Categories > Books > Outsiders > Tender is the Night

Me Against the World

by A_Sideways_Smile 0 reviews

Things keep getting worse at Will Rogers, resulting in a detention for Ella. Can Steve and Two-Bit help her see the bright side of it all?

Category: Outsiders - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Published: 2007-04-13 - Updated: 2007-04-14 - 2925 words

They're taking our dream
And they tear them apart
'til everyone's the same.

The bell finally rang, and Ellie gathered her books, standing to leave with everyone else.

"Miss O'Hare, please hang around a minute," Mr. Leery asked her as all the other students hastily made their way to the door

"Way to go, Grease," the boy who sat behind her appraised haughtily, laughing with the others as he left.

With nervous steps, Ellie walked up to Mr. Leery's desk. He stared patiently at her over the rim of his glasses.

"This was the fifth class in a row you were late for, Miss O'Hare," he told her plainly.

Though it was useless to explain, she tried anyway. "I know, Mr. Leery, but it's not my fault."

He was leaning far back in his chair, chewing on a pen cap and still looking over those awful glasses. "Whose fault is it?" he asked skeptically.

She bit her lip, knowing full well she couldn't just blame this on Michael, so she did her best to make up something believable. She knew it wouldn't matter though, Leery already had his mind made up about her.

"I get a ride here with my friends, and it's not always that easy to make it up here in time," she reasoned. "I haven't been late everyday, though."

Giving her a look, he leaned forward and looked at his class roster. "No, but of the few weeks you've been in school, you've been late several times, including the last five school days."

"I'm trying Mr. Leery, I really am. But like I said, I have to rely on others for a ride," she explained, trying to keep her tone neutral despite her mounting frustration.

"Well, tell them they have to leave earlier so you can get here," he suggested.

She could do that, but getting to school on time wasn't the problem. Two-Bit usually did well of getting them there with time to spare. The problem was making it past Michael and which of his friends decided to hassel her.

"It's not that easy," she said quietly, studying her hands and trying to ignore the students walking in for the next class.

"Well, I'm sure you know the rules then, " he said, ripping a slip of paper from a pad on his desk. Handing it to her he said, "I'll see you in detention on Friday."

Taking the slip from him, Ellie stared at it dumbfounded. Two-Bit and Steve were going to have a good laugh about this.

"I can't," she protested, handing the slip back to him. "Not on Friday, anyway."

"If it is interrupting your weekend plans, that's just too bad, Ellie. Two hours is the minimum when you've been late this many times," he told her shrewdly as he pushed her hand away.

"It's not that, I have to work on Friday's after school. I can't be in detention, I have to be at work," she persisted.

He shook his head, "Not this Friday, I'm afraid. You're going to have to work that out with your boss because you are going to be in detention or face a suspension."

Frustration caused her cheeks to flush, and she stared at him, still holding the slip out like he would take it back. "You don't understand. I have to work. It's not like I want to. It's that I have to."

A few people started laughing behind her, and she tried to ignore it.

"Missing just a few hours won't hurt you. School comes before work," he told her, looking over his glasses again. Ellie fought the urge to rip them off of his face and break them in two.

"I can't afford to miss work-" she tried to bargain with him. She really couldn't. Money had been tight lately.

He put his hand up to stop her but not the snickering coming from the third parties. "Ellie, you really don't have a choice here. Just start getting to class on time, and you won't be in this situation again. You're just going to have to be late."

Her mouth fell slightly agape at his hypocrisy. "You want me to be late to work after serving a detention for being late to class?"

He ignored her comment and stated flatly, "You need your mother's signature on this and returned to me by tomorrow. And don't bother forging it," he added, not bothering to lower his voice while the few stragglers in his next class filed in as the bell rang.

"Fine. Can I at least have a pass to my next class since I'm already late?" she demanded angrily.

Holding another sheet of paper up to her, he pulled it back before she had a chance to grab it. "I had her in my class a few years back, you know?"

Ellie sunk back from his desk and stared at some unseen thing between them, not saying anything.

"I'd hate for you to end up like she did. You're a bright kid, but so was she," he told her matter-of-factly. He then added, his lips twisting into a pernicious smile, "Like mother, like daughter, huh?"

Snatching the slip out of his hand, Ellie blasted him, "Right, as though being late to a few classes is going to make me into her. Thanks for reminding me how close to failure I really am."

"Tell your mother I said 'hello,'" he called after her. She could hear the distaste in his voice and everyone else laughing.

She stalked out of the room, pulling the door shut and letting it slam behind her. Frustrated tears stung in her eyes, and she stopped in the nearest bathroom, soc territory or not.

