Starving for Perfection By: Tessa

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“How did I let you guys talk me into this?” Tatum whined “I’m no good at this stuff. I’m gonna screw it up somehow. I’m gonna make an idiot out of myself, and I’ll be totally humiliated, and everyone will laugh, and I’ll never be able to show my face in this school again, and then where will I be?”

“You’ll be alone.” Andie told her “Because you are driving me insane!”

“Just calm down,” Pacey said “you’re a great actress, you’ll be fine.”

“But this is different from B.S-ing my way out of a pop quiz or convincing Bessie to let me stay out past curfew. This is Shakespeare! This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’!”

Pacey shrugged and picked her up “Just walk, Tatum.”

“Oh, alright!” Tatum moaned “But put me down! This is a total blow to my dignity.”

“Assuming you have any left.” A new voice cut in

Tatum looked up “Oh, great. What are you doing here, Abby?”

“Trying out for the play, obviously.” Abby replied, rolling her eyes

“See?” Andie whispered to Tatum “You can’t let her get the lead, can you?”

“No.” Tatum admitted “Pacey! Put me down already!”

“Alright, alright.” Pacey said as he set her down “Hey, have you lost weight?”

Tatum looked at the floor “Hey, have you lost brain cells?” she muttered

* * * *

“So, Joey tells me you kids tried out for some play this afternoon.” Bessie said

“Yeah, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, why?” Tatum asked

“Well, how’d it go?” Bessie asked

“They said they’d post the results by the end of the week.” Tatum explained “Meantime, I can’t tell you how scared we all are.”

“That you won’t get a part?”

“No,” Tatum moaned “that we actually might.”

“Did Pacey try out?”

“Of course, why?”

Bessie shrugged “Well, you kids seem to be spending a lot of time together. I figured maybe he’d try out, too.”

“Do you have a point?” Tatum asked “Be blunt.”

“Are you sleeping with him?”

Tatum choked and spat out the iced tea she was drinking “Well. That was, well, blunt.”

“Well, answer the question.” Bessie demanded “Are you and Pacey sleeping together?”

“No!” Tatum said “I’ve been dating him for three months, and yes, I am really falling for him, but I think it’s a little early to be thinking about sex.”

“Ok, but be careful.” Bessie advised “Love makes people do some very stupid things. And the last thing we need is another baby in this house. So just make sure you know what you’re doing, ok?”

Tatum nodded “Sure.”

“Alright, good.” Bessie said “Now, help me with dinner.”

“Ok, as long as I don’t have to eat it.” Tatum said “The stuff you make is always so fattening.”

“Tatum! Why do you always have to obsess about how much fat is in something?You and Joey are skinny already!” Bessie moaned

* * * *

“So, I was talking to Joey and Bessie last night,” Tatum told Pacey at lunch the next day “and they said that I should ask you, y’know, what your intentions are, what your long term plans around me are....basically, how you really feel about me.”

The color drained from Pacey’s face as he tried to think of answer that wouldn’t get him into one kind of trouble or another.

“So, naturally,” Tatum continued “I told them to shove it.”

Pacey breathed a sigh of relief “I love you, Tate.”

“I know.” Tatum giggled. She paused for a moment before she placed her hand over his and whispered “Pacey, I love you too.”

“I know.” Pacey said as he leaned forward and kissed her

“Are we interrupting anything?” Andie asked as she and Joey sat down

“Actually-” Tatum began in an exasperated tone

“Great.” Joey interrupted “Hey, guys, over here!” she called, waving to Dawson and Jen

Tatum rolled her eyes “You guys, how can I phrase this nicely? Get lost.”

“Oh, you two go ahead and make out like we’re not even here.” Andie said “So, I heard they’ll post the results from the play tryout by tomorrow.”

“So soon?” Tatum asked “Wow. And I haven’t had time to lose a huge amount of sleep over it yet.”

