Well, this is my first fanfiction. I decided that since this was a very momentous occasion for me-it really is (;-that i would kick it off by writing about one of my obsessions. The Outsiders! I read it in 6th grade English, and have been absolutly hooked ever since! Book, movie, pictures, Fanfiction stories, those glasses that they give you in Applebees that say SodaPop on them (When I saw that I squeeled. Loudly. No joke.). As you can see, I have a problem. So I decided to write about it. (: Great idea right? Anyways, I hope you enjoy the story, and constructive critisism is encouraged. I know that this scenario has been written about before, but the ones I've read never really panned out the way I wanted them to, so I decided to make my own. Enjoy! (:

Disclaimer: If I owned the Outsiders, I would have a life and a fan base, and I wouldn't be on fanfiction writing little scenarios about my own story...hence I quite obviously do NOT own the Outsiders...though that would make my life if I did...(:

"I can't take much more." Johnny spoke my own feelings. "I'll kill myself or something." My stomach clenched in apprehension. Johnny couldn't kill himself, I couldn't deal without him! The gang couldn't deal without him.

"Don't," I said, sitting up in alarm. "You can't kill yourself, Johnny."

"Well, I won't. But I gotta do something. It seems like there's gotta be someplace without greasers or Socs, with just people. Plain old ordinary people." His face was scrunched up in distress, a sheen of tears in his eyes. I remember thinking that same thing to myself over the years, and every year I saw more reasons that made it seem like that couldn't be true. But then…

"Out of the big towns," I said, lying back down. "In the country…" I loved the country. I remember the first time my parents had taken me out there. I had just gotten home from school, and I was bawling something awful…

I opened the door to my house, having to grasp for the handle a few times before it flew open. I couldn't see through the tears blurring my vision.

"Oh baby, what's wrong?" Mom had just stepped out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, a look of concern on her face. "What happened?" Mom was beautiful, and while I didn't really have a perspective for these sorts of things, I thought she was the prettiest lady I had ever seen. She had golden blonde hair, tumbling down her back in ringlets and curls. Her twinkling green eyes were always full of laughter. Even when she was angry, she never looked really mad, not like dad. She had a faint scattering of freckles on her nose, and long slender fingers hinting at a delicacy that belied callouses she acquired from working around the house. I loved her hands. They were a musician's hands. She could play her piano for hours on end. I was the only one with any patience for learning how to play. Soda was too restless, and Darry was too busy with football and school. So she taught me, and played while I sat next to her on the mahogany bench. That piano was her pride and joy.

"Pony, are you hurt little buddy?" I guess Darry was home from school already too. Darry was a spittin' image of Dad. He's tall, broad-shouldered, and muscular. Not at all like my slight, trembling frame. He had dark brown hair with a little cowlick in the back, just like Dad's. But Darry's eyes weren't like Dad's at all. Where dad's eyes were a warm brown, Darry's were like a pair of blue-green shards of ice. But Darry wasn't cold. He was always so nice to me. He could get pretty serious though, too. Darrel is my dad. Darrel, not Darry. He's real tall and imposing, and he can get mad something awful, but he's a softie at heart, never can stay mad for long. My other brother, Sodapop, is the kid version of my mom, of the opposite gender of course. He's handsomer than anyone else I know. He's movie –star handsome, with gold hair and dark-brown, dancing, laughing eyes. He's always happy-go-lucky, with a little reckless thrown in. He can go from being sympathetic and thoughtful to blazing anger in a second. I loved him more than I loved anyone else in the world, even Mom and Dad. All four of them were now in the living room, watching me bawl with alarm.

"Pony, honey, you gotta tell us what's wrong, so we can make it better." Even at ten, Sodapop was always lookin' out for me.

"They was calling me names, a-and pushing me, and they called me greaser, and then they said that that I was stupid and no one loved me!" I was almost incoherent by the end. To my seven year old mind, this was the worst insult that could ever be given. How could no one love me?

