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[Previously in "A Smile Like Yours": Joey and Pacey finally confess their love to one another. Jen attends the HIV support group. Dawson and Natasha have fight over her past with Malcolm. In a moment of weakness, Natasha kisses Malcolm.]
'I've done it now,' Natasha thought as she kissed Malcolm, 'I might as well enjoy it.' He pulled away. She looked at him, as she used her index finger to wipe her lips.
"Well?" he said.
"I, um, I. . ." she stammered.
"Shh," he said, as he placed a finger over her mouth. "My turn." He leaned over, and kissed her even more passionately. Natasha lost herself in the kiss. In seconds she was reminded of her attraction to Malcolm. He wrapped his muscular arms around her, and she desperately didn't want him to stop. She knew that what was happening was wrong, but she didn't care. Then she didn't want to think about the future, or facing Dawson, or that this might make Malcolm feel like he has won. She was enjoying kissing Malcolm, and didn't want to think about the consequences.
Finally, when she thought she couldn't stand another second of it, he pulled away. "I knew it," he said, as a smile crept to his face.
"What?" she snapped.
"That you wanted me," he said.
"Don't flatter yourself, Malcolm," she said, snapping out of her trance, and becoming very agitated. "You just took advantage of a moment of weakness."
"Is that it?" he asked, with a chuckle.
"Yeah," she said.
"So you didn't enjoy that? You mean to tell me that you weren't fighting the feelings since you saw me on that porch? The fact is Tasha, even when you were sitting right next to that preppie little white boy, that all you could think about was kissing me. I mean it's obvious that even he saw the attraction that we have."
"And what is attraction Malcolm? It is what it is, and it means nothing else. All you can build from attraction is sexual tension. We were proof of that. There is nothing else there. Besides, I know you Malcolm. To you this is a game. 'Oh, let's see how I can ruin Natasha's life.' Once the thrill of the chase is over, there you go, tripping onto the next challenge. I'm not a challenge," she said. "This isn't Monopoly. This is my life, and I don't want you screwing around with it."
"You don't give me much credit," he said.
"Why should I? Did you miss something? Do you remember why we aren't together?"
"Tasha, people make mistakes sometimes. It doesn't mean that they don't deserve a chance to learn from them. I'm a better man now," he said.
"So? What is this, then?" she asked. "You have obviously planned this. You come here, singing, getting all close to me, trying to break me. You did it. Are you happy?"
"I don't want to ruin your life," he said, "I just want to be with you. I love you."
"Words," she said. "They don't mean a thing. You could stand there and tell me that the sky is orange. Tomorrow, I can look outside, and I will know that you were wrong. Whether you believe it or not, it still isn't true."
"It is true," he said.
"You can't be serious," she said. "If you loved me, you never would have done what you did."
Malcolm groaned, as he spun around in frustration. "It was a mistake!" he screamed. "I don't know how to say it so that you will understand."
Nate came in through the door, beckoned by Malcolm's screaming. "What's going on?" he asked.
"I'm sorry man," Malcolm said.
"Yeah," Natasha said. "We were just having a little talk."
"Look, it's late," Nate said. "We've got stuff to do tomorrow."
"Yeah," Malcolm said. "I'll be there in a minute." Nate left the room, sensing he wasn't wanted.
"When are you leaving?" Natasha asked Malcolm. She was looking away from him, and almost whispering.
"Tomorrow," he said. He was still angry, and had one more thing he wanted to add. "You think that white boy is going to forgive you for kissing me?" He stood, momentarily, waiting for a response. Because Natasha didn't answer, he walked out the door, shaking his head.
Joey made her way through the crowded cafeteria to the normal table, being especially careful as she balanced her tray. When Pacey was in her line of vision, she smiled. Her life seemed to be taking a turn for the better, and she couldn't put into words how she felt when she woke up this morning still in his grasp. She sat next to Pacey, and looked at him like he was the only other person in the room. He looked at her the same way. What they had was definitely special, because in that moment, they could tell what they meant to each other. They didn't needs words, or a kiss, or a touch. They just knew.
He looked at her and smiled, as he placed his hand on her knee. She smiled back at him. It appeared as if they were afraid that if they didn't keep their relationship low-key that it would be destined to fail. "So," Joey said, as she looked around the table. Her eyes fell back to Dawson, "you haven't. . ." she began.
