The guys try to carry out their plan against a few socs, much to Ellie's chagrin.
Standing on top of the edge
It feels like it's going down.
Everything stays in my mind,
Feeling in a daze on the ground.
As evening began settling in, Dally slowly set his feet on the floor from where they were propped on the dresser. Standing up from the old rocking chair, he crossed the small room. He sat down next to the tiny ball Ellie had rolled herself into on top of the blankets. He noticed her skirt and blouse were wrinkled from sleeping in them all afternoon, as he spent the time staring out the window and thinking about his plans with the guys the next day. He hoped Shepard would be around Buck's later. He was considering bringing some of his boys in, even though he knew he, Steve and Two-Bit could handle it. The socs were going to learn that they couldn't mess with an East Side girl and get away with it.
"Hey, kid," he grunted, giving her a nudge in the shoulder. She stirred quietly as he lit a cigarette. "Better get you home."
"I guess so," she said, her voice hoarse from sleep.
Walking down the creaking staircase, Ellie became suddenly conscious of the wrinkles in her clothes and what they implied. She was thankful it was a Wednesday night, and there were only a handful of people sitting around the bar. She quickly diverted her eyes when she noticed Sylvia was one of them. She and Ellie had never gotten along much at all, and being seen coming down the stairs at Buck's usually suggested only one thing. Ellie knew that much without ever having to step foot inside the place.
"Hi, Dal," Sylvia cooed from her perch on the bar stool, pointedly ignoring Ellie.
Ellie studied her and couldn't help but feel like a stick compared to Sylvia's curvy figure. She was overdone but pretty nonetheless. She wasn't sure why Dally kissed her, or why he had seemed so willing to give up a girl as experienced and notorious as he was for a simple girl like Ellie.
Even as they were kissing a few hours earlier, she had doubted that they meant much of anything. She wondered if she should quit worrying when he wrapped an arm around her waist and snapped, "What d'you want?"
She couldn't help but glance at Sylvia as they walked past, her blood red lips forming an 'O' in her surprise. The same painted eyes she had just batted at Dally were now boring holes through Ellie who couldn't help the little smile on her face.
Feels like it's gonna give,
Life's too hard to live anymore.
Tim had been around Buck's, but he had already taken off in his T-Bird for the evening, so Ellie and Dally resorted to walking. The air had turned cold since the afternoon, as fall was setting in once and for all. Dally walked closely beside her as they neared her house, and he wondered how she was going to act after the way they'd kissed and pretty much made out. She had never seemed clingy about much before, but she was a broad, after all. A guy never knew how one would react after they crossed a certain boundary. Sometimes even the toughest chicks were overbearing, Sylvia being a prime example for that. He hoped he wouldn't have to beat Ellie off with a stick after that day.
With her house being dark and quiet for once, Ellie led the way to the front door. She turned and looked up at him, leaning back on the door jamb. "What happens next?" she asked timidly.
Mentally cursing himself, he ran a hand through his hair. He was an idiot for kissing her. Of course she was going to be clinging to him after all of that. The only thing he could do was pretend to be baffled by her question. "What're you talkin' about?"
She crossed her arms in front of her. "You know what I'm talking about."
"Ain't got a clue, El," he replied, feeling his pockets for his pack of cigarettes. He cursed low and under his breath when he realized he'd left them sitting up on the dresser at Buck's.
"Tomorrow. What are you and Steve and Two-Bit planning?" She narrowed her eyes when he shrugged, feigning innocence. He was never innocent. "C'mon, Dal. You were so eager last week to knock some heads together, and now you're gonna try to tell me that you guys ain't planning nothing?"
He let a genuine smile cross his face. She was smarter than he gave her credit for sometimes. He was just relieved that was what she was talking about. He didn't want to have to dump her in the same day he kissed her. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it," he said, leaning closer to her.
She moved before he could get close enough to kiss her, giving him a faceful of hair. "You're gonna get yourselves-and me- into a lot of trouble with all of this," she told him, pushing the front door open.
"You worry 'bout us too much, kid," he told her. She shook her head disapprovingly before she slammed the door in his face.
"Yeah, 'cause no one else does," she sighed to herself, leaning against the inside of the door, hoping like hell they didn't do anything profoundly stupid.
It's going to be just fine,
You're holding on,
Holding on today.
