Paradise Lost by: Laura

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No I won't do it again
I don't want to pretend
If it can't be like before
I've got to let it end
I don't want what I was
I had a change of head
But maybe someday
yeah maybe someday

I've got to let it go
and leave it gone
Just walk away
Stop it going on
Get too scared to jump
if I wait to long
But maybe someday...

I'll see you smile as you call my name
Start to feel, and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come, again

so tell me someday's come
tell me someday's come again

No I won't do it some more
Doesn't make any sense
If it can't be like it was
I've got to let it rest
I don't want what I did
I had a change of tense
but maybe someday...

I'll see you smile as you call my name
Start to feel, and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come

If I could do it again
Maybe just once more
Think I could make it work
like I did before
If I could try it out
If I could just be sure

That maybe someday is the last time
Yeah maybe someday is the end
Oh maybe someday is when it all stops
or maybe someday always comes again...
"Maybe Someday" by The Cure


Abby Morgan strolls into Capeside High, feeling as if she's sitting on top of the world. The truth was bound to be out by now...school would never be so interesting again. She's sure that everyone's going to be buzzing about it; things like this don't stay a secret for long. Everyone's going to be sure to notice that Capeside's most tightly knit group of friends are not even talking to one another, and if they didn't, well, she'd make sure that they noticed. Abby's only regret was not getting to see Joey Potter's face when she realized the game was up. It would've made her whole exploit even more worthwhile.

Smiling to herself smugly as she opens up her locker, she pauses before getting out her books to take a self-approving glance in the mirror. Startled, she gasps.

"Chris! What the heck are you doing? You scared the hell out of me." She whirls around after seeing Chris' reflection in the mirror and gives him a deadly glare. "You shouldn't sneak up on people like that."

"There are a lot of things people shouldn't do, Abby. That doesn't mean that we don't do them." Chris' tone is flat and even, and he stares back at her with an eerie calmness.

"If this is another lecture, Chris, forget it," Abby replies snidely, turning back to her mirror and rearranging her hair. "I mean, it's already too late to stop me, so you should really just give up this whole self-righteous gig and leave me alone. And if you think you can still collect on our deal, you are more of a moron than I originally thought. I'm definitely not sleeping with you."

"Why would you possibly think that I am even interested in making you fulfill the bargain? I couldn't even *kiss* you now, much less have sex with you. Though I really don't think that's my loss. Generally I try to avoid sleeping with the devil. Besides, you're no Joey Potter." Chris deliberately states, his voice still dangerously serene. Abby's fingers clench tightly around her hairbrush, trying to surpress her rage. Staring at his reflection with hatred flowing heatedly through her body, Abby whirls around, wielding her brush like a weapon, pointing it at Chris.

"You seem to be forgetting that until a few days ago, this was *your* plan. Any of the present circumstances which are present between Dawson & Co. are just as much your fault as they are mine. So while you're up on your high horse looking fown your nose at me, maybe you should realize that not only did you take part in this, you *enjoyed* it."

"You're right, Abby, I was a part of it. Operative word being was. Everything could've been over and done with. Forgotten. But you chose to take it a step too far."

"One can never go too far," Abby smirks. Chris backs away from her with a disgusted look.

"How can you live with yourself..." he mutters, and turns and stalks away. Abby smiles after him, pretending that his words didn't even penetrate her mind. Shutting her locker, she saunters into the girl's bathroom across the hallway.

Casually stepping inside, Abby stops momentarily when she sees Andie inside applying concealer underneath her eyes.

"Forget it, honey, ain't no amount of makeup gonna cover-up those under-eye circles," Abby laughs, walking over to her. Andie glares at her.

"What do you want, Abby? If you're hear to rip on me, for...well, whatever for, I suggest you take it elsewhere. Cause today, I swear...one word and I'll rip your head off."

"Tsk tsk tsk, Miss McPhee...I'm sure those in the Future Valedictorians Club would shake their heads in dismay if their lips weren't permanently glued to all their teachers' asses..." Abby sits on the counter, and gives Andie an inquisitive look. Andie is pretty much near tears. "What...did I say something to hurt your feelings? Or is it just the fact that Joey and Pacey have been doing the nasty that's got you down?" Andie stops wiping her eyes, freezing in place. Slowly, she turns to Abby, all the color draining from her face.

"How do you know about that?"

"Let's just say that I've had a few eye-witness accounts of Pacey and Joey's heated little meetings," Abby laughs, her tone full to the brim with triumph. "I have to hand it to Pacey...from what I've seen, he really knows how to satisfy a woman..." Abby leans toward Andie, her voice going quieter and more teasing. "Or...Joey, at least."

"Just shut up!" Andie turns away from her, breaking down. Just then, the bathroom door opens up and Joey walks inside. Abby smiles at her.

"Oh, Joey! Hello! What a coincidence. We were just talking about you." Joey looks from the teary-eyed Andie to Abby.

"Well then, I'll just leave you two to finish your discussion then," Joey replies, turning to go. Abby hops off the counter and races to the door, pushing it closed before Joey can leave.

"I don't think you'll be doing that, Josephine. I think you and Andie here have some things to work through," she almost cackles, reeling in delight. She gives Joey a nudge toward Andie.

"What is the matter with you, Abby? First the tape, now this - haven't you done enough?" Joey exclaims, angry. "What more damage can you possibly do?"

"I don't think I'm the one whose been causing damage, now have I, Andie?" Abby asks, walking over to her. "I'm sure Andie would think otherwise. Dontcha, Andie?" Abby throws her arm around her loosely, tossing Joey a wicked grin.

"Abby...please..." Andie begs quietly. Abby rolls her eyes.

"Quit being so weak. I mean, little Miss Thang over here has been doing it with *your* boyfriend for a long time now, and I don't even get to see a good bitch fight as a result? Not even a measly little slap?"

"What exactly is your problem, Abby? She hasn't done anything to you, I don't see why you have to pour salt into an open wound," Joey cuts in. Without warning, Andie's hand connects with Joey's cheek, leaving a stinging mark behind. Joey looks at her, stunned. Andie is furious.

"Don't you dare open your mouth and defend *me* to her, Joey. I'd rather deal with her taunting than listening to you act like you're my friend. The last thing I want is any favors." Andie storms out, pushing her way past the shocked Joey. She brings her hand to her face slowly, gingerly touching her cheek.

"How does it feel to finally have people hate you, Jo?" Abby smirks. "I know it's a hard concept to get used to, but being the other woman doesn't exactly make you tons of friends." Joey just looks at Abby's triumphant smile, her eyes almost deepening into a haze. For a moment, she remains silent, too many things running through her mind at once. Then Joey simply turns and walks out of the bathroom, too upset to speak.

Abby watches, confused, as Joey slinks away. She'd expected some kind of snotty reply or sharp insult flung back at her; she'd never known Joey Potter to do otherwise. Crossing her arms and leaning against the counter, Abby pouts to herself. If things weren't going to go as she planned, then how in the world was she expected to have any fun?

*******

Dawson slowly walks down the staircase by the auditorium, wondering where and when his life had gone so wrong. Only a few days ago he had been wrapped inside his own little dream land, where his movie was a prize-winning film being shown to the entire school and he had all his best friends to share in his glory...now his best friends are his worst enemies, and his recent success served only as a reminder of the illusion of happiness which he had allowed himself to live behind.

