Categories > Books > Outsiders > Tender is the Night

In My Head

by A_Sideways_Smile 0 reviews

Growing up with a gang of boys has made Ellie O'Hare tough, cool and calm, but no one will give her the benefit of the doubt. Changes ensue, and trouble with Socs, boyfriends and tensions within th...

Category: Outsiders - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Published: 2007-04-01 - Updated: 2007-04-02 - 2853 words

Under the weight of your wings
You are a god, and whatever I want you to be,
And I wonder if truly you are
Nearly as beautiful as I believe.

The sun was setting behind them as they walked home from the movies. They followed their shadows as they faded out in the dimming light until they were only visible under the harsh yellow glow of the street lights. She wore a thoughtful smile on her face, and he wasn't sure if she was thinking about the movie they had just seen, or the one that was coming.

"I'm thinking of a man," she chimed, looking at him.

Not missing a beat, he replied, "Singer?"




"Character then," he said, narrowing it down.

"Yup," she confirmed, flashing him a grin.

"Rick Blaine," he answered, matter-of-factly.

She laughed at the confidence in his voice and appearing on his brow. He was cocking an eyebrow so terribly she couldn't help but give him a playful shove to knock the look off of his face.

"What?" he asked, a chuckle in his voice.

"You're wrong!" she exclaimed. "Strike one."

"Is it someone from /Casablanca/?" he asked her, turning to face her as he walked backwards.

"You can't ask that," she told him, trying to stifle her giggles as he tripped over a crack in the sidewalk.

"I can too. Rules are yes and no questions only. And asking if its someone from Casablanca is a yes or no question." He held her faux glare for a couple of seconds before cracking a grin that made her roll her eyes as she grinned back. "So, yes or no, is it someone from /Casablanca/?"

"No," she emphasized.

"It's someone from /Gone with the Wind then/," he said knowingly.

Nodding, she couldn't hide her smile. "Yeah."

He stopped suddenly, knowing he had it. "Scarlett O'Hara."

"I said it was a man," she laughed as she placed her hands on his shoulders and shoved him on his way.

"Oh, you did, didn't you?" he chuckled, falling into place beside her again.

"Yep an' that's strike two. Cuttin' it a little close this time, huh?" she sassed.

"You know me," he said. "I'm holdin' out for that dramatic endin'."

"Uh huh," she replied sarcastically. "Okay Mr. Dramatic Endin', you got one guess left. Can you do it? Or is it gonna be a sad endin' this time?"

"I got two words for you," he told her.

"An' what are those?"

"Rhett. Butler."

She punched him playfully in the shoulder. "How do you always do that?"

"You do it too!" he exclaimed, giving her a little shove back.

"I'm gonna stump ya one of these days," she said, her eyes narrowed and her finger pointing in his face. "I'm gonna."

"Maybe you shouldn't be so obvious," he accused her.

"I ain't that obvious," she retorted. "You're the one that needs to work on that."

"Right," he drawled, walking backwards in front of her again. He pressed his palms to his cheeks and acted out the scene at the movie house just a couple hours earlier. "'Oh my gosh! Gone with the Wind is coming. I don't think I can wait a whole month! I can't do it!'"

"I didn't do that," she defended, trying to step on his feet as he walked.

"You did, too."

"Na uh," she replied as she started laughing at him. "You better start payin' attention there, or you're never gonna get home."

He stopped and looked over at the chain-linked fence that ran along beside him. He'd walked past the gate completely.

"It's a good thing you're here then. I'm surprised you was payin' attention with all that swoonin' you was doin' over Rhett Butler," he shot at her, walking toward the gate.

"Yeah well, I get to swoon over him. You think its bad now, wait 'til we get to see it!" she told him, her eyes glittering with anticipation.

They walked up the steps together, and as he pulled the screen door open for her he said sarcastically, "Too bad I gotta wait a whole month for that."

She shot him an angry look, but her eyes told a different story. There was an obvious smile in them.

"Pony! El-la!" Two-Bit chanted as they walked into the kitchen together.

"How was the movie?" Darry asked after shutting the icebox, a bottle of Pepsi in hand.

"It was really good," Ellie replied, cocking her head and staring at Two-Bit and Soda who had playing cards stuck to their foreheads. "What are you two doin'?"

Soda was leaning back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest and grinning crazily at Two-Bit who was leaning into the table and grinning back.

"We're seein' who can keep the card on their forehead the longest," Soda explained, not moving his head to look at her.

"Johnny an' I got peanuts on Soda here," Steve added. "But Dal seems to think that Two-Bit's gonna pull it off."

"Actually, I don't really give a shit," Dally corrected, blowing smoke rings in Ellie's direction.

She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, and sat down across from Steve.

"So does that mean we can't play nothin' 'til one of 'em loses the card off of their forehead?" she asked, scooting over so Pony could fit a chair in beside her.

"Depends on what cards they have stuck on their foreheads," Darry said, reaching across and grabbing both cards from their heads.

"Heeey!" Two-Bit whined. "I was gonna win!"

