In the Line of Fire by: Kilby

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[Author's Note: This is the last installment of the series. I know that some of you will be disappointed with the ending of the saga, so I apologize in advance. Thanks to my critiquers Lisa, Anita, and Suzanne. Your hours of hard work won't be forgotten! Thanks to everyone who has posted the series. I know that all the HTML must have been a huge amount of work. Thanks to everyone who sent me feedback. I appreciated every single line of each e-mail, and you guys please don't be strangers! I'm glad that so many people have enjoyed reading the series, and thanks for everything that you guys have done. I hope you enjoy this part. Thanks ->Kilby]

[Previously in "Terms of Endearment": Pacey and Joey confront the man who hit Pacey with his car. Natasha convinces Dawson to be a bone marrow donor. Jen grows closer to Nate. Nate wants to hide the fact that he is a survivor of Leukemia. An angry Doug yells at Pacey before locking him, Joey, Dawson, and Jen in the video store, using his gun as persuasion.]

After trying the handle with no luck, Nate peered into the glass door of the video store. He thought it was odd to see a shelf blocking the door. The shelf seemed out of place, and it kept him from being able to see inside. He could hear muffled yelling, but couldn't understand a word of it.

"What's going on?" Natasha asked, frightened.

"Something's not right about this," Nate said. He placed his hands above his eyes, trying to block part of the glare off the window. Finally, he saw Dawson scoot over a little, putting him in his range of sight. Nate looked directly in his eyes. Dawson looked back, seriously. He blinked his eyes once slowly, and then moved them over. Nate couldn't see what Dawson was trying to do, but he was looking at Doug. The look on Dawson's face alarmed Nate. "Tasha, come on," he said, leading her by the hand to the cafe across the street. He finally convinced a man behind the counter to allow him to use the phone. "I was wondering if you could send someone over to the video store," Nate said to the person on the other end of the telephone. "Something doesn't seem right. I think it might be being robbed."


Pacey got up into a squatting position, holding his hands up. Doug immediately placed the gun inches from his temples. "Okay," Pacey said, in a shaky, but calm sounding voice. "I'm going to sit down again, all right." Doug nodded, moving the gun with Pacey as he replaced himself on the floor. "Doug," he continued. "I'm sure that we can work out whatever is wrong, but your problem is with me. Why don't you let everyone else go, and we can talk about what's wrong?"

"Oh, no," Doug said, not exactly sounding sane. "They are my insurance policy. You're nothing. People will miss them. Not to mention, they're your friends, and you, being the fine upstanding man that you, would do more to protect their lives than your own." Jen was weeping in the background, and Dawson slowly grabbed her hand, trying to console her.

"Okay, okay," Pacey said. "Why don't you put the gun down, and then we can talk? The gun is scarring me, and I think we'll both be a little more rational if it's not involved."

"I don't think so," Doug said.

"Look, I'm not scared of you just because you have a gun," Joey said. Pacey quickly threw his hand over her mouth.

"Shut up," he said to her. "This is not a joke." He knew that for some reason his brother had gone completely off the deep end, and this was no time for her to be exercising her freedom of expression. "Now," he said, turning his attention back to Doug, "what's going on?"

"Oh nothing," Doug said, sarcastically. He was flailing his gun back and forth, and scarring everyone to death. "Our father just seems to wish that I could be more like you."

"What?" Pacey asked, knowing Doug had lost his mind.

"Well, you see Pacey," Doug began, "in people with addictively aggressive personalities, such as our father, they are compelled to alleviate stress, by scapegoating it on to someone else. He needs someone to put all of the crap on, and now that you're not around anymore, guess who gets it."

"You?" Pacey asked.

"Ding-Ding-Ding," Doug said. "For once you got an answer right. But you see, this poses quite a problem, considering that bastard socialized me to be just like him. Ahh, you see, I'm not like you. I can't just let it roll off my back with some poor joke, or sad little sarcastic comment. I actually fight back. Well, it turns out that he likes it better that way."

"So, you're doing this because of dad?" Pacey asked, trying desperately to keep his cool.

"Well, no actually. This was kind of one of those spur of the moment things, you know. I just kinda had the urge to hold you and your friends at gunpoint."

"Doug, it's not too late," Pacey said. "We can walk out of here, and forget that this happened, and no one has to know."

"I don't think so Pacey," Doug said. "As a matter of fact, this might be a good way for dad to give me what I want."

"What do you want?" Pacey asked.

"Hm," he said. "Maybe I should get that answer ready for when they ask."

