[Note: I've had a couple of requests for some closure to my series. If you seek that, read on. If you were happy with the previous ending, don't.]
Pacey was sitting on a stool at a counter, looking into the small kitchen of his apartment. He was watching Joey as she talked on the cordless phone and cooked some pasta. It was their normal Sunday ritual to call their families, and Joey's one night to cook diner.
"Alex wants to talk to Uncle Pacey," she told him.
Pacey picked up the phone next to him. "Hey big A. What's up?"
"Uncle Pacey!" Alex screamed.
"So what's going on in school A?" Pacey asked.
"Well," he began in complete seriousness, "you will not believe what happened this week. Steve and Shane got into this huge fight -- get this -- over a girl. I couldn't believe it. Like Sara's something to get all worked up over. . . ."
Pacey tuned out Alex's rambling, saying an 'uh-huh' every few seconds. As much as he loved Alex, he had no interest in the happenings in first grade.
"Uncle Pacey, Uncle Pacey, Did you hear me?" Alex asked.
"Sure," Pacey lied.
"So when are you?" Alex asked.
"When am I what?"
"When are you and Aunt Joey getting married?"
"What?" Joey said, snapping out of her own daze after hearing Alex.
"When are you guys going to get married?" Alex asked again.
"Alex, let me talk to your mother," Joey said sternly.
"Okay, bye Uncle Pacey. Bye Aunt Joey," Alex said.
"Hello," Bessie said.
"What are you telling that child?" Joey asked.
"I swear it was his idea," Bessie said. "I just didn't tell him not to ask."
"Look Bessie, we've discussed this already," Joey said. "Stop trying to push us." Pacey frowned, and sat the receiver back onto the phone. "Look, no one pushed you into marriage."
"I know," Bessie said, "but now I know what you're missing."
"Look Bess, I've had enough familial bonding for the week. I'll talk to you next weekend."
"Okay," Bessie said. "I love you. Tell Pacey the same."
"Okay, bye Bess," Joey said. She turned off the phone, and looked at Pacey. "Can you believe that?"
"Joey, she just wants us . . ." he began.
"Okay, I surrender," she said. "Let's just drop it. Your turn," she said gesturing to the phone.
Pacey dialed the phone as he placed it up to his ear.
"Hello," a familiar voice said.
"Hi Mrs. Leery," Pacey said.
"Pacey!" she exclaimed, "it's so good to hear your voice."
"Mrs. Leery, you knew that I would call, I do it every week."
"I know," she said, "but can't you tell that I'm just happy to hear from my son."
"So how are things going?"
"Good," she said. "I got offered a local talk show."
"That's great," Pacey said. "What's it like?"
"Like the talk shows when you were growing up," she said. "Montel, Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer sans the fights."
"That's really nice," Pacey said. "Are you excited?"
"Ecstatic," she said.
"So how's Mr. Leery's restaurant doing?" Pacey asked.
"Wonderfully," she said. "He might be opening another."
"Wow, you guys are busy," Pacey said.
"Not really," she said. "So, have you heard from my other son?" she asked.
"I talked to him last week," Pacey said. "Why? Haven't you?"
"No," she said. "I've been trying to catch him for three weeks, and never get a hold of him. And frankly, I'm so tired of having to turn on the television to catch a glimpse of him, or having to learn about his life by reading 'Soap Opera Digest.'"
"I'll tell him to call you," Pacey said. "I'll call him right now."
"Thanks sweetie. We're going to see you soon, right?"
"Yeah," Pacey said, "as soon as the school year's over."
"Good," she said. "Joey's good?"
"Yeah," Pacey said. "She's cooking diner."
"Working on wedding plans yet?"
"No. You know the story on that."
"I can still pray," she said. "I'm ready to buy one of those mother-of-the-groom dresses. My money is still on you to be the first."
"That's the plan," he said, careful not to let Joey hear what they were talking about.
"Of course, who knows about this girl that Dawson's dating. She seems like a piece of work."
"I'm sure that she's nice," Pacey said, trying to reassure her.
"Okay, I'll take your word for it. Look honey, I don't want to run up your phone bill. I'll try to call later this week."
"Okay, Mrs. Leery."
"I love you both," she said.
"We love you too," he said. He began dialing as soon as he hung up.
"Is everything okay?" Joey asked.