"You wish, Two-Bit. You were tryin' to keep your card up with your nose," Soda informed him.

Darry flipped the cards around showing the Ace of Hearts and a four of Spades. "We could have lived without the four, but not so much without the Ace."

Steve caught the cards Darry slid across the table and shuffled them into the deck with expertise, dealing out hands with the same amount of skill.

Fall away to the sound
Of my heart to your beat.

"Two-Bit, I'm gonna beat your head in," Dally growled angrily as he kicked his chair which had inched closer and closer to him with every hand. This hand, he'd caught him looking.

"Does it matter, Dal?" Ellie chipped in. He glared at her. "You hardly have anything left to bet."

"Maybe you oughta share some of yours," he appraised, nodding toward the mountain of peanuts she had amassed.

She cocked a suspicious eyebrow and rested her arms over her winnings. "You can have 'em if you can win 'em. 'Cause I ain't sharin'."

"I don't think you have to worry 'bout Dal here, El," Steve added. She narrowed her eyes at him and his own mountain of peanutes before him. "I'm gonna take care of him an' then I'm movin' on to you."

"You can try, but you ain't gonna win," she told him as Pony shuffled the cards beside her.

"You gonna let a girl beat ya, Stevie?" Two-Bit asked. "'Cause she's beatin' everyone else."

"Speakin' of girls. Dal, you back with Sylvia again?" Soda asked, noticing his ring was absent from his finger.

"Yeah, she came crawlin' back the other night," he confirmed, his tone dry.

"An' you picked her back up?" Steve asked, disgust in his tone.

"A broad like that? You'd pick her back up too," he replied, a smirk crossing his lips

"She that good?" Two-Bit asked, wiggling his eyebrows. "'Cause she seems mean enough to eat her own youngin'."

"I like her when she's mean. She's wild when she's mean," Dally added, watching Ellie turn bright red as she shifted in her seat.

"Uh, guys, please. I don' wanna hear about this," Ellie begged, studying her cards. "Can't y'all wait 'til I'm not here?"

Dally grinned wolfishly and kept going long enough to make Ellie blush furiously.

"You're a little red there, El," Soda laughed, reaching across and ruffling her hair.

She batted his hand away and caught how red Pony and Johnny were as well. Soda was still grinning at her and Two-Bit was nudging her in the ribs, a grin on his face stretching from ear-to-ear. With that sort of pressure, she couldn't help the smile that spread across her lips. She couldn't help the roll of her eyes either.

"Speakin' of that broad," Dally drawled, pushing the last of his peanuts into the pot and scooting his chair out and walking around the table. He stopped behind Ellie, tugging on her ponytail as he stated, "I think I'll go see and how much I can piss her off tonight."

"Please go so I don' gotta hear 'bout it no more," Ellie begged, shrugging him away.

"Na, you jus' get to hear about it tomorrow," he whispered in her ear suggestively. She nudged him away with her elbow, and he gave one last tug on her ponytail as he sauntered out of the kitchen. "See y'all later."

"See ya, Dal. Stay outta trouble now," Two-Bit called after him.

"You know me," he called back as the screen door slammed after him.

Melancholy and cool,
Kind of bittersweet.

"Yer bet, El," Steve said impatiently, tapping his cards on the table to hurry her up.

The game had wound down to only the two of them. Ellie had the majority of peanuts, but Steve's pile wasn't slacking. They sat across from one another at the table, staring each other down, crowded by the others watching from various vantage points in the kitchen.

"Man, Pony," Two-Bit complained from his seat on the counter. "How's come you had to meet Ellie in the first place? 'F you hadn't never met her, my ego wouldn't be hurtin' so bad right about now."

Pony shrugged, grinning at Ellie, who stopped contemplating her bet long enough to glare at Two-Bit. "Can't help it if she was the only one not laughin' at my name."

He mussed up Pony's carefully greased hair. "Prob'ly soc kids, huh? Still shouldn'ta brought home a girl though."

"Five," Ellie finally stated, throwing five peanuts into the pot. As Steve eyeballed her and called her bet, she glanced back at Two-Bit. "Whether it was me or somebody else Pony invited home in grade school, you'd still be nursin' a bruised ego." Two-Bit simply winked at her.

Ellie traded two of her cards for two new ones and Steve did the same.

"Five more," she said.

Steve set his cards down and leaned back in his chair.

"Stevie's going all in," Soda said his eyes dancing with excitement.

Darry studied Ellie's face; she looked pretty confident to him. "You sure you wanna do that?"

Steve nodded at him, a confident smirk of his own on his face. "Sure do," he said, shoving his entire pile of peanuts into the pot.

Pony stood against the sink and watched Ellie's face. She didn't flinch at his bet, but she didn't call or fold right away. Pony could tell by the way she tried to hide her smile that she had something good.

"Steve," Two-Bit warned seriously, "Hope you know what you're doin', buddy. Don't let a girl beat us all."

"What's it matter if I beat him?" she asked, grinning over her cards at Two-Bit.

Johnny nudged him, a quiet smirk playing on his own lips. "Sure, since she already beat you?"

