Denise groaned and pressed her forehead against the cool glass of Two-Bit's window. Sitting in a car was the most boring, monotonous way to spend a day. And she, of all people, would know. When her mama couldn't get a babysitter Denise often had to wait in the car while her mama worked inside a large, imposing brick building. She had no idea what her mama did for a living but Denise was never allowed to go inside.

The car was hot, sticky and gave off the unpleasant aroma of stale cigarettes. Denise was about as indignant as a six year old could manage. She had no way to tell time but, by her calculations, Two-Bit and Dally had been inside the decrepit old bar for about a gazillion hours.

She felt like screaming. If she had known that leaving the DX would lead to this she would've held on to Soda or Steve with all the strength a six year old could muster.

When the heat had drenched her in sweat and her breaths felt harsh in the small area of Two-Bit's backseat Denise finally decided that anything would be better than this. In desperation she began to pound on the window and yell for someone, anyone, to let her out.


Pony strolled alongside Johnny, his collar popped and his head bowed, a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes.

"I swear it was here, Ponyboy. Really—," Johnny repeated for the eighth time.

"Yeah, yeah, Johnny I believe you. Maybe it'll come back, but I doubt it. All the noise from Buck's probably scared it off." Right now Ponyboy's biggest concern was getting outta here without being spotted. If it got back to Darry that he was hangin' around Buck's, then boy, he would be in for it.

"Hey," Johnny stopped so suddenly Ponyboy nearly crashed into him.

"What is it, Johnny?" Pony asked, frantically scanning their surroundings.

Johnny nodded to an old, beat up, piece of junk that Two-Bit affectionately referred to as a car, and Pony, half whispering, let out a curse. He grabbed Johnny and ducked behind the nearest pickup truck. If Two-Bit saw him Pony was dead; Two-Bit didn't earn his name by keepin' his mouth shut.

Johnny swatted at Pony's arm, "No man, Two-Bit's not in the car! Look at the lot, it's deserted, I bet they're all inside playin' poker. But…man, I think I saw a kid in Two-Bit's back seat."

Ponyboy slowly rotated his head toward his friend, wondering what screw had been knocked lose in Johnny's head. "Johnny! Two-Bit doesn't have a kid in his car!" Ponyboy stood, no longer worried at being spotted. Johnny was right; the lot was vacant.

"Yeah, man," Johnny said, "look." Johnny pointed in the direction of Two-Bit's sorry excuse for a vehicle and Pony gaped at the small, howling, figure that pounded on the glass windows.

"Jesus," he cursed as he sprinted toward the car. It was hot outside, but stuck in a car? It musta' felt like a 100 degrees.

Pony made quick work of the lock on Two-Bit's car. It was half broke and all it needed was a little jimmy and it gave in with a soft snick. Two-Bit didn't ever bother to fix the lock because no greaser would ever steal from him and no soc would want his car.

Johnny pulled the door open and a small girl came stumbling out of the ugly interior. She wore a yellow dress and had a long, blond French braid that fell halfway down her back. At first glance Johnny thought she looked very much like cherub. That is until the little cherub turned and, with all her might, aimed a kick at the body of Two-Bit's car. Then she looked more like a demon in disguise.

Denise eyed Two-Bit's vehicle critically before giving it one more kick for good measure. Serves him right, she thought. He spent the whole car ride poking fun at her then left her to bake. She wanted to go back to Soda; spending time with these other boys who had other things on their mind was tiresome and disappointing. Like all little girls, Denise expected to be the center of all attention. The idea that the opposite was true was just too much for her delicate sensibilities.

As the girl sniffed Johnny could see that her eyes were red and puffy and her cheeks were ruddy from crying as she scowled at Two-Bit's car. Who was she? She was too young to be Two-Bit's little sister, and although she was vaguely familiar Johnny had no confidence that he could correctly identify her.

In the end it was Pony who recognized her, "Hey!" he said suddenly, snapping his fingers in an effort to coax out the name from the tip of his tongue. "Denise!" he finally spit out. Johnny nodded, finally placing the girl as the Curtis' neighbor from across the street.

Denise sniffed and blinked at Pony and Johnny, as if only just realizing their presence. When her eyes alighted on Ponyboy her entire face lifted and she cried, "Soda!" before leaping into his arms.

"Whoa!" Pony yelped as she jumped at him. She'd locked her arms around his neck and Pony turned to Johnny, desperately seeking assistance. Johnny just shrugged, not having any more experience with young girls than Pony apparently had.

"I-I'm not Soda," Pony muttered as he tried to pry young Denise off of himself. However, when Denise heard his confession she pulled away and looked him in the eye. With a great howl of disappointment she hauled herself away from Pony and slid to the ground.

Pony immediately felt pity lodge somewhere in his chest as he watched the girl use one pudgy hand to wipe the tears from her chubby cheeks. She did it the way all young children do it, with their whole palm and no regard for their appearance, more smearing the tears around than wiping them off.

"Denise, hey, Denise," Pony said gently, again appealing to Johnny for help. Johnny sighed and knelt down so that he was eye level with Denise.

"Denise," Johnny said, the word dislodging itself from his throat with surprising ease, "how do you know Soda?" Aside from the fact that he's your neighbor, Johnny mentally added.

Denise plopped herself down in the dirt and, still choking on sobs, told them how Soda found her and about the time she'd spent with Steve and Dally. "I-want-to-go-home!" she wailed clutching Johnny's hand. Johnny looked slightly surprised but Denise, distraught as she was, didn't even pause.

"Talk about disenchanted," Pony muttered. Usually Two-Bit was so good with kids a crowbar was needed to pry them away. Pony supposed being left to bake in a shell of a car would do that to a girl.

A loud burst of raucous laughter was heard from inside Buck's and Pony swiftly recalled his present situation. "C'mon, Niece," he said quietly, shortening the girl's name. Johnny raised his eyebrows, "Well," Pony sighed, "you wanna' leave her with the two geniuses that locked her in a damn car for an hour? 'Sides our houses are just across the street."

Pony jumped as another eruption of sound came from the doors. "Let's get out of here," he said, unable to keep the anxiety from his voice.

Johnny nodded and stood, but was caught off guard when Denise tugged on his jacket and reached up, clearly requesting that he carry her. Johnny glanced up at Pony who grinned, content to let his friend work this one out on his own.

They shut Two-Bit's car door and headed out of parking lot, prepared for a long walk home.

Uh oh. What will Dally and Two-Bit do when they return to find Denise missing?!

Hey, should I put socs in this story? Like they run into some or no?