Hey there! Here's a Steve and Ponyboy fanfiction. You will find out everything in the story, don't worry.

And no, this isn't a slash story. Sorry guys. It's only friendship.

Disclaimer: Don't own Outsiders.


He was coming home.

Sodapop would have been with him if it wasn't for Darry and I hounding on him night and day. Soda had told us that he would be fighting for our country, fighting for peace, fighting for us; we didn't care. We simply held him down and let him know that there was no way we would let him get blown to pieces.

Then, of course, there was Steve Randle.

...

I will never forget that day, one year ago, when the sun shone bright. Sodapop didn't notice the clear blue sky though, and his seemingly endless smile was nothing more than a bleak frown and a trembling bottom lip…

Steve stood before us, adorned in a green uniform, his bag beside his feet. I couldn't help but admire the way he stood tall and taut, his blue eyes hard as steel.

"Well, guys," he said with a sigh, "this is it…I guess."

Darry gave him a good pat on the shoulder, telling him how brave he was to enlist in Vietnam. Two-Bit held up a beer proudly, saying, "Glory, with Steve out in the field, there's no way we'll lose!" This had made Steve chuckle. He had been oddly quiet since that morning. I had guessed that was because he talked to Evie, and they had said their tearful goodbyes. Little blond Evie, faithful as ever, told him in a voice filled with pride, "I love you so god damn much, Steve Randle. Please come home…and not in a box…"

I might have laughed if she said that any day but that one. No, my throat was burning the whole time. But, now was the hardest, because Steve had to say goodbye to the one person he loved more than anyone: his best friend, Sodapop. I desperately wanted a cigarette.

They stared at each for what seemed like eternity, until Sodapop broke down and practically leaped into Steve's strong arms. Tears started to well up in Steve's eyes until they flowed out, and his soft, bitter voice was reduced to silence.

"S-Steve…" Soda stuttered, and I looked over at Darry and Two-Bit. Two-Bit met my gaze, and his shoulders were quivering. When I saw Darry, I was surprised to see his back facing the two. When I took a step closer, I nearly choked when I saw tears fall down Darry's face. This was hard on all of us, but I guess maybe Steve and Sodapop reminded him of what him and Paul Holden used to be. Because of that, I broke down too.

Sodapop and Steve finally pulled apart. "Darn it Steve…the DX will be nuthin' without ya."

Steve forced a smile. "You won't miss me as much as you think you will, you got Ponyboy anyways, he'll keep you busy."

I looked up to Steve in bewilderment. I hadn't quite understood what he said, but I do now.

Steve and I paused and looked at each other. Things hadn't changed much between us. I was still a tag-along, he was still a pain. Nothing would change that, I thought. What did Soda see in him anyway?

Then, he gave me a smile. With that, he picked up his bag, gave us a nod, and left.

The four of us watched him leave. We watched him drive away until he out of sight. Steve wasn't a boy anymore. He was a man heading off into Vietnam, ready and willing to fight for America in the war.

Sodapop froze in the middle of the road, staring off into the direction Steve had gone. He took one step, slowly, and then another, before dashing back into the house and into our bedroom, slamming the door shut.

He didn't come out anymore that day.

It had been midnight when I finally knocked on the door. It was still locked. "Soda, can you please open the door? I want to go to bed."

The only reply I got was the door opening a crack. I took a step in cautiously, and was shocked at what I saw. Everywhere was crumpled papers. The only light in the room was the table lamp. The rest of the room was covered in darkness.

When my wide eyes flinched and caught sight of Soda, I barely recognized him. His eyes were puffy and blood-shot from crying. His shoulders were still shaking, and a forced smile dawned on me from above. He had grown quite tall over the last while. He was almost eighteen now.

"Ponyboy…" he mumbled. "Y-you gotta help me write a letter."

"Soda, it's the middle of the night. We should-"

"No!" Soda barked. "It's important! It can't wait."

"…Fine…" I couldn't refuse him. Not the way he was now. I walked over to my study table and shoved the pile of books to the side. I grabbed a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. "Who's it to?"

"Steve."

I eyed him incredulously. "He just left today, Soda! Besides…you know-"

"I know! I know! But I got to be ready! As soon as he writes…I have to write back. I need to be ready Pony" –his voice cracked – "I gotta be ready."

I sighed in defeat and wrote down his words as he spoke. It would be a long night.

And it was.

...