"Oh Pony, baby, of course we love you! Momma loves you." She rushed over and enveloped me in her embrace, cooing and shushing me, trying to make me calm down. Soda was outraged by what I had said, and Darry was positively seething.

"I'll kill those no good Socs! I'll teach them to pick on my baby brother!" Soda bolted towards the door with every intention of carrying out his promise, but Dad snagged his shirt at the last second.

"You'll do no such thing, PepsiCola. We do not tolerate violence in this house." His voice was firm and commanding, his face hard, giving no room for arguments.

"But Dad-" Darry started.

"Is that understood?" Dad was not in the mood for disobedience, and it showed.

"Yes, sir," They mumbled, looking down at the worn carpet.

"They still deserved it," Soda muttered mutinously. "Those pieces of sh** hurt Pony!"

"Sodapop Patrick Curtis! We do not use that language in this house! Where on earth did you hear that word?" Mom looked mad, real mad.

"Dally taught it to me," Soda stammered, nervous. "He told me that that's what you say when you're real mad at someone, so I said it." By now I had calmed down enough to hear what was going on, only letting out a few hiccups every now and then. Mom's face softened. She always did have a soft spot for Dally, him not getting along with his father and all. I think she felt sorry for him, and she never could stay mad at Soda for long. No one could.

"Just don't say it again Soda. Come and mind Pony now, he needs his brothers. Darry, you too, your father and I need to go discuss something." Soda and Darry came over and helped me up, and a wrestling match ensued. We were tumbling all around our worn living room, me being careful for Momma's vases, my brothers being careful for me. Mom walked out of the kitchen to the scene of me and Soda tickling Darry. We thought we were so strong then, being able to take Darry down, but now I realize that he was letting us beat him all along.

"Boys, how would you like to take a little trip?"

That day they decided to take us out to the country. Soda and Darry enjoyed it well enough, but they were glad when it was time to go back home. But I adored the country. It was all golden and peaceful. A place where I wasn't defined by what I wore or how much money I had. A place where I could be me and no one would judge me for it. I hadn't realized all that at the time of course. How could I? I was just a little kid. But I do remember felling safe and loved and peaceful. The locals were so nice and welcoming, and we went out to a field of swaying grass; the crickets were chirping with the sun shining gently overhead. We had a picnic in that field, and afterwards we just talked and laughed, the five of us, lying under a nearby tree. We were a family.

My only regret was that the rest of the gang wasn't there to share the perfect moment with us. Johnny would shyly thank my parents for everything, and we would end up cloud gazing. Steve would go roughhouse by the creek with Soda. Dally would smile, really smile. And Two-Bit would be trying to convince my parents to let him drive the car home. The car…something bad had happened in that car…an accident? Mom and Dad had an accident in that car. Realization slowly dawned on me, horror creeping up. We no longer could have that perfect moment. They were…dead. I heard a train's shrill whistle, saw pieces of our car get thrown into the air, my parents crushed into the ground forever. Shaking, the ground was shaking; everything was shaking, or was it just me who was shaking? Was I-

"Ponyboy,"-Johnny was shaking me-"Hey, Pony, wake up." I bolted upright, gasping, sweat glistening on my skin.

"Another nightmare, Pone?" Johnny whispered, concerned. "You should tell Dar-"

"Glory, what time is it?" I interrupted, groaning. My back ached from lying on the hard ground. All night? The stars had moved. Oh, Lord, Darry was gonna skin me.

"I don't know. I went to sleep too. You'd better get home. I think I'll stay all night out here." Johnny's parents didn't care if he came home or not.

"You sure? You know our doors are always open if you need a place to stay." I didn't like the thought of Johnny staying out in the lot all night, somethin' could happen.

"Yeah, I wouldn't want to impose or nothin'. Besides, I don't want you to get in more trouble than you're already gonna be in." Glory, would there be trouble, I could only hope that Darry fell asleep early, exhausted from work. I knew I was only kidding myself, though. Dare was gonna get me good.

"Okay." I yawned. Gosh, but it was cold. "You're probably right," I grimaced. "But if you get cold or something come on over to our house."


