I feel so dorky since I keep updating…but alas when the ideas come…what can I do? Enjoy readers since this is the last, long chapter! Boomshaklaka!

Maybe if you're really lucky I'll start on my new story…we shall see…so keep a lookout for it.

IamOnlyMe thanks for your great comments! You are definitely picking up on the 'new' personality of PB. It makes sense that w/out his 'usual' friends/brothers he would grow differently. I am just glad and I just hope it doesn't seem too out of character. Don't worry Crock and Shep will be in the third story! Stay tuned. Haha.

DreamerandReckless I am probably going to make a sequel to this story. Perhaps you'll read? ;)

Alleycat-I had some of the same ideas in mind too…

Superdope, Blondie, addictiontofiction, Marauder, soda's girl, mushs-grl13, Wandering One, iheartponyboy33, ivy45663 and anyone else I am forgetting (there are so many) thanks SOOOO much for the reviews!

Please leave me reviews for this very last chapter! Merci! (Can you say desperate?) ;)


"You had me

You lost me

You're wasted

You cost me

I don't want you here messing with my mind"

--Joss Stone


Pony's POV

"Curtis, your plane is boarding." Sergeant Caplan yelled at me. Oblivious, I came away from the window, where I had been watching planes land and take-off.

Everything seemed so surreal to me: my home, the war, being injured. I was taking in so much I didn't know how to feel.

"Take it easy when you get back," Caplan told me.

"Sure," I nodded stiffly. I was on the mend but basically anything I did still hurt. Laughing, coughing, breathing, I thought with annoyance. Basically living.

I had left the medic's ward with a stitched up stomach, wrapped up ribs, a bottle of pain pills and explicit instructions to get rest.

Glory, I was going back home in fine shape, I thought wryly. Then I inwardly groaned thinking about the fussing Darry and Soda would do.

Turning to Crock and Shep I said seriously, "Try not to get killed."

Shepard hugged me. "We won't. Especially since we're going to come visit you when we get out." I pulled out of the hug. "Throw a party."

"Oh yeah?" I smiled.

"We'll write you," Crock said, hugging me too. "Don't forget these." He handed me my dog tags, now on a new chain. I slipped them around my neck, over my gray sweatshirt.

"You better get a move-on, or they'll leave you behind." Sarge beckoned toward the boarding plane.

"Thanks for everything, Sarge. I don't know I would have made it through without you."

He waved me away. "You did it on your own." Caplan clasped my elbow with his steady hand, "I'm real proud of you Curtis. You did good." I took the bags he handed me. "Keep in touch you hear?"

"I will," I mumbled, rubbing the back of my neck. "Bye ya'll," I said unhappily as I boarded the plane. They waved, Shepard a little too clumsily, smacking Crocker in the face. The last view I had of them was Crocker laughing and shoving Shepard back into Caplan. Caplan wore a look of 'what have you left me with?' on his face.

I muffled my chuckles and settled into my seat near the window. As the plane took off and the landscape became clouds, panic overwhelmed me.

I didn't know what I was going back to. I wasn't the same person who had left Tulsa. My life over here was tough sure, but it was all I had known for about a year. And at home…hell I didn't know what waited at home.

"Son?" I turned toward the hovering stewardess. "Would you like some pretzels?"

"No thank you Ma'am." She left me and I stared forlornly at my reflection in the window. Thin, scarred, and afraid. Yep, that was me, Ponyboy Curtis.

I curled up in my seat, the back of my hand pressed against my mouth. I squeezed my eyes shut, sobbing quietly. I felt like I was leaving my new self behind.

And I didn't like it one bit.


Soda's POV

"Sodapop Curtis, if you walk out of here with bare feet I'm gonna skin you!"

I caught the shoes Darry hurled at me football-style. "I hear you Darry. Just don't tackle me too."

He flashed me a rare, honest grin. Pony was coming home today. We were all a little hyper, antsy. Now if Darry would just hurry it up so that we could get to the airport.

"C'mon Darry!" I whined.

Two-Bit popped his head in the door. "Got room for two more?" he asked.

"I took work off so I could come," Steve said from behind him. He smiled at me; relieved I wasn't as distraught as I had been a month ago. He didn't know what to do for me after I got the news of Pony's injury. So he just listened when I talked. That helped a lot.

