Disclaimer: I don't claim ownership of The Outsiders. It's all copyrighted to S.E. Hinton. But all original characters and plots are created by me. Lyrics belong to the song "Stranger" by Secondhand Serenade.
Author's Note: This is one of those stories that a lot of girls can relate to when they meet a boy in school and can't wait to go back to school just so they can see him again. We're all guilty of swooning over a guy who is just so good-looking and we wonder what might happen if they noticed us. This is my take on that. It was originally intended to be a one-shot but then my mind figured that just wasn't enough so then it was going to be a two-shot, then three chapters... now I've settled on either five or six chapters and hope to keep it that way. Enjoy! I'm a first time Outsiders writer so hopefully I got my facts straight, not just with the story itself but with the time period as well. It's set pre-book before any Sodapop/Sandy or even Steve/Evie.
But I can't pretend I wasn't terrified to meet you
All Emily's girlfriends had giggled when she told them she needed to get gas after school.
Truth be told, she'd never had to get gas herself before. Her father was the one who used the car the most and generally he was able to do it all himself anyway. But since he was out of town, she had to make due with watching out for the car's upkeep. Her mother was a housewife so she had no use for a vehicle unless no one else was using it, in which case she'd drive down to the mart to stock up on groceries.
Since Emily was given temporary custody of the car, she was able to drive it to school and nothing was better than arriving with your own wheels. It was a light blue, 1960 Ford Falcon which wasn't too shabby to look at for how compact it was. Having to put gas in it every now and then was a compromise she was willing to make.
As she drove to the town's DX station, she couldn't help but feel a little nervous. She only recently turned sixteen so the world of mechanics was new to her. Most girls didn't know too much about cars anyhow so it's not like she was totally incompetent, but she didn't even have any experience in what she was supposed to tell the attendants. No doubt Emily was going to embarrass herself at least once before the afternoon was over.
Turning at an intersection, she thought about her friends' reactions earlier. There was only one reason they'd giggle like schoolgirls about a gas station and it came in the form of one of the attendants who worked there. Sodapop Curtis. He was about the only reason any girls ever decided to visit because as stated before, girls didn't know much about cars and never really understood the hype of mechanics. But boy did they flock to that Sodapop Curtis like magnets.
Emily had never seen him before for obvious reasons. Her girlfriends would occasionally plan a trip up to the DX to ogle him but Emily always declined their offer to join them. She figured she could make better use of her time by finishing her homework she'd put off to the last minute or reading a good book instead.
But as she pulled into the station, she couldn't help feeling curious and was ready to find out what all the fuss was about. God forbid he isn't as attractive as all the girls made him out to be. That'd sure be a letdown if Emily ever saw one.
She parked next to an empty pump, taking a moment as she took the keys from the ignition to pride herself in the fact that she hadn't smashed into the pump or crashed into anything around it along the way. For how little time she actually spent driving, she was a pretty decent driver.
"Okay," she mumbled, squinting up at the pump. It read that gas was thirty-one cents a gallon and she was close to empty. Her father had given her plenty of gas money – about ten dollars worth which was probably more than she needed – but she felt like an imbecile not knowing how much she should actually buy.
Emily rolled down her window and eyed the station. There was a car parked on the opposite side but they looked about ready to leave and there was no one else in sight. She pursed her lips and looked back at the pump.
Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of a lean brunette boy with thick arms and heavily-greased, combed back hair. She scrutinized him, practically leaning out of her car window to get a good look. Was this the infamous Sodapop Curtis? He doesn't look all that handsome, she thought to herself, instantly feeling disappointed. He had a nice sharp face and his build was probably something worth envying, but there was nothing all that special about him.
Emily's stomach dropped when she realized he was making his way over to her. She'd been concentrating so hard on the boy's appearance that she hadn't figured out how much gas she was going to buy. She threw herself back into the car and looked helplessly at the pump again. He ambled around the pump to get a good view of her through the window and she wanted to scream, "No! Go back! I'm not ready yet!" She was hoping someone would pull in across from her and she'd just be able to copy off what they asked for.
