At the End of the Dock
by: ShiningBright

Disclaimers:  Spoilers up to episode 420 (not withstanding creative license). And, of course I donít own the characters. If I did, I would actually take care of them.

Thanks:  To Maria (Psychic Cat) for all the encouragement and to Eponine for hosting this little story.

Rating:  PG-13 (Iíll have to work my way up to smut)

The feeling of blissful euphoria stopped suddenly when one lie spiraled into disaster.

Just like last spring. Only last spring I didnít realize how much Iíd miss his touch. His smile. His kisses. His love. Him.

Last year I was willing to give all of that up for friendship. And this year? I gave up love for friendship. Nothing really changed. Nothing ever does. I make the same mistakes time and time again. And where does that leave me?

Alone. Sobbing at the end of my dock. Not trying to stop the salty tears from falling. Not noticing that my eyes are red and throbbing and my face is blotchy. Not caring that the whole world can see my heart shattering in a million pieces.

Iíve always hated crying. Itís so embarrassing. Iíve built a protective wall around my feelings. And crying just makes it all the more obvious how strong Iím not.

Knowing he wonít row to my dock to offer a shoulder to lean on. Knowing he isnít going to wrap me up in his strong arms, pull me closer and hold me tighter. Knowing heís not going to place his hands on my hips and tug at my shirt hem. Or, even better, cup his hands around my face and pull me in for an intense kiss. The kind that gives you butterflies. The kind that makes you forget about the world around you . . .

Heís probably somewhere crying himself - a solitary tear and maybe a sniffle - unlike my violent sobs.

He felt it too. I saw it in his eyes - just as I saw my own despair reflected back into his.

Iíve looked into his deep blue eyes so many times before. But the time I looked into them, swearing Iíd tell the truth . . . Is that when I stopped seeing love reflected in his eyes?

I once told Dawson that I saved the truth for him. But even that was a lie. He doesnít want the truth. He only wants to hear what makes him feel good about himself. Years of appeasing Dawson, crafting my thoughts and words to match his perception of the truth have taken their toll on me.

So, when the truth matters the most - when it comes to expressing the truest feeling Iíve ever felt, I canít say it. I freeze. Iím still the 15-year-old hiding in my best friendís closet. And he doesnít want to hear it.

But thatís really no excuse for what I did. For what I took for granted. For what I so carelessly threw away.

Because in protecting Dawson, I betrayed the one person for whom the truth matters the most.

Paceyís always been the person who demanded honesty from me.

Like with my father.

Like with Dawson.

Like with him . . .

I buried the ghost, or did I? Old habits and old fears leak through the coffin. I sealed it tight -- or so I thought.

Crying at the end of my dock, I realize I left the coffin wide open and Iíve been too afraid to shut it. But I have to or else Iíll never be whole. Iíll never be strong enough to stand on my own. To say what I want and tell the world Paceyís the one I love.

Because the truth is - no oneís ever made me feel this way before. Safe and alive - all at once. No oneís ever seen me so vulnerable. No oneís ever known my fears better or understood me so well. Not even myself.

Patient and loving. Thatís how heís always been with me. Expecting nothing but the same in return.

I see it in his eyes as they peer through mine.

I feel it in his touch when he runs his hands through my hair.

I taste it when his warm tongue finds its way into my mouth.

I hear it in his voice when it quivers in awe of me standing before him.

Iíve never given anyone so much, but I still canít manage to give that last part of me over.

And I hate myself because of that.

The words he said in anger still ring in my mind. About how he loved me but he would have to find a way to live without me. Because it hurt like hell to feel like he was second best. That he felt worthless if I continued to put him - and us - second.

He spoke those words in truth, and I believe him.

So, how can I make everything right again?

***************

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