Life Preserver

A/N: I've never read the book The Outsiders but I saw the movie and fell in love and there were no categories for it in the movies section. I'd like to think that the movie wasn't too far off from the book, but if the details are a little sketchy, I apologize now.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, the beautiful, angsty characters; I just like to play with them.

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Ponyboy shifted in bed knocking against it's other occupant, his older brother Soadpop, who merely rolled over onto his side with a grunt. With a heavy sigh and an even heavier heart, Pony buried his face into his pillow and counted slowly to ten trying to will himself back to a dreamless sleep. It had been a week since the death of Johnny and Dallas and his nights were plagued with gut-wrenching guilt. The all too familiar prickling behind his eyes had him fisting his hands in the pillowcase, bracing himself against the onslaught of memories.

If he had not have run into the burning church, Johnny would not have followed and gotten hurt. His heart sank at the memory of his friend in the hospital bed covered in burns. And then he'd died. Ponyboy sat up and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, trying to squash the memory to no effect. The image of Dallas, reeling from Johnny's death, shot by the cops after robbing a convenience store flashed through his head like a movie with no sound. Dally had crawled, gasping, towards him before he fell over, the light going out in his eyes and his strangled cry dying on his blood-stained lips. It was all too much, knowing he was responsible. Pony hadn't even realized he was shaking until he felt an arm gently draping itself over his shoulders.

"Ponyboy, whatsa' matter?" Soda's voice was rough with sleep but his eyes were soft with concern.

A lump had lodged itself into his throat dissolving any syllable Pony tried to choke out.

"C'mon Pone, it'll be all right." Soda tightened his grip on the youngest Curtis who was still trembling.

"Sorry." Whispered Ponyboy as the prickling behind his eyes turned into burning as hot tears began pooling.

"For waking me up? It's OK I-"

"No," the younger one interrupted, "no it isn't. It will never be OK." He pulled away and climbed out of bed. Whirling to look at Soda, he was met with stunned confusion

"Why don't you calm down and tell me what you're talking about." The older said swinging his long legs over the side of the bed.

"God damn it Soda, why are you even bothering with what I'm talking about? Why do you even care?" A hot tear slipped past Pony's long lashes and trickled down his cheek.

"Because," Soda stood up, "I'm your brother." He placed a hand on the trembling boy's shoulder.

Pony shook him off, he really didn't deserve his brother's comfort, this was all his fault after all. "Don't you-Don't you hate me?"

"I could never hate you. What's this all about?" Soda tried to catch his eye.

"It's all my fault Johnny and Dally are dead!" Pony cried. He crossed over to the bed and sat down. He dropped his head to his hands with a sob.

"Ponyboy," Soda reached out to put his hand on his brother's shaking shoulders but pulled back. "c'mon man, it ain't your fault." He sat down.

"If I hadn't gone into the church Johnny wouldn't have followed and gotten hurt and died and then Dallas wouldn't have done what he did." Pony gasped. "So, yeah, it is my fault."

"Ponyboy, look at me." Soda gently gripped the younger boy's jaw and forced him to look at him. He raked a long thumb through a tear and inhaled sharply at the raw pain reflected in the green eyes. He had to make this right. "Johnny would've gone into that church whether you went or not, and Dally, the real Dally, died long before Johnny. Trust me kid, there's nothing we could've done."

Pony grabbed the sleeves of Soda's shirt and pulled him close. Strong arms wrapped around him as he clung to his brother, his life preserver that kept him from drowning in a sea of guilt.

There you have it, my first contribution to the fan fiction world. Reviews?