A/N: Major thanks to you taryn at six for looking this over again for me. She's amazing!

This is an idea that I've been toying with for a long time. I always wanted to see one of my favorite writers do this on here, but since no one has I figured heck, why not:P

I wrote this to try and kill the writer's block plaguing me when it comes to the sequel to LSN. Hope it turned out alright, but feel free to point out anything wrong with it.

Disclaimer: S.E Hinton owns The Outsiders and The Hollies own He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, which is the inspiration for the title.

He's My Brother

September 25, 1966

The road is long, with many a winding turn…But I'm strong. Strong enough to carry him. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

The tension in the air was so thick, I could have reached out and grabbed a handful of it. I felt my hands itching anxiously by my sides, just dyin' to throw a punch at any Soc that was near enough. Quickly, I sized up the opponents, glaring at their damned madras and Beatle hairstyles.

As Darry and Holden spoke quietly to one another, silently judging each other, Dally burst into the crowd behind us, hollerin' something I couldn't quite catch. That slight distraction was all it took and the first punch was thrown. The rumble was on.

I surged forward with Steve right next to me and took on the first Soc I came across. I thought about everything that they had ever done to us greasers and as I felt my blood boil, I threw as many fierce punches as I could.

The black-haired Soc I had grabbed hold of started swinging back, his fist connecting firmly with my jaw before another hit slammed into my gut, my breath gusting out of me. I struggled to regain my focus as he kept hammering at my torso.

Suddenly the hits stopped coming and a deadly looking Steve stood where the Soc had just been. "You alright," he hollered loudly to me.

I settled for nodding my head in appreciation and quickly scanned the melee for Ponyboy. Fear started replacing my adrenaline rush and I felt my breathing speed up. I knew those Soc's would be after him, why did I ever push him to fight?

Steve must have noticed my distraction as he called out, "The kid's with Dal. Seems to be doin' alright so far."

"Thanks," I yelled back.

Feeling a bit calmer knowing that Steve and Dal were lookin' out for Pone too, I grabbed onto one of the big Soc's Steve was fighting and began attacking him. As I threw punch after punch, I heard Two-Bit holler in anger from somewhere behind me. With one final blow to the face, the burly Soc fell to the ground and I searched for my buddy.

Through the pouring rain I saw Two-Bit dukin' it out with a mousy looking kid. As I watched, the Soc nailed him in the temple and blood began flowing freely from Two-Bit's head. I automatically winced, but the injury seemed to simply fuel his rage. Two began swinging like crazy, landing hit after hit, and before long that Soc was on the ground as well.

Satisfied that my buddy had his fight under control, I turned to grab hold of another Soc. Before I could get one, I felt myself knocked off of my feet. I landed on the ground with a loud thud and found myself under a livid looking Soc.

He was positioned just right, so I brought my knee up firmly and smirked as he rolled off, moaning and holding himself. Just the sight of him like that drew a laugh out of me, but that quickly faded when I saw my best buddy in trouble.

Steve was a good fighter and he always had been. He and I could get ourselves out of almost any scrape we got in, so I never thought to keep an eye on him in this rumble. But he was on the ground with a big lookin' Soc kicking the living shit outta him and from where I was, I could tell Stevie was hurt.

Shoving my way through the dozens of fighting boys, I finally got within reach of my buddy and his attacker. Rage took over and I ripped the Soc backwards, away from Steve.

"Get off my buddy, asshole." And with that, I promptly busted his nose, smirking as blood began flowing freely.

Not wasting any time, I brought my knee up and nailed him in the gut, relishing the way he bent over in pain. Swiftly I dropped my elbow on the back of his neck and he dropped like a sack of rocks. With one more kick for good measure, I let him lie in the mud and turned my attention to my moaning friend.

"Glory Stevie, what'd he do? Anythin' broke," I muttered, looking over his face and arms.

"Ribs," he groaned between his clenched teeth.

"Shit. Alright buddy, let's get you outta the way here." I put an arm around his waist and with my help, he gingerly stood.

"Nah, I ain't gonna sit this one out man. I'll grab hold of a lil' one," he grumbled, looking even more surly than normal.