He stops short when he recognizes a familiar figure sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, her face buried in her arms, sobbing. Dawson gazes at Joey for a moment, his inner feelings conflicting. Part of him instinctively wanted to rush to her side and comfort her, ask her what was wrong. The other half wanted to storm past, not even acknowledging her presence. He must've been standing there for god knows how long, not noticing as people bump by him, shooting him annoyed looks, and gradually disappear from the hallway. The bell rings, jogging him from his thoughts.

Joey lifts her head up when she hears the bell, trying to collect herself. She'd just been walking to class like normal when she had broken down, unable to hold it in. She didn't even have the energy to make it into the nearest bathroom to cry in solitary comfort; she just didn't care about who saw her anymore. Not that it mattered. No one stopped to ask her if she was okay. It wasn't surprising. How many times had she walked by some other girl, crying her eyes out, and not even cared? Everyone had enough of their own problems to care about hers. If she wouldn't have stopped to help some cheerleader, why would some cheerleader ever stop to help her?

Wiping her eyes and nose with her hand and slowly standing up, she turns to go up the stairs and finds Dawson staring at her. Her heart fell to the bottom of her feet.

"Dawson..."

He looks at her carefully, his face showing his confusion.

"I have to go to class," he simply says, then walks past her and down the hallway. Joey stares after him, a few last tears escaping her eyes and down her cheeks. Blinking them away, she ascends the stairs. It felt hard to move. Her whole body ached, tired and worn down. The only thing she wanted at that moment was to curl up beside Pacey in a warm bed. He'd wrap his arms around her and tell her everything was going to be all right, just like he had when Bessie had read her diary. But there was no chance of that. She'd pushed him away out of guilt and confusion, told him that they needed time apart. Sighing deeply, Joey heads toward class, attempting to think of a good explanation for her tardiness.

*******

"Pacey, wait a minute!" Jack hurries after Pacey as he walks down the hallway. Pacey stops upon hearing his name, and looks startled to find Jack running up to him. He looks at him suspiciously.

"Jack, listen - if this is about Joey and Andie, just let me say-"

"It's not about that. Well, it is. But..." Jack looks around them, feeling awkward. "Do you think maybe we could go outside and talk about this?" Pacey eyes him.

"And what exactly are we talking about?" Jack doesn't answer. "Fine...I have lunch next so it doesn't matter if I'm not there." Taking a deep breath, Pacey follows Jack outside, dreading the conversation that is about to happen. He steps out into the cold December weather, supressing a small yelp as the freezing air hits his face. He immediately wraps his arms around himself to keep warm and turns to Jack, not venturing away from the safety of the shielded school steps. Jack exhales, his breath turning to fog as it hits the coldness.

"So..." Pacey starts. Jack sticks his hands in his pockets and looks away. "Jack. Before we freeze, could we maybe just talk about whatever it is you want to talk about?" Pacey didn't mean to be short with him, but he was freezing his ass off and not in the best of moods to begin with. Standing out in 30 degree weather with Jack McPhee was not a situation he longed to be in.

"Before I tell you this, Pacey, I just want you to know that I think what you did was horrible. You stole Joey away from me and broke my sister's heart. And I don't know if I can ever forgive you for that."

"Well, at least you're talking to me, which is more than I can say for everyone else."

"You have the fortunate luck that I already have someone else to be with, well, hopefully, and it's someone I like very much. And she's the reason why I'm telling you."

"Which is..?" Pacey waits expectantly. Jack sighs.

"The thing is, Pacey...while you've been...well...shall we say while you've *been* with Joey, Andie hasn't exactly been playing the part of the cheated-on girlfriend. You're not the only one who has had some trouble being faithful." Pacey looks at Jack in surprise, his mouth falling slightly open. His eyebrows raise in puzzlement as he tries to register the reality of what Jack is saying to him.

"Wait...what?" Pacey steps away from him. "Andie was cheating on me?"

"Yes."

"With who?"

"Dawson." Jack watches Pacey carefully for his reaction. He's completely stunned.

"Dawson. As in Dawson Leery." Pacey repeats.

"The one and only."

"Let me get this straight. Dawson and Andie have been going around behind my back all this time...yet they have the nerve to get all self-righteous and hurt by Joey and I? They've been sitting there, *knowing* that they're just as guilty of everything that they're accusing us of and insulting us for, and they haven't said a word?"

"Why would they? They have the opportunity to be the victims here. They're not going to turn themselves into the criminals on purpose."

"I can't believe this!" Pacey turns away from Jack, then turns back, then turns away again, apparently incapable of keeping a straight thought. "I just..."

"I thought that you should know about it, Pacey." Forgetting his anger, Pacey stops and stares at Jack, slightly amazed.

"After all of this, after what I did to you, you'd still betray your sister's trust like this?"

"Truth be told, this isn't about Andie. It's about Dawson. He dumped Jen because she didn't tell him about you and Joey, yet didn't even bother to mention that he's been treating her like a piece of crap and cheating on her with Andie. I can't take that. He's the ultimate hypocrite and I'm not going to let him get away with that. Besides, I think Andie should have told you about this herself and frankly I'm disappointed that she didn't. And anyway, Jen would've told you anyway." Pacey reaches out and pats Jack on the shoulder.

"Jack, you're a bigger man than I could ever be. I never would've had the courage to do what was right, especially considering the circumstances," Pacey shakes his head, still a bit stunned. Jack just nods slowly.

"I don't know what you want to do, Pace, but I just want you to know that you can still count on me as your friend." Jack opens the door and takes a step inside.

"Hey, Jack?" Pacey says.

"Yeah?" Jack looks back.

"Are you in love with her? Jen, I mean?" Jack thinks for a minute, genuinely exploring himself for the true answer.

"Yeah, Pacey...I think I am." Jack smiles a little, then turns to go again. This time, however, he comes back with a question. "Are you in love with Joey?"

"Yes..." Pacey sighs. "But I don't think we're meant to be."

"You really think you would've made it through all of this if you weren't meant to be?" Jack inquires. Pacey walks past him and into school, frowning.

"That's just it, Jack. We didn't make it through it. We're over." Not waiting to hear Jack's bewildered reply, Pacey heads off down the hallway, his anger and pain slowly mixing together into a confused mess inside his heart.

*******

Jen raps harshly on Dawson's front door, seething with anger. She'd gone through school all day trying hard not to burst. He walked around ignoring her, like she was some hellish creature who had wronged him. Jack was the only thing that kept her sane. She didn't want to make a fool of herself in front of the entire school, so he managed to keep her calm until after school where she could attack Dawson on his home turf. Now, she waits impatiently on the front porch of the Leery's large white house, tapping her feet on the wooden floor. Finally, Mrs. Leery opens the door.

"Jen! Hi! Come on in." Obviously, she hasn't been clued into the fact that Jen is no longer her son's girlfriend. She welcomes Jen in with a large smile. "How are you?"

"Great. Fabulous. Hey, did you know your son has been cheating on me?" Gail's smile falls immediately, taken aback. "Yeah, didn't think so. Is he upstairs? I'll just go up there." Jen stalks upstairs, leaving Dawson's stunned mother behind. She stares after Jen, thoroughly surprised. Putting her hand on her chest, she slowly sits down on the living room couch.

