This is for Oswald Pepperpot, who was the 107th reviewer for my other story, "Desire." I hope you enjoy this!

"Kid, how 'bout you leave me alone? Go back to your sunsets or books or the other girly things you do," I spit out, glaring at the only person who could ever irritate me this much. That's right, Ponyboy Curtis.

The kid gives me a glare that somehow ends up even harsher and nastier than mine does. He stands there, with his hands on his hips sassily, his bottom lip sticking out in a pout that would've been cute if I wasn't so vexed, and his pretty, pretty green eyes staring at me with anger.

"Go to hell," he glowers, his stunning and exotic eyes turning a shade darker. He's lucky that Darry and Soda ain't here, or he would've gotten it for swearing.

I scowl furiously, bristling. He's the only person who can get me this mad for only telling me to go to hell. "Is that the only comeback you've got? For someone who's supposed to be so smart, you ain't too clever."

His eyes narrow, as if examining me. "At least I can spell the word 'beautiful.'"

Yes, yes you can, I think, my thoughts swirling into some bizarre form of lust before I can stop them. Mentally, I slap myself and give him a menacing look to help shake away my wild imagination. I think I give him a much more frightening look than I expected, because he flinches briefly.

"One time while I was drunk, one time, and suddenly everyone holds it over you," I say, knowing full well that this was true. He knows it too, because his eyes let up just a tiny smidge. After a minute or two of just staring at each other, he turns around, away from me, and heads back to read his stupid books.

I ruin the opportunity. "Where do you think you're goin'? Givin' up that easy, huh?"

He stops dead in his tracks. Then, he wheels around and gives me a heated look. Boy, that kid is good-looking; he's even cute while mad. "I'm goin' to read. I know you can't, so try not to feel too stupid."

I want to roll my eyes because his jokes about my intelligence are getting old, but for some reason, this makes me angry. Real angry. "You little brat," I sneer, "you think you're all this. But you know what? All you are is just a stupid kid who's worthless, clingy, and knows nothin'. For Pete's sake, you sleep with your brother! Grow the hell up!"

The way he looks at me freezes me to my spot. The pain and sorrow in his usually lovely eyes wounds me, and the tears threatening to slip out just about slay me. I wish I can take back my words and comfort him, but I can't. I'm Steve Randle, the one who supposedly hates Ponyboy Curtis. If I didn't have that, my real feelings would be real obvious.

A tear leaks out of his eyes and he wipes it away hurriedly, looking at me bitterly. "I hope you're happy," he says resentfully and runs away to his and Soda's room, slamming the door behind him.

I curse under my breath. Damn, I've screwed up big this time. Soda and Darry will kill me if they find out that I made their baby brother shed even one tear over me. I sprint to the kid's bedroom and knock loudly. I sigh. "Listen . . . Ponyboy, I didn't mean it . . . I-I'm real sorry, alright?"

He says nothing to me. I put my ear to the door and try to listen to what he's doing, but all I can hear are his muffled sobs. I curse again. Not only do I feel like shit, but I'm as good as dead now.

Why the hell do I have to mess everything up?

Today was the day I finally persuaded my mother to let me sleep over my best friend's, Soda's, house. I packed up all of what I needed in a plastic bag and ran all the way to his house, which he gave me the address to. Apparently, it was only a few blocks away, which was good. I didn't have to walk that far.

I was real excited. This was also the first time I'd ever go to his home. Sure, we've played at my house, at school, and the park, but never at his house. He was real excited too; he told me all about his caring parents, his nice older brother, and his cute little brother. Especially his little brother. That kid must be real special to him.

"Soda!" I shouted excitedly, seeing him in his front yard. I also saw two other kids, one quite a lot bigger than my buddy, and one a lot shorter than him. Must be his brothers.

He whipped around. "STEVE!" he hollered and ran towards me, tackling me down to the ground. Soda laughed, and I did too as we rolled around on the grass.

"You gonna introduce us to your friend, Soda?" asked the biggest brother. He looked at us with a skeptical look, one of his eyebrows raised.

We stopped rolling. Soda immediately hopped up and smiled real widely, still excited. My best buddy grabbed me by the arm and said, "This is Steve! Steve, this is my big brother, Darry. He's thirteen." He pointed towards Darry, and my eyes widened in shock. He looked like he was fifteen! "And this is my baby brother, Ponyboy. He's only six. Say hi, Pony."

Ponyboy waved shyly at me for a moment and then hid behind Darry, holding onto the edge of his brother's shirt. Darry sighed and lifted Ponyboy (who was real small, even for a six-year-old, I noticed) up, resting him on his hip.

"What's a matter, baby?" Darry asked, bouncing Ponyboy up a few times. I blinked at the nickname; I've never heard of anyone calling their siblings 'baby' before. Ponyboy glanced at me for a short moment before he blushed and hid his head in Darry's chest.

