Disclaimer: I own nothing.

/A.N/: A short fic after Johnny gets jumped by those - Socs. Darry and Johnnycakes reflects.


Shortcomings

Part I

"And I don't like to talk about it either-Johnny getting beat up,I mean.

But I started in,talking a little faster than I usually do because I don't like to think about it either."

-Ponyboy,Chapter two

( Darry POV)


"Oh god." Two-Bit patted me comfortingly on the back."I can't believe they would do that."

"I know,"Two-Bit sounded angry. He'd been chain-smoking for the past three hours already and had gone through too many packs more than we could afford.

"Those god damned son-of-a-bitches," he cussed. "I am right up there with Dally to go crack some skulls."

"So am I," I told him. "But no, I can't. Gotta think about Pony."

We kept quiet for a bit , I started shaking a bit as I thought of how easily it could have been Pony they jumped. His jacket that was splattered with blood. Or his face cut up a dozen times. It could be Pony that was sleeping on the couch beside me. His every breath, a low moan.

"What's wrong,Darry?"

I fought to keep myself still.

"You know,that could just as easy have been Pony." I told him, relieved that at least,my hands ahd stopped shaking.

Two-Bit turned to face me. His eyes were wide, horrified at the possibility.

"Darry-"

"Two-Bit,"I interrupted. "Promise me you can take care of Pony,alright?In school or after.I can't be there for Pony all the time and the damned kid just doesn't think sometimes."

"Need you even ask?" he blew smoke in my face and I waved it off. The air reeked of it enough already.

"And I know I can't ask about Johnny but-"

"He's got Dally. He'll need all the help he can get."

I nodded, "With those lousy folks he got, he'll need us."

"Johnnycake tries his best but that doesn't seem to matter to his own folks."

I stared up at the ceiling.

"You should try stay sober more often, Keith. You make more sense than most."

"Unfortunately,Darry,staying sober means facing the world."

"We all have different ways to deal with it."

"Dally can't,you know. He'll blow one now,we're all just running but we'll never get rid of it."

I paused.

"You're right,"

"You're doing okay,though,Dar,"

"I'm doing awful,Two-Bit. Soda's outta school, we got no money, Pony keeps getting into all kinds of trouble."

"But not many guys can deal with that." he patted my shoulder. "Muscles, you're doing better than most dicks."

I punched him playfully in the shoulder. "What did you call me?"

He laughed. The laughter seemed too loud in the quiet house.

"Shuttup. Pony and Soda's sleepin' "

Pony slept fitfully at first, tossing and turning till Soda got in with him and rubbed his back till he slept better. Steve left a bit after Dally. He had to get up for work tomorrow too as well. Dally ran out, probably to Buck's or to more likely,to the Socs side of town to bust somebody up. Badly.

"Two-Bit, its getting late, you better get back," I told him. It was near three in the morning already.

"Yeah," he agreed. "See you guys tomorrow."

He left without much noise which had to be a first.

Then I was left to myself and my own thoughts.

And of course, Johnny. He slept on his side now. His eyes closed. His breathing wasn't too even but I figured it was probably the Socs bastards had given him a big scare.

I just sat there and stared.

That's one of my shortcomings,you know. I've never been able to completely protect everyone.


Part II

"Johnnycake tries his best but that doesn't seem to matter to his own folks."

-Two-Bit

(Johnny POV)


"And ain't that the truth?" I thought after Two-Bit said it. Darry said something back but I didn't hear it as I closed my eyes tighter. I didn't want to hear what Darry said. I tried to block the words out till all I heard was just a murmur. Just like the shadows on the walls. Sure they were there, but I couldn't do anything about it. It was just better to ignore. To hear what they said would be eavesdropping. That's why pops whipped me one time when I was younger .For listening to their talking. I couldn't help but hear some words though....

" Pony...promise....help...those son of a bitch...."

I felt my chest get tighter and I fought over myself to stay where I was. To just pretend I was sleeping. Finally, Darry said ,"Two-Bit, its getting late, you better get back." I turned back again, sighing. It was so quiet,it seemed to hang in the air but neither of them noticed. Two-Bit agreed and he went, leaving Darry in his armchair. That meant he did be beside the couch where I was then. Soon though, even Darry got up and I felt him pulling the blanket higher on me. He patted my head before going to his own bedroom. I heard the click as the door shut and I waited before cracking open an eye.

It was pitch-black. That was the first thing I noticed. There was no moon tonight and everything look weird. Like it was all the same thing but wrong at the same time. I noticed the picture of the Curtis family was a little crooked hanging on the wall and the stuffing of the couch nearly coming out. The TV had a crack on the side and the pack of smokes, on the table, itself was half-burned like someone had lighted it instead.

My sight was a little blurry, shaky after having them closed for so long. It was like a TV while you were waiting for it to get its signal. I felt really sick as I sat up. The pain in my side bothered me something awful , like that Soc's blade was still twisting. I remembered the boy who stood over me. He cut my face with each of his punches, the rings digging into my face. His fist kept dragging down as I tried to get away. There was that blindingly awful pain as my skin tore open. I was screaming by that time. But no one came and his friends pulled him off me and they ran. I still screamed after they ran but no one came and after a while, I just stopped and realized I could die from the amount of blood that was spilling outta my cuts.

That spooked me and I kept quiet, wondering if I was gonna die this way. I shivered suddenly cold in the warm weather. I looked outta the window. It was just as dark outside but I could still make out my house at the end of the street. The sharp peak of the roof and the broken gate at the front. I wondered if mom and pops noticed I was gone? Maybe they were worried? I tried to imagine and to my dismay, it came easily to me. Too easily. I had been trying for some time now to just forget about them like Dally told me to.

Screw them. You don't need 'em, Johhnycakes.

But it came too easy for me to picture their faces, worried and scared. Maybe pops was calling around, asking for me? Maybe mom was sitting in my room, frightened about what was happening. And the most, most important thing, neither of them was drinking. They were both sober . It wasn't likely, I knew. More likely they were just drinking as usual. The thought made me feel like crying so I thought about how angry Dally had been, instead. He was so angry, hollering like mad and punching the wall.

I'll get 'em ,Johnny if its the last thing I ever do. I'll cut their faces up just like they did you. I'll get those bastards.

Dally. He acted like he didn't give a damn but I knew he did. And that mattered to me. It was all I ever wanted. A family who didn't holler at me or whip.

I loved the gang and all but I just wanted someone to give a damn about me all the time and they did. Sometimes,I just wished my own parents loved Pony's did. They really did care about their own kids, his mom used to give them hugs and kisses and their dad did say things randomly like how he's proud of that shot Darry made or how was Sandy or even if Ponyboy had read that article in the paper about using electricity for mobile phones.

"Mobile phones,' he laughed hysterically. "Right."

Sometimes, I wonder if they would notice if I went to hell.

Sometimes,I wished they would notice me more.

Sometimes,I just wished I had more.

And maybe that's my shortcoming as a kid, my parents don't want me and I can't make them love me.

But I could make up for it.

I made my mind to ask Two-Bit for a blade the next time I remembered.


/A.N/: R&R!The quote below is something I found while just going about the net.

"His short coming is his long staying."-Benjamin Disraeli