Till I Gain Control Again
By Bronwen

This story takes place two weeks after Prom and reflects the occurrences on the show through Promicide.  It was written before Separation Anxiety aired and reflects the conversation I would have liked Pacey and Joey to have had.  It was inspired by a song written by one of America’s great songwriters, Rodney Crowell.  I saw him in concert recently and when he sang this song, it made me think of Pacey and Joey.  The lyrics to the song are included at the end of the story.

“Hey.”  Joey voiced the greeting in a tentative whisper.  Pacey’s back was towards her, but she still noticed his slight flinch.  He turned to her and their eyes met.  Sadly, she saw that Pacey’s were empty.

“Joey,” he said flatly.  Then nothing.

“Gretchen told me you were working on the docks,” she offered meekly.  She swallowed hard, steeling herself before she continued.  “Pacey, it’s been two weeks since Prom.  We haven’t talked.  I don’t want it to end like this.”  She hesitated, then added softly, “I don’t believe that you do either.”

An eternity of silence followed.  “There’s nothing left,” he finally replied.  Pacey looked down, then turned back to the pier he had been repairing.  He picked up a hammer and began banging in a nail.

Undaunted, Joey went to him, reaching out to stop his arm mid-stroke.  “I don’t know what’s in your heart, Pacey, but I know what’s in mine.  I love you.  Still.”  She knelt down beside him.  “Pacey, look at me… please… just look at me.”

He sighed and slowly placed the hammer down.  He swung his body around, lifted his head, and stared.  Hard.

“I’ve thought about everything that happened, everything you said.  It’s all I could think about since Prom.  I was so hurt.  I never ever imagined you could say those things to me in front of the whole school.”  She saw him wince, closing his eyes at the memory.  “I was so angry at you.  I thought how dare you attack me.  I wasn’t the person you made me out to be.”  She paused and took in a big gulp of air before going on.  “After I had time to reflect, to really think it all over, I realized that the person I am is even worse.  I made this relationship, this year all about me.  It was always all about me.  School.  Money.  Dawson.  Sex.  Everything.  I just drama queened myself from one issue to the next, expecting you to be my loyal audience, my devoted fan.”  She was crying now, quietly.  She clumsily tried to wipe the tears away on the sleeve of her denim jacket.  “I’m sorry, Pacey.  So sorry for being selfish and thoughtless and wrapped up in myself.”  She put her hand to his face, gently stroking his cheek.  “It’s not me who deserved better, Pacey.  It’s you.  You deserved to be treated and loved and appreciated so much better than I ever did.  And whatever happens, I want you to know that.”

Her tears were still falling as she pushed herself up from the dock and began to walk away.  “Joey, don’t.  Don’t go.”  Pacey’s voice was harsh and cracked, but the sound of it was a balm to Joey’s torn heart.

Wordlessly, she moved towards him and timidly put her hand on his shoulder.  Pacey looked at Joey then placed his hand on hers.  She watched as his face contorted, his shoulders shook, and his chest heaved.  The sound he made, part sob, part wail, was fierce, feral.  Its intensity frightened Joey, but still she wrapped her arms around him as he collapsed into tears.  “Oh, Pacey.  God.  Pacey.  Oh, Pacey.”  Joey rubbed his back and smoothed his hair.  She felt as if she had spent half her life in tears being comforted by Pacey, yet she realized that this was the first time she had ever seen him cry.

“I feel like I’ve lost control.  Of everything.  Myself.  My life.”  He struggled to get the words out.  “I just don’t know what to do anymore.  I feel so lost.”

“I’ll help you, Pacey.  Whatever you want.  Whatever you need.  I want to be here for you.”

Pacey knew her words were sincere; nevertheless, they stopped him cold.  He stiffened, releasing himself from her embrace.  “No.  Not that.”  He spit the words out, anger rising within him again.  “What I want, what I need, is for me to work this out for myself.  I can’t continue to live my life being some woman’s pet project.  Not Tamara’s or Andie’s or yours.”  Calmer now, he added, “I need to fix what’s wrong with me before I can even think about being with you, Jo.  Before I can think about being with anyone.”

“You don’t have to do this by yourself.  It’s like what Mr. Kasdan said to me--- don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Pacey shook his head and sighed.  “No, Joey, it’s not the same.  This isn’t about studying for a test or babysitting or running an inn.  It’s not about the things on the surface, it’s about what’s inside me.  Who I am.  Who I want to be.”  He took Joey’s hand in his, rubbing his thumb softly across her fingers.  “I believe you when you say you love me.  It was never about that.  It’s just me.  If I can’t even look myself in the mirror, I certainly can’t love you back.  I know things between us don’t always have to be perfect, but I want them to be right.  And the way things are now couldn’t be more wrong.  Do you understand, Joey?”