The smoke hung in the air, clouding the small kitchen in a blue haze that would have suffocated anyone under a pack a day. The plan was laid; simple, effective and capable of bigger things.
"You really gonna just bust in an' do that, Dal?" Soda asked from where he leaned against a counter. "She's gonna try and beat the hell out of you if you do."
"I think he can handle it, Soda," Steve interjected. "She ain't exactly the fighter type."
"She can get pretty feisty, though. Anyway, don't you think she won't say nothing 'cause she don't want you to do nothin' about it?" He stole a glance at Pony who had been quiet for the duration of the planning. He knew Ellie better than anyone, and he had told him one night how much she didn't want them to get involved. "I mean I know it's a big deal and all, but still, she ain't stupid. She's gotta have a reason."
"She'll get over it," Dally said, stubbing out his cigarette into an ashtray on the table. "We can't just do nothin', no matter how much she don't want anyone to."
"But do you gotta start it at the high school?" Johnny asked, looking at Steve who gave him a nonchalant shrug.
"Why not?" Two-Bit asked. "'Sides, we're only gonna scare 'em a little. At the school anyway. You know we'll piss 'em off enough to get 'em to wanna rumble where it'll be a fair fight. If they can handle that."
"Yeah, we gotta hit them on their own turf. Anyway, fightin' at school ain't going to be as big a deal then fighting on the street," Steve added. "If we can get a rumble organized, ain't no one going to end up in the cooler."
"So you were listening to her," Pony piped up. Steve's glare was cold, but he knew Pony was right. "What if Greene or someone calls the fuzz at school? She told you she didn't want anyone in the cooler over this."
"If we get the cooler, it ain't gonna be long," Dally told him.
"What about the rodeo this weekend, Dally?" Pony asked. He noticed his cockiness falter momentarily before he shrugged it off.
"Worse that could happen is I'm in there overnight. Even if it's two nights, I'm out by Saturday, which is when I'm racin' anyway," he reasoned, coolly.
"She's still gonna be awful mad," Soda pitched in.
"Who cares if she gets pissed about it?" he said, leaning his chair back on two legs. "She'll get over it. Ain't we doin' this for her, after all?"
"Ever seen her get pissed off, Dal?" Two-Bit asked, a crazy grin on his face. "She's kinda scary when she is."
"She's this big," Dally said, raising a hand to his eye level as he put the chair back on all four legs. "What is she gonna do to me?"
Steve laughed. "She'll probably do what all broads do. She'll yell at you and then try to claw your eyes out."
They all laughed, all except Pony who knew why she didn't want anyone to do anything about it. He gave a moment's thought to telling them to back off and give them the full story, but he bit his tongue. He couldn't do that to her. Besides, it would probably make them angrier than they already were. They didn't need more of a reason to seek out the fight, they were motivated enough as it was. He wondered if he should at least try to warn her before it all happened. He didn't know how he could manage it, though, riding to school with Steve and Two-Bit.
"Don't say nothing to her, Pony," Steve warned, as if he were reading his mind.
They were all looking at him, all of them saying the same thing with the even glare in their eyes. Dally's eyes spoke the loudest, sending a quick chill down his spine. He'd rather not get in Dally's way, not with his eyes the way they were right then. He quickly decided that Ellie would get over it.
"I won't," he said dutifully. "But all you're gonna do is make her mad."
"She'll deal," Dally told him.
"Yeah, yeah," Pony muttered.
Salt and tears in the minds,
In the mouths of a bad decision.
Two-Bit and Steve led the way through the parking lot the next morning, with Ponyboy looking around anxiously and Ellie hanging back slightly. With Pony so jumpy and the other two so cocky, she knew whatever was going to happen was probably not what she wanted.
As she opened her mouth to say something to Pony, two strong hands clamped down on her shoulders. The sudden contact scared her half to death and she tried to not jump a mile in the air.
"Hey, kid," Dally whispered huskily into her ear, causing her to blush and pull her head away when Steve looked back at them.
"What're you doing here?" she groaned. The thought of Dallas Winston in the halls of Will Rogers High was a walking contradiction. Dally didn't belong there, and she knew it wouldn't be good once he got inside the building.
Dally shrugged. "Missed ol' Will Rogers, I guess. And I thought while I was here, I could walk you to a couple classes." She raised an eyebrow, her lips curved in a disapproving frown. Noticing her skepticism, he grinned over her head at Two-Bit and Steve. "And if I just so happen to run into a few socs," he added, "it'll be like reminiscin'."
