NOTE: I do not own The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton does.

"I did do my homework!" exclaimed Ponyboy.

"Well you didn't do to well on it did you now?" roared back his older brother, Darry.

Darry was right. Pony had gotten a D on that assignment. Pony hated it when Darry was right.

"Why are you always picking on me?" said Pony, trying to change the subject. "You never chew out Soda for anything!"

"That's because Soda uses his head!" yelled Darry.

"I'm so tired of you!"

"Well if you don't care, then maybe I shouldn't! Maybe I should just let you wind up in a boy's home!"

"Well at least then I could do what I wanted to do!"

"I'm worried about you; you could at least listen!"

"I'm over listening," Pony retorted, heading for the door.

"I'm not done yet!" ranted Darry, grabbing Pony by the back of his shirt and pulling Pony to face him.

"Well I am!" Pony yelled, turning away.

Darry slapped him. "LISTEN TO ME!"

Pony's eyes filled with tears. "You just h-hit me."

"I'm sorry," Darry said exhaustedly, crumbling on the ground. "I'm just so stressed out and… I didn't mean it Pony."

"I h-hate you," Pony hissed.

Then he wished he hadn't said anything. The pain on Darry's face was more than he could handle. But he wasn't sorry – he wasn't!

"Get out," Darry shouted. "GET OUT!"

Pony turned and bolted out the door.


Pony wandered aimlessly around until he finally decided to stop at the gas station to see Soda and Steve. He didn't like Steve much, but felt the need to see Soda.

He and Darry had broken the promise to Soda again, and Pony felt ashamed. He knew it hurt Soda every time he and Darry fought, but he needed to be understood, and only Soda could do that.

He finally reached the gas station, where Soda was sitting against a car while Steve was doing all the work.

"Soda," he called.

Sodapop looked up and smiled. "Pony."

But then he read the look in his brother's eyes and his smile fell. "You've been fighting with Darry again, haven't you?"

Pony nodded sadly, "I'm sorry Soda."

Soda sighed, wiping tears from his eyes. Then he noticed a large red mark on Pony's face.

"Did he hit you?"

Pony nodded quietly, tears stinging his eyes.

Soda, understanding, reached out and hugged him.

"Darry loves you Pony," he whispered, rocking his baby brother, "he loves you more than you'll ever know."


Ponyboy stayed with Steve and Soda until it was dark. Soda decided to head home.

"I'll come home with Steve later, ok Soda? I don't think I'm ready to face Darry yet."

"Yeah ok honey," Soda said, hugging Pony.

An hour later, Steve looked over at Pony. "You want to head back now then?"

Pony nodded, and they started back. About two blocks away from the gas station, Pony was kicked in the legs.

"Wha – Steve?"

Steve didn't answer, but slugged him in the face.

"Steve, what are you doing?"

Steve grunted. "You know how long I've been wanting to do this, Pony? I hate you. I've hated you all along. You always get in the way between me and Soda. You're always such a third wheel." He roughly slapped Pony across the face.

Pony was stunned. He'd never really liked Steve, but he thought that Steve had accepted him. He was Soda's brother!

Pony opened his mouth to yell for help. Steve caught this.

"No, I'm not going to let you get away with that trick," he muttered, pulling out a dirty handkerchief and stuffing it roughly into Pony's mouth. Then, he pulled Pony to the ground and sat on him, punching him as hard as he could on his face.

Pony felt his eyes fill with tears and trickle down his face, all while trying to convince himself that this wasn't Steve. This couldn't be Steve. Steve would never do this to him.

Then Ponyboy felt himself stiffen as Steve pulled out his switchblade. Drawing it along Pony's skin, Pony felt his hairs rise. Steve placed the switchblade carefully on one of Ponyboy's cheeks, and then, with agonizing slowness, he cut a deep, painful cut. Blood came spurting out and Pony felt sick.

Steve ripped Pony's shirt with his switchblade and started cutting into Pony's sides, and then down at his thighs, the younger boy's screams muffled by the handkerchief. Blood poured everywhere and Pony felt himself gag.

Pony managed to spit out the handkerchief for a second. "Please stop," he whispered in a pained voice.

Steve smiled. "Stop? Pony, I'm just getting started."

The handkerchief was stuffed back in, and Pony fell into an endless nightmare. He was kicked, slashed, stabbed, punched. And the worst fact was that this was Steve. Steve Randle. His brother's best friend. How could he do this?

His last thought before he passed out was, I'm sorry Darry. I should have listened. I love you.