A/n: Oneshot time! Rated T for a little cursing. Enjoy and please review!

Fire and Smoke

Ponyboy turned, and then turned again, and turned again. He huffed a breath of air, frustrated that he couldn't get comfortable. It was almost one a.m. and he was tired. He'd had track practice and a science test today, and he was exhausted from the inside out. He threw an arm across the bed to Soda's side, which was empty, and became even more frustrated that his older brother still wasn't home yet.

"I'll be back by midnight, Pony. Don't wait up." He'd thrown Pony a winning smile and dashed out the door to meet up with Steve at the Dingo.

Well, midnight had come and gone. Soda was going to get hell from Darry when he came back, and probably from Pony too. If Soda tried to sneak in through the window, maybe Pony just wasn't gonna open it. Soda could freeze his ass off outside, for all he cared.

Pony threw a glance at the window hoping to see his brother's sheepish face. There was nothing. He sighed and turned again.

Two-fifteen a.m. Still no Sodapop and still no sleep. Ponyboy rubbed his eyes, both extremely tired and worried at the same time. If Sodapop said midnight, he'd be late an hour tops. Two hours and fifteen minutes. Ponyboy contemplated waking up Darry, but decided against it when he realized Soda might just be with a girl or something. But for some reason, he just knew that wasn't it. Soda wouldn't worry his brother for some girl. Ponyboy swung his feet over the side of the bed and put his head in his hands. He needed a cigarette or something.

Quietly padding across the hall into the front room, Pony pushed the door open and stepped outside. Glory, it was freezing. Ponyboy rubbed his bare arms and stuffed a cigarette between his lips, hastily lighting it before taking a deep drag. He held in the smoke for as long as he could and then breathed it out, long and slow. His hand didn't shake this time as he brought it to his lips again.

As he smoked, he squinted down the street lazily, watching his neighborhood as it slept. The wind blew and something rustled with the breeze. Waving away the smoke from in front of his eyes, Ponyboy searched for the source of the noise and froze when he saw a dark bump on the street.

He wondered if he should go see what it is, and deciding he would split if it moved even an inch, he slowly walked to the odd blue lump on the road. He was wary of it, searching for any sort of movement. His caution was in vain though, because as he kneeled beside it, he found it was only some kid's shirt. Blue and red plaid. Ponyboy picked it up and threw it over a shoulder as he walked back to the house, shaking his head and chuckling at the idiot who'd leave his shirt lying on the road.

Then he stopped. He only knew one kid that wore plaid button-downs. And the shirt he had worn tonight definitely had no red on it.

He looked at Soda's shirt in his hands and the red blood stained the skin of his palms. The cigarette dropped out of his mouth.

Ponyboy's head shot up and he looked frantically around him.


Somewhere, quiet and low, there was a moan of pain. Ponyboy ran.

"Oh shit, shit, shit, shit..."

Something was curled in on itself near the storm drain. The legs were curled in on themselves and the arm was twisted unnaturally. He was face down, lying against the pavement and his white t-shirt was barely white anymore. The red was soaked into the fabric thickly and it stuck to his body. Ponyboy's stomach turned and he held back the urge to vomit. Slowly, carefully, he approached the body. Calling it a person was not right, not with the way it was lying so still and unnatural. It was a body, a corpse.

He kneeled down and the knees of his pants soaked with the blood surrounding the drain. His hands were fast and gentle, rubbing the boy's back. There was another moan.

Holding his breath, hoping to God that this wasn't his brother, that he was dreaming, Ponyboy turned the body over.

Through the rapid bruising, congealed blood and cuts almost everywhere, he recognized the disfigured yet handsome face of Sodapop Curtis. His hands began to shake and then his voice began to shake.


Sodapop pulled a lid open with difficulty and surveyed his little brother. "Oh, Pony," He croaked.

Pony's eyes clouded and he grasped Soda's hands, checking for a pulse, needing to know his brother was still alive, even if it was infinitesimally. There a pulse. Slow and faint, but it was there. He looked at his brother's bloody and hopeless face.

"You'll be okay, Sodapop, everything will be all right."

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