A Moment In Time

Two years ago, Steve Randall had made the single stupidest choice of his life. And now they were paying for it. Not him. Not him…

Two years ago, he had been on a date with Evie. Two years ago, he was laughing with her, Soda, and Soda's girl of the week. And he had ruined it all.

-.-

It started off as a normal date. Steve and Soda picked up Evie and Cindy for a movie, as normal, and the four laughed and talked (among other things) as they ignored the giant screen. Afterward, they drove around town a bit, looking for a party or some other form of entertainment. Eventually, they ended up in Soc territory, and the girls began to feel a bit uneasy. Steve and Soda laughed it off, saying nothing could happen to them in the truck. If they had been walking, sure, but not in the car.

And when Steve pulled up to the intersection next to a blue mustang, he glared at the group of socs inside. The driver, a large blonde, smirked at the greaser and revved his engine.

"Steve, don't," Evie frowned and crossed her arms.

"Come on, Ev, there's nothing they can do. I fixed this baby up," he said, patting the steering wheel lovingly, "Soda and I put a new engine in and everything. Right, Soda?"

From the backseat, he could hear Cindy giggle, and knew neither her or Soda were really paying much attention.

The mustang's engine revved again, and Steve grinned and nodded to himself as he revved the engine on his truck. The group of socs hooted wildly, banging on the car. The light turned green.

Both cars took off.

"Steve!" Evie screamed, grabbing onto the door handle. "Slow down!"

"Come on, baby, I'm barely topping sixty!"

"Holy shit, man, you nearly ran over a kid back there!" Soda had finally detached himself from Cindy.

"But I didn't, Soda! Come on, baby, faster!"

Steve brought his car up even with the mustang and flipped the bird to the socs. The driver turned around angrily, jerked his steering wheel…

…and the world went black.

-.-

When Steve came to, he was lying on the cold pavement, about forty feet from his truck. He groaned, rubbed his head, and turned to assess the damage.

"Mother--"

The truck was totaled. The front end was folded up on itself, the back end looked like it had been ripped apart, and blood and broken glass covered the pavement.

Paramedics swarmed the area, and one walked up to Steve.

"Can you stand, kid?"

Steve tried. He pushed himself up with his arms, but stopped there. When he looked down, his legs were covered in dark blood.

And Steve blacked out again.

-.-

When he came to again, he was in a hospital. His arm was hooked up to an IV, and there were far too many beeping, blinking machines surrounding his bed.

"You screwed up bad, Randall."

Steve turned.

"Hey Two-Bit!" he exclaimed, happy to see a familiar face, "How's it going?"

Two-Bit didn't grin. His eyes glistened as he spoke.

"You screwed up bad."

"What the hell, man? Where're Soda and the broads?"

Two-Bit rubbed his eyes. Was he crying?

"Matthews!" Steve was pissed now, "Where the hell are they?"

The door slammed open, and Darry Curtis stood, shaking, in the doorway.

"He's gone."

Two-Bit choked back a sob and buried his face in his hands.

Steve sat up.

"Who's gone? Guys, what's going on?"

Darry trudged to Steve's bed.

"Soda. Soda, my brother. Soda, your friend! You fuckin killed him, you bastard!"

Two-Bit grabbed Darry's shirt and pulled him backwards.

"Come on, Dar, let's just go, alright?"

The two left the room, Darry screaming back at Steve the entire time.

"You killed him! You killed my brother, you bastard! I'll kill you!"

Steve slumped backwards in his bed.

He hadn't killed Soda. Sodapop Curtis wasn't dead. It was a joke. Or a nightmare. He couldn't die. He just couldn't

-.-

The trial had been torture. Steve sat in the front of the room, his lawyer next to him, and his mother crying behind him. He watched as Evie, his sweet, beautiful Evie, in a goddamned wheelchair!, testified against him. He watched as Cindy's doctor described her near-fatal injuries, and as yet another doctor described how Soda had died, diving in front of Cindy to hold her down. He watched as the judge declared him guilty. He watched as Darry, Two-Bit, and Ponyboy watched him when he left the courtroom. He watched Darry put a protective hand on a sobbing Pony's shoulder. He watched as Two-Bit shook his head, disgusted. And he watched the landscape go by as he sat in a run-down bus.

The judge hadn't sent him to prison. He wasn't eighteen yet, wasn't legally an adult. Instead, Steve Randall was sent to a boys' correctional facility in Wyoming. He had only been sentenced to five years in the facility, but he didn't believe it was enough.

He had killed his best friend, for Christ's sake! He had killed him! They should've gave him the death penalty, or sent him to prison. Not to a fuckin' camp!

Steve wished Soda was alive, and Steve wished he was dead.