Give this girl a medal! C'mon three updates in one day. Yes, I am a loser. Well, hopefully you all don't think so, since writing does give me so much happiness. Now if I could only make myself write a story with my OWN characters then I would be in business.

To any new readers: This is part three in my other stories: Sugar and Grits and Changing Tides.

So….here is the new story. Who knows where it shall go…but go it shall.

Enjoy. And please review.

Disclaimer: I own no characters. S.E. Hinton owns the Outsiders.

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"Because he's droppin', droppin', droppin' science, droppin' history

With a whole leap of style and intelligency

Yes, I know."

---

"So let the words of our mouth

And the meditations of our hearts

Be acceptable in thy sight

Override"

---Both songs by Sublime

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A black, mist swirled about me. I choked on it, tears springing to my eyes. Despair filled my body and I tripped as I turned to run from the darkness. With force, I hauled myself up, only this time to come face to face with a Viet cong. Blindly I reached for my gun and fired.

The dead body turned to Crock. And then Soda. And then Darry.

"No!" I screamed. I was lost. I kept running but was getting nowhere. I could feel the hot breath of my pursuers at my heels.

Suddenly, they were in front of me. Multitudes of them, shapeless, faceless figures. One of them reached its hand out. It drew back, blood covering it. Glancing down in horror, I saw my stomach coated in redness.

Black and red. The only colors I could see. I could feel them too.

"Noo-ooo," I moaned. Again the hand reached out, the muzzle of a gun touching my forehead.

It went off with a bang.

"No!" I screamed wildly. Still half-asleep, I jerked and tumbled off the bed, smacking the floor. "I don't want to die," I cried. "Please don't…" I wailed, burning up.

Through my consciousness I heard Darry say with alarm, "Soda, wake him up."

"I'm trying! He won't wake up! Darry!" Shaky hands were around me trying to calm me down. "Darry, he's really warm. Pone, c'mon…"

Suddenly, I was pulled into a sitting position and shook hard. My head snapped back. I gasped and went limp, my breath coming in short, shallow spurts. "Am I dead?" I whispered woozily. My eyes focused to see Darry kneeling in front of me, holding me up.

"No, you're not dead, baby. You're not." Darry scooped me up, dropping me back into bed. My head bobbed towards Soda who was balanced tentatively on the side of the bed. He stroked my sweaty hair.

"I should be dead. I really should, Dallas," I mumbled incoherently. Soda was putting me to sleep again. I wanted to tell him to stop; I didn't want any more nightmares.

XXXX

Quietly the next morning, I showered. It was my third day home and I had already had a nightmare. Until last night, things had been relatively uneventful. Darry, Soda and I were all just glad to be together. And I got the feeling that Two-Bit and Steve were glad to be included. However, except for the briefest mentions, we had all avoided speaking about Vietnam. I didn't know if I was avoiding it, or they were.

My scar from the bullet was still fresh and I gingerly skirted it while washing. I had also taken care to dress in private. I didn't want anyone to see my scar. It didn't bring back good memories.

I changed and resumed my old habits: five aspirin swallowed in quick succession.

Exiting the bathroom, I heard Soda and Darry speaking in low voices. I stood still, listening.

"God Dar, I didn't think he'd wake up."

Darry sighed. "I know. I hope I didn't hurt him. I didn't know how else to pull him together." He paused and then said, "This was bad."

"Yeah. Shoot, I don't know what scared me most. Him screaming bloody murder or talking about dying."

"I know the feeling," Darry said softly.

"Did you hear him ask for Dallas?" Soda spoke lowly.

Silently, without awaiting an answer, I tried to tiptoe back to the room. Let them talk some more. However, turning quickly, I ended up slamming myself into a wall. "Son-of-a-bitch! God damn wall," I muttered bitterly.

"Pony?" Darry and Soda came out of the kitchen. Soda carried a slice of chocolate cake in his hand, Darry a cup of coffee. They watched me worriedly.

"Morning," I said, moving past them into the kitchen. "Sleep well?"

"Um, Pony," Darry began, following me. "Do you remember last night?"

"Yeah, I do. Sorry for waking you."

Soda sat on the counter. "You know you never have to be sorry for that." Flashing him a smile, I pulled open the fridge, scanning the contents.

"You want breakfast before I take off?" Darry asked, pouring himself some more coffee.

"Nah, I'm just thirsty." Reaching up into the cabinet, I took down a glass. Suddenly, the front door slammed shut, Two-Bit and Steve talking in the background.

Bang

The noise a gun makes

My hands shook and I jumped, dropping the glass. It hit the floor, shattering everywhere. Forgetting my ribs, I tried to kneel down and clean up the mess. Sucking in a breath, I winced, my arm going protectively to my side. Soda winced too.

"Hey all," Two-Bit greeted, stopping when he saw me. He raised an eyebrow at Darry.

"I'll get it." Darry told me, grabbing the dustpan. Then he looked at me closely. "You're white as a ghost. Sit down." I complied, dropping into a chair. I watched my hands shake underneath the table.

"Hey man," Steve said to Soda. "Ready to go?" He glanced at me carelessly. "Hurt again?" He sounded tough, although I could tell he was joking, trying to not lose some of our previous 'dislike'. After all, he did have a rep to keep.

"So what's on the agenda today Pone? Your first day home alone?" Soda teased, trying to ignore Steve.

I leaned back, looking pointedly at my brother's best friend. "Oh you know the usual. Run into a wall, throw myself down a flight of stairs, perhaps jump in front of a bus." Steve stood wide-eyed at that, not knowing what to say.

Instantly, the room was silent. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Darry pale and straighten up. Two-Bit whistled loudly. "I'll probably just go to a movie," I added hoarsely. "I haven't seen one in a while."

"Here's some money." Soda pushed five dollars in my palm. I stared at it guiltily.

"Ahem." Two-Bit held out his hand.

"You gotta work for that Two-Bit," Darry said, tossing the glass into the trashcan.

"What did the kid do?" Two-Bit mock complained.

"I worked to get my ass back here," I shot at him, as I irritably left the room. Throwing myself on the couch, I thumbed through an outdated magazine. I felt bad at my annoyance. Not knowing what had caused it. Probably the nightmare.

I could hear Soda arguing with Steve. "Why did you have to say that?" I rubbed my brow.

"Lets get to work," Darry interrupted them. He came into the living room, grabbing up his gear.

"Be careful if you go out," he said looking down at me. I knew what he was thinking. I couldn't run too fast if the Socs came after me.

"I will. I'll see you later tonight." I smiled at him, trying to be less irritable. Darry seemed relieved at that; as if he'd come home and I'd be gone again.

"Now that your back," Two-Bit said rubbing his hands together gleefully, "I have someone to wrestle with."

"Don't you dare," Darry said semi-angrily. He looked poised to pounce if Two-Bit made a move.

Soda messed my hair up as he left, Steve avoiding eye contact. Two-Bit noticed and smirked. "Looks like you scared off Stevie boy." He rocked on his heels. "So, what shall we do today gimpy?"

"You still don't have a job?" I asked incredulously.

"What can I say? My mom spoils me." I threw the magazine at him, smacking him in the stomach.

"A movie."

"Are you sure you're up for it? I mean-" He stopped short at my glare. "Ok, ok. A movie it is."

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I am exhausted. No more writing for me tonight. Hope this will tide you over.

Also: I need your honest opinions…this could go either way…but should I just keep in PB's POV? I like switching characters to get different reactions…but am not sure for this story. What do you think?