[Limo - everyone is sitting quietly in the limo. Dawson and Gretchen are on completely different sides of the seat. Gretchen looks out the window blankly. Dawson looks over to Gretchen with an angry expression on his face, but when he turns away and looks out the window, his face is full of sadness. Pacey and Joey are on completely different sides of the limo. Pacey is staring, also blankly. Jen is passed out, leaning her head against Drue. Jack tries to give Drue money but Drue refuses. Jack shrugs and he and Tobey acknowledge the silence of the limo by just sitting quietly. ]
Driver: You kids want to go to that after party?
(Joey, who sits in the front seat next to him, shakes her head no.)
Jack, Tobey, and Jen were the first to be let off at Jack's house, then Drue, and then Joey. When Drue had left Gretchen got up and switched seats. Dawson let out a long annoyed sigh in response. Gretchen's eyes darted to Dawson and she looked at him for a few moments. His lips were slightly pursed and his face looked tight and angry. He could feel her eyes on him but didn't dare look back at her.
The limo came to a stop at Dawson's and he got out quickly with out looking at either Witter. He trudged up to his house slowly, his head hanging low as he walked inside quietly so he wouldn't wake his parents or sister. His father's voice stopped him before he could get to the stairs.
"Home so soon, Dawson?" Mitch asked, bouncing Lily in his arms with a bottle to her mouth.
"No, I'm purely a figment of your imagination." He shot back without looking at his father.
"Woah there, son. There's no need for sarcasm. Where's Gretchen? Outside?" Dawson didn't say anything for a few moments. He held onto the banister of the stairs and shook his head slowly. Mitch's brow furrowed on his forehead and then fell into a sad downward curl. "She didn't..."
"She did." Dawson turned to his father finally. "She definitely did." He sighed and sat on the stairs.
Mitch let out a sigh and met his son on the steps, now bouncing Lily on his knee. "What happened, Dawson?"
Dawson swallowed and shrugged. "I don't know, Dad. The night was going great...and then...I don't know. Joey was-" Mitch closed his eyes and shook his head slightly at the mention of her name. "I know, Dad. You don't have to shake your head like that."
"Well Joey was all alone and I noticed and Gretchen said I should go over there, I told her that we should go over there but she insisted on getting some fresh air. So Joey and I dance, next thing I know Pacey and Gretchen are back inside and Pacey throws a fit at Joey. Not about she and I dancing, about them and their relationship. He broke up with her in front of the entire grade...so of course I run after her. After that I went down to see Gretchen and that's when she broke up with me."
"Because of Joey." Mitch stated.
"That and...and I don't know. She said that her place wasn't here, wasn't with me, that she had to figure out who she was..."
"Is that such a bad thing?"
"No but why couldn't she figure out who she was with me? Why did she need to break up with me for that?"
"You might not like to hear this...but maybe...maybe you were holding her back. She's 21, you're 18. It's a big difference. She's looking for different things than you are..."
"I know but I just...I just don't want to be without her right now. I had all these hopes for tonight, these expectations...the absolute opposite happened and it makes me so angry."
"Yes, angry, because it's my fault, because I was too wrapped up in the past to move forward. Gretchen and I had come a long way only to take about two giant steps back. I don't know exactly when we took those steps back but we did. Or she did. Or I did something to cause her to take the steps back. I pushed her back, somehow." He sighed again. "This sucks."
Mitch put a hand on Dawson's shoulder. "It does, and it will for awhile. But think of it this way...you got to be in a relationship with Gretchen Witter. Gretchen who you used to buy candy and flowers for and write love letters to. She was the fantasy of your childhood and for a while there, Dawson, the girl loved you, very much. I saw the way she looked at you and there was nothing but love in those eyes. So be grateful for that, at least. And maybe she still loves you and maybe she's sitting at home crying right now. This probably hurts her just as much as it hurts you. Relationships are two-way streets that twist and turn but somewhere the two sides meet and form one clear, straight line. You had that with Gretchen, at least for a while. Some people never find that."
There was a short silence. Dawson broke the quiet by sighing again. He looked to his father. "Goodnight, Dad."
Dawson stood up and walked to his room. Mitch watched his son disappear up the stairs.
* * *
Pacey and Gretchen were let off last. They remained silent as they walked up into their house. Gretchen breathed in and out more deeply now, and a lump began to rise in her throat. That damned sadness was creeping up on her as she fished through her purse to get her house keys. Behind her, Pacey shifted his feet and played with the cuffs of his jacket. She finally opened the door and walked in, taking her feet out of her sandals right away.
At first she was just shocked and relieved to have gotten that whole thing over with, but now, at home, she was realizing what had happened tonight. Her purse fell loosely onto the kitchen table and Gretchen suddenly found herself crying. Tears streamed down her face and got lost in her lipstick, and she pulled out a chair, sitting down weakly. Her head fell into her palms as she continued to cry.
Pacey snapped into protective brother mode at the sight of his sister and he sat down next to her, running a hand along the back of her head softly. "Hey...it's alright, Gretch."
Gretchen swallowed, trying to control herself as she lifted her head towards Pacey. "It doesn't feel alright. I feel like shit because I love him but I just can't be with him anymore."
"I know...I feel the same way about Joey. It hurts too much to be with them then without."
"It hurts double if you ask me. I know I could change that, I could drive to Dawson's right now and tell him it was all a big mistake but I just won't do that. I can't do that. I'm tired of giving just to hear 'Joey' be thrown in my face. I refuse to play that part, Pace."
"You're not playing that part anymore. By breaking up with him you took yourself out of that role and decided to spend some time on your own character development. And Gretchen, that takes guts. You took a risk because you're giving up something you love."
Her breathing began to normal and she wiped silver streaks from her face. "I have to leave...I have to get out of here. Out of Capeside. Away from Dawson."
Pacey chuckled. "Who taught us to run away? Mom, Dad, Kerrie?"
"Mom and Dad taught us to run away from them. It was the only way to get away from their hassling and tormenting if we did something wrong."
"So now when something doesn't work, when something goes wrong, we run. We get the hell out of there." Pacey groaned.
"I've been like that since high school." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
Pacey stood up and looked at his sister. "So have I."
Gretchen stood to meet her brother. "So, you and Joey. Are you okay?"
"Not really. But what's important is you. I hate seeing you cry and hurt,
"You've seen it plenty..."
"I know, that's why I hate it so much. Tell me something, though?"
"Tell me you'll try not to put yourself in heart breaking situations?"
Gretchen chuckled slightly. "I'll try not to put myself in heart breaking situations." She told him, almost mimicking. "Don't quote me on that, though."
Pacey's lip curled up at the corner and he pulled Gretchen into a hug, kissing the top of her head lightly. "Now it's my turn to go sulk. That, I do privately though." He tried to lighten the mood.
"If you ever don't want to sulk alone, you know where I live." She told him.
"You too, Gretch. You too."