After This
Part 9

by DeepBlueSea

Dawson stood there on the porch of the B&B, glaring at her from under his heavy eyebrows. “Do you have any idea how worried I have been…what I have just been through the past 14 hours wondering where the hell you were?” He spoke in a low, even tone through gritted teeth.

Joey just felt all the color drain from her face. She opened her mouth to say something, bringing her hand up to absently pull the top of her robe closed, but found that she could not form any words.

“Do you want to tell me what is going on here, Joey?” He shook his head, raising his arms a bit at his sides. “And why you felt the need to take off like that without telling anyone where you were going? I came back to your room to talk to you and I had to sit there for hours until Audrey came home. We finally figured out you must have gone to Capeside, so then I was on the phone to the B&B all night but got no answer.”

“Dawson, I’m…I’m sorry.” Joey stammered, looking down at the ground. “There was an emergency with Bessie…she fainted and hit her head and we were at the hospital and I…I’m sorry I didn’t call but…”

“Well is she all right?” Dawson asked, still in a quiet, almost menacing, tone.

“Yeah, yeah…she’s fine now. She had to stay overnight but she is going to be fine.” Joey just glanced up at him quickly to answer, nodding her head as she tucked her hair behind her ear.

“So…you were all at the hospital all night then?” Dawson watched her.

Joey bit her lip, swallowing back the lump in her throat. “Yes.” She responded quietly, still looking at the ground. “I’m sorry.” She almost whispered.


Pacey pulled his truck into the driveway of the B&B, throwing it into park as he sat there a moment and looked at the vaguely familiar car parked there in front of him. He got out slowly, grabbing the bag of muffins and the coffee sitting on the seat next to him, still looking curiously at the car as he walked past it. He heard the door of the B&B open and looked up to see Dawson step out onto the porch.

“Pacey.” He nodded his greeting.

Pacey hesitated, almost stopping short, blinking his eyes at him a few times. “Dawson.” He finally responded. “How’s it going?” He looked over to the car again, biting his lower lip. “That’s your mother’s car there, isn’t it?” He said, more a statement of fact than a question, as he shook his head.

Dawson just furrowed his brow in vague confusion. “Ah…yeah. I drove it over here.” He shrugged. “Why do you ask?”

Pacey sighed, almost chuckling. “Oh…no reason.” He tried to hide the bitterness in his tone.

“If you’re here to see Joey, she is in the shower.” Dawson said quietly, watching him. “Apparently they had a bit of a scare last night with Bessie. She took a fall and they had to admit her overnight to the hospital. But she is okay now.” Dawson’s eyes fell on the bag and Styrofoam cup of coffee in Pacey’s hands.

Pacey just bit the inside of his lip, lowering his head a bit, his eyes darkening as he looked back at Dawson. “Yeah. My brother told me that there was a 911 call.” He replied carefully.

Suddenly Alex peeked his head out the front door that Dawson had left open behind him. “Pacey!” He called out gleefully, running out past Dawson into the front yard still in his pajamas.

“Hey buddy.” Pacey smiled sadly, picking him up as the little boy jumped into his arms. “Here you go.” He handed him the bag and Alex opened it up to stick his whole face inside.

“Are there chocolate chip ones in here?” His voice was muffled by the bag now.

“What do you think?” Pacey chuckled a little, carrying him back over to the front porch to deposit him there. Alex took off with a happy yell to run into the house, holding the bag out in both hands.

“Well, as long as everyone here is okay, I guess I’m going to get back to work.” Pacey glanced at Dawson as he started to turn away.

“You’re working at the marina now?” Dawson asked, pointing at the embroidered Yacht Club insignia on Pacey’s sweatshirt. “How’s that going for you?”

Pacey shrugged. “It’s a living.” He was quiet a moment. “So…I’ll just see you later.” He started towards his truck.

“What about the coffee?” Dawson called after him in a low voice.

“Huh?” Pacey turned around to face him again.

“The coffee…” Dawson nodded his head towards it. “That you’re holding. Weren’t you bringing that for Joey?”

Pacey glanced at it, his face falling a little. “Nope. That’s mine. See ya, Dawson.” He quickly turned to get into his truck.