"Holding people hostage is not a way to get what you want. It's not a way to make dad admire you," he said. "It's only going to make you lose the job that you've wanted all your life. Doug, this will mess your life up."

"Enough," Doug screamed, pointing the gun directly at Pacey again. Doug suddenly spun around, startled by the sound of knocking of the door. He looked at Dawson, "Can you see who that is?"

Pacey nodded reassuringly when Dawson glanced at him. "It, um, looks like a police officer."

"Ahh, wonderful," Doug said. "This is going much more speedily than I had anticipated." He pointed the gun at Dawson. "Now, slowly, I want you to get up, and stand in the window. Now don't forget that there's a gun on you." Dawson did as he commanded. "Now, motion for them to call us." Dawson used his thumb and his pinky finger as a pretend phone. "Good," Doug said. "Now, sit back down, close to that girl." Dawson took his place next to Jen. Seconds later the phone rang.


"Something is wrong," Natasha said to Nate. "Did you see him? Something is wrong."

"It'll be okay," Nate said, trying to console her. She didn't answer. She was intently watching the officer, who was sitting in his patrol car speak on the cellular phone. Natasha stood in a trance as she watched the man shake his head.

"What's happening?" Natasha asked the officer as soon as he hung up the phone. He ignored her, and began placing another call. "This man must be deaf," she screamed at Nate.

"Calm down," he said to her. "You might be in the way, maybe we should let him be."

"Not until I know what's going on in there," she said. She listened to him, and heard the word 'hostage.' "What?" she whispered.

The officer approached Natasha and Nate. "This is a serious situation," he said. "I need your help." They both shook their heads affirmatively. "Inside there is a hostage situation. Do you know who's in there?"

"Uh-huh," Nate said.

"I need to get their names so that we can contact their families," he said. Natasha stood in a trance as Nate tried to give the names to the officer. He bothered her every few seconds asking for a last name he didn't know.

"What's going to happen?" Nate asked.

"We've got negotiators and people trained to deal with this coming in," he said.

"Can we stay?" Nate asked.

"Yes," the officer said. "We may need your help, but we do need our space to get things done effectively and efficiently. When the families get here, they may need your help."

"Who's doing this?" Natasha asked him.

He turned away, and didn't answer.


"What are you asking for?" Pacey asked Doug, interrupting the silence.

"I don't know," Doug said. "The negotiator isn't here yet, so I have time to decide."

"Let's decide," Pacey said.

"What?" Doug asked, suspicious of Pacey.

"Look Doug. I just want everyone to leave here safely. Let's decide what you want."

Doug paced in the silence. "I want. . .I want Dad to be civil. He will never be that now. I'm going to lose my job. I'm going to go to jail."

"Make a deal," Pacey said. "Ask for immunity."

"They won't give me immunity," Doug said. "I guess that I have to make this count," he continued, regaining the fire in his eyes. Pacey watched Doug carefully. It seemed as if he were slipping back and forth between two personalities, and that he had just gone back to the one that lacked realism and rationality.

"You're not going to hurt us, are you?" Dawson asked, frightened.

"Nice of you to ask, Dawson," Doug said. "I don't want to hurt anyone, and no one will get hurt just as long as you do what I say."

"How long are you going to do this?" Joey asked.

"As long as it takes," Doug said.

"Takes for what?" Pacey asked.

"You know, I'm growing a little aggravated with the question and answer period," Doug said.

"What are you going to ask for Doug?" Pacey said, growing frustrated.

"I want our father to know fear, embarrassment. I want him not to be in control. This is the perfect forum to make that happen."

The phone rang, and Doug answered. "What's going to happen?" Joey asked Pacey in a whisper.

"I don't know," he whispered. "We just have to stay calm, and do what he says, and you have to keep your mouth in check Jo. He's not in a good state of mind now." She shook her head as Pacey grabbed her hand.

"I want to speak to my father!" Doug screamed to the person on the phone. "And there is not going to be any more discussion until I speak with him." He slammed the phone down, and returned to pacing in front of everyone.


There were three police cars surrounding the store with lights flashing, and an ambulance had just arrived. A small crowd had gathered around the scene, and there were two officers putting yellow tape up to hold them back. Natasha and Nate were standing in between two police cars, and were the only two civilians inside the yellow tape barricade. Mitch, Gail, and Bessie were having difficulty making their way through the crowd. Gail frantically ran up to an officer. "What's going on?" she asked him.

"Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you need to stay behind the tape," he said.

