Categories > Books > Outsiders > Tender is the Night


by A_Sideways_Smile 0 reviews

The gang finds out Ellie was jumped, and they struggle with what they should do.

Category: Outsiders - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Published: 2007-04-20 - Updated: 2007-04-21 - 3278 words

How long have I
Been in this storm?
So overwhelmed by
The ocean's shapeless form.

His green eyes had gone wide at the sight of the blood streaked across Darry's t-shirt. Her blood that had soaked clear through to his skin when he picked her up off of the sidewalk. The painful sob that she had cried was echoing in his ears as loud as the frightened expression in Pony's eyes that was burned into his mind.

The scene kept replaying in his mind over and over. He had found her barely conscious and collapsed on the sidewalk on Front Street. Her face was bloodied, and she was hurt all over. He had crouched over her, brushing her blood matted hair off of her face to make sure it was really her.

He had called her name, and she had sobbed his back in a way that nearly broke him in half. Darry didn't want to believe it was her, he didn't want to believe that none of them were there to keep this from happening.

He brought her to the hospital and called her mother and then the guys. Soda had answered and fallen so deathly silent Darry thought the line had been severed. Then he heard Steve start to curse everything under the sun.

They were at the hospital in no time, storming through the halls, deserving every dirty, frightful look they were given. Darry was hounded with question after question, though he knew little more than they did. They sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours before Abigail arrived.

She looked frazzeled and angry, glancing over at the boys in disgust before the doctor finally led her back to her daughter's room. That was when Johnny asked the one question Darry didn't want to hear.

"Who's gonna tell Dally?"

Even though he asked quietly in the noisy waiting room, the question fell like a ton of bricks onto everyone's shoulders. Darry watched each of them as they quickly diverted their eyes, all finding the tile floor beneath their feet very interesting. Nobody was jumping at the chance to be the one to tell Dallas that Ellie had been jumped.

"Don't everyone get up at once," Darry said wearily, rising from his seat. "Is he at Buck's?"

"Yeah," Two-Bit replied, still chewing on his fingernail, as he had been since they arrived.

The corridors were crowded but Darry hardly noticed them as he made his way to the row of payphones by the elevators. Sighing, he plunked the change into the payphone and tried to think of what he could say. Nothing came to mind.

Water's getting harder to tread
With these waves crashing over my head.

There was a brief knock on the door, and Dally felt like putting his hand through the wall as he climbed off the bed. It had taken most of his effort not to knock some sense into Sylvia after he found out she had slummed around on him while he spent the night in a cold jail cell. Not even 24 hours behind bars, and she had already cheated on him. Lord only knew how fast word had gotten back to her that he was in the cooler before she decided she would take advantage.

He threw the door open, hoping it was either Sylvia or that asshole from the Tigers she fooled around with. It was neither.

"You got a phone call," Buck said through the cigarette clenched in his teeth, turning back down the hallway.

"If it's Sylvia, tell her I ain't interested."

"It ain't," he called over his shoulder. "It's Curtis."

Curtis? "As in Darry Curtis?" Why was he calling Dally on a Saturday night? Whatever the reason, Dally knew it couldn't be good.

He followed Buck down the stairs, mentally cursing him to pick up the pace as he sauntered in front of him.

Dally grabbed the phone that sat behind the counter. "Darry?"

"Hey, Dal," he replied.

"What's going on?" He knew Darry hadn't called just to chit-chat.

Thankfully, Darry wasn't one to beat around the bush. "We're at the hospital. I found Ellie out on Front Street, all beat to hell when I was on my way home from work." He paused, waiting for Dally to begin cursing the way Steve had. Instead, he was only met with silence on the other end. "We haven't seen her yet. The doctor won't let us, but her mom's here now."

There was still no reply. "Dally?"

Dally could only stand there, staring at the wall across from him but seeing only a dull red haze. "Thanks, Darry," he mumbled into the receiver. He began to pull it away from his ear when he heard his name again.

"Dal, don't do anything stupid," he told him. After a second he added, "Again."

"Sure," he muttered as he placed the phone back on the cradle. That was the closest to a promise he could give Darry.

Dallas spotted Buck behind the counter, passing out refills to the greasers on the other side of the bar.

"I need to borrow your car," he called over the racket of the jukebox.

Buck nodded, taking the keys from his pocket. As he tossed them to him, he said what he said everytime. "Fill it up before you bring it back."

Dally nodded. Yeah, right.

If I could just see you
Everything will be all right.

He hung the phone up, almost positive the only place they were going to see Dallas for a long time was going to be behind iron bars. Turning back to the waiting room, Darry hesitated as he saw Abigail heading for the elevators.

"How is she?" he asked carefully. He thought he heard her grumble something about Holdens.

"Not good," she replied bluntly.

Even though he'd known Abigail for several years, he didn't really know her. In fact, she made him uncomfortable. The tired glare that she always seemed to wear made turned his stomach with disturbing familiarity. A tired glare she had develped from having a kid too young and working too hard and for too long. It turned her bitter and cold, and he hoped his own situation didn't turn him into her.

"Can we see her?"