"What can I get for ya?" the boy asked, resting his arm on the car's frame and leaning down so he could see her properly. Even up close he wasn't incredibly attractive. Maybe it was just the fact that he knew his way around a car so well that made girls weak in the knees.
"Uh," Emily stuttered, glancing back down at the cash in her palm she'd fished out of her bag. She ended up removing a bill from the small pile and handed it to him. "Just give me a dollar's worth of gas, please."
Hopefully that'll be enough, she prayed as he went to it. He didn't give her any weird looks so that was probably a good sign.
As the car was being filled, the boy wandered off and Emily waited to be done so she could go home and mope about how anticlimactic her trip to the DX turned out to be.
As she was waiting, she caught sight of a car pulling in front of her. She rolled her eyes. You're about ten seconds too late, buddy, she drawled inwardly. To give herself something to do, she eyed the car. She didn't recognize it or the driver.
Another boy came wandering over from inside the station to help them. This was a different guy from the one she'd first seen. She wasn't able to get a good look at his face, but his hair was more of a golden brown and his skin was tanner. He looked a bit thinner as well and possibly the same height, maybe a little taller. He was wearing a hat whereas the other guy hadn't been.
He took the person's money and began filling up their tank. Emily was about to look away in boredom again before he fully turned around to face her and her eyebrows rose to her hairline.
Now this boy reminded her of a movie star. He had a much kinder face than the other guy and his mouth looked like it was made for smiling. His shoulders weren't quite as broad as the previous boy's but Emily preferred it that way anyways. Instead, his jaw line was more defined and smoother rather than rugged.
This was Sodapop Curtis.
The girls were right after all.
He strolled over to her once his customer was being taken care of and smiled brilliantly before removing the nozzle and returning it to the pump once he realized her tank was full. The other boy was nowhere in sight but this didn't really seem to disappoint Sodapop. It didn't disappoint Emily, either.
He placed his hands on her window and leaned down, smile still intact. "You want a wax, too? Only ninety-nine cents."
Now, Emily didn't know much about blushing. She didn't really know what constituted as blushing because she couldn't exactly see herself to tell if her cheeks were turning red and her face never felt warm unless she had a fever. But if she had to take a guess, she was quick to bet that she was probably blushing up a storm right about now. And this was only from him talking to her!
The grin on Sodapop's face was bright as ever and how could she resist a look like that?
"Sure," she agreed. She promised her father she'd look after the car. Why not pamper it, too? He'd be pleased with that.
"You got it," he said happily and got right to work. Golly, he sure was a looker. Those brown eyes of his seemed to sparkle in the sunlight and she couldn't help but notice how wonderfully his white shirt contrasted with the deep brown of his skin tone.
Good grief, she was turning into a sap.
The other boy finally returned from wherever it is he ran off to and helped the other customer upon noticing Sodapop stole his. It seemed like a natural thing, like they switched off all the time.
Emily rolled up her window as requested by Sodapop before he rinsed the car down with a squirt bottle and rag. He then proceeded to get to work once he had everything he needed. But quickly after he began, he paused his efforts to ditch his DX shirt for whatever reason, leaving himself in only the white t-shirt and jeans.
It just isn't fair, Emily shook her head as she watched him rotate in circle after circle to wax the hood of the car and continuing on to the passenger door. She could see the muscles flexing against the skin and realized he wasn't as scrawny as he first looked, not that he had looked weak but more so just thin. It was probably because she had the first guy as a basis for comparison.
How had he not landed some superstar movie roll yet?
It didn't take too long before Sodapop was finished. Once he threw his DX shirt back on, he returned to her window to retrieve the money and his grin couldn't have been bigger. "There you go," he said once she rolled the window back down. "This car's got such a shine you can see your reflection."