"Like at the football game? Dally..." she pleaded as he entered the building in front of her. She was immediately drown out by the buzz of students milling about. The three older boys swiftly led the way down the hall, and Ellie grabbed Pony's shirt and pulled him beside her. "Did you know about all of this?"
Pony offered her a half-hearted shrug, and Ellie could see the guilt splashed across his face.
"What'd you want me to do about it?" he asked, picking up the pace to catch up with them. "Their minds are made up."
"How many times?" she growled under her breath closing the distance as Steve led the way to her locker. Her face flushed darker with every soc Dally accidentally knocked shoulders with.
Leaning beside her locker, he told them, "Man, I guess I didn't miss this place much, after all."
Ellie grabbed her books quickly, hoping to get Dallas out of the school before something happened.
"Hey baby," Two-Bit drawled.
Ellie turned just as a girl with dark brown, curly hair walked past them. She watched Two-Bit look her up and down slowly send a wink her way. The girl just wrinkled her nose and walked faster.
"That our boy, Rich's, sister?" Steve asked, also staring after the girl.
"Ah, and there's our boys right there," Two-Bit said, nodding down the hallway. "Shall we?"
"Guys," Ellie begged as she saw all three of them looking down the hallway. She noticed another group of greasers standing on the other side of the socs, as if they had all somehow diagrammed it all out. Curly Shepard stood near the edge of the group, and she realized Dally really must have planned the whole thing out. She groaned loudly as her friends started toward the group of socs with a stride becoming of a hood, and Shepard's gang watched closely, waiting for their cue.
Ellie dashed after them, Pony on her heels, and tried to cut in front of them and steer them away. Dally easily pushed her behind him and strode up to the socs as Two-Bit and Steve stood behind him, happily waiting to help him out.
"How's it goin', fellas?" he asked, a dangerous smirk on his face.
The smiles quickly turned into scowls for all the socy boys. "Whaddya want, Grease?" asked one of the sharply dressed boys.
Dally shrugged nonchalantly. "Just wonderin' why you boys wanna go around pickin' fights with girls. What's the matter? Ain't man enough to fight someone your own size?"
The smile that had been dancing on his lips turned sour, and he was suddenly seething with pure hatred. She backed up next to Pony as Dally picked Michael out of the crowd and scruffed him. Two-Bit scruffed Richard and Steve grabbed the collar of another guy trying to get to Dally. They pinned them roughly against the wall. The commotion caught the attention of just about everyone, while Curly and a few of his friends also stepped in.
In the confines of the narrow hallway, little fighting was actually occurring in the midst of the yelling, threatening, and scuffling of feet that echoed down the hall. A few teachers stepped in, trying to break up the fight as best they could without getting themselves in the middle of it all. Dally was reluctant to let go, but he backed off when a familiar voice boomed over the fighting.
"Knock it off!" Principal Greene shouted. Most of the onlookers scattered, leaving the small guilty party along with Ellie and Pony. "What's going on here?"
Michael straightened his jacket and shoved past Dally. Standing square with Greene, he started pointing fingers. "These hoodlums attacked us for no reason. Ain't the first time, either."
"I see," he replied, scanning over the hodge podge of students before him. He scowled when he noticed the familiar face of a former student amongst the crowd.
Checking at his watch, he warned the onlooking socs, "Get to class this moment before I suspend all of you from next week's football game." Looking at Michael and the others directly involved in the fight. "And that means you three. I'm not excusing any tardies."
With only a second's hesitation, Michael and his friends headed off in different directions. Michael made it a point to knock shoulders with Dally and stare coldly at Ellie as she watched him go. Two-Bit, Steve and Pony all stayed put as Greene glared at Dally.
The principal stepped over to Dally. "If I remember correctly, and I know I do, you were expelled a couple of years ago. Were you not?"
Dally looked at him smugly and leaned back into the lockers. "And I wouldn't even be here if you weren't a prick with your head up your ass."
"I see you haven't grown up at all or stopped associating with Keith Mathews?" he insulted with affluent expertise.
He glanced over his shoulder only to have Two-Bit wave at him. Shaking his head, he noticed Ponyboy and Ellie still standing against the wall.
