Disclaimer: The Outsiders is a beautiful story that in no way belongs to me.

A/N: Story told from Darry's perspective, because he is my favorite. :D It is a lot of work writing these things, so, please REVIEW!! After you read it of course. Begins with Darry waiting for Pony to come home the night of the murder. READ AND REVIEW! Please??

Man, where the heck did that kid go? It's almost one A.M….Lord, he could be dead for all I know. No, he ain't dead. I gotta call the cops. Every second I waste…but no. If I call them now…I can't lose them. I can't lose Pony and Soda. Not now, not after everything we've been through. I've already lost Mom and Dad. I won't lose my kid brothers. Glory, where is that kid? He was supposed to be home at eleven. I've read the same sentence in this newspaper so many times…I still don't know what I'm reading. How can Soda be asleep? I know he's tired. He works hard, poor kid. But for our kid brother to just never turn up…I'm losing my mind over here. I can't call the cops. My choices are don't call the cops and lose one kid brother. Call the cops and lose both. I ain't gonna lose Soda and Pony…No, gotta stop thinkin' like that. I ain't gonna lose Pony. He'll come home. But man, is it late. What could've happened to him?

I spent the better part of an hour thinking like this, holding the newspaper in my hands like it was some sort of way to take my mind off of the fact that Ponyboy was still out there in the middle of the night. I was scared stiff, shaking and everything. The news didn't help. I couldn't even get a grip on what was in it. I just kept flipping through the pages, and every time I came to the end I started at the beginning again. Sodapop was lying asleep on the couch, he'd fallen asleep around one. It was real dark outside. I refused to look out there, thinking Pony might turn up outside the window, covered in blood or something. I was worried sick. It was bad enough we had to lose Mom and Dad, but any number of things could've happened to Pony. The Soc's, for one. South Side Soc, always on the attack, looking for greasy boys to jump, just like they jumped Johnny. I wondered if they had jumped Pony like they had jumped Johnny, and in the morning we'd find him lying in the street, half dead or worse and beaten to a pulp. Maybe they'd pulled a switch and killed him just like that. Just the other day the gang had pulled him away from a bunch of guys with a blade. They cut his neck. They would've killed him, too, if we hadn't shown up. The kid never used his head, for all I knew he slipped and fell down a well or something, and we'd never find him. I might never see Pony again was constantly going through my head. It was all I could do not to start bawling right there.

I got to thinking about how I always yelled at Pony. How maybe he would've come home sooner if I didn't always holler at him. If he really was gone, it would be my fault. I couldn't handle that guilt. I would have to call the cops…I came close to dialing the number. I picked up the phone, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, not with Soda lying there, trusting me, counting on me. It didn't matter what it took, I had to keep cool for Soda. I had to act like Dad, reassuring. I couldn't go calling the cops, not yet. I remembered my brothers' faces at the funeral. How they had cried. How I hadn't, I had to stay strong for them. I had to stay strong now, too. Superman. I could do anything…I could hold out a bit longer. No way was I going to panic, not yet. The clock ticked the time away, and every second that went by I could feel myself getting more and more on edge. At this point, Pony better come home bleeding. If he comes home with some ridiculous story about how he forgot I'll skin him, I thought. I was ticking along with the clock. A time bomb. With every tick I heard My fault, my fault, my fault.

I put the overused newspaper down on the table and got up, my nerves on end like just before a rumble. A rough rumble, with weapons. This was bad. I paced across the floor a couple of times, shaking my hands and taking big breaths, real slow, letting them out in loud gusts. After a minute I sat back down, uncomfortable without something in my hands. I picked up the newspaper again and actually read one of the headlines for the first time. The story had something to do with how great some Soc is some local football star. My fists clenched, remembering how we had found Johnny, and putting Ponyboy in his place instead. I picked up the phone again. I punched in the number nine and put it back, running my hand through my long hair and taking the newspaper again, this time careful not to actually read any of it. Soda made a noise in his sleep and muttered Pony's name. It was so quiet…a lot quieter than it usually was. There was no radio or television blasting, no one was rolling around on the floor wrestling, just silence and the rustling of the newspaper as I mindlessly turned the pages.