"Thank you," she said, grateful both for the wax job and his close proximity. She found herself both pleased and annoyed that he made her feel about as giddy as he did the rest of the girls.
"Have a nice day," he tipped his blue DX hat much like a cowboy would its own hat and winked – she nearly had an aneurism – before backing away from the car and wiping his hands on a hand towel that was hanging on the pump.
It took her brain a few more seconds to register that she needed to pull out of the station before she started getting suspicious looks. Starting the engine, she put the car in drive and exited onto the main street with a giant grin on her face.
She had half a mind to drive down to Muskogee and back just so she'd have an excuse to get gas again.
The next day her friends were scheduling another Sodapop ogling session. If Emily didn't know any better, she'd think they had a specific planner just for the occasion and went the same time of day every week, possibly because they weaseled his hours out of someone. Or because they were there so often they had it memorized themselves. To be honest, it wasn't as far-fetched as it sounded.
But this time was different. Emily decided to go with them. She tried to make herself seem exasperated and reluctant to go so they wouldn't tease her about her DX visit the night before, but she wasn't fooling anyone. She felt like she'd swallowed some of her dignity tagging along with them, though. The whole thing was asinine but apparently she was just too much of a girl to be bothered by it.
"So," her friend Helen grinned cheekily. "How was yesterday?"
Emily rolled her eyes. It was only a matter of time.
"Fine," she said vaguely. It was wishful thinking if she thought the questions would stop there.
"Just fine?" Helen asked, hugging her schoolbooks to her chest. They really didn't need their books at all since it was Friday but Helen seemed to think the books made her look more vulnerable and charming. The perfect picture of a schoolgirl with a crush.
"Well," Emily paused and the girls got all giddy. "He wasn't the one who gave me gas but he did wax my car."
"Ah, I'd love to see those arms go to work on my dad's car," another girl, Cecilia, sighed. Holding a stack of books. Her concept was a little off though because she was carrying so many books it looked like she was having trouble holding them all. Or maybe that was her plan all along – to play the damsel in distress and maybe he'd offer to hold some of them for her. While he was at work. "He's such a dreamboat."
"How do you even know he's workin' today, anyway?" Emily asked, starting to feel a little nervous. What if he recognized her? How humiliating would it be for him to know the only reason she was there was to look at him?
"He works full time," Helen, the know-it-all, stated.
Emily furrowed her eyebrows. "What does he do about school?"
"He's a dropout," she said matter-of-factly. She looked like she tasted something sour.
Karen, the final girl who made up their quartet, decided to add in her two cents, "I heard he did it to help pay for the house since their parents died."
"I bet he's helpin' his brother get through school, too," Cecilia gushed and the three shared a moment.
"That boy sure is lucky whoever he is to have a brother like Sodapop," said Helen. Now she sounded like she prided in the fact that Sodapop didn't go to school.
Emily had her own private moment of awe towards him. Dropping out of school must've been a big decision for him, but doing it for his brother had to have made it easier. Glory, Emily couldn't imagine leaving school. Her parents would skin her good. He doesn't have to worry about what his parents gotta say no more, she thought bitterly. She felt sorry for the loss of his parents. She didn't know about it before then, though she figured it must've been the talk of the town after it happened. She wasn't sure how she missed it.
They finally made it to the DX's parking lot and there was already a crowd. They looked busy with a car practically at every pump, but that wasn't what made the place so crowded.
"Looks like we're a little late," Karen said, sounding amused. There was a group of girls circled around a certain golden-haired boy as he leaned smoothly against one of the gas pumps, soaking up the attention for all it was worth.
"Should we get in line?" Emily asked dryly. There were a few other girls scattered about the area, dazing at him from afar. This was getting to be a little ridiculous. Was this how half the girls at her school spent their Friday nights?
I've turned into one of them, she uttered miserably in her head as she eyed all the desperate girls. Some flocked to the guy who'd given Emily gas yesterday, but the majority of them only had eyes for Sodapop. She felt like she'd sunk to a whole new low just being there.
