A/N: Okay…it's now a five-shot. I decided to do the corniest ending I think I ever could've done…I hope you like. And remember, criticism and reviews are always welcome!
I had just finished writing the essay for my English class. Boy, if this wouldn't pass me with a C then I didn't know what would. For Pete's sake, I was up all night and all the next day writing, and I think I barely set the pencil down for more than a second. I had only been planning on cracking the dam, writing about how I'd almost been jumped by those Socs. But one thing let to the other, and the dam was shattered. It all just flowed out of me. I couldn't stop it.
I guess that once I wrote down Johnny's name when he, Two-Bit, Steve, and Dally had come back after throwing rocks at the Socs' mustang, I had to tell his story as much as I had to tell mine. I had to tell Soda's, I had to tell Darry's, I had to tell Two-Bit's and Steve's, I had to tell Dally's, and Cherry's and Bob's and Randy's…I had to tell our story.
Now, I stared down at my work, rather proud of it. I mean, golly, I'd written what I considered to be practically a book in two days.
Suddenly, I was slapped on the back of the head. Soda was grinning at me. "Good. You're finally finished with that dang thing. Now, I'm heading off to work and Darry's already at his own job, but you better get some shut-eye."
"Bye, Sodapop," I said, and he was gone. I yawned, for the first time realizing just how tired I really was. Johnny's copy of Gone With the Wind was still on my bed…
I still couldn't say that I wanted to touch it.
I did, though. If only for Johnny, I picked it up and curled up in my bed with it. I didn't want to read the part about the southern gentlemen, so I skipped right on to the end. I was so tired that I was only willing to read the last page. As I pulled the blankets up to my chest and got comfortable, I found myself thinking about Johnny. I thought about him a lot ever since I'd started the essay, and sometimes it got to the point where I had to set down the pencil, close my eyes, and just breathe. I guessed that because I'd been forcing myself to keep him out of my mind, all the overdue thoughts were flooding me.
I kept thinking back to the fire. It was kind of interesting, what it did to the way you looked without even having to touch you. Johnny's black hair had been shining like a beacon, I remembered. His dark skin had been glowing, almost golden. Not quite, but almost. And his eyes…
He had been so alive. I'd never seen him look like that before, especially in a situation as deathly as that. I remembered his words back at the hospital, how he didn't want to die yet because he hadn't gotten the chance to live. I smiled mirthlessly, flipping through the paperback book. No, Johnny, you got the chance to live. It was only a few minutes in all your sixteen-and-a-half years, but you got the chance. I think that's why you came to terms with it in the end, isn't it? You were born to be a hero, but society called you a villain. I think that's why you were at your worst when you played the villain by killing Bob…but you were at your best when you played the hero.
I sighed. At least you got to die the hero.
Then, I found myself staring down at the last page…
But it wasn't the last page that I read.
One the inside of the book cover, something was scribbled in Johnny's handwriting.
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour?
Will leaf subside to leaf?
Will Eden sink to grief?
Prove them wrong, Ponyboy:
Something gold can stay.