"No," he said.
"Why not?" she asked.
"I don't know," Dawson said. Joey searched the room for Natasha.
Pacey's followed Joey's eyes. "What's going on?" he asked. Nate and Malcolm entered the cafeteria, and were walking toward Natasha, who was sitting alone at a small, round table. "Who are they?" Pacey asked.
"That's Natasha's brother and his friend," Dawson said.
Jen began laughing. "You're kidding me?" she said. Joey began laughing as well.
"Why?" Dawson asked.
"We met those guys yesterday," Jen said.
"They are something else," Joey said.
"You're not lying," Dawson said.
"Am I the only one who hasn't met them?" Pacey asked, feeling left out. They shook their heads. Nate made his way toward them, leaving an unhappy looking Natasha alone with Malcolm.
"Hi beautiful," he said to Jen. She gave him a patronizing smile. "Dawson," he continued with a nod. He looked at Joey, and stopped for a moment. "Joey," he said with another nod.
Pacey held out his hand, and said, "I'm Pacey."
"Pacey," Nate said. "I'm Nate. It's nice to meet you." Pacey nodded in agreement. Nate took the seat next to Jen. "Well, this seems like some sort of crazy predicament," he said to her. "I know everyone else's name, but don't know yours."
"So you're Natasha's brother?" she asked.
"Actually, Natasha is my sister," he said. Jen wasn't really surprised by his arrogance anymore. "I'm not two years old," he said. "You can't make me forget that I want to know your name by changing the subject."
"What are you doing here, Nate?" she asked.
"I had to come enroll," he said. "I start tomorrow."
"Oh," she said. "I guess that I won't be able to hide from you forever."
"Once you get to know me, you won't want to hide at all," he said.
"My name's Jen," she said. "I hope you're satisfied, because that's all you're getting from me."
"Baby, I've got all the time in the world to wear you down," Nate said
Jen looked away from Nate, and chuckled. She would have to admit, at least to herself, that she was a small bit impressed by his confidence and persistence. She was enjoying the attention. Joey smiled at her. "Well, Nate. As much as I've enjoyed talking to you, I really have to go," she said. "I'll see you guys later." She began gathering her booksac and her empty lunch tray.
"Where are you going?" Joey asked.
"I've got to hit the computer lab," Jen said. "I want to talk to you later, though," she said with a wink.
"Sure," Joey said.
Nate watched Jen walk away. "So," he began, looking at Dawson. "Why aren't you sitting with my sister?"
"We had a fight," Dawson said.
"Oh," he said. "That's just Tasha. She'll be over it soon. I'm sure she's sorry for whatever she did. She's got this whole honesty thing that doesn't exactly go well with her temper."
"Okay," Dawson said suspiciously. "So what's the story with her and Malcolm?"
"You should ask her that," Nate said. "Look, it was nice seeing you guys, but I have some things I need to do. I guess I'll see you around."
"Bye," they all said to him. He walked back to Natasha's table, and dragged an uncooperative Malcolm out the door with him.
"Dawson, why don't you go talk to her?" Joey asked.
"I don't know," Dawson said. "Things are so complicated."
"Dawson, everything is not so simple that it can be solved in 120 minutes. Anything that is worthwhile isn't going to come easily," Joey said.
"Look," he said. "When she is ready to discuss what happened, I will be too."
"Fine," Joey said. She got up, and headed for Natasha. She figured that it was the least that she could do, considering what Natasha had done for her and Pacey last night.
"What's going on?" Pacey asked.
"It's just an alternate universe," Dawson said. "I mean, where else could we be with you and Joey as a couple, again."
"Again?" Pacey said. "Oh, Dawson. There's something you should know about that."
Dawson was intently staring at Joey and Natasha, and didn't hear what Pacey had said. Pacey thought that it was best that way just because Dawson really didn't need to know that he had been deceived. Pacey looked back down at his lunch, and concentrated on his hamburger.
Joey returned a few minutes later. "She said that she needs to talk to you, but that it's really complicated, and it's going to be difficult to understand, and some other stuff. She went on and on. Anyway, she's going to meet you at your house after school."
"But I. . ." Dawson began.
"Just do it, Dawson," she said. "What could it hurt to listen to her?" Before he had a chance to respond to her, she turned her attention to Pacey. "We could do something so that they could be alone."