“See ya.” Dawson said quietly, narrowing his eyes as he watched Pacey drive away.


“Joey…they are going to be perfectly fine. My mother is taking Alex, and Bodie has the rest of the weekend off from the restaurant to stay with Bessie. There was really no need for you to be there, too. Besides, I have to get back to Boston.” Dawson kept looking over at her as he spoke, but Joey just stared out the car window with her arms crossed in front of her.

Dawson finally shook his head in exasperation. “Look…I apologize if I came off as too harsh when I first saw you this morning but you, but you really have no idea how worried I was when I didn’t know where you were last night.” He watched her carefully now, his voice growing quieter. “I don’t know what I would ever do if something happened to you, Joey…you are everything to me.”

Joey closed her eyes, cringing as if in pain and shaking her head slowly. “Maybe you shouldn’t do that…make me everything…” She almost whispered.

“What are you saying?” Dawson frowned, bringing his eyebrows together as he wrinkled his forehead. He looked over at her again before bringing his eyes back to the road. “Joey, if there is one thing I am certain of in this life is that you and I are meant to be together.”

“How can you be so certain of that?” Joey finally turned to look at him, tears stinging in the corners of her eyes.

“Because you said it yourself – the past, present and future, Joey.” Dawson responded in the same low voice. “We have been and will always be the most important person in the other’s life. We have made a lot of wrong turns along the way, but there is no denying that the road always led back to each other. It is the reason why we have never been able to find anyone else, and how even when we thought we had…” He turned to look at her pointedly now. “…we turned out to be very, very wrong.” He paused a moment. “Take, for instance, you and Pacey.”

Joey just stared back at him with her mouth slightly open, feeling the heat rise up in her cheeks.

“You told me the day of my parents wedding that you had to go with him because if you didn’t, you would never know. And I was able to let you go that day Joey because I already knew what you were going to find out. I feel bad that you had to go through that pain, but you were right in that it was something you had to find out for yourself.” He just watched her face. “Perhaps if it had not gone on for so long it would not have ended so badly, but we both know now that it had to end eventually. And I’m sure I don’t need to sit here now and tell you all the reasons why. You know why your relationship with Pacey could never work. As much as I think you know why you and I do work.”

Joey just swallowed back the lump in her throat, casting her eyes down.

Dawson turned his eyes back to the road. “You know, I still feel bad sometimes that I sat back for so long knowing what was going to happen…that I had the ability to stop you from being hurt like that, and I didn’t do anything. That night he exploded at you at the prom, he was way out of line but he did say one thing that made a lot of sense. He told you that you made him feel like nothing, remember?” Dawson glanced at Joey but she had turned her head to look out the car window. “He felt like nothing in his relationship with you, Joey, because even he knew who you really belonged with.” Dawson shrugged, looking back to the road.

Joey just stared out the window as the tears ran silently down her cheeks.


“Are you okay, bunny?” Audrey sighed, dropping down to sit on Joey’s bed next to her.

Joey sat up quickly from where she had been lying there staring at the ceiling. “Yeah…” She coughed a little, clearing her throat. “Why?” She just glanced quickly at Audrey, avoiding her eyes.

“Well…I know you just went through a really scary thing this past weekend with your sister, but I thought she was going to be okay.”

“She is. She’s fine, the baby’s fine.” Joey nodded, moving off the bed away from Audrey to go over to sit at her desk.

“Well…you’ve been walking around here the past few days like one of those zombies from Night of the Living Dead.” Audrey watched her. “If everyone is fine, then you should be happy, right?”

“It’s just starting out to be a bad week.” Joey shrugged, reaching down to pull a book out of her bag and set it on the desk in front of her. “I didn’t get to do any of my assigned reading this weekend and now I’m falling behind.” She opened the book, glancing over her shoulder at Audrey.

“Did I do something to piss you off that I’m not aware of?” Audrey asked, still watching her. “Because usually I am highly sensitive to your needs and moods, and I am getting the distinct impression that there is something going on with you here. Are you still mad about that green sweater…because green isn’t really your color anyway, you know.”

Joey just looked back at her in confusion. “Green sweater?” She repeated slowly, and then shook her head. “No, Audrey. It’s really just about me trying to catch up here so – if you don’t mind – I really have to get this done.”