At this point I was a wreck. Every little sound had me jumping and looking out the front window to see if it was Pony. It never was. At some point I thought I even heard the door opening. I went to check. If Pony was hurt, he might not have been able to get the door open. But when I opened the door nothing was there. Thank god Soda didn't wake up. I felt guilty enough already. I didn't want him missing sleep, he had work tomorrow, if Pony would just make it home. "Come on, Ponyboy," I whispered to myself, sitting myself back down and picking up the newspaper once more. At some point I stopped looking when there were sounds. Sometimes I wondered if there really weren't any noises coming from outside, and it was just my imagination bringing Pony home, so that I wouldn't have to call the cops. So I stopped looking. I kept the newspaper in front of my face, letting my eyes glaze over the words and letters. They blurred into a sort of mass of black if I stared at them long enough, until I turned the page. I concentrated on that for a while. I didn't look at the clock. I couldn't bear to see what time it was that Ponyboy wasn't home yet.

At about two A.M. I heard fast, pounding footsteps coming from outside. I didn't flinch. I didn't move a muscle until I heard the door open softly, like he was trying not to wake up the house, as if I was sleeping. I looked up, saw my unscathed kid brother, and in that moment the time bomb went off. Adrenaline kicked in and I leapt to my feet before I even knew what I was doing. "Where the heck have you been? Do you know what time it is?" I asked, incredulous. His face was blank, stunned. Red shot through my vision. I was enraged, He shook his head. Attempting to keep my voice level, I said, clenched, "Well, it's two in the morning, kiddo. Another hour and I would have had the police out after you. Where were you, Ponyboy? Where in the almighty universe were you?" The words were harsher and louder than I'd meant them to be. I was losing my cool, and fast.

Pony was white as a sheet, and fumbled over the words, "I…I went to sleep in the lot…"

"You what?" I yelled, shaking in anger. He could have been mugged. He could have been killed! The boy never uses his head…and he was just wearing a T-shirt and jeans. It was freezing outside! It was the most unbelievable thing Pony had ever said to me. Soda woke up. I was loud.

"Hey, Ponyboy, where ya been?" he asked, as if nothing had happened. As if it wasn't two A.M. and Pony had just come home from some movie we didn't know he'd gone to see. I was furious. How could he be so calm?

Pony ignored Soda's question. He didn't even seem to notice that Soda had said anything. He just stared at me like a lost puppy in a storm, wide, sad eyes staring up at me, pleading, "I didn't mean to. I was talking to Johnny and we both dropped off…" His voice was small, and he sounded like he was scared stiff, but that just reminded me of how scared Soda and I had been for the past three hours. Why couldn't he just use his head?

"I reckon it never occurred to you that your brothers might be worrying their heads off and afraid to call the police because something like that could get you two thrown in a boys' home so quick it'd make your head spin. And you were asleep in the lot? Ponyboy, what on earth is the matter with you? Can't you use your head? You haven't even got a coat on."

Now the kid was getting teary eyed, but I didn't feel bad. I came close to bawling. He could've been dead! " I said I didn't mean too…" That set me off.

"I didn't mean to! I didn't think! I forgot! That's all I hear out of you! Can't you think of anything?" The house seemed like it was shaking. Pony looked terrified.

Then, out of the blue, Soda came in with, "Darry…" Not again! Soda was not sticking up for the kid this time. He had us worried sick, and Soda was gonna defend him now?

"You keep your trap shut! I'm sick and tired of hearin' you stick up for him." I'd never hollered at Soda before. Never at Soda.

"You don't yell at him!" shouted Pony, and I whipped around like wildfire before I even knew what I was doing. I couldn't really see, everything was blurry, I was so mad. My hand came fast and hard right into something. I heard a loud thud, and Pony knocked against the door. I couldn't understand what had happened. I stared at my reddened hand in disbelief. No…, I thought, I couldn't have hit the kid… My head was spinning. No one was talking, it was too quiet again, like it had been before Pony got home. I had to open my eyes wider to see better, maybe I was just mad, that was what was making my hand red… I looked back at Ponyboy, his cheek a glaring red color, his face shocked and hurt. He was frozen there, in that spot. I suddenly realized what I had done. I wanted to take it back, I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to…

"Ponyboy…" was all I managed to say. My tongue was tied. I still didn't really understand. I couldn't hit Pony, I wouldn't ever hit Pony, he's my kid brother. Then why was my hand red? Why was Pony's face?