I started sprinting home, trembling at the thought of facing Darry.

"Where could he be?" Darry was pacing the living room, agitated, anger slowly building. "He was supposed to be home four hours ago!"

"Come on Dare, he's probably out with Johnny. You know those two. They must've lost track of the time or something." Soda was sprawled out across the sofa, warily tracking Darry's erratic movements. "Cut him some slack, you know he's daydreaming or something, and just forgot to call."

"He's always got his head in the clouds, and I'm sick of it! He needs to come back down to reality, and quick! What if something did happen, huh? What am I supposed to do then? I can't call the cops, 'cause the social services would be here in a heartbeat, dragging you two off to a boy's home. He just doesn't think! He's not only endangering himself, but you too, PepsiCola, and I just don't know what to do anymore!" Darry had worked himself into a rage, breathing hard, stomping. Soda looked at his brother and sighed. Darry was worried sick, not that he'd admit it. Oh honey, where are you? Soda thought.

"It'll be fine Darry. He'll come home." Sighing, Darry thumped down in the armchair, rubbing his face. Soda lay back down, settling in for a long wait. Eyes slowly drooping, he drifted off into a restless sleep…

I slowly walked up to the house, trying to delay the inevitable. The porch light was on, maybe they were asleep. But peeking into a window revealed Darry in the armchair, reading a newspaper. Soda was slumped across the sofa, sleeping. I gulped, opening the door softly. Darry's head snapped up, and he was on his feet in a second.

"Where the heck have you been? Do you know what time it is?" He was madder than I had seen him in a long time. I wordlessly shook my head, afraid that if I used my voice, it'd tremble.

"Well, it's two in the morning, kiddo. And I can't even call the cops 'cause they'd throw you into a boy's home so quick, it'd make your head spin. Where were you, Ponyboy? Where in the almighty universe were you?" During his yelling at me, Darry had slowly been inching me towards the corner. I felt tears start building up behind my eyes and my face flushing all the way to my ears.

"I….I went to sleep in the lot…" It sounded dumb, even to me. I inwardly flinched.

"You what?" All of Darry's shouting woke Soda up.

"Hey, Pony," he said sleepily, rubbing his eyes, "Where ya been?"

"I didn't mean to," I was pleading with Darry now, "I was talking to Johnny and we both dropped off…I didn't think we'd actually fall asleep."

"I reckon it never occurred to you that your brothers might be worrying their heads off, too afraid to call the police. And you were asleep in the lot? What on earth is the matter with you? You never use your head. You haven't even got a coat on. You never think, Ponyboy!"

It was so unfair. Darry never listened to me. If Soda stayed out late with Steve, all he got was a warning to not do it again. But Darry loved Soda. He sure as hell didn't love me. Not since Mom and Dad died. I felt tears of frustration and anger rising.

"I said I didn't mean to…"

"I didn't mean to!" Darry shouted, and I started to shake. "I didn't think! I forgot! That's all I ever hear out of you! Can't you think of anything?"

"Come on, Darry…" Sodapop started, But Darry turned on him.

"You keep your trap shut! I'm sick and tired of hearin' you stick up for him!" Darry yelled at Soda. No one should ever yell at Soda. No one should holler at my brother. My frustration and anger boiled over, and I exploded.

"You don't yell at him!" Darry wheeled around and slapped me so hard it knocked me back against the door. It was deathly quiet. We were all frozen. Nobody in my family had ever hit me. Nobody. I felt the tears welled up in my eyes starting to spill over. Soda was staring wide-eyed at me. Then at Darry. Darry looked at the palm of his hand, and then at my cheek where you could see its mark starting to turn red. His eyes were huge.

"Ponyboy…" I turned and ran out the door as fast as I could, pretending my tears were from the stinging wind.

