Wow, the last chapter and in Darry's p.o.v.. Before I begin I'd like to thank all the peeps who reviewed, and a special thanks to those who followed me through the original one-shot. You know who you are—I'd list your names but carpal tunnel is a pain. Either way, your time taken out of your days to tell me what you think(and keeping me from thinking I'm talking to myself here) is very much appreciated. I've never been a fan of my own writing so without you peeps who knows what might have happened.

Disclaimer: You know the drill, I do not own any of the characters from the outsiders.

Chapter Three: Never Again

Darry's P.O.V.

It had been raining non-stop, which as you could imagine, was not good for roofing business. We were being pressured to finish this job a.s.a.p. so when the rain lightened up to a drizzle I was there climbing up the ladder with two bundles of roofing. I set them down when I got up to the top jumping when one of the bundles nearly fell off the two story house. I pushed it back up doing my best not to wobble the ladder as much as possible.

"Come on, haul ass boys. The rain's gonna pick up again." The boss' voice echoed up to the roof without an amplifier and I set my jaw already feeling my muscles ache from strain.

Crawling on my knees I pushed one of the bundles along to the place I'd be working today.

"Ay Curtis!" I heard one of my co-workers yell. "You on the roof?" I leaned up to glance down at him and gave a wave of my hands.

"Yeah, whatever it is, can it wait?" I shouted back figuring it was just one of my brothers, okay, it was just Ponyboy trying to get a ride home because of the rain.

"It is gonna have to!" He replied blatantly ending our conversation.

I forced myself not to sigh and got to work.

By the time I was done I had nearly slipped off the roof twice and was soaking wet—quite frankly, irritated. I always figured once Pony was done with school I'd somehow work my way through college too. Part of me knew that was a stupid dream—the kind I usually admonish Ponyboy for but I couldn't stand doing this the rest of my life.

Sodapop used to kid that once Ponyboy became a doctor or something we would move into his house and leech off him for awhile. I don't know how, but both he and I would get better jobs when we aren't in such a strap for money one day.

Hopping in the car I stopped when one of my co-workers was yelling out my last name.

"Yeah," I asked after rolling down the window.

"One of your brothers called….uh…" He paused looking dazed for a second as he tried to recall what was said.

"Listen, I'm on my way home now so I'll take care of it." I said in a firm voice wanting nothing more than to leave.

"Yeah, whatever, said it was an emergency. The one with the strange name, call the DX station. Bout an hour ago."

I froze and blinked twice. Soda, emergency? I clenched my teeth down and started the drive over.

I never figured neither Steve or Soda wouldn't be there. The station was empty except for Sodapop's boss which wasn't any more helpful than my co-worker had been.

"They left awhile ago, in a rush." He continued to mutter about money grubbing kids while walking off.

I wasn't exactly about to press him, even though I was double his size, Soda needed this job. Why he would leave was beyond me.

I drove home racing a few yellow lights. I didn't know what to expect. Sodapop could use his head and he wasn't in a drag race or anything. We'd both gotten a lot closer since Pony had been gone.

When I'd arrived home the house was quiet. It wasn't time for Sodapop to get home yet but there was always people from the gang there. I inhaled standing straight up preparing myself to take anything that was coming at me. I had to stay strong for my brothers.

When I opened the door only Steve was sitting on the couch. I didn't even think he heard me come in.

"Where is Soda?" I caught his attention when I smacked my hand down on the table like I would to awaken Two-Bit from a drunken daze.

Steve glanced up at me and I met his eyes. I couldn't place anything, not even recognition. He took in a breath and shifted like he was trying to find words. I felt myself stiffen. I didn't know what my brothers got themselves into but I didn't really care as long as they were all right. Steve was erking me, and though I probably worry to much, he was acting like he knew Sodapop was going to get shipped off to a boys' home.

"Steve," I said his name in a commanding tone. My voice always came out with much less emotion than I actually felt.

He looked up at me for a moment but refused to meet my eyes(then again I didn't blame him). He wordlessly pointed to Pony and Soda's bedroom still hesitating on what to say. Brow furrowed, I headed off to find the door locked.

"Sodapop." I said while cracking my fist on the door and never letting go of the knob.

"Sodapop open the door." I said my voice growing lower. I couldn't hear much more than shifting and an occasional whimper. It didn't fit happy-go-lucky grinning Soda.

