Jen drags a reluctant Joey to her wealthy cousin's elegant sweet sixteen party in New York City, while a curious Dawson and Pacey trail behind, and two partygoers set their sights on the girls.
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C. J. Anders is the pseudonym for a well-known young-adult fiction-writing couple.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Dawson Leery lay with his head against the pillows and frowned as he watched the end of Thelma and Louise on videotape, gazing at the TV against the wall.
"I ask you, Joey," he said, as the credits began to roll, "what point was the filmmaker trying to make with this cop-out ending? I mean, two women who've just pillaged their way across the country decide to run their car off a cliff with themselves in it? Which means...?"
"No one but you cares what it means," his best friend, Josephine -- better known as Joey -- Potter stated, from her spot next to him on his bed. "And they didn't pillage, Dawson. They plundered. They plundered idiotic men who deserved to be plundered."
"And they murdered," Dawson added.
"Oh well, that," Joey said breezily.
"So why do girls love this movie?" Dawson asked. "It gives the illusion of depth when really it -- "
"I hate to break this to you, Dawson, since I know how fragile your psyche is. But the reason we love this movie is not because of its quasi-feminist bent or nihilistic ending. I can sum it up for you in two words, Dawson, and those two words are: Brad Pitt."
Joey made a grab for the remote and reran the movie until she found the scene of Brad Pitt kissing Geena Davis. "Now this is art." She settled back against the pillows.
"But he's a drifter who rips her off!" Dawson protested. "What about romance?"
"What about those lips?" Joey replied.
A flush of irritation crept up the back of Dawson's neck. How did she expect him to feel when she talked like that? True, they'd been best friends forever and had only been a couple for, well, it had felt like minutes, until Joey had decided that being a couple wasn't what she really wanted at all.
Of course, that had happened just when Dawson finally decided that being a couple was exactly what he wanted. Why couldn't they ever both be in friendship mode or relationship mode at the same time?
"This part is great," Joey said, watching the screen. "This is where Brad -- "
Dawson grabbed the remote from her.
"Hey!" Joey protested, lunging for it.
Dawson held it away from her. "Say 'Good night, Brad.'"
"Not until I want to say 'Good night, Brad.'" She scrambled over Dawson's stomach to get the remote. He began to tickle her, she punched him in the bicep, and he pushed her over until, before he knew it, he was lying on top of her, gazing down into those huge brown eyes of hers.
The fire was there. Incendiary. Not a "best friends" thing.
But did she feel it, too? "Joe?" he whispered.
Silence. She stared up at him.
So she did feel it! Slowly, his mouth came down, and --
"This is what is commonly called a compromising position," Joey said. "And best friends don't compromise."
He rolled off of her, beyond embarrassed.
"Well, was it good for you?" Joey quipped, trying to ease the tension. "If I smoked, I'd light a cigarette."
Dawson stared up at the ceiling. "The story arc of our movie is seriously flawed, Joe. Our act one was endless. Our act two lasted a nanosecond yet changed everything. And now there seems to be some confusion over whether we are to acknowledge that act two happened at all."
Joey pushed some hair away from her eyes. "It happened," she said. "We've just gone back to act one."
His eyes slid over to her. "In my admittedly limited experience, once you've experienced act two -- brief as it might have been -- you can't go back to act one."
Joey sat up. "Sure you can. just press rewind."
She knew exactly what Dawson meant, but at the moment, she didn't want to know. For so long it seemed as if all her time and energy had gone into wanting him. It wasn't that she didn't still have those feelings for him, because she did. But now...well, now she wanted the time and energy for something else. Maybe even someone else.
Dawson sat up, too. "I think it would benefit the everchanging nature of our relationship to discuss this."
"I think not," Joey replied. "Where's the remote?"
"I think so," Dawson insisted. He clicked off Thelma and Louise. "The delicate balance of us, whatever that may or may not be, dictates that -- "
"We've talked it to death, Dawson," Joey said. "Let's give it a funeral and let it rest in peace."
Dawson shook his head. "That is not the most productive course of action. What would be helpful is -- "
Joey made a noise of impatience under her breath. He could be so infuriating! "Let me ask you a question, Dawson, and feel free to answer it in twenty-five words or less because I'd hate to find myself experiencing middle-age spread with you still pondering this: Who made you writer, director, and star of this little drama?"
"We could share credit. I think the Directors Guild allows that," Dawson said. "Two equals who are -- "
"Equals?" she interrupted. "All last year you called the shots. That is not what I call equal."
"I didn't mean to call the shots," Dawson said.
Joey shot him a dubious look.
"The salient point here is, I can change."
"No, you can't," Joey said. "I know you better than you know yourself, Dawson. It's easy for you to want me when I don't want you. No pressure there. But deep down your ambivalence about us is just as ambivalent as ever." She got up and grabbed her jacket.
"Where are you going?" he called to her.
"She gives him the big kiss off, fade to black." Joey headed for the window, her usual mode for entering and exiting Dawson's bedroom.
"You should stay. We can talk about this."
