Pacey leaves the house, startling Dawson, who's been hiding out on the porch. Dawson thanks him, wanly, for coming. "Of course," Pacey says. "Although I can't say this is exactly the way I wanted to see you for the first time." Dawson agrees, and asks how Pacey's summer was. "My summer was really good. Really, really, good, actually. It totally cleared my head," Pacey says, tactfully leaving out the whole part where he got to sail around the tropics with a hot, rich babe, like a kept man. He asks about USC. "I'm thinking about dropping out, actually," Dawson says. Pacey is shocked, and asks why. "Long story," Dawson says. They both look awkward for a moment, and Pacey tells Dawson he's sorry. "I wish I had something better to say to you than that, but that's what it boils down to. I'm really, really sorry," he says. Dawson nods, and they reminisce about the Flash, laughing about the time he caught them smoking and gave them holy hell. Finally, Dawson says that he ought to head inside and "make himself useful." The boys shake hands. "It was good to see you, Pace," Dawson says, wearily. Pacey agrees, and pulls Dawson into his arms for a good, long hug. Dawson sighs, and leaves, and Pacey looks sad and thoughtful.
As he enters the house, Dawson is approached by a woman who identifies herself as "Susan," a college friend of his mother's. "Tell me, are you dealing with your grief?" she asks. Oh, man. Dawson tells her that he's dealing. She wonders how, exactly, he's dealing. "Not to be rude, but I don't know what you're talking about," Dawson says. Not to be rude, but why isn't she minding her own business? "Where are you channeling all the feelings you're having about your father's passing?" Susan asks. "You know, not to be rude, again, but I really don't have the time or the luxury," Dawson begins. Susan interrupts him to tell him that he "must take the time," like, hello, the Flash just died, and she barely even knows Dawson. Mid-New-Agey lecture, the answering machine comes on and the Flash's voice pours out, telling the world to leave a message. Dawson frantically tries to turn the device off, but ends up yanking it right out of the wall as everyone stares at him, including his mother and Joey. Jack, next to him, moves to pat Dawson sympathetically, but Dawson pushes him away. "I'm fine, I'm fine," Dawson mutters, to himself as much as anyone, and leaves the room. I never thought I'd say this, but here goes: Poor Dawson. Hey, if you're frantically trying to make your lead character sympathetic, killing off his parents isn't such a bad idea. Life-threatening diseases and an unquenchable love for puppies also work.