"He should be here by now!" Sodapop hollered impatiently. He was pacing the room, unable to keep still. "Can you believe it? He's done guys! He's gonna be back!"

Darry wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "Calm down, little buddy," he cooed. "Don't pass out now. How do you think Steve will feel when he walks through the door and sees you on the floor?"

"Whaddya mean, 'don't pass out?'"

"If you keep jumping around you'll wear yourself out!" Darry jerked a thumb towards the couch. "Seat down, willya?"

Sodapop pouted and took a seat. Two-Bit couldn't help but laugh at him as he took another bite of cake.

I sat at the kitchen table away from them, by myself. Right then, I had many things on my mind. I was thinking over the last twelve months. The last twelve months without Steve. Suddenly, a memory popped out into my mind…

...

It had been three months since Steve left for Vietnam. Like everyday when I came home from school, I stopped by our mailbox and took in our mail. Inside, I tossed the letters and flyers onto the kitchen table and grabbed a Pepsi. Then I pulled up a chair and sorted through the mail.

Junk…bill…bill…letter for Darry…letter for Soda…

That was when my arms became stiff. I gripped the letter tightly and held it up.

It was from Steve.

My heart nearly jumped. Soda would be ecstatic when I told him Steve sent a letter. Steve sent Sodapop letters whenever he could. He sent Evie letters, too, and for the first time last month, he sent one to his father. I was told that Steve's father had broke down to tears when he saw the envelope. Maybe Steve's father really did care for him. Maybe something like this had to happen before he realized it.

There was one more letter staring back at me, and when I read the words written on it I felt like throwing up.

It was a letter from Steve, but it wasn't for Darry or Soda.

It was for me.

I brushed the other mail aside and held that one closely. Why in the world would he have written a letter to me, I asked myself. Steve hated me. He thought I was a kid. He thought I was a smart-ass. He even told me that!

I made a tear in the envelope, but couldn't bring myself to open it. I didn't know why, but it was like I couldn't handle it. I couldn't handle to see what words he had written for me; for me and me only. I tucked the letter into my sweater and finished off my Pepsi. I wouldn't go to the movies tonight. I would stay home and watch some TV. Maybe Two-Bit would drop by.

It had been a short time before dinner when Sodapop busted through the door and slammed it shut. Hurriedly, he kicked off his shoes, tossed off his DX hat, and grabbed a glass of chocolate milk. He ran over to me.

"Any mail, Pone?"

"You got a letter, and I think you'll be happy to see it."

Sodapop beamed and went into the kitchen. When he reemerged, he shook the letter in front of me. "It's from Steve! Wanna hear it?"

I resisted the urge to tell him what I really thought. "Uh…sure…"

Sodapop plopped down beside me and cleared his throat.

"Hey Sodapop. How's Evie doing? I know I ask that a lot, but I can't help but worry about her. Make sure no guy makes a move on her okay? Tell her that her letter will come soon.

I guess you're all doing fine. How's the kid? He still making good grades? Hope the Socs aren't causing him much trouble. They better be staying away from our territory!

Did Two-Bit ever work out things with Kathy? The last time I wrote to him, he told me they broke up, which didn't surprise me that much. I thought he was going after that Soc girl anyway. Remember the time she stopped by the DX and stole my cigarette? I tell you Soda, she'd be a good girl for you if she isn't going with Two-Bit.

Listen, I miss you a lot. Stay out of trouble. And remember, I won't be here too long. Things aren't going too good. I don't think we'll win this one. But don't tell anyone I said that. Things might turn around, but I doubt it. We're losing a lot of people, and you know what? I'm scared Soda. Man, I wish you were here with me. You'd be able to calm all of us down.

Jake's bugging me to finish this letter already. He says hi though. I guess I'd be annoyed too if my bunk mate stayed up writing to three in the morning.

See you around. Be back in Tulsa soon.

-Steve Randle"

I was surprised at the time that he had asked about me in Soda's letter. Then again, maybe that's why he wrote a letter to me, to let me know that he will be back, and I won't be free from our arguments forever. No way around it, I suppose.

As for Two-Bit, him and Kathy broke up for good. "Too uptight and never knew how to take a joke," that's how Two-Bit described the situation to me. They wouldn't be getting back together, I could tell.