Throwing her books down, Ellie stared at herself in the mirror. She did see her mother, but only in appearance. She had the same short stature, thin frame and sweet-tempered face. Compared to her mother's wild and capricious attitude, Ellie was nothing like her. She was responsible and demure. Abby didn't worry about anything, while Ellie worried about everything.

It hurt that everyone only expected her to fail just like her mom did. It was even worse to see it on their faces that they were constantly comparing the two of them when there was more to contrast than anything.

Come on and take your shot,
You can spit all your insults
But nothing you say is going to change us.

Ellie waited in the hallway for Pony to hand in his quiz after Algebra. She must have had a sour look on her face, because he kept looking across the classroom at her the entire period.

He finally joined her and asked the inevitable. "You okay?"

Shaking her head, yet still trying to hold it high, she told him, "Do you think it's okay for teachers to tell me that I'm no better than my mom?"

Pony furrowed his brow confused. "Who said that?"

"Mr. Leery. He gave me a detention for being late and then basically told me that if I didn't stop being late for class I would end up like her," she spat bitterly.

"He actually said that?" he asked, reading the hurt in her eyes that she would never voice out loud.

"Yeah. I hate how all these teachers remember her. It's like they're just waiting for the day I drop out like she did. It's frustrating," she sighed, spotting Two-Bit and Steve waiting by the front doors like they always did. "Don't tell no one what he said."

Pony nodded, and that was as good as a promise.

"Aw, Ella, why the long face?" Two-Bit asked, forcing a frown on his own face.

"Tell me you have detention on Friday," she begged him.

Two-Bit took an animated step backward, his hand over his heart. "You have detention?"

"What'd you do?" Steve asked, unable to mask his grin.

Punching him in the shoulder she replied, "I was tardy a few times." Turning back to Two-Bit, she asked again, "Are you?"

"Well, lemme check," he opened his notebook and thumbed through the pages as though searching through his agenda. "Well, this Friday I'm not currently scheduled for one, but I think I could squeeze one in just for you."

She laughed in spite of herself. "Thanks, Two-Bit. I'll owe you one."

"No kid, you're gonna owe me two," he joked with a wink.

"Now I just have to figure out how I'm gonna get my mom to sign this without her and Jimmy getting on my case," Ellie added.

Pony gave her a funny look. "Why don't you just sign it for her?" Two-Bit cocked an eyebrow at him, and Pony gave him a sheepish look. "What?"

Two-Bit grinned and swatted at his head. "That was supposed to be my idea."

Ellie shook her head. "No, she's gotta sign it. He already warned me not to forge it."

"Yeah," Steve agreed. "She's right. Leery can spot a phony from a mile away."

"Aw, we'll think of somethin', kid," Two-Bit said, sounding much more optimistic than she felt about it. She had never been in trouble with anything, and though she knew her mom had been in a lot of trouble herself in the past, Ellie couldn't always predict how she would react to things.

Following the guys out into the parking lot, Ellie sighed; it was only a detention, her mom wouldn't care. She knew she was making it out to be a bigger deal than it was, but she still hated to drag her mother into it.

They love to watch me fall,
They think they know it all.


Ellie stood at the edge of the kitchen, watching as her mother gathered her things before her late shift at the restaurant.

"What?" she asked curtly, her cigarette bobbing between her lips as she tied her apron around her waist.

"I need you to sign this for me." She produced the slip of paper Leery had so gladly thrust upon her.

Abigail looked at it briefly, a smirk on her face. She knew what it was before even reading it. Lord knew she had plenty of those when she was in high school. "What'd you do?"

"Nothing!" Ellie answered defensively. Abby had a skeptical look on her face.

"I know Will Rogers ain't all that great if you don't have money, but I'm sure they ain't passing out detentions just because they want to," she replied, scrawling her name across the bottom of the slip and sliding it back to her daughter. "It says it's for tardiness."

"Yeah, and did you see who gave it to me?" she asked, holding it back up for her to see. "Leery."

"Can't say I didn't warn you about him," Abigail said. "Why were you late so many times? I thought those friends of yours drove you everyday."

"They do. But I always get held up in the hallways," she explained, as her mom stared at her with a smirk still in her eyes. Ellie sometimes got the feeling her mom liked it when she screwed up just so that she didn't have to feel like the only one that did.

"Maybe you shouldn't be out there flirtin' and go to your classes." She felt her teeth begin to grind as Jimmy walked into the kitchen and pitched in his two cents.

"I'm not," she snapped, wanting to yell back at both of them that she wasn't the one who had a kid at 16. "I always end up runnin' into the same person everyday, no matter which way I go to class," she told her mom, trying to exclude Jimmy from the conversation she didn't want to include him in in the first place.

"And who's that?" Abigail asked as she ground out her cigarette in the ashtray on the counter and grabbed her purse.