“Is it Dawson?” Audrey leaned forward, her eyes lighting up. “It is, isn’t it? That’s why you have been sleeping here these past few nights – these past few weeks, now that I think about it. You two had a big fight. I didn’t think you two ever fought.”

“I assure you that Dawson and I do fight on occasion.” Joey mumbled, absently flipping through the pages in front of her.

“Yeah, maybe over how many movies to rent or what you’re going to have for dinner or if you are having some lively debate on pop culture. But you guys don’t get into any messy, passionate, loud, crazy rows. You two know each other too well or you’re too much alike or you are both too weird and polite around each other to really let the feelings fly.” Audrey realized she was rambling now as Joey turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Not that there is anything wrong with that.” She amended quickly. “Sometimes it’s nice to just be in that comfortable, safe little zone with someone – I mean, everyone eventually reaches that point…when they have been married for like a hundred years or so, right? Passion is overrated and no surprises in a relationship can be a good thing.” She decided to stop talking and just smiled helplessly at Joey, who was staring at her now.

“Okay. Whatever. I’ll let you hit those books.” Audrey quickly jumped off Joey’s bed to grab her coat and disappeared out the door with a wave.

Joey turned back to her book, and then raised her eyes to just gaze out the window in front of her.


Pacey jogged up the stairs to his apartment, slowing to a walk as he reached the last couple of steps and then coming to a stop at the top of the landing to lean against the banister.

“It’s a Wednesday afternoon, Josephine. Shouldn’t you be in school?” He tilted his head to regard her as she sat there on the floor in front of his door.

She slowly stood up. “It was teacher conference day.” She shrugged her shoulders.

Pacey just raised his eyebrows, a faint look of amusement coming to his face.

“It was the day of the class field trip and I had no signed permission slip from home?” She tried, widening her eyes to look at him innocently.

Pacey bowed his head a bit as he moved towards her, closing the gap between them. He looked down at her, a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as he shook his head at her.

“The dog ate my homework…?” She whispered, leaning into his body as she looked up at him.

Pacey just brushed the tip of his nose along hers, bringing his hand up to touch her cheek and tuck a piece of her behind her hair, gently playing with the silky strand between his fingers. “What are you doing here, Jo?” He sighed, resting his forehead against hers, not able to stop touching her now that he had started.

“I needed to see you…” She sighed back, closing her eyes. “I know this is so wrong, Pacey…”

“For about a hundred different reasons.” He finished for her.

She raised her wide eyes up to meet his. “Then why can’t I stop?” She asked, leaning into him a little more and gliding her hands up his chest.

Pacey just looked down at her, finally lowering his lips to hers. He kissed her softly, just brushing his lips over hers and then gently parting her lips with the tip of his tongue. She opened her mouth to him as their tongues fell into the familiar rhythm, sliding slowly against each other seeking out all the places they knew so well. She reached up to wrap her arms around his neck, moaning into his mouth. Pacey deepened the kiss even more as he reached behind her to unlock the door and slowly guide her inside.


“You don’t have to do this, Pace.” She shook her head, smiling over at him from the passenger seat in the front of his truck. “I had planned on just taking the train.”

Pacey just smiled back, lightly squeezing her hand that he had already been holding. “Yeah…and what time would have that dropped you off back at South Station? I’m not having you walk the streets of Boston at night alone again if I can help it, Jo.”

She just smirked at him, and then looked down to smile at her hand in his before turning to look out the window. “This isn’t really that long of a drive when there’s no traffic, is it?”

“No. It’s not.” Pacey replied quietly, watching the road.

She turned back to look at him, slowly sliding her body over until she was right next to him. He released her hand, raising his arm up to wrap it around her shoulder and kissing the top of her head as she rested it against him. She reached up to take his hand that was draped over her now and kissed it before she interlaced her fingers with his, sighing as she saw the lights of the Boston skyline appear in the distance.

They didn’t move for a minute when he pulled up in front of her dorm. She finally sat up and they just looked at each other before they kissed, and then kissed again.

“I’ll be home on Friday.” She said hesitantly, watching his face.

Pacey ducked his head with a small smile before meeting her eyes again with a nod. “I’ll see you then.”

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