So this is an idea I had floating around in my head. I decided to write it against my better judgment haha.

Disclaimer: Not mine. The Outsiders is the property of S.E. Hinton, not me.

Warnings: This contains SLASH if you don't like it, please don't read. ^^,

Other than that, Enjoy!

Dally walked along the dark street, only the sloshing sounds of his footsteps to keep him company. He shoved his hands down into his pockets, trying to warm his numb fingers. When he'd been released from the cooler, there had been a light drizzle which had progressed to an all out down pour. He didn't stop or pause in his goal of reaching the Curtis house, though the rain soaked through his clothes and caused a slight chill to creep into his bones. His denim jacket weighed down heavily on his shoulders, causing them to slump slightly. His determination to reach the house allowed him to ignore the cold, the heavy clothes, any other discomfort, for he hadn't seen the gang since his release from the hospital. More importantly, he hadn't seen Johnny.

When he'd left the hospital, he'd been immediately put into handcuffs by the fuzz he loved so much and dragged downtown. A prissy lawyer had been waiting for him, ready to represent him in court, pro boner. Or something like that. He remembered the lawyer describing how this case would give his career a huge boost, defending a teenage hero who had saved children from a burning building.

The lawyer had managed to weave a convincing, tragic story about how intense mental anguish had led a perfectly respectable boy to commit a crime. The lawyer had managed to convince the jury to see past his extensive criminal record in light of his recent act of heroism and the supposed death of a good friend. Not to mention the fact that the gun used during the robbery had not been loaded. Dally begrudgingly had to admit that the snotty lawyer had done a good job, sensing as he'd been able to get the jury to take pity on Dally. For that reason, Dally had only received a year and a half in prison. A very generous sentence considering the fact that armed robbery carried a maximum sentence of 25 long years in the slammer under normal circumstances. Not to mention that he had been paroled for good behavior at the 6 month mark.

The Curtis house came into sight and Dally sighed in relief. He noticed the light on in the kitchen. The rest of the house remained dark. It was well after midnight so he found himself wondering who was up. Darry, he figured, seeing as it was Saturday night, Sunday morning. Sundays had always been Darry's day off.

He hopped nimbly over the front gate, stopping thankfully on the porch when he was finally out of the rain. He opened the door, glad that the Curtis brothers were still as trusting as ever. He closed it quietly behind him, seeing that Johnny was asleep on the couch. It was good to see him out of the hospital, though he looked smaller than Dally remembered him being. When Dally had been released after his multiple gunshot wounds had healed up, Johnny had been on the mends, but it was still touch and go. The relief that slammed into him as he watched Johnny's chest rising and falling slowly, easily, was staggering. He had to resist the urge to go over and touch him, hold him, hug him, just to be sure that he was ok, there, alive, whole.

Feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from his conscious, he walked into the kitchen, confirming that it was, in fact, Darry who was still up. Darry was seated at the table, reading the paper with a beer bottle sweating lazily a few inches away from where his hand was resting on the table. He looked up when Dally entered the room.

"Well, look what the cat dragged in. You look half drowned," Darry said as Dally seated himself, wet and dripping, across from the older man.

"Yeah well, you walk here from down town in the pouring rain and see how good you look," Dally said with a scowl.

They watched each other silently for a moment before Darry grinned.

"It's good to see ya Dally. You just get out then?"

"Yeah. They turned me loose at midnight, saying I wasn't causing enough trouble for them to hold onto anymore," Dally replied, pushing some of the hair that was plastered wetly to his forehead out of his eyes, thankful that the house was well heated. The biting edge of the chill that he felt was beginning to dull.

Darry hummed in reply, looking down at the paper. They sat in silence for a moment before Dally cleared his throat a little uncomfortably.

"Ehm. So how's the kid?" he asked hesitantly when Darry looked up expectantly. He tried to sound casual and indifferent, though he could hear the slight waiver in his voice, and figured Darry could too. There wasn't anything at all casual about the question because that wasn't just some kid in the other room. It was Johnny and oh god- Johnny.

"Better. If he strains himself too much, his back will give him trouble, but that doesn't happen often. He has some pretty bad scarring from the burns, mainly on his back. That's it physically," Darry paused, as if pondering what to say next.