Abby nodded, repeatedly punching the elevator button. She couldn't seem to get out of there fast enough. "I told the doctor to let you in there, 'cause I gotta go. I can't miss my shift at the restaurant ."

"We'll keep an eye on her," he reassured her.

She whipped her head around at that statement. "Oh? Like you did tonight?"

Darry gave her a confused look as the elevator doors sprung open. "What?"

"She told me she had a ride home tonight," Abby snapped, stepping onto the empty elevator.

"We thought she did," he defended quietly.

She said nothing as the doors closed. She only kept that same cold stare in her eyes.

If I'd see you
This darkness
Will turn to light.

The doors slid open, and Dally could see Darry standing toward the end of the hallway. He tried to keep his steps even, his stride paced, wanting desperately to not show the world to know just how anxious he really was. He didn't get anxious, he didn't get nervous. Nothing rattled him, and this shouldn't be any different. If anything, he should be angry, explosive even, but something entirely different was eating away at him. He almost gave up and ran down the rest of the hallway when he noticed the red staining Darry's shirt.

"How is she?" he asked as he stopped before Darry, keeping his tone cool. "She okay?"

Darry nodded. "I think she looks a lot worse than she really is, but she'll be okay."

He ran a hand through his hair and cursed under his breath. It took a lot for him to be standing in that hallway at that moment. He'd driven around for a good hour before he decided he shouldn't try to find that Holden kid. Darry's voice kept echoing through his mind and he had to see for himself that she was okay.

"Where is she?" he grimaced finally.

Darry nodded toward the closed door across the hall and Dally stared at it.

"She's sleepin' now, so maybe you oughta wait," Darry suggested. She had woken up for a little bit with everyone else there, but with the medicine they had been giving her and as banged up as she was, Ellie had said nothing. She lay there, her eyes closing tiredly from time to time as the others all made a fuss over her. Knowing they would only hang around and keep her from getting rest, he sent them all home and waited for Dally himself.

Dally pretended to not hear him and crossed the hallway, pushing the door open, he paused in the doorframe. Glory, but he could see the bruises from that far away.

"You think it was that Holden bastard?" he asked, knowing Darry was hovering behind him.

"I don't know, Dal. She didn't say anything, but she's really out of it right now," he said, surprised at how composed Dally was right then.

"I'll bet it was," he growled, his fists clenching.

"Even if it was, Dally, don't do anything stupid. You and Steve got your punches in last night and now she's the one in the hospital. Just let it be for now," he pleaded sternly.

There was that stirring in his stomach again. That deep, unfamiliar feeling that ate away at his insides and almost made him want to throw up right there and then. He wondered if that was guilt eating away at him. Darry was right, maybe he and Steve were to blame for her lying in that bed right then. It was their fault.

Dally walked into the room and stood beside her bed, taking her in. He clenched his fists tighter and resisted the urge to punch the wall. Aside from the bruises, there was a bandage covering her cheek and he could only assume that there were stitches under it.

"Christ," he muttered, touching his lips and rubbing his chin, itching for a cigarette.

"We need to let her rest tonight, Dal," Darry said.

"I'm stayin'," Dally declared, not looking back at him.

"Dal," he started, but stopped. He had shown up at the hospital without his knuckles bleeding, and he seemed uncharacteristically collected with the situation. Darry sighed; maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have someone here with her. "Okay."

Dally didn't say anything; he just grabbed a chair from across the room and pulled it closer to her bed. He sat down, leaning forward to look her over.

"Someone will be here in the morning," Darry said, watching him quizzically as he backed up toward the door.

"Fine." He heard the door close behind him a moment later. He was relieved to finally be alone with her, even if she didn't know he was there.

Dally studied her carefully, taking in each stitch, each bruise, each scar that was going to follow her for the rest of her life. He took her hand in his calloused one, wanting to drag her back to that first day of school when Michael started messing with her. He should have kicked his ass earlier, and maybe none of this would have ever happened. If they had done something sooner, it would be Holden in that bed, not Ellie.

But a thought kept tugging at the corner of his mind. If they had done something sooner, maybe the only thing it would have accomplished would be to put Ellie in that place sooner.

"Damnit, El," he cursed her, dropping her hand and leaning back in the chair. She breathed in and out evenly, and Dally realized he had never seen her beat up before. There had been bruises every now and then, depending on long certain guys hung around with her mother, but there was never anything that compared to this.

He was going to get a hold of Michael Holden and teach him a lesson about beating up on girls.

Barely surviving has become my purpose
'Cause I'm so used to living underneath the surface.

There was a white haze hovering in front of her eyes and she blinked them tiredly, willing it away. It didn't go and once she could focus on something, she realized it was morning. Sunlight poured through the slats in the blinds, washing over the room with that white haze that clouded her vision.

She had an urge to stretch her sleep-tightened muscles, but as she shifted slightly, she felt sharp pains mix with her dull aches and tried to lie still for the time being.

"'Bout time," a voice drawled heavily.

Ellie turned her head and was surprised to see Dallas was sitting in a chair beside her, his cowboy boots propped up on the bed near her calves and a cigarette between his lips. Her stomach tightened, twisting in the knots the way it had last night when the guys came into her room. Dallas was as likely to hound her about what had happened as Soda was to ask if she felt all right.