“Well, I think you’d make a perfect Juliet.” Pacey told her as he kissed her again

“You’re biased.” She giggled

“And I’m nauseous.” Andie muttered “Could you two try to keep the hormones in check?”

“Could you go away?” Tatum snapped

“Could you actually eat something?” Joey asked “I know this stuff isn’t exactly gourmet, but you haven’t even touched your lunch.”

Tatum moaned “Don’t start this again. I can’t eat this stuff, it’s fattening!”

Everyone else at the table exchanged glances as Tatum proceeded to take two bites of her food and then pick up her tray and throw the rest of her lunch in the garbage.

* * * *

“I can’t believe we got an A on our English assignment!” Tatum said to Andie as they left the cafeteria

“I told you, didn’t I?” Andie asked “So this would make me right, which would make you....”

“An idiot?” Tatum said

“Well, I was gonna say ‘wrong’.” Andie replied “But, sure, we can use your word.”

“Get your assignment back?” Abby asked

Tatum rolled her eyes “If I tell you, will you go back to the seventh circle of hell where you came from? We got an A.”

“Aw, too bad.” Abby sighed “Chris and I got an A plus.”

“What? Lemme see that.” Tatum grabbed the paper and rolled her eyes “That’s a minus, Abigail.” she said pointedly

“With a D in front of it.” Andie added. She snickered “What a twit.”

“Yeah, well, uh, “Abby stammered “Did you see the cast list for the play?”

“It’s up?” Tatum asked “I hadn’t seen it yet, why?”

Abby muttered something under her breath, looking at the floor

“I didn’t catch that.” Tatum said

“You’re Juliet and I’m your understudy, ok?” Abby snapped

“My understudy?” Tatum giggled “Ha! I mean...well, yeah. Ha! C’mon, Andie!” she dragged her friend over to the bulletin board “Oh my God! I can’t believe it! I actually got the part! And Pacey-”

“I know,” Pacey interrupted as he came up behind her “I’m Romeo. I told you we could do it, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, you told me so.” Tatum sighed

“Hey, move!” Andie whined “I can’t see the list! Oh, I’m Juliet’s mother.”

“Ok, now that’s weird. My best friend is my mom.” Tatum said

“Hey, are you alright?” Pacey asked “You don’t seem very excited.”

“No, I’m ok.” Tatum said softly “Uh, you know what? You guys go ahead to study hall. I gotta, uh, use the powder room.”

“Weird.” Andie said as she watched her friend hurry away “Is it me, or has she been acting strange lately?”

Pacey nodded “I wonder what’s up.”

* * * *

“Hey, Pacey!” Andie whispered, leaning across the aisle

“Ms. McPhee! Is there a problem?” the teacher asked

“Uh, no ma’m.” Andie said quickly. As soon as the teacher sat down again, Andie turned back to Pacey “Shouldn’t Tatum be here by now?”

Pacey glanced at the clock, then nodded “I wonder if something’s wrong.”

“Mr. Witter!” the teacher said “Is there something you and Ms. McPhee would like to share with the class?”

“No, ma’m.” Pacey said “But, uh, Andie and I need to be excused from class.”

“Yeah,” Andie added “we need to, uh, take pictures for the yearbook. Yeah.”

The teacher narrowed her eyes at the pair inquisitively, then nodded “Alright, go ahead.”

Pacey and Andie closed there books and got up quickly

“I’m going to check the girl’s room.” Andie said as soon as they were out in the hall “You check by her locker and around the halls.”

Pacey nodded “I wonder what’s keeping her.”

“Probably fell in.” Andie muttered “She’s skinny enough.”

* * * *

“Tatum? You in here?” Andie called as she opened the bathroom door. She looked around “Tate?” she looked under the stall doors “Oh, there you are. Don’t think I can’t see you there, there’s only one girl in this school who’s short enough to wear four inch heels without looking ridiculous.” no answer “Tatum, come on out of there, you’re late for study hall.” she opened the door and screamed when she saw Tatum passed out face down beside the toilet.