"Physically?" Dally pressed, leaning forward in his chair.

"Well, he's missed you. After you were tossed in the cooler, we had to explain to why him you hadn't been there to see him since the night of the rumble. We'd been hoping that you would have been able to see him before the fuzz got a hold of you. That way he could hear about it from you, but by that time he'd already seen the paper's articles. He was pretty upset, Dally. Blaming himself for what you did. He hasn't been sleeping or eating well. He'll go a couple days without either before someone forces him to eat something and then he'll collapse in exhaustion. I think he's also been having some pretty bad nightmares, but he won't say anything about it." Darry looked at him accusingly.

Dally winced, guilt washing over him. He struggled to get his face back into the indifferent mask he wore. He didn't like when his emotions betrayed him, playing out on his face for the world to see. He'd been having nightmares recently as well, ever since The Night, and to know Johnny was experiencing similar made him ache for the younger teen.

"I'm trying to understand, Dally. I really am, but I just don't get it. Why would you do something so utterly stupid?"

Dally looked at Darry carefully, deciding if he could risk exposing the chinks in his armor. He didn't even know if he could put his feelings on that night into words. How hollow and broken he'd felt. The way it felt to have his world shatter so completely and irreversibly. How it felt to have the only person he truly cared about ripped away in such a harsh, sudden way. He frowned slightly. The events of that night reminded him exactly why he tried to remain distant from people. Especially the caring, sweet, genuinely good people like Johnny. People that Dally, and hoods like him, should stay away from because people like him would hurt people like Johnny, intentionally or not.

He sighed, resting his arms on the table, clasping his hands together and just squeezing them together. His clothes were sticking to him as they dried, chafing, as if to reiterate how uncomfortable he was with this situation.

"Come on Dally, don't bottle up your feelings. You'll self-destruct, just like last time," Darry said in exasperation.

Dally longed for someone to understand. For someone to understand what he was going through and tell him it would be alright even though it wouldn't. Maybe Darry could understand. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

"Ok, so listen close cause I ain't gonna explain myself again, ya dig? I don't even know if I can explain this in a way that will make you see how I felt, but I can try," Dally said finally, glancing up at Darry before looking back down at the table. He didn't like sharing his feelings, but he had to make Darry know that he would never intentionally cause Johnny pain. He hated Johnny being hurt. He hated himself for making it happen.

Darry nodded, folding the paper up and pushing it away as if to show Dally that his undivided attention was being given.

"Ok…. So, as you know, Johnny means a lot to me. More than anyone's ever meant to me. Even Sylvia didn't really compete with Johnny. Johnny's all I've ever had. I mean, yeah I've got the gang, but it's not the same. Not really. And it doesn't even have anything to do with the fact that Johnny seems to worship me. Lord knows he'd be better off looking up to anyone else in the world. But that day… When he died, even for what was only a brief moment, and there was nothing that I could do but watch. Well, I felt as if everything in me had died with him.

" It was if my entire world had shattered, and I couldn't get over the fact that it might have been partly my fault. The guilt was probably what pushed me over the edge. If I hadn't sent him away to hide, if I had gone into the church faster, if I hadn't let him go inside the burning building in the first place. I'd failed the one person who counted on me, the only person who trusted me so completely, without question. That hurt too. Knowing that he'd put all his trust in me and I didn't deserve it. I'd failed him when it mattered most," he broke off suddenly, looking into Darry's face.

He laughed without humor. "I hate sharing all this with you, all my weakness."

He shook his head, looking back down at the table again. He started talking again before Darry could say anything. Before he could lose his nerve. "I'll try and put this into perspective for you. Imagine, for a minute, the pain of losing your parents. Then add in the pain of almost losing Pony. Now, pretend that you wouldn't have Soda and the gang for support. I know that's probably not even close to how I felt, but it's the best I can think of."

"You would have had the gang Dally. We all care about Johnny. We were all hurting," Darry interrupted, and Dally didn't have to look up to see his frown.

"Not like I was. Look at me, Darry," he looked up to meet Darry's startled eyes. "What do you see?"

Darry didn't answer, just stared, waiting for him to finish whatever he was trying to say.

