Title: Runaway

Author: Blau Rhapsody (duh)

Dedication: Ne, Chip-ani! ♥♥♥

Summary: A/U. What if when Mr and Mrs Curtis died, Pony wasn't able to handle the pain, and ran away? What if,three years later, he comes back to Tulsa?

Notes: Unbeta-ed.

---

Three years ago - Curtis Residence

Fourteen-year-old Darry Curtis sighed, rubbing his forehead tiredly. He sat in the kitchen chair, a glass of chocolate milk in front of him. He had yet to touch it. An eleven-year-old Sodapop Curtis, sat across from him, swinging his short legs half-heartedly. Not because he had pent-up energy, but because he needed to do something relatively normal.

Because nothing would ever be normal again.

"Someone's going to have to tell Pony," Soda said softly, his hands wrapped around his own cup of chocolate milk. Darry sighed again, never ceasing to rub his forehead.

"I know. Listen, we'll tell him when he gets home from school, alright?" Darry said softly, resisting the urge to sigh again. Soda nodded, looking down at his milk. Silence fell over the kitchen like a blanket of snow.

Wasn't it odd, Darry mused, that one day he was an average fourteen-year-old, a little luckier than most, but nevertheless a normal teenager, and then the next day feel like he was thirty. Everything he was used to, suddenly gone, torn away from him. When the day before he only had to worry about getting his homework in, he now had to worry about what to do with his two kid brothers. Had to worry about the future, which was so uncertain right now he felt like curling up in his bed and crying.

He couldn't, of course. Ponyboy was due home any second now, and besides, Darry had to remain strong from his brothers.

The sound of the door opening startled Darry out of his thoughts, and he let his hand drop onto the table and looked at Soda, who was looking at him with wide-eyes.

Sodapop had been handling the whole situation relatively well. He hadn't gone into a fit of rage and destroyed half the house. He hadn't yelled or screamed or done anything dramatic. He had just looked at Darry with wide eyes when he told him, and then put his face in his hands and sobbed.

But Ponyboy…The poor kid was only eight, and still depended on his mother, just like any other eight-year-old.

"Darry? Soda? What's going on?" Pony asked in his soft voice. Soda looked up, and the sound of the chair scraping back and Soda was hugging his younger brother, sobbing. Ponyboy looked a little startled, his grey-green eyes silently asking Darry what was going on.

"They're gone, Ponyboy. They're gone…" Soda cried out, and Pony's brow wrinkled in confusion.

"Gone?" he echoed, "Whose gone?"

"Mom and Dad, Pony. That's who," Darry said from his chair. Ponyboy smiled, relief evident in his face.

"Oh. Where'd they go? The store? Is it their anniversary?" the eight-year-old asked, pronouncing anniversary "ann-a-vor-sorry."

Darry felt tears prick up in his eyes. The tears he had been unable to shed when he had found out, finally coming, and because his brother had pronounced 'anniversary' in such an innocent way.

"No, they're gone…They're dead, Pony, they're dead," Darry said softly, a tear rolling down his cheek, followed by another, and another, until a river of tears fell, and Darry was unable to stop it. Pony's eyes widened, the relief disappearing from his face, and he pushed away from Soda.

"No…you're lying. They've gone to the store, I know they did!" Pony exclaimed, backing away from his brothers.

"No, kid, they're dead," Soda said, tears still falling. Ponyboy shook his head.

"Stop it!" Pony yelled. "Stop teasing me! I'm going to tell Mom and Dad!"

Darry got up from his chair then, walking over to the redheaded boy. Ponyboy trembled, before spinning around and running out the door. Darry sighed again, and Soda walked over to him, reaching up and clinging to the black shirt Darry was wearing.

"He'll come back, Darry. Just…give him some time, okay?" Soda asked, blinking up at his brother through his hay-coloured bangs. Darry nodded, wrapping an arm around Soda's shoulder.

Ponyboy never returned.