"I think you need new shoes." Rosie said smirking as I rubbed at my feet which had been rubbed raw by my way-too-tight work shoes.

"They're fine." I replied mainly because she'd make me buy new shoes, and money was tight enough as it was. I looked ahead and saw the clump of boys. I saw the back of Darry's massive head, but couldn't find my brother Ponyboy. "Where's Pony?"

"Sam, sit down." Rose said as I grasped the side of her old, an barely-running convertible Ford, but she was too late. I swung the door open and sprinted down the street to the boys. Pony was sitting up on the ground, but blood dripped out of a cut on his neck. "What happened here?"

"Someone decided it would be a good idea to go to a movie and walk home alone. He's fine; a few Socs jumped him." Darry, my oldest and possibly least sensitive (especially to Pony) brother , said.

"Oh well, if that's all." I said sarcastically. "Let me clean that up. Come on Pony." Pony boy was only about 18 months younger than me, but I was notorious for acting older than I was.

"He's fine it' just a cut. It'll look tough in the morning." Steve, my third and final brother Soda's best friend, said.

"Steve, if you consider yourself tough-looking I definitely want to clean Pony's cut- now." I replied smiling.

"Ha." Steve fake laughed as the other boys giggled under their breaths.

I looked over and was shocked to see how little interest the mass of boys had in Pony's encounter with the Socs; fights were what many of these boys lived for. They were all crowded around someone else. Even Pony had gotten up to surround this mystery visitor.
"What's going on over there?" I asked Rosie, lighting a cigarette as she leaned against her car.

"Court Foster moved back to town." She replied easily.

"Court Foster?" I said surprised, "That's a name I haven't heard in a while."

"Yeah, I guess his dad's job in South Carolina fell through, so his parents decided to come back to their farm here."

My face must have been sheet-white. Court Foster was a year older than me (my brother Soda's age), he moved to South Carolina when I was eight and he was nine, and I was absolutely in love with him. Of course, I never told anyone- especially any of the boys- about this. Actually, it was around the time Court lived here that I wore all of Soda's hand-me-downs and acted like one of the boys. Since then, things had changed. I had grown up. I started to wear skirts and dresses and makeup. Also, both my parents passed away in a car accident leaving Darry in charge of Soda, Ponyboy, and I.

I tried to sneak up the step to change and clean up, so Court didn't see me for the first time after all of these years looking completely disgusting in my blue work uniform from the diner. But I was too slow. Soda yelled my name across the yard before I could go up the steps.

"Sam! Come over here! You remember Court, don't you?"

I tucked my hair behind my ear and walked over. "Of course I do. Hi Court." I said looking at the boy I used to know. I could still recognize him with ease, but he looked very different. He was taller (obviously), but his face had also become more defined and his arms looked more muscular from under his t-shirt sleeves.

"Little Sammi?" Court looked smiling. "I would've thought that Steve would were a skirt before you even if it was a work uniform."

I laughed uncomfortably, "Yeah, I outgrew that phase."

"It's really nice to see you again." He replied smiling his familiar royal blue eyes shining at me.

"You too."

"Well get used to it Court's here to stay." Soda said wrapping his arm around Court.


A FEW DAYS LATER - BUCK MERRILL'S PLACE

I hated these parties. Rosie dragged me to them every free night I had on the weekend. They were thrown at Buck Merril's place which I wasn't even supposed to go within a 20-foot radius of according to Darry even though Soda went to all these parties with his friends. Rosie was a fairly typical "Greaser Girl". She wore tight black skirts with low-cut tops and way too much eye and lip makeup. I, on the other hand, dressed in a way which made me look much more like a Soc. I wore the clothes popular for my age and went much easier on my makeup than Rosie did. Rosie also fit in much better at these parties; I didn't drink or smoke, so I really just sat there most of the time. Sometimes random guys would come over and hit on me, but then I'd remind them my brother Soda was sitting in the other room and my brother Darry could rip their heads off easily.

Tonight was just like any other of these nights.; Rosie mocked my clothes and hair for being too reserved, I ignored her and watched her as she flirted with random boys in order to get Johnny-her longtime crush/boyfriend- jealous. I sat and watched on a stool next to the bar sipping a non-alcoholic drink. Then, Curly Shepard- the younger brother of another greaser gang's leader Tim Shepard- came over and sat next to me. He was in my grade but didn't go to school much.

