Helping Hands by: Laura

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Joey angrily slaps her alarm clock, the blaring music jolting her from a wonderful dream. She doesn't remember what she was dreaming about, all she knows it that she was happy and the damn alarm clock ruined it. Sighing deeply,Joey throws off her heavy blankets and grumpily drags herself from bed.

She thumps to the kitchen, cursing her life.

"Why did I sign up for this volunteer thing again, Bessie? Please remind me why, so the realization that I'm waking up at 7 o'clock on a Saturday doesn't kill me," Joey groans to her older sister, who looks happy to be awake.

"Because it looks wonderful on a college resume, and that's what you need," Bessie smiles. Joey rolls her eyes. "Come on, Jo, the morning's beautiful! You have a whole day ahead of you. Ya might as well enjoy it." Joey pours herself a cup of orange juice and lets the refrigerator fall shut behind her as she plods back to her bedroom, still half-asleep.

"Enjoy what? I'm going to be spending the whole day helping people with changing sheets and bedpans and...ugggghhh...let me die." Bessie laughs as Joey disappears behind her bedroom door.


Andie screeches to a stop in front of Capeside hospital, sending Pacey lurching forward. He grabs the dashboard to stop himself from bouncing into the windshield. He hastily throws off his seatbelt and glares at Andie. Andie returns an innocent look.

"Who the hell taught you how to drive? Jesus! And people say *I'm* a bad driver!" Pacey practically yells, opening up his car door. Andie shrugs.

"Well, you are," Andie replies.

"Me? I am *nothing* compared to you! You're as bad as Cruella DeVil!" Pacey exclaims, getting out of the car. Andie climbs out and looks at him over the roof of the car, offended.

"Excuse me? Are you insulting me? You don't like the way I drive, next time you can *walk* to the hospital at seven o'clock in the morning," Andie replies, angered.

"Hey, don't get pissy with me, this whole thing was your stupid idea. I don't even want to be here- I'd rather be at home sleeping."

"Did I ever tell you how *lovely* you are to be with in the morning?" Andie asks, annoyed.

"I never said I was an early bird," he ripostes, with a derisive grin, slamming the car door. Andie rolls her eyes, and gets back into her Saab, sick of yelling at him.

"Okay, Pacey, I will pick you up at 4 o'clock. And you better be in a better mood." Pacey salutes her as she guns the engine.

"Yes, Drill Sergeant McPhee," he grunts, and turns to the hospital. And sees Joey walking up the steps. "Oh no..." Andie leans over to the passenger side window and eyes him, hearing his moan.

"What's wrong *now*?" she inquires. Pacey just motions to Joey. "Well, good, then at least you'll have a friend to hang with today. See ya, Pace." Andie smiles, ignoring the disgruntled look on her boyfriend's face. At least Joey would be there to keep him in line. She veers around the curve of the parking lot entrance and speeds off, screeching her tires. Pacey runs his hands through his hair.

"One day she's gonna kill somebody or kill herself, I swear it," he murmurs, and unhappily turns and heads into the hospital, which looms over him like a dark, forbidding prison. How was he going to get through a whole entire day with Josephine, The Ice Queen?


Dawson sighs and flops onto his bed, bored out of his mind. He hadn't realized exactly how much time he spent hanging with Joey until their relationship was over. Now there was *nothing* left to do except sit around and do absolutely.....well, *nothing*. His trip to the movies with Jen had been a nice escape for awhile, but hardly a solution to his overwhelming loneliness.

"I have to get over this and move on," Dawson tells himself, speaking out loud. "I need to go out."

"Well, then I guess I came at a good time then, didn't I?" Dawson jumps, surprised. He turns his face toward the door, then sits up. Jen is standing in his doorway, smiling. Dawson's heart skips a beat, like it did when he saw her for the first time last summer. She looks stunning, wearing a light blue casual dress.

"Hey, Jen. What's up?" he asks her, smiling back at her. She walks over to him and sits on the bed.

"I was thinking we could try, you know, going out and doing something again, tonight. How about it?" Jen asks, her voice slightly unsure but full of anticipation and excitement. Dawson doesn't even think about her offer for more than a second before replying.

"Sure, that sounds great. What do you wanna do?" Jen smiles wide at his response.

"I was thinking we could catch another movie, or something," she shrugs. "I mean, I know we just saw one the other day, but since yesterday was Friday, that movie, Shakespeare in Love premiered, and-"

"Say no more, I'm there," Dawson cuts in. "It's supposed to be an excellent movie." He nudges Jen lightly. "Besides, you think I'd miss a chance to get out of this house *and* be in the company of the beautiful Jen Lindley? I think not." Jen giggles.

"Dawson Leery, are you flirting with me?"

