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You rhapsodize about beauty
And my eyes glaze
Everything I love is ugly
I mean, really, you would be amazed
Just do me a favor
It's the least that you could do
just don't treat me like I am
Something that happened to you
I am truly sorry about all this
You put a tiny pin prick
In my big red balloon
And as I slowly start to exhale
That's when you leave the room
I did not design this game
I did not name the stakes
I just happen to like apples
And I am not afraid of snakes
I am truly sorry about all this
I envy you your ignorance
I hear that it's bliss
So I let go the ratio
Of things said to things heard
As I leave you to your garden
and the beauty you preferred
And I wonder what of this
Will have meaning for you
When you've left it all behind
I guess I'll even wonder
If you meant it
At the time
-"Adam & Eve" by Ani DiFranco
Andie stares at Joey, still waiting for some kind of answer. She finds herself looking at her friend with a critical eye, analyzing every miniscule detail about Joey, as if trying to see any kind of reason for Pacey to choose Joey over herself. The long legs, the beautiful brown hair, the perfect face...the perfect body. The person that her own boyfriend has been secretly sharing a bed with for god knows how long. Her own friend. Andie McPhee had never wanted to slap somebody so hard in all of her life. "Just look at you, Joey. Searching for a reason. Something to say. There isn't something locked away in your tremendous vocabulary to dig you out of this one, is there? Nothing to make this all go away. I can't believe I ever thought you were my friend."
"I didn't plan this, Andie. It wasn't something that I meant to happen," Joey replies, choking on her words. Her eyes were brimming with tears, but she tried hard to bite them back. She glances at Pacey, then at Dawson.
"It's not like we..." Pacey stammers.
"You just...decided to go behind all of our backs and sleep with one another, right?" Dawson is furious, his brown eyes blazing with so much anger that they almost seem black. HIs voice is startlingly loud against the quiet background of Pacey's bedroom. "God! My own best friends! Pacey and Joey. Mortal enemies. Guess you had us all fooled, huh?"
"Dawson-" Pacey tries to say something, but Dawson doesn't let him.
"I can't *believe* you, Joey! All those times...I joked about forcing you to kiss Pacey, brought you pictures of the two of you kissing one another as kids, scoffed at Jen's jokes about your attraction to one another. And you just sat there! Just sat there and didn't say a word. Made me into the biggest fool in Capeside."
"Well, we wouldn't want that, now would we, Dawson? Forget everything else, your *ego* is wounded," Pacey bites, getting defensive as Dawson attacks Joey.
"Fuck you, Pacey," Dawson almost growls, taking a step toward his former friend. "You think you have a right to criticize me? Fuck you." He glances at Joey, then smirks. "Oh, wait. I believe Joey has already taken care of that. In fact I think she's taken care of that one quite well."
"Don't talk to her that way." Pacey demands. His outrage enflames Andie's temper.
"Pacey-" Joey attempts to intervene.
"Of course you'd defend her! Your precious Joey, right? I can't imagine how mad it would make you to hear the truth."
"And what truth is that, Andie?"
"Joey is probably just using you. She'll cast you aside just like she did to Dawson and Jack-"
"That's a lie! This is different!" Joey exclaims.
"And how so?"
"This is *completely* different. Don't pretend for an instant that you know a thing about what's going on between us, Andie, cause you don't."
"Oh really?" Dawson interjects, holding up the videotape.
"What's that?" Pacey asks, eyeing it as if it were a bomb.
"It's a nice little documentary that Joey gave me about your apparently *very* active sex life," Dawson tosses it onto the floor. Joey looks confused, and Pacey, stunned, looks to her for an explanation.
"I didn't give you any tape, Dawson. The only tape I've given you is the one with your movie stuff on it."
"You never gave that back. You can't deny that you gave me this tape instead, Joey."
"I most certainly did not give you a tape of Pacey and I, Dawson, I have no idea what you're even talking about."
"Sure you don't," Andie snorts.
"I *don't*," Joey snaps. She didn't know how to feel. All her emotions were running at the same time. She was upset and sad and scared, furious and confused. On one hand she wanted to scream at Dawson and Andie for acting the way they were, but on the other hand she was on the verge of tears, knowing that finally the cat was out of the bag and Dawson and Andie hated her and Pacey, and had every right to. There was nothing to say, nothing to do. Nothing to do except scream and yell.
"Why would Joey give you that, Dawson? Come on," Pacey looks at Dawson. Joey never would've done something so atrocious, he knew that for a fact. Only one person came to mind. The only person he knew of that knew about his and Joey's affair. Chris Wolfe. Dawson and Andie both seem convinced that Joey handed them that tape; Joey is baffled by the entire thing.
Dawson and Andie are both steaming mad; Andie's tears had dried, faded into oblivion. All she wanted was for Pacey to know what he had done to her. Her heart was pounding with pain. All this time...all this time she'd been cursing herself, blaming their failing relationship on her developing feelings for Dawson. All the pain and all the guilt, and it turns out Pacey had really left the relationship to die long before she looked in Dawson's direction.
Dawson and Pacey stare at one another for a moment, the room completely silent. No one says anything; Pacey and Joey look at their feet as Dawson and Andie sort of pace back and forth, too upset to verbalize their feelings. Andie turns away for a moment, then turns back and moves toward Pacey.
"I still don't understand. Why? Wasn't I enough for you?" she asks.
"It's wasn't that, Andie, it's just..."
"What? That Joey was more attractive?"
"Andie, don't ask me to explain. It's just something that was...there. Joey and I...we're just..."
"I think I deserve an explanation."
"I deserve one too," Dawson adds. "There has to be some reason. I mean...you had Andie. Joey had Jack. Yet somehow..."
"I don't know how to explain it, Dawson. I don't know what you guys want," Pacey quickly looks into Dawson's eyes, then looks away. He sticks his hands in his pockets, wishing that he could be anywhere but there at that moment.
"Joey?" Andie turns to her, her voice falling slightly. "You have a good reason?"
"Not one that you'll like," she mumbles.
"We never meant to hurt you guys, we really didn't. We tried to stay away from each other-"
"Oh, how noble of you," Andie interrupts.
