Ok everyone! It has been such a long time since I posted…but this is the last chapter! I agree it has gone on a little too long and this seemed like a good finale. It's wrapped up, but not too nicely, just in case I ever want to do a sequel! ;)

Please leave feedback, I love it. There are SO many people to thank for reviews/reading…so just thanks to everyone for everything. I SO appreciate you reading and I had so much fun writing this!

Also a response to Eh, Man: Kate, I LOVE your stories and have been meaning to give you a review for SO long. I will next chapter you update! I am SO happy you have updated Between. Thanks for the review and critique. You are a great writer and it is awesome to get a review from you. Keep reading…I hope you enjoyed the story!

Everyone else, enjoy the story too!

Again: I own no characters. S.E. Hinton does!

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"First thing I remember was askin' papa "why"?

For there were many things I didn't know.

And daddy always smiled, took me by the hand,

Saying 'someday you'll understand'."

--- J.C. Fogerty

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Ponyboy's POV

I had never seen Darry so mad. Not even a few months before when I had come home late from the lot; nothing came close to this. Darry still faced the door where Ms. Barlow had recently exited. He hadn't spoken a word yet, but Soda and I both knew he was furious. He breathed heavily, his hand still on the doorknob.

Soda and I glanced at each other, worried. I felt something wet drip down my face. I touched my face and brought down a salty wetness. Tears. Embarrassed, I scowled at the floor.

Soda looked between Darry and me. I stood with tears on my face while Darry fumed quietly.

With my head bowed, I peeked at Soda from the corner of my eye. His calm face broke out into a mixture of panic and hilarity.

"You guys alright? Are you two both ok?" He looked like he was about to have an aneurysm.

Darry spun around to face us. His mouth formed an 'O' with which no words escaped, he held a hand out to us in a stopping gesture.

He locked eyes with me and said, "I'll be right back." Soda and I heard the truck door slam, the engine rev and he was gone.

"Well, I think that went well," I said to break the silence. Soda stared at me like I was crazy.

We were suddenly aware that Steve and Two-Bit stood in the open doorway. "What? Two-Bit queried.

"More like a disaster," Soda sighed. He patted my shoulder and Steve followed him into the kitchen.

"You know," I muttered dropping onto the couch, "maybe I should just let them take me away. It would save Darry and Soda a whole lot of trouble."

"Shut up," Two-Bit told me, irritated. "Keep talking like that and we'll all belt you one. Even Steve in there." He grinned at me.

"Yeah, I'm sure he'd enjoy it." I grinned back. "They want to take me away. Just me," I told Two-Bit. "We basically kicked the state out of here. I'm sure it's not going to end up too well for us."

He glanced back towards Sodapop who was deep in conversation with Steve. "Where's Darry?" he asked.

"I would imagine he's out putting those biceps to good use," Steve said as he and Soda came back into the living room. Soda plunked next to me on the couch and hugged me.

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When he got home, 2 hours later, Darry began dinner like nothing happened. Soda and I stood behind him waiting for an explanation. Two-Bit and Steve sat at the table peeling potatoes and flinging the peels at each other. For once they didn't argue about working.

"For God's sake Darry!" Soda burst out.

Darry turned to face us and laughed. Then he told us what had happened.

It turned out that Darry hadn't been flexing his biceps at all; instead he had been out flexing his mouth. Darry had driven down to the Tulsa Department of Child Services and told them about the scene Ms. Barlow has caused at our house.

"There is no way I will let my brother be taken into custody by that woman," he had complained firmly. "I don't know what kind of unstable people you have working for you but I do not appreciate her threatening my 14-year old brother with memories of our dead parents."

The social worker he had spoken with sputtered and reassured him that Ms. Barlow's intentions were nothing but good.

"Then I'm sure the local paper will be interested to learn about the way you do business down here," Darry had suggested quietly.

And that was that.

"It worked?" Soda questioned in disbelief.

"You know, normally, I wouldn't sink to that level," he said smiling that rare smile of his. "But damn, it felt good to do it!"

Soda broke out in a grin and swept me into a hug. I hugged him back fiercely then broke away to hug Darry. For once in a long time, things finally felt right.

"Thanks Darry," I told him. "Thanks so much."

"Anything. Anytime," he told me. He nodded at Soda. "You too."

"Superman saves the day again!" Steve swooped in, slapping Darry on the back.

This time Darry didn't seem to mind the supposed insult.

"You know," he said proudly, "I do feel like Superman."

We all grinned; and then Two-Bit threw a potato peel on my face.

XXXX

Thanks all for reading! Leave reviews for me so that I may ride off into the sunset happy! ;)

Mwah