"Depends, is flirting with you good or bad?" he asks, somewhat jokingly.

"It's good. Definitely good."

"Hey! I can do something right after all." They both laugh lightheartedly. Jen elbows Dawson.

"You know what? This feels good. Hanging out with you again. I've really missed it," Jen tells him, sincerely. Dawson looks at her thoughtfully.

"I've missed it too."


Joey insecurely enters the waiting room of the hospital, awkwardly eyeing the other teenagers who are sitting around the room. They're all wearing volunteer T-shirts, and seem friendly toward one another. A couple kids look up when Joey walks in, but no one really acknowledges her presence.

"Great, they all already know each other. Am I the only new volunteer here?" Joey surveys the room. After realizing that she *was* the only one there without a friend, she takes a seat by the door, feeling alone. Two younger girls are sitting next to her, deep in conversation over some other girl's new haircut. Joey tries to block out their meaningless conversation.

Suddenly, one of the girls looks over to the door, and then turns to her friend with a giggle.

"Total hottie, 12:00," the girl whispers. Joey whirls her head around, with interest, ready with a flirtatious smile plastered on her face. As much as she didn't want to admit it, her feminine side did take over her body once in a while.

Her smile immediately crashes to the floor when she realizes the "total hottie" in the doorway was none other than Pacey Witter. She looks at the two girls, who are staring at Pacey, drool practically handing out of their mouths.

"Ewww...oh, ewww, how disgusting," Joey groans inwardly, not understanding how anyone could think Pacey was hot. Or even cute, for that matter. Jack was cute. Dawson was cute. Pacey? He was...obnoxious, he was immature...he was... Joey looks down at the ground for a second, hoping Pacey wouldn't notice her sitting there.

When she looks up, Pacey is standing over her, smiling mischievously. Joey's eyes met his deep green ones for a millisecond, and her heart jolts. "Damn. He *is* hot." Her total confusion over her own thoughts must have shown all over her face ; Pacey looks amused.

"What, Joey, not happy to see me?" He smirks. Joey quickly regains her ground, her senses returning. The guy standing in front of her was once again Pacey Witter, annoying childhood enemy who won't go away.

"Oh, of course, Pacey. I'm always overjoyed to spend my days talking to pond scum like you," she smirks back. Pacey sits down next to her.

"The feeling's mutual," he mutters. Joey gets up and moves a seat away from him, picking up a magazine and burying her face in it, although it was in no way interesting. Pacey laughs and looks at the cover. He taps her shoulder. "Since when have you been interested in Parenting magazine, Josephine? Something you haven't been telling us?" Joey rolls her eyes and tosses the magazine back onto the table.

"Bite me, Pacey."

"Don't give me any ideas, Potter," Pacey replies quickly, raising one eyebrow suggestively. She rolls her eyes again in response. She glances at Pacey's two admirers, who are looking at her in envy. Pacey follows her gaze and looks at the two girls with a cocky smile. "Hey there. I'm Pacey. And you are...?"

"Megan and Tiffany." One girl pipes up. Joey punches Pacey in the arm. He looks at her.

"Pacey, get a life. They're like, thirteen." He shrugs and turns back to the two callow teens, knowing he has a captive audience.


Andie angrily storms up to Jack, who is waiting patiently for her outside the movie theater. He looks at his peeved sibling with concern.

"What is it now?"

"Pacey," Andie sighs.

"What, did you two have a fight?"

"Not really...I mean..." she stops. Jack is silent, waiting for her to continue. "Okay, at first I thought swapping insults with each other was just our demented way of flirting, a love-hate relationship."

"Which is what it is, isn't it?"

"Well, I'm beginning to doubt it. I'm so sick of his catty remarks and hurtful comebacks. It's like, every day they get...more and more *real*."

"So what are you saying? You want to break up with Pacey?" Jack looks at Andie, confused. She immediately shakes her head.

"No. No! I don't want to...break up with him...I mean, he's funny, and smart, and caring...*most* of the time, not to mention a definite good-looking factor woven in there..."

"So....your problem would be...?" Andie looks fed up.

"Nothing, nevermind! I'm just, *frustrated*. He was being a real jerk when I dropped him off for his volunteer thing. I guess it just really pushed my buttons." She takes a deep breath and looks at her brother, looking to change the subject. "What are we seeing?"

"It's up to you. You've Got Mail is up."

"Really? That looked cute."

"I wouldn't recommend it. It's cyber Sleepless in Seattle," came a voice from behind them. Both Andie and Jack turn around and Dawson and Jen are looking at them, smiling. Jen laughs.

"Don't listen to him, he's against all classic movie pairings. Lemmon and Mathau, Hanks and Ryan," Jen starts.