"I'd love to," he said, "but I have something I can't get out of."
"What is it?" she asked.
"I just have something I have to do here. I'll see you when I'm done though," he said.
"Okay," she said sadly.
"I'll see you later," he said, grabbing his things, and leaving.
Joey was lying on Jen's bed, and Jen was sitting at her desk, staring out the window. "So what's the story?" Jen asked Joey.
"What do you mean?" Joey asked.
"With Natasha," Jen said.
"She and Dawson had a fight."
"Her ex-boyfriend," Joey said. "I think it's Malcolm."
"She dated Malcolm?" Jen asked in surprise. "He doesn't exactly seem like her. . .type."
"I know," Joey said. "So is Nate your type?"
"You know, I'm surprised that Nate's head fits through the door," Jen joked.
"He's not going to give up on you."
"I know. But I also know guys like him. As flattering as it is, he's not worth all of the trouble."
"So you're flattered?" Joey said, grinning.
"Maybe a little," Jen said. She desperately wanted to avoid talking about anything that could remotely be associated with having a love life, because she knew that with that issue of HIV wasn't far behind. "Anyway. What's the deal with you and Pacey?" She began grinning herself.
"We're together," Joey said with her patented crooked grin.
"You're kidding?" Jen said. "It's about time. What happened?"
"Last night, Natasha talked me into going to culture night, because she knew that Pacey would be reading this poem he had written about me. Later we talked, and I found out that he felt the same way about me that I felt about him."
"Joey, that's great." Jen was genuinely happy for Joey.
"Yeah," Joey said. "I'm really happy. Even though things aren't really different, we both know, and that does make the difference."
"You guys are going to be so sweet together," Jen said. She momentarily glanced out the window again. "Here she comes." Joey stood behind Jen watching Natasha walk into Dawson's house. "What do you think she's going to say?" Jen asked.
"I don't know," Joey said, "but I'm sure that it's something serious."
[Song: "How Do I Say That I'm Sorry" by Tami Davis]
Natasha walked in. "Look," she said, "I'm here because we need to talk. Actually, I need to talk, and you're not going to like what you hear."
"This doesn't sound very promising," he said, as he motioned for her to sit down on the couch. "I'm sorry for how I acted last night," Dawson said. "I mean, I didn't lie when I said that I was a jealous person. I. . .I just wanted to know what the deal with Malcolm was."
"I'll tell you all about it," she said. "But I have something else that I need to tell, that might make you, just never want to look at me ever again."
"What is it?" he said, growing concerned.
"Last night. . .I just wasn't thinking, and I kissed Malcolm," she said.
"Just because we had a fight?" Dawson asked.
"No," she said. "Malcolm is. . .persuasive. I fell into the trap, and I regret it now. That doesn't change it, I know, but I thought you should know. Now that I've told you, I'll go."
"What is with you and this whole honesty thing?" he asked. "Are you trying to push me away?"
"No," she said, "that's not it. I just don't want any secrets."
"You thought that this would make me want to leave you, right?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said, looking down.
"Explain Malcolm to me," he said, trying desperately not to screw this relationship up.
"Malcolm and Nate have been attached at the hip since Nate was in third grade. He grows on you after a while. When I was in tenth grade, Malcolm and I, we started dating. We were happy."
"How long did you date?" Dawson asked her.
"About a year," she said.
"You broke up after dating for a year? Why?"
She let out a deep breath, because the memories were still very painful. After her encounter with Malcolm last night, she had already played them over in her mind several times. "Things were stressed in our relationship. He found out that we were moving here, and didn't want me or Nate to leave. I got this letter one day, and I didn't know who it was from. The person who wrote it said that he was cheating on me with her. She said she loved him very much, and thought that it was important for me to know what he was doing. I asked him about it, and he denied it. I figured that even if he was cheating on me, that if he knew, I knew then he would stop."
"He didn't," Dawson said.
"No," she said. "I went to his house one day. And, well, my own eyes don't lie. I saw him. That's not even what hurt the worst. The girl he was sleeping with, the girl who wrote the letter was my best friend. After that, I could come here, and not regret leaving him. He was a dog, and I knew it all along. I just had to take the blinders off so that I could see it."
"Do you still love him?" Dawson asked.