"Mrs. Leery hasn't talked to Dawson in like three weeks."
"He's so inconsiderate sometimes," she said.
Pacey shook his head.
"Hello," Dawson answered on the other end of the phone.
"Hey D, what gives?" Pacey asked.
"What do you mean Pace?" Dawson asked.
"I just talked to mom," he said, he often called Mrs. Leery mom when he was around Dawson. She probably wouldn't mind if he did call her mom, but he never took the step.
"Really?" Dawson asked. "How is she?"
"D, why don't you talk to her and find out? She said she hadn't talked to you in like three weeks."
"I know," Dawson said. "It's just been busy, hectic. I've been meaning to call her back."
"You'd better call your mother," Joey said, picking up her phone as she stirred the pasta.
"Hey Jo," Dawson said. "How's school?"
"Hell," she said. "Thank God the semester is almost over."
"Pacey, how's school?" Dawson joked.
"It hasn't changed much since we got out," he said. "Look man, you've got to call mom though." Joey hung up her phone, not anxious to hear Pacey play dad.
"I will," Dawson said. "So everything's going okay?"
"Yeah," Pacey said. "How about you? I saw some rumors on the internet that you were getting killed off."
"Well, those go around all the time," Dawson said. "It's not like they can't bring me back from the dead. This is a soap opera."
"True, true," Pacey said. "So how's Julie?"
"Good," Dawson said.
"Things sound serious," Pacey joked.
"They're not," Dawson said. "I got a call back for a movie."
"That's great," Pacey said. "Anything good?"
"It's not Spielburg, but it's a step up from daytime."
"So what about that other show?" Pacey asked.
"Nothing yet," Dawson said. "Do you know they told my agent they weren't sure that I could play idealistic?"
Pacey laughed. "You're kidding me."
"Nope," Dawson said. "I'm already being type casted. They don't even think that I could play me anymore."
Pacey laughed. "So have you talked to anyone besides me at all?" he asked, alluding to their former classmates.
"No," Dawson said. "And I wouldn't know how to find them if I tried."
"Okay," Pacey said, not wanting to push. "Well, my significant other has finished making my diner, so I gotta go."
"Geez," Dawson said. "When are you guys going to get married?"
"Not now Dawson," Pacey said, tired of that question. "I'll talk to you later. Don't forget to call mom."
"Okay," Dawson conceded. "Tell Jo bye for me."
"All right," Pacey said. "Bye."
"Pacey when are you going to stop playing dad to Dawson?" Joey asked.
"You know how those Hollywood types can be," he said. "I'm just trying to help him keep his feet on the ground."
"Okay," she said as she placed a plate on their small table.
"Is it just me?" Pacey asked as he sat at the table. "Or are these conversations starting to have a common link?"
"Ah," she said, "the inevitable marriage question. You know, I just don't get why they don't understand that we've made a decision, and have a plan. Why does everyone want to screw with it?"
"Why don't you want to do it?" Pacey asked.
"Pacey," she sighed, "don't tell me that they've finally gotten to you."
"What's so bad about it Joey? God, I mean, we've been together for seven years. Are you just waiting until something better comes along?"
"You know that's not true," she said, growing frustrated. "It's just that it's really important that I finish school first."
"What would be different if we were married?" he asked.
"If you're asking me that, you're supporting my viewpoint. What's the difference if we wait?"
"Fine," he said. 'And I thought that I was supposed to be the one with the intimacy issues,' he thought.
Joey and Pacey finished the dishes, and retreated to their small living room to watch television. Pacey turned on "Sportscenter."
"Pacey, do we have to . . ." Joey began to protest.
"I wanted to see how Nate did last night," Pacey said. As soon as he spoke, the television was flashing highlights of Nate. Pacey looked at Joey. "You know, despite all that I've done, I think that I'm still the least successful person from our class."
Joey stroked his hair. "You are very successful. Much better than me, Miss Professional Student," she joked.
"And now, a special look inside the life of Nathan Hughes," the "Sportscenter" anchor said. Pacey quieted Joey, as they both began to watch intently.
"Nathan Hughes wowed the NBA scouts for four years at Duke University, and now he's wowing fans in Washington his rookie season. Nate is averaging around twelve assists a game, and has an almost nonexistent figure for turnovers. But his life off the court is just as impressive."
