Dawson came up the stairs to his room, smiling as he saw Joey sitting there waiting for him on his bed.
“Hey.” He greeted her. “Have you been waiting long?”
“No.” Joey gave him a small smile, standing up and fidgeting slightly as she shoved her hands in the pockets of her jeans. “Not long.”
“Well, here I am.” He flapped his arms. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Umm...” Joey dropped her head. “So, are you feeling any better since the other day?”
“Uh, yeah…thanks.” He laughed a bit. “I think I emptied just about every aspirin bottle in the house, though.”
Joey gave him a small smile, nodding her head and looking down again. “Can I ask you something, Dawson?” She glanced up to meet his eyes. “Are you happy…with this? With us?”
Dawson frowned. “Well, yeah.” He shrugged. “Of course.”
She looked down again. “I just feel like…well, it has been such a long road for us you know, and it’s sometimes still strange for me even now to think that we are finally together in the way that we always talked about being together …you know, as a couple.” She looked at him. “I just think that it is a lot different than how I imagined it might be…do you ever feel like that?”
Dawson just looked at her blankly. “No. Not really.”
Joey sighed, bringing her hand to her head. “You have always been such a big part of my life, Dawson. I can think back on every major life event and see you right there. It would be really hard for me to ever imagine it any other way.” She raised her eyes to look at him, swallowing back the lump in her throat. “And when we got together I just figured we would have the best of both worlds – you were already my best friend and that was only going to make the fact you were now my boyfriend that much more special. But…but, I’m starting to wonder if we did the right thing here. That maybe we should have never crossed that line and risked our friendship, because if our relationship ever ended badly…I don’t think I could handle losing you.”
“Losing me?” Dawson scoffed. “It would never happen. And who says our relationship has to even end, let alone end badly? That’s awfully fatalistic of you, don’t you think?” He snorted a bit, raising his eyebrows.
“Dawson…” She sighed, closing her eyes. “I don’t think this is working between us. And I think you feel it too, but you don’t want to admit it. And I think we need to talk about it…”
Dawson scowled at her. “You’re wrong, Joey. I don’t know what has been going on with you lately, but I have a pretty good idea of who has been getting to you.” His nostrils flared slightly.
Joey shook her head. “No, Dawson. This is just me trying to talk to you – trying to tell you what I am feeling. I need you to listen to me.” She pleaded with him now. “Can you honestly say that your happy with the way things are going? Because I am not happy, Dawson – can’t you see that? Don’t you feel it? Don’t you feel like something is missing here – something that was supposed to be here…with us?”
“It will pass.” Dawson said quietly. “No one is happy all the time, Joey. You are kidding yourself if you think that.”
“Maybe we just need to take a break and reevaluate…” She began slowly.
“No.” Dawson cut in. “I don’t think we need to do that. If anything we just need to spend more time together. How can you expect to give this a fair shot if you are never around, Joey?”
“I need time to figure things out on my own, Dawson.” Joey looked at him, speaking a little more firmly now. “And I need you to give me that time.”
Dawson shook his head. “I’m not going to let you do this, Joey. You are going to ruin everything. You don’t even know what you want, so why should I let you…”
“If you really believe I don’t know what I want, why would you even want to be with me, Dawson?” She cut in, her voice rising.
“What I believe is that we belong together, Joey. I believe that with every fiber of my being.” He lowered his head, his eyes darkening. “I feel it and I know it, and up until you started these little weekend excursions to Capeside, you knew it, too. I think that what is going on here is that Pacey has been filling your head with lies, just to try and turn you against me out of spite. He knows now that what he had with you was meaningless compared to what you and I have together and it’s just eating him up inside. He is trying to sabotage us, Joey. Can’t you see that? He is just petty and bitter and jealous.”
Joey just looked at him a long while. “What I had with Pacey was not meaningless to me, Dawson. And he wants nothing to do with you and I, believe me.” She said quietly, looking down as the tears began to sting in the corners of her eyes. “I’m sorry, Dawson. But I can’t go on like this. It is not fair to either of us.” Her voice caught in her throat now. “I’m so sorry.”
Dawson stepped forward to take her in his arms. “Don’t do this, Joey.” His voice took on an edge of desperation. “You have to believe me when I tell you that you are going to regret it. You may not feel that way now, but if you walk out that door you are never going to be able to take this back.” He lowered his voice, leaning into her ear. “If you ever loved me, you will give this more of a chance. I deserve at least that from you, Joey. After everything you put me through, I deserve at least that. And you know it.”
“I don’t know how to give this more of a chance, Dawson.” The tears were beginning to fall down her cheeks now.
Dawson leaned down to kiss her. “I can show you how, Joey.” His hands were on her now. “You just have to trust me. You know that I am the only one you can trust, Joey.” He was breathing rapidly, his mouth moving down her neck. Joey cried out a little, trying to squirm out of his grasp and he moved up to kiss her again, covering her mouth with his. He started moving her back towards the bed, trying to push her down onto it.
“Dawson…no.” She gasped, finally pushing him away a little. “Please don’t do this. This isn’t going to solve anything.” She was crying in earnest now.
