Tough Enough (Dawson's Creek)

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9780671775339: Tough Enough (Dawson's Creek)

North...by Northwest?

When Principal Green introduces a mandatory new program called "SpringPlan" at Capeside High, Jen, Joey, Pacey, Jack, Andie, and Dawson all sign up for projects that interst them. But Princpal Green has other ideas, and they find themselves assigned to "Character Building Through Wilderness Training" in the wilds of North Carolina. Oh yeah.

Wilderness Camp is run by a former marine drill sergeant who makes the Godfather look like Mother Teresa. Pre-breakfast runs, splittng wood, poisonous-snake identification classes. Tension is running high, but there's only one way out of the woods for Jen, Joey, Pacey, Dawson, Jack, and Andie.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

"My one-word review is: yuck," Jen Lindley commented as the final credits of Deliverance rolled. She glanced over at Dawson Leery, who sat next to her on his bed. "A gag-inducing display of male testosterone run amok with disastrous consequences for all involved."

"I think you're missing the point," Dawson said. "Deliverance is one of the greatest adventure movies of all time."

"As long as you weren't one of the characters who met their untimely demise in it."

"It's not a docudrama," Dawson pointed out. "They're simply actors playing roles."

"In one sense, yes," Jen agreed. "However, it is a given that in watching a film, we put ourselves into the experience; ergo, in a certain way, every film becomes a docudrama."

Dawson gave her a dubious look. "So, what, that means films that dramatize that which we might find personally distasteful are by definition not good films? That's ludicrous."

Jen folded her arms, exasperated. It really irritated her sometimes, the way Dawson was always so sure he knew more than everyone else on the planet about movies.

"Shall we review, Dawson?" she asked. "You had a choice in this movie of being a big-city guy on a wilderness adventure that results in death and mayhem for you and/or your buds, or being a not-so-Beverly hillbilly with somewhat dubious DNA credentials who is out to cause the death and mayhem of you and/or your buds." Jen tossed the VCR remote to Dawson. "Now, rewind to the bluegrass scene, please."

"I thought you hated it. Why do you want to watch it again?"

"'Hate' is not the point. Besides, I don't hate the movie; I kind of like the movie. And I love the music theme. So please play that part again. It's almost enough to make you like country music."

Dawson sat up against the headboard of his bed and tossed the remote back to Jen. "You do it. I loathe the soundtrack. And I believe the score is bluegrass, not country."

"Whatever." Jen pointed the remote at the VCR and pushed the rewind button. "I'm curious, Dawson. Let's say you thought your life needed livening up. Would you consider taking Jack and Pacey and maybe another guy and go into the wilderness to find yourselves? Our time on Witch Island wasn't enough for you?"

"Possibly," Dawson replied.

Jen snorted back a laugh. "Right, I really see you guys renting canoes on a float trip to nowhere, enjoying a few pints of moonshine with the locals before they set out to decapitate you."

"But you see, that's what's so fascinating about the movie," Dawson explained. "Finally, it comes down to a battle of brains, not brawn."

"Here's the scene." Jen stopped the remote. She pushed the start button and watched, fascinated, as a young Southern boy with approximately three teeth, and a body the result of too much inbreeding, plucked away on his banjo. His fingerpicking turned into a full-fledged bluegrass jam.

"How dextrous," Jen commented. "That kind of talent is almost enough to make you overlook his lack of brains or teeth."

"'Almost' being the important word in that sentence." Dawson took back the remote and turned off the VCR.

"Meaning?"

Dawson smiled at her. "Meaning you are not, in my experience, a woman to overlook the physical when it comes to attraction."

She smiled back. "Neither, Dawson, are you."

He had to admit, there was some limited truth to that. From the moment she'd moved in next door with her grandmother, escaping the insanity of New York City, Dawson had been lured by her beauty. On top of that, she was funny, straightforward, and smart.

Which makes we wonder why it is our relationship didn't last, Dawson mused. Jen decided she needed to figure out who she was before she got involved with a guy again. And then, of course, there was Joey.

Joey Potter. His best friend forever. The girl who had his heart. Even if they weren't together, which they weren't. It was all just kind of...complicated.

Jen stretched out on Dawson's bed like a cat. "You're lucky I live right next door and can come over for movie night," she teased. "Now that Joey's boycotting."

Jen was wrong about Joey boycotting. Sometimes Joey still did come over for movie night. And sometimes they were even able to be together without their history and baggage getting in the way. He didn't know if he should bother telling Jen this or not.