"Sorry, he's real shy around people he's never met before," explained Darry, but I only nodded, not offended by it. Actually, Soda was right; his little brother was a real cutie.

And speaking of my friend, he frowned and went up to Ponyboy, rubbing his back a few times and whispering words to him. I coughed, feeling awkward. What was I supposed to do now?

Darry must've heard me cough, because he suddenly looked at me and said, "You two go and start playin', I'm gonna go in with this little monkey." He then bounced Ponyboy a few more times, tickling him with his free hand. Ponyboy giggled. Lordy, he was adorable, I thought. I don't know why, but I was real fascinated with this kid. Maybe it was because I didn't have any siblings, or maybe because I thought he was so cute, I didn't know.

But I just couldn't stop staring at him.

It took me a few years to realize that that feeling I felt for Ponyboy was, dare I say it, love.

I never said anything to anyone.

Darry and Soda would kill me. Not to mention that Mr. Curtis was real big and Mrs. Curtis was real protective of her children.

So, I said nothing. Even though it was pretty awkward for me whenever I was near him.

A year after that, Dallas Winston joined our gang. Man, he was tough. He hated everything and everybody, except Johnny and maybe even Ponyboy. No one could hate those two, so I didn't blame him.

I thought him hating everybody was real tuff. I kinda wanted to be like that. Then, I thought of something real smart.

Maybe if I acted that way towards Ponyboy, then no one would suspect me of liking him, right?

Wrong, I think now. I should have never thought of pretending to hate Ponyboy Michael Curtis would be a good idea. Acting like I hated the kid was now actually a habit. It's a real bad habit, but I can't help myself; no one can get me so mad or so happy like him.

I'm sitting on the couch in the living room, watching Mickey Mouse because nothing better is on. I can't hear Ponyboy's sobs anymore, but that still doesn't mean that he ain't bawling. I hope he ain't crying, because then I'll feel like an even bigger ass.

As I'm watching the TV, Two-Bit just happens to stroll in. Great. Two-Bit's also rather protective of the kid, so if he finds out that I made Pony sob, I might just gain a black eye.

Two-Bit raises an eyebrow as he plops down beside me. "Where's Ponyboy?" he asks confusedly.

I almost wince, but I control myself and put on a blank facial expression. "He's in his room. Won't come out." Hey, at least I was being honest.

Two-Bit suddenly has this worried expression on his face, and I suddenly think that I'm screwed over. If he goes and checks on the kid . . . "I'm gonna go see if he's okay."

Dammit. I mutter curses as Two-Bit gets up and walks to Soda's and the kid's room. I hear Two-Bit pounding on the door, yelling to get in. Then, I hear the creak of the door opening, and suddenly, Two-Bit's quiet. The low murmur of voices could be heard before the door's closed again.

When Two-Bit walks back in, I instantly take a look at him. I grimace. Two-Bit's face is serious, which is already pretty scary. His gray eyes are hard and when they glance at me, they become even harder. Fuck.

"What the hell, Steve?" he asks me, shoving me in the shoulder harshly. "Darry and Soda'll beat the tar outta you. I outta do it myself, man. I don't know what you said or did to him, but he's taken it real bad. Say you're sorry to him before I kick your ass." He holds up his fist at me and I glare at him, but I get up and walk to Soda's and Ponyboy's room anyway.

"Kid, let me in," I say tiredly, knocking on the door. It doesn't budge in the slightest bit. I sigh and try to take a more polite approach. "Ponyboy, please let me in." After a minute, the door opens.

When I walk in, I immediately see tissues littered on the floor. He took it that bad? Then, I see Pony, curled on the bed, sniffling. He looks up at me with these sad, tear-filled eyes and I instantly think he really did take it that bad. My heart clenches at the sight of him.

"What do you want?" he asks rudely, sniffling again.

I wince and look down at the floor. I can't stand to see him so sad. "I didn't mean it, kid. You should know that."

"Shut up, Steve," he says so rancorously (who said I didn't know fancy words?) that I look up at him with wide eyes. He glares at me with those pretty greens. They're so cold now that it shocks me. "Stop lyin' to me. I know that's what you really think. That's what I think too," he whispers the last sentence so softly that I could barely hear it, but I hear it anyway.

"I don't hate you," I say bluntly. He looks at me with surprised eyes before they turn hard again. "And don't think about yourself that way. You deserve more respect than that, you dig?"

"Then why do you treat me so bad?" he snaps angrily, tears streaming down his face. I only blink, stunned by his tone. "Why do you always glare at me? Why do you tell me things like I'm worthless? You hate me, I know you do, so stop lyin' to me!" He yells, putting his face in his hands and sobbing loudly.

I hear quick footsteps down the hall and I know that's Two-Bit, probably wanting to see what the hell I'm doing now. He's probably wondering if he should call Darry and Soda. But he's not going to step into the room. I know Two-Bit, and I know he's going to wait outside until someone reaches their breaking point. That's his cue to burst in.