" A hood. You, just like everyone else, see a hood. People are scared of me. Even you're sometimes afraid of me. Johnny's never been afraid of me. He even stood up to me for some broad he hardly knew once. To Johnny, I'm just Dally. I'm just me. Johnny digs me in a way that no one else can. Not anyone else in the gang. I would have lost the only person who truly understood and accepted me for me. He's everything I'm not. Without him to balance me out, all the anger and… evil I harbor into myself wouldn't have had anyone to keep it in check. He's like my other half, Darry. The better half. I don't think I would have survived if he hadn't. I don't think I could have survived if he hadn't."

And Dally believed that to his very core. He certainly would not be alive now had Johnny not survived. When he had awoken in the hospital, still under the impression that Johnny was dead, he had been only too happy to sink into the grief and pity that promised to consume him. The nurse, under the false impression that Dally was better, took him off the feeding tube and declared him on the road to recovery. Dally, seeing his opportunity, stopped eating. Without nourishment, he would surely not heal from the near fatal wounds. He would wither away, just as he wanted to. It would only take a few days before his body would be unable to perform the task needed to heal.

That's what would have happened too, had the gang not visited him the day after he woke up.

He'd been staring sullenly at the wall when they'd arrived.

"Hey Dally," Pony said softly, though the happiness was clear in his voice.

He didn't respond, didn't move, didn't even acknowledge the younger boy. Pony shouldn't be happy. Johnny was dead.

"So it's true huh? The nurse said you won't eat or talk. They're worried you've given up, but legally they can't do anything because you denied treatment," Darry said, disapproval laced in his voice.

When again he didn't answer, Two-Bit, with compassion and delicacy only he was capable of, said, "Stop your moping. Johnny's fine. Now eat your damn food."

It had made for a good kick in the right direction.

Understanding crept into Darry eyes, and he smiled sadly. Before he could open his mouth to say anything, another voice interrupted.

"… You ain't evil Dal."

Dally turned around to see Johnny leaning against the door frame, rubbing his eye tiredly. Dally felt his heart swell affectionately, though another spike of guilt drove its way into his heart at the sight of how gaunt Johnny looked. Johnny had never been particularly big, but it was clear that weight had dropped off him, leaving his clothes to hang off his body like curtains. He really had looked smaller when Dally had seen him from the door.

"Hey Johnnycakes. How long you been standing there?" Dally said, pushing out a chair as Johnny stumbled into the kitchen, bleary eyed.

"I heard most of what you guys were saying," he admitted apologetically. "I didn't mean to listen in or anything, but I wanted to hear what you had to say too."

Dally nodded, but didn't say anything. As much as he wanted to be angry with Johnny, he couldn't. Now though, his guard was back up, mask in place. The brief moment where he had let someone in was over. Johnny was the only person who he would ever willingly share anything with, but he was also the one person Dally could not share his experience with. Johnny would blame himself. Or he'd accidently let something he shouldn't slip out.

"Well, thanks for telling me all that, Dally. I still don't agree with it, but I guess I understand you a little better. I think I'll head to bed," Darry said eventually, pushing away from the table. He walked to the sink, dumping the remainder of the beer he'd barely touched down the drain.

"Hey, Superman? You tell anyone about this, and I'll kill ya," Dally threatened before Darry could completely leave the kitchen.

Darry laughed as he was walking away. "Good to have ya back, Dally."

Dally and Johnny sat in silence, listening as the footsteps faded away. Dally was content to just sit with Johnny. Knowing Johnny was alive and for all intensive purposes fine made him happier than he'd ever remembered being before. The separation anxiety he had been experiencing after leaving Johnny alone was gone. He almost felt as if everything was the same again. Almost.

Dally shook a smoke out of the pack he'd bought on his way here, lighting it up in the comfortable silence.

"Hey Dal? …. Can you do something for me?" Johnny asked quietly.

"Anything ya need Johnnycakes," Dally answered almost instantaneously. He would, of course, do anything Johnny wanted of him.

Johnny paused, almost as if he was nervous. Dally didn't know why. Johnny could ask him for anything.

"Show me them?" Johnny whispered, voice pleading.

Except that. There was no need to clarify what he meant.