"I just don't get it. I thought I knew you two. You're my best friends. And it turns out, you have this whole secret life that you've been living for...what...three months?"
"Two months," Pacey sighs.
"You're like complete strangers. The Pacey and Joey I know would never do this to anyone. The Pacey and Joey I know would never in a million years cheat, lie, and betray the very people who they're supposed to love and respect." He pauses. "But then again, the Pacey and Joey I know would never sleep together in the first place."
"I don't know what to say, Dawson..." Joey says, raising her gaze to meet his.
"There's nothing to say," he replies. "I don't know you anymore. I don't *want* to know you anymore." Without another word, Dawson turns and walks out of Pacey's room, shaking his head sadly. Andie takes a step or two after him, then turns around to say one more thing.
"I hope you two are happy with what you've done." Silently, she follows Dawson out of the Witter house, leaving Pacey and Joey alone. Joey looks down at her shirt, scarcely believing that five minutes ago she and Pacey had been off in their own little world. Reality had intruded way too quickly. Where Pacey's hands had been touching her a short while ago, setting her body on fire, she now felt dirty. Filthy and despicable. Pacey lets out a long sigh, running his hand through his hair. He sits down on the edge of his disarrayed bed, feeling sick to his stomach. Joey comes over and sits next to him, waiting for him to say something. He doesn't.
Pacey makes no move to stop Joey as she picks up her backpack and silently leaves the room, glancing back once or twice at him, willing him to speak. She had no idea what to say. He remains quiet, so Joey leaves, her heart heavy and her mind on the verge of cracking. Her and Pacey's affair was over. Now it was time to deal with the consequences.
Looking up as Joey shuts the door behind her, Pacey groans lightly.
"God..." He buries his head in his hands, too upset to even consider going after her. He hadn't the strength to supply her the with any answers to this problem, and he knew he wouldn't find any in her right now. Andie's heartbroken face had been firmly imprinted in his memory, and the vision tormented him as he sat there in the growing darkness. What was he going to do now?
"Joey? Joey! What's the matter?" Bessie exclaims as her younger sister rushes into the house and tears toward her bedroom, sobbing. Dropping what she was doing, she goes after her, all thoughts of fights and their cruel words to one another fleeting her mind.
Joey slams her door, throwing her backpack down, and collapses onto her bed, burying her face in her pillow. She's crying so hard that her chest hurts, her sobs so gut-wrenching that they are almost painful. Bessie doesn't knock or ask permission to enter; she simply does, hurrying to her sister's side.
"Jo, what happened?" Bessie sets her hand on Joey's back, worried. No reply comes except for the sound of Joey's crying. "You're scaring me, Joey." Still no answer. "Won't you tell me what's happened?" Joey sits up, turning and burying her face in her sister's blue shirt and throwing her arms around her.
"They know, Bessie. They all know."
"Who knows, sweetie? Who knows what?"
"Dawson and Andie. They found out about me and Pacey. Everything." Setting aside the fact that she had forbade Joey to see Pacey Witter again after she had discovered their little secret, Bessie merely rubs Joey's back comfortingly.
"Shhh, honey. It'll be okay. It'll work itself out."
"No it won't!" Joey exclaims, sitting upright and startling Bessie. "Everything's fallen apart! They hate us! They're never going to speak to either of us again, and they have every right not to...it's all my fault. I never should've gotten involved with Pacey. This is all my fault."
"It's not your fault, Joey-"
"How could it not be my fault? I slept with Pacey even though he was dating Andie and then we kept it a secret from everyone! Tell me how this can't be me fault?" Bessie sighs.
"Okay, so maybe it is your fault. But it's Pacey's too, don't be taking al the blame here."
"Bess, I know it's Pacey's fault too, I just-" She stops mid-sentence, trying to wipe away her tears. "I knew that eventually this moment would come...I just...I never expected it to feel this horrible." Bessie is silent, and Joey looks at her. "Oh god, Bessie, just go ahead and say it. You know you want to."
"Say what?" Bessie asks, innocent.
"'I told you so.'"
"I wasn't going to say that, Joey," Bessie smooths her sister's hair, trying to calm her down.
"Sure you weren't, Bessie. I mean, why wouldn't you? You were right. About everything. I'm just like Dad."
"You are not like Dad!" Bessie exclaims adamantly. "Joey, you are nothing like him. Just because you made a wrong decision and got involved with Pacey, it doesn't mean that you're anything like him. He's a lying, cheating criminal who had an affair with another woman while Mom was dying. You're a confused teenager who fell for the wrong guy at the wrong time." Joey listens to what Bessie is saying, still looking unconvinced.
"It may have been the wrong time, Bess, but I still can't believe that Pacey is the wrong guy," Joey sighs. "And just because the circumstances are different doesn't mean that I'm any less of a scumbag than Dad is. You said so yourself, when you first found out about us."
"Joey, I was angry then. I was angry that you would do something so against your morals. I was angry that you are only 16 years old and having sex. I was angry that you so innocently thought that your and Pacey's love would be enough to make everything okay. I didn't mean the things I said," Bessie pulls Joey close again, hugging her tightly. "Don't even think about them, okay? Those words I said make no difference." She lets Joey cry on her shoulder for a few minutes, rocking her gently. "The worst is over now, Jo. It can only get better from here."
"How can it get anything but worse? Dawson and Andie, and probably Jack, are never going to speak to me again. The whole school is going to know about it by tomorrow. Pacey and I can never be together now."
"Why can't you?"
"Why can't we be together?"
"Yes, why can't you? I mean, isn't that what all this is for? All this pain? All of it is supposed to be so you two can be together?" Bessie draws back and looks Joey in the eyes.
"It's nice in theory, Bessie...but I just don't know anymore. I don't know if it's going to work out for us anymore. Everything just seems so messed up right now, I don't know if there's anyway to fix it."
"If you love him, Joey, don't let this be the end of it. Don't let it be the end."
Dawson paces back and forth up and down the length of his room, clutching his stuffed Jaws tightly in his right fist. Jen is sitting on his bed, just watching him silently.
"I just can't believe that the two of them would do something like this. I mean, do I not know them at all? God, Joey! Joey and Pacey! Can *you* believe this? The two of them...The two of them...Just going around like that? You should've seen this tape, Jen. You should've seen it. They were just all over each other, and they were everywhere! They've been sneaking around for months now and practically doing it right under our noses and Andie and I both were none the wiser."