Joey whirled around. "You can sit in your bedroom forever and write pithy dialogue for us, Dawson, but it's meaning-free. Within these four walls you are utterly safe. No need to take any chances. No need to be bold. But out there, Dawson, is real life. And what I know about real life could fit into a thimble with room to spare. So you just stay in your room, Dawson, if that's what you want. But pardon me if I want to find out what's in that big, bad world besides Dawson Leery." She climbed through the open window.
"Joey, wait!" Dawson called.
But it was too late. She was already gone.
From next door, Jen Lindley saw Joey climb down the ladder from Dawson's room, small clouds of Joey's breath forming in the cold New England night air.
Jen tried to feel detached. After all, she and Dawson had not been a couple for a long time. She was the one who had broken off their relationship. So there was really no reason for her to feel anything at all about Joey not spending the night with him.
Then why did she feel so relieved?
Because you're insane, she answered herself, as she saw Joey trot toward the edge of the creek -- a lagoon, really -- where she'd beached the rowboat that would take her home.
Jen turned away from the window and stared at her reflection in the dresser mirror. How could she look so okay on the outside and feel so not okay on the inside?
What she felt was lonely. And it was her own fault. After all, she was the one who had broken up with Dawson.
She tried to remember why she'd done it. Ever since she'd been old enough to realize that boys and girls were different, she'd had a boyfriend. But who was she, Jen, on her own? She'd have to fly solo to find out. So, good-bye Dawson. It had seemed to make sense at the time.
Beware of what you ask for and all that. Because now she was on her own, and frankly, it wasn't so terrific.
She'd been so hopeful when she'd left behind her life in New York -- parents, friends, and, she hoped, her bad rep -- to live with her grandparents in tiny, coastal Capeside. Here she could start fresh. But then her beloved Gramps had had a stroke and died. And Grams was more interested in her own relationship with the Lord than she was in a real relationship with her granddaughter.
The kids at Capeside High hadn't exactly welcomed her with open arms, either. But for a while, there had at least been Dawson. She plopped down on her bed and sighed. "Maybe I should have just stayed in New York."
"Lie down with pigs and you get up dirty," Grams said from the doorway.
Jen looked up. "Excuse me. Were we having a conversation?"
"Your door is open," Grams pointed out. "If you didn't want to be overheard, you should have closed it."
"I'll certainly keep that in mind," Jen replied coldly.
"Jennifer -- " Grams began hesitantly, her voice softer.
"Jennifer, what? Please, don't hold back on my account."
Grams sighed. "You don't give me a chance, Jennifer. And that's a pity. You certainly came to Capeside hoping people would give you a chance."
Jen felt a stab of guilt. Her grandmother was right. Sort of.
"I'm sorry," Jen said. "I'm in a weird mood."
Grams nodded tersely. "You might consider praying on it, Jennifer." She disappeared down the hallway.
Jen went to her window again, and looked into Dawson's room. "Petitioning the Lord with prayer doesn't work, Grams," she said, though she was well aware her grandmother was out of earshot. She watched Dawson pull his T-shirt over his head. "If it did, Gramps would still be alive."
Dawson turned out his light.
A lump of loneliness came to her throat. Maybe coming to Capeside really had been a big mistake.
Maybe it was time for her parents to let her come home.
Pacey Witter froze in the middle of the darkened living room. As his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, he saw his older brother, Doug, sitting on the couch. Doug was a cop. The good son. Which left Pacey only one obvious role to fill.
"Well, if it isn't Deputy Doug," Pacey said, trying for the jocular. "What're you doing, holding a séance for one? Trying to call up the spirit of Rock Hudson?"
"The gay jokes are tired and you know it," Doug said. "It's a school night. Your curfew was two hours ago."
Pacey's anger flared. "Excuse me, I was under the distinct impression I had a father. You're not him."
"I told Dad I'd wait up for you. Why should he lose any more sleep over your antics?" Doug asked.
"Oh, Deputy Doug, your maturity makes me weep!" Pacey sobbed. "I'm not worthy!"
"You're right, you're not."
Pacey sat down next to his brother. "Aw, come on. Lighten up! The thing is, I was with a girl. A great girl. And I lost track of the time. You've been there, right?"
Doug just stared at him.
"Okay, you haven't been there," Pacey allowed. "But you've been with a great guy sometime in your sordid past. Same difference!"
Doug shook his head. "I had this crazy idea you were growing up. But you're the same loser you always were."
The words were like a knife in Pacey's heart. He really thought he should be numb to it by now. It wasn't like he hadn't heard everyone in his family call him a loser every single day of his life.
Doug stood up. "Dad told me to report to him what time you came in. I plan to tell him the truth. There will be repercussions."
"Oh no, Deputy Doug! Not...repercussions!" Pacey cried in falsetto.
"Change your life, Pacey," Doug said over his shoulder, as he walked out of the room, "before it's too late."
It was everything Pacey could do not to slam his fist into the wall. At the moment he hated his father, his brother, and the whole stupid, provincial town of Capeside. Even his friendship with Dawson didn't seem like enough reason to hang around.
He banged out of the house, sat on the front porch steps, and fixed his gaze skyward, at the moon.
And all he could think was: Somehow, some way, I've got to get out of this town.
Copyright © 1998 by Columbia TriStar Television, Inc.
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