Suddenly Ponyboy started to bolt out the door and down the street. I had to make myself speak. With effort, I managed to scream the only thing that was going through my mind. "Pony, I didn't mean to!" But by the time I could yell it was too late, he was too far away, he couldn't hear me. I stared after him, knowing I didn't have the training to catch up to the track star of the family. It was hopeless to go after him. I didn't mean to hit Ponyboy. I didn't mean to drive him away that night. I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to. Something Pony had said again and again, and something I never really understood. Now I did. Now I knew exactly what he meant.

I kept staring out the door, hoping Pony would come back any minute. Turning around would be accepting the kid had gone again. This time maybe for good. I had never hit him, nobody ever had. He wasn't coming back, not yet at least. So I closed the door, and turned to Soda. His eyes were wide, and scared. Eyes that reflected my own. "Soda…" I tried to say, but my voice sounded different. Strained, and not like myself. I was so scared I couldn't see straight, couldn't think. Soda just stared at me with his wide eyes and didn't say anything. I stuffed my fists in my pockets. I always stuffed my fists in my pockets. What I didn't always do was start bawling in the middle of my living room in front of my kid brother. Soda grabbed me round the waist and I stood there, fighting back the tears. I couldn't just cry, not now. So I forced myself not to, and got it together soon enough.

"I didn't mean to," was the first thing I could think to say. Soda just nodded. He still didn't say anything. "You ain't mad…are ya, Soda?" I was pleading with him. Soda couldn't be mad at me, not now. Not with all this. We had to get Pony back. Soda shook his head no, and I took a shuddering sigh, relieved, somewhat. At least I didn't have to apologize to him too. I grabbed a coat, and Soda silently followed. We moved into the night, starting at a quick jog and getting faster as we went towards the lot. I noticed Soda wipe away some tears, but I didn't let him know I noticed. When we got close to the lot, I saw nobody was there. My heart sank. I ran to it, hoping Pony was just sulking off in a shadow, but nobody was around. I put my hands on my knees, breathing heavily. I hadn't run that fast in a long time. Soda came to a stop next to me a few seconds later.

"Don't worry, Darry. Johnny'll make sure Pony's alright. He'll bring Pony home." I knew Soda was right. His words were soothing, Johnny was real good buddies with Ponyboy, I knew he'd be home soon enough. I took Soda's shoulder and told him we should go home and wait for him, so we're there when he gets back. We ran the whole way back, hoping he'd be there already by the time we got back, but the kid was nowhere in sight. I made my first resolve right then. I would never hit Ponyboy Curtis again. Soda and I sat at the kitchen table, and I held my head in my hands, knowing it was going to be a long night. I slammed a fist down on the table, making Soda jump.

"Damn it, Soda, what the heck did I do?" I asked, yelling, unable to control my frustration. But this time it was at myself. Pony was wearing me out. I kept seeing his face, reddened and stunned, staring up at me like I was a stranger. Like he was afraid of me. I mean, lord, I'd hit the kid so hard he got knocked into the door. Maybe he should be scared of me. I glared at my hand, gulping, silently accusing it of being responsible for all the wrongs that had happened to us. Soda grabbed my shoulder and shook me. I forced myself to keep cool and look up at him.

"Hey, Darry, it ain't been that long yet. Give Pony some time to cool off, you'll see, he'll be home before ya know it," he said halfheartedly. The truth was he didn't know if Pony would come back at all. He might never want to be in this house again, not with me hollering all the time and now smacking him so hard he got blasted to the side. Who would want to live in a house like that? I didn't say any of this to Sodapop. I didn't want him to worry. He had enough to worry about without listening to me blubber on about what a terrible brother I was. That wasn't going to solve anything.