"Malcolm, he was my first love. There are things that I still love about him. He hurt me. He hurt me really badly, and I will never forget it. Last night, he was making a play to win me back, and he took advantage of my fragile state of mind to do it. That's who he is. He's not going to change, and I don't want to be with someone who is like that. He might be my friend someday, though. I can forgive him, but I can't forget."
"So where does that leave us?"
"If. . .if you still want to be with me, you don't have to worry about Malcolm anymore. I mean, I won't let what happened last night ever happen again. I can understand if you don't want me, because what I did was not much different from what he did. Believe me, I hate myself for it, so I can understand, whatever you decide. It's up to you."
"Why did this happen?" he asked. "Are we that unstable?"
"No," she said. "Things like this happen in relationships sometimes."
"We have a lot of obstacles ahead of us," he said. "Can we make it?"
"If we try," she said. "I don't want to lose you. I've never met anyone like you before, and I'll never get over it if I did something to completely screw it up."
"This is never going to happen again?" he asked.
"I don't want it to," she said. "He's leaving tonight, and hopefully things can go back to the way that they were."
"They have to be better this time," he said. "You see, we need to be stronger together."
"We can be," she said. "I don't want to keep anything else from you. I know that we haven't been dating long, but I know that I am already really attached to you. I don't want to lose what we could have, because of what I did have. I want to be like Pacey and Joey. I mean they are so happy."
"Well, they didn't get there without a ton of obstacles," he said. He smiled. "And you."
"So is this just one of our obstacles?" she asked.
He shook his head, and leaned in to kiss her. It was a sweet kiss, and it wasn't filled with passion. Natasha thought about it. She enjoyed kissing Dawson just as much as she had enjoyed kissing Malcolm. The difference was that her emotional attachment to Dawson was what made it so special. That far outweighed the physicallity of her relationship with Malcolm. She would be happy to see him leave tonight.
Jen was standing alone in her bedroom, looking at her image in the mirror. She had been standing there for forty-five minutes, practicing what she would say to her grandmother, and was still unsure how to say it. She looked at her carbon copy. "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's screwed up her life worst of all?" she said. "You're looking at her." She picked up the brush, and began brushing her hair. She put it down again, and said "it's now or never."
She trudged down the stairs, finding her grandmother sitting at the kitchen table. "Grams, I need to talk to you about something."
"Why certainly Jennifer. What is it?" she asked.
"Do you think that God is punishing people who have AIDS?" she asked, bluntly.
"Where did this come from Jennifer?" she asked quite shocked.
"I want to know what you think," Jen said.
"I think that AIDS is a consequence of a person conscious action," Grams said, "but God isn't punishing people with AIDS."
"What do you think about people with HIV?" Jen asked.
"I don't know where this is going Jennifer," Grams said, showing her confusion.
"Would you live with someone who had HIV? Would you love someone who had HIV?"
"What's going on?"
"Grams, I'm trying to tell you that I have HIV," Jen said.
"What?" Grams said.
"I'm HIV positive."
"How did this happen?"
"I got it from having unprotected sex," Jen said.
"What have you been doing when I'm not watching you?" Grams asked.
"Grams, I haven't had sex since I came here," Jen clarified. "It took time for the virus to show up in the test."
"When did you find out?" she asked.
"A few weeks ago," Jen said. "I. . .I was afraid to tell you."
Unexpectedly, Grams grabbed Jen's hand. "Jennifer, you shouldn't ever be afraid to tell me something. Now tell me what this means."
Jen proceeded to tell her Grams everything the doctors, and the people she had met told her about having HIV. She listened intently, willing to help Jen with whatever she needed. Jen was expecting Grams to yell, scream, or shame her, but she didn't. Grams did, however, decide that it was best for them to keep it secret. She was scared for her own reputation as much as Jen's.
[Song: "Let it Go" by Ray J]
It was a beautiful day in Capeside. The sun was shining, and there was a breeze blowing. It was like spring outside, and it was a welcome change from the cold they had become accustomed to. Dawson and Natasha were sitting on the steps to Dawson's house laughing and talking. Jen was planting some pansies around the foundation of the house.
Joey and Pacey were lying on a blanket near the creek. Joey was lying on her stomach looking in a book. Pacey was lying on his back with his hands behind his head. His eyes were closed as he was talking. "Of course I did. It wasn't Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation -- not to me. Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. . . ."