She nodded, then rested her head on Pacey’s chest.  “I’ve grown so used to depending on you, Pacey.  Maybe I need time to work on me, too.  Straighten out my priorities.  Learn to trust myself.  Gain the strength of my own convictions.  Pacey, I… umm… er…”  She stumbled awkwardly, afraid to say what she knew needed to be said.  “I’m sorry about one more thing.  About my lie.  You deserved better than that, too.”

Pacey felt his face blanch.  “That hurt me more than I let on,” he admitted.  “I thought you were sorry it was me.  That you still wanted Dawson.”  He felt the dampness on his shirt as Joey’s tears rained down once more.  “I didn’t say that to make you feel bad.  It’s just the truth.”

“I know, Pacey.  I’m not crying for me, I’m crying for you.  Making love with you is something I cherish.  Remembering our times together is what sustained me through the pain of the last two weeks.  To think that my fear and cowardice ruined that for you breaks my heart.”

“Joey, I spent most of the past two weeks shut down, trying to block my emotions, my memories.  Mostly I managed, just living hour to hour, one task to the next.  But I had to sleep and when I slept, I dreamed.”   He buried his face in Joey’s hair, breathing the next words in her ear.  “Every night I’d have the same dreams--- of me holding you and you holding me.  Every morning I’d wake up believing for a moment that I was in your arms.”  He folded his arms tightly around Joey.  “I’ve missed this most of all.”

“Pacey, you are always in my heart.  Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, consider yourself held,” Joey told him as she reciprocated his embrace.

“You were right, Jo, about one thing.  I didn’t want us to end with things the way they were at Prom.  I’m glad you came here today.”

“I don’t want us to end at all, Pacey.”

“Joey, I can’t promise you that.  I don’t know what will happen.  I just know that I can only think about me for now.  And that this summer, I’m going away.”

Joey’s breath caught, but she managed to utter, “Where?”

“The Caribbean.  I’m working on Mr. Kublik’s boat for the summer.  I’m leaving right after graduation and I won’t return until Labor Day.”

“To say I’m gonna miss you would be the understatement of the new millennium,” she said, blinking back her tears.  “What will you do when you come back?”

“I don’t know the answer to that.  I’m hoping to figure it out this summer.  I’m hoping to figure out a lot of things this summer.  I’m hoping to gain control again.”

“I’ll be in Boston when you return.  Will you promise to come see me or at least call?”

“I think I can promise that much.”

“I know you think we’re on two very different paths, Pacey, but I believe with all my heart that you’re wrong.”  She looked in his eyes and saw a touch of the sparkle that had always been there before.  “I haven’t lost faith in true love, have you?”

“When you’ve lost faith in yourself, it’s hard to have faith in anything else.”

She leaned forward and kissed Pacey gently on the lips, catching him by surprise.  He didn’t pull away.  “You do what you have to, Pacey.  Take care of yourself.  I’ll ask you that question again in September.  I can wait till then.”

Pacey stood up, extending his hands to Joey to help her up from the dock.  “I’m not asking you to wait for me.  I can’t ask you to put your life on hold while I try to put mine back together.”  He paused for a moment, carefully considering the woman who stood before him.  “But you’re going to wait anyway, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” Joey replied, looking out across the water at the setting sun.  She slipped her hand into Pacey’s.  “To do otherwise would be giving up on you.  And I’m not quite prepared to do that just yet.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze and joined Joey in gazing at the sunset.  And for the first time in many weeks, Pacey smiled.


Till I Gain Control Again
By Rodney Crowell

Just like the sun over the mountaintop
You know I’ll always come again.
You know I love to spend my morning time
Like sunlight dancing on your skin.

I’ve never gone so wrong as for telling lies to you.
What you’ve seen is what I’ve been.
There is nothing I could hide from you.
You see me better than I can.

Out on the road that lies before me now,
There are some turns where I will spin.
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again.

And like a lighthouse you must stand alone,
Landmark a sailor’s journeys in.
No matter what sea I’ve been sailing on,
I’ll always roll your way again.

Out on the road that lies before me now,
There are some turns where I will spin.
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again.

I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again.
Till I can gain control again.

The End


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