"I don't think you're supposed to smoke in here," she said, her voice raspy from sleep and medicine.

"That so?" he asked, pulling his feet off of the bed and leaning closer to her. He was staring at her, his icy blue eyes piercing hers, causing her to avert her eyes as her face flushed. "You feelin' all right?"

She shrugged, resting a palm on her forehead that ached. Though she didn't remember much from when her mom had been there, she thought she remembered something about a concussion and several stitches.

"I'm okay I guess," she said quietly. She bit her tongue almost instantly, wishing like hell she hadn't said that. It couldn't be helped though, it had become as natural a response as breathing to her.

"Yeah, you're lying in a fucking hospital bed, and you're okay," he sneered, leaning back and shaking his head, annoyed. "Jesus Christ."

"Dally," she groaned, closing her eyes again. "Don't start right now." She felt more trapped than ever. If he ever backed her into a corner before, she could just leave. Now, it wasn't that simple.

"Shit, Ellie," he cursed, tossing his cigarette to the floor and grinding it out with his boot. "He did it, didn't he? Holden. It was him."

She shook her head vehemently, feeling it start to ache with the sudden movement. "I don't know who it was," she lied through clenched teeth. "It was getting dark, and he came out of nowhere. I don't remember much about it."

"You're a fucking liar, kid," he declared, pushing his chair back and pacing the small area at the foot of her bed. "Nobody does that to a fuckin' girl unless they know them."

Ellie stared at the blankets lying over her, gingerly running her fingers across the gauze that was wrapped around her right arm. Dallas could spot a liar from a mile away, before they even opened their mouth. She kept her eyes diverted, afraid that if made eye contact with him, he would somehow read her mind.

The truth was that she remembered everything from the night before. It all had a clarity that nothing else ever had. She remembered the sound of the Camaro's tires turning the corner and coming to a stop behind her. She could hear the feet pounding the pavement. She could feel the sting on her face when he slapped her. She could feel the glass from the busted bottle cut away at her cheek as she lie there thinking she was going to die. She remembered everything.

Ellie felt the chill creep slowly up her spine and shivered as the thoughts all came flooding back.

Dally stopped pacing and stared at her. In the daylight, she looked even worse than she had before. Her skin was paler than usual; a dull, sickly color. The bruises had set in, appearing to darken with every passing moment. She kept her chin tilted down and her head slightly turned, keeping the bandaged side of her face away from him.

"Goddamnit, El!" he hissed. He stalked toward her, trying to get her to look at him. She kept her face downcast, and he grabbed her chin. "Why won't you just tell me it was him?"

She tried to pull away from him, but he kept hold of her. "It was, wasn't it?" he repeated, his voice quiet and bitter.

"I don't know who it was," she said once more. She could feel the conviction leave her voice, and she knew he heard it too.

Dally roughly tilted her chin up, making her meet his eyes. She could feel tears coming, the lump forming in her throat. He studied her, taking in the tears welling up in her eyes. He hadn't seen her cry since the Curtises passed away and couldn't remember a time she'd cried before that. He clenched his jaw, ready to kill someone for all of this.

"He'll be sorry," Dally guaranteed, hand still on her chin.

"Get out," Ellie said softly, trying to keep herself composed. She grabbed his hand and pushed it away as the door opened.

"What the hell do you think you're doin'?" Abby hissed as she saw Dallas towering over Ellie's bed.

Dally glared at her and looked back down at Ellie who was staring at her hands again.

"Damn it," he muttered.

Finally turning away from her, he stopped in front of Abby, staring her down. Dally hated parents, and he hated her mother especially for making Ellie put up with the shit she did, with the guys she brought home.

"Get the hell outta here," she told him coolly, undeterred by his glare.

He didn't say anything, he just walked around her and toward the door. He paused in the doorway when he saw the two cops standing just outside in the hall

"Winston?" one of them asked curtly, seemingly confused as to why he just came out of the O'Hare girl's room. It was the same cop that pulled him off of Michael two days ago.

"Don't even bother," Dally said, glancing over his shoulder and making eye contact with Ellie. "She's just gonna lie to you. Say she don't have a clue who beat her up."

"El?" Abby coaxed her attention back, her voice quiet as Dally finally left and the officers stepped in the room. "It's best you don't say nothin' to them. You hear?"

She nodded. Ellie had no intention of telling anyone anything. Even if they believed her, telling the police was going to accomplish nothing. If Michael were arrested, coming up with bond money wasn't going to be a problem with the Holdens. Lord knew that if he were arrested, it wasn't like he was going to be convicted of anything. They had the money; they had the power to do anything in that town. Besides, Michael scared her enough, she wasn't going to open her mouth to anyone.

No, Ellie wasn't going to say anything to anyone. But even as the cops began asking their questions, all she could think of was her mother telling her to keep quiet. Abigail didn't care that her daughter was in the hospital. She just wanted to save her own neck, leaving Ellie out in the cold like she always did.

I know you didn't
Bring me out here to drown,
So why am I ten feet under
And upside down?
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