"Farley and Spade," Jack cuts in. Dawson snorts.

"That's debatable." Jack's smile fades, feeling uncomfortable in Dawson's presence.

"What about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?" Andie suggests. Jen, Dawson and Jack simultaneously look at her and burst out laughing. "What?" Andie asks, defensively.

"Nothing," Jack says, trying to stop his own laughter. Andie looks hurt. Jack looks at Jen and Dawson, trying to be amiable. "You two here together?"

"Yes, we are," Dawson replies. He'd show Jack who was the real man here. He didn't need Joey to live. Jack could have her if he wanted her. "We're going to see Shakespeare in Love." Andie smiles.

"Oo, Jack! Let's go see that. Ben Affleck is in it."

"So's Gwyneth Paltrow," Jack replies, winking at Dawson, trying to convey some sort of fellowship, assuming Dawson found Gwnyeth as attractive as he did. Dawson doesn't acknowledge him.

"Ralph Fiennes' little brother Joseph is in that, isn't he?" Jen inquires.

"Ralph who?" Jack asks quizzically. Dawson looks at him, rolling his eyes. Jen throws him a look, and he quickly puts on his friendly facade again.

"Bigger man, Dawson, bigger man," he repeats over and over and over again in the back of his mind. "He was in The English Patient." Jack laughs.

"Oh, Joey hates that movie! She uses it to put Alex to sleep," Jack replies, and immediately realizes he shouldn't have. Dawson grits his teeth.

"Yeah, I sort of already know that," Dawson bites back. "I've only been her best friend since-" Jen, knowing Dawson is only human, quickly intervenes.

"Well, let's go get in line. Come on, Dawson." She pulls Dawson toward the growing line leading to the ticket window. Jack looks at Andie, who shrugs.

"So, are we going to go see it or not?" Andie asks, choosing to ignore the tension that still hung in the air as Dawson leaves. Jack shakes his head no.

"You think I'm going to go somewhere that he's going? Dawson Leery wants me dead, Andie," Jack exclaims. "Let's just go see You've Got Mail, okay?" Andie looks at her twin brother pleadingly.

"But Jack..." she whines, giving him puppy-dog eyes. "I *really* want to see it. Besides, Capeside's a small town. You're going to have to learn to get along with Dawson Leery one way or another." She takes his hand and drags him over to line.

"This town isn't big enough for the both of us," Jack mumbles. Andie cuts in line, next to Dawson and Jen. The pair looks at them, surprised. The people in line behind them utter cries of anger at the Andie and Jack's intrusion, but Andie just smiles. "Mind if we join you?"

"Not at all," Jen replies. The man just behind Jack taps him on the shoulder, irked.

"Excuse me, but you two have to go to the *end* of the line? This is not a free-for-all." Andie turns to him.

"I'm sorry, but they were saving our place for us. We were like, here. Right?" She winks at Jen. Jen nods to the line behind them, and eventually the annoyed patrons settle. Andie turns to Jen as Dawson glares at Jack. "Thanks. Jack and I decided we were going to see Shakespeare too."

"*You* decided," Jack grumbles, trying to avoid Dawson's steely gaze. He shoves his hands in his pockets and finds and interesting spot on the ground to focus on.

"Sir, how many?" the ticket taker's voice interrupts the wishes of death that Dawson was subliminally trying to send Jack. He turns to the window, a bit startled.

"What? Oh, sorry. 2 please." He pays for his and Jen's, much to Jen's surprise and delight. She smiles at him as he hands her the ticket and puts the change in his wallet.

"Dawson, you didn't have to do that!" Not that she minded. Maybe Dawson wasn't *totally* focused on Joey after all. Maybe she had a chance.


Joey sits down in the cafeteria, exhausted and in a horrible mood. Pacey had been tormenting her all day. Why her? What had she done to deserve this?

"The one time I try to volunteer and do something "selfless", God punishes me. I really must be going to hell no matter what," Joey groans, staring at the unappetizing meal sitting on the plastic tray before her. Pacey plops his own tray down to hers, and sits down with a grunt.

"You know, they say the first sign of insanity is talking to yourself, Jo." She throws him a look.

"Would you go back to the primitive slime that you oozed out of? Please?" Joey explodes, and gets up, storming off to a different table. He was *really* getting on her nerves today. He'd been on her case about the Dawson and Jack situation for five hours straight, not to mention the endless put-downs, and his nice way of bringing up the most embarrassing details of her life in front of the entire volunteer group at awkward moments. She was ready to kill him.

Stopping a few tables away, she sits down in a huff. Sighing deeply, she runs her hands through her hair and looks around to see who she happened to have joined for lunch. Eager eyes of the younger girls who were volunteering looked at her expectantly.

