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[Previously in "'Til There Was You": Dawson works hard to integrate Natasha into his circle of friends, because he likes dating her. Pacey is worn out after returning to school. He and Joey have their friendship back. Jen and Joey meet two guys named Malcolm and Nate who seem to be a bit egotistical when they hit on them. Natasha schemed, against Pacey's wishes, to have Joey come to an event where Pacey read something he had written about Joey. Shocked by her presence, Pacey walks out.]
Natasha, Dawson, and Joey watched Pacey as he walked out of the crowded library. Dawson began to go after him, but was stopped when Natasha grabbed his arm. "Don't," she said. She looked at Joey, "you go after him."
"But I'm why he's mad," Joey said.
"Squash that, girl. Don't you understand that he was talking about you?" Natasha asked.
"No," Joey said, wondering if she convinced Natasha, when she didn't even believe it herself.
"Go," Natasha said. "If you don't do it right now, things will never change."
Joey stood there for a moment, trying to absorb what was going on. "You mean that he loves me?" she asked.
"You go ask him that," Natasha said.
Joey took off, not thinking for another second. She ran out into the hallway, not knowing where he might have gone. She saw him talking with someone, and immediately took off toward him. He quickly wrapped up his conversation, and began walking quickly toward the exit. She picked up her pace, and began running, but she couldn't catch him. She continued to follow him, and the longer that she followed him the further away he got from her. Finally, she lost sight of him.
She stood on the sidewalk, and was confused. "Where could he have gone?" she asked herself. She began to make a mental list of the places where he might be. Her thoughts were working overtime. 'What am I going to say to him when I find him? Could he really love. . .me? He can't. I mean, He's Pacey. After all the time that we've spent together how could he have hidden it from me. Maybe he could have; after all, I hid the fact that I loved him. I'm scared. If I tell him how I feel, I could ruin everything. What's stopping me? Why does love have to be so difficult? Why is it always unrequited? What did I do to make my life like this?' She stopped, and let out an "ah!"
She trekked toward Dawson's house, hoping that maybe Pacey had gone home. She stood at the door banging on it as hard as she could. "Mr. Leery? Mrs. Leery?" she yelled. "Hello. Dawson? Pacey, are you in there? Hello." When no one opened her doors, she took matters into her own hands, climbed up the ladder, through Dawson's window, and into his room. She quickly took off, reaching Pacey's room. Her heart sank when she saw that he wasn't there. She sat on the bed and let out a breath of frustration. "Where are you Pacey?" she said, as she stood up, getting ready to go somewhere else. 'Maybe I should leave him a note,' she thought to herself, rationalizing that he may, in fact, come back, and that he needed to know that she was looking for him.
She sat at the desk, and grabbed some paper from the bottom drawer. She wrote a note that read: "Pacey, I'm sorry if I made you angry, but I've been looking all over for you. We need to talk. Love, Joey." She looked over the note, and saw that she had signed it "love," and decided to scribble that part out. When she went to put the unused paper back into the drawer, she saw a folded piece of paper that she recognized from before. Giving in to temptation, she plucked it from the drawer, and unfolded it. She was shocked to see that it was a letter to her. She read the letter three times because she didn't believe it, even though she was holding it in her hands. A single tear trickled down her face when she looked at the top of the page, and saw that he had written it on the day that he was hit by the car. "All this time, and he couldn't tell me," she said softly. "I've got to find him."
She stood up, not putting anything away, tucked the letter in her jacket pocket, and left the house through Dawson's window. As she was going down the street, she said to herself, "Okay, Joey, think. Where would he have gone? God, I'm talking to myself. This boy is driving me insane." She walked, still thinking, and suddenly had an epiphany. She took off running faster than Michael Johnson.
[Song: "Get On Up" by Jodeci]
Jen was walking down the hall of the hospital. Earlier, she had done everything she could to keep herself from looking like herself. She was dressed in a black and royal blue wind suit, and her blonde hair was secured underneath a black baseball cap. She looked paler, because she wasn't wearing any make up, and her eyes were concealed by sunglasses, even though it was dark outside. She slowly approached a door, and stopped to match the number above it to the number that was written on a piece of paper that she held in her hand. She took in a deep breath, as she turned the door knob.