"Ponyboy, I didn't mean too!" Darry screamed. I didn't mean to, I didn't think, I forgot. Can't you think of anything Darry? I thought bitterly, a choked sob escaping past my lips. Darry obviously didn't want me around. And I wouldn't stay if he did. Two-Bit had said that Darry loved me, and how could I think that he wanted to send me to a boys' home? Well, the jokes on you, Two-Bit. Darry hit me. I was only there because Soda wouldn't let him send me away. Well, now they wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. He was never going to hit me again. I was gone.

"Johnny?" I called, and started as he rolled over and jumped up almost under my feet. "Come on Johnny, we're running away." He asked no questions as we ran until we were out of breath. Then we walked. By then I was sobbing. I finally just sat down on the curb, buried my face in my hands, and then cried and cried. Johnny sat down beside me, putting one hand on my shoulder.

"Easy, Ponyboy," he said softly, "we'll be okay." I tried to calm myself down, wiping my eyes on my bare arm. My breath was coming in quivering sobs, and I realized how cold it was.

"Gotta cigarette?" He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a bunch of Cools, handing me one. I struck a match.

"Johnny, I'm scared." I started shaking, rubbing my arms with my hands, trying to get some warmth in my cold skin. I took a drag from my cigarette, trying to calm my nerves.

"Well, don't be. You're scarin' me. What happened? I never seen you bawl like that before."

"That's 'cause I don't very often. It was Darry. He hit me. I don't know what happened. He was hollering at Soda, and then he was knocking me against the door. I couldn't take him hollering at me and hitting me too. I just don't know anymore. Sometimes it seems like we're getting along just fine, and then all of a sudden he blows up on me or else is naggin' at me all the time. He didn't used to be like that. We used to get along okay…before Mom and Dad died. Now he just can't stand me." I slumped down in defeat. "I just don't know what to do anymore."

"I think I like it better when the old man's hittin' me." Johnny sighed. He lit up his own cigarette, staring thoughtfully across the street. "At least then I know he knows who I am. I walk in that house, and nobody says anything. I stay away all night, and nobody notices. At least you got Soda. I ain't got nobody." I looked up, startled out of my misery.

"Shoot, Johnnycakes. You got the whole gang. Dally didn't slug you tonight 'cause he cares about you. He loves you. I mean, golly, Johnny, you got the whole gang. You got me."

"It ain't the same as having your own folks caring about you," He said simply, smiling sadly at me. "It just ain't the same." I didn't know that Johnny felt that way. I guess I always figured that being with the gang was enough. But I know I missed my parents something awful, so why wouldn't Johnny? Was is worse for them to be alive and not caring if you existed, instead of dead and gone? I think it would be. I was starting to cool off by now, my muscles relaxing. I wanted to be home and safe in my bed with Soda's arm around me, keeping my nightmares away. If Darry wanted to pretend I didn't exist, fine. He couldn't stop me from living in my own house.

"Let's walk to the park and back, then maybe I'll be cooled off enough to go back home."

"Okay," Johnny was always so agreeable. "Okay."

The park wasn't that big. It wasn't small, but it wasn't Central Park material either. It was about two blocks square, with a small swimming pool for the little kids, empty now, and a circular fountain in the middle, bubbling along merrily. Tall elm trees made it shadowy and dark though, and I felt a shiver of foreboding crawl down my spine. It looked so still and ominous at night. It actually would've made a decent hangout, but we preferred the vacant lot, and the Shepard gang liked the alleys down by the tracks. That left the park to young lovers and little kids.

It was freezing. Darry was right about one thing: I really should've brought my jacket. I couldn't get much colder without turning into a popsicle. Johnny flipped up the collar of his jeans jacket, shivering.

"Ain't you about to freeze to death, Pony? You don't got your jacket, and its cold out here!" He looked at me with concern. I was shaking pretty badly.

"You ain't a'woofin," I said, taking a drag from my cigarette in a futile attempt to warm myself up. "Let's walk a bit. It might warm us up." We started towards the far side of the playground. A sudden blast of a car horn made us both jump. "Oh no," I whispered under my breath. The blue mustang from the Nightly Double was circling the park slowly. Johnny swore, and we started briskly walking back the way we came.

"What do they want? This is our territory. What are Socs doing this far east?" I muttered.

