[Prom - Dawson and Gretchen sit at a table laughing. Dawson looks over and sees Joey alone walking over towards the bar. Gretchen sees where he's looking.]
Gretchen: Maybe you should go over there. See if she's ok.
Dawson: Maybe we should go over there.
Gretchen: You know what? I think I'm gonna go get some fresh air. But why don't you go talk to her?
Gretchen: Ok. (They kiss. She walks off. Dawson goes to Joey.)
A small breath of air escaped Gretchen's lips as she walked out onto the deck of the yacht. The cool early summer wind blew pieces of her hair behind her as she walked around the deck slowly, clenching her purse in her hand. Her eyes absorbed her surroundings, and her mind fell back into her senior prom on that very same boat: class couple, compliments left and right, prom queen. She shuddered at her own thoughts.
Pushing those memories away, she thought back to how Dawson's eyes sought Joey out back there, like there was some sort of magnetic force pulling him towards her. Gretchen didn't want to care and she didn't want to let it bother her, but it did. "I'm turning into my brother with these damned Dawson and Joey insecurities," she thought to herself and ran a hand through her hair.
Ever since that night on the beach when Dawson had said that he still thought he should have slept with Joey for the first time, she didn't feel quite good enough for Dawson. Sure she knew he loved her and that she loved him, but even if he did lover her, he could never love her with all of his heart and soul. And it was because of Joey, because of Joey's ghost and her effect on Dawson, that Gretchen felt like she wasn't everything Dawson wanted and needed.
She loved him too much and he didn't love her enough. That was the way Gretchen saw it, at least. She wanted more than Dawson was ready for. She needed different things from a relationship than he did. She needed more security, more of a guarantee that this was real. Gretchen stopped walking at her sudden revelation - she was too old for him, in every sense of the word.
"Heeeeeeeeeeey!" A drunken male voice knocked Gretchen out of her state of shock. She jumped slightly and looked to the voice.
"Yes?" Her eyebrows raised on her forehead.
"I know you!" He nodded and signaled his friends over.
"Ooooh yes." He grinned like a fool. "You're Gretchen Witter. You were a senior when we were freshman. You were the hottest chick in the school." He looked her up and down. "and still pretty damn hot. Ow, ow someone hose her down cause she is smoking!" A chuckle came from the boys around them.
"We used to fantasize about you and talk about you all the time..." He admitted in his drunkenness and slung an arm around her shoulder. "What are you doing here? Come to feed on some fresh young meat? We can go somewhere private, make all of my fantasies realities..." His friends laughed and made whooping noises.
Gretchen winced, "How about this," She offered, "you give me one of those drinks." She motioned towards the bottles of red liquor on a nearby table.
"And what do I get?" He asked, his forehead scrunching in confusion.
"You get the satisfaction of knowing you, you sexy football player, gave me, the star of your early pubescent fantasies, a drink."
He laughed in drunken satisfaction. "Alright." The boy grabbed a bottle and handed it to Gretchen.
She took the bottle and smiled. "I'll see you boys later," she said, shooting them her most seductive stare before walking away. She could hear their laughing and praising as she resumed her walk. That had been amusing, for a few moments. It was so sad though, she thought. Here she was twenty-one years old and what did she have to show for it- a rented out beach house, 18-year-old boyfriend, and a job bartending at the local fish restaurant. That was just pathetic. Gretchen didn't know why she kept mulling over the number eighteen in her head. It hadn't bothered her before so why did it now?
Leaning against a railing of the boat, Gretchen opened up the bottle and took a small sip. It was sweet and didn't really burn like she had been hoping. The age thing hadn't mattered until she stepped on that boat, until she looked around at all the high school students and remembered being there herself. It was then it hit her, Dawson was in high school. HIGH SCHOOL. Gretchen groaned at her own thoughts and took another sip of the red liquid.