I didn't want to end up pleading but he wouldn't open the door. I don't even think he moved to acknowledge I was at the door. Possible problems were spinning through my head which left me worried enough. It could be Sandy but from what I thought he was getting over her. I felt my chest tighten and my fists clench. It could be something that would get him or Pony shipped off to a boys' home—I sucked in a deep breath correcting my composure using all my self control.

I knew I had a set of keys around here somewhere, I still had them for when Ponyboy was so little he used to lock himself in. Speaking of Ponyboy, I made a mental note to figure out where he was once this was over. I turned to Steve who had stood up and was busying himself by digging through the icebox for a beer.

"You mind tellin' me what the hell is goin' on?" I asked in a hiss. I was tired of getting the run around. I can't help the issue if I don't know what the issue is.

Steve gave up after awhile figuring Two-Bit must have beat him to them and turned leaning against the counter. He meet my eyes and sucked in a breath before talking.

"Don't kill the messenger." His voice was hovering between soft and straightforward.

I nodded willing him to get on with it, already getting a sick feeling accompanied by a headache.

Steve sucked in a breath and faltered leaning against the counter. "We called you earlier—there was an accident…"

All the different types of accidents that could have happened ran through my mind but I stopped them short. If Steve didn't speed this up I was going to kill the messenger. Anger and worry went side by side, anyone who knew me could tell you that.

"Are the boy's okay?" I said to fill the moment of silence which was becoming palpable.

He shook his head shifting uncomfortably. I walked behind the table clenching the chair mentally preparing myself for whatever he said.

"Two-Bit and Ponyboy were in a car accident." He stared at me blankly choosing his words carefully.

Stand up straight, I told myself, Control yourself and keep your head.

"Two-Bit walked away from it but Ponyboy—" He paused and I blankly stared ahead.

Stand up straight

Control yourself

Keep your head.

Stand up straight

Control yourself

Keep your head.

"Ponyboy died Darry. He isn't comin' back."

In the background I barely heard the door open and a red eyed Soda shuffle out.

I barely even realized I had sat down, I felt like I would fall down. Steve wasn't right. Ponyboy can't be dead. It isn't possible. I closed my eyes for a second and Steve knew better than to touch me.

Stand up straight

Control yourself

Keep your head.

I chanted to myself. I tried to think it out but something didn't click right with this situation, it seemed unreal like one of Ponyboy's fantasies. He couldn't be dead. Maybe having trouble with a social worker but not dead. Maybe I heard Steve wrong. Maybe I was panicking too much. Or was I panicking? I wasn't even moving.

"Where is he?" I finally asked my voice almost breathless.

Ponyboy was too young to die—he was only fifteen. Ponyboy couldn't be dead. I'd protect him against everything.

"His body is at the hospital Darry, they did all they could." I hardly heard him.

A voice in the back of my head was yelling at me—the part of me that knew when Steve started talking. The part of me that acknowledges the truth unconditionally. I didn't want to listen this time though. I didn't want to know Ponyboy was dead. I don't think I could take it. I knew I couldn't take it. My hand started trembling and I drew it into my lap as the truth sank in. I didn't need to say anything.

Death had taken away almost everyone I cared about. My parents, most of my friends, and now my brother? Death had taken my chance of a life away from me but I was fine with that. As long as I got the chance to watch over my brothers.

My brother.

Ponyboy…everything felt numb—Like it did at my parents funeral. I knew crying never did anything and I controlled myself most of the time. But why did another one of us have to die? Weren't Johnny and Dally enough? Why the hell couldn't I have protected him from this? Stopped this before it happened? I would just as well curse the day I didn't!

I dropped my head down to the table for the first time feeling the tears that were freely running down my face. I wasn't aware of the time that had passed since Steve told me. Sodapop came over dropping down his knees he wrapped his arms around my waist. I rested a hand on his shoulder and eyed him. He was all I had left. Dear God. Ponyboy. Ponyboy was dead! Ponyboy was dead… I took a shaky breath and turned to Sodapop. He was all I had left. All fate left behind. Just him and the gang. I made a strange sound, the mix between a sob and an intake of breath. I knew I was crying, but I knew it would be a joke if I tried to stop myself. I failed—I failed Ponyboy and Sodapop. I failed my dad who always told me to watch over them. I failed myself and I could never redeem that fact. Ponyboy was dead. I let out a deep breath and wrapped my arms around Soda but not for a reassuring hug really. I needed to touch him, to make sure he was still alive and breathing. To protect him before death took his life too.

"He's gone Darry," I finally heard my brother who had been talking for a few minutes. "I didn't even make it there on time. He isn't coming back Darry." His voice was broken.