"I'm not so sure about that Johnnycake," Dally said, voice a little harsher than he meant for. He'd been boastful, almost proud, of the scars from his brush with death while in prison, but now he felt self-conscious. Dally knew Johnny wouldn't take the wounds the same way his prison buddies had. Johnny would be upset, hurt. It would hurt Johnny to see where the bullets had torn through his flesh because Johnny would blame himself.

"Please? I can't explain it, Dally, but I have to see," Johnny begged.

Dally looked at the boy, taking a drag of his cigarette in contemplation. Johnny's eyes were wide and earnest, desperation clear in the premature lines that decorated his face.

Slowly, he nodded, reluctant but unable to deny the imploring, pleading look Johnny was giving him. He silently cursed how tightly Johnny had him wound around his finger.

First, he removed his boot and sock from his left leg. Rolling up the stiff denim, he allowed Johnny to see the raw, vivid red scar that went in one side of his calf and out the other, about three inches under his knee towards the back of his leg.

Johnny looked back up into Dally's face, and Dally stood up carefully. He pulled off the slightly damp jacket, dropping on the floor. He then peeled off his tee-shirt that clung to him desperately, dumping it on top of his jacket. The cold air assaulted him, but he didn't pay attention, watching Johnny's face worriedly. Johnny sat forward, suddenly rigid in his chair, eyes wide.

"Oh Dally," he moaned sadly. He stood up cautiously, reaching forward uncertainly: a silent request for permission to touch.

Dally nodded deliberately.

Johnny tentatively brushed his fingers over the first scar, just under Dally's left shoulder in the loose skin to the side of his armpit.

"Ahh… kid, your hands are cold," Dally complained quietly, though heat instantly spread languidly from where Johnny ran his fingers.

"Sorry," Johnny replied, though he had no interest in that.

His fingers fluttered down, over the one below and slightly to the right of Dally's diaphragm.

Dally held his breath as Johnny's hand sank lower to the one above his right hip. Johnny brushed his thumb over the raised tissue, looking up at Dally's face.

A single, lonely tear rolled down Johnny's cheek. Johnny didn't cry, and Dally had only ever seen him cry once. Dally realized that the tear was for him. Johnny was crying for him because Dally wouldn't, or couldn't, cry for himself. The solitary tear was proof of what Dally had come to understand only in the last few months. Johnny and he were connected in their isolation. Johnny and he had each other and no one else. They had the gang, but they were the outsiders of the group. Darry, Soda, and Pony had each other in a way that neither he nor Johnny had anyone. They had had their parents as well, just as Two-Bit and Steve had theirs. They had the support of family, something that could never be broken or recreated, no matter how hard the gang tried for either of them. Dally and Johnny solely had each other.

"Are there anymore?" Johnny asked, voice steadier than Dally would have expected.

Dally shook his head slowly and Johnny breathed a sigh of relief. Dally looked into Johnny's mournful expression.

"You know this isn't your fault, right? The police would have taken a crack at me sooner or later anyway," Dally said softly, unable to bear the guilt present in Johnny's dark eyes.

"Just… promise me something," Johnny demanded in a hushed, slightly breathless voice.

"Anything," he vowed without a second thought. His dedication to the short teen in front of him still caught him off guard. This was, after all, everything he'd fought against before. He wasn't supposed to care about anyone or anything other than himself. He was not supposed to love, and certainly not so willingly. Though Johnny was unaware of how unplatonic Dally's feelings for him were. The hand that still rest low on his hip sent sparks of desire running up his spine, but Dally didn't act upon them. He needed Johnny's friendship too greatly to risk.

"Promise me you won't do anything stupid if something happens to me again."

"I don't know if-" Dally started, but Johnny cut him off, voice rising in something Dally would almost call panic.

"That's not going to cut it Dallas Winston. I want you to promise me."

Dally stared into Johnny's dark eyes. He didn't want to lie and tell Johnny that he'd stick around if Johnny were to … die. They'd just been over the reasons why he couldn't stay. The despair and panic on Johnny's face made Dally pause. For Johnny, he would lie to make the kid happy.

"I promise Johnny," he said finally. He stubbed the smoke he had been ignoring out as it burned down farther.

"Promise what?" Johnny demanded. He clearly wasn't going to let Dally off that easily.

