Hello, again. It hasn't been long, has it? This is another story of mine from the "what if" series. This one is "What If Ponyboy got Jumped, Instead of Johnny?" We all know how poor little Johnny got beat up, how after that he was scared of his own shadow. But what would happen if it was Pony, not Johnny? We'll just have to find out, now won't we?

Disclaimer: I do NOT own any of S. E. Hinton's characters, though I'd love to.

Waking up on August 1, I felt good. I was enjoying my summer vacation. I had just turned fourteen and I felt great. No longer was I the just-turned-teen. I had been a teenager for a full year, and I had survived . . . so far. In the small town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it was rare that a teenager came out not being an alcoholic, drug addict, or gang member. But that wouldn't happen to me. I had to supportive brothers who would keep me out of trouble, and four good friends to back me up. So what did I have to worry about?

I looked up at the clock on the wall; it read 9:22. Well, Darry and Soda would have gone to work by now. So I was alone in our house. Well, maybe not.

Since our parents died in a car accident, we've left the house open to our friends. We always leave the front door unlocked in case one of the gang needs a place to crash for the night. Dallas was always getting in trouble with the law and Steve's dad was always telling him to get out of the house. We all had it rough, but not as bad as Johnny had it. He was only sixteen and his parents barely noticed he was alive. It was easier with Dallas, whose parents didn't care either, because he was tougher, colder, and meaner. He was above pain and caring. But what Dallas ignored was what was killing Johnny.

Johnny's the gang's pet. Next to me, he's the youngest, everyone's kid brother. Dallas is the meanest. He's tougher than a lot of people, but you can't really call him a hood. He's above being a hood. Two-Bit's the wise-cracker. He's always telling jokes, and bragging about his precious switchblade. Steve is Soda's best friend. He works on cars better than anyone I know, but he doesn't like me. He just puts up with me for Soda. Though I don't know what I did to him. Soda, my older brother, is the best brother in the world. Being the middle child hasn't bothered him at all. He fits the roll perfectly. He listens to my troubles and helps me get through them. And then there's Darry. Darry's my oldest brother. He's got more brains and muscles than anyone I know. He works harder than a 20-year-old should, but since Mom and Dad died, he had to work, instead of go to college like he wanted. I and he don't get along too well. We fight a lot, but I know he loves me, and I love him.

I got up and went to the kitchen. Passing the living room, I was surprised that I didn't find someone sitting on our couch. That's what I usually wake up to.

But then I realized that everyone in the gang had plans for the day. The day before we were all hanging out and some how the subject of what we were doing the next day came up.

"I'll probably head out to Buck's. He might need some help around his place." Dallas had said. He worked for Buck, but we all knew the two men were friends.

Darry, Soda and Steve all had work to do. Darry never got to do what he wanted, it seemed. He was becoming and old man, and he was only 20.

"I'll be going to the movies. Find some booze, or something." Two-Bit had said. It was obvious that that would be what he'd do, since that's what he did almost every day.

"I was plannin' on going to the movies, too." Johnny said. I was surprised he had said that much. Johnny and I were both pretty quiet, but he was a lot more than I was.

"Maybe I'll see you there, Johnnycake." Two-Bit replied.

Johnny just nodded. He had already said enough for the day.

"I don't know what I'll do. Probably practice runnin' and football." I said.

"Sounds like fun." Soda said, grinning at me. Soda didn't care much about sports, like Darry and I did. But Soda was always supportive of me.

I dished out some chocolate cake from the icebox. Darry was nice enough to let us eat cake for breakfast. Not that he minded; he loves cake as much as we do.

I looked into the icebox and found some pre-made chocolate milk. I poured myself a glass and sat at the table, eating my chocolate breakfast.

By the time I finished eating and cleaning the dishes, it was 10:00. I went to the room that Soda and I share, and found some clothes to change into. I dressed in my hand-me-down, navy t-shirt and a pair of Soda's old jeans. I put some grease in my hair, and was ready for the day to begin.

I figured I'd go see Soda and Steve for a while. Maybe they'd let me work on some cars, or buy me a Pepsi. I'm a Pepsi-fiend. But such a luxury gets expensive after a while. I still try to get one every other day.

I walked down to the DX gas station, where Soda and Steve worked. Steve was the mechanic and Soda was the cashier. He also pumped gas when Steve was busy with a car. The DX got more business than any other gas station in town. I figured it was because all the girls came to flirt with Soda, but I guess Steve being so good with cars contributed, too.

Soda looked up from the cashier and out the window. He saw me coming from a few blocks away. When I walked across the parking lot, he came out to meet me.

"Well, if it isn't Sleeping Beauty come to grace us with her presence." Soda teased.

I through a punch at him, but missed and Soda came and picked me up and held me upside down.

"Oh, I see the princess wants down, am I right?" Soda said.

"Put me down, you nut case." I complained.

"You're the one who tried to hit your darling big brother."

"Yeah, right."

Soda dropped me on the hard cement, and I rubbed my back.

"Geesh, Soda, do you have to be so rough?" I grumbled. It didn't hurt that bad, but I was tired of it happening so bad.

"Is the princess okay?"

This time my punch hit dead on, and Soda stumbled back a little. I had only hit him in the chest, but he looked taken aback.

"You're getting faster, Pony. Soon you'll be beating up Darry."

"Sure. Not even you can beat up Darry." No one could beat up Darry. He was too strong. In rumbles, he'd take on two guys at a time and still beat the crap out of both of them.

"So what brings you into town?" Soda asked, finally serious.

"I was just seeing what was up with you guys. I was getting bored already." I grinned at Soda. He was trying to balance a quarter that he took out of the register on the end of his nose.

"Soda! Get back to work!" Steve hollered from the parking lot.