The shot panned to a row house in Washington, D.C. where Nate and a blonde girl were sitting on the steps. "Nathan Hughes has a mission. When the season finally does end for him, he has a road trip of a different kind planned. He and his fiancee, 23-year-old Jennifer Lindley will be touring the country giving speeches about AIDS and HIV." Joey and Pacey's eyes widened, impressed at how good Jen looked.
"This is something that is very important to both of us," Nate said. "It's important to spread awareness about this disease, and as long as people are willing to listen to me, I'm going to talk."
"So why is Nathan on this crusade?" the reporter said. "The answer is simple. His fiancee is HIV positive."
The shot went to a picture of Jen. "Lindley, who is currently working at the National AIDS information service, has been fighting HIV for seven years, the entire time that she has know Nathan."
"I think that this is important to Nate, because it is important to me. He is very special to have dealt with everything that this disease has brought into both of our lives. Yet he has faced it with incredible courage and integrity. We both have interesting stories to tell, because I can tell people what it's like to live with HIV, and he can tell people what it's like to watch a person that you love fight HIV. We're hoping that this can spread awareness, and stop the spread of this disease."
"Their mission is what they both call important, and they are beginning to take their places in the front of the crusade to fight HIV and AIDS. The appearances are even taking priority over the couples pending nuptials."
"Don't worry," Nate said. "We are definitely getting married."
"Until then, though, the couple is putting its private life on display, hoping that they can prevent another person from acquiring HIV, or helping the newly positive deal with their situation," the reported finished.
"Thank you, George. Those two are definitely driven, and special," the anchor said. "If you would like to find out when Jennifer and Nathan will be speaking near you, you can contact the National AIDS information service at 1-800-1231-42."
Pacey quickly scribbled the number down on a pad. Joey looked at him. "We can finally find Jen and Nate," Pacey said.
"Yeah," Joey said. "I was beginning to think that it would be impossible."
The next day Pacey was sitting in his small office, working with a student. When the young man walked out, Pacey looked at the clock. He saw that it was almost lunchtime, and dug a piece of paper out of his pocket. He dialed the phone and waited.
"National AIDS Information Service," a voice answered.
"Hi, I was wondering if I could speak to Jennifer Lindley," Pacey said.
"Who is calling?" she asked.
"Pacey Witter," he said.
"One moment," she said.
"Pacey is that really you?" Jen asked seconds later.
"It's me all right," Pacey said.
"It has been so long," she said. "We tried and tried to find you."
"I know," Pacey said. "We tried to find you too. I think that we both moved at the same time."
"So where are you living?"
"Philadelphia," he said.
"You're kidding," she said. "I can't believe you're that close to us. Joey, she's there with you?"
"Yeah," Pacey said, "we're living in a small apartment."
"So you're in grad school, right?" she asked.
"No. I, um, I'm still going to go, but Joey, she's in law school. We couldn't both afford to go at the same time."
"Wow," Jen said. "So what are you doing?"
"I'm a counselor at a local high school."
"Leading the misguided, I see."
"Yeah," Pacey said. "We saw you and Nate last night on Sportscenter."
"Yeah," Jen said. "What did you think?"
"Well, you looked great," he said. "Are you still fairly healthy?"
"Yes," she said. "No sign of AIDS yet."
"That's great," Pacey said. "So you and Nate are planning on getting married?"
"Kind of," she said. "It's really just for appearances. We don't want to mess up his reputation, and it wouldn't exactly look good for him to be living with his HIV positive girlfriend. Fiancee makes it sound more formal."
"Well, I'm sure it'll happen anyway."
"Yeah," she said, smiling. "So what about you and Joey?"
"Jen, I can't have a phone conversation without someone asking me that."
"And . . ."
"Not right now," he said. "Joey, she doesn't even want to discuss it until she finishes law school next year."
"You don't want to wait?" she asked.
"Not really," Pacey said. "We've been together for seven years. We live together. I support her. I just don't understand why it's such a big deal."
"It's big to her," Jen said. "She's probably just scared. Just be happy that you're with her, and that you're both together. Tomorrow, one of you might be gone."
"You're right, Jen," he said. "So are you guys coming to Philly on your little tour?"
"Yeah," she said. "We're going to get together, right?"
"Definitely," he said.
"So, how's Dawson doing?"
"Good," Pacey said. "You don't see him on tv?"
"On tv? No," she said.