"Now, why is it a beautiful girl like you is sitting here all alone?" He said scooting his stool closer to mine.

"Oh, I'm not alone." I looked for an excuse to get myself out of talking to him. "Rosie just left to go to talk to someone; she'll be right back." I looked around to find her and found her on a couch with Johnny making out. Well, that isn't going to help me.

"Looks like she's busy. So why don't you and I go get busy somewhere else?" He laid his hand on mine and winked at me.

I pulled my hand away. "That's okay, thank you for the offer though."

Curly looked at me with an expression of anger and surprise. "Why don't you want to come with me?"

My veins filled with terror. But I didn't have to respond. A voice intervened in our conversation. "Sorry Curly, that would be my fault." Court stood behind Curly smiling. "I just got back in town, and I made her promise we'd be able to catch up tonight."

Curly nodded and left with Court's excuse. Court was wearing a brown plaid shirt tucked in to blue jeans with the typical greased-back "greaser" hairdo.

"Thanks for that." I whispered loud enough that Court could hear me over the music but no one else could.

"It was my pleasure. You looked like you needed a little help." Court smiled and sipped his drink.

"That obvious?"

"Kinda." He paused looking around. "Well this is fun. How fast do you think Darry would've ripped Curly's head off if he'd seem that encounter?"

"About as fast as he'd rip my head off for being here in the first place."

"This isn't his first choice of hangout spot for his little sister?"

"No. And it's such a shame because I love it so much here."

Court laughed. "I can tell. Do you want to take a walk? It's pretty loud in here. We could talk, and you could put some distance between you and Curly."

"Yes, please." I stood up and walked out with Court. We walked out the back door to the street beside Buck's place.

"Well, this is a lot nicer than inside." Court said smiling as he kicked a stone.

"Tell me about it. Something about that place makes me want to take like twenty showers." I scrunched up my nose to show my disgust.

"Then why do you go with?" Court asked. "You obviously don't like it."

"I don't know. Rosie drags me along most of the time. She says she has to go to watch Two-Bit, but she fits in with them a lot better than I do." I was surprised how honest I was being.

"Oh well, their loss." Court looked ahead and saw the bright lights of a nice car driving forward.

"Court, come here." I grabbed his hand and pulled him back behind a tree. Only one type of people drove that nice of cars in Tulsa: Socs. And Socs only came to this side of town at this time of night for one reason: trouble.

"What?" he whispered obviously picking up on my nervous vibe.

"Nothing, just some Socs." The car pulled past and I let loose a breath.

"What? Do you think I couldn't defend you from some losers in khakis?" Court joked.

"No doubt, I just didn't want to risk it, you know?" The truth was I didn't want to risk knowing one of the Socs in the car. I actually had a few acquaintances at school who could be labeled as Socs, and seeing me here would totally ruin my fa├žade as neither a Soc nor a Greaser.

"I understand." Court glanced out into the street and saw that the car had driven past. "Well, it feels like I haven't seen you in ages."

"I know. So much has changed. It's really nice to have you back here in Tulsa."

"Yeah, I missed it here too." Court paused; maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the "a lot of things have changed" thing. Only two things really had changed- my parents' presence and me. "Sammi, I'm so sorry about your parents."

"Thank you." I smiled, unintentionally sadly. Court wrapped his arm around my shoulders patting gently.

"Anytime. Wow, you're freezing let's head back. You're brother's going to think I kidnapped you."

"Probably the other way around."

"Now, I wouldn't mind being kidnapped by you."

"Wow, you really are the same old Court Foster, aren't you?"

"Depends, did you like that old Court? 'Cause if not, I'd be happy to make a few adjustments." He smiled that bright and kind smile almost melting me from the inside-out.

We walked most of the way back deep in conversation. We talked about school, work, sports, and anything else that came up. It all came so easily, and part of me could feel the crush I had on Court resurfacing.

As we got closer to the house, I saw Soda standing outside Buck's place waving for us to hurry up. "What's wrong?" Courst asked as we approached Soda.

"Nothing. Where did you guys go?"

Court glanced at me inconspiculously. "Curly was, as usual, bothering me so I used Court as my excuse to get out of there." I couldn't tell who was more uncomfortable: Court or Soda. So, I got out of there as quickly as possible. "Bye Court. Thanks a ton for helping me out. I better go find Rosie. Darry doesn't like her behavior now; wait until she does something even more stupid."