"Good grief kid, what'd they give you for breakfast?" Two-Bit quipped, as he watched Soda hop up and down. He was clutching the change Ponyboy had dropped tightly in his hand.
"Call Darry." Soda stopped his bouncing and remembered why he had run off in the first place.
"He's coming to get you right now. Just hang tight." Two-Bit lit up a smoke. "Man kiddo, betcha scared the shit out of Monique. What're you running all over town for anyways? You got a sweet deal at home. Hot broad, good food, going to school at home. You could go to school in your pajamas if you wanted to…" Two-Bit babbled on, knowing that Soda wouldn't have anything to say about it. "And barefoot at that!" Two-Bit noted Soda's shoeless feet. "Man, school would be tuff if we could all just walk around with no shoes on."
Soda wasn't paying attention. He was counting the change in his hand and thinking about asking Darry to take him to the candy store when he got there so he could spend it. All of it, on chocolate, Soda thought.
Something caught Soda's attention out of the corner of his eye. He looked up towards the adjacent street quickly and saw Darry's truck, or what he thought was Darry's truck, heading straight down Main Street. Why wasn't he turning to come towards them?
"Darry!" Soda yelled, not understanding why the Ford was driving farther away from him rather than towards him. Didn't Darry see him?
"Oh that's not…" Two-Bit started but stopped abruptly when Soda dashed off towards Main street at full speed. "Hey! Soda, come back! That aint Darry!" Soda was already halfway down the block though. Two-Bit cursed as he took off running after him. Darry was gonna kill him if he lost his kid brother.
"Darry!" Soda yelled, as he turned onto Main and ran after the old truck. But it didn't stop and pretty soon he couldn't' see it anymore. Soda stopped, panting and leaned against the bus stop bench tiredly, feeling distressed. He wanted his brother.
"Hey!" Soda's head whipped around when he heard the rough voice. "You getting on or not kid?"
Soda met eyes with the bus driver through the open swinging doors of the large vehicle. The man stared him down carefully.
"Sodapop!" Soda heard Two-Bit calling him, running down the block towards him. He looked towards his friend and then back at the driver and hopped on the bus quickly. He almost fell flat on his face when the bus started moving so he grabbed onto one of the big metal bars hanging from the ceiling and steadied himself. He hadn't been on a bus since he was much younger with Mama when the car was being repaired. It smelled funny just like last time. He was looking for a seat when he heard the rough voice again.
"Ain't free kid." The bus driver barked at him. Soda looked at him through the rearview mirror confused. "It's five cents." The man clarified. "Pay up or I'm letting you off at the next stop."
Soda held on tight to the bar with his left arm and dug into his pocket with his right, finding the coins and pulling them out. He presented them to the bus driver who rolled his eyes, grabbed a nickel out of his hand and told him gruffly to sit back down.
Soda obeyed, stuffing the rest of his money back in his pocket and looking out the window. After a few minutes he didn't recognize the neighborhood anymore.
Darry swerved over to the sidewalk as he saw Two-Bit standing near the Dingo. "Where the hell is Soda?" He asked, jumping out and running over to his friend.
Two-Bit was looking beyond uncomfortable. He rubbed the back of his head and stared down at his feet silently. What was he going to tell his friend?
"Two-Bit!" Darry barked, making the boy look up suddenly.
"He ugh, he saw this truck and he thought it was you…" Two-Bit babbled "I couldn't catch him. He's so fast."
"Matthews, what the hell are you trying to tell me?" Darry growled, his stomach mounting with anxiety. His answer didn't come quick enough so he demanded, "Did you loose him?"
Two-Bit just nodded silently, staring back at his shoes.
"Damnit Keith!" Darry used his friend's real name in his frustration. "You couldn't keep him here for five minutes?"
"What did you want me to do Darry? Sit on him? He's as big me!"
"Yes! If that's what it takes!" Darry barked. Two-Bit looked defeated and Darry backed off. He sighed in exhaustion and scrubbed at his face with his hand. "Look, just… which way did he go?"
Two-Bit shook his head. Darry was gonna kill him. "He got on the bus." He mumbled under his breath but Darry caught it and that's when he exploded
"WHAT!" He screamed. "He got on a bus?"
"I'm sorry Dar, I ran after him as fast as I could."
Darry leaned up against the truck and put his head in his hands, trying to think about what to do next. He really didn't have any idea. He tried to think rationally. There were two bus lines that came through this neighborhood. "Which bus was it? The 9 or the 12?"
"Ugh…" Two-Bit cleared his throat and tried to remember. "The 9 I think."
"No, it was the 9. I'm sure."
"Of course it was." Darry groaned. "That line goes all the way to Southbrook. Shit, Two-Bit he's all by himself and he aint gonna have any idea where he is…" Darry trailed off thinking of all the horrible possibilities.
"You gonna call the cops man?"
Darry contemplated that briefly but then shook his head. "If this gets back to the state, they'll take them for sure." He couldn't let that happen. He wouldn't let that happen.
"It's gonna be fine. You'll find him." Two-Bit tried to console his friend. Darry didn't even know where to start. Soda could get off anywhere between Tulsa and Southbrook.
"How long has it been since he got on? Five minutes?"
Darry cursed under his breath. "I'm gonna try and catch up. I'm not sure which route it takes but I know it stops by the bookstore on 31st. Maybe I can beat it there." Darry got in the truck and Two-Bit made to follow him.
"No, you go to the house and make sure Pony stays put, all-right? I don't want him off by himself too."
Two-Bit nodded reluctantly. Darry took off down the road determined to find his little brother.