Disclaimer: I don't own! I just love playing with the characters. SE Hinton owns and even Ford Francis Coppola probably has more rights than I do.
A.N: Aww, this is the last and final chapter! :( Thanks to all that reviewed/faved/alerted this story! I'm glad to know some people were interested. Thanks again, and enjoy the final chapter!
Summary: What if instead of staying and fighting the Socs, Ponyboy and Johnny decided to run? What if the Socs tried to chase them down…..with their car….
Chapter 11: I'll be home for Christmas
2 months later:
"You doing okay?" Ponyboy asked worriedly as he gripped Johnny's forearm. Dallas was on the other side, holding onto that arm.
"Yeah, I'm good. It's not that far", Johnny murmured with a wan smile.
"Darry or I could carry you up the steps you know" Dallas said concern to those who knew him was in his voice.
"Why not me?" Two-bit asked with a lopsided grin holding the door to the Curtis' house open.
Within the next month, Johnny had graduated to physical therapy. His arm healed up pretty quickly, though it still wasn't as strong as it was before yet. This allowed him to start retraining his legs. Johnny got frustrated now and again, but the gang reassured him of his progress when they needed. Now, he could walk but with crutches and he could not walk for long. Finally, Johnny was released from the hospital and Darry took custody of him. They all remembered that conversation:
"Well, son, looks like you are free to go. You must continue your exercises and show up for your scheduled appointment so we can make sure that everything is going smoothly. But if anything bothers you before that, you come straight back, okay? I see no reason for you to stay here any longer than necessary as I'm sure you wish to get out", the doctor smiled.
"Alright, Johnny", Ponyboy beamed making Johnny smile. The rest of the group had their own cheerfest.
"Though...you do have somewhere to go, right?" the doctor asked kindly.
The gang tensed and Johnny asked quietly. "What do you mean?"
"I heard about your mother, son. I haven't heard anything else about her since that day a month or so ago. From what I heard, she didn't seem very happy. You need a stable environment if you are to get better." The doctor treaded cautiously.
Johnny gave a tight smile. "I'll be okay."
"Yeah, we know you will be cause you'll be staying with us", Darry spoke up.
Johnny looked up at Darry wide-eyed. "Wait...wait, you don't have to go through all that. I'll be fine."
"Heck no! I don't trust your mother, or father for that matter, to leave you alone enough to let you heal." Dallas growled.
"Yea, what if they do something and you can't get help, then what?" Ponyboy asked fear evident in his eyes at the question.
By now the doctor had slipped out to let the boys battle it out between them.
"But…but", Johnny sputtered, "Look, you all have done a lot for me these past months. I'm not gonna take up space like that."
Dallas darted forward before turning around in a circle abruptly. "Oooh, I like to have hit him. I almost slapped him. I almost, hit him", he said glaring at Johnny still moving around like he wanted to slap him upside the head but was containing himself. He couldn't believe Johnny was this stupid. Did he really think his being taking care of at this time had an expiration date? There were days Dallas' patience couldn't take it and he'd love to hit Johnny upside the head for his stupidity.
Sodapop stepped in front of Dallas who still looked a little mad, "Look Johnny. You don't get to have a choice in this; you don't have a say, buddy. We don't want you over there. We didn't want you over there when you were well; we sure don't want you anywhere near the place while you are trying to get better."
Johnny lowered his glaze fidgeting with his hands. "I know, but…"
"Ain't no buts about it. You are staying with us." Darry stated firmly before going out the door to sign release papers.
"Yeah, it'll be fun, you'll see", Ponyboy reassured.
"And more importantly, we'll know you are safe", Two-bit added for once completely serious.
"Amen", Steve nodded in agreement.
Johnny couldn't help but smile and blush. He was grateful to have a family like this one.
Dallas glared up at Two-bit briefly as Johnny made it to the second of the four steps to the porch. "I wouldn't trust you to get him in safely."
"Hey, I'm stronger than I look", Two-bit chuckled as Johnny finally made it into the house. Two-bit shut the door behind them.
Johnny plopped down on the couch. "Oh yeah, that's tuff enough", he breathed. He was tired just walking from the car, up the steps and into the house. Not to mention that he fought to walk from the lobby of the hospital to the car parked in front. All that little exercise made him tired. The doctor warned him not to overdo it. He would get tired real easy now.
"You okay?" Ponyboy asked anxiously.
Johnny nodded. "Yeah, just sleepy, now I think."
Ponyboy nodded and took a seat next to Johnny. Dallas sat on the other side of Johnny, closest to the door.
Johnny glanced around the room his eyes resting on a small minature tree with little lights strung around it. Since it was evening the lights were plugged up, and a small glow admitted from it, "Pretty Christmas tree", he yawned.
"We had to get something", Two-bit smiled sitting on the floor in front of the TV, "Brought it over from Ma. Ma and my sis aren't gonna be around for Christmas anyway, so I figure we could pawn it and use it this year."
"Tuff enough", Johnny's eyes fluttered.
Darry poked his head out from kitchen where he started fixing dinner. "We fixed up Soda's old room, for you. You can lie down if you want."
"Nah, I'm tired of being tired and lying down."
"And I'm tired of you being tired of being tired and laying down." Ponyboy laughed. Johnny cracked a huge grin and joined Ponyboy's laughter.
"I'm tired, of Ponyboy's tired of Johnny's tired of being tired and laying down!" Two-bit guffawed. Then he keeled over and laughed like no tomorrow.
Dallas looked between the three of them with his frown. "Strangely, I followed that."