Dally gave a suffering sigh, smiling ruefully at Johnny. "I promise you, Johnny Cade, that I, Dallas Winston, will not do something stupid if anything happens to you 'again'. That good enough for you, kid?"

Johnny nodded his head in satisfaction. They stood there, staring at each other. Dally wasn't sure what they were waiting for, but Johnny seemed to realize that his hand was still resting on Dally's hip because his fingers curled slightly, but he didn't drop his hand.

"Good. I honestly don't think you know how much you mean to me," Johnny said with such a serious expression that Dally can't doubt him.

"How much?" Dally dared to ask, feeling delirious with the sudden spark of hope that flared to life in his mind.

"A lot," Johnny said, a small smile, soft and caring and so Johnny, twitching onto his face.

"Well that's good. You mean a lot to me too," Dally said, feeling exposed but taking the chance anyway.

"How much?" Johnny asked, a small smirk on his face as he echoed Dally's previous question.

"Too much," Dally admits honestly. Dally knows that when someone manages to get to him, he falls hard and violently, just like he does everything else in life. Johnny's no exception. He didn't fall into love, he slammed into it with the brute force of a semi truck. It was a harsh, violent slap in the face as reality laughed at him and his misfortune. To Dally, love felt like running into a glass door. You're good to go, in the clear, trucking along without a care in the world before the invisible obstacle made its presence known only after you've smashed your face into the unforgiving, unyielding surface. And you either have to open the door and accept it, or you turn and run for the hills as fast as your legs can carry you. Dally's considered that. More than once. Gathering what little he owns and just running from everything. From Johnny. Currently, he was just standing at the door, staring at it stupidly. Running didn't seem like an option, but neither was walking through it.

He considered running again as Johnny looked down at the floor, beaming. It would be better for both of them if he picked up and left. He was certain, if he stayed, that he would unintentionally bring pain to Johnny, just as he did for anyone else. Though to cause pain for Johnny was unthinkable. There could be no higher crime in Dally's mind.

It was hard to think about what was right when Johnny's thumb was gently rubbing over the gnarled, penny-sized scar on his hip.

Any remaining thoughts of running fled when Johnny looked up to meet Dally's eyes again. There was some kind of burning intensity there that Dally was not expecting nor prepared for. There was also some kind of confidence that filled Dally's stomach with butterflies.

Dally struggled to remember all the reasons he had for not closing the distance between the two of them. The closeness they had already obtained felt good… felt right. Surely closing what little gap was left would feel even better. Every thought not pertaining to Johnny slipped to the corners of his mind, receding pleasantly to let Johnny, Johnny, Johnny fill his head.

Johnny took a slight step forward, standing toe to toe with Dally. Dally admired his forwardness. The normally timid teenager was throwing caution to the wind.

"What are we doing?" Dally asked in a husky whisper, trying to retain any sense of sanity and rationality he still had a fleeting hold on.

"You tell me," Johnny replied in a bold, hushed voice. His smile was suggestive and flirtatious, sending a wave of desire through Dally in a startling roll.

The shelf in Dally's mind used for storing bottled emotions that he didn't want to deal with, especially love, listed dangerously to one side. He locked away everything but lust and hate. He had an easy outlet for those, his fist and his dick. That was all he needed to release. The only other time the metaphorical shelf has dropped its cargo had been on The Night, when pain, grief, and guilt had filled to their capacity. Now, however, the bottle labeled 'love' teetered on the edge. If the bottle were to drop, there would be no turning back, no undoing what had been done. He would unravel for the world to see, brought apart by a boy who looked like a strong breeze would bowl him over.

"We shouldn't… I can't… I don't want to lose you. I've already proved I can't lose you when we were just friends. If we do this, it won't take you dying to send me over the edge. Johnny… I'm weak. I need you more than I need this" he said, waving vaguely between them with the limited space left between their bodies, "and if we start something, I don't think I'll be able to stop whatever we start and have. I won't want to stop, and it… it means… more to me than some casual fuck I could pick up in a bar. And if you didn't get tired of me, I'd probably hurt you somehow, some way. I wasn't enough for Sylvia. What if I'm not enough for you? … I… Johnny please. We can't. I can't lose you."