"The more the merrier," I said in short spurts as I hopped around on one leg, trying to put my shoe on the raised foot.

"Sit down Soda," Darry commanded. "You're going to break your neck."

"Yeah, we want to go to the airport, not the hospital," Two-Bit quipped. Darry watched me uneasily and then grabbed his keys.

"Let's go."


"We're late. Darry, we're late." Maddened by my incessant talking, Darry kept quiet, and looked around for Pony's flight status.

"Well, Magellan over there," Steve pointed at Darry, "did miss about two exits."

Darry rounded on Steve. "Not. Now. Steve." He was as frustrated as I was about not finding Ponyboy's gate.

"There he is!" Two-Bit shouted. We all jumped and turned around. Two-Bit ducked his head sheepishly. "I mean there the gate is. B12."

Darry and I shot him dirty looks. Steve laughed. "We're not late Soda," Darry said. "You should get a watch, I don't think your internal clock is working for you."

A loud, monotonous clapping interrupted us. It was Two-Bit. "Bravo Darry. Brav-o. A joke well played."

"Why did I bring you?" Darry sighed, settling into the hard plastic chairs. Two-Bit sat on the ground and tried to panhandle. Clearly embarrassed and having enough of us Darry made up an excuse and exited quickly.

I slid into his seat.

"You know he'd probably make more money if he shut the hell up," Steve grumbled, sitting next to me, as Two-Bit spouted auctioneer gibberish.

"Are you nervous?" Steve asked.

"For what?"

"Well…you haven't seen Pony in almost a year…" he trailed off as I contemplated what he had said.

I frowned and punched his arm jokingly. "I wasn't but I am now!" Then I got serious. "I just want him to be ok." Steve nodded.


Pony's POV

"Son?" The same stewardess gently shook me awake. "We've landed in Tulsa." The plane was empty except for a few others and me. She looked at me closely. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I am." I had just woken up from a nightmare. At least I was fortunate enough to not remember it.

"Ok, well enjoy your trip," she chirped. Have a nice fall, I added silently.

I wiped my clammy hands on my jeans and felt my cheeks. Warm. I groaned as I stood up. Stiff from the long plane ride and sore all over, I uncaringly dragged my bag behind me. "Sorry," I mumbled, accidentally hitting a seated passenger on the side of the head as I left.

In the terminal a mess of people hugging, talking and walking surrounded me. I scanned the crowd quickly for my brothers. The old excited, nervousness was back. Then I saw them. Soda lay splayed out on the airport chairs, Darry read a magazine, Two-Bit and Steve arguing about something.

I bit my lip and then broke out of my daze. As fast as I could I started toward them; which wasn't very fast. Soda saw me. He fell off the seats, stumbled up and raced toward me. I was in his arms before I could even set my bag down.

"Glory, I missed you Soda," I said into his shoulder. I bit back a whimper as he crushed me in his hug. Then Darry was beside me and he grabbed me up.

He released me, pulling back to inspect my face. Surprised, Darry said in wonder, "You're so tall."

Soda ruffled my hair, his brown eyes dancing. "Yeah, but he's still skinny." He poked my side. This time I couldn't keep in the whimper.

"Looks like the ribs won't be healing anytime soon," I laughed, reconciled to my throbbing.

Soda looked petrified at the thought of injuring me. "I'm sorry."

Two-Bit and Steve had hung back; they watched us respectfully. "Hi Two-Bit," I said shyly. Smiling broadly, he approached and this time gently hugged me.

"Glad to have you back, Pony. Nice tags," he said fingering my dog tags.

"Steve, thanks for your letters," I said breaking the ice between us. "They made some real good kindling out there."

"Shit kid," Steve smirked, coming up to me and slapping my shoulder. "If I would have known that I would have wrote more often."

Darry shouldered my bags. "C'mon, let's get you home." Protectively, Darry and Soda guided me out of the airport, careful not to let anyone bump me.

As I walked out into the chilly Tulsa air, I shivered. Home seemed far away and foreign to me.


The End! Yay! Applause!

Did I get the ending ok? It was tough to try and get everyone in character…so let me know how I did.

I hope I can get started on the 3rd story soon! Please read!