"Dawson, it's not like it was anything that you guys could've noticed...most likely. I mean...that's sort of what sneaking around is. It's a surprise to everyone," Jen says, her voice choking up a bit as she breathes her lie.
"Don't say *surprise*...there has to be a word with the proper connotation here. A 'surprise' sounds happy, positive. Like a birthday party you didn't know about or getting an A on a test that you thought you failed. A 'surprise' is not finding out that Pacey and Joey have been having sex. What we have here is a...I don't know. A shock? No, that's not nearly horrible enough."
"Do you think this is the best time to explore your vocabulary for the proper word, Dawson? Jen inquires, mildly annoyed. He turns to her, clenching his fists again.
"This is just what I do, Jen, okay? I don't know how to deal with this. I don't know what to say or how to act. So forgive me if I fall back on occupying my mind with my verbal skills, all right? When you're upset, you go get drunk. When I'm upset, Iget verbose."
"Gee, thanks, Dawson. You really know how to warm a girl's heart," Jen stands up, shaking her head. Dawson groans.
"God...I'm sorry, Jen. I didn't mean to get insulting, I just...I feel lost. I feel like someone has taken my life and literally turned it inside out. I never saw this coming. I mean, did you see this coming? Did you have any idea this was going on?" Jen doesn't do anything except remain silent and look down at the floor. Dawson stares at her for a second, then continues his rant.
"I knew Pacey has often let sex control his actions, so maybe this shouldn't be such a big surprise. I just never thought Joey and him would end up like this. I assumed, obviously without good cause, that she had some kind of...morals? Principles? Andie is supposed to be her friend. She was going out with Jack. Yet she ends up with Pacey. How did this even happen?"
"I don't know, Dawson," Jen replies, shrugging. "Some things just happen, you know? One day you're going out with one person and the next you just find yourself wanting a different person entirely. You can't help who you're attracted to."
"I know you can't help that, Jen, I'm not daft. But you can most certainly refrain from jumping into bed with whomever it is that you're attracted to. There's a big difference between having feelings for someone and having sex with someone." Dawson shakes his head, still almost in a state of shock. Jen looks up at him.
"Dawson, it's not like you were dating Joey. Shouldn't Jack be the one who gets to be upset about this?"
"You don't think I should be upset?"
"That's not what I said. I was just saying that maybe you're going a little overboard. Joey was Jack's girlfriend, not yours. You two are only friends."
"Exactly! We're friends! We're supposed to be friends. But right now that doesn't seem like it means anything, does it?"
"What do you mean?"
"My two best friends have been sleeping together for two months now, and didn't bother to tell me about it! Would it have been so hard to just take a deep breath and say, 'you know, Dawson, I've been having these feelings for Pacey' or something like that?"
"Oh, right, Dawson," Jen retorts. "That would've been an easy thing to say. Especially since they were keeping it a secret from Andie this whole time. I mean, the fact that they didn't tell you, quite possibly the only person in the world who can *never* keep a secret...well, that's just shocking. Besides the fact that Joey's your ex. I'm sure that wouldn't have been awkward at *all*." Her voice is dripping with hardened sarcasm. Dawson looks at Jen for a moment, giving her a clear look that means he can't even believe that she's saying this to him.
"Jen, you don't get it. You think this is some kind of joke or something, but this is a major, major deal. Those two have betrayed both their friendships and relationships for nothing more than a simple case of teenage lust."
"Come on, Dawson, you know it's not about lust. They love each other." Jen comes to their defense, not thinking. "What they did was completely wrong, and I can't believe what Pacey has put Andie through. But don't degrade this situation by calling Pacey and Joey two horny teenagers who just couldn't help themselves. If you had ever opened up your eyes and just seen the way that those two look at one another, you would've known about this a long time ago." After she stops talking, Jen's mouth falls open in surprise. Dawson stares at her, wide-eyed. It takes him a few moments to put together a sentence.
"Are you saying that *you* knew a long time ago?"
"That's not what I meant. I just meant that..."
"I didn't mean anything, Dawson, forget it," Jen heads for the door, but Dawson steps in front of her.
"I won't. Jen...you knew about this, didn't you? Pacey and Joey. You *knew*."
"I *didn't* *say* that, and you know it. I had no idea that this was going on." Jen replies, her tone so unconvincing she knows there's no way even Dawson will believe it.
"You knew about this and you didn't tell me? How long have you known?" Jen looks away. "How long have you known?" He keeps moving into her line of vision, demanding an answer. " *Jen*! How long have you known about the two of them?" Jen coughs lightly before speaking.
"Since the beginning," she finally admits quietly.
"Since the beginning. You've known for all this time and didn't say one word. Not a word, Jen! How can you live with yourself? I mean...god...how did you even find out?"
"Joey came to me after the first night that she...that she spent with Pacey." She looks away again, suddenly feeling as if she were the guilty party and not Joey. Dawson's looking at her as if she had killed Steven Spielberg himself.
"What ever happened to no secrets? Isn't that what we promised one another? You'd tell me everything and I'd tell you everything?"
"She told me this in confidence, Dawson. I couldn't betray her."
"But you could betray me, right?"
"I don't see how keeping Joey's secret was any betrayal to *you*," Jen bites back, her shame gone and her anger back. "Now, if I had told you, I would've been betraying *her*. She and Pacey had their own responsibility to tell you guys about this, and they didn't. So don't go taking out your anger on *me*, Dawson." She stands up, heading for the door. "I'm leaving."
"Good. Leave. Fine," Dawson snorts. "Just wonderful. Pacey and Joey had an affair and my own girlfriend won't even take my side. But she'll defend them! Forget the fact that they broke every single rule of friendship. Forget that what they did was immoral and awful...they're in *love*, right?"
"You are so immature, Dawson. All this taking sides and crap like that. When are you going to grow up?"
"Oh please, Jen, this is not the time for a discussion on my apparent 'lack of maturity.' I think I have every right in the world to ask you to at least *fake* being angry at those two and maybe, just maybe, act like you care about someone besides yourself for a change." Jen takes a step toward him, wanting to punch him with all of her might.