Jen storms into Dawson's bedroom, setting aside all pleasantries and courtesy. Dawson looks up from where is he sitting at his computer, startled. He stands up quickly.

"Jen, what are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here? I don't believe you'll be asking any questions right now, Dawson, I think you're going to be providing me with some answers."

"What is this about, Jen? What is your problem?" Dawson asks, getting defensive. "I don't think you have the right to just barge into my room like this. What if I had been getting changed or something? What if-"

"What if you'd been making out with Andie?" All the color drains from Dawson's face. "Yeah, Dawson, I know. Jack told me." Dawson sits down again, shocked.

"Who else knows?"

"I'm sure Joey and Pacey know by now, if that's what you mean," Jen replies. "I'd just like to know where you get off treating me like the scum of the earth for keeping a secret from you while you've been sneaking around with Andie McPhee. I mean, she was Pacey's girlfriend! You think Pacey and Joey were bad? Joey wasn't even your girlfriend. She was barely even your friend anymore. Pacey didn't do anything to you personally besides keep his and Joey's affair a secret...yet somehow that doesn't seem to factor in with you, does it?" Dawson opens his mouth to speak but Jen cuts him off. "No! You don't get to talk this time, Dawson. I've spent forever listening to you talk and this time I'm going to force you to listen. You went on and on about honesty and how important it is to you, yet you steal your best friend's girlfriend while you're dating me! Then you act like the epitome of upstanding virtue when Joey and Pacey's relationship came out into the open. You know as well as I do that you're just as bad as they are!"

"Jen, you've got to understand that what was going on with Andie and I-"

"I don't care, Dawson. I just don't care. I am just *so* mad at you right now, I can barely stand to look at you without having the urge to throw up. All this time I thought you were one of the good ones. One of the guys that girls would be lucky to marry in ten years. But now, it occurs to me that you're more dangerous than them all. The hidden asshole dressed as the lovable sweetheart. A wolf in sheep's clothing. I pity Andie, I really do. She had no idea whatsoever of what she's getting herself into." Jen looks at the speechless Dawson for a moment, then smirks slightly. "Amazing. Nothing to say." With that, she spins on her heel and leaves Dawson's bedroom.

Hurrying down the stairs, feeling much better now that all her pent-up anger is released, she smiles at Mrs. Leery, who jumps up as Jen comes into the living room.

"Bye, Mrs. Leery. Nice seeing you again." Almost as quickly as she had come, Jen opens up the front door and exits, heading across the lawn to her own home. Gail goes upstairs to her son's bedroom. She opens his door slowly, sticking his head inside.

"Dare I ask what all that was about?" Dawson, who is still sitting in his desk chair, motionless, doesn't reply. "Have you really been cheating on Jen, Dawson? Please tell me that she was wrong? Misinformed, maybe?" Dawson shifts his gaze to his mother, shaking his head no.

"She's wasn't wrong, Mom." Gail steps inside, shutting the door behind her.

"What do you mean, 'she wasn't wrong'? Dawson, *please* tell me that you're kidding." Dawson just buries his face in his hands. "Did you not learn *anything* from my mistakes? Have you not been living in this house? Have you not witnessed what my affair did to mine and your father's marriage?"

"Mom, I know, I know..."

"Obviously you don't know, Dawson! I thought you were smarter than this." Dawson utters a small groan, spinning his chair away from her. She moves around so she is facing him, taking a seat on the edge of his desk. He averts his eyes. "Who is she?" Dawson doesn't answer. "Dawson, who is she?" Her voice is sharp.

"Andie McPhee," he says, his voice quiet. Gail throws her hands up in the air.

"Pacey's girlfriend? Dawson-"

"Mom, don't get all preachy on me. It's not like I'm the only one guilty here."

"Yeah, well obviously Andie is just as-"

"I'm not talking about Andie, Mom," Dawson stands up, going to his closed window. "Joey and Pacey have been having an affair." Gail stares at her son, not believing everything she is finding out.

"Has the world gone crazy, Dawson? Is that what this is?" Mrs. Leery is completely shocked. "I can't believe I didn't see all of this. My own son!" Dawson moves toward his mother, feeling terrible.

"This isn't as bad as it seems. Everything just got out of control, that's all. It's all a huge mess right now, but everything will work itself out." Dawson knows he doesn't sound convincing at all. Gail looks up at him, her eyes full of pain and disappointment.

"In case you haven't noticed, Dawson, your father left me and I basically have nothing left. Things do *not* just work themselves out. You're going to get nothing but hurt by this." Too upset to continue talking, Gail simply gets up and walks out of Dawson's room, leaving him completely alone.

He stands there for a minute, wondering what exactly just transpired. Not knowing what else to do, he goes to the phone and dials Andie's number."

"Andie? Hi. We need to talk. Can you meet me at the docks in ten minutes?"


"Joey, would you please just slow down for a minute?" Bessie begs her sister for the millionth time, in an apparently futile effort to get her sister to act like a normal human being rather than the fastest moving and most un-human waitress in history.

"I have to work, Bessie. You should be happy that I'm doing my job." Bessie looks out into the restaurant, which only has three tables filled. Joey goes to whirl by her again, but Bessie stops her, pulling her back into the kitchen forcefully.

"Jo. Listen to me. There aren't enough customers in here for you to be acting like this. You've asked that poor old couple if they need anything so many times that I'm almost positive you're not going to get a tip because you've been so over-zealous. Why don't you just stop a minute, actually breathe, and tell me what is going on?"

"Nothing is going on, Bessie. I'm just trying to do the best job I can. What's wrong with that?" Bessie glares at her sister.

"That's it. Bodie, watch over for a minute!" She calls to him before dragging Joey out the back door of the restaurant, yanking her by her ponytail. Joey yelps in pain, wrenching away from her as they step outside.

"Ow, Bessie! What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?"

"If you don't stop this little "I'm fine, don't worry about me" routine, I *am* going to kill you and I'm not kidding! What is happening? Is it about Pacey?"

"I don't see why everything has to be about Pacey," Joey replies snottily, crossing her arms.

"Joey..." Bessie's tone is full of warning. Joey sighs.

"And so what if it is? About Pacey? I don't want to talk about it." Joey starts to go back into the Ice House, but Bessie stops her. She sets her hands comfortingly on Joey's arms, pausing to tuck a piece of fly-away hair behind her sister's ear.

"Jo, you can tell me whatever you're feeling, I'm here to help you."

"Like you were after you read my diary?" Joey replies, trying to pull away.

"I care about you, Joey. You're the only sister I've got and I don't want to see anything happen to you. So please...I promise I won't give you my opinion unless you ask for it." Bessie smiles a little, but Joey doesn't. She's already crying, her facade crumbling to pieces.

"I just miss him so much, Bessie. I don't think he's coming back..." she lets Bessie wrap her arms around her, burying her face in her sister's shoulder. Bessie strokes Joey's hair soothingly.

"Jo, it's only been three days, you have to give it time." Bessie realizes that that might have been considered her opinion and stops.