She entered a small white room, with colored chairs in a small circle in the center of the room. There were only two other people there. She slowly walked over, and sat in a blue chair, close to the door. Jen pulled her sunglasses down a bit, just enough to let her eyes peek out. A lady in her late thirties smiled at Jen. "Hi," she said. "Are you here for the HIV support group?"
Jen shook her head reluctantly, and asked, "is this confidential?"
"It can if you want it to be," she said. "You can even use a fake name if you want."
"Okay," Jen said, removing her sunglasses. "You can call me Jen." She really didn't want to lie to them. "That's my real name."
"Well, Jen," she said, "I'm Dr. Brandon. I am a psychologist, and I lead the group." She pointed to the other girl in the room. "This is Elizabeth." Jen smiled at Elizabeth, who looked to be only about eighteen herself. She was a skinny white girl, with long, shiny red hair and freckles. She looked normal to Jen, that is to say, Elizabeth didn't look sick. Dr. Brandon looked at her watch, and said, "maybe we should begin. This looks like it may be a smaller showing tonight. Jen may I ask you something?"
"Okay," Jen said.
"Why did you want this to be confidential?" Dr. Brandon asked.
"I haven't told anyone yet," she said. "Actually I told one person." Jen began telling how she related with Pacey, and he was the one who knew, and she began listing all the reasons that she didn't want anyone to know that she was HIV positive. Jen and Elizabeth talked about how having HIV made each of them feel, how they found out they had it, how they got it, and just basically shared with each other. Dr. Brandon talked to them about the effects of the disease, and the building of support systems.
When Jen walked out, she was relieved to have someone to talk to, and someone else who knew what she was going through. She knew that it was inevitable that she would have to tell people. Her first goal was to work on a way to tell her grandmother.
After Joey ran for what seemed like forever, she finally arrived at the ruins. As she approached, she saw a figure sitting on the bench. Pacey was lost inside his own little, pathetic world. He felt like someone had cracked open his chest, and exposed his heart for the world to see. He was resting the blame with Natasha. 'She must want to be a cardiologist,' he thought to himself.
Suddenly Joey felt like she wouldn't be able to say, what she knew she needed to say. She looked around at the familiar surroundings: This had been where she and Pacey shared their first date, their first kiss. Then it seemed so fake, but now it seemed so real. She walked up to him, and carefully took the seat beside him. He didn't acknowledge her being there.
Joey was tentative in speaking, just because he looked like he was angry. "Your poem -- it was beautiful," she said.
"You weren't supposed to be there," he said.
"I, um, I really wanted to respect what you wanted, but, more than anything, I wanted to see you do this. It was special, and I wanted to be a part of it. Natasha told me that I could sneak. . ."
"Damn her," Pacey said angrily.
"She didn't have anything to do with it," Joey said.
"I asked her to help me keep you from coming, and she plotted to get you there. I would say that it was her fault," he said.
"Why didn't you want me to come?" she asked, very hurt.
"I was scared, and I didn't want you there."
"Pacey, you are an exhibitionist. I can't see why you would feel that way. I mean, considering what we both say that we mean to each other, I would've thought that you would have wanted me there before anyone else, and it hurt me that you didn't. I just wanted to be there, and be proud of you. Please don't be angry with me because of that."
"I'm not," he said. "I just. . ." he began, then realizing that he didn't want to finish.
Joey looked up at Pacey, looking at how the moonlight illuminated his face. She could see that he was struggling, trying to think of what to say. She sighed, and it was killing her to have to speculate for another second whether he felt about her the way that she felt about him. Although she was fully aware of what she wanted to say, she fumbled her words. "Natasha. . .She said that it was about me. Was it. . .about me?" she asked.
"Huh?" he asked, finally looking up at her.
"What you wrote, was it about me?" she asked, almost scared to hear the answer. He looked down, because he was scared. He knew now that no matter what he said, things would change. "Pacey," she began again, pulling the letter from her pocket. "I know that this was so wrong of me, but I was just at your house, and I. . .I found this," she said, handing him the letter.
He looked at it. "How could you do that?" he said, with a severe tone of anger.
"I know," she said. She was trying to reciprocate his anger. From the anger, she gained some confidence. "I know, but I'm not going to say that I'm sorry for it." She paused, because her heart was beating so rapidly, she was distracted by it. "Because. . .because I, um. . .I feel the same way about you."
"What?" he asked surprised.
