Love and other catastrophes
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Four: Bonjour tristesse

When Joey began to wake up, the first thing she felt was her dry throat. She swallowed with difficulty and tried to shake off the strange, heavy feeling in her head which was making it difficult for her to open her eyes. When she managed to blink a few times and focus on her surroundings, the first thing she saw was the top of Pacey’s head. There wasn’t much light to see by but she recognised him immediately. He was sitting by her bed, cradling his head in his hands. Trying not to dwell on the terrible thirst she had which hurt her throat so much, she lifted her hand to nudge him.

Joey was surprised that her arm felt so heavy when she tried to raise it. She felt very peculiar and was anxious to know why. Her hand fell against Pacey’s and he snapped his head up with a start to look at her. Immediately a soft smile formed on his lips, far from the impish grin she had known so well in high school. She tried to smile back at him but she barely had the energy to do even that.

"Hey, how are you feeling?" Pacey asked quietly, his voice soothing.

"Thirsty," replied Joey hoarsely. Hesitating a moment, Pacey brought a cup with a thick plastic straw up to her mouth and she swallowed the cool water gratefully. The sensation not only soothed her throat but her head cleared a little as well. She was more aware of her surroundings now, and knew she was not in their bedroom.

"Where am I?"

Pacey slowly replaced the cup on the table beside the bed and took his time meeting her eyes again. With deliberate calm he took her hand and held it up to his face.

"You’re in the hospital, Jo. Do you remember what happened?"

"I was at home in bed," she began slowly, trying to clear the fog in her mind that was preventing the memories from coming to the surface. "I felt terrible so I tried to call you but… I don’t know, I can’t remember."

"I came home and found you unconscious, but you’re all right now."

Joey thought about this and looked around the hospital room again. "What was wrong with me?"

Pacey had dreaded the question, dreaded having to explain what had brought her here. He was almost tempted to have Dr. Crawford tell her just so he wouldn’t have to, but then he chastised his own cowardice and took a deep breath.

"There’s nothing to worry about," he said in an even voice. He spoke lightly so as not to alarm her, forcing himself to keep his own emotions in check. "You were unconscious because you were in hemorrhagic shock. The doctors found an ectopic pregnancy that had ruptured, that’s why those cramps were so bad. They had to operate but everything went really well and you’re going to be fine."

Joey listened with a frown, not really understanding the words. "I’m pregnant?" she whispered.

Pacey grimaced slightly, bringing her hand back down to bed and not taking his eyes off it. He couldn’t think of the right words to say, though he had delivered such news to patients before. But this wasn’t a patient, this was Joey, the woman he loved more than life itself.

"No, not anymore." He unconsciously rubbed his thumb over her hand and avoided her eyes. "An ectopic pregnancy means that the embryo develops outside the uterus, in this case the Fallopian tube. There’s no sign anything is wrong until a pelvic-organ rupture occurs, which is why you had that terrible pain today. It causes hemorrhaging, which is why you passed out. The surgeons had to operate so they could… remove the problem and repair any tissue damage. Dr. Crawford said everything went well so it’s all okay."

"What are you saying to me, Pacey? I was pregnant?" Joey heard his explanation but it all sounded so clinical and removed from her situation. It didn’t help that Pacey was not even looking at her. She shook his hand impatiently to get his full attention. She needed to get a firm grasp on all of this.

"The baby could never have survived, Jo, they never do in these situations. You were only about six weeks along and there’s no way to prevent this from happening."

"I didn’t even know," she stammered. "There wasn’t any sign that I was pregnant…"

"That usually indicates something was wrong from the start," Pacey said. He was relieved to see she was beginning to understand what had happened now. The confused expression on her face, like a bewildered child, was like a dagger in his heart. He tried to smile at her, but it was a weak attempt. "The good news is there were no complications. There’s no reason why this should happen again and we shouldn’t have any problems… you know, in the future… if we decide we want kids… It just happened, Jo, we don’t know why."

Joey didn’t say anything, but she knew Pacey was trying his best to be cheerful. She couldn’t listen to that just yet, it was all too new and raw to even contemplate it properly. She turned her head and tried to bury it in the thick pillow, but the slight movement jarred her abdomen painfully so she settled gingerly where she was and did not move again. Pacey just sat there, not quite sure what to do. Joey was obviously exhausted but he felt bad just leaving things as they were. He wanted to talk to her more to make sure she was really okay, but her body language made it quite clear she didn’t want to discuss things further.

"Jo? I should probably get Dr. Crawford to check on you," he said quietly, not wanting to disturb her. "I have to go find him so…"

Joey did not protest when he stood to leave. He frowned slightly at her sudden detachment, but reminded himself that she was probably in a mild state of shock just as he was. He smoothed back her hair from her forehead and kissed it gently.

"I won’t be long… I love you, Jo."

When she didn’t reply he moved to the door with some disappointment.


He stopped and looked back expectantly. "Yeah?"

"Have you told anyone yet? Bessie, I mean."

"No, I didn’t want to worry her until we knew something definite so I—"

"Good," Joey cut him off. "I don’t want you to. I don’t want you to call anyone, not even Claudia."

"All right," he answered, a little concerned. Joey was facing away from the door so he couldn’t see her expression. Pacey quietly closed the door behind him and went in search of the surgeon.


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