"It's over between us, Bess, I can sense it. I see him in school and he doesn't even look at me in the same way. Whenever I see him my heart just hurts and I feel like I could run right into his arms, and I don't see even a glimmer of that in him..." Joey pulls Bessie tighter. "I need him."

"He needs you too."

"I've lost him, and it's all my fault..." Joey mumbles.

"Joey, don't say that-" Joey pulls away quickly as Bessie speaks.

"Why not say it, Bessie? It's the truth." She slips back inside, letting the old wooden door fall shut loudly behind her.

Drying her eyes and grabbing a notepad from the counter by the stove, Joey steps through the swinging kitchen door and into the dining room. Her heart jumps into her throat when she sees Pacey standing by the front counter. Just looking at him, she can name a million things she loves about him, and all of them are filling her mind and body as her thoughts race with optimistic possibilities of his being there.

"Pacey." His name escapes her lips as naturally as if it were a breath. He looks at her as he hears his name, his dark eyes searching hers, a thousand feelings exchanged without a single word being said.

"Hi, Joey," he murmurs, his entire reason for coming there forgotten in that single glance.

"Joey, don't run away from-" Bessie enters the room loudly from the kitchen, her sentence falling dead as she sees the scene before her. "Oh..." Neither of them look at Bessie, both of them seemingly frozen in place. "Joey...why don't you and Pacey take a walk and have a little talk, okay?" She pries the order pad from Joey's hand and unties Joey's apron, taking it off. Joey nods slightly, her eyes never leaving Pacey's. Bessie gives Joey a small nudge toward the door.

"Thanks, Bess," she says a moment later, finally taking a step away. Pacey finally breaks the gaze, heading to the door and opening it. He gives Bessie an offhand wave good-bye as they leave, his mind on other things.

"So...Pacey...what brings you here?" Joey manages to ask, her voice sounding more than a little strained. She coughs lightly, not knowing exactly how to act since she doesn't know his reason for coming.

"There's something I have to tell you, Joey," Pacey states slowly as they stroll down the docks, away from the Ice House.

"Yes?" she asks hopefully, almost choking on the word. Suddenly Pacey stops walking, looking straight down the pier. "What's the matter?" She follows his gaze and sees Dawson and Andie standing along the railing further on down the docks, talking.

"Well isn't this a coincidence," Pacey mutters, his voice bitter. Joey looks at him inquisitively.

"What?"

"It's just...that's what I have to tell you, Jo." He gestures toward the pair.

"I don't follow..." Joey says, just wishing her would call her "Jo" again in that tone of voice that only he used.

"Dawson and Andie. That's what I have to tell you. They apparently are just as guilty of an affair as we are." Joey doesn't quite know what to say.

"You're kidding, right?" Pacey shakes his head no. "You're serious."

"Jack told me today. It's been going on for awhile." Joey is amazed at Pacey's calmness; she felt as if she was going to explode.

"And all this time they've been making me feel like a horrible, dirty..." Joey immediately starts walking toward them at a hasty pace, her eyes narrowing in anger. Pacey hurries to catch up with her.

"Joey-" From his voice she knows that he's going to say something to try to keep her rational, but she won't have any of it.

"Don't, Pacey. Just let me have this one. I've been doing nothing but agonize over all the pain I've caused everyone for what seems like an eternity, and now I find out that I really have no reason to feel sorry for what I've done to those two? I could seriously beat them up right now and now have any qualms about it!" She continues her rapid journey toward Andie and Dawson, taking them both by surprise.

"Andie, Dawson, hi!" she greets them, her voice dripping with sarcastic kindness. "Let me guess what is going on here...two friends talking casually on the docks? No...wait, that's not it..." Pacey stops beside Joey, part of him actually enjoying the looks on Andie and Dawson's faces. "Oh, wait, I know! Could it be that you two have secretly been seeing each other this whole time meanwhile letting Pacey and I be the poster couple for unfaithfulness? I believe so... Pace, what do you think?"

"I do believe you're right, Jo," Pacey agrees, nodding. Both Dawson and Andie are struck speechless.

"Why, I do believe that they agree too," Joey says.

"Pacey, this isn't what it seems like," Andie replies quickly, her voice almost squeaking.

"Oh, well, I'm not going by what it looks like anyway. I got my information from a very valuable source, so I don't think that the defense of appearances being deceiving will really work here, Andie," Pacey says, his tone flat.

"Just look at the two of you." Joey is disgusted. She glares at Dawson. "Two-faced liars."

"Look who's calling the kettle black, Joey," Dawson bites back, finding his voice again. "You two haven't exactly been-"

"This isn't about us, Dawson. This time it's about you and Andie and you aren't going to turn it around on us. It's your time to take the heat," Pacey half-yells, angered by Dawson's attempt to make them the center of scorn again. "You were supposed to be my best friend and somehow you ended up making out with my girlfriend. I don't see how your actions are any less wrong than mine and Joey's and you are *not* going to make this into a discussion about our relationship because we've taken the heat for it already. You didn't even bother to bring up the fact that the both of you were doing the same thing, so now it's your turn to be made to feel like the most evil people on earth."

"I don't understand how you could've both stood there and been so completely hypocritical! It makes me sick. Don't either of you have consciences?" Joey looks from Dawson to Andie, then back to Dawson. "Don't you?"

"Joey, look. What were we supposed to do? We don't owe you anything. You and Pacey broke apart all of our friendships, we didn't have to tell you about us." Pacey's eyes fill with hatred while Dawson speaks, utterly baffled by Dawson's lack of remorse.

"Who are you?" Pacey asks, his voice growing loud. "I don't even understand what you've become, Dawson. You didn't have to tell us? Didn't you even feel guilty about what you were doing? I mean, Joey and I knew we were wrong and we felt terrible about it-"

"And you're saying we didn't?" Andie asks.

"I didn't say it, Dawson just did," Pacey replies. Andie looks around, feeling extremely uncomfortable having this intensely personal fight out in public.

"Look, we're all guilty here. You, Joey, Dawson, and me. Every single one of us. We all decided to betray one another and this is what came of it. If we sit around here screaming at one another like this we're never going to get anything resolved," Andie says lowly.

"How very noble of you to admit your guilt, Andie. I didn't see you fessing up when you slapped me today."

"She *hit* you?" Pacey asks Joey, disbelieving. "You hit her?" he turns to Andie.

"You know what? I don't think what happened between Joey and Andie today is something that we need to talk about," Dawson attempts to stop it, but now Pacey is truly angry.

"If you want to start talking about everyone's guilt, Andie, let's just stop for a second here and talk about yours. How could you possibly come back and ask me to take you back when you've been with Dawson? Did you even plan on telling me that you'd been cheating on me or were you just planning on roping me back in and leaving me to live in the dark about it forever?"

"Wait, you tried to get back together with him?" Dawson cuts in, stepping between Pacey and Andie.

"Dawson..."

"Andie, is that true?"

"Yes, I guess in a way it is, but...it's not as if-" Andie backs away from Dawson, her voice trembling.

"Why in the world would you do that, Andie? I thought that we were really going to give our relationship a chance," Dawson asks, deeply hurt.

"Well obviously she's still in love with Pacey, Dawson," Joey interjects angrily.