"My children are in there," she screamed. "Now tell me what's going on!" He quickly pulled her to the side, where Mitch and Bessie joined them. The officer motioned for another man to join them. Minutes later the officer brought them over to join Natasha and Nate.

"What's going on?" Natasha asked them.

"Pacey's brother is holding them hostage," Mitch said.

"Oh my God," Natasha said.

"Why were they in there?" Gail asked.

"We were just supposed to pick out a movie, but Nate and I were late, and when we came here. . ." she trailed off, pointing to the store.

A larger, newer police car approached with sirens blaring and lights flashing. A man who looked to be in his late 40's or early 50's emerged from the car. He was tall, had brown hair, and appeared to be strong and very physical. He parted the crowd like Moses parted the waters, and stood receiving a briefing from one of the officers. He took a cellular phone, and placed a call.

"I would bet my life that man has something to do with this," Mitch said with contempt.


Doug skipped with excitement to the phone. He picked up the phone, not letting his attention stray from his hostages. "Hello," he said cheerfully.

"Doug what in the hell are you doing?" Captain Witter asked.

"Oh Dad, I'm so pleased to hear from you," Doug responded.

"Look, you have created a major mess, now I suggest that you try to make things right and let these people go."

"I don't think so," Doug said. "It'll be nice just to see you be in a situation where you can't be in control. God, Dad. I mean, this must be so embarrassing. Having your son hold people hostage. Hell, I'd imagine that half the town is out there watching already. You probably always thought that Pacey would be the one to do something like this, but SURPRISE! I get the pleasure this time."

"Douglas, you get your head out of your ass, and you straighten this mess out right now. I swear that you will be sorry that ever drew a breath on this earth if you don't stop this right now."

"I don't think so," Doug squealed. "I am in control here. Now when you are ready to take this seriously, you call me back. Right now, though, I don't need to take your abuse, and this is the point where it stops." Doug slammed down the telephone in frustration.

"What did he say?" Pacey asked.

"Well, that doesn't much matter. Does it Pacey? I mean, for once in my horrid little life, I am in control," Doug said.

"Why don't you have him come in here so that you can talk to him?" Pacey asked.

"Pacey this isn't about talking," Doug said. "This is teaching our father a lesson. He's going to know what his little games feel like once and for all."

"So what are you planning to do?" Pacey asked. Before Doug could articulate his response, the telephone rang again.

"What?" Doug answered abrasively.

"Doug, what do you want to let the hostages go?" his father asked.

"Well," Doug said, "I am not going to let the hostages go, but Pacey had a wonderful idea. I want you to come inside so that I can talk to you."

"No," he said.

"That's what I want," Doug said.

"Why?" Witter asked.

"Look, you are in no position to be questioning me," Doug said. "Do we have a deal?" Doug became frustrated by the silence on the other end of the telephone. "You are in charge, make a decision!" he screamed.

"I will come in, if you let one of the hostages go as an act of good faith," he said.

"What?" Doug screamed, outraged.

"We are not giving you control over another person. It's a trade," Witter said.

"Okay," Doug said. "No guns, or someone will be hurt."

"Okay," Witter said. "I'll be ready to come in. It will take a minute or two."

"Fine," Doug said, as he slammed the phone down. He stood in front of his hostages, surveying the situation. He was unsure of who to let go. It would probably be the most wise to let Pacey go, because he was the strongest, but he needed Pacey for leverage with his dad. In that second, he even wondered if Pacey would be more leverage than a stranger to his dad. He knew, though, that it was necessary to keep Pacey. The simpering blonde girl looked weakest, so he decided to make her stay. The decision was left between Dawson and Joey. Even though Dawson was male, Joey was probably stronger than him. Doug thought it would be best to keep Joey, though. She was female, and Pacey wouldn't dare involve her in any dangerous plan to play the hero. "Well," Doug said after making his mental deductions, "Dawson, it looks like you get to check out on us early."

"What?" Dawson asked.

"You get to leave," Doug said.

"Well, why don't. . ." Dawson began.

"This is not negotiable," Doug said. Dawson shook his head, giving an I'm-sorry look to Jen and Joey. "You and Pacey -- Stand up," he said. "Now, Dawson is going to walk first, and Pacey you are going to be my protection. There had better not be a move from you two," he said to the girls, "or I will shoot him. Same for you Dawson. Now, you will unlock the door, and check my father for a gun. After you make sure that he is not armed, you can make a hasty retreat. Pacey, you don't do anything stupid."

"Okay, Doug, we can do that," Pacey said. "Right Dawson?" Dawson shook his head.