Dawson started to whimper slightly. “You can’t do this, Joey. You made promises to me. I need you…everything in my life comes back to you. To us. ” His eyes started to tear up now. “You can’t just leave like this. Don’t do this to me, Joey. We deserve a real chance…” He reached for her again. “It’s just been so long, that you have forgotten what we are together…what we have. All I’m asking is for the chance to show you…why can’t you give me that? What have I ever asked of you? I want you so much and…” He tearfully moved into kiss her again and Joey closed her eyes as her own tears started to fall in full force. “Everything you ever said to me, Joey…don’t you remember?” He whispered in her ear, his hands being to move over her body. “You can’t tell me that you didn’t mean any of that.” He had her on the bed now, his hand immediately moving to the zipper on her jeans. “I wanted you for so long, Joey. I waited for you all that time. I was always the one who really loved you, you know that. There can never be anything as special as what we have together…let me help you remember…”
Joey closed her eyes, turning her head away from him. She felt him pushing down her jeans now and for a moment she felt like she was just floating above her body and watching it happen. “I can show you everything we can be together, Joey. It will be just like it used to be…just let me show you.” She could barely hear his voice now over the buzzing in her ears, and she almost felt like she was underwater, it was so hard to breath with him crushing down on her chest and her limbs felt heavy and awkward. Suddenly she felt him at her entrance, beginning to push himself inside her and everything came rushing out of her lungs at once.
“No!” She cried out, throwing him off her. “I can’t do this, Dawson.” She stood up, pulling up her jeans and adjusting her shirt. She looked at him, lying disheveled on the bed, and staring back at her in shock. “I’m so sorry…but you have to just let me go.” She dropped her head, wiping at her tears. “I have to just go.” She turned and ran down the stairs from his room.
Joey didn’t stop running until she reached the Worthington campus, ignoring the concerned looks of students she passed as she finally found herself back at her dorm. She hurried down the hall to her room, wiping her eyes as she bowed her head to unlock the door. Closing it behind her, she just collapsed on the floor in a heap, leaning back against the door and sobbing into her hands.
Audrey came out of the bathroom, and just stood there and looked at her a moment before coming over to sit next to her on the floor.
“Come here, bunny.” She sighed, hugging her as Joey leaned over to cry on her shoulder. “It’s going to be okay. Everything will be okay.”
Pacey stood back to survey the boat in front of him in dry dock and, as his eyes drifted over to gaze out at the water, he became lost in thought again for about the hundredth time that week. Chewing on the inside of his lip, he was about to turn back to the boat to get to work when he heard the sound of the gravel crunching under car tires and turned to see the Capeside police cruiser pulling into the boatyard.
“I just knew this was going to be a bad day…” He sighed to himself, dropping his head as Doug climbed out of the cruiser to come over to him.
“Pacey…how’s it going?” Doug nodded to him, glancing up at the boat. “What is this… a 30 footer?” He asked.
“32.” Pacey replied, without even lifting his gaze from the ground.
“So…what are you doing here?” Doug continued to look over the boat.
“Oh…just a little late spring commissioning - checking the deck hardware, fasteners, wooden rails, rigging fittings for leaks, correcting any problems with sealants.” Pacey sighed, raising his head to survey the boat as well and placing his hands on his hips. “It’s all about the sealants, really.” He tilted his head towards Doug, raising his eyebrows. “The salt waters of Cape Cod can be very trying on your average fiberglass hull. By properly sealing all possible leakage areas and protecting the interior from water intrusion, you can actually extend the life of your boat.”
Doug just nodded. “You actually had me believing for a minute there that you know what you’re talking about, Pacey.” Pacey just grinned and dropped his head a bit. “So, how did your sailing trials go the other day?” Doug looked at him. “Where were you again?”
“We just did an off-shore race…off Nantucket.” He shrugged. “It went pretty well, I guess.”
“So, are you going or what? Has the final decision been made?”
“On their end, yeah.” Pacey sighed. “They’ve asked me to join the crew. I just told them I needed a couple of days to think it over.”
Doug looked at him a moment. “Do you really even need to think about it? You couldn’t have dreamt up a better opportunity for yourself, Pacey. Racing competitively with an international sailing crew? You were made for that kind of life.” Doug tilted his head, appraising him. “So, what’s stopping you?” He asked softly.
Pacey just smiled sadly, shaking his head. “Nothing…nothing but myself. And – as we all know - the last person I should be listening to is myself.” He chuckled.
Doug just smiled a little as well, dropping his head as he kicked at the gravel at his feet with the toe of his boot. Pacey glanced at him out of the corner of his eye with a smirk. “I find it very hard to believe that you are passing up a perfectly good ‘I told you so’ opportunity, Dougie. You are really disappointing me here.”
“Well, you know I would…but you have an irritating habit of proving me wrong on occasion, and I just don’t want to rush to judgment on this one yet.” Doug sighed, patting him on the back as he started to walk away.
He had only gone a few feet before he turned around to look at Pacey again. “Are you at least telling her that you are leaving this time?” He called over to him.
Pacey bowed his head, smiling a little as he looked back to the boat in front of him. “Isn’t that your job?”
“Nope. Not this time, Pacey.” Doug laughed, shaking his head as he turned to start back to his car. “You’re own your own this time, little brother.” He opened the door. “See ya, Pacey…or should I say g’day, mate?”
Pacey just shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Oh, now see …and he was doing so well there for minute.” He chuckled to himself. He glanced over to watch Doug drive away, before turning back and heading across the boatyard to the marina office.
Dawson stopped in his tracks from where he had been walking over to confront Pacey, absorbing the conversation he had just overheard. As he was partially hidden behind a stack of lobster trappings, Pacey didn’t even notice him as he passed by on his way into the office. Dawson just watched him thoughtfully for a minute and then turned around and walked out of the boatyard to where his car was parked down the street.
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