"I'm not...I'm not still in love with him, I just...I don't know what I am anymore..." Andie fails to continue. She takes one look at Dawson and runs off, not able to handle it anymore. Dawson, Joey and Pacey all stand there and look at one another for a moment, until Pacey turns walks away, not saying anything more. Joey watches him retreat, then sighs.

"So much for friends forever, eh, Dawson?" She says bitterly, and heads off in the direction Pacey went. Dawson just turns and looks out onto the ocean, wondering how much more of this he could take.

*******

"Pacey!" Joey calls, running down the path toward the beach. He stops, looking back. Joey's sneakers sink into the sand as she walks up to him, the rough wind whipping against her cheeks as it comes off the water. Small snowflakes were beginning to float down from the sky and it was growing dark. Out of breath, she finally reaches him. "Pacey, please don't run away. I need to talk to you about this. About everything."

"Don't say anything, Joey, please." Pacey shakes his head at her. "I can't take anymore of this today." Joey sets her hand on his shoulder, but he shrugs her touch off.

"I know that what I said the other night hurt you, Pace, but I want you to know that I didn't mean it."

"What, finding out about Andie and Dawson suddenly makes the whole guilt issue go away?" Pacey questions. "We can just set all that aside now and get back to how we were, right?" Pacey didn't know where the anger was coming from, but he couldn't stop it. "You want to just drop it down here on the beach and do it? Is that what you want? It's not that simple."

"Pacey, I didn't say that. And this isn't about Dawson and Andie. I've been feeling this way ever since that night, and I've wanted to tell you...."

"Then why didn't you, Joey?"

"You wouldn't even talk to me. How was I supposed to?" Joey looks up at him, the wind blowing her hair into her face. She pulls from her eyes.

"You don't get it, Jo, you really don't. I never doubted my love for you, not even for a second. Through all of this, that has been the one truth that I clung to. The one thing that I thought would always be there because I felt it so strongly, stronger than I've ever felt anything before. But you don't feel that way. You got lost somehow...I lost you."

"I don't feel that way?" Joey stares at him as if he's suddenly grown two heads. "Pacey, are you crazy? The way I feel for you...it's something I never imagined I could feel for anyone. I admit that I got a bit lost, after Dawson and Andie found out, and I'm sorry that I couldn't be as clear-minded and strong as you, but I'm here now. Isn't that what counts? I'm here, and I'm telling you that I want to be with you."

"Finding out about Dawson and Andie has nothing to do with this then." It isn't a question, but more of a sarcastic comment.

"No!" Joey exclaims, exasperated. "Dawson and Andie...that whole thing pisses me off, it makes me feel betrayed, and *yes*, it does make it easier for me to just forget about them and be with you but that is not the reason that I am here now, on a cold beach, getting sand in my shoes and probably catching a cold, and declaring my love for you! I'm beginning to think that this whole Dawson & Andie thing isn't half as much a problem for me as it is for you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean that you're upset about Andie being with Dawson. You still have feelings for her and it's clear that she still has feelings for you."

"I don't have feelings for her, not like that."

"Then *what* is this about, Pacey?" Joey exclaims.

"What do you think it's about, Joey?" Pacey almost yells back at her.

"I don't know!"

"It's about me and you. Just like always has been and always will be. *You* and *me*. Us. But I don't even know if an *us* exists anymore." Joey moves toward him, reaching her hand out to touch his face. He steps away. "The things that you've said, Jo...you can't just take them back and pretend they were never said. I can't help but think that you're going to leave me again."

"Leave you? Pacey, I never left you. You're the one who leapt to conclusions and said we shouldn't see each other anymore. You didn't even give me a chance to explain."

"I didn't have to. You might not have said it, but I could see it." He pauses. "You forget that I know you better than I know myself, Jo." Pacey looks out onto the tremulous water as the waves crash onto the shore. The world had never felt so cold before in his entire life. Joey is quiet for a minute, not sure what to say to him. In her silence, he glances over at her. Tiny snowflakes were falling to rest on her dark brown head, her usually deep red lips fading to a pale purple as she shivered.

"Pacey, I made a huge mistake, and I wish that I could take it back, but I can't. It was an incredibly hard situation for me and I just freaked out."

"How do I know that you won't freak out again, Joey? Cause I don't think I could handle it if you did." He sighs, looking down at his mittened hands. Joey moves close to him, gazing up at him with earnest eyes.

"I love you, Pacey, and I'm not leaving," she says, forcing him to look into her eyes gently. "Trust me. I'm not going anywhere." She half-smiles at him before tenderly pressing her lips to his, kissing him hesitantly, not sure of how he'll react. He kisses her back deeply for a moment, but then pulls away so fast that it almost knocks Joey off balance.

"I can't," he murmurs as he steps away.

"Pacey..." Joey says pleadingly.

"I have to go." Pacey walks off the beach and back up the path before Joey can say another word. She stands there by herself, trying very hard not to sit down on the sand and start crying. The sounds of the beach echo in Joey's ears as she looks up and down the barren beach. The ocean seemed to stretch out forever, disappearing across the horizon as it met the deep, troubled gray sky. Never before in her life had she so badly wanted to slip away.

*******

"Jen? Are you home?" Jack calls as he enters the foyer of the Ryan home. "Jen?" She had invited him over earlier that night, but when he had arrived, no one had answered the door. He hears someone walking around upstairs. "Jen? Is that you?"

"Jack?" Her familiar voice echoes down the stairs. "I'll be right down!" A few seconds later, Jen comes bounding down the stairs happily. Jack smiles at her, thankful to see a happy face for a change.

"Hey, you look estatic."

"That's cause I am. I have a lot to tell you. Take off your coat, I'll hang it up."

"Oh, thanks," Jack slips out of his winter jacket and hands it to her. "I hope you don't mind me letting myself in, but I was standing out there knocking forever and the door was open. Plus, it's getting even colder out there."

"Yeah, the good ol' Capeside winter is kicking into full gear. Is it still snowing out?"

"Lightly."

"The first snow is always the best. I just like to watch it cover everything slowly in a blanket of white," Jen says as she sticks Jack's coat in the main hall closet. "Don't you love that?"

"Yeah, I do," Jack grins. "So...don't keep me in suspense. What's been going on?"

"I went over to Dawson's today after school and I just let him have it. I feel *so* much better now, just having all of it off my chest. I think you were right about how letting things go makes your life seem much better."

"Well, it does help. I mean, it's hard to, sometimes, but it's worth it," Jack follows Jen into the kitchen. "No Grams tonight?"

"Bible group meeting. Aren't you sorry to be missing it?" Jen laughs.

"Come on, your grandmother isn't that bad."

"Try living with her for awhile, Jack, and then cast your vote. You can not rush to judgement on something like that." Jen smiles at him as she gets down two glasses from the cupboard and grabs some pop from the fridge. As she begins to pour, she glances at Jack. "Oh - do you want something to drink?"

"Since you're already pouring me some, do I really have a choice?" Jack chuckles. Jen shakes her head no, handing him his glass.

"Not really. But who wants a choice?" Jack takes his drink from her and sets it right back down on the counter next to him, gazing at her with a hazy smile on his face. Jen stares back at him for a moment.

"What is it?" She asks self-consciously, trying to read his brown eyes for some sign of explanation. Jack laughs lightly, breaking his gaze and blushing.

