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As soon as I went into Pacey's room I knew it was a mistake. It wasn't fair on him, or myself. We were broken up… broken up people aren't supposed to do that. But all I knew was that I needed to escape from everything that had happened. I didn't want to think about Jack or the shooting or the fact that nothing would ever be the same. I wanted to stop feeling the way I did - confused, angry, frustrated… lost. I wanted to feel normal again, and I knew Pacey could make me feel that way.

It was wonderful, even if only for a brief moment. I felt alive again, and loved. I felt safe.

But then it was over and I couldn't avoid returning reality. I couldn't stop thinking that it was mistake, because I felt exactly the same before I went into his room. It hadn't solved anything. I guess I knew it wasn't going to, but I still hoped it might. Now it was even worse, because I felt guilty for even approaching him like that. I used him. Pacey didn't deserve that, no matter what happened between us.

I left as soon as he fell asleep, which thankfully wasn't long. Just as he was drifting off he whispered that he loved me. It was the first time hearing it that had made me feel worse than I already was. No doubt about it, love is strange.

I didn't sleep much back in my own bed. Not even the remembrance of Pacey's warm touch gave me any comfort. I could still feel him in me, but now it was different. I felt… repulsed. I did whatever I could to block it out of my mind.

As soon as it was light I was up and dressed. I was restless, and just wanted to get out of the B&B. The problem was I had nowhere to go. In recent times if I needed to talk to someone I would have gone to Pacey's. That was out of the question; One, because he was a few rooms away from mine and two, well, you probably know the answer to two. I wasn't sure what I was going to say to him to explain my behavior of the night before. I didn't have the energy to make excuses, nor could I face his loving concern for me. How could I tell him that I needed him last night but now he had to leave me alone because the very thought of him made my skin crawl? You can see my dilemma.

Just as I was sinking further into despair, I remembered there was one place I could go. There was one person I could talk to who wouldn't push me into confronting what I was feeling, or smother me with kindness. He would know that I just needed someone to share my silence with. He understood me, and something told me he would know exactly what I was feeling now.

I slipped out of the house and started rowing for Dawson's house.

* * *

The Leery's house had always been something of a sanctuary for me. Before adolescence threw the proverbial spanner in the works, I had spent most of my time at Dawson's place. Since my mom died home had lost its appeal. When I was sad or scared I had always run to Dawson for comfort. He was my magnetic north. Despite everything that had gone wrong with our friendship, I still ran to him now.

Old habits die hard.

The sight of Dawson sitting on the end of his dock as I rowed towards it filled me with more joy than I had felt in days. It was like he knew I was coming, like he expected it. There was something comforting in that. I even managed to smile when I threw him a rope and he tied the boat to the dock. He reached out a hand without a word and helped me up.

"What are you doing out here?" I asked quietly when he offered no explanation.

"Just thinking… and hoping you'd be coming."

I smiled more easily now, but I felt tears well up in my eyes. I pressed my lips together firmly and tried not to cry.

"I was right about you," I whispered.


"You really do know me better than anyone."

Dawson smiled back. "That's what happens after so many years of friendship."

I hugged him then, just being near him was enough. I didn't have to try and explain what I was feeling, or dissect what had happened yesterday. Dawson was there, he already knew. Maybe that's why I was unable to talk to Pacey about it. He couldn't understand unless I explained it to him. Maybe it's why I was resentful of his presence. It was all too confusing. All I knew was I felt better with Dawson at that moment.

We sat for a couple of hours, not talking much. We didn't mention Jack. Dawson had seen Jen return from the hospital the night before, but he hadn't spoken to her. Neither of us knew about Andie or her father. There would be no avoiding them forever, but I was content to put it off as long as possible. I had yet to deal with my own grief, let alone anyone else's.

"What about Pacey?" Dawson asked inevitably.

"What about him?" Even Dawson at his most oblivious could not have missed the dismissive tone of my voice.

"I thought you'd be with him."

I shifted uneasily, avoiding his gaze by staring out at the creek. The dazzling light bouncing off the rippling water hurt my eyes but it was better than letting Dawson see the truth in my eyes.

"He stayed at the B&B last night."


"Bessie asked him, not me."


I glanced at him, wondering what the noncommittal responses meant.

"Does this mean… Are you two back together now?" he asked evenly.

I couldn't decipher any meaning in his tone. Did he care either way?

"No," I answered without thinking. "At least, I don't think…"

I trailed off, thinking about what had happened. Pacey probably thought we were back together. It was me who had no idea.

"He came back for you," said Dawson. This time I heard something in his voice… he was happy for me.

"I don't know."

"I know. He nearly lost you and he did whatever he could to get back here to make sure he hadn't. He still loves you."

I bit my bottom lip, fixed my eyes on a spot on the water and stared at it. I couldn't look at him.

"Do you still love him?"

"Can we not talk about this?" I said. But it was so quiet that I wasn't even sure Dawson heard me.

What we both heard was the sound of a car door shutting, and we looked up to see Pacey walking towards us. I felt another pang of guilt when I saw the slightly hurt look on his face that he was trying hard to mask. Then I felt annoyed that he had come after me, that he couldn't leave me be for even a few hours. It was the look of anger on my face that Pacey noticed first. I saw his shoulders slump even further as he continued down the dock.

It occurred to me that I should have been glad to see him, but I wasn't. At that moment I wondered if I ever would again.

To be continued...

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