"So now it's turning to me, huh? You can't yell at Joey for not being who you thought she was so you're just going to yell at me, right? Well if we're going to go into personal attacks, let me be the first to start-"
"No, let me. In fact, let's just skip the personal attacks and go right to the punchline. We're over. I don't want to see you or speak to you anymore." He turns away from her, throwing up his hands. Jen is a bit taken aback at first, but then sets her jaw determinedly, her heart filled with anger and resentment. "That's it."
"What a shame. I'm *so* devastated, Dawson. Believe me, you're not much of a loss," Jen's voice is harsher than she had ever imagined it could be, but she found herself meaning every word. She'd been waiting for this moment for a long time, Jen now realized.
"Well, thanks for sharing your opinion, but really, I could care less. And I would really appreciate it if you left now." Dawson turns back to her and crosses his arms in front of his chest, nodding his head toward his bedroom door.
"I hope you have a nice life, Dawson." She stalks out,slamming the door behind her, leaving him alone with his thoughts. He just stands there quietly for a moment, still recovering from the intense release of emotion he has just felt.
"God dammit..." Dawson breathes lightly, sitting down on the edge of his bed. "What the heck is going on in this town? With everyone?" He looks up, running his hands through his hair, and his gaze falls on the portrait of Joey that sits on his night table. With one swift movement, Dawson knocks the framed picture to the ground. The glass shatters into a million pieces and spills across his floor, making a loud splintering noise that could've awoke the dead. Taking the photograph in his hands, he rips it in half and walks to his window. He opens it, then casts the ripped pieces out into the cold winter night. Dawson Leery never wanted to see Joey Potter ever again. Never.
Jack sits bolt upright as he hears Andie enter the house, crying. He gets up off the couch in a hurry and turns off the tv, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He had fallen right asleep during a re-run of Home Improvement after he had eaten his dinner. It was only growing dim when he had zoned out, and now he awoke to pitch black darkness. Not even knowing what time it is, he stumbles toward the foyer, feeling disoriented and lost.
"Andie?" He mumbles, his mouth feeling as if it were filled with cotton. "Andie, is that you?" Wincing as he turns on the light, all he can make out is a blurry image running up the stairs. "Andie are you okay?" Andie just continues to her room, shutting and locking her door behind her. Still trying to wake up completely, Jack slowly walks upstairs and taps on Andie's door. "Andie?"
"Please leave me alone, Jack!" comes the muffled reply.
"You know very well that I'm not going to do that, Andie," Jack says, chuckling. "Just let me in, okay?" There is a moment of silence, then he hears Andie getting up off of her bed and unlocking the door. She opens it and wipes her red, swollen eyes. "What happened?"
"Pacey and Joey happened." Andie tells him in a wavering voice, sniffling.
"The two of them have been...have been..."
"Have been...what?" Jack asks, weary. He has a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that he doesn't want to hear what he is about to her. Andie just looks away, so angry she wants to scream it at him but at the same time not wanting to tell him at all. Her silence makes Jack anxious. "Have been what, Andie?"
"They've been sleeping together, Jack!" She blurts out, her eyes filling with tears to the brim before they start to overflow down her pale cheeks. "Since before she broke up with you."
"You're kidding, right?" Jack stammers, backing away from her. "This is a sick joke to play on your own brother."
"I wish I were kidding, but I'm not," Andie tries desperately to stop herself from crying, sick of hearing her own sobs. Her body hurt from so much emotional turmoil; she wanted to just crawl into bed and fall asleep. Maybe when she woke up, she'd discover this was all a bad dream, some kind of nightmare. Jack glances around Andie's room, barely able to comprehend what she's saying. "Jack...please, look at me." Jack wants to go to her and take her in his arms, and tell her it was going to be okay, but he can't. All he can think about is Joey. Imagining Joey...with Pacey...makes him feel as if he's going to throw up. Andie must feel even worse than he does, but his own heart is ripping open and he doesn't even feel like being Andie's support system at the moment. "Jack..." He looks at her for a second and then backs out of her bedroom, almost tripping over his own feet. "Where are you going?" She exclaims, as he turns and hurries down the hallway and downstairs, grabbing his jacket before he storms outside. She races after him, stopping at the top of the stairs for a moment before continuing downstairs. "Jack!"
"I have to get some air," he tosses back to her before he disappears out the door. Andie steps out onto the porch as he stalks across the yard, feeling more alone than ever. She had wanted Jack to comfort her, and for her to comfort him. Again, as always, they were in the same boat, and Andie thought he'd be by her side. Apparently he wanted to deal with it on his own...
Andie sighs, still sniffling, and turns to go back inside. The house had few lights on, but she makes no move to turn any on as she makes her way back to her bedroom. The darkness seems inviting.
Bessie sits in the small, warm kitchen of the tiny Potter house, quietly going about preparing dinner. Usually she left Joey to that task while she tended to Alex, but today she simply tucked Joey into bed and told her to rest. Bessie hasn't seen her little sister so upset in a very long time. When she and Dawson broke up, there had been an outpouring of tears, but she had still been herself. Looking at Joey now, it was hard to imagine that she is the same girl who had been so incredibly happy not a day before. As Bessie opens the fridge to get out a bag of carrots from the vegetable bin, there is a light knock on the front door. Glancing at the clock and then out the window into the darkness of the evening, she goes to answer it with a look of puzzlement.
Switching on the front porch light, Bessie finds Pacey standing there, looking worn down and distraught. She gazes at him for a moment, not sure what to say to him. On one hand she felt furious - Pacey was responsible for this whole mess, her sister's torment, everything - but on the other, she saw a scared young teenager who her sister loved completely and who she could honestly sense loved her back. He doesn't say anything at first, gauging her reaction awkwardly. After a few moments of silence, Bessie steps out of the doorway and asks him to come in.
"Hello, Pacey...you can come inside..." Bessie says, still staring at him. He shoves his hands in his pockets, pausing nervously before replying.
"Hey, Bessie...um, did Joey tell you...about...?" Pacey asks, his voice low. He avoids looking at her as he walks inside.