"Oh. Hi. Mind if I sit with you?" She asks, trying to force a smile. They smile back, glancing over at Pacey.

"Why didn't you want to sit with *him*?" Joey looks at them, still disbelieving that anyone found Pacey *so* incredibly attractive. So what if he was *remotely* good-looking? His personality was horrid. Nevertheless, the number of his fans had grown from that morning.

"Pacey? *Why* would *anyone* want to sit with *him*?"

"Because he's *fine*!" one girl shrieks. Joey raises her eyebrows. Time to teach these girls a lesson.

"What's your name?" Joey asks her.


"Julie, let me tell you something about Pacey Witter..." Joey begins...


Pacey watches as Joey engages in deep conversation with the girls at her table. He can't help wondering what they are talking about; they keep glancing in his direction and snickering. Pacey's so wrapped up in the girls that he doesn't notice he's been joined by a couple of other guys from the volunteer program.

"So, you got the hots for her too?" Pacey jumps, turning in his chair. Tim, a tall, blonde, good-looking guy who Pacey had talked to earlier that day, is looking over at Joey, quite interested. Pacey eyes his new friend, confused.

"Hots for who?"

"That Joey girl. Damn, would I like to take her home for a night," Tim sighs. "Did I just say that out loud?" he laughs.

"You're talking about...*that* Joey, right?" Tim looks at Pacey, with an expression that clearly replies "who else?" Pacey shakes his head sadly. "Man, you've *got* to be kidding me. Joey Potter? You're *insane*."

"What's wrong with her?" pipes up Ryan, a younger boy who had been tagging along with the older two all day long. Pacey chuckles.

"I wouldn't even know *where* to begin," Pacey says, leaning back in his chair and glancing over at Joey.

"Well, pick somewhere to start. Anything, off the top of your head," Tim suggests. "I dare you to find one thing wrong with that perfect female specimen over there."

"Perfect? Hardly. Listen, Joey Potter may be a bit on the gorgeous side, but she has the personality of a witch. She's stubborn, she's self-righteous, she's rude, not to mention self-centered, bitter, sarcastic, and a huge know-it-all. And that's a few of her *main* qualities. Would you like to hear more?"

"So, you'd never be interested in her? Ever? Even if she showed up on your doorstep in sexy lingerie demanding that-"

"Let's not go there," Pacey cuts in, gesturing to Ryan. Tim nods.

"Oh. Right."

"Come on, guys, it's not like I've never heard stuff like this before," Ryan complains. Tim continues talking.

"Anyway, I think you're nuts. Joey is a total babe. I don't know how you don't see it." Pacey laughs again as Tim throws another gaze at Joey.

"Listen, I've known Joey long enough to know how she *really* is." It's Tim's turn to shake his head.

"You should take a step back, Witter. I don't think you give that girl enough credit. In fact, I might even say that thou doth protesteth too much, dear sir." Pacey is confused.


"I'm saying that you hate her much too vehemently. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were hiding your true feelings," Tim teases. Pacey throws up his hands defensively.

"Hey, buddy, I've *got* a girlfriend. I ain't carryin' no torch for Josephine Potter." He looks over to Joey's table, his eyes traveling up her long legs and following all the way up her body to her beautiful face. Whether Pacey liked it or not, the flame on that torch had just been ignited.


"That was *so* romantic," Andie sighs, stepping out of the theater and wincing as the bright sunlight slammed against her eyes. Dawson follows her out, smiling.

"It could've been much more...*dramatically* romantic, I think," Dawson comments. "It was a missed opportunity."Andie throws Dawson a skeptical look.

"How could it be any *less* romantic? It was heart-melting. Yet tastefully romantic - not like that Romeo and Juliet crappy re-make," Andie remarks. Dawson lets out a guffaw.

"Shakespeare? Tasteful? Come on, in Hamlet, he basically kills off the entire cast of characters. I mean, one person dies, sad. Two people? Depressing. Three? Tragic. More than that? It goes past tragic and into the category of *overboard*," Dawson quips back. Jack and Jen walk behind the arguing pair, exchanging looks as Dawson and Andie continue their strange banter.

"You're insane. Shakespeare's tragedies were *masterpieces*. And I have the whole entire English-speaking society behind me-"

"Except me," Dawson adds.

"Not to mention all the other people in this world who revere Shakespeare as a *god*-"

"Like who?" Dawson asks, enjoying the somewhat intelligent argument he was having with Andie McPhee. It'd been such a long time since he and Joey had analyzed something to death or discussed the life out of a particular subject ; it felt good to argue again.

"So, Dawson, you want to go to the Ice House and get something to eat?" Jen interrupts, definitely feeling left out. She moves between Andie and Dawson slightly, trying to gain his attention. Dawson looks at her for a moment, getting his mind back to normal conversation.