Everyone watched nervously as Captain Witter placed himself in a bulletproof vest, and turned his gun over to another officer. He approached the door cautiously. Dawson was walking around the shelf that was blocking the view of inside. He was followed by Pacey. Doug had one arm wrapped around Pacey's neck, and with the other hand had the gun pressed against his head. Dawson unlocked the door, and patted Captain Witter's body searching for a weapon. When he got the okay from Doug, he took off running. Doug pulled his father inside, and commanded Pacey to lock the door.

Dawson was embraced by his parents when he reached them. Natasha cried at the sight of him, because she had begun to think she might not see him again. "Is everybody okay?" a police officer asked Dawson.

"They're frightened, but no one is physically hurt," Dawson said. "I don't know why he let me go, but things might get worse now."


"Sit down," Doug demanded of his father, keeping Pacey in his grasp. Witter sat in the floor to the left of Joey. "Doug," Pacey said. "Since dad is who you want to talk to, and you have me here, why don't you let the girls just sit behind the counter?"

"No Pacey," Doug said. "You be quiet, now. This is between me and him."

"What do you want Doug?" Witter asked.

"I want you to treat me like a normal father treats a son."

"I do."

"No, you don't," Doug yelled. "You don't even know what it is to be a father. You're a dad. The truth is the only thing that you think were good for is to take your aggression out on. You don't care about us. Well, maybe I should rephrase that. You never cared about Pacey, and were always okay with me. That was until Pacey got wise, and left that hell you call a home. Then all of his privileges came back to me retroactively."

"Doug, I never meant to. . ."

"Save it," Doug said. "Save it for the media, or for your friends, for the people who you want to keep a good image for. You don't think that after all of these years I would finally figure out what you really are. It may have taken me much longer than it should have, but I finally did. I mean, look what you've done to me. You've driven me to hold my own brother, and his friends hostage."

"I didn't make you do anything," Witter said defensively.

"You know, Pacey and I, we don't have a good relationship. That's because you set the bill. It's the fight of the century really: the oldest son versus the youngest son. Of course, we fought each other so much, fought you so much, that we both self-destructed. Pacey, he was lucky. He didn't hit rock bottom. He found a home. I don't know how. I mean, how could someone who has never had a home know what to look for? But he did. Me, I hit rock bottom. This is it," he said. "I've gone insane; taken some innocent teenagers hostage."

"Look Doug," I'm growing bored with this. Let's just wrap this up so that we can all go home. There's no real reason that you're doing this besides to piss me off. You've done it. Mission accomplished. Now put your head on straight, and let's end this."

"No!" Doug screamed, as he dropped Pacey to the ground, and pointed the gun at his father's head. "For once in your sad little life I want you to listen to me."

"I'm not scared of you, Doug," Witter said.

"Is that a challenge?" Doug asked. "I don't think it would be that difficult for me to plead justifiable homicide."

"You won't kill me. That's what this is all about. You're just waiting for daddy's approval."

"I don't need your approval. Don't think that I won't do it. The world would be better off without a man like you in it," he screamed.

"Doug, stop," Pacey chimed in. "You don't want to kill anyone. Why don't you give me the gun before you make a mistake that you can't fix?"

"This is the real world, Pacey," Doug said, not taking his eyes off his father. "You can't fix anything, and I am in way too deep now. I might as well get some satisfaction from this. Besides," he said, briefly turning his attention to Pacey, "you have got to want this bastard dead as much as I do."

Suddenly Captain Witter had charged Doug, and they were in a struggle for the gun. Pacey sprinted toward the girls, throwing his body over them. A shot rang out. It grazed Jen's arm, and she let out a scream. Doug's struggle for the gun was complete, and he was, once again, pointing the gun on his father.

"Oh my God," Joey said, when she saw the blood pouring from Jen's arm.

She reached out, wanting to stop the bleeding. "Don't touch me!" Jen screamed, snatching her body away from Joey.

"Doug, I need to get the first aid kit from behind the counter. Can I do that?" Pacey asked.

"Go ahead," Doug said.

Pacey retrieved the kit, and took a seat on the floor next to Jen. He pulled a pair of rubber gloves from the kit, and put them on. He began examining the wound.

"Is she okay?" Doug asked, feeling very remorseful.

"Yes," Pacey said. "It just grazed her arm." Doug and his father began having a heated conversation. Pacey began wiping the blood away with a treated wipe, and began to dress the wound with piles of gauze and tape.

"Pacey, what's going on?" Joey asked.

Jen looked at Joey. "I'm sorry," she whispered, "but you can't touch my blood."

