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Dawson Leery flopped back on his bed. “How do I ask Jen to the Valentine’s Day dance?”

His best friend, Joey Potter, dropped down next to him. “What’s the big deal? You’ve asked her out before.”

He turned to look at her. “Yeah, but this is different. This is *Valentine’s* Day. The most romantic day of the year. After the big freeze over her virginity, I want this entire experience to be special.”

“Handcuffs and Crisco special?” Joey grinned.

“Of course not!” he said indignantly. There was a pause. “Will you ever explain the Crisco thing to me?”

***

It was three o’clock, and the final bell had rung on the Monday before Valentine’s Day. Joey met Dawson at his locker.

“Well, did you ask her yet?” she asked.

Dawson slammed his door shut. “Not yet. I’m going to ask her on the way home today.”

“Guess that’s my hint to go my own way home,” Joey remarked, barely hiding the bitterness in her voice. “Just don’t put it off, okay, Dawson? Valentine’s Day is just 5 days away. Maybe someone else asked her already, and she’s going with him.”

They started towards Jen’s locker.

“No way,” he said confidently. “Not Jen. You’ll see.”

“Right,” Joey said a little absent-mindedly as she headed towards the door. “Bye.” Damn, but that Jen was lucky!

* **

Dawson came up behind Jen, who was still at her locker.

“Guess who,” he grinned, standing directly behind her.

She turned, startled. “Dawson! Um, hi.”

He grinned at her again. “Are you ready? I’ll walk you home.”

She shut her locker. “Sure,” she nodded. “I’d like that.”

They walked towards Jen’s house, chatting about school. He meant to ask her about the dance in the most romantic way he could, given the circumstances, but every time he tried, she’d change the subject. When they had almost reached her house, Dawson finally had the opportunity he had waited for.

“So, Joey and I were talking about the Valentine’s dance today,” Dawson said, looking straight ahead.

Jen glanced at him briefly. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” They had reached her house, and were just standing there. “We’re still looking for dates. I was wondering if maybe we could go together,” he blurted out, immediately swearing to himself about the way he just came out.

“Oh, I’d love to, Dawson, but Cliff asked me this morning. I didn’t have a date yet, so I accepted. I didn’t think you were going to go. I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. She turned and walked into her house, leaving Dawson standing there, dumbstruck.

** *

“I just don’t get it,” Dawson said blankly. It was later that afternoon, and he was lying on his bed, staring at his ceiling. Joey was sitting crossed legged next to him.

“You shouldn’t have waited so long,” she told him, not completely unsympathetically.

“*Not helping*,” he ground out between his teeth.

“Okay, I am sorry, Dawson. Really.”

“I just don’t get it,” he said again. “I mean, I thought we were doing okay now. I didn’t even know that Cliff was still in the picture!” He sat up, but slumped over. “Maybe I should have planned better how I was going to ask her. More romantic, instead of blurting it out.”

“Dawson, that wouldn’t have helped, and you know it. But what are you going to do now?” she asked, trying to keep her voice even.

“I don’t know,” he said slowly.

“No script written?” Joey grinned.

He managed a brief smile, as the wheels started turning in his head. Joey recognized his look, and knew what he was thinking.

“Oh, no,” she exclaimed. “No. I remember what happened at the last dance you made me go to, to spy on her. No!”

“That was then, this is now,” he said airily. “Come on, Joey. It’ll be fun,” he said, his tone now wheedling.

She opened her mouth to protest, but he covered her mouth with his hand. “I know what you’re going to say, and you can just forget it. You have five days to find a dress.”

“Come on, that was my one good excuse,” Joey grinned. “I can’t believe that I’m going to be party to your insane obsession again, but okay. I’ll do go the

stupid dance with you.” It was against her better judgment, but she’d go.

Part Two

It was two hours before the dance, and Joey was nervous. Really nervous. Dawson thought that he was going to the dance with a friend, but Joey had realized that she was in love with him months earlier. Which meant that she was going to a Valentine’s dance with a guy she loved, who was going just so he could torture himself staring at another girl. She must be insane to do this. Insane, or horribly desperate.

Just then, her older sister walked in. She grinned at Joey, pulling her to her feet. “Come on, I’ll help you get ready. When Dawson sees you, he’ll forget all about that Jen Lindley.”