Johnny watched him silently through the whole speech, and Dally knew he probably didn't make any sense through half of it, but he had to stop this now. Right now. If not, he'd step off the ledge he'd been hanging onto carefully for so long.

Then, Johnny smiled, wide and vibrant. "Good because this means more to me than a casual fuck, and you aren't going to get rid of me that easily. You're not going to lose me. I'm yours. Just as you belong to me. I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not letting you go anywhere either."

With that final promise, Johnny pulled Dally down forcefully, smashing their lips together passionately. Johnny wrapped his arms around Dally, hands exploring Dally's bare back. Dally put an arm around Johnny waist, pulling him closer and holding him there. He tangled his other hand in Johnny's grease-covered hair.

The bottle labeled 'love' rolled off the shelf, smashing into tiny pieces releasing everything he'd been hiding. Dally can't regret it because this is what he's been missing? This is what he fought so hard to stop? There was nothing like the feeling he was feeling right now. He groaned involuntarily against Johnny's lips.

Forced to pull away for air, Dally leaned his forehead on Johnny's, panting. "Jesus. If we keep at it like this, I won't be able to stop myself at just kissing."

Johnny pulled back just slightly. "Then don't," he replied simply, searching Dally's face.

Dally exhaled before forcing himself to take a, somewhat shaky, breath in. He'd like nothing more than to do just that, but he didn't want to rush. Not with Johnny. If it was anyone else, he wouldn't have even pulled away in the first place. Johnny, as always, was different, and Dally wouldn't push. He was going to take this slow. Do things right for a change.

"Johnnycake, that's a tempting offer, and I want to. God, I want to, but not tonight. Not yet," he said finally, proud of his self control.

Johnny looked crushed, shoulders deflating like a balloon. Damn, the kid was going to steal away any sanity Dally had remaining. Johnny tried to pull away but Dally wouldn't loosen the hold he had on Johnny's waist.

"I'm not telling you 'no' because I don't want to. I just don't want to rush this… rush us. Listen kid, I'll make you a deal. You start eating and sleeping like a normal human being again, and we'll do whatever you want, but we're gonna take this slow," Dally said, brushing his lips against Johnny's forehead.

Johnny tilted his head slightly, catching Dally's lips with his own. They kissed slower this time, more relaxed than they had been.

"Ok. Yeah alright. Normal human being stuff first. I can handle that," Johnny said softly against Dally's lips.

Dally, reluctantly, pulled himself away from Johnny in order to put his tee-shirt, dry now, back on, take off his other shoe, and hang his jacket on the back of the chair he'd vacated earlier. He mopped up the water on the floor under his chair with a towel.

When he finished those tasks, he grabbed Johnny's hand and led him back to the living room after flipping off the light in the kitchen. He pulled a spare blanket out of the linen closet as Johnny settled in on the couch, pulling his own blanket up to his chin.

Dally flopped down on the floor between the coffee table and the couch, using a pillow off the couch for his head. Johnny's hand dropped down off the couch, holding onto Dally's. Dally laced their fingers together, a content sigh escaping his lips.

"Night Dal," Johnny mumbled into the couch cushion, drifting already.

"Night Johnnycake," Dally replied softly, closing his eyes.

Dally felt like he'd barely nodded off when someone started shifting near him.

"Budge over Dally," Johnny's voice whispered into the darkness.

Dally complied sleeping, mumbling incoherently as Johnny squeezed himself between Dally's body and the couch. There wasn't really enough room for them both in the space between, but Johnny rested his head on the middle of Dally's chest, huffing into the crook of Dally's neck. With Johnny curled up into the side of his body, Dally was able to scoot over so that his other side was no longer pressed into the leg of the coffee table. Though it was a tight fit, Dally found he was more comfortable now, with Johnny fitting into him like the missing piece of some grand puzzle. Dally yawned, carding his fingers sleepily through Johnny's hair. He couldn't help but thinking how perfect everything was. Maybe he'd stop resisting after all.

"I can hear your heartbeat," Johnny muttered slowly, already drifting back to sleep. "It's nice."

Dally hummed an unintelligible response, too far gone into his slumber to respond.


That's what I guess. I know Dally was kind of OOC, but I don't know, I liked it. Anyway! Review please. Criticism is welcome as long as it's polite. :]