Disclaimer: I do not own The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, or "You're Lost Little Girl" by The Doors.
A/N: As usual, this story is set in the same universe as my others. It is a sequel to Like Causes Without Rebels and Edges in Between. If you haven't read those, you probably won't know who a couple of these characters are.
Saturday, July 3rd, 1971
I think that you know what to do
Big eyes. That was what people saw when they looked at Josie. Not her pretty blonde hair, her smooth skin, or her beautiful smile. They saw her big eyes. Blue, clear, honest. She had always been a terrible liar because of those eyes, and, ever since she was a kid, one look into them could tell anyone how she was feeling.
But now they were different. Her eyes would always be blue, but they weren't so clear or honest anymore. No one could tell what she was feeling when they looked into her eyes, and she had become one hell of a liar what seemed to be overnight. Blue, clear, and honest had become blue, dazed, and insincere. She didn't even have the pretty blonde hair, smooth skin, or beautiful smile to make up for it.
She was a mess, and a part of Lucy Jane truly hated her for it.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at her dozing sister, she thought things through. She had the speech prepared, she had the money in her purse, all she needed was the right answer. One big, fat yes and she could very possibly live the rest of her life … happily. Or at least safe. And with her sister alive and well and clean.
Angry tears pricked at her eyes, and she stood and walked to the window. Okay, so maybe she needed more than the right answer. A new - or perhaps old and inconspicuous - car would come in handy, some clean clothes, and a weapon. She felt sick at the thought, but it was what it was, and what it was, was dangerous.
She turned, walked over to Josie, and sat on the bed next to her. "How are you feeling?"
"Awful. Luce, please, I just need something -"
"Lucy, c'mon. Just this once, okay? And then, after today, we'll be -"
Josie's voice turned into a whine. "Luce Jane, why're you doin' this to me? Please, Luce, please help me out. Just this once." She reached out for Lucy Jane's hand, squeezing tight. "I just need something to get me through the day."
Lucy Jane stood. She just didn't get it. Josie needed something to get her through the day … Josie wasn't the one leaving the safety of the hotel room, Josie wasn't the one heading into perilous territory, Josie wasn't the one who couldn't stop shaking out of sheer fear.
No, Josie shook for whole other reasons that Lucy Jane couldn't stand.
"I'm not getting you anything, Josie."
Josie's eyes turned mean, something Lucy Jane had never thought possible until this last year. "Bitch!" she spat. "You can't stop me, you know? I can get what ever I want, when ever I want it, and you know it."
"Don't threaten me."
"Not a threat, little sis. I'm not scared of him, you know, I -"
"Well, you should be!" She glared at Josie. "You should be damn near terrified of him, and you know it." She paused, continuing in a softer voice. "You saw what he did to Ruth."
"He wont do that to me; he loves me."
Lucy Jane's heart ached for her sister. "He doesn't love you."
"Yes he does!"
"If he loves you so much why're you black and blue, huh? Why do you have three broken fingers? Why do I have bruises on my wrists?"
Josie's big eyes filled with tears. "Please, Lucy. I won't go to him, I swear. You just gotta give me something. Anything, Luce. Please."
Still shaking, Luce Jane stared down at Josie. She wanted to - oh how she wanted to just give in and let Josie shoot up, snort something, smoke a little weed - but she couldn't. Not just because she was trying to help, but there were literally no drugs left in the apartment. If she wasn't as strong as she was, she would use the money in her purse and get Josie something - just something to take the edge off.
But she wouldn't do that this time. This time things had gone too far and they needed out. She had spent almost a year trying to find a way to get Josie out of this mess, and now, after this last week, she didn't have the forgiving nature she'd had previously. Josie had used up her stash, and Lucy Jane wouldn't let her talk her into anything, no matter how hard she tried.
And, anyway, she knew that Josie wanted out of this just as much. Maybe not right then, not when the cramps were setting in and she just needed something, but later. Later she would remember their plan, know it was the right thing to do, be glad Lucy Jane had stopped giving into her.
She took a step back. "I'm sorry, Josie. I can't."
Josie's whole body twisted into the sagging mattress as she began to scream. "Lucy Jane, you fucking whore! Just give me something, please. Stop being such a little bitch, and help me. I need you to help me."
"Shit." Lucy Jane couldn't stand it. She turned away from her sister, subtly unplugged the phone from the wall, and grabbed her keys. She didn't say anything to Josie as she left - not that Josie would have heard her over her own screams - she just grabbed her bag and left, locking the door securely behind her.
She stopped at the front office, ignoring the way the pervert behind the counter eyed her breasts as she slipped him a twenty not to let anyone but her upstairs. He promised, but she wasn't sure how much she believed him.
She couldn't stick around and make sure, though. She had been planning this for the last week, and she wasn't going to let anything get in the way. Not her sister's begging, not some creepy hotel manager, and definitely not the chance of being recognised in the blue car she'd hidden away a few days ago.