Joey managed a little smile, not believing Bessie for a minute.

“Between the two of us, he’ll stop breathing,” Bessie vowed.

** *

At 7:30, Dawson rang the doorbell at Joey’s. He was dressed in a black tuxedo, and his father had convinced him to bring Joey a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day, and a corsage for the dance. Bessie answered the door.

“Come on in, Dawson. Jo will be down in a minute.”

“Thanks,” he said, flashing a smile. He felt a little nervous for some reason. This was Joey, his best friend. There was no need to be nervous around her, right?

*

Joey stood in her room, in front of her mirror. Bessie walked up to the doorjamb. “Dawson’s here.”

Joey whirled around. “Oh, no. This is a mistake. Bessie, tell him I’m sick. Please?” she begged.

“Absolutely not,” her sister told her firmly. “I didn’t spend the past two hours getting you ready for nothing. You’ll be great, you’ll have fun, and you’ll knock ‘em dead.” She handed Joey her purse. “Here. Now go,” she ordered. Joey sent one last pleading look over her shoulder as she was pushed from the room. “Go!” her sister repeated.

Dawson was waiting at the foot of the stairs. He looked up when he heard Bessie cough, and he was stunned. His eyes opened in shock and his mouth dropped open. Joey barely looked like herself, with her dramatic make-up. She was wearing a deep red silk slip dress that ended mid-thigh, with strappy red heels, and her hair was pulled back into a French braid with a few wispy tendrils hanging down.

Dawson was still shocked when she was standing next to him. “Wo-wow,” he finally managed. “You look great, Jo. Seriously.”

“Thanks,” she smiled nervously. There was an awkward pause.

“Oh! Um, these are for you,” he said, offering her the bouquet. Bessie swooped down and took them from her sister.

“These are lovely, Dawson. I’ll take care of them. You two better hurry up, or you’ll be late. I’ll see you in the morning, Jo.” Bessie took them into the kitchen.

“And this too,” Dawson added, holding up a pin corsage. He leaned in nervously to pin it on her, pulling his hands back nervously before getting it attached, fumbling in his effort not to touch her. Although there was a tiny thought in the back of his mind that was yelling at him to grab the chance while he could, so to speak. He stepped back when he was done. “Uh, ready to go?” he asked.

“Sure.” Joey grabbed her jacket and walked out the door just in front of Dawson.

When they arrived at the school, the dance was pretty much in full swing. Dawson led them through a few songs, looking for Jen, before they stopped to get something to drink. It was on their next round of dances that they ran into Jen and Cliff. Literally. They were so involved on their debate over old time movie stars—who was better, Ingrid Bergman or Barbara Stanwyck—that when Dawson spun Joey out, she spun right into Jen.

“Watch where you’re going,” Cliff snapped.

Jen looked surprised. “Dawson! And Joey. You didn’t tell me you were going to be here. I love that dress, Joey.”

“Thanks,” Joey said, a little tense.

“Save me a dance later, Dawson?” Jen asked.

“Yeah, sure!” Dawson grinned. “See you later.” He whirled Joey off. “Did you hear that,” he asked excitedly. “She asked *me * to dance!”

“Isn’t that great,” Joey said woodenly.

Dawson looked confused. “What’s the matter?”

“Who’s your date here, Dawson? Me or the dream girl?” she asked angrily, pushing his arms off her.

“You are,” he said, puzzled.

“You’re not acting like it,” she snapped, a little unfairly, since he hadn’t mentioned Jen in the past hour. “I know you’ve been thinking about her all night. God! I have no idea why I agreed to this stupid idea.” She started to storm off, but Dawson caught her arm, hurt.

“Hey! Jo, wait a minute. That’s not fair. I have *not * been thinking about Jen all night, actually.”

Joey stopped. “Yeah, right, Dawson.”

“It’s true,” he insisted. “I’ve been concentrating on defending Ingrid Bergman. But anyway, why would that bother you?” he asked, genuinely baffled.

She sighed. “Forget it, Dawson. Just forget it.”

“But—“

“I said to forget it! Let’s just dance, okay?”

He shook his head. “Fine.”

Just then, the DJ announced, “And here’s on for the couples out there,” and put on Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” Joey started to walk off the dance floor, but Dawson pulled her back.