Sodapop would be eager to write about Marcia though. I should know. Soda and Marcia started dating three weeks before. She started to hang around the house often, too. I couldn't believe I didn't think much of her at the Nightly Double. She was real sweet and funny, and even Darry liked her. She was smart, too, and she seemed to think of me as a friend. I'd walk through the halls in school and she would come up to me and strike up a conversation like she would with her Soc friends. She did that with Two-Bit too (and you can imagine the looks on peoples' faces when they saw a bunch of greasers and a Soc together like that), but she mostly talked to me. "Ponyboy," she once told me, "you're as good-lookin' as your brother Soda, you know that?" Needless to say, I blushed red. What really surprised me was when I asked about Darry.

"That man's amazin'," she said. "Smart, strong, and handsome too. Shoot Ponyboy, he has it all!" I guess I never really thought of Darry like that.

As for Cherry Valance, well, we never speak at all. She ignores me completely, and when I do catch her eye, she always shoots me a phony, dirty look before going off with her friends. Cherry was a great girl, but I guess she cared more about her reputation than anything else.

"I'm gonna go write a letter back." Soda turned and looked at me. "Hey, Ponyboy, a movie is coming on the TV tonight. You want to watch it with Darry and me?"

"Sure."

He cracked a grin and went into the bedroom.

That night, when Soda was well asleep, I pulled out my flashlight and started to read Steve's letter to myself:

"Hey Ponyboy. Long time no see. I know you might be confused about why I'm writing to you, we barely even talked when I was back home, but I got a reason. So shut up and listen good.

You got to promise me you'll keep an eye out for Sodapop. He's always doing wild and crazy things, and he's going to kill himself sooner or later. Keep him out trouble Ponyboy. Darry will probably take care of him anyway. He'd kill to keep you two safe.

You may not believe me Pony, but I'm sort of jealous of you. You always seem to go around whining about Darry being tough on you or Soda worrying about you, but I'd trade places with you in a second. God, kid, open your eyes! Ever since I met you three, I always wished I had brothers. Brothers to look out for me and protect me. My old man didn't care for me, we'd always fight, even though I'm not sure if we fixed that now. You know about my Mom by now, she ran off when I was five. I had no one, yet there you were, everyone on your side, everyone looking out for you, especially Darry, and you were COMPLAINING. That really pissed me off, Ponyboy. If Darry let you run loose and didn't give a second glance, you would be heartbroken. Believe me, I know what you'd do.

You don't need to reply to this letter. Just do as I asked before, about Sodapop. I don't care about getting a letter back from you, because chances are, you probably won't write back anyway. Just look out for the guys and Evie, and stay out of the Socs' way, okay?

You're a good kid Ponyboy. I won't lie, you got a smart mouth and can get annoying, but you're a good kid. Don't let anyone tell you that isn't true.

-Steve Randle

I must have re-read that whole letter five times before stuffing it under my pillow and clicking off my flashlight. I laid flat on my back and stared up at the ceiling, Soda snoring softly beside me. I didn't fall asleep for hours. My mind was too busy rearranging what I thought of Steve.

The next day, I wrote a letter back to him.

Then he sent another to me.

And I sent one back.

And another.

And another.

We wrote each other so frequently that it seemed like every time Soda got a letter from Steve, I did too. Of course, the others didn't know of this. I wouldn't know how to explain it.

...

"He's two hours late…" Sodapop wasn't excited anymore, he was a nervous wreck. "What if he's dead or something? What if he crashed on the way here? What if-"

Two-Bit gave his shoulder a tight squeeze. "Soda, buddy, sit down already. You're getting anxious again." As soon as Sodapop did sit down, Two-Bit couldn't help but add: "Besides, nothing could kill that Steve."

"Damn right," Darry muttered, before folding up the newspaper and setting it down. It was the third time he went through that paper. He was nervous, too.

I stayed in the kitchen. I was thinking over how much things had changed over the last twelve months. Darry was promoted at his roofing company. Sodapop got a raise, and he kept the DX running as good as ever. Two-Bit changed the most though. He was still good ol' Two-Bit, wise-cracking, laughing, life-loving as ever. His Mom's health was failing though, so he would stay home a bit longer in the mornings, go back to his house a bit earlier in the evenings. The last few times I dropped by he was even helping his kid sister out by cleaning. Two-Bit, cleaning? That was one for the record books.

Soda...his transformation required me to think back to three weeks ago, on a warm, humid night…

...

"Jesus Christ…"

Sodapop kicked the sheets off and shrugged off his pajama pants. "You sweating to death, Pony?"