I sigh, feeling like shit for the millionth time. What was wrong with me? Could I only hurt people close to me? I walk over to Ponyboy, remove his hands from his face, and tilt his head up so he can properly look at me. "Listen to me," I say sternly, "get it out of your head that I hate you. I can never hate you, kid."

I take my hands away from his face and sit down right next to him. He's quiet for a few seconds before he asks, "Then why do you act like you hate me?"

This was it. I have to tell him my true feelings or he'll never believe me. I take a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

"This is gonna be real shockin' to you, kid, but I act like I hate you because – because I-I . . . I like you." He looks at me with confusion, so I add, "I like you. A lot. Like the way I used to like Evie." Well, I never liked Evie that way, actually. That was one of the tactics I used so no one would think I'm a faggot. I have a rep, what can I say?

He's quiet again. Real quiet. He stays like that for a few minutes, so I stand up and make my way towards the door. I should've known he wouldn't have taken it good. I never should've told him. Now I'll never be able to show my face around here ever again.

"Wait!" he shouts so suddenly that I stop immediately. I turn around to look at him, and he has these wide and desperate eyes. "S-Stay. I just have to think this over, okay?"

So I wait. I don't know why I chose to, maybe I really am stupid, but I do. I stand there in silence for a few more minutes, just watching the kid contemplate. I don't know what he's thinking. I'm not sure if I want to find out.

"Okay," he says. He looks up at me with those pretty green eyes that I've always loved, and now they're back to their normal and gorgeous selves. I sadly realize that I'll always love those eyes, even if the kid hates me. "I-I'll give you a try."

I almost miss his words. Did he just say . . . ? "W-What?" I ask, stuttering in my confusion. I was absolutely sure that he'd hate me!

"You heard me, Steve," he says timidly, looking down in (probably) embarrassment. The way he's acting suddenly reminds me of when he was a shy little six-year-old, meeting me for the first time.

Like an idiot, I stand there. Just stand there, gaping at the now blushing Ponyboy. Then I realize I better do something, or he'll take it back. I jump on him and he gives out a small yelp, but I still plant a giant kiss on his forehead in my excitement.

"You won't regret this, Ponyboy," I say, having an actual happy smile on my face for once. I was so radiant that even if a Soc came up to me right now and started beating me, I'd be grinning like a fool the whole time.

Ponyboy smiles sweetly – I think it's one of the only sincere smiles he's given me – and gives me a cute peck on the cheek. "I know I won't," he says, and he's silent for a few seconds before he adds, "Nightly Double, Friday, 7:00?"

I grin again. If he makes me this elated already, then I'll never be sad. "Sure. I'll pick you up." A sudden thought then wipes the smile clean off my face. "But what about the others? Won't they think it's real weird that we're gonna go to the movies together?"

He frowns. "You're right . . . When Soda gets back, ask him if he wants to go to the movies. He'll probably ask me, and I'll say yes."

The kid's smart, what can I say? "Alright," I say, slightly disappointed at the fact that we won't be alone. I get off him and he gets up with me. Then, I hear footsteps down the hall again. Two-Bit. I curse under my breath. How the hell did I forget he was here?

We both look at each other worriedly. Almost at lightning speed, Ponyboy went to sit on the bed and I stood close by the door. Perfect timing. Two-Bit kicks open the door and barges in, as if expecting some kind of disaster. I roll my eyes at him.

He looks at the kid and me, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You guys alright?"

"Yeah, Two-Bit. Don't get your panties in a bunch." I hope Two-Bit doesn't have that radar that Soda and Darry have whenever something happens to Ponyboy . . . I wonder if they both feel a disturbance . . . Damn, they better not have or I'll be a dead man walking.

Two-Bit grins and hits me in the ribs affectionately. "C'mon, you no good hoods, let's go watch Mickey." He then skips out the door excitedly, probably racing to get back to the television.

I roll my eyes again and so does Ponyboy. Before we exit the room, I give him a light kiss on the forehead. "I can't wait for our date," I whisper lowly to him, just in case Two-Bit's in hearing distance.

Gorgeous green eyes look up at me kindly, his long and dark lashes fluttering. His full lips that I desperately want to kiss over and over tug up in a delicate smile. I'm momentarily lost, just staring into those deep pools of green. Lordy, Ponyboy Curtis is a real looker.

"Neither can I," he says, giving me a chaste, but loving, kiss on the lips.

I follow him out the door, like a dumbass.

But I suppose I'm not a complete dumbass; I mean, look at my taste in lovers.

Currently, in Darry's truck . . .

"Hey, Darry?"

"Yeah, Soda?"

"Do you get the feelin' that somethin' just happened to Ponyboy? Like, as in somethin' big that he doesn't want us to know about?"

"Yeah, how'd you know?"

"I felt it too."

". . . Five bucks says I'm gonna have to punch Steve when I get home."

"You're on."

Oh, they had no idea.