I came home an hour earlier today. Boss told me to take a break after I sprained another muscle in my shoulder. I flexed it and winced.

Walking up, I found that Two-bit was already at our house.

"Where's Pony?" I asked immediately. Two-bit looked up.

"Hey Superman. You're home early. Ponyboy's asleep."

"Again?" I was starting to get worried.

"I came home an hour ago and he was asleep. I didn't want to wake him up so I just turned off the lights and left him."

"You turned off the lights?" I repeated. "Did you leave one on?"

He looked at me, puzzled. "No, why?"

I didn't answer. I ran into Pony's bedroom. He always gets nightmares when you turn off the lights and no one's in the room with him. I don't know why. I could tell he was having one as soon as I opened the door and walked in. He was tossing and turning feverishly in his sleep.

"Mom . . . dad?" he mumbled. "No!"

I stiffened. He was having 'The Dream'. Rushing over to his bedside, I shook his shoulder, trying to wake him up. His body was unnaturally warm. I felt his forehead with the back of my hand. It was burning hot. He was using a textbook as a pillow, one hand holding a pen and the other holding a crumpled piece of paper with some notes on it. It looked like he had fallen asleep working.

"Ponyboy, wake up," I said, still shaking him.

His startled eyes popped open suddenly, filled with fear. As they took in his surroundings they filled with tears.

"S- Soda?" he whimpered, grabbing my arm.

"It's Darry," I said, feeling that familiar pang of jealousy I always had for Pony and Soda's close relationship. Ignoring it, I pulled Pony into a hug. Pony hadn't dreamed about our parents for a long time. Usually he dreamed about Johnny, and sometimes Dallas. It was strange that he hadn't had one in two days. "Well, I'm not complaining," I thought.

I couldn't see his face, but from the way his shoulders were shaking and the left shoulder of my shirt was getting wet, I could tell he was bawling. I rubbed my hand on his back in attempt to comfort.

"It's okay Ponyboy. Just a dream."

Eventually his sobs subsided and he fell asleep again, his head resting on my shoulder. I took his homework off his bed and I gently laid him back down, tucked the covers around him and turned on the small night lamp next on the table. I walked out to get the thermometer.

As I walked into the living room, Two-bit turned around.

"The kid okay? I thought I heard someone crying."

"He had a nightmare. Hey, if you catch him sleeping again, keep the light on the table on okay?" I knew Pony would kill me for telling Two-bit that, but right now I thought it was much more important for his nightmares to stop.

Two-bit cocked an eyebrow.

"Afraid of the dark?"

"No. He just gets nightmares when he's alone and in the dark. Hey, don't tell him I told you okay?"

Two-bit grinned.

"Sure thing."

I nodded gratefully and headed over grab the thermometer. I ran back to Pony's room. This time he was sleeping peacefully. I sighed as I watched him for a while. He looked so young and vulnerable. I just wanted to hold him in my arms forever and shield him from the cruelties of the world. He had been through far too much for a kid his age. I didn't want to wake him but I knew I had to.

"Pony, wake up," I said, sitting on the edge of his bed. His eyes opened again.

"Darry?" he mumbled. "I feel kinda sick . . ."

"Yeah honey I know. I just need to check your temperature and then you can go back to sleep okay?"

He nodded tiredly and opened his mouth. He was asleep before I finished.

a/n i need help to finsh this.