She felt a little guilty thinking like that because her friends were definitely some of those girls, but they knew that anyways and seemed proud of it so she shook the feeling off.
"Maybe we should go to the movies or something instead," suggested Cecilia who sounded put off.
"We can hang around a little bit longer," Helen told them. She squeezed the books a little tighter to her chest. "These girls got boyfriends who'll come pick 'em up shortly and they'll bring friends who might take us with them," she thought out loud with glee.
Emily rolled her eyes again. "Do we really need boys to take us to the movies?"
"Well we can't go alone," Helen said obviously, like Emily should've already known that.
Emily kept her mouth shut and looked away, failing to mention that they wouldn't be alone if they went together in the first place. Apparently the girls' definitions of alone didn't match Emily's. She loved her friends but they were always on a different wavelength than her. When they had sleepovers and girl's nights, she would ask herself why she ever thought like that but it was moments like these when she understood.
The feeling would last until the next sleepover and then she'd be over it until something like this happened again.
Since Emily spent all that time walking straight from school to the DX station, she decided to at least do what she came there for and gazed at Sodapop. Every now and then he'd excuse himself from the horde of ladies and jog to a car that needed his help, his happy-go-lucky smile as cheerful as ever.
The fact that he got so much attention didn't make him seem egotistical like Emily had always viewed him in her head as. She'd figured it all went straight to his head and he was unbearably full of himself. But just looking at him now and paying attention to his facial expressions, it wasn't like that. If anything, he seemed utterly oblivious to the effect he had on the girls even though Emily highly doubted that was true. He'd wink at them just like he did her and smirk until they turned to jelly but it was all harmless.
"I see an opening," Helen said suddenly and grabbed the crook of Cecilia's arm, dragging her over to where a group of girls once stood near the now empty gas pump. Sodapop was rubbing his hands on a rag that was so black Emily figured he was only making his hands dirtier. He removed his hat to run a hand through his greased hair, making a few stray strands flop down into his eyes. Emily felt her stomach turn. Usually it was a sickly feeling, but this time it was rather pleasant.
Helen bravely took a step forward to get his attention and he turned to face her, that smile returning to his face. He draped the rag over his shoulder and kept the hat in his hand as he ambled his way over to them.
"Evening ladies," he greeted. "How was school today?" Emily wanted to laugh at the typical parent question and how he managed to make it sound like liquid velvet. He made it seem like school fulfilled every girl's wildest fantasies with a tone like that. Emily felt Karen shiver beside her. She felt like laughing again at the absurdity of it all and the fact that she was inevitably melting into the palm of his hand in the process.
"Ah, you know. Same old stuff," it looked as though Helen was going to be doing all the talking tonight. She subtly batted her eyelashes up at him and it didn't sit right with Emily how effortless and truly innocent she made the gesture look. "Can't be as interesting as workin' on all these cars all day," Helen continued, running a finger along the trunk of the car parked near the pump next to them.
"It has its perks," Sodapop answered, grinning at them and leaning against the pump all cool-like. Emily knew her friends immediately took that to heart and overcompensated that they were the best things that had happened to him all day.
"Can't imagine how it must get workin' in the hot sun all day though," Helen went on, still playing the innocent card. Emily didn't even want to begin to visualize the thoughts running through her friend's head at the thought of Sodapop "working in the hot sun". She had to stop her own thoughts from getting too creative.
There were two ways Sodapop could've gone with that statement. He could've taken it the wrong way and completely ran with it, but he decided to keep it clean. "I do get pretty sweaty," he said, uncomfortably tugging at the top of his oil-stained white shirt where his neck shined from the perspiration. Helen probably didn't find anything uncomfortable about that at all and she giggled just to prove Emily's point.
Sodapop's eyes eventually found hers and his eyes lit up in recognition. "How's the car doin'?" he asked politely.