First stop, the car for sale at the diner down the street.
Curly sighed, stretched, and grinned in a gorgeous-broad-just-got-me-off kind of way. Glancing down, he reached out a hand and buried it in Maria Phillips' hair as she made her way to his eye level. And she was gorgeous. Gorgeous and smart and too fucking good for him. Or so her brother liked to tell him.
But somehow, despite knowing that Henry joking whenever he said it, Curly believed it. Maria was too good for him. She was a nurse at the hospital, she was so fucking kind it made his heart ache, and she could have any damn guy she wanted. And she claimed to want him.
Occasionally, she even claimed to love him. That only came out every now and then, and without any real feeling to it, so he wasn't sure how much he believed it, but it sure was nice to hear it again.
"Fuck you're beautiful," he told her, pulling her close.
She smiled, kissed him quickly, then climbed off his bed. "And you are way too distracting. I should've left half an hour ago."
She laughed. "I can't."
"You could, you know? I'll just call in sick, and you can do the same. I mean, they ain't gonna want a sick person workin' on sick people, are they."
He reached out, plucking at the underwear she had just put on. "So, stay."
She paused, thinking about it and he hoped like hell she said yes. He'd had a shitty night, and the last thing he wanted was her leaving so early in the morning. He wanted her to stay. He wanted to spend the day in bed with her. He wanted to fuck her again.
He pretended wanting company had nothing to do with it.
"I really can't," she finally said. "Baby, I want to, you know I do, but I gotta go to work. I promised to work a double shift."
He dropped his hand. "Yeah, whatever."
"I'll come back tomorrow. If you want me to."
"I'll wear that dress you like."
He was sulking and he knew it. Hell, he thought he would've grown out of that shit by now, but it really had been one hell of a night that he just wanted to forget about. Yelling, screaming, punches thrown … used to be just a normal night, but he'd gotten used to things being calm and quiet lately. He hated what last night had done. He had his first black eye in over a year.
"Baby, stop feeling sorry for yourself," Maria said. "I know last night turned to shit - believe me, I do - but it ain't the end of the world."
"That's easy for you to say."
"And, if you'll remember, it's also easy for me to help you forget about it."
He smirked; she had a point there. There was this one thing she did with her tongue -
"So stop sulking, and try to relax." She leaned over him, fully dressed but giving him a decent view down her blouse. "I'll be back tonight, and if you still feel like crap, I'll do my very best to make you feel better."
He slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her on top of him. "You're a real good girlfriend, you know that?"
"I've heard it here and there."
He kissed her, long and deep and maybe a little bit desperate, until she pulled back. She gave him one last smile with those pretty lips of hers as she picked up her shoes and headed out the door. And he missed her immediately.
Climbing out of bed, he threw on some boxers and jeans, and made his way into the kitchen. George was there, can of beer already open in front of him.
"Bit early for that, ain't it?"
"Never too early. Not after a night like last night."
Curly cringed, not wanting to think about that again. "You seein' Emmy today?"
"Nah, she still won't talk to me."
"You figure out why yet?"
George gave a cynical chuckle. "Who the fuck knows, man? One minute we're happy as fuck, the next … I don't even know."
"Ain't your fault."
Except maybe it was. He didn't tell George that, but there was a chance he might have caused whatever it was that was between George and Emmy. Drunk, bitter, and dreading what he knew would happen two nights later, he might have said some shit he shouldn't have. Shit about rich girls and poor guys and relationships that just aren't meant to be.
He didn't mean to, it had just kind of spilled out of him. Because every now and then, he got like that. Memories would become far too real, and he would hurt like it had all happened just yesterday. And then, instead of being a fucking man and getting over it, he would drink and get bitter and say shit he shouldn't say. Shit he especially shouldn't say in front of Emmy. She was a good girl, a nice girl, George's girl.
Now, because of his own stupid problems, he had caused problems for George. Some best friend he fucking was. Hell, he had caused problems for the both of them; Emmy was his friend, too.
"You want me to talk to her? Maybe she'll tell me something?"
"Nah, don't worry about it. Whatever it is, she'll get over it. And if she don't, then I guess it ain't meant to be, you know?"
Curly nodded, hating himself more and more every second. He didn't know what his problem was, why he couldn't just be happy. He had a great girl, was sometimes sharing an apartment with his best friend when said best friend actually decided to come home, and had a pretty decent paying job. Life was good. But he felt like shit. Not all the time, but a lot of the time, and he hated it.
Sometimes he thought he might be jealous. Jealous of George and Emmy and everything they had that had been taken away from him. He should be over it, but it just didn't seem fair to him that they came out on top of all the shit that he'd had to go through. Hell, they hadn't even had to go through any of the shit he'd had to go through. By the time they got together, school was out, and people just didn't care how much money Emmy had or George didn't have.