Jimmy grabbed a beer from the icebox and headed back into the living room, but not without saying crudely over his shoulder, "Probably some guy she fools around with."

She bit her tounge hard enough to bleed to keep from screaming at him and her mother who was looking at her with her eyebrows raised, waiting on her to confirm Jimmy's thought.

"It's Michael." Abby's eyes clouded up as her eyebrows furrowed. Ellie could tell from her expression that she recognized the name but couldn't place it, so she added, "Holden."

Abby sighed inwardly. Holden wasn't a name she was wanting to hear anytime soon. "Oh," she said dryly as she brushed past her daughter. "Well, you oughta try harder not to run into him."

Ella stared at the front door as it slammed behind her. She could hear the disgust in her mother's voice at the mention of the Holdens, but she couldn't place any sympathy or compassion, something Ellie needed but rarely received from her.

"Detention, huh?" Jimmy asked, turning on the television. "Big fuckin' surprise."

She resisted the urge to tell him to go to hell and headed for her bedroom.

You can sit there and judge me
Say what you want to
We'll never let you in.

Ellie stepped through the door, clutching her books to her chest. Detention, she thought bitterly. Great.

She stood, studying the room. In the back were a handful of Shepard's boys, who were making eyes at her. In the front sat only two socs who were glaring in her direction. And in the center of the room, sat a few middle-classers who looked extremely uncomfortable.

"Hey, Grease," growled one of the socs, who she recognized from Mr. Leery's class. Trying to avoid eye contact with him, she stepped further into the room, hoping Two-Bit would show up soon.

As she still searched for a seat, she felt a heavy arm drape across her shoulders. Expecting Two-Bit, she was surprised to find Curly next to her. Trying to resist the urge to shudder, she just tried to pull away from him. The kid hadn't left her alone since the first grade; he never got the clue.

"These boys botherin' you, Ellie?" he drawled, flicking out his switchblade. The soc who had taunted her quieted down and Curly smirked at him. "That's what I thought," he replied coolly, folding his blade and placing it in his back pocket.

"Picking a fight, are we, Mr. Shepard?"

Ellie slid out from under his arm when she recognized Mr. Leery's voice and slinked to the back of the room.

"No, sir," Curly replied innocently, "Just tryin' to make some new friends is all." He punched the soc, friendly, in the arm as if to prove his point but only got a dirty look from both him and Mr. Leery.

Ellie finally sat, with her back to Rick Bradley and the other boys he was sitting with. She could feel him staring at her and making noises trying to get her attention, but she kept her eyes diverted, studying her hands carefully. Even though she wasn't looking, she could also feel Mr. Leery watching her, waiting for her to screw up so he could call her out on it.

"Take a seat," Leery ordered Curly. He gladly took the desk closest to Ellie's.

"It's too bad Timothy dropped out, I could have had both Shepards in detention today," Leery observed dryly.

"Fuck you," Curly mumbled as he flipped Leery the bird when he looked away. Ellie was somewhat relieved to not be the only legacy Leery didn't like.

There was boisterous laughter coming from the hallway, and when Two-Bit ambled through the door, Ellie found it difficult to hide her smile. She was even happier to see Steve walk in behind him.

"Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join us, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Randle," Leery said insipidly.

"Oh, it's no problem at all," Two-Bit assured him as Steve followed him down the aisle. When Leery looked down at the attendance sheet, they both casually knocked a couple books off the socs' desks. They gave them glares but said nothing.

"Get up, Curly," Two-Bit said. "We're sittin' by El."

"Aw, man, there's plenty of seats," he complained, gesturing to the rest of the room.

"So sit in one of 'em," Steve suggested. Curly hesitated, but knowing it was more of an order than a simple recommendation, he finally gave his desk up and took a seat closer to the other boys in his gang.

Steve pulled his desk closer to Ellie's and winked at her. Two-Bit sat behind her and squeezed her shoulders. "Ain't you sorry you've missed out on detention your whole life?"

She couldn't help but smile. Leaning over to Steve, she whispered, "Why're you here?"

He shrugged and leaned back in his seat, lacing his fingers behind his head. "Couldn't miss your first detention, could I?"

Ellie leaned back in her own seat when she noticed Mr. Leery giving her a cold stare before shaking his head and looking back at the papers on the desk. He didn't seem at all surprised by her company. She sank further down in her seat, knowing exactly what he was thinking. It was the same thing he had been thinking when he called her name the first day of school and when he filled out her detention slip. She was well on her way to becoming her mother, and the boys she was hanging out with only perpetuating the O'Hare name.

I'm a nightmare, a disaster
That's what they always said.
I'm a lost cause, not a hero.
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