1I missed Soda. He's been at war for a few months now. He stopped sending me mail back. I keep sending but I'm not sure if he gets it. Darry and I haven't gotten any better. Just worse. He actually started hitting me. But I've gotten used to it.

I went through the fridge and found only beer. No food. I opened a cupboard, only pills and drugs. I felt something explode in my heart. I don't care how much Darry hates me. I still love him. I don't want him to die. So I grabbed most of the beers and some really strong bottles of pills, and ran to the bathroom. I dumped all the contents of the beer bottles into the toilet and flushed. I did the same thing with the pills and drugs. I knew Darry was going to be mad, but I didn't care. I just didn't want him to get hurt.

The door flew open with a bang. I jumped up and locked the bathroom door. I waited to see who it was. Just someone from our gang that's all. I knew it was Darry because he would usually call for me. I opened the door and slipped out, and quickly dumped the empty bottles and containers into the trashbag.

"Hey kid." I turned and saw Steve. He's been a mess since Soda left. I mean Soda was his best buddy, and knowing that he could die at any second was probably killing him, as much as it was killing me.

"Hi Steve." We've gotten closer since Soda left. But I haven't told him or anyone else, even Johnny, about Darry. I've just been making up stupid excuses.

He studied my face, and probably noticed that I had a swollen cheek and a cut on my neck. Plus I must smell like beer and all that other shit.

"What happened to your face, Pony?" I sighed. I thought quickly and racked my brain for an excuse.

"I got jumped by some guys yesterday." He gave me a skeptical look.

"That's what you told me the other day." I felt my skin drain of all color. Damn, I don't want him to know. Darry will kill me if anyone knew.

"Well, ever since what happened they've gotten worse." Maybe he would take that. I felt his strong arm come down on to my shoulder as I washed the dishes. He turned me away slowly to look at him.

"Ponyboy you need to tell me if something is going here." He gave me a desperate look. He knew what was going on. He just needed me to tell him.

"I know Steve. And if anything was wrong, I would tell you." I hated lying to all of them. He gave me another desperate look, and then nodded his head and sat down in front of the T.V.

I finished washing the dishes, and started making dinner. I hated that it was summer. I couldn't escape Darry anymore by going to school or going to the library as an excuse to get away and study.

I heard Darry's car. Of course the gang knew about him drinking, but they thought he was just coping. They were nervous at first, but then they got over it, and noticed that he still acted the same. Only Steve and Dally seemed to see right through him. Plus they come over here all the time since summer started.

Darry came in. I gulped, but then realized that Steve was still here, so he wouldn't full out hit me in front of him right?

"Hey Steve. Ponyboy." He put a hard hand on my shoulder and squeezed hard. He chuckled softly when he saw me wince. The bell on the oven rang, and he took out the pizza, put it down and opened the fridge. Oh God.

Something registered on his face. He noticed that only three bottles where left in the fridge. He stood up straight and gave me a look of knowing. His eyes said We'll talk about this later.

Translation? Your dead kid.

I turned my head away, and started taking plates out. We only had a few since Darry loved to start smashing everything delicate in the house. Like me, I thought.

Dally showed up later, and ended up staying the whole night, which made me breath easier. That way Darry couldn't get to me.

But tomorrow was going to suck.

I watched as some black hoods ran down the street, running with guns, and money. Obviously the robbed some store. I sighed, wondering what had happened to this world. Everyone thinking that it's okay to be a hood and to be tough. But nobody looked at the bigger picture.

"Pony!" I flinched, thinking that it was Darry, but saw Johnny. Thank God.

"What's up Johnny?" I have to squint to look up at him, because it's so sunny out.

"Not much, you?" He sits down next to me on the porch, and eyes the cut healing on my neck.

"Not much either. How's your dad?" I can't stand Johnny's dad. Always beating him. But Darry does the same thing to me. But I don't hate him. Now I know how Johnny as felt for the last ten years.

"Same as always. What about Darry?" My eyes widened slightly, but I covered it up.

"Fine, why?" Johnny takes a deep breath.

"I'm just gonna come out and say it. Pony the gang and I have been talking, and we aren't buying any of your excuses about getting jumped, or falling. Those are some serious injuries, and- we think it's Darry." My face paled, and I looked away from Johnny. I felt tears stinging my eyes, because I was sick of lying to them.

"Pony? You have to tell us if something is going on, okay?" God I I had a quarter for every time someone told me that.

I'm not really sure what happened next. I heard the police's guns go off, giving the hoodlums a chance to stop. Hearing Darry yelling inside my head, sore from everything, missing Soda. Something popped like a balloon inside my heart, and I burst into tears.

Johnny looked at me startled, and pulled me into an embrace. I could tell that this was an awkward moment for him.

"Golly, I'm sorry if I upset you Pony. I just need to know what's going on." I buried my face into his shoulder and took three deep, long breaths, while Johnny rubbed my back and quieted my sobs.

"Yes." I gave up. I was sick of lying. Johnny gave me a look.

"Yes what?"

"Yes, it's Darry. Yes he's been the one doing this. I'm sorry."