I don't own the Outsiders. Sorry.

He kept trying to make them say "no" and they never did. They never did. That's all he wanted, for someone to tell him "no". To have somebody lay down the law, set limits, give him something solid to stand on. That's what we all want, really.

Rick laid down in his brother's bed, his chest racking with sobs that had been suppressed all week. Bob's scent was still there, just like last night, but a little bit faded, not quite to vivid. Rick breathed it in deeply, his hands grasping the covers hard, as if by squeezing them the pain would go away.

Bob had promised not to leave him. Ever. Bob had promised that he would always be there to help him. That he'd get Rick out of here as soon as he could. And Rick had believed him, because Bob was older and tuff and smart and he was only fourteen.

Tears streamed down his cheeks. Nothing made sense anymore. Rick closed his eyes and hugged one of Bob's pillows to him, almost hearing Bob's voice. Not the rough, loud one he used with his friends. The quiet one that Rick only heard at night, when he woke up from a nightmare and ran into his brother's room to get away from the dream.

"Another one, right? Come on kid, hop in. Just don't let mom and dad catch you."

And Rick would dive under the covers and Bob would put an arm over Rick's shoulders and fall back to sleep almost instantly while Rick pressed closer to his brother, like he was a fire on a cold night. He'd drink in the scent of beer and cologne and girls that stuck to his brother like glue and sigh, because he was safe.

Who would save him now, when he had bad dreams? Mom and dad would think he was a sissy, like they always did. They'd ignore him, like always. Especially now that mom was acting strange, like she didn't believe that Bob was dead or anything. His friends never seemed to understand when he talked about stuff like that. Just Bob.

Rick wondered why Bob was messing with those stupid Greasers in the first place. Cherry, Bob's boyfriend, had said that she had been with the boys that night. But why would that set Bob off?

Cherry also said that Bob had tried to kill one of them. She had said the boy's name, and it was funny. Pony? Was that it? Anyway, Pony (what an odd name) had been drowning while this other boy took out a knife and sliced Bob open like it was nothing.

Anger boiled under Rick's skin for a second. What did that stupid Greaser mean, messing with his brother? Rick knew that some of the other boys were planning to teach the boys who had killed Bob a "lesson". Rick knew that that meant they'd die. He didn't want anymore death, though. One was enough.

New thoughts entered his mind, jumbling together with everything he thought was right. He'd been taught to hate Greasers because...well, there was a reason in there somewhere. But he'd been taught that they were lower than dirt, they were sub-human. Now, when he had the most reason to hate them, he thought again.

What if the boy who had killed Bob had a brother? If he died, would someone feel just as scared and confused as Rick did? Would someone curl up on their dead brother's bed wishing that he would come back? Would that person be bawling his eyes out, like Rick was doing right now?

Somewhere between those thoughts Rick fell asleep, dreaming of his cocky, good-looking brother and two faceless Greasers.


The next morning the plan was already sitting in Rick's mind like it was there all along. He walked out of the house, calling to his parents that he'd be back later. They ignored him. Mom had started screaming again. She was really losing it.

He had called Cherry earlier. He knew that she was surprised to hear from him but she gave him the information he needed.

Rick stepped on the bus, paying the fair and sitting down in the way back. He had about forty-five minutes on this bus. Forty-five minutes to figure out what he was going to saw to the guy who killed his brother.

As he got off the bus he checked the address again. It would be stupid to go to the wrong house. But this was right. It was an older house, next to a large lot. The lot that Bob had died in. The house itself was kind of dirty-looking, but it was obvious that the people who lived there cared about it.

He walked slowly up the steps, taking a deep breath before he knocked on the door.

An older boy answered it. By looking at his build Rick could tell that this guy could crush him. He suddenly wished he hadn't come here at all, but he managed to stutter, "Is...is Ponyboy here?"

The guy looked at him strangely, the gestured for him to come in. "Who are you?" he asked, his face like stone, his blue eyes like ice as they stared him down.

"My ― my name's Rick. B-Bob was my brother." He tried to sound in control, like Bob always did, but ended up squeaking the words out.

A door opened before the boy could respond. A slight, red-haired boy came out. He looked tired and his clothes hung baggy around him. "Who is it, Dar?" he asked quietly, moving over to the fridge and taking out a large chocolate cake.

"He says his name's Rick. Bob was his brother."

That made the smaller boy turn around quick. His stare made Rick want to disappear. "What do you want?" he asked, the words harsh. Rick winced.

"I just...I just wanted to know what happened that night." The words sounded lame, even to him, but the boy's expression softened just the tiniest bit. Or maybe Rick was imagining that?

"C'mere." The boy, Pony, indicated a chair next to him. "It's kind of a long story."

Rick sat down, aware that the bigger boy was still staring at him. He looked expectantly at Pony as he cut a large piece of cake.

"We weren't doing anything. Me and Johnny, that is. Johnny was the other boy. Anyway, we were just coming back home," Rick saw him wince and wondered vaguely what he wasn't saying. "This car was tailing us and five Socs came out. They were really drunk. One took me and forced me under water in this fountain. The other ones cornered me friend. Johnny was beaten up a couple of months ago by the same guys. They were going to do the same thing. Anyway, when I came up from the water Bob was dead, and Johnny was holding the knife."

Rick sat there, frozen, for minutes after the story was finished. The story was nearly the same as Cherry had told it. He looked up at Pony, noticing that more boys had entered the house. He ignored them.

"Where is your friend, Johnny?" he asked, glad that this time his voice didn't betray his pain.

Now it was Pony's turn to look away. "He's in the hospital. We were in a church and...anyway, a beam fell on him, broke his back."

There was another long silence. The other boys were taking pieces of cake, too. They were all quiet. It seemed eerie. "I'm sorry." Rick finally mumbled. They were the words he'd hated all week. So many people had said them. They weren't real anymore.

Pony shrugged, then said suddenly. "We're having a rumble tonight, us and the Socs."

Rick had known that. The thought made him sick. "I know. I'm trying to convince people not to do it. They think they're fighting for Bob. Bob wouldn't have wanted it."

Now all the boys were looking at him. Rick looked down again, inspecting his hands. Something that had been bothering him came since he entered the house came out of his mouth. "Are any of these your brothers?"

Ponyboy looked confused, then pointed out two boys, saying their names. Was one really Sodapop? Rick didn't explain why he smiled just then, even though he thought that Pony might understand.

Rick pushed himself up from the table, looking around. There were four boys other than Pony looking at him. He knew he should get out of here. "Thanks for telling me that stuff, Ponyboy. You really didn't have to."

Pony nodded like he understood, then said, "Look, I wish..."

Rick nodded, walking away. "We all wish, Pony. Sometimes it just doesn't end up like that."

Kind of weird, but review anyway. Please?