"Sorry. I was just thinking...about something."

"About what?"

"Just...choices. Fate." Jack sits down, resting his elbows on the counter.

"Fate?" Jen repeats.

"It's just that all of this with Dawson & Andie and Pacey & Joey...it gets me wondering how all this time they were all right under each other's noses but with the wrong people...Then suddenly they found one another. It makes me think that it was almost a good thing that Joey found Pacey and broke up with me. If she hadn't done that, I never would've started hanging out with you."

"Jack, that's so sweet," Jen replies, smiling. "I'm really glad that we've gotten to be such good friends too - you've been the only person I can confide in lately and it's been more of a help than you can imagine." Jack starts to reply, then stops for a second, thinking.

"Is that all I am to you? A friend?" he asks quietly. Jen shifts awkwardly, her expression shifting.

"Jack, are you saying what I think you're saying?"

"Depends on if you feel the same way. If you do, then yes, that's what I'm saying. If you don't, then I'm sure I can come up with a different interpretation." Jen is silent for a minute or so. She'd been having feelings for Jack for awhile now, but she'd never really sat down and thought about what she'd do if this moment ever came. And of all times, she hadn't expected this to be it. Jack waits patiently for her to say something.

"I do. Feel the same way, I mean," Jen finally manages to reply. Jack looks relieved.

"You do?"

"Yes, Jack. I do. You're so amazing and wonderful..."

"I sense a but coming on..." Jack sighs, wearily.

"Not a but, Jack. Just a worry."

"And what worry would that be?"

"Everything is just a little messed up now. Everyone is mad at everyone else and nothing is the way it used to be. I don't know if this is the best time to be setting out into a new relationship. Maybe we should wait."

"Jen..." Jack laughs. "We're the only two sane people left. I think it makes more sense to band together rather than stay apart." Jen giggles, her mood lightened. "Well, doesn't it?"

"Yes, it does." Sort of off-handedly, Jen gives him a small kiss. As she pulls away, the moment deeply intensifies, her eyes meeting Jack's. They freeze in each other's arms, their smiles fading into seriousness. Tentatively, Jen kisses him again, this time much deeper and longer. Jack stands up, wrapping his arms around her. They pull away from one another, moving and checking to make sure that what's happening is okay with one another. Jack picks Jen up and sets her on top of the counter, and their lips meet once again, getting more passionate with every passing moment. When they finally slow down, Jen rests her head on Jack's chest, breathing hard.

"Wow."

"Yeah..." he whispers, smiling softly.

"Yeah..." Jen smiles back. "I think I'm liking this."

"I'm thinking that I like it too," Jack replies, pulling her back to him for another kiss.


Mr. Leery opens the door to his apartment and turns on the light. He almost drops his bag of groceries as he jumps a mile, surprised to see Dawson sitting in his kitchen.

"Dawson! What you doing, sitting here all alone in the dark? You almost scared me to death." Mitch laughs, setting his groceries down on the counter.

"Sorry, Dad. Hope you don't mind me letting myself in," Dawson mumbles, tired.

"Well, that's what I made you that spare key for, son. What's the matter? Did you have a fight with your mom?"

"No. Well, yeah, actually I did, but that's not why I'm here." Mitch looks at his son, concerned. He sits down next to him.

"Has something happened? You look terrible."

"Thanks, Dad," Dawson laughs slightly. "You always know exactly what to say to make me feel better." Mitch opens the fridge and starts unloading his groceries onto the counter, sticking 2 half-gallons of milk into the refrigerator.

"So, Dawson what is it that's got you down?" Mitch slaps his son lightly on the back with his standard jovial attitude. "Girl trouble?" Mitch stops unpacking the groceries, popping open a container of ice cream that he had bought and grabbing a spoon from the drawer.

"Yeah, you could say that." Dawson mumbles. Mitch puts a spoonful of vanilla into his mouth and takes a seat next to Dawson.

"Joey?"

"Well, she's part of it."

"Only part?" Mitch asks, smiling knowingly. "My son has more than one instance of girl trouble?"

"Dad, please don't smile like that, you have no idea how incredibly inappropriate that is at this particular moment in my life," Dawson groans.

"How is it inapporpriate?"

"My trouble with Joey isn't about her and me. Not remotely," Dawson runs his hands through his hair again, looking down at the counter. Mitch grows more solemn.

"Then what's the problem?"

"It's her. And Pacey. They're sort of...they have been...well..." Dawson's voice trails off, looking at his father to see if he gets the idea. Mitch drops his spoon to the counter, stunned.

"Our Joey? And Pacey? Dating?"

"No, not dating...more like..." Dawson nods for emphasis. Mitch's eyes show no recognition of what Dawson's getting at.

"What?"

"They've been having sex, Dad," Dawson finally says bluntly, frustrated. Mitch is silent for a minute, processing this strange news.

"Okay...um...but I thought that Pacey and Andie were a couple."

"They were."

"Oh...."

"Until Joey and Pacey...and me and Andie..."

"You and Andie had *sex*?" Mitch exclaims, jumping up from his chair. "Dawson! What were you thinking? What about Jen? I thought you were smarter than that!" He looks at his son with a mix of disappointment, shock, and anger.

"Dad! Calm down. Please. Andie and I, we didn't. We just...well, we kissed. A lot. Whatever. That's not my point. My point is that everything is all out in the open now, I'm not talking to either Pacey or Joey and I just found out that Andie wants to get back together with Pacey, Jen and I had a horrible fight and I said some things that I definitely shouldn't have said so now she completely hates me...and Mom...she's so upset with me that I don't even know what to expect."

"Well, Dawson, I don't know what to say to you. I mean...this is something of your own making and I don't know how you can fix it. I'm really disappointed in you. After seeing what your mother and I went through and knowing what cheating does to people, I don't know how you could go out and-" Dawson gets up, grabbing his jacket and heading for the door. "Where are you going?"

"I got the lecture from Mom already, Dad. And I've already been giving it to myself every day since this whole thing started. Believe me, I really don't need to hear it again."

"Maybe you do, Dawson," Mitch replies, his tone harsh. "I expected so much more from you than this."

"You think I don't know that?" Dawson finds himself almost shrieking. He turns back on his father, both furious with his lack of compassion and at himself. "You don't think I expected more from myself? I never thought that I'd be a guy who stole someone's girlfriend away from them, Dad, I can guarantee you that. I didn't plan on liking Andie, and I tried not to. It didn't work. I tried denying how I felt, I tried facing up to it in hopes of getting past it...Andie and I even tried to completely forget about it after our first kiss, but somehow we just always...it just always lead back to *us*, do you know what I'm trying to say?"

"Not really, Dawson. It's either you do the right thing or you don't. There isn't a gray area in between. You chose to do the wrong thing."

"And what about Pacey and Joey? I mean, what Andie and I did doesn't even begin to compare to what went on - what's going on -between them-"

"And if you're going to use that as a rationalization to make yourself feel better, Dawson, go right ahead. I'm not going to sit here and sugar coat things for you and make you feel better," Mitch tells his son, matter-of-factly. Dawson looks at him, furious.

"You're my father! You're supposed to make me feel better!"