I rubbed his back attempting to adjust to the awkward position and closed my own eyes.

"Whata we gonna do Darry? Whata we do now that Pony is gone?" He was shaking uncontrollably and I tighten my grip just daring the world to try to take him from me.

I knew that I had to stay strong for Soda, but I wasn't sure how I could manage. We'd get through this together, I told myself.

"We live on." I told him in the best soothing voice I could muster up. "Ponyboy wouldn't want us to give up."

The words didn't even sound convincing to me. The fact is Pony wouldn't want to be dead. It's just something I always used to say when the subject of my parents were brought up.

Soda started to mummer again but his words didn't make sense—that was good because I couldn't have put them together anyway. I was dazing—like Pony always used to. I took in a deep breath wincing like it hurt. I used to yell at him when he dazed like that, or when he asked stupid questions, or when he came home with a fuckin' 88 instead of an A. I yelled at him to much, even Sodapop thought so and regret was pouring into me.

Up until the murder runaway incident he was certain I hated him. I knew lost control sometimes but I only wanted the best for him. For him to have what I never had. Now he will never have that. He won't have to worry about me yelling at him anymore either- ever. He'll never again have worry about dazing or coming home with grades….

He'll never again get to compete in track or bury his nose in a book. He'll never again be smoking out on the porch watching the sunset or walking home from the Nightly Double.

The pain my chest grew tighter, and worse and I leaned down to bury my face in Soda's hair.

He'll never again have to think about the future for he'll never again get to have a future.

I could have done something….

I should have done something…

I didn't know what else there was I could do…

0-0-0

The next few days went by in a daze. Even for me. I couldn't help but wonder if this is what Ponyboy felt like, growing up so fast--running at twice the speed of life. I went down and filled out countless paperwork and talked to some people about making funeral arrangements. We didn't have much money to spend but I'd find a way to take care of it—I still had to for Soda. He wasn't fairing well. When I thought I had it bad in sleepless nights wondering what the hell I did wrong and why it was Ponyboy I could hear him crying himself to sleep. I suggested he move out of their old room, and into mine until things got better. I don't think he could stand rolling over at night to swing his arm over Pony and find an empty bed.

We got condolences from almost everybody—people I didn't even know. What was left of the gang was there for us though. Steve did his best for Soda. And Two-Bit… Two-Bit talked to me that night at the hospital. He handed me a blade and said I could kill him if I wanted to, it was his fault anyway. I just dropped the blade and yelled at him while getting a sick feeling in my stomach. I think Two-Bit knew I wouldn't go through with it either, he was guiltier than the rest of us.

It didn't matter though. Nothing would bring Pony back.

Five days after the accident I woke up from a light doze and wondered out to the back steps. The sun was rising. I hardly found any interest in them but Ponyboy had. But then he was always different than the rest of us. I wouldn't call it innocent but something else. Something…

I vaguely sulked on the subject of how I hardly knew him. I knew him but I never did like Sodapop did. I never will be able to either.

I heard the door open and my only brother pause by the entrance.

"Staring off at the sky?" He asked. His voice was shallow, but he didn't sound on the verge of tears.

I forced self control into myself. I couldn't drag Soda's mood down with me.

"Yeah, just wanted to see what he thought was so interesting."

"Good luck," Soda replied settling down next to me. "I never could."

A strange silence came down upon us—not bad but just unusual. I could picture Ponyboy sitting out next to us but it was false hope. He wasn't here, he wasn't coming back. I set down my jaw wondering about the sunrise. About Pony's last thoughts or where he went. I wondered that about my parents. I guess they'd be together wherever they are, and Soda and I would join them someday.

I don't know why I couldn't cry anymore while I watched the sunrise. Suddenly all the sadness just drained from me leaving me empty. I couldn't cry forever, I knew. And part of me knew Ponyboy wouldn't want me to cry. A calm acceptance came with all things I guess.

"I'll miss him." Soda said reaching out to drop a hand on my shoulder.

I agreed.

Never again would he be alive to see this world, but maybe one day we'd see him again.

Until then…

0-0-0-0-0-0—0-0—0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Didn't think I'd update? Well I was beginning to worry I wouldn't get the chance either. Especially since I was called into work tomorrow, so I stayed up typing this. I wish it came out better, but of everyone in the gang Darry is the one I connect to least—I understand him but just yeah. It probably showed. That and the grammar, I only got a chance to skim.

Thanks a lot readers. Reviewers. Random cookie emailers.