Chapter Thirty-One: Epilogue

Winter arrived unusually early and harshly to the Southwest that year with a blizzard in early November. There was one morning when the road was slick with black ice and practically the entire town shut down, but it was a fleeting event and before long the snow melted and things were back to normal. The weather stayed cold, though.

Two-Bit's breath was visible, because it was cold and also because he was smoking. He ground his cigarette underfoot.

"You okay?" Ponyboy asked, blowing cigarette rings. "Even I don't smoke that much. What's up?"

"Nothing," Two-Bit muttered.

"Cause Soda smokes when he's bothered."

Two-Bit's humorous mood had been black for entirely too long, but he couldn't shake it. There had been a time when he could cope by making jokes. Those days were gone. "One, I know damn well that Soda smokes when he's bothered. Two, I ain't your damn brother, thank god."

He caught a glimpse of Ponyboy's hurt and bewildered face, and felt sorry for snapping. But he didn't apologize, at least not aloud.

Not much had happened in the past couple of weeks. He had finished all of the books and had been teaching himself a few new spells. Slowly but surely, he was recovering.

"Where's Carmen been these days?"

"She moved away," Two-Bit lied shortly, already lighting another cigarette.

"So you guys are over," Ponyboy said before taking another drag.

Two-Bit grunted noncommittally.

"It's okay. Girls come and go. Soda got over Sandy."

"Quit comparing me with your damn brother," Two-Bit growled.

"Sorry. I just thought…"

Shut up, Two-Bit felt like telling him. You don't know the half of it, so shut up.

"She must've been real special," Ponyboy said. "For you to be with her that long."

Two-Bit's head whipped around and he opened his mouth to snap…but then closed it. The kid had a point.

He said instead, "I'm going to Buck's. See you later, Ponykid."

"Okay. See you later," Ponyboy said even as Two-Bit turned and began walking rapidly away.

He had thought a lot about everything that had happened. He wasn't sure if he would ever fully recover from it—but he was moving on. Slowly, but steadily, he was moving on.

Not a day went by that he didn't think about Carmen. So profound her effect had been on his life, he couldn't ever forget her. Not that he wanted to. He had loved her. He still did.

He tossed his cigarette into the street. The wizard shoved his hands deep into his pockets and walked home, deep in thought and memory.

The End.

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Took long enough, don'tcha think? Finally, it's over!