"He plays an intern on General Hospital."
"You're kidding me?" she said. "I thought he went out to LA to pursue the whole directing thing."
"He did," Pacey said. "But he needed money, and went to be an extra for some movie, and was discovered by an agent. They got him the job on GH."
"Wow," she said. "I'm going to have to watch. Does he ever ask about Natasha?"
"Natasha? Not recently. How's she doing? She's in Med. school, right?"
"No," Jen said. "She dropped out. She's had a really rough time."
"What happened?" Pacey asked.
Jen lowered her voice. "She was, um, going to school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. She got back together with Malcolm. You remember him?" she asked.
"Yeah," Pacey said.
"In October, Malcolm moved in with Nate and me. He got in some trouble, but he had a nice job, and was just staying with us until he could stand on his own two feet. In December, he was going from here to Baltimore to get Natasha, and bring her back for a long weekend. He was in a bad car accident, and he died."
"Oh my God," Pacey said, shocked.
"She couldn't go back after that. It has really affected her. She's working here as a consultant, but she's not happy."
"God, is there anything that we can for her?" he asked.
"Not really," she said. "Well, maybe one thing."
"What?" Pacey asked.
"Well, she's coming with Nate and me on our little tour as a biological consultant. When we come to Philly, could you maybe have Dawson visiting you too?"
"I can try," he said. "I don't know though. Do you think that he can help?"
"She talks about him sometimes. I don't think that she ever got over him."
"I'll do what I can." Pacey and Jen chatted for a few more moments exchanging phone numbers, and making plans for their visit.
Late June 2005
Joey and Pacey were standing in the crowded airport searching for a familiar face. They both took off sprinting toward a familiar head of ruffled blond hair.
They both embraced their lifelong friend Dawson, leaving the girl at his side in an awkward position. Dawson pulled away from Joey and Pacey. "This is Julie," he said.
"Hi," they both responded, shaking her hand. Julie was short, petite, and looked like she came with quite an attitude.
"I hope that you're nicer than your character," Pacey joked, smiling from ear to ear.
"It's just acting," she replied haughtily.
Dawson quickly whisked her away, giving Pacey an I'm-sorry look. "This is going to fun," Joey whispered to Pacey. Moments later Dawson returned, standing next to Pacey and Joey, with Julie at his side.
"You ready?" Dawson asked.
"We're waiting for something," Pacey said.
"What?" Dawson asked.
"It's a surprise," Joey said.
"You know that I hate surprises," he told her. She and Pacey quickly led them to a different gate.
They stood waiting once again. Dawson's face lit up when Jen entered his field of vision. "Jen," he yelled, running toward her. They embraced as Nate made his way over to Joey and Pacey. They all said their hellos. Finally Natasha wandered up slowly, looking lethargic.
"Well," Pacey began. "I feel so special, here with two actors and an NBA star."
The group was sitting around the table at a restaurant catching up on old times. Julie looked pissed off because she wasn't included in what was going on. Natasha was withdrawn.
"I'm going to get a drink," Dawson said. "Anybody else want something?"
They all said no. "Pacey, come help me," he said.
"Jo?" Pacey asked.
"No," she said. "I'm laying off the alcohol."
He nodded, as he stood up and followed Dawson to the bar. "What are you doing?" Dawson asked.
"What?" Pacey said.
"Is this some plan? Why didn't you tell me that Natasha was going to be here?"
"Look D," he said, "I wanted you to come."
"What's wrong with her?" Dawson asked. Pacey looked at him. "Well, I am concerned about her."
"Jen told me that she's had a rough time. In the winter Malcolm was killed in a car accident, and Jen said that she hasn't been the same."
"God," Dawson said, as he looked over at her.
"You still care for her?" Pacey asked.
"Yeah," Dawson said. "She just, she's always going to be someone that I consider a friend. I don't want to see her hurt."
"She dropped out of med. school."
"What?" Pacey shook his head. "God," Dawson said. "That was supposed to be the most important thing to her," he said, alluding to the reason that they broke up.
"Yeah," Pacey said. "Things change. And let me just put my plug in now. I like Natasha, and even as withdrawn as she is, she still has a better personality than Julie."
Before Dawson could respond, Pacey began making his way back to the table. Dawson grabbed a cocktail napkin, borrowed a pen, and scribbled something on it. He walked back to the table, and discretely handed the napkin to Natasha, who nodded to him after she read it.
