," she said. "We need to talk."

"Okay," he said. "You start."

"Why can't you start?" she asked.

"Because I want you to."

"Fine," she said, pausing. "I, um, I'm sorry for what I said this afternoon."

"I went there to tell you that I was sorry for how I acted before, and I made a mistake," he said. "I want you back. I want my friend back."

"How are we going to do that?" she asked. "The same problems still exist."

"We won't talk about the accident."

"Pace we can't do that. That is as much a part of your life now as anything is."

"So what do we do?" he asked, sounding helpless.

"I don't know," she said. When she played this conversation through in her head, she saw it going better than this. They would talk about their separation, and would have realized it was the worst thing in their lives, and would've been happy that they could be together again. She would tell him how much she loved him, and somehow, he would say how much he loved her. Once again, she didn't have the courage to tell him that she did love him.

He looked down, lowered his voice to almost a whisper, and said, "maybe it was your fault."

"Huh?" she asked, surprised.

"It was, partly. I mean, you came into my life sixteen years ago, and were my friend. A few months ago, you made me care about you more than anything else that I had in my life. When I saw you there, I thought that if I would have to live without you, I might as well die. I thought that my life for yours was almost a fair trade, because I wouldn't be the one who was left to live without someone. I know that it's incredibly selfish, but I didn't want to face my pathetic life without you. You promised that I wouldn't have to."

She was on the verge of tears. "You mean that you would rather die, than have to live without me?" she asked.

He shook his head slightly. "I was willing to jump in front of that car because I love my friend. It's your fault that I love you, because you are who you are, and you made me love you. So, with that, I can admit that it was your fault." She quickly gave him a hug. "I don't want to lose you," he said. "You are the most stable thing that I have in my life, and I can't fathom the idea that I might have to face eternity without being able to look into your eyes each day."

"You're not going to lose me," she said, gently whispering in his ear. "You are the one person in this world who understands me, and being apart from you, I felt a part of myself die inside."

He pulled away from her grasp. "Are we friends again?" he asked.

She shook her head, as he grabbed her for another hug. 'More than that,' she thought to herself.

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