"Nor did I. . ." Joey chimed in.
"Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions. They are alive, not just today or yesterday: they live forever, from the first of time, and no one knows when they first saw the light." Pacey paused, and winced.
Joey cued him again. "These laws -- I was not. . ."
". . .about to break them, not out of fear of some man's wounded pride, and face the retribution of the gods. Die I must. I've known it all my life-- how could I keep from knowing? -- even without your death-sentence ringing in my ears. And if I am to die before my time I consider that a gain. Who on earth, alive in the midst of so much grief as I, could fail to find his death a rich reward? So for me, at least, to meet this doom of yours is precious little pain. But if I had allowed my own mother's son to rot, an unburied corpse -- that would have been an agony! This is nothing. And if my present actions strike you as foolish, let's just say I've been accused of folly by a fool."
"You did great Pacey," Joey said.
"You had to cue me," he said. "I still don't know it. I don't know what memorizing monologues has to do with English anyway," he said, frustrated.
"But you've almost got it," she said. "Why did you pick a part of Antigone's anyway?" she asked him, giggling. "Is it because of your Oedipus complex?"
"Ha ha," he said. "I like that part," he said, as he rolled on his side so that he could look at her.
"Because of the death stuff?" she asked, almost scared to hear the answer.
"Joey, I am Antigone. My life is her's, despite me being male. The whole sins of the father thing. She doing what's against her family's wishes, because she believes that it's what is right. Facing the consequences for it. Feeling like she's worthless because of what her family has done. I know it all," he said.
"Pacey, you know that. . ." she began. Before she could finish, he kissed her. He then pulled away. "Well, that's one way to make me forget what I wanted to say," she said.
"Look, you don't have to worry about me," he said. "I'm not going to kill myself or anything. Right now, my life is the best that's it has been. I'm happy. I'm away from my family. I have you. There's nothing else I want. Well, maybe I'd like to have my memory back to how it was, and my shoulder," he said, rubbing his shoulder. Joey took the hint, sat up, and began massaging his shoulder.
Joey and Pacey looked up to see Dawson and Natasha laughing as they were tossing a football. "Why don't we go play?" Joey said.
"You go," he said. "I want to talk to Jen."
"Okay," she said. She went to join Natasha and Dawson, as Pacey wandered over to Jen's, and sat on the step next to where she was planting the flowers.
"Well, if it isn't a little Martha Stewart," Pacey said.
"Hardly," Jen said. "You and Joey look cozy. Have you finally found happiness?"
"Yeah," he said with a grin. "What about you?" he asked. "How are things going?"
"Not too bad," she said. "I've gone to the support group. Last night I told Grams."
"How'd she take it?" Pacey asked.
"A lot better than I expected. She was understanding, supportive."
"Are you sure it was your grandmother?" he asked.
"Yeah," Jen said. "We decided to keep it secret. She doesn't want it getting out, but she's not ready to alienate me."
"That's good," he said. "You think you'll be ready to tell everyone else soon?"
"I don't know," she said. "We'll just have to see how things go."
"Yeah," he said. "Don't forget that I'm just next door if you need anything."
"I haven't," she said. "Thanks, Pacey."
Pacey collapsed on the steps of the Leery's house. He couldn't play football for another minute because he was extremely tired, and his arm was killing him. Joey came and sat next to him. "You okay," she asked.
"Yeah," he said. "I'm just tired."
"Let's go get something to drink," she said, as she stood up. He followed her inside the house.
Pacey was pouring some soda when the phone rang. He handed the bottle to Joey, as he grabbed the phone. "Hello," he said. "This is he. Uh-huh. . .okay. . .okay. . .are you sure?. . .yes, I will. Thank you."
He hung up the phone. Joey had a confused look on her face. "Who was it?" she asked.
"The police station," he said. "They found the guy who hit me."
The characters and setting in this story are not my property, and I am making no profit from their use. Pacey was reciting lines 499-524 from Sophocles' play "Antigone." It was taken from the translation by Robert Fagles.
If you would like free, confidential information about AIDS and HIV, you can contact the Center for Disease Control's National AIDS Clearinghouse by telephone at (800) 458-5231, or by visiting their website at http://www.cdcnac.org/.
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