"I don't know what happened, Pace," she said. "I mean, one minute you were a friend, and then you were someone to trade insults with, and then you came to me in this most incredibly sweet way to offer to help me get Dawson. You went through everything during that whole ordeal. You guided me, you kept me from making mistakes, you even saved my life. I fell in love with you, Pacey."
"What?" he asked again. He wanted to be angry with her, because she had invaded his privacy, but he couldn't, because he just heard utter words that he never thought she would say.
"I said that. . .," she trailed off, and began shaking her head. "You see, I knew that this was a bad idea. I'll just let you be alone." She stood, and began walking away.
"I love you too," he said quietly, not looking back at her.
"What did you do?" Dawson asked Natasha as they were riding back to her house.
"I don't know what you mean," she said, innocently.
"You convinced Joey to come," he said.
"It wasn't that hard."
"You took it upon yourself to get them to admit how they feel about each other," Dawson said. "That was more. . .it was nice."
"Well," she said. "We can only do so much. The rest is up to them." She paused for a moment, to say a silent prayer, hoping that God would help these two realize their love for each other. She looked over at Dawson, and smiled when she was finished. "I'm glad you're willing to wait with me," she said.
"I'm glad you want me to," he said. "Besides, I can't imagine how stressful it must be to have your brother missing."
When they pulled into the driveway next to Natasha's house, she saw a figure standing on the porch. She and Dawson approached, standing close to each other. "Can I help you?" she asked, squinting her eyes trying to see who it was.
"Tasha?" the voice said.
"Nate? Is that you?" she asked, confused.
"Tasha," he said, running down the steps, embracing her, and consequently pushing Dawson away from her. They looked happy to be reunited.
She pulled away, and began hitting Nate with her purse. "What are you doing? Do you know that mama and daddy are scared to death? How could you just run away, and not tell anyone?"
"Okay, mom," he said, grabbing her wrist so that she couldn't hit him again.
"God, Nate, I swear that you are so inconsiderate," she said, shaking her arm out of his grasp.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I just needed to get away. Silly me, but I thought that you might be happy to see me."
"Happy to see you alive," she said. "For all we knew you could've been laying dead in a ditch off the interstate."
"I'm sorry, okay," he said. "Where have you been anyway? We have been waiting for like an hour."
"We?" she asked, clearing a lump in her throat.
"Hey Tasha," Malcolm said in his deep, baritone voice, as he emerged from the porch.
She seemed stunned, and only uttered, "Malcolm?"
"Can we go inside already?" Nate asked.
"Yeah," Natasha said, as she walked up the stairs to the porch, and unlocked the door. Dawson followed Nate wearily, wondering if she even remembered that he was still there.
"Hmm," Nate said. "This place isn't so bad." While spinning around his eyes fixed on Dawson. He looked at him, and wondered who he was.
"Oh," Natasha said. "This is Dawson. Dawson this is my brother Nathan."
"Hi," Dawson said, shaking his hand.
"Call me Nate," he said.
"This is his friend Malcolm," Natasha added.
As Dawson extended his hand to Malcolm, and by Natasha's reaction, he began to wonder if he was more than just Nate's friend. Natasha led them into the living room. As they sat down, she immediately picked up the phone, and was calling her parents to let them know where Nate was.
"So, Nate," Dawson said, desperate to start a conversation, "are you sticking around for a while?"
"Yeah," Nate said. "I thought that I would check this place out." Nate put his hand up to shield his own mouth, "don't tell my sister, but they won't let me go back to live with them."
"Oh," Dawson said.
"Are you dating Natasha?" Malcolm asked.
Dawson opened his mouth to speak, but before the words could come out Natasha was sitting next to him. "Mama and daddy are coming home, and they aren't happy," she said.
"Since when are they ever happy with me?" he said.
"So how are things going Tasha?" Malcolm asked, trying to keep her off of Nate's case.
"Good," she said. "It's nice here."
"Is it really?" Malcolm asked. "Isn't there anything that you miss?" He hoped she would at least give a small clue that she missed him.
"No," she said bluntly, easing Dawson's mind a bit.
Nate was looking around the room, trying to absorb everything he was seeing. "At least it sort of looks like home," he said to Malcolm. "Oh, M," he said, "let's do just like the old days. Come sing." Malcolm reluctantly agreed. Nate and Malcolm moved to corner of the room, and Nate sits at the baby grand piano.
