This is a companion to "Mr. Dating Machine", but won't be a one-shot.

Again, thanks to whatcoloristhesky, who so kindly beta read this for me. She also saved my poor wall from having my head repeatedly banged against it. Look out for a little cameo with Mel and myself somewhere in this chapter. Squint really hard at the screen.

I don't own The Outsiders, but S.E. Hinton does because she just rocks like that.


Ponyboy grimaced. "Soda, why'd you have to go and tell them? I know they're going to come over here before I go."

Soda looked at his brother, biting back a laugh. "They would've found out sometime. From what I hear, there's an awful lot of talk since every girl in Tulsa's jealous of little Miss…"

"Moore," Pony finished, turning slightly pink. "Her name's Patricia Moore."

"Moore. Right… Here," Soda said, handing a comb over to Ponyboy, who took it and hurried in front of the mirror, feverishly working to make his hair look decent. "So, you're living up to the family Curtis name, huh?" Ponyboy attempted to shoot Soda a dirty look, though he could feel a weak smile playing on his lips.

"I ain't like you and Darry." Though he'd intended for his words to come out jokingly, there was an evident edge of nervousness behind them.

Soda appeared next to his brother. "Pony, a date ain't nothing to worry about."

"…Yeah," Ponyboy said lamely, looking incredulously at Sodapop. "Sure."

"You worry too much, kiddo." Soda moved his hand towards Ponyboy's hair, planning on messing it up. By the dark look that crossed his brother's face, he thought better of it, settling with a light punch to Ponyboy's shoulder instead. "You better hurry up though, if you're tryin' to avoid Two-Bit and Steve."

Ponyboy's pace instantly doubled. Before long, he had moved on to a new quest: to find his other shoe. Somehow, between the time he'd gotten home from school and the time he'd moved to get ready for his date, it had disappeared.

Sodapop watched his younger brother scramble around their room with amusement. Still, he couldn't honestly say that he'd been much calmer before his first date than Ponyboy was; he'd been bouncing around the house, receiving more than one dark look from Darry. Apparently, Darry had been working on an essay and he couldn't write it because Soda was "being a distraction".

"So where're you gonna take her?" Soda asked.

"The movies," Ponyboy answered. "Patricia wanted to see that new Richard Burton movie."

Both boys stood silently for a few seconds before they heard Darry calling from the living room, "Ponyboy? Didn't you say you were meeting your date at her house at seven?"

"Yeah. Why?"

Darry didn't respond immediately, but Ponyboy could swear that he heard vague laughter coming from the living room. Finally he heard, "Better hurry up or you're gonna be late."

"Girls don't like that too much," Soda added knowingly, winking.

Ponyboy trudged across the room and out the door, with Soda in tow. As they made their way down the hall, Sodapop watched as his younger brother's hand twitched, instinctively moving towards his back pocket, where a pack of cigarettes was stashed. He hesitated before running his hand through his hair instead.

The words came out of Ponyboy's mouth before he had the chance to stop them. "What if I say the wrong thing?"

Soda stopped, glancing sideways at his brother. Seriously, he said, "You're thinkin' too much." After giving Ponyboy a long look, he cracked a smile and made his way into the living room to find Darry sitting in his armchair in front of the TV.

Darry glanced up. "I thought you were trying to leave early."

"I lost my shoe."

Darry nodded at this explanation and stood up, picking his wallet up from the arm of the chair. He took a dollar out and handed it to Ponyboy, saying, "Bring me back the change."

Pony nodded wordlessly, swallowing. Sodapop and Darry meet each other's gaze, immediately looking away before a grin could spread across either of their faces. Their brother was acting exactly as they had predicted he would.

Ponyboy pocketed the money, missing their exchange. Staring at a spot on the wall, he began to mumble, "I don't even know if she—"

He was interrupted as the front door swung open to reveal an almost giddy looking Two-Bit, who was animatedly talking to Steve. "…And then these two chicks were fighting over the shampoo. Boy I can't tell you how happy I was to—" He broke off suddenly, seeing Ponyboy standing a few feet away, watching him apprehensively. Following a wolf whistle that earned him a dirty look, Two-Bit said, "Well ain't you lookin' spiffy tonight?"

Ponyboy groaned, his face reddening. "Cut it out." Opposite of what he'd hoped, his words only incited a snicker from Two-Bit and Steve.

"Smells like cologne," Steve commented, smirking at Ponyboy's horrified expression. "Two-Bit, the kid's wearing cologne."

"I'm not wea—" Ponyboy began indignantly, before being interrupted by Two-Bit.

"Nah, Steve, I think he's wearing perfume—he smells like a flower."

"It's deodora—"

"Hate to break it to you, but you're s'posed to save the perfume for the girls," Steve teased.

"Why don't you both just shut up?" Ponyboy said heatedly. He was already kicking himself for not getting away while he had the chance. "You ever actually shut your mouths before?"

"Well, ain't you just a big ball o' sunshine? You know, you better say sorry or Steve's gonna start crying," Two-Bit said, grinning goofily as Steve flipped him the bird. A mock argument ensued, and Ponyboy felt a wave of triumph and relief wash over him as his friends became so focused on their conversation that they entirely forgot that he was there. The feeling lasted until they both ran out of insults for each other and turned back to face him. Two-Bit gazed at him with one eyebrow raised, before chuckling. "…You taking her somewhere real romantic?"

Ponyboy rolled his eyes in exasperation, his patience finally reaching its end. Snatching his leather coat up from where it was laying on the couch, he stalked towards the door, glowering at Steve and Two-Bit as he passed them. Calling a short goodbye to his brothers, he threw the door open and hurried away from the house before he could get anymore grief.

The instant that the door snapped shut behind him, Steve and Two-Bit's laughter echoed through the house.

"Guys…" Soda trailed off, unsure if he should be joining in or telling them off. He immediately thought better of the second idea as a mental image of him attempting to lecture his friends came to mind. In the long run, that'd probably just earn Ponyboy more shit anyway. Not to mention that they'd give Soda a hard time for it, too.

Without another word, Two-Bit walked past Sodapop, heading towards the kitchen. He could be heard rummaging around in the fridge as Steve asked, "He been like that all night?"

"Like what?" Soda returned, plopping down on the couch as Darry settled back into his armchair.

Steve leaned against the wall. "All pissed off."

"He was okay until you two came and got him all wound up," Darry said, glancing away from the television to look at Steve.

"Guess he should've figured out it was comin' then and hit the road," Steve said dismissively, before looking up as Two-Bit emerged from the kitchen with a beer in hand. "Don't you ever drink your own beer?"

Two-Bit took a seat next to Soda on the couch. "I got that six pack yesterday but my sis and her friend got into it so Ma threw it all out."

The four of them turned their attention back to the TV, watching it silently for a few seconds before Darry turned to his brother and asked, "Where's Ponyboy planning on going?"

"The movies. They're seein' that one that just came out. The one with Burton in it."

A wide grin slowly spread across Two-Bit's face, an idea coming to mind. "Hey, Steve, you doing anythin' tonight?"

Recognizing Two-Bit's tone, Steve turned to face him. "…Not yet."

"Well why don't we make ourselves a little date with Burton's leading lady?"

A/N Please review if you've got a second ^_^ Brownie points to anyone who spotted the cameo.