Two-Bit cocked his eyebrow at him as Pony added, tossing chip in his direction, "Yeah, I think you were the first one she took out of the game. Ain't that right?"

He sighed, exasperated, tossing the chip back at Pony. "So what? It's the principle of the matter. We can't let a girl beat all of us, can we?"

Ellie smiled at him from across the table as she called Steve's bet. "Actually," she answered, "I think you can. Won't be the first time, either, an' you know it."

"You're sure you wanna to do that?" Steve asked seriously, studying the mound of peanuts she had pushed to the center of the table to match his bet. "I wouldn't want you to lose like this."

"Thanks for the compassion, Stevie," she cooed. "But I think I'll be okay."

Ellie laid her cards on the table for the guys to see, a proud smile on her face.

"A full house," Darry appraised. "Steve?"

Steve groaned, tossing his cards down. "Shit."

"Don't look like a three-of-a-kind is gonna to do it there," Darry laughed.

"Aw, Steve!" Two-Bit moaned. "She ain't never gonna let us live this down!"

She raked in her winnings, smiling sweetly over Steve's shoulder at Two-Bit. "'Course I won't."

Darry clapped her on the back, an amused smile on his face. "Shoulda been more careful, Steve."

"I can't believe you beat me," he said mockingly.

Ellie tossed a peanut across the table, hitting Steve square on the forehead.

"What is this? A pity peanut?" he asked, reaching on to his lap and holding up the nut. "Gee, thanks, Ellie."

"No problem, Stevie," she replied, standing up and stretching. "I oughta go. Gotta work in the mornin'." She winked at Steve. "Thanks for the game, guys."

"Yeah, yeah," Two-Bit teased, giving her a playful shove as he followed the others to the front door.

"El, you wanna go see a movie after you get off work tomorrow?" Pony asked.

"Sure." She thought for a moment. "/Casablanca/?"

Pony laughed. "What else?"

Steve looked between the two of them. "Ain't that what you just saw tonight? School starts in jus' a couple days an' that's how you're gonna spend the rest of your vacation? In a moviehouse?"

"Why do you care? You ain't invited," she sassed, giving him a shove out the door. "See ya tomorrow, Ponyboy."

Steve and Ellie stepped out onto the sidewalk, and she called down the street to Two-Bit and Johnny as they headed home, "Y'all want a rematch tomorrow night?"

Two-Bit turned around, walking backwards beside Johnny. Even from that far away, Ellie could make out the grin on his face. "Naw, kid. Gettin' beat once by a hustler like you's 'bout all my ego can take."

Ellie laughed back at him. "I ain't a hustler. You jus' don't wanna admit you can't bluff your way out of a bad hand."

"You know it, kid," Two-Bit called as they both waved over their shoulders as they turned the corner.

Cutting through lawns, Ellie grabbed at Steve's arm to slow him down as she was struggling to meet his single stride with two of her own. "Jeez Steve, what are ya tryin' to do? Win a race here?"

"Hey," he joked, "you kicked my ass at poker, I gotta win somethin'."

"I'll let ya arm wrestle me tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I can't win that," she suggested.

"Well, yeah," he laughed, swiping a hand through the air over her head, which hardly reached to his shoulder. "You coulda had me at that if you woulda grown a bit more."

"Yeah, yeah," she grumbled, "But you can't hold that against me."

"Guess not," he replied, looking up at her house as they crossed over to Boston Street. He noticed the lights were off and said, "Guess you don't gotta climb through the window tonight."

"Nope," she sighed, relieved her mom and stepdad were out for the night.

Walking up to the worn-down, one-story house that stood before them, matching the rest of the dilapidated houses on their block, he asked, "How's Jimmy been since they got married?"

Ellie shrugged. Jimmy and Abigail had finally run off and gotten hitched at City Hall after he had spent the better part of a year bumming around their house. He wasn't much different than any of Abby's other boyfriends had ever been: lazy, drunk, hardly able to hold down much of a job, and never too pleased to learn of her teenage daughter. Jimmy had been a little different though; he stuck around, much to Ellie's chagrin.

"He's been all right." Steve heard her laugh softly in the night. "Been too poor to buy much booze lately, so that's prob'ly why." He nodded; he could understand that. At least being poor was good for one thing: sobering up his own father.

A smile spread across her lips as she turned to him and smacked him in the shoulder. "I still can't believe you lost to a girl."

Steve looked down at her, a faux glare on his face. "Are ya Two-Bit now?"

"Na," she negated, pushing the front door open. "I'm jus' the girl who beat ya, 's all."

"You better watch it or next time you'll be the one with the pity peanut," he warned, backing up toward the sidewalk.

"Oh, I'm scared," she mocked.

"You should be," he called back. Giving her a wave, he walked down the street toward his own house. "See ya in the mornin'."

"Night," she called after him. She closed the door behind her, standing in the dark for a moment, enjoying the rare silence of her home.

In my head, your voice
You've got all that I need and this make believe
Will get me through another lonely night.
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