Nate begins to play, and Malcolm looks as if he's preparing. In a beautiful voice, Malcolm begins to sing. It appears as if he is singing directly to an obviously uncomfortable Natasha. Nate sings backup, an their voices blend beautifully. "I can't buy you fancy rings, or all the expensive things you're used to, baby. No trips around the world, no diamonds and pearls to give to you, baby. But what I've got to give is the more precious than you'll ever know. My deepest interfeelings, my heart and soul. 'Cause all that I am, is a man in love with you.. . ."
"What?" Joey asked, as she turned around, walking back toward Pacey. "What did you say Pacey?" she asked, almost frantically, as she sat next to him.
He looked in her eyes, and said, "I love you Joey."
"Why didn't you tell me before?" she asked.
"I. . .I didn't think that you felt the same way, and there was the thing with Dawson, and I thought you deserved better than me."
"Dawson?" she asked, almost ready to cry. "How long have you felt like this?"
"Before we even started the plan," he said, looking down again.
"You mean all this time. . ."
He shook his head. "I didn't know that you. . .I didn't think that I. . .This was easier when I didn't know," he said.
"What?" she asked, concerned that he had changed his mind.
"You deserve so much better than me," he said.
"Pacey," she said, placing her hand on his face, and lifting it so that she could look in his eyes. "You are too good for me. You are everything that a man should be. Strong, independent, considerate, caring, driven. You would do anything in the world for me, and have. There is not another man in the world that I would be better off with, and there is not another man in the universe that I would rather be with."
"What are you saying?" he asked.
"I'm saying that I love you Pacey. I should've said it a long time ago, but I had the same fears that you did. But, we. . .we can't waste another second. We've spent all this time not knowing, and who knows what we've missed. If you feel about me, the way that I feel about you, then I know that we have this bond that is stronger than anything else that exists, destiny, fate, time. If you feel as strongly as I do, I don't think that anything could tear us apart."
"I do," he said, "but. . ."
"No buts," she said. "This is it. We are where we both want to be. Nothing can stop us. Nothing."
He looked at her, and she couldn't read his expression. He put his hand behind her neck, moved closer to her, and touched his forehead to hers. His voice was shaky, and he looked like he was ready to cry. "I love you," he whispered.
She kissed him softly, and gently on the lips. "I love you too," she said. After that, they both knew that no more words were needed. He held her tightly in his grasp. She felt like he would never let her go, and she didn't want him to.
"Please!" Natasha screamed. "Thank you K-Ci and JoJo, but enough is enough." She had heard them sing about five songs, now, and to her Malcolm's motives were clear.
"I'm sorry," Nate said. "I think you're a little sensitive."
"Can I get you guys something to eat?" she asked, desperate to leave the room. Her head was killing her. It was a stress headache, no doubt.
"Yeah," Nate said. "How about a sandwich?"
"Okay, I'll be right back," Natasha said.
"I'll help you," Dawson said, wanting to talk to Natasha privately.
Nate and Malcolm watched them go into the kitchen. Malcolm lowered his voice, "I didn't think she'd have another man already."
"You could easily get rid of him," Nate said.
"I don't want to mess up this time," Malcolm said.
"Yeah, right," Nate said. "This is just a game to you. We know that. She probably even knows that, but that doesn't mean that you can't make it work."
"No, Nate," he said. "What if she was the one?"
"You have got to be kidding me," Nate said. "You know perfectly well that there is no such thing as the one. Tasha is just some conquest to you."
"I don't know," Malcolm said. "I don't know."
Before Natasha even thought about making any sandwiches, she opened the cabinet above the sink, and removed the aspirin. She choked down two with some water as Dawson watched. He stood there quietly watching as she removed some lunch meat and mayonnaise from the refrigerator, and grabbed the bread from the bread box. Dawson stood next to her at the counter to help. "What's the story with Malcolm?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Natasha asked.
"I don't know, it just seems like he has a thing for you."
"Malcolm is history to me," she said. "That's one thing that I don't want to open up."
"Aren't you going to tell me about it?" Dawson asked.
"I don't want to get into this," she said, "not now."
"I can see that there is something between you two."
"There was," she said. "It's over, and I would rather not talk about it." She looked at him, "you don't have anything to worry about." She smiled at him, and gave him a gentle kiss.
"Look, Natasha, as much as I hate to admit it, I have this horrible jealous streak. I can't really help it that I feel threatened by him," he said.
"Malcolm is a dog, and I will never go back to him," she said. "I'd just as soon shoot myself in the big toe."