"The Ice House?" He ponders his options. "Well, sure. Andie? You want to come?" Dawson asks her. Andie glances at Jack, and Dawson notices. Grudgingly, he continues. "Jack? How about you?"

"We'll go," Andie replies, speaking for Jack too. Jack opens his mouth in protest, but Jen doesn't give him the chance.

"Great, let's go then," Jen urges them on, taking Dawson's hand and pulling him down the sidewalk playfully. Andie and Jack follow shortly behind.


Joey walks back into the waiting room, glancing at her watch. Time for the mid-day meeting of all the volunteers. She grabs a spot next to the window and gazes outside. The sky was beginning to cloud up and the sidewalk outside was beginning to be spotted with drops of rain. Joey smiles. Rain was the best kind of weather ; it gave everyone permission to feel down without having to explain why.

Pacey enters the room noisily, laughing it up loudly with Tim ; Ryan was plodding along silently behind them, looking forlorn. Immediately seeing Joey sitting silently by the window, Pacey stops in his tracks, not quite sure what to do with himself. He hadn't been able to get her off his mind all afternoon, ever since Tim put crazy thoughts into his head. He glares at his blonde friend, wanting to punch him. Tim doesn't even notice. He eagerly takes a seat next to Joey, displaying a charming smile. She glances at him with half-hearted interest.

"Hey...Joey, right?" Tim inquires, adding a debonair edge to his voice. Pacey nudges Ryan and rolls his eyes. The younger boy laughs.

"Yeah, I'm Joey," she replies shortly.

"I'm Tim McCullin." Joey turns back to the window. It's raining harder.

"How wonderful for you," she grumbles snidely. Tim tries again.

"How long have you been volunteering here?"

"It's my first day." Joey is still unamused.

"Oh, really? This is my third month," Tim tells Joey, who obviously could care less. Persistent, Tim continues. "How do you like it so far?" Joey sighs.

"Well, except for this one guy who seems to be trying to pick me up even though I *have* a boyfriend, it's gone pretty well," Joey smirks. Tim looks hurt.

"Sorry, I was just trying to be nice," Tim mutters. He gets up and walks back to Pacey, who is leaning against the wall across the room, watching the scene with detached interest.

"You never told me she had a boyfriend," Tim angrily remarks. Pacey shrugs.

"There's a guy she's been sort-of seeing, yeah. Didn't think it was important," Pacey retorts. Tim lets out a sigh of exasperation.

"Thanks, Pace."

"Anytime, man. It's really no problem at all." Tim glares at Pacey once more, and plops down on a chair. He crosses his arms, mad. Gary, the head of the program enters the waiting room, beaming. All the volunteers look up expectantly.

"You guys are doing great! I've heard nothing but complimentary feedback so far. Anyone tired yet?" he asks happily. Everyone in the room raises their hand with an exhausted groan. "Good! Time to assign jobs for the rest of the afternoon. First, we need someone to mop the cafeteria about, Greg?" He points to a short guy sitting in the corner, then instructs two other people to join him in the task.

"Next...someone needs to change linens in the maternity wing. I think..." Gary surveys the list of volunteers he's holding on his clipboard, and stops halfway down the sheet. "Joey Potter...?" Joey raises her hand. Gary spots her. "Good, Joey, you can be in charge of that." Pacey snickers as Joey slowly gets up from her chair, not looking enthused. Gary sees Pacey's sneering and points to him.

"You." Pacey stops, alarmed.


"Yeah. You can join her," Gary gestures for Pacey to get up. Joey looks at Pacey standing, and lets out a groan. Pacey walks over to her, hating Gary more with every passing second.

"Okay, Witter, play it cool," Pacey tells himself. "It's just Joey. You hate Joey..." Out loud, he grunts, "This is hell."


Laughter echoes through the front eating area of the Ice House. The place is empty, except Dawson, Jack, Joey and Jen occupying a table in the far corner. Bessie's behind the counter, wiping the linoleum face countertop with a rag.

"You can't be serious, Dawson!"

"I'm perfectly serious. If I was forced to read that poem one more time, I would've gone insane," Dawson exclaims.

"That's the most well-written poetry in the world. I can't believe you don't see its value," Andie shakes her head in mock despair.

"Well, you don't see the value of E.T., so I guess we're both equally horrified," Dawson laughs. "Which I still don't understand. How can anyone *not* like E.T.?"

"When she was little, it used to scare her," Jack interjects. Andie looks appalled.

"It did not!"

"Did so, Andie," Jack replies, in a joking tone. Bessie walks up to their table with a friendly smile and a notepad.

"Hey, Dawson. Hey, Jack. You guys all set to order yet?"