"Yeah...she did." Bessie tries hard to make her voice stay soft, feeling almost sorry for Pacey. Her feelings of anger and disappointment in him and Joey were slowly dissipating. They were both hurting too much for her to even think about an 'I Told You So.' She peers at Pacey, trying hard to figure out what he's thinking. "Are you okay?"
"Me? Uh...actually, no...but..." Pacey finally glances at her, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Bessie falls silent for a minute, almost studying him. Then she reaches out and takes his hand, giving it a comforting squeeze.
"I'll go get Joey and tell her you're here." She heads toward Joey's bedroom, leaving Pacey alone in the living room. He shifts his feet back and forth slowly, feeling strange. In fact, everything felt strange after Andie and Dawson had walked in on them that afternoon. The world seemed as if it were on the brink of collapsing around him. After a few minutes, Bessie emerges from Joey's dark bedroom and gestures for Pacey to come over to her. "You can just go in, Pacey. I'm sure you two need some privacy to talk..." Pacey nods and disappaears into Joey's room. Bessie retreats to the kitchen, fighting back the urge to eavesdrop.
Pacey closes Joey's door behind him and finds himself in pitch black darkness.
"Jo? Can I turn on the light?" He fumbles for the lightswitch, but Joey's words stop him.
"No," her voice comes weakly from over by her bed. He hears her sitting up, and carefully manuvers toward her. Taking a seat next to her, he can tell she is quietly crying as his eyes adjust to the darkness. They stare at one another for what seems like an eternity, neither having the words to convey the heavy emotion of the moment. Finally, Pacey just wraps his arms around her, pulling her close to him. Her arms circle around his back tightly, searching for that feeling of security she could only find with him. Pacey caresses her silky brown hair, desperately trying to bite back tears.
"I don't know where we go from here, Jo," Pacey whispers.
"I don't know if there's anywhere to go from here," Joey whispers back, not moving from his embrace. "I don't know anything anymore."
"Do you think we really have to?"
"Have to what?"
"Have to know," Pacey says softly. Joey looks at him, her big brown eyes limpid with unshed tears. Lightly, Pacey brushes his lips against hers, longing to just feel the reassurance of her love. "There's no way that we can have all the answers, Jo...things are what they are..." Joey pulls away slightly.
"Pacey, I just don't know how to deal with this. I just can't accept things the way they are..." She pulls completely away from him, and his world suddenly seems cold, and Joey a million miles away.
"Dawson and Andie..." Pacey begins, then stops. "Joey, we knew this was going to happen in the end yet we still stayed together. We knew the consequences and we consciously chose each other over them. All we have is each other now, and I..." Pacey stares at her, mentally willing her to look at him. She doesn't turn. "All I have is you, Jo. You're all I want. I thought that's what all of this was for."
"All I want is you too, Pace, but I'm not sure that I can handle having what I want at such a high price," Joey whispers, still facing away.
"What are you saying, Joey? That you don't think we should be together?" Pacey's voice rises, finally breaking the quiet.
"That's not what I'm saying, Pacey. I just..."
"You need time to figure it all out. Right?" Joey looks at him; he took the words right out of her mouth. His eyes are filled with pain. "You need time..."
"Not a lot of time. A few days, a week...there has to be some way that Dawson and Andie could understand..." She gazes at him pleadingly. Pacey stands up, his mind confused.
"So what exactly are you saying, Joey? You don't want to be with me until Andie and Dawson can learn to accept it? get over it? Or until you can figure out a way to live with the guilt? Or is this just your nice way of staving off the fact that you don't want to be with me?"
"Of course I want to be with you - I love you!" Joey exclaims, standing up. "God...I just need some time alone. Everything is different now. I'm different, you're different, the world is different. Is it so bad to ask for time to adjust before we just go back to routine as normal?"
"I didn't say I wanted to go back to 'routine as normal', Jo! Things can be better now. Things can be *real*!"
"And they weren't real before?" Joey asks, her voice tight. Pacey sighs heavily.
"I knew the instant I said that, that you were going to use that reply." Pacey steps toward her, setting his hands on her shoulders and forcing her to look into his eyes. "You know what I mean by real. Normal. We don't have to sneak around anymore. I can hold your hand in public. Kiss you in the back row at the movies. Write you insane little notes and stick them in your locker. That's what I'm talking about."
"You really think that we'd be able to do that? You don't think that parading around like a happy couple is just not going to work with Andie and Dawson standing two feet away? With everyone eyes on us, judging our every move? I can't live like that!"
"So, what, you're not even going to try? You're just going to give up?"
"I'm not giving up, Pacey!" Joey feels almost dizzy, the room beginning to whirl around her. She brings her hand to her forehead. "Just don't ask me to figure this all out tonight...I can't do it. I can't do it..." she stumbles past him and opens up her door, not glancing back as she escapes from her bedroom.
Bessie looks up, startled, as Joey rushes past her quickly, running out of the house.
"Joey?" Bessie dashes after her, but her sister is off at full speed. Bessie stands at the open front door for a moment, then turns and marches toward Joey's bedroom and switches on the light unceremoniously. "Pacey, what is going on?"
"I don't know..." he mumbles, beaten. He visibly crumbles, sinking to a seat on the floor next to her bed. "I just don't understand anything."
"What did you say to her?" Bessie exclaims, wondering what the heck could've set Joey off in such a damned hurry. Pacey shakes his head as he buries his face in his hands.
"I was just telling her that we finally have a chance to really be together now. That it's hard and it's going to suck, but I love her and I want to make it work. And...she kept saying she needed time and that she didn't think she could live with herself after...all this..." he glances up at Bessie, his eyes overflowing with tears. "I...God, I just want..."
"What do you want, Pace?" Bessie asks, taking a seat next to him on the ground.
"I just want *her*. After all of this...after all...I don't understand what she's saying to me. Does she want to forget that this ever happened? Would she rather have Andie and Dawson back as friends and just leave me out of the equation? We knew this was going to come since day one, and now she says that she can't handle the consequences even though we talked about it so endlessly...and I don't...I don't..." Pacey starts to get choked up, leaving his sentence unfinished. Bessie doesn't know how to comfort him. "One minute, I'm thinking, 'You know, I really think that we might be okay," and the next Joey is running out of the room. I don't know what she wants me to do or what she wants me to be."