"Are you sure?"

But I never got a chance to hear his answer.

"SODA!" That scream alone was enough to make everything else seem meaningless and I whirled around, blindly searching for Pony in the frenzy.

Then, through the tiniest break in the crowd, I saw my kid brother underneath three Soc's, getting the tar beaten outta him. But that wasn't what made my blood boil. It was the Soc standing over the limp form of my brother, bringing his large foot down again and again on Ponyboy's head.

Before Steve could register what was happening, I was tearing my way through the mass of brawling teens. The world had taken on an angry red haze and the only people in it were me, my brother, and that damned Soc. Finally I broke free of everyone else and flew into the Soc with as much force as I could muster.

I dimly registered the sounds of the rumble behind me, but my eyes were fixed on the face of my brother's assailant. I put every ounce of energy I had in me behind the punches I was throwing, ignoring the blood flowing freely down my opponents face. All that mattered was that he was a threat and I had to eliminate it.

I was seven years old when Ponyboy got sick for the first time and I had never been so afraid in my life.

"Mama, why can't Ponyboy feel better? Him an' me was gonna go outside so he can get some air. That's 'sposed to make 'im all healthy, right?"

"Oh sweetheart, your brother is very sick. He can't go out for quite some time."

"I know. It's 'cause he gots the 'moan-yah, right?"

That earned a small smile from my weary mother and she nodded. "Yes Soda, he's got pneumonia. And he's gotta get his rest so he can be healthy again real soon."

I quietly crept down to my room and gathered armfuls of crayons, coloring books, and my favorite stuffed animal. Then, I opened the door to Ponyboy's room and gently made my way in.

"Hey Pony, you wanna color a picture with me? Maybe it'll make you all better," I softly asked, sitting on the bed beside his small, sickly form.

"Okay, Soda. But if you wanna go play 'stead, it's okay," he wheezed out, his green eyes sadly looking out the window.

I firmly shook my head. "No way, Pony! I wanna stay right here 'cause I'm gonna make you get all healthy and then we can play all the time. 'Sides, I gots a present for you." I pulled out my prized teddy bear from behind my back and extended it to him.

His eyes lit up and a smile crept across his pale face. "Soda! It's your Beary. Won't you miss him?"

I shrugged. "Sure, but he's gonna make you feel better. Then he can come back and live with me!"

"Thanks, Sodapop." He wrapped his frail arms around me and I hugged him gently back.

We colored pictures for a little while, quietly talking and laughing with one another. Before too long, Ponyboy fell asleep, so I pushed all of the coloring objects onto the floor and crawled under the sheets next to him.

I wrapped my arms around his quiet form and whispered to him, "You're gonna get better real soon, Pone. I'm gonna make sure of it."

So with Ponyboy holding Beary and me holding Pone, we slept through the afternoon. I never let go of him, determined to somehow make him better with my presence. From that day on, I made it one of my main focuses to keep Ponyboy safe.

Seeing that Soc kicking Pony's head as if it was nothing more than a bug on the ground made my stomach turn. I felt sick and enraged, like I wanted to kill the boy on the ground under me. I wanted to ring his neck and make him pay for what he had done to my poor little brother.

I grabbed hold of his shirt collar and pulled him towards me before slamming him into the ground. Over and over again I smashed him into the ground, ignoring the fact that he was unconscious and his head was rolling the same way Ponyboy's had been.

Suddenly I was being pulled backwards, away from the Soc. Enraged, I whirled around and prepared to attack the person that had grabbed me.

"Soda! You're gonna kill 'im. Let it go, Pepsi. We won." Darry's voice tore its way through my rage-filled state and I realized he was right.

The Soc's were all fleeing and with the help of two of his buddies, the boy I had pummeled was being carried quickly to a waiting Mustang. I felt Darry shake me slightly and I tore my eyes away from the retreating enemy to stare at him.

"Pepsi, pull it together. It's alright. It's over," he murmured, studying me cautiously.

I felt my head nod and then I realized someone was missing. "Dar, where's Pone?"

He heard the panic evident in my voice and quickly answered, "I saw him go off with Dal. I think they're goin' to see Johnny. He's gonna be okay, Sodapop. Just relax."

