A Night Without Armor
Part Two: Do You Sleep?
Do you eat sleep do you breathe me anymore
Do you count sheep, do you sleep anymore?
"Jennifer, I just want you to be aware of your options," Mrs. Harvey said kindly, shuffling the thick pile of papers on her desk. The guidance counselor lowered her red, rhinestone-studded glasses and peered over them at her counselee.
"I'm not going to college in New York," Jen insisted. "Anywhere but there."
"All right, I see we're not going to make any headway on this issue, even though your parents have said repeatedly that they would finance you if you went to NYU or Columbia."
"Mrs. Harvey, who are you kidding," Jen replied, smiling a little as she stood to leave. "I can't get in there! I haven't applied myself enough here, and besides, I wouldn't want to go to any snobby prep schools anyway. Thanks for your time. I've got to get to class now, though."
"I just think..." Mrs. Harvey trailed off as she realized she wasn't going to win this time.
"Bye," Jen said triumphantly. She shut the door behind her and sighed in relief.
Although getting out of first period AP Bio was, well, a good way to start what was definitely going to be a long week, talking about college decisions was just too much for Jen to think about. I've got to think about Dawson. And how to help him, because I know he really needs me right now.
She went into the girls' bathroom and glanced at her watch to see how much time was left in the period. Eight minutes exactly. She stared at her pale reflection in the mirror and shook her head. Alyssa and Lindsay back home in New York would certainly not approve of this whole not-wearing-makeup phase Jen was currently going through. Thing was, Jen didn't really think she needed it. Maybe a little lip gloss and some mascara would help...
You're getting off the topic again, Jennifer, Jen thought to herself. Somehow the thought came to her in her grandmother's voice, kind yet stern. Dawson. Makeup is not the issue here. Dawson is. And you love Dawson. Dawson is exactly what you need, but right now he needs you.
"Then I'll help him," Jen said aloud, then looked around self-consciously, hoping no one was around to hear her talking to herself like a madwoman. She laughed to herself a little bit and drummed her fingers on one of the sinks. Next period was history, the one class that she shared with Dawson. Pacey would be there, too. Jen just hoped that the truth about Dawson's mother would stay under wraps-if Abby Morgan got ahold of this information...well....it would be bad. Very bad.
"Well, hi Jen." It was Joey, who was passing by in the hallway, carrying some important looking papers.
"Joey! Hey! Where're you going?"
"Oh, I'm just going to make some copies of my college applications." She looked around. "You seen Dawson today?"
"No, not yet. I hope he decided to come to school," she added.
"I know. I feel terrible for him, I wish I knew what to do."
"Me, too," Jen said. "If I figure it out, I'll let you know, ok?"
"Sure, same goes for me," Joey agreed. "I guess I'll see you in lunch. Bye Jen."
"See ya, Joe." Jen went back into the bathroom and went back to her reflection. God, she looked so tired. Her entire weekend had been spent taking care of Dawson, who was so upset on Saturday and Sunday that he had been unable to get out of bed, or even lift his head off the pillow. When the bell rang, she jumped almost as if someone had shot her.
"Hey Dawson," Jen said, taking her seat next to him in history. She examined him closely. He was wearing normal Dawson clothes; a gray tee shirt, a flannel, and jeans which looked just a little bit wrinkled. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Pacey sit down and give Dawson the once-over as well. Ok, so Pacey was worried too.
"Hi, Jen," Dawson said quietly, not looking at her. "Hey Pace."
"How ya doing today, D?" Pacey asked. "How ya feeling?"
"Ok. Not great. But better. Thanks." He attempted a small smile which faded quickly. "Do you, uh, Jen, could I crash at your place after school today? My...mom's coming home to pick up her stuff this afternoon, and I don't especially want to be there."
"Sure, Dawson," Jen said warmly. "Just meet me at my locker and we'll go."
"Great, thanks." He squeezed her hand. "Thanks a lot, guys. Both of you. I really mean it."
"We're here for you," Jen replied. "Right, Pace?"
"Definitely. Anytime you need a friend...don't make me burst out into song here Dawson..." They all laughed, Dawson included. Jen inwardly smiled; it felt good to hear him laugh again.
