Author's note: Post "Breaking Away" (yeah, I hear you all groaning, sorry. Next time I'll go for something a little more original) except that Joey and Dawson never got it together. After Dawson found Joey in his closet, they decided to be friends.
Misinterpretations Part One
Dawson woke up to the screech of the alarm clock. Groaning, he thumped the off button and rolled out of bed. A cold draft blew in his permanently open window and he knew it was going to be a bad day. The drumming of water on the floor of the shower did not drown out the noise of his parents arguing. Dawson sighed. Maybe he should just stay in the bathroom and wait for them to shut up. But then he would be late and he couldn't afford another tardy slip. It only took him a few minutes to get dressed and he decided just to escape out the window rather than face his parents over breakfast.
He arrived quite early at Joey's and she opened the door to him in her pajamas. Her hair was all tangled and she did not appear to be in a good mood. "Geez, you're early," she whined, picking the mail up off the mat.
"I know, I'm sorry," Dawson said apologetically. "I just had to get out of the house before I went nutso and killed both my parents." Joey raised an eyebrow.
"That bad, huh?" She opened a letter addressed to her, read it and dropped it on the table. "I'm just going for a shower, Dawson. I'll be out in a few minutes, K?"
Dawson nodded and sat on Joey's bed/couch to wait. There was no one else at home, Dawson figured everyone else must be at the Icehouse. His eyes strayed to Joey's letter on the table. Who would be sending Joey a letter? It wasn't like she had a heap of friends he didn't know about, did she? Okay, I know I shouldn't do it, Dawson thought as he tentatively reached out and picked up the crisp white envelope and sheet of paper. But she's my best friend, we share everything right? he reasoned as he scanned the letter. His eyes widened. It was a letter from the hospital asking Joey to come for her cancer screening. Dawson's tongue turned to dust in his mouth. Cancer screening? Joey couldn't have cancer. It had to be a mistake. Dawson's hands were shaking as he put the letter back down on the table. Why hadn't Joey said anything to him? Maybe she just didn't want to worry him. But he was worried now. She was too late. Dawson nervously ran a hand through his hair. What was he going to say to her? He couldn't tell Joey that he had read her mail. She would be furious. Just then, Joey emerged from the bathroom ready for school. Dawson jumped up from the seat, startled. He felt really guilty. Joey gave him a strange look.
"Shall we go?"
"Um, aren't you going to have some breakfast first?"
"No, I'm not hungry. Why? Do you want some Dawson?"
"Uh, n..no, thanks."
Every step they took towards school, Dawson felt increasingly guilty. He was also upset that Joey didn't want to confide in him. She was the most important person in his life, he had hoped the feeling was reciprocated. But maybe it wasn't that she didn't value him enough to talk to him about it. Maybe she was just trying to be brave. That would be typical of Joey. Trying to conceal the fact that she had cancer just so that people didn't feel sorry for her.
"Dawson, are you okay?" Dawson panicked. Maybe she had figured out that he had read her letter.
"Um. Yeah. I'm fine. Why do you ask?"
Joey frowned. "You've been really quiet. Away with the fairies. Were you even listening to what I was talking to you about before?"
"Marine Bio project?" Dawson hazarded a guess.
"Right, Dawson. Is something bothering you? You can tell me about it if you want. I mean, I thought we could discuss anything. You're not keeping something from me are you?"
I could ask you the same thing, Dawson thought ruefully. Then he decided that he could probably turn this conversation to his advantage. He might still be able to get it out of Joey yet.
"No, Jo. You know I couldn't keep a secret from you. You're my best friend and I really think it is great that we have such an open friendship. You know, one of the key things in our relationship is that we can be totally honest with each other no matter how much the truth hurts. Don't you think that being honest is important? Joey?"
Joey was silent. Dawson was sure that he had hit home. It wouldn't be long before Joey would share her ordeal with him now. He knew he couldn't hold it in much longer. He felt crushed that his best friend was hurting and he longed to comfort her. When they got to school, they bumped into Jen by her locker.
"Hey, Jen. Can I talk to you for a minute?" Joey asked, leading Jen away by the arm. Dawson was confused. He thought they hated each other's guts. This day was just getting weirder. He slammed his books into his locker and turned to watch Joey and Jen on the other side of the hall. Joey had her back to him so he couldn't see her face but the expression on Jen's face told him everything. Joey was doing all the talking and Jen was looking sadder and sadder and sadder. Her eyes filled with tears and her face crumpled and then she hugged Joey tightly. Dawson turned away. He felt his heart breaking. Joey could talk to Jen about the cancer but not to him. The bell rung. Dawson didn't wait for Joey and Jen. He sped off to homeroom because he couldn't bear to look at Joey again. On his way down the hall he charged straight into Pacey, nearly knocking him over. Without stopping Dawson continued running.
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