Author's note:: My take on what I would like to have happened during the season Gretchen came back to Capeside.
Disclaimer; I do not own the characters of Dawson Leery, Gretchen Witter or any others portrayed in this fanfic. They belong to Kevin Williamson.
The moment he saw her, he knew that the old feelings of his twelve year old self would come rushing back and invade his mind. She hadn't changed since she'd left for college those two years ago, and she still had the same attitude; the one she didn't see that he existed other than being her brother's ex-best friend.
Dawson Leery's mind had reverted back to the days when he and Pacey Witter would sit in Pacey's bedroom and stare out at his older sister with her friends as they bathed in the sun, splashed in the paddling pool that was still in the yard and the boys would plan pranks on the girls. Dawson of course having a crush on Gretchen, never wanted to participate in any of the pranks Pacey wanted to pull or he'd tell his friend they were too dumb and Gretchen would know what was happening before the prank could be completed.
Dawson thought Gretchen was the most beautiful thing that walked the planet when he had been between the ages of nine and twelve, and he'd even spent money on Gretchen that he'd been saving for that one action figure or some trading cards or music, he spent that money on gifts that he left anonymously on the Witter's front porch, knowing that Gretchen wouldn't know they were from him, but clueless that the Witter's parents (as well as his own) knew that he had a crush on their daughter.
Yes, Gretchen had been Dawson's first crush, but she'd also made him wish that he had a sister he could protect like Pacey did with her. He remembered back to the time when Gretchen had been in the fourth grade, and he and Pacey had been in the second. One of the boys from Gretchen's grade had pushed her off the swing while he and Pacey had been playing in the sandbox, Pacey of course had saw this happen and charged at the boy, risking a broken arm for his big sister. All Dawson could do was stare at the scene as Pacey began to cry and Gretchen put her arm around her little brother, kissing his cheek and calling out to their mother to tell her that her son was hurt.
As she stood waiting for a response from Dawson, all of those thoughts raced around his mind, and he smiled to her, "Gretchen?"
His reaction made her squint a little even though she were standing just a few feet from him in the hardware store, "Dawson? Oh my God!"
Dawson smiled to her and instantly had forgiven her impatient attitude to finding light bulbs for her older brother Doug's place. Softly, the blonde haired beau nodded to her and posed a question, "What are you doing back?" he saw the pause, her searching for the right words. Was she just unfamiliar talking to him after she'd learned about his teen crush on her? Or was it something more?
"Taking some time out from college. I'm working on me." she replied after a few moments.
"And, you're not going back?" he asked her.
"Not as yet." Gretchen replied and nodded a little to him. It was starting to get a little awkward for her now. She had found out through her mom about what happened with Joey and Pacey just taking off at the start off summer, and Dawson having to cope with that alone. She knew what it was like to lose and grieve. She'd had to cope alone at the same time as Dawson had.
"It's nice to s-"
"I should be gett-"
They both laughed it off. They'd spoken at the same time. Dawson nodded for Gretchen to continue talking as he just smiled, seeing Jack hovering in the background.
"I should be getting back to Doug's. I left like a half hour ago." she gave a soft chuckle and gestured with her thumb towards the bulbs, so Dawson knew she couldn't (or didn't want to) stick around and make small talk with him. But he understood, he would find it awkward too.
"I'll see you around then." he responded with that maturity of an older man, and the softness of a child.
"Yeah, totally!" she nodded before dashing off to purchase the bulbs, almost knocking down Jack in the process, as he neared Dawson with their purchases of paint and rollers for the house they had agreed to paint for a neighbor.
"Who was that?" Jack looked curiously to his friend.
"Who was who?"
"Gretchen Witter..." Dawson responded and tried to bury his face, now alight with a blush in the racks of wall fixings.
"The famous Gretchen Witter? Childhood crush?"
"And ex-best friend's sister, yes."
Jack chuckled and shook his head,"Oh man, this is going to be one interesting summer..." he transferred the paints to one hand and clapped his now free hand onto Dawson's back, beginning to lead his fair haired pal out of the store, "You wait and see, my friend. Wait. And. See."