"Yeah, Bess, I think we are. I'm just gonna have a cheeseburger, medium-well." Bessie writes it down and looks at Andie.

"I...I think I'll just have the same thing."

"Okay...Jack? How about you?"

"Well, Bessie, I think I'm going to make it hard for you. I'm going to have a chicken salad sandwich and a vanilla milkshake," Jack smiles at his boss.

"Jack, you're horrible. You know that milkshake machine is practically impossible to use. I should make you go make it yourself." Bessie shakes her head, and writes down his order too. "Jen?"

"Um...I'm just gonna have a small order of fries," Jen says, subdued. She looks down at her hands sadly. Dawson had been talking to Andie non-stop ever since they left the movie theater. She glances at Jack, but he doesn't seem to be having a problem with it.

"Okay..." Bessie finishes scrawling the phrase small fry on the paper, and looks up with another friendly grin. "It'll all be ready in a few minutes. It was nice seeing you all, especially you, Dawson." Bessie pats his shoulder and heads back to the kitchen. Dawson had been such a huge part of her little sister's life, it was a little strange not seeing the guy every day.

Dawson turns back to Andie, intent on getting her to see his point of view on E.T..

"The movie is about unlikely friendship. It's about how one person can touch the life of another ; make an impact. The themes are timeless. The movie is impeccable. I don't see how anyone as intelligent as you can condemn one of Spielberg's greatest works."

"Forget it, Dawson, you're not going to convince me. I like what I like, and I just *didn't* like that film," Andie sticks to her opinion.

"I love the part where Elliot thinks E.T. is dead, but he wakes up, and is like, "E.T. phone home, E.T. phone home"-I thought it was just adora-" Jen's attempt to jump into the conversation goes unnoticed.

"You're insane, Andie. You're nuts. How can any person *not* like that movie? I don't understand."

"Well, I think you're crazy too, so I guess we're even."


Joey opens the door the large linen closet and steps inside, thoroughly annoyed. Pacey follows her in, letting the door close behind them.

"I can't believe I let Andie talk me into this," Pacey says, grabbing a stack of sheets from the shelf.

"Oh, so that's why you're here. I knew you weren't here of your own accord. It didn't make sense. Pacey? Doing something good? Doesn't add up," Joey remarks, taking another stack of sheets down.

"Shut up, Joey."

"I find it funny that Pacey Witter, self-proclaimed "man" would be pushed over so easily by a little woman," Joey says with a sarcastic grin.

"Don't paint me as a male chauvanist pig, Jo."

"Why not? Isn't that what you are?" Pacey goes to the door, holding the sheets under his left arm. Twisting the doorknob, he realizes that the door isn't opening. He pulls a little harder. Nothing happens. Setting the sheets back on the shelf for a moment, Pacey jiggles the doorknob again. The door is stuck.

"Uh, Jo?"

"*What*?" Joey asks. "Would you open the stupid door already?

I want to get this stuff done so I can go home."

"Um...well...that's sort of the problem." Joey peers around the tall stack of sheets that was covering her face, and looks at Pacey quizzically. Her mouth drops.

"You're not serious," she throws the sheets back to their spot on the shelf and rushes to the door, pulling on the handle. ", you idiot!"

"Me? What did I do?" he exclaims.

"You got us *locked* in here! I don't believe this!"

"What, so it's *my* fault the door jammed? How is it my fault?"

"It just is!" Pacey jumps out of Joey's way as she goes to push him, her annoyance with him at its breaking point. Joey grabs the doorknob and gives it a hard twist, determined to wrench the door open. Instead, the knob falls off into her hand, sending her flying backward, right into Pacey's arms. Pacey laughs, taking the metal handle from her.

"*Now* whose fault is it, dear Josephine?" Joey jumps away from him with a evil stare. Still laughing, he tosses the knob up and down in the air teasingly.

"Still your fault." Joey declares, and turns away in a huff.

"Yeah, that's what I like, a woman who can admit when she's wrong," Pacey says to the back of her head. She pretends not to pay attention. He circles her, taking the broken door knob out of her hands again. "Now, correct me if I'm way off base here, but the door jammed. Instead of pounding on the door to let anyone who happened to be passing by know that we were trapped in here, as *I* would have cleverly conceded to do, a *certain someone* felt the need to flip out and pull furiously on the door knob, to such a point that it literally *fell* off." Joey rolls her eyes. "Now, we are stuck in here indefinitely. They're gonna have to call someone in to fix the door now, you realize this?"

"Well maybe the door knob on the other side still works, ever think of that, Witter?" Pacey shrugs.

"Only one way to find out." They both begin pounding the door, yelling for help.