Jen and Joey were walking down the hallway towards Jen's locker at the end of the day.
"So, Dawson's coming to your house after school?"
"Yeah. He said he'd probably stay till around 4 or so, not too long. Do you want to come over too? We'll just hang out or something."
"Um, are you sure? I don't want to, you know..."
"Joey I'm sure. He just needs all the friends he can get right now, you know?" Joey nodded as Pacey came up behind them.
"Hey guys what's up?" he asked.
"Well well if it isn't the man with the great ideas," Joey snapped. She stopped in the middle of the hallway to argue with him, so Jen continued on to her locker. Now there's two people who will *never* get along. I mean, they seem to like each other, but they're always fighting. I hope they can put any differences aside for Dawson's sake. She began to transfer books and notebooks from her locker to her bookbag.
"What are you talking about? What great ideas?" Pacey asked, confused. People continuously bumped into him and Joey on their way out of the school.
"The one about not getting any movies this past weekend. Good move, Pacey, why don't we scar our friend for life!"
"Well, excuse me for living, but weren't you there? Didn't you agree to this new Friday night ritual thing?"
"Oh, bite me Pacey," she sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Good comeback Ice Queen," Pacey shot back. "Very original."
"And really, it was great when you like, threw Dawson into the wall on Friday night. It was a great imitation of your father."
Pacey didn't say anything for a moment. "That is low, Joey, even for a stuck up, self involved, selfish little bitch like yourself." At these words, Jen spun around to see Joey looking extremely sorry and regretful.
"Pacey, wait. I-" Joey began, but Pacey stalked off. "Oh, man...."
"You should really let Jen make you some dinner, Dawson," Joey urged, sitting with him on Jen's couch, watching TV. Jen was in the kitchen searching the cupboard for something for Dawson to eat. "For me?"
"Hey, is Pacey coming?" Dawson asked Jen, ignoring Joey. "Pacey's not here."
"Well, I saw him on the way over here and I asked him to stop by, but..." she glanced at Joey. "He, uh, he said he couldn't make it, but he'll stop by your house later." Joey's face fell and she focused back on the TV screen.
"Ok, so Dawson, my name's Jennifer and I'm going to be your waitress tonight," Jen said, smiling. "What would you like to order?"
"Not gonna work," Dawson replied distantly. "I'm not hungry."
"Come on," Jen insisted. "For me? We have lots of great food, my grandmother's a great cook. We have..." She went back into the kitchen to look around some more. "...we have, ok, leftover turkey...chicken salad....tomato soup... ice cream...chocolate chip cookies..."
"It's really ok, Jen," Dawson said. "But...I guess I could stand a bowl of soup."
"Ok, great!" Jen cried, glad she could make something for him. She took out a pot from under the stove as the flame went on with a hiss. Ok, I'm helping. Food will help Dawson think more clearly about this whole situation. It'll make him stronger...if only it could make him strong enough to face his mom and confront her about what she did. Who she did, actually.
The smile fell from her face as she realized something. Dawson's mom is like me. How can he stand me? In New York I let guys take advantage of me way too much. Ok, I was a slut. Might as well just tell the truth and have done with it. And that's...well, that's kind of how Dawson's mom is right now. Do I remind Dawson of his mother? God, I hope not.
"Dawson?" she heard herself say in a muted voice. "Soup's on."
"What're you doing?" Jen leaned over the back of her grandmother's chair and smiled.
"Oh, nothing, just reading." She marked her spot in the book and closed it, placing it down on the table in front of her. "Do you need to speak to me about something Jennifer?"
God, she could be so damned...clinical about stuff. Why can't she just say, do you need to talk, *Jen*? Or even, do you need me?
"Well...if you have time. I don't mean to interrupt your reading."
"Not at all," Grams said. "Have a seat." She gestured at the couch, and Jen sat down, looking expectantly at her grandmother.
"I don't know how to help Dawson," Jen said plainly, her arms hanging down at her sides. "I know people just say, well just be a good friend, be there for them... but I just don't feel like it's making much of a difference. What else can I do? ...And don't, please don't tell me to pray for him, Grams. Please. I love him and I want to help him."
