I don't own the Outsiders.

Darry isn't like Soda and he sure ain't like me.

I looked down at my hand as the door swung shut behind Ponyboy, before raising my head and raising my voice to carry out into the starry night. "Pony, I didn't mean to!"

And I didn't. God, I loved that kid, but he was so frustrating. If he would only think for two seconds about what he was doing. He was such a good kid...really...but was it so hard to use your head every once in a while?

I turned to my remaining brother, who was looking at me with a mixture of disappointment and worry for Pony. I saw his hand snake towards the door but stopped it. It wouldn't do any good to go after Pony now. He'd come home, or he'd go to Two-Bit's, or hang out in the lot until morning when he'd walk in and take cake out of the freezer.


I tried not to look at Soda as I turned around, away from the door, and forced myself to pick up the paper I had discarded. Maybe he'd come back still. Maybe. "You should go to bed, Sodapop."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Soda still standing in front of the door, looking out it longingly as if he wanted to sprint after our disappearing brother. I wished it was that simple. After a minute or so, after a few glances at me, Soda went to the room he and Pony now shared, even in his grief his movements graceful and slow.

I glanced at the door of the bedroom as it closed softly, though not completely. Soda. The sixteen-year-old who'd probably stay that way for life. The one who'd been forced to mature along with me to help support ourselves and Pony. The one who was closest by far to our youngest brother. Had I done the right thing by stopping him from going after Pony?

It was cold out, but I opened all the windows anyway, straining my eyes to see through the darkness, as if I could make Pony appear just by wanting him to. I remembered that he only had on a sleeveless sweatshirt. He'd be cold after he cooled off from our fight. He'd come back.

"Me and Johnny fell asleep in the lot."

Well, at least Johnny was with him. Johnny, the quiet one, the hurt, broken one, would make sure that Pony didn't do anything too rash. He'd calm Pony down as well as Soda could have. Johnny would bring him home.

For twenty minutes I gazed at the same page in the paper. I must have read the headline thirty times, but I still couldn't tell you what it was about. Probably something bloody. For twenty minutes I listened for the familiar sounds of Pony's feet on the creaking front steps that I should fix. Waited to see his tousled red-brown head poke through the door before stalking off to his room. I'd make it up to him.

Twenty minutes passed, and I did hear sounds, not as near as I thought they would be. The soft, far-away glare of a headlight peaked through the windows before it was suddenly flicked off. I got up slowly. Who would be driving to the lot at two in the morning?

Shouting. Very faint and slurred, but shouting none the less. Was that Pony's voice, or was I just so desperate to see him I wanted it to be so?

A scream, high-pitched and hair-raising made it to the window before it was suddenly silenced. Unable to wait any longer I went outside. Even from this distance I could see people running away by the light of the lone street lamp that lit a portion of the lot. I started towards it, aware of two people fleeing the scene a minute or two after the others. They were shorter than most Socs I'd seen.

When I finally got to the lot, I wanted to be sick. A small fountain in the middle was stained with crimson blood at the base and a handsome young face of a finely-dressed Soc was staring up at me.

My last thought before I closed my mind off completely was, I hope Pony didn't try to come back home tonight.