"Alright, Dar. Alright." Even though Darry said it, I just couldn't shake the deeply unsettled feeling in my gut saying Ponyboy wasn't okay.


Now I was sitting beside my brothers still form, watching him breathe slowly and silently cursing myself for not going after him after the rumble. He moaned quietly and began fidgeting under the sheets, his brow creasing deeply.

I reached over and brushed his hair off of his forehead, whispering, "Sh-h. You're alright baby. I'm right here."

I breathed a sigh of relief as he relaxed under my touch, but I was still worried out of my mind about the poor kid. He had watched his best buddy die and then saw Dally shot down in the street.

Just thinking of Dally made me both angry and devastated at the same time. He had been a good buddy, but I hated how selfish he had been in his last moments of life. He called the gang up, knowing damn well we would show up to help him, and went and gotten himself killed.

"Soda. Darry," Ponyboy moaned, thrashing wildly against the bedsheets.

"Dar, he's gettin' worse," I hollered down the hall as I tried desperately to soothe my restless brother.

"Mama, don't leave!" I cringed at that, hating how young and vulnerable he sounded.

Darry arrived then and sat on the bed beside Pony, gently rubbing the back of his hand with his thumb. "You're alright now Pone. We've gotcha."

It took another ten minutes, but he finally calmed back down and fell into a deep sleep. I rubbed my face wearily and looked to see how Darry was.

He smiled wearily at me. "He's gonna be fine, Soda. He's just real sick right now. But the doctor said he's gonna hafta rest."

Tears burned the back of my eyes and suddenly, I felt like the scared seven year old all over again.

"Darry, I don't wanna lose 'im. We – we didn't know where he was for over a week and just when we get 'im back…I'm scared, Darry. I can't lose 'im. I just can't." By the time I finished speaking, my voice had dropped to a whisper, tears making their way down my cheeks.

My oldest brother made his way over to me and wrapped me in a firm hug. I tried to shove the fear away, but it just kept crawling up my throat, making me want to scream. We had lost Pony for a week; the longest week of my whole damned life. And now that he was back, we could lose him again, whether it was to the courts or to this illness.

Darry sensed all of this and squeezed me gently. "Don't you think like that, Pepsi. Ponyboy is a fighter. You and I both know that. He's gonna be just fine 'cause he's got you and me fightin' right there with him. But you gotta be strong for him. He needs you to be strong right now. Can you do that?"

I sniffled and managed to nod my head. As if to show that I meant it, I reached over and grabbed hold of Pony's limp hand, squeezing it gently and stroking the back with my thumb. Ponyboy murmured my name once more and fell silent.

"Are Two-Bit and Stevie still around," I asked quietly, not taking my eyes off of Pony's calm face.

"Two-Bit went home to spend some time with his mom and sister. Steve's still here though. I'm gonna go wrap his ribs now if you two are gonna be alright in here," he responded, looking to me for reassurance.

I nodded and began getting ready for bed. Once I climbed in beside Ponyboy, Darry tucked the sheets in around us and leaned over Pony, giving him a gentle kiss on the forehead before ruffling my hair fondly.

"You need anything you come wake me up, savvy?"

"Sure thing, Superman."

He smirked at me and then walked out, closing the door quietly behind him. Rolling onto my side, I watched Ponyboy sleep, gently moving the hair away from his eyes. He snuggled closer to me and mumbled something I couldn't hear.

I smiled at him and wrapped him in a gentle hug. "You're gonna get better real soon, Pone. I'm gonna make sure of it. I love you baby."

Even though some people didn't understand it, I always felt like Pone was my responsibility. Steve often gave me a hard time for it, sayin' I needed to let "the kid" grow a pair on his own. But as I drifted off to sleep, I knew that I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world.

He was my kid brother and I loved him more than anything in the world. It was my job to keep him safe and I was going to do my damndest to make sure that nothing ever hurt him again.

His welfare is of my concern, no burden is he to bear. We'll get there, for I know he would not encumber me.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed this short lil' Soda drabble(:

-Independence Undervalued