“Tatum!” she cried, shaking her friend lightly. She turned around and ran into the hall “Pacey!” she yelled

“Did you find her?” Pacey asked

Andie pointed toward the bathroom, babbling unintelligibly

“Whoa, whoa, calm down.” Pacey said

“Tatum-she’s, she’s in there.” Andie gasped out “I think she’s sick.”

“What?” Pacey opened the door to the bathroom “Oh my God. Tatum?! Andie, give me a hand here.” together, they picked Tatum up and pulled her out of the stall “It looks like she threw up. Go get the nurse! Hurry!”

Andie ran out into the hall and headed for the nurse’s office. Vanessa McNeal, one of the cheerleaders, walked in

“Tatum?” Vanessa shrieked “Oh my God? Is she ok, Pacey?”

“I don’t know, I think she fainted. Uh, Vanessa, right? Go get her sister, she’s in study hall.”

“Who’s her sister?” Vanessa asked

“Joey Potter.”

“No way!” Vanessa said “That’s, like, her sister?”

“Uh, Vanessa?” Pacey said, pointing to Tatum

“Oh, right.” she turned and went out the door

Pacey turned his attention back to Tatum “Tate? Can you hear me?” he whispered, touching her cheek gently

Tatum eyes fluttered, then opened “Pacey?” she said weakly “Pacey, I’m sick.”

Pacey nodded and gently wiped a tear off her cheek “I know, baby. It’s ok. You’ll be ok.”

“How is she?” the school nurse asked as she walked in, followed by Andie, Vanessa and Joey

“Tatum?” Joey said as she knelt down beside her sister “What happened?”

“Are you bulimic?” The nurse asked

Tatum sobbed and nodded weakly “I’m sorry.” she said to her friends

* * * *

“I can’t believe we didn’t see this.” Andie said “I mean, she’s been acting strange, and not eating a lot, and now that I think about it, she has been going to the bathroom a lot after lunch. And-”

“Calm down!” Pacey interrupted “It’s not our fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.”

“Ok , thank you, Dr. Banks.” Bessie said over her shoulder as she entered the waiting room. “Well, she says that she’s talk to Tatum, and we can bring her home tomorrow.”

“Did she say how long this has been going on?” Joey asked

“A month, maybe two.” Bessie sighed “You know, I saw that she had lost most of the weight she gained after she got here. I don’t know why I didn’t confront her.”

“She probably would have denied it anyway.” Pacey said

“Well, at any rate, Dr. Banks said they’ll need to keep her here overnight. You want to go in and see her?”

Pacey nodded “Sure. You guys gonna be ok?”

“We’ll be fine.” Joey said “I just hope she will, too.”

* * * *

“Can I come in?” Pacey asked, standing in the doorway of Tatum’s room

“Sure.” Tatum said blankly, staring at the ceiling

“How are you feeling?”

Tatum rolled over and looked at him “My head kinda hurts where I hit it when I fell, and I’m sort of tired.”

“The doctor said you can come home tomorrow.” Pacey told her as he sat down next to the bed “That’s good news, right?”

“I guess.” Tatum sighed “I guess you want to know why I was doing this to myself. You know something? I don’t even know. How crazy is that? I nearly starve myself to death and I don’t even know why.” she covered her face as she started to cry “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m such a mess, I’m sorry you have to see me this way.”

“It’s ok.” Pacey whispered, wrapping his arms around her “I understand. We’ll get through this, Tatum. We’ll get through it together, I promise.”

“It’s gonna be hard.” Tatum sobbed “I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to stop at first. I want to. I want to stop doing this to myself, but it’s a habit, you know?”

“Shh, I know.” Pacey said, holding her tightly “I’ll be there with you every step of the way. I love you, Tatum.”

“I love you, too.” she whispered * * * *

Part 11 coming soon! Copyright 1999 Femme Fatale Fanfic (FFFF) productions

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