Dawson looked out the glass wall that surrounded the swimming pool at the hotel. Natasha quietly approached him, and stood watching him for a moment, reminiscing about the idealism that he possessed when she knew him.
Her eyes burned through him, and he turned to look at her. He smiled at her. "Hey," he said. "I'm glad that you agreed to come."
"Sure," she said. "How are you?" she asked.
"Good," he said. "You?"
"Fine," she said. "You know, I tape the show every day, and watch it."
"That's nice," he said, as they both took seats at the deck chairs next to the pool. He looked at her face, and could tell she was having a tough time. Her beautiful hazel eyes were bloodshot, but the bags underneath them drew your attention away them. Her face was somber, and looked like she hadn't cracked a smile in months. Her gorgeous hair was knotted up in a bun at the nape of her neck. "Look, I really don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to come out with it."
"Okay," she said.
"I know that we didn't part on the best of terms, but I want you to know that I care for you, and if there's anything that I can do . . ."
"So you know," she said, looking away. He reluctantly shook his head. "I know that you're not exactly sorry about what happened to Malcolm. You don't have to be."
"I'm sorry about what happened to you," he said. "It pains me to see you like this."
"I'm fine," she said. "It's just going to take me some time to get over it."
"Can I help you?" he asked.
"It's all about me," she said. There was silence in the large room. "I know that you're disappointed in me, and I wouldn't be surprised if you were angry at me."
"I'm not," he said.
"You should be. I left you to further my education, and then I turn around, and I don't finish what I've started."
"We can't change things," Dawson said. "The truth is, I wouldn't be who I am, where I am if one thing about my life had been different."
She looked up at him. "Okay," she said, standing to leave.
"Are you going to leave me again?" he asked. She stopped walking, still not turning around. "A second time might be too much for me."
She spoke quietly, "Dawson, you don't want any part of me. I'm just a shell of a human being. I can't give you anything. All I ever do is cause people pain."
"You know," he said. "I haven't had a serious relationship since we broke up. I tried with Jen. I failed. I tried with Joey. I failed. I tried with you. Although things seemed different, I still failed. I didn't what to try anymore. When I became sort of famous, I didn't need =o."
"That doesn't make me feel better," she said.
"It should," he said. "After all this time, and all the things we went though, I didn't want to care about anyone else but you. You made it clear that you didn't want to see me again, so I didn't care about anyone else. No one could possibly be what you are to me. It kills me to have to watch you like this."
"I was selfish, and it came back to me tenfold. The truth is, I don't deserve to have anyone care about me."
"Selfish? Why? Because you wanted to stay independent, to do what you wanted to do, and not let some naive seventeen year old hold you back."
"Not you," she said. "Malcolm. The truth was that I used him to replace the void I felt when I didn't have you anymore. He died because of that."
Dawson grabbed her, and held her in his embrace. "You didn't do it," he said. "You need to stop punishing yourself, and let it go."
"I've missed you," she said through her tears.
"I've missed you too," he said.
Late June 2006
Jen stood in front of a full length mirror in the small room off to the side of the church. She fiddled with her hair, unsure of how to do it, finally letting her long, blonde hair fall over her shoulders. She smoothed out a wrinkle from her long, sleeveless, pale grey gown. "Well Jen, you clean up pretty nicely," she said aloud. She looked at her face, trying to visualize how she would do her hair. She twisted her wedding ring around her finger as she thought.
"What's wrong?" Natasha asked, entering the room. She was wearing the same dress, with her straight silky hair falling down her back.
"I can't figure out how to do my hair," Jen said.
"Why don't I braid it?" Natasha asked.
"Okay," Jen said, taking a seat in a chair in the center of the room. Natasha stood behind her, and began brushing her hair. She grabbed some purple ribbons from a table, and began weaving them into the braid she was creating.
"So how is the bride-to-be?" Natasha asked.
"I don't know," Jen said, "she's awfully quiet in there."
"Joey are you okay?" Natasha yelled.
"No!" Joey shouted from the adjacent bathroom.
"What's wrong?" Jen asked. Natasha was tying off the end of her braid, and she tucked the end underneath itself, and pinned it into place.
They both walked over to the door of the bathroom when Joey didn't answer. "Come on, Joey," Jen said. "What's wrong?"