He also didn't know if she'd care.

Actually, I'm not sure these days how she feels about me, Dawson thought. Or how I feel about her.

Jen got up and went over to the open window of Dawson's room. It was a warm April night but still early enough in the spring that there weren't any bugs to worry about.

"Mmmm, what a night," she murmured. "Spring on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was never like this."

In his mind's eye, Dawson could see what Jen was seeing. His backyard, illuminated by the lights from downstairs, sloping gently down to the creek. The creek itself -- a lagoon, really. It was as much a part of his life as his name. And earlier that evening, it had been filled with hundreds of noisy Canada geese, stopping for a rest and a meal on their migration back north.

The honking had been incessant. But to Dawson, that honking was as beautiful as Jen seemed to find that annoying guitar lick from Deliverance. He had heard it every April of his life.

"You can't imagine how different my childhood was from yours," Jen murmured, still looking out the window. "New York City is like a different planet from Capeside."

True. Dawson could picture himself and Joey back in grade school. The two of them would sit on his dock, or Joey's dock, with three boxes of Chips Ahoy cookies, and watch the Canada geese come in for perfect landings on the creek. They'd tell each other everything and watch for hours, or until all the cookies were gone.

More than the thousands of daffodils blooming all over Capeside, that incessant honking on the creek meant spring was here. Really here. Things were being born, animals were mating, couples were falling in --

Stop it, he told himself. Next thing, you'll be thinking about Joey in her house across the creek. And what she's doing tonight.

And whether she heard the geese, too.

But it wasn't their time right now. He knew it. Joey seemed to know it, too.

He joined Jen at the window and inhaled deeply. "Nothing else smells like spring."

"A metaphoric and actual time of renewal," Jen said wryly. "Too bad the macho set -- Burt Reynolds in that filmic ode to testosterone run amok, for example -- only seems to see these things in a sexual light."

Dawson shook his head. "You've lost me."

"Ol' Burt's problem was a basic imbalance of hormones," Jen explained.

Dawson raised his eyebrows, a silent question.

"The movie is basically a series of stupid decisions taken by a bunch of stupid guys, Dawson. Which isn't surprising, considering that when men get together to make decisions, they tend to think with a bodily organ other than the brain. Especially when the sap runs high, so to speak."

"Male bashing is so seventies, Jen," Dawson chided.

She turned to him. "All I'm saying is, if there had been women on the Deliverance trip, things would have been different.

Dawson laughed, and a few of the Canada geese still bobbing in the creek startled and splashed in the shallows.

"What's that?" Jen pointed near the dock, where the water was sloshing around noticeably.

Dawson didn't have to look to know. He had seen the same thing just about every spring, in approximately the same place. The snapping turtles were engaging in their mating ritual.

"It's testosterone in action," he said lightly. "Of the turtilic variety. Male snapping turtles getting some action, making little snapping turtles."

"Ah, the circle of life, how touching," Jen said dryly.

"And then they dismember any swimming little fishies that come near them."

"I could weep."

The action in the shallows intensified, and Dawson reddened slightly. It was one thing to have the snapping turtles mate every spring right down below his window, but another thing to have to listen to it while standing next to Jen Lindley.

She wasn't Joey. She could never be Joey. But she was Jen. And sometimes, in some ways, that was even worse.

She flashed him her distinctive, slightly cynical Jen Lindley smile. "Well, Dawson, I have to admit that in some places, testosterone comes in very, very handy."


The night was so quiet -- except for the splashing of the turtles in the shallows, and the occasional honk of a Canada goose having a Canada goose nightmare -- that Joey Potter heard the slam of the Leerys's screen door across the creek when Jen left.

The screen door had a particular squeak on its springs as it snapped back. Kah-cree-WHAK!

No other door sounds like that, Joey thought as she stared out her window. She had lain in bed for hours, eyes wide open, unable to sleep. Then something had made her come over to the window.

Missing Dawson? she wondered. I wonder if he and Jen just shared movie night. Maybe they watched Body Heat. Or The Postman Always Rings Twice. Something incendiary that would make both of them --

"Stop it, Joey," she commanded herself. "You are acting like a major goob, so just get over it."

She glanced at the clock. 11:15 p.m. She knew she should sleep. But she couldn't. She didn't feel at all sleepy.