Not the people who mattered, anyway. Her parents had kicked up a fuss about it for a while, but when they realised Emmy was going to stand her ground, they had accepted it. The fact that George already worked for her dad's contracting business, and was someone Mr. Banks liked, definitely helped.
And Curly hadn't had any of that. All he'd had was a brother who wanted to control his fucking life.
Heading to the fridge, he grabbed out his own can of beer. The last year had been pretty fucking good. Occasional bitter memories that led him to drinking himself into a stupor, but that was it. Now everything had changed again. Now he had messed things up for two people who actually cared about him. Now he was back to yelling and screaming and fighting.
Now Tim was out after his year-long stint in prison, and Curly's life was back to shit again.
Not for the first time, she wished she still had her Thunderbird. It held a lot of memories, that car - nights cruising the Ribbon with Emmy, all kinds of trips to the park with Harry, and cautiously driving down dirt roads she probably should have never driven down.
Now she had an old Buick. She didn't know what year it was, what exact make, or even for certain that it was a Buick. It was dull green, it was old, and she was pretty sure the cook at the diner she'd bought it from had said it was a Buick. That same guy had completely ripped her off, too. She might not know what the car was worth, but she knew it was a piece of crap and definitely not worth what she paid.
It even drove like crap. Again, she thought of the car hidden at the lake - that had driven like a dream.
Cringing at the grinding noise as she tried to shove it into second, she slowed down and pulled up outside the apartment block. It was still early - possibly too early for some - but that was a good thing. No one she knew would be up and about at this time of day, and it was the perfect time to get the information she needed.
Keys in hand, she adjusted her sunglasses, and checked the rear-view mirror. No one was following her. So far. She huffed out a breath as she climbed out of the car, really wishing she was exaggerating the shit she was in. Being followed a little after 8am just sounded crazy, but so did everything else in her life lately.
The summer day was already hot as she made her way toward the door, and she hoped like hell it let up soon. She didn't know how much sitting around, waiting, and begging she would have to do, and the last thing she wanted was to do it in the heat they'd had the last few days.
But she would. She had to. Her life might very well literally depend on it.
The guy she bought the car from might have ripped her off, but at least he was nice about it. Even offered her a cup of freshly brewed coffee that she really wished she'd had the time for. Instead, she had asked to see his phonebook and borrow a pen. There were too many Banks' in the phonebook, but she knew how to find the right Mr and Mrs, and through them, their daughter.
Up three flights of stairs, and she was outside 15A. And feeling a little sick, without even knowing why. Emmy was her best friend … at least, she had been. After not hearing from Lucy Jane for nearly a year, that might have changed. The fact that Lucy Jane wouldn't be willing to give any explanation as to why she hadn't kept in contact wouldn't help matters, but it was for Emmy's own good.
Summoning up all the courage she had, she knocked. The door opened after only a few seconds, and Emmy's excited face fell at the sight of her. Lucy Jane couldn't help it; it hurt a little.
"I thought … sorry. I guess I thought you might be someone else."
"Oh. Uh, sorry."
Emmy frowned for a long moment, before finally asking, "What are you doing here?"
And this was where she cemented her role as worst best friend ever. "I kind of need your help."
"Oh." Emmy looked hurt, and Lucy Jane hated herself for it. "You came here for help? Not to see me, or catch up, or apologise for not calling or writing or visiting in forever?"
"Yeah, you sure sound it, too. Look, Lucy Jane, this really isn't a good time, okay? I've got enough problems going on without whatever it is you need help with."
She began to shut the door, and Lucy Jane's heart thudded. "Wait! Please."
It was a really long moment before Emmy opened the door again. Lucy Jane sighed in relief. There was no one else she could go to right now, and as much as she truly hated using Emmy, she had to. She was the only person who could help her. Hell, Lucy Jane wasn't even sure Emmy would be able to help, but she was the only hope she had.
"I am sorry. Really. I know I became a terrible friend when I stopped calling and writing, but I …"
She couldn't explain, that's what. "There was just some stuff going on …" she tried, lamely.
"Everyone has stuff going on, Luce. I had all that stuff going on with Simon and George, and I still managed to keep in contact."
"But you just … after a year away, when I expected you to come home for the summer … disappeared."
"I asked your parents," Emmy continued, "but they wouldn't tell me anything. Just not to worry, and that you were safe."
"Emmy, I am sorry, I swear. But I - I can't tell you what's been going on, I just can't."
"But you still expect my help."
"It's not much," Lucy Jane insisted. "Just an address."
Emmy gave her a look, as though she already knew whose address she was about to ask for. She didn't. She had no idea.
She wiped her hands on her shorts. "Tim Shepard's. I need Tim Shepard's address."
Impossible? Yes, but it's true.
A/N: Thanks for reading, and, as usual, thanks to Sam.