Why, hello, everyone! Did you miss me? I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to start this story. I've been super busy, and I had another story that I wanted to finish before I started this one. I've decided to do both Numb3rs and The Outsiders stories at once to satisfy both fans. The sequel takes place 3 months after the last story took off. We'll see more of Rose and Pony will do lots of exciting things. It'll still be a drama and angst, though. I hope you enjoy it!

Lots of the chapters will start with a letter.

Pony's POV

Dear Ponyboy,

I hate to make you worry, but I really hate it here. It's really not so different from home because of the people. They're all rough and mean. It's not that. It's just that I'm really homesick.

But most of all, I'm upset about my parents. I always expected them to care. I mean, they'd hurt me physically, but the emotional part hurt worse. Pony, I can only tell you this because you're my best friend, and you think about these things more than anyone else. If I told Dallas, or even Soda, they wouldn't understand. But you do. I don't know who else to talk to.

I don't mean to make you worry. Things aren't so bad. Only nine months to go.

Your friend,

Johnny

I set Johnny's letter on my desk and sank back into the wheel chair.

I blinked rapidly, trying to keep the tears away. I had been doing that a lot lately.

I heard a knock on my door. I wiped at my eyes and called "come in."

Darry stepped inside my room and sat down on my bed.

"Pony? Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Darry. Is it time to go already?"

"Yeah. Are you ready?"

"Yes."

Darry got up and left the room.

I wheeled my chair out, following him.

He held the door open for me and then we went out to the truck. Soda was working. Darry had taken the day off to take me to physical therapy.

I was improving. I still couldn't walk, but I had a lot of hopes to be able to some time. My right leg was becoming more muscular and I was able to feel things once more.

I pulled up beside the truck and opened the door. I reached for the car handle and pulled myself in.

The strength in my arms had changed dramatically, and not just from the physical therapy. I've had to use them a lot just for the wheelchair. The therapists wanted my upper-body strength to be better before we worried about my legs.

I hated what I was doing to Soda and Darry. It must be costing them a fortune. I hardly saw them enough as is, but now they had to work double what they usually did. Soda had even gotten a second job for the weekends. He was working at some bar as a bus boy. He wouldn't let me come see it because he said it's too dangerous.

Darry placed my wheelchair in the back of the truck and came around to his side and got into the driver's seat. We drove off in silence.

I still wasn't talking much. I figured the less I said the less they'd ask. I didn't want their pity, and I hated that they were always worrying about me. I talked when I knew they were concerned about my silence, but that was about as much as I would talk.

"Hey, Pony?"

I turned to Darry, breaking out of my thoughts.

"Yeah, Dar?"

"I just wanted to let you know... Soda and I are really proud of you. You've come a long way and you'd done really well. People twice your age wouldn't be able to deal with something as bad as this as you have."

And how am I dealing with it? You have no idea, Darry.

"Thanks." I looked out the window once more, letting my thoughts carry me away from the world I hated.

Darry's POV

Pony was doing so well with the therapy. He hadn't gotten to try walking yet, but that was just because his leg still wasn't strong enough. It was a miracle that the nerve endings in his leg weren't permanently damaged.

I watched from the chair in the corner as Pony lifted weights with his arms while his right leg was stretched out on the bench in front of him. The therapist moved the leg back and forth, Pony having no control over it.

I felt my heart clench when I saw Pony look down at his legs. The anger and sadness made my insides knot. Pony has come so far, but it was still killing him. He wouldn't speak a word about it to me and Soda.

I saw the same stubborn streak I had in Pony. He turned his gaze away from his leg and pushed himself harder with the weights. He was too like me in that sense.

The work he had to do was worse than I had when I played football. I was physically fit to begin with. Pony had been, but over time, the muscles in his leg had worn away from lack of use.

I held my head in my hands. Stress from having to work all the time was building up. I hated that I had to ask Soda to get a second job. He didn't deserve to work like a dog. He hadn't complained, but I could see it taking a toll on him.

"Darry? You okay?" Pony asked.

I looked up, wiping at the tears that formed behind my closed lids.

"Yeah, I'm fine, kiddo. Are you done already?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Let's go, then."

I walked beside Pony in his wheel chair. We went out to the truck. I waited for him to get in so I could carry his wheelchair to the back of the truck.

Pony reached up and held onto the door handle and the seat handle. HIs hand slipped and he fell hard against the truck.

"Pony!" I exclaimed. I grabbed him from around the waist. He breathed heavily, scared from the fall.

"You're okay. I've got you."

I lifted Pony into the seat and took his wheelchair around to the back. When I got into my side, Pony was shaking like a leaf.

"You okay, kiddo?" I asked, laying a comforting hand on his arm.

"I-I'm fine."

His voice shook with fear.

"You probably just overdid it today."

I hoped he wasn't thinking that was a step back. He had been able to get in the truck by himself for months. What I said was probably true. He had over worked himself, but he always seemed to.

We drove home in silence. I'd steal glances at Pony who still looked shaken.

When we pulled up I brought his chair to his side. He sat at the open door.

"What's the matter?"

He shook his head.

"Will... will you help me?"

"Pony, you can do this. You've been able to for months."

He shook his head again. I sighed and reached for him and moved him to his chair in one swift moment.

In the brief moment he was in my arms, I noticed his loss of weight. It was apparent when I looked at him, but actually feeling how light he was scared me. He needed to eat more.

Pony went to his room and I went to mine to get ready for work. I sighed. I was really getting sick of having to work so much, but I had to to pay for all these hospital bills.

Pony's POV

Darry left shortly after we got home. I felt guilty for making Soda and Darry work so hard. That's why I pushed myself every appointment with the physical therapist.

I didn't like being home alone. Soda would be home in three hours, but it seemed a life time to me. I don't know why I cared having him home. I didn't speak to him anyway. But I always felt better with someone home.

I must have fallen asleep on the couch because before I knew it, Soda was coming through the door.

"Hey, Pony." Soda came around the couch to sit by me.

"Hey."

"How'd the therapy go?" His voice was strained, as though he was fighting exhaustion.

"It was okay."

Soda yawned. I missed the happy-go-lucky Sodapop. He was now too drained to be too overly excited.

Soda wrapped an arm around me and moved my head to his shoulder. I leaned on him, letting him be my pillow.

Soon we were both asleep, comforted by the others' presence.