Love and other catastrophes
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Disclaimer: All characters belong to Kevin Williamson and WB.

Note: I am hereby discounting events and characters from the second season... mainly because I haven't seen it yet. This is my first DC fan fiction, so feedback will be much appreciated.

 one: Long day’s journey into night

Pacey could hear soft groans coming from the bedroom as he waited for the kettle to boil. Its squeal drowned the sound out eventually and he filled the hot water bottle he had waiting. Padding back into the bedroom, he handed over the warm bag and sat back down on the bed with his best sympathetic smile.

"Say anything and you die," Joey Potter said menacingly when she eyed his expression. "You have no idea what it’s like being a woman."

Pacey opened his mouth to say something witty, but Joey’s glare intensified so he held his hands up in surrender. Satisfied he wasn’t going to torment her, Joey shoved the hot water bottle under the covers and pressed it against her belly. Cramps were one thing but this was agony. She felt like hell and she looked it too. The last thing she needed was a member of the opposite, and unafflicted, sex making wise cracks.

"All right, I’ve got pain killers, warm milk and chocolate," Pacey said with as little amusement in his voice as he could manage. "Anything else you need before I go?"

"A bullet to the head would suit me fine," Joey mumbled, pretending to go back to sleep with a frown still creasing her brow.

Pacey smiled and bent to kiss her temple. "I gotta go or I’ll be late."

"Fine, go. Go to your hospital and leave me here in agony. I thought you were a doctor, that’s all, with a sworn oath to help the sick and dying." Joey’s acerbic tongue lashed out as he started to walk out of the room.

"You’re not dying, Jo, you just have cramps."

"Say that to me when you’ve experienced them, buddy. You wouldn’t be saying ‘just cramps’ then."

"You know," Pacey began mischievously, knowing full well what her reaction would be. "They say a cheery disposition and exercise is the best cure…"

His sentence was immediately cut off when a pillow hit him in the face.

"Ugh, MEN!" Joey growled in exasperation. "You’re so full of sh—"

Pacey’s return throw was spot on and her cries were enveloped by the large pillow.

"I’ll see you tonight, sweetheart," he grinned and ducked out of the room before she could continue her diatribe. It was the same thing every time when Joey suffered from dysmenorrea, and Pacey had learned long ago that the best thing to do was keep away until the cramping had stopped or the drugs had kicked in. Work was a salvation today and it was with a light heart that he stepped out into the cold December morning in Boston, and ran for the train that would take him to the hospital.

* * *

Pacey retrieved his white coat from his locker and hastily pulled it on over his shirt so he wouldn’t miss rounds. As a first year intern he was expected to be punctual down to the last second. The work was hard, the hours long and often harrowing, but Pacey was still having the time of his life. He still marveled at the fact that he, Pacey Witter, known screw-up and the guy most likely to end up working at the local McDonald’s, had actually made it through medical school and become a doctor. He had surprised even himself when his attempts to settle down and improve his grades in high school had actually worked, and he was accepted into Boston University. Despite his less than supportive family and his paralyzing low self esteem, Pacey had finally silenced his critics and made it out of Capeside.

He hadn’t been the only one of course. The one person who wanted out of Capeside even more than Pacey had made it too. Joey Potter had always had the grades and the burning desire to go away to college, and a full scholarship to Boston University had given her that chance. Pacey remembered the day they had packed up his truck and left their childhood home to begin their new lives. They had been so excited at the prospect of leaving that they hadn’t contemplated what college would really be like. Things were different in the big city, and they found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being little fish in a very big pond. But at least they had each other. Once sworn enemies were in the disconcerting position of having to rely on each other for support and friendship. It had been strange at first… down right scary as far as Pacey was concerned, but in the end their new comradeship was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Pacey knew that without Joey he never would have had the courage to apply for pre-med classes, and then to stick at them despite early failures. The study was crippling and there had been many times when he wanted to throw it all in and just flip burgers for a living after all. But she had coached him through it all, encouraged him when he was down, shared in his triumphs when he passed his classes, and she let him know she was proud of him. It was no wonder that before he even began medical school he had fallen in love with her.

Joey had taken a little persuading. She had too much unfinished business to jump head first into a relationship with her sworn combatant, particularly when that unfinished business involved his best friend. Joey’s on again-off again infatuation with Dawson Leery had been the center of her world for as long as she could remember. They had tried on numerous occasions to change their platonic friendship into something more, but somehow it never worked out. Joey had had a hard time believing that the person she considered to be her soul mate could never be more than her best friend. After so many years it was hard to let go of the fantasy, but in the end Pacey had been able to change her mind. They had been together for more than three years now, a fact which continued to surprise them both.

