A story.

In chronological, list order.

Enjoy and review!

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1. His brothers. They've never quite looked at Darry the way they do now. Confused, dependent. Darry watches the cops leave the house with their sincerest apologies for his parents. Darry, very suddenly, wants to run.

Darry's never considered this before.

Darry's never considered his brothers foreign objects either.

*

2. When Sodapop drops out of school. Because Darry isn't sure whether or not he does the right thing by letting his brother give up school, college and then get a job to help Darry out with the bills.

But Sodapop insists, practically begs him. Darry feels like a failure as Ponyboy yells at Sodapop for his admission of stupidity and Darry for his consideration of the idea. When Darry finally gives Sodapop his approval, he sees that glimmer of hope, of admiration fall out of his youngest brother's eyes.

This is when it all goes downhill, Darry thinks, wishing mightily that his parents were here.

*

3. Does he even need to say it? The night he slaps Ponyboy. Darry would have welcomed his late father's angry lecture instead of Sodapop's hurt and confused eyes. Darry doesn't know what has happened, except that his palm his red and Ponyboy has left.

Darry hates himself that night.

In fact, Darry hates himself for a long time after that.

*

4. When all three of them go down. Johnny, Dallas and Ponyboy in one night. Except his brother – his goddamn lucky brother – doesn't quite join Johnny and Dally.

Darry carries this night with him for the rest of his life. Some days he can't help but wonder who will be next: Steve, Two-Bit, Ponyboy, Sodapop or even Darry himself. Darry prays it's no one, but hopes to God it's him when it happens.

*

5. His broken arm.

Some stupid idiot co-worker shouts up to Darry "Ponyboy's here!" Darry, his worries getting the best of him even though he knows Ponyboy's meeting him for lunch, hears this as "Ponboy's hurt!" and turns too quick on the roof. His boots lose their grip on the shingles and down Darry goes. The last thing he remembers seeing are Ponyboy's wide, green eyes.

The fall isn't good for Darry's ego, but it's not doing his wallet any favors either.

Sodapop picks up the slack, working double shifts at the DX. The bills tumble in and Darry thinks he's about to drown.

*

6. Sandy's phone call. He never tells Ponyboy or Sodapop about it. Sandy doesn't get a second chance. Soda does.

*

7. Darry's truck that Sodapop wrecks. His brother hadn't even been going 65 miles per hour, more like 40, 45 miles tops but when Soda and Steve take that curve they aren't thinking.

Finally, when Darry's called to the scene, there's so much blood that Darry forces himself to stay calm. Ponyboy's shaking, near to running out of there, but then Sodapop and Steve emerge, all smiles and guilty laughter. Steve has busted his head against the dash but other than that the boys are fine. Stupid but fine.

Darry yells. He yells very loudly just to keep himself from cracking their twisted skulls together.

*

8. Mrs. Porter. The social worker who visits their house six months after Pony runs off for Windrixville. Darry's late for the visit; and he never runs late. When he gets home, Ponyboy's locked himself in his bedroom. Irate, the social worker waits for Darry to coax Pony out of the bedroom and then Mrs. Porter threatens to write Darry up for the messy house, his tardiness and Ponyboy's clear refusal of obedience. She buttons her coat and exits the house.

Darry exhales in relief. She's left without Ponyboy and that's all that matters.

*

9. Molly. His boss's daughter. Because if his boss finds out what they've done, Darry is definitely out of a job.

*

10. The night Ponyboy comes home from the dance with his face busted up. This is the night Darry realizes Ponyboy has grown up. Perhaps too much for his own liking; admitting both of these facts grates at him.

"Someone took a swing at me," Pony explains, rolling his eyes and feeling his busted lip. "It was Angel's idea. She set me up." But Pony's too nice to call a girl names, so instead he says, "The guy meant to get me but he got Mark. Kid's in the hospital. Shoulda been me."

Darry doesn't think Pony knows how this news has affected him and he tosses Pony an ice pack in lieu of looking calm. Soda tears out of the house, ready to start something with Tim.

Pony, dopey and exhilarated looks at Darry, breaking more news Darry could do without. "I hotwired a car tonight." And the proud grin that comes out of the kid is enough to raise an eyebrow.

Darry scrunches his hands into fists and makes note to check into just the kind of friends Ponyboy has taken to hanging around with.

*

11. Two-Bit. His mom has a heart attack and suddenly Two-Bit is another person; a better person in the eyes of some, a different person to the gang. He gets a job selling cars and cleans his mother's house every Sunday.

Darry suddenly regrets all the times he's scolded his friend for his lack of a job or his inability to keep a straight face.

Because suddenly, Two-Bit has to grow up and Darry sure as hell knows how it feels.

*

12. When Ponyboy, and all seventeen years of him, walks down the stage and accepts his high school diploma. Darry's heart wants to jump out of his chest, he's so proud.

But he's also afraid. Because his brother's staying in Tulsa for college and the fact that this makes Darry happy, makes him breathe easier, scares the hell out of him.