"So, it was fun," Andie says, grinning at Dawson as she unlocks her car door. Jen looks as if she wants to shoot Andie. After the un-entertaining meal at the Ice House, where Dawson and Andie monopolized the entire discussion, they had decided to walk around Capeside for while. After two hours of pure pointless wandering, the path led back to the movie theater, where Andie's car was parked. Neither Jen or Jack had managed to get a word in edgewise. Dawson seemingly had forgotten Jack's existence, and Jen was beginning to think he had forgotten hers too.

"Yeah, it was great. We'll have to do this again sometime. Pacey could come too," Dawson suggests. Andie nods. She taps the automatic unlock doors button on the arm rest of her car door, and Jack hastily climbs in the passenger's side door, eager to go home. The last words of Dawson's sentence take a second to click with Andie. Suddenly, a look of horror crosses her face.

"Pacey! God, what time is it?" Dawson, confused, looks at his watch.

"It's 4:05. Why?"

"I was supposed to be there to pick up Pacey at 4," Andie looks panicked.

"Don't worry, Andie. You're only five minutes late," Jack shrugs, not seeing the big problem.

"But it takes 20 minutes to get from here to the hospital, and-" she breaks off for a second, and glances at Dawson. "I better get moving. I'll see you later," she goes to shut her door. "Bye, Jen," she adds, as an afterthought. Shutting her door, she starts the engine, not bothering to check behind her before beginning to back out of her parking space.

Dawson watches as Andie speeds out of the parking lot, then turns to Jen.

"So, you want to head home?" Dawson asks. Jen just nods and starts walking. Not sure what to make of that, Dawson just follows in step. "How did you like the movie?" he continues.

"It was good." Jen replies, not even bothering to look at him while she's talking.

"What about-"

"Um...Dawson? If you don't mind, I'm going to stop by at the drug store for a minute. I forgot I promised Grams I'd pick up something for her," Jen says, stopping. Dawson looks at her, knowing something is wrong but not sure if he should ask her what it is.

"Okay. Want me to come with you?"

"No." Jen bluntly tells him. Seeing he's a bit taken aback, she explains herself. ", thanks. You can just head home."

"Are you sure?" Jen nods, and turns to go down the street.

"Yeah, positive. I'll see ya," she crosses the road, only giving him a small wave good-bye.


Pacey lets out a long sigh, banging his head against the wall in utter boredom. Joey glares at him, more annoyed than ever.

"Would you stop that? It's getting on my nerves."

"This is *so* boring!" Pacey whines, turning from the wall and plopping on the floor next to Joey. "What time is it?"


"You can't be serious!" he groans. After pounding on the door for twenty minutes, they'd both given up and resigned themselves to merely hoping someone would come and find them. Pacey stands up again. "Doesn't anybody come down this hallway? *Ever*?"

"Why would they? It's an out-of-the-way, useless, run-down hallway with storage closets and bathrooms. No one uses it unless they: a) have to go to the bathroom b) need supplies. We're *doomed*," Joey replies matter-of-factly, standing up also.

"This is like, the worst thing in the world. Andie is waiting out in the parking lot for me, and here I am, stuck with you, the ultimate pain in the ass."

"Yeah, and you're a real joy too, Pacey," she grumbles, leaning against the shelves. She sighs. "It's getting really hot in here."

"Tell me about it," he says, beginning to pace back and forth. He eyes the air vent, then turns to Joey. "Any chance you think you could squeeze through that air vent and climb out of here?"

"*Please*, Pacey. This is not a bad action movie. No one could climb through that air vent. And even if I could, you think I would stop to let you out once I was free? I don't think so."

"You're so kind," Pacey remarks sarcastically.

"I know."

"I wonder how Jack can put up with you. Good thing Dawson got out of it." Joey looks at him. Now he's got her attention.

"What do you mean by that?" Pacey smiles. He knows he's on the verge of getting to her.

"I mean, that maybe you breaking up with Dawson was a hidden blessing for him. Even if you did *supposedly* break his heart, at least he's got Jen there to mend it for him."

"You're a jerk, Pacey, you know that?"

"My, are we a bit touchy on that subject?" he laughs. Joey is infuriated.

"Pacey, just because you've known me and Dawson your whole life doesn't mean that you know everything about us. You have no idea what our relationship was like and you have no right to imply-"

"I wasn't *implying* anything. I was merely stating the pure and simple truth."

"Which is?"

"You've got Jack, and now he's got Jen. I mean, now that I'm with Andie, I'd say we a pretty settled little group, aren't we?" Joey turns her back on him. Pacey grins, satisfied that he's been able to piss her off. He didn't know why he enjoyed it so much, but just being able to toy with her emotions made him feel better. Her mere presence had been messing with his mind all day long and it felt like some kind of payback.