"Get to class before you're late." He hesitated momentarily before he nodded at Two-Bit and Steve. "All of you. Except for you, Dallas," he said, grabbing his collar. "You've got a parole officer, haven't you? I bet he'd like to hear from me."
As he began to lead a grumbling Dally towards his office, Ellie stepped in front of him, much to the surprise of everyone, including herself.
"Mr. Greene," she said quietly, trying to keep her head held high and her voice even. "All of this is my fault."
The same look of confusion crossed all of their faces, including Mr. Greene. "How's that, Ms. O'Hare?"
Wringing her hands, she could feel her face begin to flush. "Well, sir, a couple boys ran into me in the cafeteria yesterday, and my friends thought they were picking a fight with me." Her face began burning hotter as she noticed Greene wasn't staring at her; he was looking at her scar. Rumors really got around at Will Rogers. "They were just trying to look out for me. I guess it was all a big misunderstanding."
He studied her for a moment, digesting her words and her tone. Despite his efforts, he didn't hear any note of sarcasm or mockery that seemed to accompany most of Two-Bit's friends.
After a slight hesitation, he released Dally's collar. "It seems to be your lucky day, Mr. Winston. You seem to have an honest friend after all. But I expect you out of here and off the property in the next minute. And if I ever catch you in my school again, the police are going to be the first to get a call from me." Glancing at Two-Bit and Steve, he warned, "And if I catch you two fighting again, I'll see about getting you expelled just like your friend over there."
They all stood there staring at him, wondering if they were actually off the hook. "Get to class now, before I change my mind."
Greene walked away, and Two-Bit gave Ellie a gentle clap on the back. "Look at you, getting us all out of trouble like that."
Dallas was grinning at her, and she shrugged Two-Bit off as she said hotly, "Leave, Dallas, 'fore you cause any more trouble. You guys gotta stop this shit," she added. "Now I'm probably gonna be late again 'cause of you hotheads."
Dally, Steve and Two-Bit watched her in amusement as she jogged down the hallway, and Pony wore an I-told-you-so look on his face that was completely lost on the three of them.
With all your faults,
It isn't your fault what's going on.
Ellie's feet felt like two blocks of cement as she made her way to Leery's class. The bell had yet to sound for the morning, but she knew it was close since most of the halls had already cleared out. How she was actually going to be on time was beyond her. She took a deep breath as she neared the open door. Squaring her shoulders, she hesitated when she heard the murmuring from inside the classroom.
"She ain't even a grease, anymore," one boy commented.
"Ain't Frankenstein a little harsh, though?" came a girl's voice. Ellie cautiously glanced through the doorway, seeing the girl play with her short, dark hair as she stood next to a small group of socs leaning on desks and chatting before class began.
"Have you seen that scar on her face?" added another girl, a pretty blonde.
"Rich almost started a rumble in the middle of the cafeteria yesterday," the boy informed them with a laugh.
The small group around him chuckled, too, oblivious to her presence only a few yards away.
The bell rang loudly, scaring the living daylights out of her. Mr. Leery cleared his throat over the other kids' chatter, and she shrank back slowly when she noticed him looking in her direction.
"Care to join us, Miss O'Hare?" he asked quietly.
The other students rustled their papers noisily, embarrassed to be caught by both Ellie and Leery.
She stepped further back into the hallway, giving him a slight shake of the head. She wasn't going back in there if she could help it, no matter how many detentions he piled up for her. She was surprised when he gave her a curt nod, turning his full attention back to the class.
A small grin tugged at her lips when she heard him reprimand the class as she made her way down the hall.
"This is history class, Mr. Sheldon, not a chance to catch up on your gossip." His lecture was briefly interrupted by broken laughter. "If you can't tell the difference, I'll see you in detention, and I'll explain it to you. That goes for the rest of you as well."
I think I've had enough things too tough
I'm out the door.
Pushing open the first side door she found, Ellie stepped outside. She had no desire to go back to school that day or the rest of the week for that matter, but the guys would be worried if she didn't show by lunchtime. So she headed to the front parking lot, hoping she could wait in Two-Bit's car until they were out of class.
Walking through the line of cars, she heard a shrill horn sound. Glancing up, she spotted a familiar red T-Bird zooming towards her.
"You want a ride, Dollface?"
"I thought Greene insisted you get off school property," she said, her anger still boiling.
Dallas shrugged as he drove slowly alongside her. "I think it was more of a suggestion than a direct order. 'Sides, I never listened to him when I came here. No need to start now." He hit the brakes and put the car in park. "Let me take you somewhere, kid."