Maybe a glass of milk would help. She slid her feet into ancient slippers and pulled a sweatshirt on over her T-shirt, then she padded into the kitchen. There, at the kitchen table, sat her older sister Bessie, nursing a glass of milk.

Bessie looked utterly exhausted. It tugged at Joey's heart. It was Bessie, Joey, Bodie, and Bessie's infant son Alexander.

When your mom is dead and your dad's in prison, you kind of end up depending on each other, she thought as she gazed at her sister.

Bessie gave her a weary smile. "Can't sleep?"

"Mind if I belly up to the bar?" Joey asked. "I thought I'd try your home remedy."

"I'll get it for you." Bessie was already on her feet, taking a two-gallon container of milk out of the fridge and pouring Joey a glassful. "Here."

Joey raised the glass. "Here's to getting up tomorrow morning at four o'clock to make breakfast for four idiot fishermen who are the lovely guests of Potter's Bed and Breakfast. Cheers." She took a long swallow.

Bessie sat back down and beckoned Joey to join her. "Their boat pulls out at five; they don't want to be late."

"God forbid," Joey muttered. "Just explain this to me. The posted policy of Potter's B and B is that breakfast is served at eight o'clock. This is not exactly a four-star hotel with room service. And they sure aren't paying us like it's a four-star hotel. So why can't they just get coffee and doughnuts down at the docks?"

"'A host above all must be kind to her guests,'" Bessie quoted.

Joey smiled sadly. Bessie was quoting from Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose, a little known Dr. Seuss masterpiece. Their mom had read it to both of them when they were little.

It was a bittersweet memory.

"Do we have to be kind to our guests at four in the morning?" Joey asked, draining her milk.

"We do if we want to pay our bills this month," Bessie replied. "In case you haven't noticed, we're not exactly overbooked."

Joey rinsed her glass at the sink. "You convinced me. When our four suits from Boston in search of a rustic adventure on the high seas off of Capeside come back after a day of fishing and drain the hot-water heater trying to wash their fish guts off, I'll offer to towel them down. When they install themselves in our living room for a cozy evening of Bud-drinking and poker, I'll grab my Hooters T-shirt and offer them -- "

"Ha," Bessie barked. "The day Joey Potter puts on a Hooters T-shirt is the day I win the lottery. And I don't buy lottery tickets."

Joey didn't bother to agree. It was implicit.

Bessie rinsed her own glass, then turned to her sister. "If I'm busy with Alexander tomorrow morning, can you help Bodie with the scrambled eggs when you get up?"

Joey thought about breaking eggs into a bowl with milk and mashing them with a fork at four in the morning to feed four basically obnoxious men she didn't know and didn't want to know.

Not fun. However, not being able to afford groceries would be even less fun than that.

"You can count on me." Joey stretched. "I'm gonna go try and get a little sleep. Very little, unfortunately."

"'Night," Bess called.

"You need to sleep, too, Bessie," Joey said, frowning. "I worry about you."

"I'm fine," her sister insisted, even though they both knew it wasn't true.

Joey went back to her room and looked out the window again. Across the creek at Dawson's, she saw the light go out. She could picture him, dropping his jeans on the chair at his desk, pulling his shirt over his head...

There was a soft knock on her room. "Joey? Are you asleep yet?" Bessie whispered.

Joey opened the door. "If I was, I wouldn't be now."

"Our guests just informed me they want to get an even earlier start tomorrow."

"Why not just leave now?" Joey quipped sarcastically. "I hear the night fishing is great. Fine, I'm coming, I'll scramble the eggs."

"Breakfast at four," Bessie informed her. "I'll see you in the kitchen at three-thirty."

Joey cringed. "That's cruel and unusual punishment, Bessie. It's probably against the Constitution."

Bessie sighed. "Martial law is in force around this place. Deal with it."

"Sure. G'night."

"'Night."

Joey climbed back into bed and pulled the quilt up to her neck. She stared at the ceiling and sighed. It wasn't that her life sucked, because it didn't. School was going okay -- Principal Green seemed to think there was a good chance Joey would get a college scholarship. And the B and B was getting enough customers to keep the wolf from the door. She had friends. Her artwork was improving.

But there has to be something more, she thought. What is it I want? Romance? Love?

Maybe. Or maybe it was something different, something that would test her, push her own limits.

Something that would make her less intimidated by the big, bad world outside of Capeside.

She leaned over and picked up her old-fashioned windup alarm clock. She'd had it for ye...

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