Grams nodded. "I understand what you're going through, Jennifer. And I won't tell you to pray for him. I know that your beliefs are different than mine... so don't worry about that." She smiled a little. "I'm glad to see that you have finally found a boy who you can care about so much."
"It's a little scary," Jen replied.
"It's always scary to fall in love," Grams said, patting Jen comfortingly on the shoulder. "All you can do," Grams said, "is be the wonderful young woman that you are, Jennifer. Jen. Because being yourself, and not changing-when everything else in his world is-will make a big difference. Does that make any sense at all?"
"Yeah, it does." Jen said. "Thanks, Grams."
"Go to hell, Pacey."
"Kiss my ass."
"How is Capeside's most infamous loser this fine afternoon?"
"Better before you showed up."
"Hey at least my extra curricular activities don't include STD's."
"At least my extra curricular activities don't include three double A batteries and an uneven washing machine."
"Will you two stop it, please?" Jen begged, sick of watching the two of them spar it out across the lunch table. "You guys are being a little immature, don't you think?"
"Yes," Pacey said, glaring at Joey. "This is Jo for ya. She's in the same age group as her nephew. She's almost ready for solid foods."
"Damnit Joey can't you just apologize and let this go?" Jen asked. "For Dawson?"
"No," Joey said. "This is not for Dawson or against him. This is me, trying to put the most obnoxious, rude, horrible person I have ever met, in his rightful place."
"Which would be far, far away from you," Pacey snapped, picking up his tray and relocating to another table.
"It's Friday, what are we doing?" Jen asked Pacey at his locker. "This has been a long, hellish week and we should do something fun tonight, the four of us. I think it would be good for Dawson if we were all together tonight...Friday...you know?"
"Joey gonna be there?" Pacey asked, not looking up from his locker.
"Well, well, yeah...."
"Then I won't be, Jen."
"What?" Jen was surprised. "Pacey, you guys are friends underneath all this...this stupid bickering. Why do you even fight so much?"
"I don't mind the stupid bickering. But when she insults my family...that's too much. I don't care if she calls me ugly or talks about Tamara or any of that. But not my family, Jen. Not my father. If Dawson needs to talk to me, he knows where I live."
"Are you sure? You can just ignore her. Just pretend she's not there."
"And the worst part is," Pacey added, "she can be a nice, sweet, great girl. But lately...I don't know. She goes over the line, she oversteps her boundaries. It hurts to even look at her right now." He hoisted his bookbag onto his shoulders and shrugged. "I'm really sorry, Jen. Give me a call if Joey cancels."
"She won't," Jen replied, and walked away.
Jen knocked on Dawson's door, which was closed. That was strange; it usually wasn't. "Dawson? You in there?"
"Hi, Jen," he said, opening the door and letting her inside.
"How are you, Dawson?" she asked, concerned. Without another word, he grasped her shoulders and pulled her to him for a long, sweet kiss.
"I missed you," he said, giving her a hug. "Thanks for being there. I think I'm ok now. I realize that my mom made some really stupid, stupid mistakes. And if she's leaving for good...I'll have to get along without her. I'll have to. I can't just curl up in a ball and give up on life. And on you."
Jen smiled widely. "I'm so glad to hear that, Dawson. You have no idea." All she could think was: It had to have been the soup I made him. That made him stronger. How cheesy is that. But I don't care, I have Dawson back. Jen Lindley, the girl no one thought would be saved...saved someone else.
"So, next Friday night, what are you doing?"
"Hmm...not too much, what were you thinking?"
"I want to take you out to dinner at a really nice restaurant. Wherever you'd like to eat. And then we'll....well I was gonna say go to a movie, but I know we're trying to, you know, break the tradition."
"If you want to see a movie Dawson, I'd love to. That would be fine."
"No, we can think of something else to do." He smiled. "Maybe we'll go on a boat ride or something in the creek."
"That would be fun too. I'm looking forward to it. But Dawson?" she asked, collapsing onto his bed, "Is it ok if I just....go to sleep....I haven't gotten any shuteye for a week...so worried about you...."
"Sure, no problem," Dawson replied. "Do you want another blanket, or....?
But she was already asleep. Dawson smiled and sat down and covered her with another warm blanket.
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