"I look stupid," she yelled through the door.
"Come on Joey," Natasha said. "You looked nice when you tried it on the other day."
"I'm having second thoughts," Joey said.
"Come out, and let us be the judges of that," Jen said.
Joey groaned. "Okay," she said reluctantly. She opened the door slowly revealing herself. She stood in the doorway with her face scrunched up. Her dress was snow white, with a top similar to the dresses that Jen and Natasha were wearing. It had a high neckline, and was sleeveless. In the front, her gown was straight, but the back had a bit more fabric, and flailed out, leaving about twelve inches of fabric that trailed her, dragging on the floor as she walked. Her hair was knotted up in a French roll, with curls popping out of the top, and a few small pieces of hair fell framing around her face.
Jen and Natasha smiled genuinely, as they were in awe of how beautiful she actually looked. "God," Joey said. "I didn't think that it would be so bad that it would leave you speechless." She threw her hands in the air out of frustration. Hitting Natasha in the face with the veil she was holding in her right hand.
"Joey, you look beautiful," Jen said.
"Please," Joey said. "I look like Midge playing dress-up with Barbie's wardrobe."
"No," Natasha said. "You look gorgeous. Pacey's going to have to beat the other men out there away with a stick."
"Don't patronize me," Joey said. "This day is going to be captured for eternity. My grandchildren are going to laugh at me when they see these pictures."
"Shut up, Joey," Natasha said. "Come here." She grabbed Joey by her hand, and led her to the mirror. "Now look at yourself. You look like you're a princess straight out a fairy tale."
Joey smiled meekly. Her mind took her instantly back to a memory. She and Pacey were stuck in an elevator, and he had told her this story about a man who loved a woman so much that he let her go so that she could be a princess. "And all along, the town loser was the prince Charming in disguise," she said, her smile growing.
"What?" Jen asked.
"Oh, nothing," Joey said.
Jen stood next to Joey, checking out her hair in the mirror, happy with the job Natasha had done. Seconds later, Mrs. Leery entered the room. "Jen, your husband's a little upset. I think you better go see him."
"What's wrong?" Jen asked.
"Well, there's a small problem with his tuxedo. It's a little too long," Gail said.
"Okay. Come on Natasha. They're teaching you how to sew up humans, I'm sure you can do some last minute alterations on a tux," Jen said, leading Natasha out of the room by her arm.
Gail beamed with pride as she looked at Joey. "You look beautiful," she said. "Like a princess."
"Thanks, Mrs. Leery," Joey said, blushing.
"Well," Gail began. "I know that neither you nor Pacey is really my child, but . . ." she said, trying to hold back her tears, "I feel like I'm watching my son and my daughter get married today."
"That sounds a little incestuous Mrs. Leery," Joey laughed.
Gail smiled at Joey. "You know, you and Pacey are perfect for each other. You both have a swift tongue."
"You know, Mrs. Leery," Joey said. "You are a mom to Pacey. He even calls you that when you're not around. You're the one who stood by him, and you're the one that we call on Sunday. You are his mom. As for me . . . well, you were a mom to me when I didn't have one any more."
"Thank you," Gail said, tears streaming down her face. "You know, I'm sure that your Mother is looking down and smiling upon you today."
"Me too," Joey said. She began to smile.
Mrs. Leery stood back from her. "You know you really make a beautiful bride. It's a shame that you're only going to do this once. It'd better only be once."
"Yep," Joey said. "This is it."
"I'd better go," Gail said. "It's almost time."
"Okay," Joey said, giving her a hug. Joey sat in the silence for a moment. She knew that it was almost time for the festivities to begin. She couldn't believe that this time tomorrow she would be married.
Jen and Natasha returned, interrupting her thoughts. "Everything seems to be under control," Natasha said. "Those guys seemed to clean up pretty nicely."
"Well, it's now or never," Jen said.
"Now," Joey said. "Let's go."
Pacey and Dawson were huddled together in the sacristy of the church. Both of them were dressed the same, with a black tuxedo, and a grey and black, paisley vest that covered almost all of their fronts that their coats didn't. "God, D," Pacey said, holding out his hand. "Look, I'm shaking."
"You're just excited," Dawson said. "You're going to be fine."
"I guess so," Pacey said. "I guess that I'm not like good ol' Nate here, who threw up four times before his wedding."
