"Hey, Ponyboy! It's time to get up!" Darry called from the kitchen.

I rubbed my eyes and scowled, but I got out of bed, anyway. I didn't really want to start the week with Darry on my case.

"In a minute," I answered back, and I got dressed quickly. I hated Mondays.

As I walked into the kitchen, I could see that it was a normal morning. Darry was getting breakfast ready, Soda was getting dressed for work, and Two-Bit and Steve were fighting over the remote. Everything looked right, but for some reason I had a funny feeling in my stomach that I couldn't place, almost like something was wrong. But as far as I could tell, I wasn't.

"Do you want some breakfast?" Darry said nonchalantly as he prepared the eggs for himself and Soda.

"Um, I guess so," I said. "Just one, though."

"You're still not hungry?" Sodapop looked up. "You've barely eaten anything all weekend!"

"Yeah, I know," I said.

"Are you sick?" Darry asked.

I shrugged. "Not really. Well, sort of, I guess. I've just been kind of sick to my stomach all weekend, like something isn't right."

Soda gave me one of those looks. I knew what he was thinking: the anniversary of Johnny and Dally's deaths was a couple weeks away, but I was sure it wasn't that. I had considered that possibility over the weekend, but every time I thought about it I really was feeling OK.

I shook my head. "It's nothing like that, Soda," I reassured him. "I promise you."

"Well, what is it, then?" Two-Bit asked, who had already lost the fight to Steve and joined the conversation. "I noticed you seemed funny when we walked home from school on Friday."

"Well, exactly how are you feeling?" Darry asked, walking over to his little brother to feel his forehead. "What are your symptoms?"

I thought for a minute. "Well, my stomach feels funny, like it gets when I'm nervous about something. But I'm not nervous. I can't think straight, and also I haven't been sleeping lately."

Soda looked at me suspiciously again. "Pony," he said slowly, "I really think you should—"

"Hey, I promise I'm fine, all right? Really, I am!"

"Do you remember exactly when you felt that way?" Darry asked.

I thought for a moment. "It's hard to say. I guess the feeling appeared around of science class."

Two-Bit looked thoughtful. "Hey, you have science class right after lunch, don't you?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I do. But what could a candy bar and Pepsi do to me?"

"True," he agreed. "Maybe the candy was expired."

Steve, who had turned off the TV and walked over, burst out laughing at the thought of me eating old candy.

"Were you using chemicals?" Darry suggested, a hint of concern in his voice. "Maybe you ingested something." He was eyeing the telephone, ready to call the hospital.

"No, we just finished reading our reports on Friday. We didn't use any chemicals or anything."

Suddenly, Two-Bit cracked up. He whispered something in Steve's ear, and he laughed, too.

I looked at them, confused and a little hurt. Their teasing could really get to me sometimes.

"Wait a second, Ponyboy," Two-Bit said once he calmed down a little. He put on a serious face, but I could tell from years of experience that he was getting ready to tease me. "Describe your symptoms one more time."

I sighed. I was just starting to lose my patience. "I told you. I feel sick to my stomach, distracted, kind of dizzy, and unable to sleep. Why?"

Two-Bit stroked his chin. He reminded me of some sort of psychotherapist. "So, let me get this straight. You have a funny feeling in your stomach…"

"Yes," I repeated.

"You can't think straight and you're dizzy…"

"That's what I said," I confirmed, wishing he would just get to the point.

"Plus you can't sleep. And apparently, you lost your appetite?" he asked.

"Yeah, all that is true," I said.

He looked at me solemnly. "Oh my gosh, Ponyboy. I think I know what you have. I saw it on a TV show once. Is it…" He leaned right up against my face. "A crush?"

My face got hot. Two-Bit was right. I remembered that day clearly.

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in!" Mrs. Smith said. A shy, short girl walked in. Her shirt and skirt were average looking; she didn't stand out from all the other greaser girls. The only difference was that she was obviously new to Tulsa; she still had that vulnerable look that I hoped she would lose soon, for her sake.

"You must be Patricia," Mrs. Smith said. "Come on in. There's an empty seat next to Ponyboy Curtis."

"Class," she said as Patricia sat down next to me. "This is Patricia. She moved here just this morning. Anyway, now that that's over, it's your turn to do your oral report, Mary.

Of course, no one actually listened to Mary's oral report. Kids talked with their friends, anyway.

"Hi, I'm Patricia," she said to me.

"Hi," I muttered. I didn't know what to say; guys didn't really talk to girls, except to flirt with them.

After that, we continued with our reports, and I didn't remember much after that. Just that I was in space for the rest of the day for reasons I couldn't place. That, and I didn't stop thinking about her.

"Aw, our little Ponyboy is growing up!" Steve said in an obnoxious baby voice, and pinched my cheeks. My ears turned almost as red as my cheek.

"That's OK, Ponyboy." Soda put his arm around me. "Don't worry about it."

"Hey, have you tried talking to her?" Two-Bit suggested. "Maybe if you just talk to her, she'll notice you."

"And she's probably new, anyway," Soda put in. "She might appreciate it."

"Right, exactly," Two-Bit continued. "I think I know who you're talking about, anyway. It's that Patricia girl, isn't it?" I heard she just got transferred Friday morning. She's in several of my classes. If you ask me, I think she's a pretty good match for you, Pony!" Two-Bit smiled. Pony wasn't sure if he was teasing or being sincere, but he smiled back anyway.

"Well, now that that's solved, are you ready to get going?" Darry asked firmly.

I nodded. "Yeah, I got my backpack ready last night, so I'm ready to go." I took a piece of toast from the table and bit into it.

"All right, Two-Bit, let's got to school," I said. As I always did, I couldn't help but think in the back of my head how there was such thing as a nineteen-year-old junior.

"Coming!" he said.

As we walked to school, I hoped Two-Bit and Soda had good advice. Maybe Patricia and I would do well together.

A/N: So what did you think? Was Ponyboy being OOC by having a crush on a girl he just met? I was trying to have him turned on by her shyness, because she didn't look like all the other greaser girls. But what's your input?