"No, I'm supposed to teach you right from wrong and make sure that you grow up to be a strong, respectable individual who can be considered a good person."

"I made on indiscretion with Andie and now I'm not a good person?" Dawson exclaims, getting even more furious and hurt. He turns away from his dad, frustrated. Mitch sighs, trying to calm himself down a little.

"Dawson, that's not what I'm saying. Of course I still think that you're a good person." He goes to Dawson, stopping Dawson's anxious and upset pacing by placing his two hands firmly on his shoulders and looking him squarely in the eyes. "And I know that because in here," Mr. Leery places his hand over his own heart, "in here, you know that you're still that person. And I think you know as well as I do that a good person would not try to avoid the blame for his own actions, would they?" Dawson stops churning in his frustration as his father's words sink in, and he relaxes sadly, knowing that what Mitch is saying is right. "Pacey and Joey...sleeping together...of course that was wrong, Dawson, and it's clear that their actions hurt a lot of people. But you can't use it as an excuse to let your own mistakes slide. Whatever you've been trying to trick yourself into thinking, you and Andie are in no way less to blame for what has happened between all of you."

"I know..."

"It's a hard thing to face, and it must be tearing you up inside. I know it is. That's what makes you a decent man, Dawson. And I have every bit of faith that you can make things right again."

"I don't think I can do that, Dad," Dawson says, pulling away. Mitch stops him, shaking his head.

"Joey and Pacey have been your best friends since you were 4 years old, Dawson. Of course you can."

*******

Pacey sits in his dimly lit kitchen, alone, downing his third bottle of some god awful strange name beer that he had found in the basement. Someone had brought it to a family party once and no one had taken any of it, so it had been stowed away in the basement until the next family party when his father would have the opportunity to take it and pass it off to some other unsuspecting relative. The same six pack of beer had probably taken residence in more than once Witter family basement in its time. Not anymore, though; he had a feeling that it would be gone by the night's end. He winces at the taste as he takes another swig, but as the alcohol finally begins to dull the pain, he decides it's completely worth it. Setting the brown bottle back on the table with a thud, Pacey lets out a long deep breath. He couldn't get Joey's face out of his mind.

He could almost feel the soft satin feel of Joey's dark brown hair under his fingertips, her warm skin pressed against his, the darkness and depth of her beautiful eyes...his heart ached just thinking about her. There had never been a time in his life where he had felt as important, secure, and loved as he had when he was with her; now it seemed like everything was ending. He swallows the last of the beer in the bottle and hastily pops open another. Only a few hours ago they'd been on the beach together, and she'd asked him to give her another chance...to give them another chance. Why hadn't he been able to do it?

When she had withdrawn from him after Dawson and Andie found out, he'd never felt more alone. It was the time when he needed her most, and she'd run away on him. Everything that happened after their affair was out in the open wasn't easy in any way, shape or form, but they had known that was how it was going to be. The only way to make it through it all was to know they'd always have each other. But suddenly he'd turned around that he didn't have Joey, and maybe he never had. What was he supposed to think about her love for him? She said she loved him more than anything, but she couldn't love him, not really. Joey had shown him that the instant she shut him out of her life. Still, he couldn't help but wonder if she had just made a mistake and truly did mean the things that she had told him on the cold beach earlier that day.

The front door opens suddenly, but Pacey doesn't even have enough will to cover up what he's been doing. He merely takes another drink, letting the disattached daze slowly wash over his body.

"Pacey? What the hell do you think you're doing?" Doug demands, storming into the kitchen and toward his younger brother. He picks up one of the beer bottles. "Where did you get this?"

"The basement," Pacey replies simply, not really caring. "It's no good, you probably don't want any." Doug takes the bottle out of Pacey's hand and slams it down on the table.

"You know what Dad's going to do when he finds out about this? Underage drinking in his own house? Don't think for a minute that he won't arrest you for this."

"Then what's he gonna do, arrest himself? He left the alcohol out in the open for his underage son to use, he's just as to blame," Pacey replies, getting up from his chair slowly. "Can I have my beer back?" Doug takes the open bottle and pours it down the sink, so Pacey just takes the remaining two from the six-pack and heads off to his bedroom. Doug follows him, furious, his keys jangling against his police belt.

"Dad didn't purchase the alcohol for your use, you moron. In fact, didn't Uncle Ed bring that over on the 4th of July?" Doug enters Pacey's room as Pacey flops onto his bed, setting the two bottles on his floor. Pacey just half-smirks back at him.

"What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Dad left his nightstick here and sent me over to get it."

"Well why didn't he come get it? What are you, his gopher?" Pacey inquires, purposely jabbing at his brother. If his troubles with Joey weren't enough, the last thing he needed was Doug ragging on him incessantly.

"He's handling something down at the precinct, all right? And you're damn lucky that he wasn't the one who came through that door, Pacey, or else he wouldn't be standing here yelling, he'd be hitting."

"Like I don't know that, idiot," Pacey snaps back. "Am I supposed to thank you for not beating me up, is that it? Why can't you just leave me alone?" Pacey pulls his bedcovers over his body, wishing his bed would swallow him whole and somehow take him some place where all of this didn't exist. No Joey, no family, no anything. Doug is quiet for a minute, causing Pacey to peer out at him.

"How about you tell me what you decided to crack open a six pack in the family kitchen for starters?"

'I don't want to talk about it." Pacey mumbles, burying his head back under the covers, wishing he had gotten one more beer down before Doug had intruded. This wasn't nearly enough alcohol to make life seem any better. He hears the clink of glass and looks to see Doug taking the two bottles off his floor.

"You're not having these, obviously. I don't really care what the heck this is all about, Pacey, but if you don't come up with some mind-altering reason why I shouldn't tell Dad about this little escapade, I guarantee you that he *will* hear about it."

"You know what, Dougie? Using the word escapade in the course of normal conversation doesn't cement your claim to heterosexuality any so you might want to ban it from your vocabulary." Doug turns to go, annoyed.

"Fine, don't blame me when Dad lets you have it." Doug starts slowly walking out of Pacey's room, waiting for Pacey to break.

"Like I care. If I'm lucky, maybe he'll just put me out of my misery and all my problems will be solved."

"Self-pity isn't very attractive," Doug replies.

"Thanks for the information, Doug, but since you don't understand the slightest thing about how my life is now, I'll make the judgment on how much pity will be sent in my direction." Pacey says, sitting up.

"I tried to give you the chance to tell me what's going on, Pacey, and you didn't take it, so you're in no place to complain to me," Doug tells him, shrugging. "It's your own fault."

"Like you would even care, Doug!" Pacey exclaims, losing his temper. "You could not possibly *begin* to comprehend how it feels to have the only person you'll love walk out of your life and lose all your friends in the course of one day! You wouldn't even be capable of understanding how I feel!"

"What are you even talking about, Pacey? What do you mean by-"

"I mean that I've lost everything that matters, and it's all my own fault! Is that enough for you? Will you please just leave me alone now?" Pacey yells, wanting to scream it at the top of his lungs. Doug stares at his little brother for a moment, not quite sure if this was the same person who had been standing in front of him a few moments before. Pacey was so angry that Doug couldn't help but feel a little scared of him. Pacey didn't seem like his brother anymore; He seemed to have changed into impassioned young man who had seen more of life than Doug ever could have. Pacey had grown-up.