"Pacey, try not to take everything so hard right now. Joey's upset, you're upset...everything's just confused right now. Don't go jumping to any conclusions. You have to give it time..." Bessie reaches out and rubs his shoulder gently, giving him a kind, warm smile. "Just give it some time."
Pacey looks at Bessie and sighs deeply, trying to calm himself down. Crying in front of Joey's sister was not in his original game plan. Bessie stands up and offers him her hand, helping him to get up off the floor. Slowly, he manages to drag himself up, and he wipes his face.
"I should probably just go home..." Pacey says, making a move toward Joey's bedroom door. Bessie nods.
"Get some sleep, Pace. Maybe everything will seem better in the morning."
"I really don't think so, Bess, but thanks for the sentiment." Reality had hit him too hard for Bessie's statement to give him any semblance of hope. Things weren't going to get better. They were only going to get worse.
Dawson slams his locker shut and bangs his forehead against it two or three times, letting out a small moan as he realizes that self-inflicted injuries did indeed hurt.
"Hitting your head against a wall isn't going to make things go away, Dawson." Jack's voice echoes in Dawson's mind, and slowly Dawson turns to Andie's brother. Jack looks like he hasn't slept all night, and Dawson wonders if he looks the same way.
"No, probably not. But at least the throbbing pain in my head will distract me from the many other sources of pain that are in my life right now." He looks at Jack. "So it's safe to assume you've heard about Pacey and Joey's dirty little secret, right?" Dawson asks bitterly, tugging his backpack onto his shoulder. Damn backpack just didn't want to stay on. The overwhelming need to punch something was almost too much to handle.
"Yes, I heard about it," Jack replies. "Andie told me last night."
"How is she?" Dawson asks, genuinely concerned.
"I wouldn't know. After she told me, I left the house, and I didn't come back until 7 in the morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and came to school. Haven't even talked to her yet." Jack's tone makes it seem like he's more mad at Andie than at Joey or Pacey. Dawson picks up on it and throws him a questioning look.
"You sound like you're angry with Andie for all of this."
"I am. I mean, I'm not. But I am. I'm just mad at everyone." Jack sighs deeply. "Jen knows too, right?"
"Jen? Yeah, oh man does she know. In fact, I bet you'll be delighted to hear just how much she knows and how long she's known it."
"Yeah, it seems that my girlfriend, no, *ex*-girlfriend seems to have conveniently forgotten to mention the fact that she has known about Joey and Pacey's affair since *two* months ago." Dawson stops walking, forgetting himself in his anger.
"Jen has known? I can't believe-"
"I can't believe that she would lie to me either. We promised each other we wouldn't keep secrets, but yet she's had this up her sleeve the entire time. I can't even bear to look at her, just thinking about it makes me ill."
"Dawson, are you crazy? You're complaining about *Jen* having secrets? What about you?" Jack's voice rises to a louder level. His mind was in two different places at once. One part still back on the fact that Jen had known about the affair and the other enraged at Dawson's complete dissimulation. Why did he think he could treat Jen this way? Secrets? Come on, who is he kidding?
"What about me, Jack?" Dawson asks.
"I don't think I need to remind you about Andie, now do I?" Jack whispers harshly. "Last time I checked, cheating on your girlfriend doesn't exactly make you the epitome of honesty."
"Well, last time *I* checked this was none of your business. What goes one between me and Jen or me and Andie is my problem, not yours."
"Hypocrisy, Dawson. Look it up." Jack snaps, and stalks away. Dawson tries to fight back his anger, and takes a deep breath before turning to go to homeroom. As he heads down the hall, he spots Pacey walking into school. At the exact same time, Pacey notices Dawson as well. They both stop in their tracks for a moment, staring at one another. Finally, Dawson sets his jaw in determination and walks past Pacey, deliberately avoiding his gaze. He brushes past Pacey as if he doesn't even know him and turns the corner. Pacey stays in his place for a minute, glancing after Dawson, and then sighs and continues down the hallway.
"Well, you certainly look like the cat that ate the canary, Abby," Chris greets Abby, glaring at her. "I really don't want to know what you've done, but I think I have to ask."
"So, go ahead and ask, Wolfe. I guarantee you it's worse than you think," she smirks.
"Abby, *what* did you do? I swear, I'll kill you."
"Let's not be hasty, Christopher. A few weeks ago, I believe it was you who thought this oh so dastardly plan up, correct?" Abby crosses her arms in front of her chest and leans against a locker, looking unaffected.
"Yes, and I put a stop to it, because I realized it was wrong. I don't see why you would go ahead and try this again."
"Well, I wasn't about to let all my hard work go to waste, Chris," Abby smiles, moving close to him and running a finger down his chest. She bites her lip, trying to look seductive. Chris pushes her away from him.
"Just stop the shit, Abby, and tell me what you've done."
"Oh, all right. I suppose I should tell you," Abby shrugs. "I doubt your conscience can handle it though."
"Fine. I found out that Dawson gave Joey a videotape to watch, so when she wasn't around, I went into her backpack, switched the tapes. Unknowing, Joey herself gave Dawson the footage of her and Pacey. Truly a classic touch on my part, if you ask me. Fate couldn't have planned it better herself."
"You're a sadistic bitch," Chris says lowly. "How can you live with yourself?"
"Chris, really. I didn't do a thing. If Pacey and Joey didn't want this trouble, they shouldn't have had an affair. They provided the wrong-doing - I just uncovered it. I was really doing Dawson and the rest of them a huge favor. If I hadn't had the courage to reveal the secret that Pacey and Joey were hiding, who knows how long they would've all been in the dark?"
"I can't *believe* you are even attempting to rationalize this!" Chris exclaims, his voice finally rising. He's on the verge of completely losing his temper. "How can you possibly not feel guilty about what you've done?"
"I didn't do a thing, Chris. I was merely a go-between. The drama was set up by the little Capeside gang, I had nothing to do with it," Abby grins, and starts sauntering off down the hallway. "They all made their own un-doing. I'm sorry if you feel like you caused part of it, Chris, but that's not *my* fault. So go ahead and keep blaming yourself if you wish - my conscience is clear." Abby waves good-bye flirtatiously and turns the corner. Furious, Chris punches the lockers, letting out a yell of pain as his fist collides with the metal.
