***

"Another year gone by, another Christmas to deal with."

Letting out a sigh, Joey turned from the window she was looking out of, and began to study the Christmas tree that sit in the middle of the B&B.

Unlike, in past years before, Bessie and her had decided that this year they'd get an artificial one. The kind you'd find at 'Home Depot' or at
'Lowes' perhaps, but in their small plan to save a little money, they'd stumbled on a little bump...without the piney scent of a real tree, and
without the sight of certain Christmas presents underneath the tree, it just made Joey remember that this wasn't a 'real' Christmas. In fact, it was a Christmas that she'd be spending alone.

Sighing once again, Joey moved her eyes back towards the woods outside, watching as the snow fell to the ground, as the wind moved the trees from side to side, and as her brother-in-law parked the cars of the guests who were staying at their resort for the holidays. It was a beautiful sight to see, if she thought about it, but as of right now, nothing was really beautiful to her, not even the decorations that she was supposed to be hanging up at the moment.

"Hey, whatcha thinking about, kiddo?"

Turning around to face her older sister, who was in the process of hanging stockings above the chimney fire, Joey shrugged. "I was just wondering what Tommy and Sam were doing, that's all."

"Well," Bessie began, not bothering to turn her head from what she was doing. "why don't you go in the kitchen and found out for yourself?"

As the words left Bessie's lips, Joey gave her older sister a confused look, followed by a questioning look, before a small smile brightened her face causing her to practically bolt out of her seat by the window, and run towards the kitchen in hopes of seeing the two people who mattered most to her.

"Tommy, Sam..are you-"

As Joey rounded the corner to the kitchen, she stopped in mid-sentence as she saw not only her two children, Tommy and Sam, seated at the kitchen table eating Christmas cookies, but also Dawson....her ex-husband.

"Dawson?"

Dawson, who had been listening to his children ramble on and on about what they wanted for Christmas, jumped as he heard Joey come up from behind him.

Turning around to face his ex wife, he smiled hesitantly. "Joey..."

"Dawson.." Joey repeated, continuing to stare at him..or rather through him. "Wh-what are you doing here?"

Dawson opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off as his son began talking.

"Daddy says that we can stay with you for Xmas, Mommy. He says that you look lonely."

Not bothering to move her eyes from Dawson, who seemed to be blushing at the moment, Joey raised an eyebrow in questioning at her son. "Is that so? What else did 'Daddy' say?"

"He said that he wanted to sweeten you up before-" Tommy began, eager to tell his daddy's secret, but was cut off as Dawson interrupted.

"Um, how about we have this conversation outside..alone."

In normal circumstances Joey would've smiled, or better yet, laughed at seeing her ex-husband squirm uncomfortably, but at her son's use of
'sweeten up', she knew she would soon be in no mood to do either.

Rolling her eyes, she grabbed her coat that was draped across one of the chairs at the table, and made her way towards the front door of the B&B, giving Dawson a 'ready when you are' look over her shoulder.

Not wanting Joey to get upset before she heard his news, Dawson quickly picked up his jacket, that was hung on the back of his chair, before
turning to Tommy and Sam, who were absentmindedly eating their mommie's famous peanut butter cookies, and giving them a 'false' smile. "Your mommy and I will be right outside if you need us."

Tommy and Sam both rolled their eyes at their father, a trait they picked up from their mother, before going back to their cookies.

"Oh boy!" Dawson muttered under his breath before following Joey out the door.

*****

Joey didn't stop walking until she made it to the dock in front of the B&B, she figured if Dawson's talk with her got out of hand then the water below would break his fall.

Turning around, she raised a questioning eyebrow at him, before asking him the question that was on her mind. "What do you want in return?"

Dawson squirmed at the bluntness of her question, before replying. "What makes you think I want anything in return?"

"Quit the bullshit, Dawson." Joey replied, giving Dawson an 'I'm too tired for this' glare. "Unfortunately, I know you, and I know for a fact that
you love our kids just as much as I do, and wouldn't give up one of your holiday stays just for me. So, what is it? What do you want in return for letting Sam and Tommy stay with me for the holidays?"

Dawson opened his mouth to deny her words, but then figured it'd be best just to tell her the truth..for once.

"Gretchen and I are getting married, and we want Sam and Tommy to be in the wedding."