"Did you and Andie break up?" Doug asks tentatively, his revelation still sinking in.

"Uh, yeah, that's sort of what one would think would happen after she found out that Joey and I have been sleeping together." Pacey mutters. Doug's mind flies back to the night when he had found Pacey with someone on the side of the road, and it suddenly occurs to him that it wasn't Andie with Pacey in that truck. He can't speak for a second, not entirely sure what to say. "It turns out that Andie and Dawson have been fooling around together too so we're basically all just a bunch of cheaters...sort of ironic, don't you think?" Pacey laughs bitterly.

"Pacey..." Doug starts, then stops. He's still trying to get his thoughts together. The part of him that felt for Pacey was having a hard time making it to the surface.

"The worst part of it isn't that I've lost my friends, Doug, but it's...Joey and I, we...it's over. I don't know how we can make it work now, after all of this. Stuff went on between us after everyone found out, and I don't know if I can forget that it happened."

"Well, Pacey...I...I don't know the first thing about your life, and this just goes to show that you have this...this entire world apart from our family that not a single one of us bothers to care about..."

"Thanks, Doug, you're making me feel like a million bucks."

"I'm just saying, Pace, you've become this person I don't even know anymore. You've been in love with this girl, Joey Potter, right?" Pacey nods. "With Joey for what's obviously been quite some time now, and I didn't even have a clue. I don't know what's going on with you, and that's something of my own making. But I just want you to know that I am here and willing to help, if you need me. I just...I know what it's like to be so deep in love and then wake up and realize that somehow it disappeared on you."

"How do you know?" Pacey inquires, his curiosity piqued.

"Just trust me on that one," Doug sighs. "I know you probably don't want my advice, Pacey, but it's clear to me that you're not ready to have Joey out of your life. If there's even a slight chance that things can still work out, you have to cling to it and use it for all it's worth." Doug glances toward the door. "I better go, Dad's going to wonder where I am." Doug starts to leave.

"Doug?"

"Yeah?" He turns back expectantly.

"Can I have my beer back?" Pacey asks. Doug frowns.

"No way in hell," he replies. "I think you've had enough for one night."

*******

"Joey, you have a visitor," Bessie's voice rings into the darkness of Joey's bedroom, and she grudgingly sits up in bed.

"Tell whoever it is that I'm busy!" she yells back, flopping back into her pillows. She felt like she was about to throw up. Pacey's words to her made her feel like she would be sick, her stomach churning every time she pictured him coldly walking away from her. He had kissed her back, she had felt it. The same electric shock that she always felt when he touched her and shot down her spine, and his body had reacted to hers. But he had walked away. Joey couldn't get over it. She'd really ruined everything and there didn't seem to be any hope of fixing it again.

"You don't look too busy to me," Abby Morgan says, coming into her bedroom and flipping on the lights. Joey shields her eyes with her hands, groaning.

"Turn them off..." she cries, wincing as the bright light assaulted her. Once her eyes adjust, Abby's form finally comes into focus. Coldly, Joey stares at her. "You can not possibly imagine how much I do not want to talk to you right now."

"I come in peace," Abby replies, putting her hands up in surrender.

"Just leave, Abby," Joey mumbles, laying back down on her bed.

"What? No insults? No barbed comments? Aren't you even going to yell at me for giving Dawson that tape?"

"He would've found out eventually..." she murmurs. "I don't really care anymore, nothing really matters." Abby sits down on the edge of Joey's bed, giving her a quizzical look.

"You're not angry with me? I don't get it."

"Of course I'm angry with you. I hate you," Joey tells her, her voice flat and disinterested. "But what's done is done, you can't take it back. And I hated you long before this, so this is just another thing to add to the list. Whatever. Now just tell me why you're here so you can leave."

"Actually I came to gloat and rub this all in, but that's hardly fun if you're not going to fight back," Abby smirks. Joey doesn't reply. Her silence makes Abby uneasy. "Okay, actually, the truth is, that after what happened in the bathroom today, part of me sort of, kind of, wanted to know that you're all right. Just a little bit of me, though, so don't get too excited."

"I'm fine, Abby. Thank you for your incredibly fake concern. What is this about? You want to get the dirt on Andie and Dawson? If that's what it takes to get you to leave, I'll tell you anything you want to know." Abby is confused.

"Wait...what about Dawson and Andie?"

"Don't play dumb, Abby. Like you didn't know that they've been sneaking around too? I don't see why you didn't do an exposť on them too." Joey sits up and looks at Abby. "Or was there some reason that only Pacey and I interested you?"

"I didn't know about Andie and Dawson..." Abby informs Joey slowly. "I had no idea."

"Oh, well, look at it this way...you're still the first one in school to know, so at least you can pretend you've known about it all along," Joey smirks. "You've done all that you can do. My best friends in the entire world hate me, and I hate them right back. Do you know what that feels like? And Pacey doesn't even want to be with me anymore. Everything in my life is falling apart, so shouldn't you just be happy with that and leave me alone? There isn't anything more you can do to me. My family was destroyed from the beginning, so there's not any way you can ruin things here. Just be happy with yourself and go along your merry little way." Joey glares at her.

"Joey, I didn't ruin your life," Abby defends herself. "Everything that's happened is because of your own actions."

"The fact that you're taking such delight in all of it is sick, Abby. That's what you are. Sick." Joey gets up from bed and walks to the door, holding it open for Abby. Abby sighs and gets up from the bed, accidentally brushing against Joey's nightstand. A framed picture falls to the floor, and glass goes shattering everywhere. Joey gasps and runs over, almost immediately breaking down into tears. Abby, not knowing what to do, bends down and starts picking up the glass carefully.

"I'm sorry, Joey, I didn't meant to-" They both reach for the picture at the same time, and Abby realizes what she's done. She glances at Joey's tear-streaked face, letting her grip on the photo of Joey, Dawson, Jack, Jen, Andie and Pacey slip. Joey continues to frantically gather the broken remnants from the carpet, not seeing the tiny cuts that the glass in making on her skin. "Joey, stop." She doesn't. "Joey, stop! You're hurting yourself!" Abby grabs Joey's hands, stopping them. "You're hurting yourself..." Joey fights Abby for a moment, then ceases to resist, slumping back against her nightstand and succumbing to her sobs. She clutches the picture tightly in her right hand, tiny droplets of blood from her cuts running onto it. Joey doesn't notice. Abby grabs some tissues out of the box that's sitting on the night table, trying to clean up Joey's hands. Joey rips her hands away from Abby's touch and stands up.

"I hope you're happy, Abby. Now you've really destroyed everything." Joey chokes out through her tears, and then runs out of the room toward the bathroom. Abby sits in silence for a few moments, until Bessie appears in the doorway, having heard the yelling from the commotion from the kitchen.

"What's going on?"

"I...I accidentally knocked over this picture. Joey's hands got a little cut by some glass, she's in the bathroom...you might want to check on her..." Abby tries to explain.

"Are you okay?" Abby nods. "I'll go get a bag for all that glass and help you clean up after I check on Joey."

"No, don't worry," Abby replies. "I'll clean up the mess."

To Be Continued...

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