"And I'm tired of Two-bit's tired of his tired, of Ponyboy's tired, of Johnny's tired...of tired and..." Sodapop stumbled. Steve shook his head as Darry watched amused. Dallas rubbed his temples as Two-bit, Johnny and Ponyboy were cracking up.
Dallas' voice as flat. "Epic. Fail."
"Wait a minute", Sodapop tried to get it together, "Wait. I'm tired of Two-bit's tired..."
Steve shook his head and pulled Sodapop into the dining room as Sodapop continued to mutter to himself. "Let it go, Soda. Please spare us. Spare me."
"Need anything?" Ponyboy asked Johnny once the laughter died down.
Johnny shook his head as Two-bit turned on the TV. "No, I'm good." He smiled at his friend who returned it.
Johnny sat in bed as Ponyboy finished reading a chapter of Gone with the Wind. Ponyboy had found in the hospital gift shop and figured it would cool to read it together with Johnny.
"Good chapter, huh?" Ponyboy asked bookmarking the page and closing the book. He looked at Johnny.
"Yeah, it was." Johnny nodded, his eyes closed.
"You should probably go to sleep now." Ponyboy sat up from lying on his stomach. There was silence for a bit as Ponyboy fumbled with his book.
"You know, Christmas is in three days." Johnny spoke up.
"I'm surprised you kept up. Although the mini-tree downstairs was a dead giveaway."
"It's kinda hard not to when the nurse and everyone was talking about it and putting up decorations."
Ponyboy bobbed his head. He had forgotten about that.
"What do you think you'll get for Christmas, Ponyboy?" asked Johnny.
Ponyboy smiled lightly. "I got what I want. I don't need any superficial presents."
Johnny opened his eyes and looked up at Ponyboy. "Your brothers gave you your presents this early? I'm surprised."
Ponyboy looked at Johnny with a 'where have you been face'. "That's not what I mean, Johnny."
"What do you mean?" Johnny's eyebrow's furrowed together.
"I mean, that..." Ponyboy paused then sighed, "Johnny, you could have been dead this Christmas." He spoke quietly. So quietly, that Johnny almost didn't hear him.
"Ah, Ponyboy..." Johnny drawled not knowing what to say.
"I'm glad you are alive, Johnny and that is present enough for me."
Johnny flourished and grinned. "Thanks, Ponyboy."
Ponyboy gave a crooked grin before he looked up. His eyes widen as he bounced off the bed and rushed to the window. "Look, Johnny, it's snowing!"
Johnny sat up to peek out the window.
"Hey, Johnny! Ponyboy!" came a cry as footsteps rushed up the steps and the door swung open. Two-bit and Sodapop came bounding in the room.
"It's snowing!" Sodapop cried as he bounced to the window to look out.
"And it's snowing pretty good!" Two-bit almost hopped from one foot to the other.
"I know!" Ponyboy cried. Johnny laughed.
"It's been quite some time, since we had any snow", Dallas stated calmly walking into the room.
"I can't believe we got some." Steve murmured.
Darry came in last with a chuckle. "Just in time for Christmas, huh?"
"We doing anything in particular for Christmas?" Ponyboy couldn't help but ask.
"Aside from the usual, just being thankful that the gang is still whole", Darry answering, looking at Johnny who blushed and smiled.
Ponyboy grinned. "I know what you mean." He was the first in line to be thankful.
"Wonder if we'll get enough snow to build a snowman or have a snowball fight?" Two-bit wondered as he pushed between Ponyboy and Sodapop to look out at the white puffs that were floating down in waves.
Dallas perched on the edge of Johnny's bed. "Ya'll are hopeless."
"I know I am, what are you?" Two-bit grinned over his shoulder at Dallas.
Dallas rolled his eyes. "I'm surrounded by morons."
"And yet, you love us", Two-bit wagged his eyebrows. Johnny snickered before it turned into a yawn. Everyone paused and watched Johnny complete his yawn. It made Johnny let out a nervous chuckle, slightly embarassed at the attention.
"Alright, everybody out! Let's go!", Darry clapped his hands. "Fall in line and get to stepping!"
Everyone turned to stare at him.
"I know this fool did not just clap at me like a dog", Dallas hissed playfully looking at Johnny who was trying to cover up his laughter behind his hand.
"I was clapping in general", Darry tried to defend, though there was great amusement in his eyes.
Dallas eyed him. "Yeah right."
"We aren't soldiers", Steve grumbled.
"I don't care if you are lepuchans, let's get out and let Johnny get some rest."
Two-bit cackled as he walked to the door. "Night, Johnny. Don't let the bed bugs bite."
Two-bit, Steve and Sodapop filed out the room exchanging goodnights with Johnny. Darry brought up the rear with his own goodnight. Dallas walked over to a blanket and pillow on a sleeping bag situated on the floor.
Ponyboy blinked as he got to the door. "Um, Dal? What. Are you doing?" he asked as he watch Dallas settle down into the sleeping bag throwing the blanket over him and the pillow under his head.
"What does it look like? I'm sleeping here. Turn the light out when you go."
Ponyboy exchanged smiles with Johnny as he cut off the light. "Night, Johnny. Night Dal."
Dallas just grunted.
Soon the whole house went dark and silent. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The soft snow continued to fall to compliment the holiday season. For some, Christmas would be a day of superficial gift giving but for this particular house, being together was all that mattered.
That was all the gift they need to have a Merry Christmas.
And that's it! Early holiday seasonal theme but the way I counted it, it's was December when Johnny came home. And what better way then a "I'll be home for Christmas" feeling after all they been through! =D
Hope you enjoyed the ride! Thanks for reading!