"Why?" Joey asked, frightened.

"I have HIV," she said. "I'm sorry."

"Doug," Pacey said. Doug was so occupied in his conversation with his father, he didn't hear Pacey. "Doug!" Pacey exclaimed.

"What?" Doug asked.

"They need to move away from this blood. Jen needs to be checked out by a doctor. I'll stay, but you've got to let them go," Pacey said. "I don't want them to get hurt any more."

The phone rang. "Answer it," Doug commanded Pacey. Pacey carefully removed his gloves, and threw them down in the pile of blood. He answered the phone.

"Hello," Pacey said.

"This is the negotiator," a deep male voice said. "Who is this?"


"We heard a shot," the negotiator said. "What happened?"

"My father and my brother struggled over the gun, and the shot went off."

"Is anyone hurt?" he asked.

"Yes," Pacey said. "Jen was grazed by the bullet on the arm. It looks okay, and I tried to dress it."

"We need to try to get Doug to let her go."

"I just asked him," Pacey said.

"What did he say?"

"Hold on." Pacey turned his attention to Doug. "Doug, please let them go. I can't stand to see either of them hurt because of us."

"I don't want them to get hurt," Doug said. "They can go."

"He's going to let them go," Pacey told the man on the phone.

"Okay," the man said. "Please be careful."

Pacey hung up the phone. "Pacey I'm not leaving you here," Joey said.

"Yes you are," he told her. "You can't stay. You need to go, and I'll be okay. I can worry about myself if I don't have to worry about you." He turned his attention back to Doug. "Doug, how do you want us to do this?"

"I trust you," Doug said. "You let them out."

"Okay," Pacey said. "I'll be right back." He helped Jen out of the floor, and led her to the door. Joey and Jen ran toward the police cars, as Pacey re-locked the door.

The group embraced the two girls. Jen pulled away, anxious about her wound. The paramedics were approaching her, and they quickly whisked her away to the nearby ambulance. Nate quietly followed her, concerned for her safety.

"Is she okay? Are you okay?" Gail asked Joey as she looked her over.

"Yeah," Joey said, "she got grazed by a bullet, but she's okay. I'm fine." She was distant, as she looked back at the store.

"Is Pacey okay?" Gail asked her.

"So far," Joey said.


Pacey walked back to where his brother was. He calmly stood a medium length between Doug and his father. "Doug," Pacey said. "You don't want to hurt him. So why don't you give me the gun, and we'll get away from him."

"You don't understand," Doug said in a low tone of voice. "I want to kill him," he said, sounding ashamed of his feelings.

"I do understand," Pacey said. "I've wanted to kill him before. But you can't give in to those feelings. It's not our place to decide who lives or dies. He knows what he's done to our lives, and now he will have to live the rest of his knowing that. That is punishment."

"He doesn't care, Pacey," Doug said.

"I care," Pacey said. "It's not fair for him not to live anymore, and for you to lose your life too by spending it in jail. You can't do this Doug."

"Okay," Doug said. He handed the gun to Pacey. Pacey took it, and held it between his index finger and thumb like it was a dirty diaper.

"Go," Pacey told Doug. He followed him out of the door. Another cop took the gun from Pacey, as he was watching them handcuff his brother.

Joey led the ambush on Pacey, and she was followed by Gail, Mitch, Dawson, Bessie, and Natasha. They all embraced him. He was startled by the image of his brother in handcuffs.


Nate watched as the paramedics finished bandaging Jen. When they cleared away, she hopped down from the back of the ambulance. "How are you?" he asked her.

"Well, now I have an interesting story to tell at parties," she said.

"Seriously," he said.

"I'm fine, really. Just a little shaken up."

"I'm sorry that I wasn't on time."

"I'm glad you weren't," she said.

"You don't have someone here for you?" he asked.

"My grandmother is at some spiritual retreat in the woods," she said. "But you're here."

"I'm so glad you're okay," he said, grabbing her for an unexpected hug.

She stood there, not exactly sure what to make of it. "Let's go check on Pacey," she said, leading him back to the crowd.


They all stood there in a group, saying thank-yous to police officers, each other, God. Everyone was happy to see Jen was okay, and she got another round of hugs.

Joey and Pacey were standing off the side of the group. She turned, and grabbed him, and hugged him so tightly he wasn't sure if he would be able to keep breathing. "I thought I might lose you, again," she whispered in his ear.

"I'm still here," he said. "I'm going to be around for a long time, don't worry. I haven't had enough time with you yet."

She somehow believed him, but wasn't ready to let him go yet.

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