Their relationship had also been a surprise for Dawson, although far from a pleasant one. While he was tucked away at film school in New York he knew that Pacey and Joey had become friends at college, and he was glad of it. It had always bugged him a little how his two best friends used to deliberately antagonize each other. But when he came up to visit them one weekend and discovered they definitely weren’t enemies anymore, Dawson had felt a sense of betrayal that pierced his heart. Things may not have worked out with Joey and himself, but that didn’t mean he wanted to see her with Pacey. So hurt was he, and unwilling to listen to them, that he returned to New York immediately and had not spoken to either of them since.

The act hurt them both deeply, Joey in particular, but she was not about to give up the man she loved because Dawson wasn’t mature enough to handle the concept of she and Pacey together. They tried to remind themselves that Dawson, by his own instigation, had suffered the greatest loss — that of his two closest friends in the world. But somehow that knowledge did not make up for their own sadness. Pacey tried his best not to think about Dawson too much. He still had Joey, he had a job that he loved and was good at, he felt as if his life was coming together better than he could have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Pacey finished up some charts during his break at the hospital, wanting to make this pediatric rotation his best yet. He was starting to think about specializing in the field, having found he had a great rapport with kids, especially sick ones. It would mean more study and an even greater student loan to repay, but Pacey knew it would be worth it. Joey was still in graduate school having completed her Masters degree in English literature. Now she was doing her PhD and tutoring part time at the university. They joked they were probably destined to be life-long students, but Pacey was willing to call it quits once he became a pediatrician.

He smiled as finished up his work and rose to head back to the ward to check on his recent admissions. Spying the phone in the doctor’s lounge, he decided to give Joey a call to find out how she was feeling. Checking his watch he saw it was well into the afternoon so with any luck she would have recovered somewhat from this morning and it would be safe for his male-self to call. He dialed their number, suddenly eager to hear her voice if it was no longer grouchy, but all he got was an engaged signal. With a sigh he replaced the receiver and guessed she was talking to her girlfriend Claudia, no doubt attacking the unsympathetic and blissfully unaffected species that was man. Pacey could almost feel his ears burning as he headed out the door. In the end it was probably safer to wait until his shift finished in a couple of hours before he fronted up for round two.

* * *

Lilies and Chinese takeout. Pacey had both her favorites in his arms as he stepped off the elevator in their building and fumbled for his keys. Just in case she was still in a bad mood he had bought flowers and dinner as a peace offering. If she was feeling better, he would just earn himself some brownie points. It was a win-win situation, Pacey smiled to himself.

Unlocking to door of the apartment, Pacey paused in the dim light. Flicking the light switch, he saw that the living room and Joey’s desk were untouched from that morning, her computer switched off. No work on her thesis today then; a bad sign, he sighed. Dumping the food on the kitchen counter, he tossed off his coat and took the flowers with him to the bedroom door. In semi-darkness he could see her still curled up in a ball on the bed just like a child with a sore tummy. Pacey paused a moment to look at the sleeping figure and his heart swelled with love at the sight of her. He tiptoed across the room towards her.

"Jo… Joey," he murmured. She did not stir so he smiled wickedly. "Oh, Josephine."

He knew that calling her by her full name would get a rise out of her, but still she didn’t move. Pacey could hear a strange, low beeping somewhere in the room but he couldn’t work out what it was.

"All right, Sleeping Beauty, time to get up." He was by her side now bending over to peer at her face. He pushed back the long dark strands of hair that covered it and saw immediately that something was wrong. Joey’s normally tanned face was ashen, her skin gray and clammy.

"Jo?" he said more urgently, nudging her shoulder. There was no response. She was not asleep but unconscious. Pacey’s actions were immediate and professional as he rolled her onto her back and called her name repeatedly. He firmly pinched the nerve between her neck and shoulder in an attempt to revive her. It did not work. Her breathing and pulse were okay, but no matter what he did he could not revive her. Hearing the beeping noise again, he darted his head furtively around the floor beside the bed and found the telephone receiver off the hook. With a terrible sense of dread, Pacey stared at it and realized that she had probably been trying to call for help. He snapped himself back to attention and hastily gathered a blanket around Joey and bundled her into his arms. He ran with her for the door, knowing he would be able to get her to the hospital faster than the paramedics could.

As he sped wildly across the city with Joey lying prostrate on the back seat of their car, Pacey tried not think about what time he had tried to call Joey, and how long she had been unconscious there all alone in their apartment. He didn’t hear the angry car horns that blared when he ran a red light. All he could think of was Joey’s pallid face and the crippling fear that something would happen to her. Unconsciously he pressed his foot harder on the accelerator and sped towards the bright lights of the hospital up ahead.

Love and other catastrophes
[one] [two] [three] [four] [five] [six] [seven] [eight] [nine] [ten] [eleven] [twelve] [email]