"You ain't a-woofin'," I muttered. I was only in my underwear. My palms and forehead were sticky and clammy with sweat, and I desperately wanted a shower.

Sodapop had seem distracted all day, so I asked, "Are you sure it's just the heat that's getting to you?"

He looked at me through the dark and jumped out of his bed. He rushed over to mine and climbed in, laying on his side. The last few months I had finally started sleeping by myself. I barely had my nightmares anymore, and when I did, I wasn't so scared. Darry told me that was because I was becoming a man, and that I was tougher than before. I was full of pride that day when he said that.

"You know how I've been dating Marcia for awhile now?"

"Yeah."

"Well, I thought maybe after she gets out of high school and I get a better job, that I'll ask her to marry me."

I stared at him in awe. "Really? You want to marry Marcia?"

"I haven't felt this way about anyone since Sandy." Sodapop gave an inward sigh. "And that was a long time ago. She's got to be the one, Ponyboy. Do you think she is?"

I never told Sodapop, but I had thought Sandy was the one. I really did. Then she turned around, cheated on Soda, got herself pregnant, moved away, and even though Sodapop wanted to stay with her, she dumped him. I didn't want Soda to get hurt like that again. I didn't want to see him fall in love too fast and too hard. I wanted him to stay the smiling, happy-go-lucky Sodapop he was.

"I…" I didn't quite know what to say. Then I thought about Marcia with her pretty dark eyes, her soft smile, and happy laugh. I thought about the way her eyes seemed to twinkle whenever she was around Soda, and how she loved him just as much as he loved her.

"She'll say yes, Soda," I whispered, "I know she will."

He wrapped me into a huge hug, which was rather uncomfortable since we were both covered in sweat from the heat. "If you think so then I know she loves me! I'm just glad you and Darry get along with her. You know, with her being a Soc and all."

"Soc has nothing to do with it," I told him. "Marcia doesn't care. We shouldn't either."

...

I finally rejoined the others in the living room. We sat there, facing the door, waiting for the sound of an engine. It was eerily quiet, and I wished that Steve would hurry up. Even Two-Bit was chewing on his nail. He stopped drinking. I don't think he could handle another bottle.

All of a sudden, the flash of headlights came through our front windows and a car door slammed shut. We immediately stood up, our hearts pounding out of our chests.

The porch door squeaked before swinging open wide. There stood Steve. He looked older, more mature. They say war ages you. I never really understood that saying, but now I did.

There was a silent moment before we all screamed happily and rushed over to Steve. The house erupted with laughing and greeting and talking. Steve wasn't as excited to see us as we were to see him, but then again, he's been through a lot more than we have for the last twelve months. I planned to ask him about Vietnam, but not tonight. Maybe some other time.

Sodapop nearly squeezed the daylights out of him through a hug. They were both choking back tears, and I nearly called them fools. Why act tough when you have just seen your best friend come home safely from war?

Darry gave him a quick hug and held him out at arms length. "My, my. That scar on your cheek sure makes you look tough."

Steve gave him a small grin. "Thanks, Superman. Find your Lois Lane while I was gone?"

Darry laughed and punched him playfully on the shoulder. Two-Bit walked over and gave him a hug too, cracking about the dark fuzz growing on his chin and the condition of his clothes. Steve grabbed him in a choke hold and pretended to punch his head. They had always been good buddies.

Then, he turned and looked at me. The others stood quiet, probably thinking we would give each other a nod or a slap on the shoulder.

When I met those eyes of his, I was surprised to see that for once they weren't so bitter. Instead, they were dark pools of blue, and they were watering.

"Ah, Ponyboy…" he said, and before he and the others could react, I charged towards him and hugged him tightly. He hugged back, nearly lifting me off the ground.

I don't know how long we held each other. Long enough to make the others look at each other and exchange glances of confusion. We didn't notice though.

Steve Randle was back home, with us. Safe and sound from the terrible sights he witnessed over in Vietnam.

When he first wrapped me in that hug, just like I had, I didn't know how to react. I couldn't say anything, because my throat started to burn and tears flowed down my cheeks. There was a heavy weight building in my stomach. I tried to convince myself it was just the relief in seeing him home, not happiness. Things would go back to the way they were before all this happened. His letters wouldn't change anything.

Even then, I knew all that was complete bull.

"Hey, Steve?"

"Yeah Pony?"

I looked up at him and smiled. "Welcome home."


Hope you all liked it!

Review please :)

-Kendell