"Damn it!" he exclaims, holding his throbbing hand close to his chest and wincing. "Shit, shit, shit...." He shifts back and forth, feeling the pain running all throughout his body.
"I'd give you some sort of sympathy, but frankly I just don't feel like it." Pacey's voice hits Chris' ears like a ton of bricks. He slowly turns toward him, still wincing.
"Um, hey Pacey. What are you doing out here?"
"Same thing as you, it looks like. You're not the only one who takes out a hall pass and doesn't bother to come back."
"I was actually just heading back," Chris says hastily, wanting desperately to just get away. He starts to walk away.
"Why'd you make that tape, Chris? Was this all some kind of sick joke to you? And then to give it to Dawson? Do you have any morals, conscience, anything?" Pacey storms after him, grabbing Chris' arm and turning him around. "All that crap, that day in the bathroom...you were planning this thing all along."
"Pacey, calm down," Chris says. His normally calm, cool and collected demeanor seemed to be eluding his grasp. "Just...calm down for a second." Chris takes a few steps away from Pacey, looking at him as if he's holding a ticking time bomb.
"Why the heck should I calm down? You have single-handedly ruined everything. I don't even understand why you did it. Was it just for fun, or did you really have a reason to hate us so much?"
"Let me explain, Pace."
"No! I won't! I should be beating your skull in right now, as a matter of fact."
"It wasn't me, Pacey. It was Abby. Abby switched the tapes. She-"
"And you had nothing to do with it?"
"Yes. I mean...no. Yes. God - what I mean is that I did have something to do with it, but then I tried to stop it."
"I don't understand."
"Abby found out about you and Joey, and she wanted me help thinking of some plan to tell Dawson and Andie and Jack...and I told her to follow you guys around with the camera, and-"
"What?" Pacey's face flushes red with anger, his fists clenching and unclenching as he tries to stop himself from losing control and hitting Chris.
"I...at the time, the whole thing seemed like a good idea. I don't know why, but I just wanted to ruin things. For all of you. So did Abby. We were going to show the tape at the end of Dawson's movie...but I couldn't do it. I saw the two of you together and I just knew that I couldn't let that tape be shown. I stopped it...but Abby had the original, and..."
"I can't believe this..."
"I know, Pacey, I know this is insane. I never meant for things to get this out of hand."
"Yeah. You did." Pacey says, his voice cold and tight. He shakes his head. "I hope you can live with yourself, Chris. You got what you wanted. Go celebrate." Pacey stalks off, everything he's just heard still running through his mind. It was just too much to handle.
Chris watches Pacey walk away, vowing to himself that he wouldn't let things go, not a thing like this. He had made everything fall apart...now he had to put it all back together again.
Jen sits down next to Jack, peering at him quizzically. He's staring out at the ocean, his eyes vacant.
"Hey, you okay in there?" Jen taps his shoulder lightly, smiling. Jack jumps, startled. He looks at her.
"Jen. Hi..." He looks away quickly.
"What's the matter?"
"Do you really need to ask?"
"Oh...Joey and Pacey..." Jen sighs. "I suppose you know about me and Dawson, then."
"Yeah, I know," he says. "I know about *everything*." Jen laughs at his tone.
"*Everything.* What else is there to know, Mr. Serious?"
"Jen, how can you laugh at a time like this? I mean...this *is* serious." He pauses for a beat. "But then again I doubt any of this is coming as a shock to you."
"What does that mean?"
"Dawson told me. You know...that you knew. All this time." Jen's face falls, and she looks down at her hands, averting her eyes. "So, it's true?"
"Yeah, it's true," Jen takes a deep breath and tucks her hair behind her ear. "Joey told me a long time ago."
"Why didn't you tell me, Jen? How could you have kept this from me? I mean...I thought we were friends."
"Jack, we are friends. I wanted to tell you so many times, but I couldn't," Jen takes his hand in hers, squeezing it tightly. "But I couldn't betray Joey like that. She's my friend too..." She gazes up at him. "I know it hurts, Jack...all of this, finding out about Joey...but please don't be angry with me."
"I'm not...I'm not angry, Jen. I'm hurt, but I'm in no place to be angry. Not with you. It's not like I've been completely honest with you, either." Jen looks alarmed.
"What?" Jack holds her hand tighter, wondering if he's doing the right thing.
"There's things that I haven't been able to tell you too. Things that someone...things I couldn't betray. But considering the circumstances...I know why Dawson dumped you, Jen. And it makes me so incredibly pissed off that he could look you in the eye and break up with you for lying to him when...when-"
"Jack, what are you trying to tell me?"
"Pacey and Joey aren't the only people in Capeside who've been sneaking around, Jen."
"Dawson?" Jen asks, in disbelief. "With who?"
"Andie." Jen doesn't reply, completely shocked. Jack sighs, taking his hand away from hers and running it through his hair. "I know I should have told you. But Andie's my sister..." He reaches out to touch her, but she stands up.
"You should have told me, you're right," she says, her voice wavering. She gazes fixatedly at nothing, not knowing quite how to react. Jack stands up too.
"But you should have told me about Joey too..." Jack sticks his hands in his pockets. "I think we both had our reasons for keeping our secrets, Jen. I just...everything's such a mess now. I thought you should know the truth."
"I...I better go, Jack. I..."
"Jen, please don't run away from this. We're both caught in the middle, I need you to be my friend now."
"Jack, don't ask me for anything right now. I need to go home." Jen looks up at him, shaking her head.
"Jen!" He exclaims, as she starts backing away. Jen pauses. "I...Dawson didn't realize what he had, Jen."
Jen slowly moves closer to Jack, then kisses him lightly on his cheek.
"I'm not mad at you, Jack...I just can't. Not now. I need to be alone." Jack nods. "And Joey didn't realize what she had either."
"You're welcome," Jen smiles a little, then hurries away. Jack watches her leave, then sits back down on the bench. He didn't know what to do. But there was only two options left. Let Jen tell Pacey and Joey the truth, or tell them himself.
"Hi...is Pacey here?" Doug eyes the petite blond standing on the front porch, almost suspiciously. Andie fidgets under his gaze.