Emily blanked for a second there and looked around. "Who, me?" she pointed to herself. She didn't know if it would've been worse if she was trying to play ignorant or if it was bad enough that she just asked that question with the upmost honesty.
Sodapop chuckled. "Ain't no other girls here came by yesterday. Best wax job I've done if I do say so myself," he boasted, puffing out his chest and the girls laughed.
Emily laughed with them and nodded. "It's doin' good," she said. "I can still see my reflection real well," she told him, remembering what he said.
He grinned. "It's a good reflection to see."
Did he just compliment her? Emily couldn't hold his gaze any longer and looked away, feeling embarrassed. Again, if she had to guess, she was probably blushing. She just heard him laugh again, like he knew exactly what he was doing to her. She knew he wasn't oblivious.
"Hey, Soda!" a voice called off in the distance. The four girls turned in the direction it came from and could see two silhouettes making their way towards the station. Upon closer inspection, it ended up being two boys. One with hair a similar color to Sodapop's and another with real dark hair and skin to match.
"Hey Pony," Soda slapped the first boy on the shoulder once he was close enough. 'Pony' gave a small shy smile to the girls and kept a respectable distance, not looking too surprised to see them there. "This is my brother Ponyboy," Sodapop introduced them. Emily felt herself smile even before she knew what she was doing. So this was the little brother Sodapop looked so well after. She could see the resemblance; their cheekbones and noses were similar and the hair color was a dead giveaway.
"We still goin' to the movies?" asked Ponyboy. The other boy shifted around behind him, looking adamant to stay out of the conversation.
Sodapop didn't look too thrilled but smiled real big nonetheless and nodded. "Sure we are," he agreed.
Helen just couldn't help herself and blurted out, "We're goin' to the movies, too!"
The other guy who worked at the station curved around the pump to stand at Sodapop's side, looking out of breath. Emily glanced around her, noticing all the cars were gone and the last one was just pulling out onto the road. She felt a little bad, knowing he must've been doing the last of the work by himself.
Sodapop only looked taken aback by Helen's outburst for a fraction of a second. Then he was all smiles. "You girls wanna tag along with us?"
The other guy hadn't looked very excited at the prospect of going to the movies either if his facial expression was anything to go by – the grim scowl that always seemed to deepen whenever he glanced in Ponyboy's general direction – but upon hearing they'd be having some female company, he cheered right up.
Helen, Cecilia and Karen were quick to agree by nodding their heads viciously and letting out breathless "yeah's" that made Emily want to slap herself. Or do the same. She couldn't decide which just yet.
"That alright with you, Pony?"
"I guess," Ponyboy mumbled, shuffling his feet and kicking at the gravel beneath his Converse shoes. Emily started to feel guilty again. Maybe it'd just been a boy's night or man's night or whatever they liked to call it. The other three paid no mind to the younger boy's tone of voice though because it was just beginning to sink in that they were going to the movies with Sodapop Curtis.
They started on their journey to the movie house, assuming that the two workers were off their shift. Emily had a feeling Cecilia was going to have the best time out of the rest of them because Sodapop offered to hold her books for her. It looked like she was struggling and Emily really couldn't tell if it was all an act or not.
Helen glanced down at her measly two books and frowned. The other guy, who Emily came to learn was named Steve because – and she really felt silly for not having noticed this sooner – his DX shirt had his name splashed across the left side, was hanging onto Karen who looked like she couldn't decide if she enjoyed him invading her personal space or not.
Emily wanted to snicker at the whole thing. For Cecilia's outrageous plan actually working, for Helen's plan to have not worked for once, and for Karen's utter dilemma literally hanging over her shoulders.
But instead she just felt annoyed.
Author's Note: It's not stated that she's a Soc or a Greaser because in this story, it just doesn't matter. But if that doesn't fly with you, make up your own story in your head what she is because I'm not going to specify anything.