Joey didn't know why Pacey was able to bother her either, or why he was so insistent on doing it. The one thing she didn't want to admit was that it wasn't Dawson being with Jen that upset her. She was happy with Jack, in a way ; he was a good friend. But just like with Dawson, passion and friendship just didn't co-exist. They couldn't mix - not for her anyway, as hard as she tried to make them.

Of all the things she wanted, she wanted Dawson back as her friend. And Jack to be "just a friend"...but it wouldn't happen. She turns back to Pacey, tears beginning to well up.

"You don't understand, Pace. You couldn't understand." Pacey looks a bit surprised. As much as he had wanted to make her mad, actually seeing Joey Potter crying made him feel terrible.

"What can't I understand?"

"You think this whole thing with Jack and Dawson is just *so* entertaining. A nice little soap opera that provides you with great material to torment me with. Well it's not! It's *not* funny."


"No!" She's yelling now. "I thought I wanted Dawson. Then I had him, and I was more unhappy than ever. So I hurt him, Pacey. I hurt him so bad. And then I went out with Jack...and I don't even know why! The truth is, they're both *great* guys, they're both *great friends*, great boyfriends, even...and the truth is, I don't want either one of them..." Joey breaks off, tears streaming down her face. Pacey tries desperately to think of something to say, but can't find any words.

"I'm sorry, Jo. I didn't mean to-" Pacey starts, after a minute of silence.

"Well, you did," Joey cuts him off. She's about to say something else when the closet door opens and a nurse peers in. Bright light washes over the room. The nurse looks at them, puzzled. Without a word, Joey storms past the nurse, and runs down the hallway.

"Joey!" Pacey quickly rushes after her, leaving the nurse in a whirlwind of confusion. "Joey! Wait!" She runs into the elevator, still crying. She can hear him calling, but can't stand facing him. The doors close.

Pacey gets there too late. Angry, he slams his hand against the cold metal doors. What had happened? The day had started off so simply. And now Pacey Witter had finally gone one step too far. He heads to the stairs, knowing he has to catch Joey and explain everything.


Andie pulls to a stop in front of the hospital. She looks at the clock.

"4:20. Good, I made it in 15," Andie smiles. Going 20 miles per hour above the speed limit can cut minutes off of anything. She peers out her window, surveying the grounds, hoping to see Pacey sitting there, waiting. Instead, she sees Joey running out of the hospital, sobbing. Concerned, she gets out of her Saab, leaving Jack behind and clueless, and begins hurrying toward her. Andie stops in her tracks, confused, as she sees Pacey tearing after Joey.


"Jo! Joey!" Pacey grabs her arm. She whirls around to face him. "Wait a second."

"Pacey, forget about it, okay?" Joey cries, trying to blink her tears away. "Let's just forget this day ever happened."

"I'm sorry, Joey, all right? I never meant for you to take those things to heart. I was just teasing. Like we always do," Pacey explains, trying to make her understand.

"Well, I'm sick of teasing! I'm sick of bickering! It's *all* we ever do!"

"Fine! Okay! Then let's stop. Let's stop right now. Jo, I want to be your friend," Pacey says, earnestly. "I may trash talk you and put you down, but-"

"But I do the same to you, right?" Joey exclaims. "Just tell me *why*, Pacey. *Why* do we have to be this way?" She questions him, searching his eyes desperately as she moves closer. Pacey grasps for an answer, a lie. The truth was too hard to say. Thinking, he gently brushes a tear away from her cheek, staring right back at her. After an intense moment, he looks away, not being able to stand the pain apparent in her dark brown eyes. Seeing he wasn't going to answer, Joey backs away from him slowly. "I don't need another *friend*, Pacey. I have enough of those between Dawson and Jack."

"Then what do you want?" Pacey asks, quietly. "You want me to leave you alone? Forget everything?"

"I don't know, Pacey. I don't know what I want," Joey replies, her voice breaking. Hurriedly, she runs away, toward home. His heart heavy, Pacey turns, glancing back at the hospital. Seeing Andie approaching, he crosses the lawn, heading toward his girlfriend while trying to regain some sense of composure. But he can't hide how distressed he is from Andie. Worried, she reaches out and lays her hand on his arm.

"Pacey? What's going on?" Andie looks in the direction that Joey ran off to, then back at Pacey. Pacey takes a deep breath.

"Nothing. I just..."

"Did something happen?" Pacey gently pushes her arm away, filled with both guilt and regret over the entire day's occurences.

"I'd...I'd rather not talk about it," Pacey murmurs, not looking at her as he brushes past, walking to the car. Andie watches, dumbfounded, as he slowly climbs into the back seat of the car, mumbling hello to Jack. What was going on?

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