"Yeah, he's here. Hang on a second," Doug disappears from Andie's view, and she hears him calling to Pacey roughly. Since Doug hadn't invited her to come in, she stays out on the front porch, shivering in the cold. Within a few moments, Pacey comes to the door. Slowly, he opens it, gesturing for her to come in.
"Hi..." he murmurs, not sure what to say.
"I was wondering if we could talk, Pacey," Andie asks quietly, glancing toward the kitchen where Doug is. Pacey nods, and walks to his bedroom without saying anything else. She follows him. He closes the door with a heavy sigh.
"Andie, listen...I'm sorry about all of this." Pacey says immediately. Andie just nods complacently, sitting down on his bed.
"I just...I just wanted to talk to you. I tried to fall asleep last night, and I couldn't. There were so many things on my mind...today in school I couldn't concentrate at all. I just...I need to know, Pacey. I need to know why."
"There's not like, one reason."
"Well then just give me some kind of clue, Pace. I've been racking my brain trying to think of why you would choose Joey over me, and I just...was it what I said? About what happened to me in Rhode Island?"
"Andie, don't think that!" Pacey exclaims loudly. "Don't think that for a minute. Joey and I just fell in love, that's all that there is to it...it wasn't about anything that you said or did..."
"Oh, you just fell in love. Just like that," Andie laughs bitterly. "I suppose I meant nothing to you then."
"That's not what I meant to say." Pacey shakes his head. "You meant a lot to me, you still do."
"I was in love with *you*, Pacey. I still am. I've made mistakes. I've been less than perfect. But through it all, deep in my heart, I've always known that you were the one I was meant to be with. You mean more to me than anyone else in the world." Andie begins to cry. She hadn't really known why she'd found herself walking to Pacey's house; she just needed to see him. Needed to convince him that all this crap...him and Joey, her and Dawson...they got sidetracked, lost...confused. He'd hurt her so deeply; her heart still throbbed to even think about his relationship with Joey. But wasn't she just as guilty? Hadn't she been kissing Dawson, making out in his bedroom? Wasn't all of this equally their fault? "I just want you back."
"Andie, it's not that simple."
"Why, because you have Joey now? You really think that she's going to stay with you? You've seen what she does with guys, Pacey. Dawson...Jack...it's only a matter of time before she casts you off like an old toy."
"Don't talk about her like that!" Pacey says. It comes out harsher than he had meant it to be.
"Don't you see, Pacey? She'll tell you she's confused. That she needs time to herself, to figure things out. And she'll never come back to you. I'm here, Pacey. I'm here, saying that even after all of this, I still love you. Because you and I...we can have another chance together. We can make this work."
"I don't understand, Andie...why are you willing to forgive so easily?"
Andie falls silent. She kept telling herself that she should tell him about Dawson. Make things even. Make the playing field level again. But she couldn't do it.
"I just...I just am, Pacey. You mean that much to me." Pacey looks at her, wondering how she could possibly be saying this to him. If he were in her position, he doubted her could ever forgive what he'd done. Andie sees that Pacey doesn't know how to respond, so she gets up. "I wanted to tell you that. I'm not running away at the first sign of trouble." She glances at him once, then leaves. Pacey sits in the quiet of his room, going over and over Andie's strange behavior in his mind. Something just wasn't sitting right. Actually, nothing was right anymore.
The phone rings, startling him.
"Hey, Pace, it's me."
"Jo?" Pacey asks, not really believing it's her. She had avoided him like the plague all day during school.
"Yeah...are you busy?"
"No, no...not at all. Actually...Andie just left."
"Andie?" Joey's voice is full of surprise. "Why...I mean, what did she want?"
"To talk. She wanted to tell me that she's willing to forgive me if I want to get back together," Pacey almost laughs, the sentence sounding so ludicrous.
"What? But...it was just yesterday...I mean, isn't that a little fast?"
"I don't know, Joey. Everything is so weird now, I just don't know what to expect," he says quietly. "Have you spoken to Dawson or Jack?"
"No..." she sighs. "I tried calling Dawson, but he wouldn't speak to me. Jack wouldn't even look at me in school, so I suppose he's just as angry as Dawson."
"Yeah, well there seems to be a lot of that going around. After all, you wouldn't even acknowledge my existence today, Joey."
"I didn't know how to act," Joey states. "I still don't know how to act. I don't know what I want."
"So you just ignore me?" Pacey inquires.
"Pace, don't be like that. It's just after last night...things are different now. You and I aren't the same."
"You're right, we aren't," he replies. Pacey sits down on his bed, rubbing his forehead. The other end of the line is silent. "We aren't the same. We can't be expected to be the same. That doesn't mean that what we have is *over*."
"I'm not saying it's over, Pacey - stop putting words into my mouth!" Joey exclaims. She sighs, calming herself down rapidly. "It's just like I was saying last night. I think we need time apart. Just awhile. I need time to figure out how to handle all of this." Pacey laughs bitterly.
"Andie said you were going to say that," he says. "And I defended you. I told her that I loved you and that you wouldn't cast me off like you did with Dawson and Jack. But I guess I was wrong. When the going gets tough, you just get going, don't you?"
"I'm not running away from anything. I thought you would understand. I guess not."
"No, I guess not," Pacey mutters, and hangs up.
On the other end of the line, Joey stares at the receiver, the dial tone ringing loudly. Dazed, she walks into the kitchen.
"He hung up on me, Bess," she mumbles, tears welling in her eyes. "He just...hung up."
"Oh, Joey..." Bessie sets Alexander down in his high chair and crosses the room toward her.
"He thinks I'm...casting him off...that's what he said. Casting him off. He thinks I'm running away from the problem instead of facing it."
"Well, aren't you?" Bessie asks softly. Joey stares at her sister in disbelief.
"*No.* That's not what I'm doing. All I wanted to do was to take a little while, try to fix things. Try to make things okay. I can't be happy by making everyone else miserable."
"So instead you're making Pacey and yourself miserable. Meanwhile everyone else is still miserable too. Joey, Joey...the damage has already been done. All you can do is wait for time to heal it. Why drive Pacey away when he's all you have?"
To Be Continued...
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