Ellie hesitated for only a moment before tossing her bag in the backseat and walking around the car. Even if she was mad at him, the prospect of getting away from Will Rogers was too tempting. She slid in beside him, and he tossed an arm over the seat. "You makin' this a habit? Not going to school?"
She gave him a sideways glance. "I'm goin' back after lunch. Forget about that. When did you ever come here? I don't even remember."
"I came for a few days, 'fore me and Shepard got kicked out together," he told her. "I don't think I was ever supposed to go, though."
"Yeah, and you shouldn't have come back, Dallas," she said, irritation tugging at each word.
In his mind, he was smiling. She was pissed, just like Pony had said she would be, but she wasn't going to try and claw his eyes out as Steve said. Dallas had a career of making her mad, and sometimes she would try to get physical with the occasional punch to the arm, but most of the time he hardly felt anything at all. He had his mind made up that if she had been a guy, she would be one hell of a fighter. But she wasn't, and Dally had other ways of settling fights with her, which usually led to her ignoring him until she was no longer mad. However, his newest truce was by far his favorite.
Pulling the car into a nearby parking lot, he shifted it into park and leaned back into the door, watching her. She had a glare so hot, it could melt you midstep, but Dallas was impervious to it. Glory, but he loved it when she got angry. He knew he was going to start liking it all the more, too.
"And why is that, Miss Priss?" he grinned.
"I told you just lay off, Dally. I wasn't kidding," she said pointedly.
"Yeah, this whole fuckin' thing is just one big joke to me, ain't it?" he asked, reaching for a cigarette. He lit up, scaping the match across his Christopher medal and taking a deep drag.
Ellie sighed. She couldn't figure out how he kept making her feel bad about all of it when it was his own fault for starting these fights. "Dal, I know it ain't a joke to you, but no one's listening to me. I don't want you or anyone else going after these guys just 'cause they called me a name."
"And put you in the fuckin' hospital, El," he said, sitting up. "And put that damn scar on your face. You play this whole goddamn thing off like it happens everyday. What the fuck is your problem?"
Her eyes got hot again, and she swung her head around to look at him.
"My problem is that you can't keep your head for shit, and you'll just end up killin' him. Then you'll be in jail for the rest of your life," she shouted, despite the confines of the T-Bird. "It's stupid, Dally, and I'd rather have you guys around here than rotting in some jail cell."
"So it was him then? Holden?" he asked, hardly considering her plea.
"Dally," she sighed frustratedly, resting her head against the back of the seat. "For my sake, please drop it before things get any worse than they already are."
"Worse than they already are," he repeated. "Well, ain't that funny."
"Please, just shut up," she snapped, popping her head up. "Like I didn't have enough people hating me, now I'm gonna have Greene watching me like a hawk 'cause of you. "
"He's an asshole," Dally said, pointing out the blatently obvious.
"No shit. Leery's an asshole, too," she said, despite the fact he seemed to suddenly have so much pity for her. If anything, it made her all the more bitter. "And all of them socs that started this and -"
His lips were suddenly on hers, his arms wrapping around her back tightly, pulling her into him. It was quiet for the first time since she got in the car. Ellie wasted no time kissing him back, but the pressure he was putting on her sides caused her to wince and pull away from him.
Despite the way she was holding her sides, Dally wore a self-satisfied smirk. They could fight until the end of time if every fight could end like that.
"You okay?" he asked, finally as she caught her breath. He was certain she hadn't lost it from her ribs that were still aching.
She nodded. "You're an asshole, too, you know that?" she said, her voice breathy and her eyes suddenly softer, smoldering.
"Yeah, well, it's my calling," he said, leaning closer to her again.
She didn't back away, but her eyes were still hot. "This ain't going to solve nothin'. You can't just kiss me everytime you want to win some stupid fight."
"That so?" he asked, his lips barely touching hers. "Seems to be workin' just fine."
She grabbed his collar, a smile dancing on her lips. "For now."
All in all it's just another day now,
You're falling down, what you gonna do?
Standing on top of the world tonight,
No ones looking back at you.
A/N: Thanks for the reviews and comments! Sorry for the delay in posting. It's been a rather busy week with finals quickly approaching and other ninja duties, like listening to Tommy Howell's radio show. He keeps us busy.