“Where are you going *now *?” he asked. “You told me we were going to dance.”

She shrugged uneasily. “I figured you’d want to find Jen, that’s all.”

“She asked me for later, not now. Come on.” He spun her closer to him until there was almost no room between them.

Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can’t help
Falling in love with you

Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help
Falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can’t help
Falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can’t help
Falling in love with you
For I can’t help
Falling in love with you

During the song, Dawson had pulled her even closer, without even being aware of it. Neither of them saw Jen watching them with a small grin on her face. When the song ended, Joey pushed back a little nervously. Dawson noticed that she was a little uncomfortable, and he felt a little weird himself. “Do you want to leave now, Jo?”

“Um, if you want to.” She turned toward the door and then back to Dawson. “Oh, wait. Your dance with Jen.”

He shrugged. He had actually forgotten, which amazed him. “Next time.” They started off the dance floor. “You know, I’m kinda thirsty. Let’s get something to drink before we leave.” She nodded and they veered slightly to the left, toward the tables. Seemingly out of nowhere, Jen appeared in front of them.

“You weren’t leaving, are you?”

“Yeah, we were,” Dawson told her. “We—“

“Can you wait just five minutes? Then you can leave,” she said, smiling at Dawson.

Joey and Dawson glanced at each other in confusion. “Um, sure,” Joey said finally. “We can wait.”

Jen walked off quickly with a secret smile. She had first thought of this song when she had asked Joey if she and Dawson had a thing, and now seemed like a good a time as any to play it. Joey already knew, and Dawson was almost ready to realize it, that he was in love with his best friend. Jen finally reached the DJ, and smiled at him as she whispered into his ear. He smiled back and nodded.

Dawson was watching them. “I have no idea what she’s doing.”

“Me neither,” Joey said.

The DJ came back on mike to announce, “Ok, now this is a special song that is going out to Dawson and Joey, from a friend who claims she’s seen it from the start.”

“Jen?” Joey questioned.

“Must be,” Dawson said, bewildered. “I wonder what song it is.”

People are talkin’
Talkin’ ‘bout people
I hear them whisper
You won’t believe it
They think we’re lovers
Kept under cover
I just ignore it, but they keep saying we
Laugh just a little too loud,
Stand just a little too close,
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they’re seeing
Something we don’t, darling

Let’s give them something to talk about
Let’s give them something to talk about
Let’s give them something to talk about
How about love

I feel so foolish
I never noticed
You’d act so nervous
Could you be falling for me
It took the rumor
To make me wonder
Now I’m convinced that I’ve fallen under
Thinking about you every day
Dreamin’ about you every night
I hope that you feel the same way
Now that we know it,
Let’s really show it

Let’s give them something to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let’s give them something to talk about
How about love, love, love
Let’s give them something to talk about
A little mystery to figure out
Let’s give them something to talk about
How about love
Let’s give them something to talk about
How about my love, love, love

“Jen thinks we’re in love?” Dawson asked incredulously.

‘That’s crazy,” Joey said after a pause, her heart almost breaking.

“Absolutely insane,” Dawson agreed, but there was a little thought in his mind that hadn’t been there before. He brushed it away. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah.”

They got their coats and walked down the street quietly, lost in their own thoughts, heading towards the dock. They stopped at the railing by the water.

“Do you think Jen really thinks she sees something between us, or was she making an excuse about the dance?” Dawson asked, breaking the silence first, as he looked at Joey.

“I don’t know.” Joey looked down at the water, as Dawson seemed inexplicably drawn to her lips. “She seemed like she meant it,” she finished weakly. She turned quickly to face him. “Dawson, I—“

Whatever she was about to say was lost as she and Dawson kissed, as kiss that grew more passionate by the second. Neither really knew, nor cared, who had started it, but they bother knew they didn’t want to stop.

“You know,” Dawson said between kisses, “this could possibly ruin our friendship.”

Joey didn’t miss a beat as she responded breathlessly, “I don’t want to be friends anymore.”

“Thank God,” he groaned. “Me neither, Jo.”

“Love ya, Dawson,” she mumbled into his neck.

“I love you, too,” he whispered into her hair. “I love you too.”

THE END

“Something to Talk About” performed by Bonnie Raitt; “I Can’t help Falling in Love With You” performed by Elvis Presley.

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