For a long while we sat, not saying anything. It was like the house went back to the way it had been before Pony had come home, the deathly quiet. Only this time was worse. I didn't have the paper in my hand to calm my nerves, for one. I wished that was my only trouble. This time I had a lot more to think about than a Soc beating up my brother, not that I didn't worry about that. How could Pony even begin to forgive me? I couldn't forgive myself. I didn't deserve it. I'd let down Mom and Dad. I really had. They never hit any of us, not once. And I'd done good with that up till now. I tried so hard to be like they had, but I was never quite enough. Stuff like this, all the hollering, and now hitting…some Superman I was. Couldn't even take care of his own brothers. I wanted to run like a bat outta hell. Run like Pony had, away from here. Or at least do something other than sit here, waiting.

We hadn't even got to calling the rest of the gang to tell them Pony had showed up, so they would still be on the lookout. Except Dally. There was no answer at his place. I tried again, but still there was no answer. So with nothing left to do Soda and I sat at the kitchen table in silence for a good hour and a half. By the time three thirty rolled around Soda was half asleep in his seat. He had work in the morning. For that matter, so did I. "Soda, we should try and get some sleep. He just needs some more time to cool off, I mean, I've never…" I trailed off, and started again. "He'll be back by morning. Us looking for him wouldn't do any good, at least not me, and Soda, you're too beat, so don't give me that look." I tried my best to sound like Dad, like I always did when I needed my brothers to do as they were told. "You and me both have work in the morning."

"Yeah," Soda yawned, "the kid'll be fine. He'll come home."

"He may not use his head," I shook my head, "but he ain't dumb. And Johnny should be with him."

"You ain't a whoofin'," he said, satisfied with what I'd said. Even though I wasn't.

Soda went to his shared room, opening the door and staring at the empty bed for a few minutes. Then he went inside and shut the door. I stayed sitting at the kitchen table. I didn't wanna move. I wanted Ponyboy to come quietly through the door. I wanted to tell him I was sorry for hitting him. I wanted to tell him never to run off and scare us like that again. So I stayed there, and sat at the table for another twenty minutes before finally getting up. I thought maybe he'd come in if I wasn't sitting right there, waiting for him, with the lights on. I turned off the lights, and waited another few minutes. Still, there was nothing. No sign of him. I looked at Soda and Pony's door, wishing that if I opened it up I'd find him lying in there with Soda. Wishing I'd just dreamed this all up. I'd half convinced myself that it was all a dream by the time I moved towards the door. I had to check. It couldn't be real, could it?

But it was. I opened the door a crack, and Soda was lying on his side with his back to me. He was the only one in the dark, messy room. I saw all of the books on the floor, and hoped Pony would come back, if just for the books. Maybe I could convince him to stay. I shut the door again, and leaned against it with a heavy sigh. Sleeping wasn't going to help anything. I stayed in the hallway another good while, listening for any hint that Ponyboy was going to walk right through the front door. But there was none. Not one. I tried to think of an excuse for staying awake, but I couldn't. I finally made a resolve that if he wasn't back in the morning, I'd go out and find him myself, first thing. I wouldn't call the cops. It was me who drove him away, and I was going to bring him back. But he was going to be back before then, anyway. I knew he was. He had to be.

I went to my room, and sat on the bed, kicking off my shoes. I wasn't going to get any sleep. Not with what I'd just done. Not with Pony still gone. I sat silent, listening for Ponyboy, and knowing full well he wasn't there. I didn't change. I just lay down on the bed, thinking about Christmas Eve a long time ago. When we were all just kids, before Mom and Dad died. I thought about how Mom had said that Santa would only come while I was sleeping. I was thinking maybe Pony would be the same way. So I lay in my silent room, hearing nothing but the ticking clock.

And, listening to its melancholy sound, I fell into an uneasy sleep to the rhythmic tune of the sort of song I'd made up for myself. My fault, my fault, my fault, my fault…

A/N: So, there you have it. I enjoyed this, so I'm making it more than just a one shot. That being said, I still want reviews. Lots of them, please. FLAMES, COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, CONCERNS WELCOME. PLEASE!!

I'm sorry, I just really want some reviews.

I hope this ending is better. Feedback anybody?

(To Calla Lily: It doesn't say anywhere that they didn't know about the movie, I checked. Twice. They knew, but he was supposed to come home eventually. You know, people usually come home after they go see movies. Especially before 1-2 AM. Otherwise you were totally spot on with the criticism. Hence the rewrite. I wrote that part at like three AM. Crazy things happen to my brain at three in the morning.)