"Still think you're funny, don't you?" Nate said.
The minister approached them. "Let's take our places gentlemen," he said.
Pacey took a deep breath, and followed Nate and Dawson into the church. Pacey took his place on the right side of the altar, with Dawson next to him, and Nate next to Dawson.
Music began to play, and the doors opened. Natasha walked through first, carrying her bouquet of purple roses and daisies. She flashed a gorgeous smile as she passed Dawson. It was a silent communication, to let him know that they were next.
Jen followed, and although she was anything but a carbon copy of Natasha, she gave the same dress and flowers their own look as she wore them. She stood at the head of the church. Next, Alex raced down the aisle, dropping the pillow that contained the rings. A small wave of laughter echoed through the church, and Alex turned red. Pacey gave him a reassuring look as he took his seat next to Bessie and Bodie.
Now everyone stood, as Joey entered the church. She smiled as she slowly walked, praying that she wouldn't trip. Pacey marveled in her beauty. He couldn't believe that he was finally getting married, much less that he was marrying someone so beautiful. Finally, Joey reached the front of the church. Pacey took her hand, and instantly all the nervous feelings that they each had possessed disappeared.
Joey and Pacey were holding a knife next to their three layer wedding cake that was white with candied purple roses and daisies. They stood still, posing for a picture. "I wish that they'd get on with this," Joey muddled out of the side of her mouth. "This is costing the Leerys a fortune."
Finally, the flashes stopped, and Pacey and Joey cut the cake. Pacey placed a bite of cake into Joey's mouth very sweetly. However, he wasn't so lucky. When Joey was finished with him, his face was covered in white icing.
About an hour passed, and Dawson approached Joey. "I must get a dance with the bride," he said. She nodded in agreement, as they made their way to the middle of the floor. Dawson smiled at Joey. "You know, it seems like just yesterday that you were rowing to my house, and climbing up the ladder, through my window. It seems like just yesterday that you were disgusted at the prospect of kissing Pacey."
Joey laughed. "You see. I told you that we couldn't postpone growing up."
"No," he said. "But I can't say that we haven't done a good job. I'm so happy for you."
"I'm happy too," she said. "You know, thank you for always being my friend. My life wouldn't have been the same if you hadn't been in it."
"Mine either," he said. "Of course, you are now Mrs. Pacey Witter."
Joey smiled. "Yeah," she said. "And there's just one more wedding left for us to have."
"Okay," Dawson said. "I guess I deserve that, after all the time that I bugged you both. I just want you to know that I'm really happy for you, and I'm very proud to call you and Pacey both my friends."
"Thanks," she said. "Just as long as you promise you won't forget us both when you start starring in the multimillion dollar Speilburg films."
"Are you kidding?" he said. "I'm going to bring the tape straight to you for my very first critique."
Joey was in a small room, changing out of her wedding dress. She put on a light blue pantsuit to travel to the small bed and breakfast where she and Pacey were spending their honeymoon. There was a knock at the door. It was followed by the sound of a familiar voice. "Mrs. Witter, aren't you ready yet?"
She opened the door to see her new husband. "You know, it's funny," he said. "We just get married, and this is our first second alone."
She smiled. "Nobody told me that we had to be alone together."
He grabbed her by the waist, and said, "you're going to forget that there are any other people in this whole entire world soon." He pulled her closer for a kiss. 'The fire's still there,' Joey thought to herself.
He pulled his lips from her's, and rested his forehead against her's. "I love you," he said.
"I love you too," she said.
"You know, my world seems complete now. My heart seems whole, and I am drunk with happiness."
"Me too," she said. "I think that maybe we should've done this sooner," she said, cracking a smile.
Before saying the final goodbyes, Joey walked through the crowded hall. She and Pacey walked up to the table where Jen, Nate, Natasha, and Dawson were seated.
"We're going to see you guys in a couple days, right?" Dawson asked.
"That's right," Pacey said. "I think in some strange, cosmic way the six of us are bonded for life."
"Not strange and cosmic," Jen said. "Incredible and euphoric."
They all smiled. Joey slid over next to Natasha. "Stand up," Joey told her. Natasha did what she was told, and stood about three feet away from Joey. Joey quickly tossed her bouquet to Natasha, who instinctively caught it. Joey smiled. She looked Dawson directly in the eye. "I didn't want to take any chances. You're next."
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