*

13. The trip Two-Bit and Ponyboy take. After Pony graduates Two-Bit gets a hare-brained idea to head to the west coast for the summer. For reasons, he can't – or won't explain - Darry tries to talk Ponyboy out of it. Ponyboy calls Darry a drag and Darry, injured at the insult, and annoyed that Ponyboy thinks this, tells his youngest brother that he should get a summer job instead.

The conversation ends with the two of them having words they're glad Sodapop doesn't overhear. Two-Bit and Pony take off without saying goodbye.

Two weeks later, Darry gets a postcard in the mail which reads "Fun in the Sun" and shows a picture of two bikini clad blondes on the front drinking out of pineapples with straws stuck in them. Pony's signature scribble adorns the back and Darry can't help but wince because he knows Two-Bit is the one who picked it out and made his brother sign it.

Sodapop gets a postcard of the San Francisco Library – this time the postcard's personally chosen by Ponyboy - and on the back Ponyboy's scrawl runs long, finally finishing into minuscule sized letters wishing his brother were there.

*

14. Steve's draft number.

Steve comes home a year later; all his fingers and all his toes in place. His mind's fried but that doesn't matter to anyone.

Darry thinks he's seen everything until Ponyboy engulfs Steve in a massive hug. Steve hugs the kid right back and Darry swallows the lump in his throat.

*

15. His college acceptance letter.

Darry didn't think it would actually happen but when he gets the letter from the University of Tulsa he stares at it for a good ten minutes. He applied for the heck of it and this is where it gets him – taking college algebra next to Ponyboy.

Darry holds on to the letter and enlists the following semester.

*

16. Soda's girl – Laurie. She mirrors Sandy in many ways; blonde hair, blue eyes, distant smile. Even Ponyboy sees this and keeps his distance. Call it prejudice or whatnot, but Darry hasn't trusted Soda's choices in women since Sandy. There's been Maggie, Christina and Diane; none of them good news.

Soda and Laurie whisper to each other at dinner, laugh over beers drank at the Curtis house and Soda falls hard and fast once again. Ponyboy softens but Darry resists because he still remembers Sandy's letter.

Laurie tells Ponyboy he'll be a great writer one day and helps Molly with the Sunday dinners they have now since everyone has moved out and Molly has moved in.

Then, Soda and Laurie marry. Soda's never been so happy and Darry wonders how he could have been so wrong about Laurie.

*

17. The assignment Ponyboy takes. Soda and Darry have diligently preserved their youngest brother's University of Tulsa editorials since he started as a journalist on the paper.

Darry keeps the articles in a shoebox while Laurie tells Darry that Sodapop keeps them tacked up in his garage, hanging among the wrenches and screwdrivers.

Someone calls the house one night. When he hears her shout, Darry runs through the living room just in time to see Molly crying, holding the phone out to him. His 19-year-old brother has been stabbed; stabbed while researching a story about drug use on the seedier side of Tulsa.

This time, Ponyboy nearly dies. But something in their brother pulls through yet again as Ponyboy uses up another of his nine lives.

Darry makes Ponyboy stay at the house until he heals. Pony greets Darry with endless silence, never once picking up a pencil. He never eats and he never sleeps, but he sure drinks enough for a kid, beer bottles lining all the trash cans in the house. When Sodapop sees this he abruptly leaves the house, his car tires burning rubber.

One morning Darry catches Pony shaking on his knees outside on the porch.

"Oh my God," Ponyboy says. "It's never been this hard." And he shields his eyes against the sunrise.

*

18. Ponyboy's strength.

"Don't you dare," Darry warns Ponyboy.

It's been three months and his brother has healed. Pony waltzes in one afternoon, announcing to Sodapop and Darry that he's continuing the newspaper's assignment. His green eyes bright, body sturdy, except for the slight grimace of pain when he bends a certain way.

Or breathes.

Soda, ashen, sinks into Darry's recliner, twisting his wedding band around and around. "You ain't serious."

"I gotta do it, Soda." Pony hovers near the door, knowing his words aren't welcome. "If I don't who will?"

"Let someone else," Darry says. "No more close calls." Darry shoots a glance at Molly, who is hovering in the bedroom, and wills her to keep her Irish temper to herself.

Pony's face twists up. "It's my job."

Sodapop's never looked so angry. "You're our brother."

*

19. The day Molly springs the news. "Congratulations. I never knew you had it in you."

"Had what?" Darry replies, absentmindedly reading his Business textbook.

Molly rests her hand on her still-flat stomach.

Darry's eyes widen.

*

20. Marriage. Darry knows he'll be a good father; he's raised two boys before and so far they've both made it through alive. But when he slips that ring on Molly's left hand, a kind of what-have-I-done fear washes over him.

Darry's gaze slips out into the crowd and he sees Two-Bit with his arm around Cathy, Laurie all smiles with her camera. Steve's there too with a girl named Barbara. Only, a few people are missing. His parents and Johnny and Dallas.

The other two – Sodapop and Ponyboy – are right up beside him.

Darry snaps out of it. He sees Molly smiling; her red curls bunched up around her face and Darry's fear melts.

His family is all there. Darry knows he can do it; but he could never do it without them.

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Just got inspired last night. Let me know what you think. Pardon typos, tense. I tried to catch them all but we shall see…

Thanks!