"So he's an ex," Dawson said. "Why didn't you tell me."
"Didn't I say that I was unwilling to open up the old wounds? You need to accept that. When I tell you that you don't have anything to worry about, you should believe me, and I shouldn't have to keep explaining myself," she said, angrily.
"What's there to be so upset about?" Dawson asked.
"I had a life before I came here," she said. "I didn't think that I would have to explain every intimate detail to you."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Dawson asked, very offended.
"I don't think this has anything to do with me," she said. "This is =about your own insecurities."
"Why because I get jealous when a guy comes on to you, and you don't want to tell me that he is your ex-boyfriend?"
Natasha began rubbing her temples, her head hurt even worse now, and she was not in the mood to have this conversation. "You know, my parents are going to be here soon, and they are angry at Nate, so I think that I should take you home," she said, walking back into the living room. Dawson followed her. She looked at Nate and Malcolm and said, "come on. I'm going to take Dawson home."
"We don't need to come," Nate said.
"I'll show you around a little," she said. "Besides, I don't want you disappearing again."
Nate could tell that Natasha was pissed off, and knew not to argue with her. He followed her and Dawson out of the house. Nate looked at Malcolm and smiled.
Natasha pulled into the driveway of Dawson's house. She didn't say a word. She just sat there waiting for Dawson to get out. "I think we need to talk about this," he said.
"Not right now," she said. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay," he said, as he got out of the car.
He trudged up the stairs, and sat on his bed. He desperately needed to talk to someone, and thought of Pacey first. Slowly, he opened the door hoping not to disturb him if he was sleeping. Dawson smiled at what he saw. 'They must've had some night,' he thought to himself as he looked at Joey and Pacey laying on the bed. They were still dressed, and hadn't even taken their shoes off. Pacey had his arms wrapped tightly around Joey, and it looked like they had fallen asleep watching television.
Changing his mind, Dawson kneeled in front of Joey. He tapped her on the arm, and her eyelids fluttered as she woke up. "Dawson?" she said.
"I need to talk to you," he whispered.
She shook her head, and Dawson walked out. She carefully moved out of Pacey's arms. She stood there watching him for a few moments. She smiled before she left the room.
"What's going on?" she asked as she entered Dawson's room.
"You and Pacey finally worked things out," he said.
"Yeah," she said, "is that why you woke me up?"
"No," he said. "I, um, I had a fight with Natasha."
"About what?" Joey asked, as she sat next to him on the bed.
"Her ex-boyfriend is in town."
"God, that sounds like deja vu."
"He was really coming on to her," Dawson said. "When I asked her about it, she didn't want to talk about it. But then she told me he was her ex, and she got mad just because I questioned her about it."
"But Dawson, you are at your worst when you're jealous," she reminded him.
"I know," he said. "It's just that I don't want to mess things up. I think that this guy could be a major problem."
"Does she still want him?" Joey asked.
"She told me that I didn't have anything to worry about," he said.
"There you go," Joey said. "Tomorrow you need to swallow your pride, and apologize to her."
"What if that's not enough?" he asked.
"Look," she said, "you need to do what you can. Everything will come out. You just need to be patient."
"I still think this guy will cause trouble," Dawson said.
[Song: "Things Just Ain't The Same" by Deborah Cox]
Natasha and Malcolm were sitting quietly in the kitchen, because Natasha's parents had wanted to be alone with Nate. They weren't going to come down too hard on him, because they were happy he was finally there in Capeside with them. "What's with the white boy?" Malcolm asked, breaking the silence.
"What?" Natasha asked in disbelief.
"What's the story? I mean, it didn't exactly take you too long to find a man here," he said.
"Dawson is a nice guy," she said. "That's enough. And it's much more than I can say for you." She stood, and began rearranging things on the counter.
He stood beside her. When she looked up at him, she was only inches from his face. "Don't you miss me?" he asked.
"Sometimes," she whispered.
"So?" she repeated.
"What are you going to do about it?" he asked, giving her a grin.
She leaned in, and kissed him passionately. He had definitely set her up. Although she had initiated the kiss, it was still his fault. 'Damn,' she thought.
***** Note from Kilby: If you want to receive free, confidential information of HIV or AIDS, you can contact the Center for Disease Control's National AIDS Clearinghouse by phone at (800) 458-5231 or by visiting their web site at http://www.cdcnac.org/.
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