Soda stuck his tongue out at his best friend. Those two were two peas in a pod. It was surprising that those two weren't brothers.

"You want a Coke?" Soda asked. He caught the look on my face.

"All right, all right. Pepsi it is." He handed me a bottle from over the counter. I sat down in front of him and drank my Pepsi, savoring every sip.

"So what are you doing today? Going to practice football like you said?"

"Yeah. I got to keep up with you guys. Maybe after a while we won't need Darry on our team anymore." Not that I minded. Darry was always on Johnny and my team since we were smaller then the rest of the guys and since Darry is the best football player. Besides, we always won.

"I think the football is still in the lot. Is that where you'll practice?"

"Where else?" The lot was where we always played football. I liked to go down there some nights and look at the stars. It was a good place for rumbles. The gang always met up there, it seemed. We all knew where it was and used it often.

Finishing my Pepsi, I stood up.

"I think I'll head home." I said.

"Okay, Ponyboy. I'll see you this afternoon."

"Not a busy day?" Soda usually came home later.

"Yep. We've had it off easy."

"Good. Darry said he'd come home early, too. It'll be a good change. See you later!"

"See you!"

I jogged home. I needed to start practicing for track. I was one of the school's best runners, so they needed me in good shape.

I went straight to the lot, instead of home. I looked around for the football and finally found it lying behind a fallen tree.

I went to the edge of the lot and through it as far as I could to the other side. It didn't go nearly as far as it would if Darry had thrown it.

I ran down to where it had landed. Backing up a few steps, I prepared to throw the ball. I tried stretching a little, blaming that for the lack of distance. When I threw it the second time, it went a little farther, but not much more.

I practiced throwing for a few minutes, and then I practiced kicking. My aim was still off, but I was getting better. I needed to get Darry to give me some pointers. He was a star on the football team. No one ever wanted to mess with him.

I was about to go inside, when I figured I'd give it one more throw. I backed up to the end of the lot and put all my strength into that last throw. When I saw where the ball landed, I was overcome with joy. The football was almost to the other side of the lot. It was the farthest I had ever thrown the ball before. I whooped with happiness, and ran to get the football.

When I got to the other side, I scooped up the football, preparing to go home. I heard a car come up behind me. Figuring it was Two-Bit, I turned around.

"You just missed-" I was cut off when I realized it wasn't Two-Bit at all. It was Socs.

The Socs are a bunch of rich kids who like to beat up Greasers, like me. Our side of town, the north side, is full of Greasers. The south side is where the Socs live. We're supposed to go to the others' side, but the Socs do so they can prey on weaker greasers, like me.

I was about to run when they all got out of the car. Five Socs surrounded me in a circle. I began to sweat, fearing the worst.

"Hey, Greaser. Nice outfit. You get that at the thrift shop?" The one with dark hair and rings on his fingers said.

I didn't respond. I didn't know it was that obvious that my clothes were hand-me-downs.

"We don't like greasers. So we're going to teach you a lesson you'll never forget." One of the others said.

"What did I ever do to you?" I asked meekly. I was trying to save myself from a good beating, but I also was trying to stall them. Maybe one of the gang will come by. God, I hope so.

"You were born trash and you'll always be trash. We're just trying to make the world a better place." The guy with the rings said.

I tried running as hard as I could between two of them, but they clothes-lined me. I fell to the ground and they followed me, but on their own terms.

I was kicked in the ribs by the ones standing up. One had jumped on top of me and began punching me in the face and in the stomach. I was scared out of my wits and aching all over.

When the one on my stomach got off, I tried to run away, but couldn't get up in time. They hit me across the back and I fell back to the ground. When the guy with the rings came down to my level, I hit him in the face. He'd have a black eye in a few hours.

"You a-hole!" (sorry, I don't like to curse) He screamed at me. He then got on top of me and hit me over and over again in the face.

I felt his sharp rings cut into my face. The blood began to seep out of the cuts. It hurt worse than anything I had ever felt before. And he wouldn't let up.

Finally, he got off.

"Your turn, David." He said. Again, I tried to make my escape. They kicked me before I could stand and I went back to the ground.

"Darry!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. When they realized what I was trying to do, one of them shoved a piece of cloth in my mouth. I tried to spit out the vile tasting fabric, but it didn't work out.

The one they called David sat on my stomach.

"Hey, greaser. You better stop squirming or we'll get your family good." He must have seen the confusion in my eyes, since he continued.

"Yeah, that's right. We know you got brothers. You try to escape us and we'll go to your house and kill them both. After we kill you."

My heart began to pound louder than ever before. I could hardly hear the words he was saying.

I tried screaming again, and I felt a metal object poke me in the ribs.

"You don't want any trouble, do you, grease?" David said, and I realized what had poked me. It was a gun.

Sweat poured down my face as I came to the realization that they were going to kill me. But what I realized first was that if I tried to escape, they'd not only kill me, but they'd kill Darry and Soda, too.

"Well, I guess if you try to escape, we can give you some company. Right, boys?" David said.

I shook my head. No. They couldn't. Wouldn't.

"No? Well, then I guess you'll be cooperating then, huh, greaser?"

I nodded my consent, feeling the tears, mixed with blood, run down my face.

"Good, grease. You ain't seen the worst of it yet."

They continued to hit me, punch, kick, and cut me. I felt more pain than ever when they took out a switchblade and cut strips of my shirt, going down into my skin.

They all decided to stand up and kick me at once. I was awaiting unconsciousness. I couldn't see how I was still conscious right now, but I was. I felt bruises throb along my body. More would come after they were done kicking me.

I was scared. I wanted my brothers. Why weren't they here? Someone, save me!

With one final kick to my head, I lost all consciousness. And it was welcomed.