"Just stay cool," Johnny mumbled back. The mustang was getting closer. We walked faster. "I bet they're looking for us. We picked up their girls." It screeched to a stop in front of us, and five guys stumbled out.

"Oh, glory," I groaned, "this is all I need to top off a perfect night." I crushed my cigarette under the heel of my shoe. "Want to run for it?"

"Too late now," Johnny said. "Here they come." We were backing towards the fountain now, wanting something covering our backs. Not the best idea in hindsight. They were so obviously drunk it would've been a laugh in any other situation. They were staggering across the damp grass, smelling so strongly of English Leather and whiskey that I almost choked. I wished desperately that Soda and Darry would come along hunting for me, but I knew they wouldn't. At least, Darry wouldn't. Soda would want too, but Darry wouldn't let him, it being me, and past curfew and all. I knew Johnny and I were gonna have to fight it alone. Johnny knew it too: he had this blank look on his face; you'd have to know him to see the panic in his eyes. I didn't blame him. He'd already been through this, and it sure wasn't pretty. I stared at them coolly. They wouldn't have the satisfaction of knowing they scared us.

Johnny gasped under his breath. I followed his scared gaze to Bob, to Bob's hand, to the rings on his hand. Rings. Johnny's face was cut up by a guy with rings. I felt a red haze creeping over my vision.

"Hey, whatta ya know?" Bob said unsteadily, weaving where he stood. "Here's the little greasers that picked up our girls. Hey, greasers."

"You're outa your territory," Johnny warned in a low voice. "You'd better watch it." Randy swore at us, and the rest laughed. I didn't blame 'em. They certainly had the upper hand.

"Nup, pal, yer the ones who'd better watch it," Bob leered, "Next time you want a broad, pick up yer own kind-dirt." I growled. They were making me mad. Mad enough to lose my head.

"You know what a greaser is?" Bob asked. "White trash with long, greasy hair!" I felt the blood drain from my face. None of the insults they had ever dished to me-and there had been plenty-had ever hit me like that did. Johnny's eyes were smoldering. I did something real stupid.

"You know what a Soc is?" I replied, voice shaking with rage, "White trash with Mustangs and madras!" Then I spit at them. They did not particularly like that.

"You could use a bath, greaser. And a good working over. And we've got all night to do it. Give the kid a bath, David." Bob was shaking his head, smiling slowly. It was all a blur after that.

I ducked and tried to make a run for it, but one of the Socs caught my arm, twisting it behind my back. I dropped to the ground, grunting in pain. Two more came and dragged me up, pulling me across the muddy soil towards the fountain. Oh, God. I thought, struggling, thrashing, trying to get away. Faintly I heard Johnny's gasp of pain. They had thrown him to the ground and were kicking him. Johnny! I tried to scream, but got a mouthful of water instead. They had me in the fountain.

Cold. That's all I could think of. Oh God, it was cold. I needed to breathe. I struggled harder, clawing towards the surface, but they just held me tighter. I'm dying, I thought. I wonder what was happening to Johnny. I hope he got away. I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I'm drowning, I thought. They've gone too far this time. A red haze filled my mind and I slowly relaxed, welcoming the dark…

Darry stood frozen in the doorway. He was staring into the darkness, at the place where Ponyboy had become a part of the night, disappearing.

"Darry," Sodapop whispered, in shock. He was staring at his older brother like he didn't know him anymore. He knew that Pony and Darry hadn't been getting along well lately. In fact, they hadn't been getting along at all. But no matter how bad their fights ever got, it had never escalated this badly before. Darry had never struck Ponyboy. The possibility hadn't even crossed Soda's mind. Darry slowly turned to face his younger brother. One of them. He'd….hit…the other. He'd hurt Pony. Darry cringed at the thought.

"How could I do that?" Darry whispered, horrified. "I struck Pony. I hurt…"-Here tears began to shine in his eyes-"I hurt my little brother. What would Mom and Dad think? Oh, God," Darry slowly sunk to the floor, resting his back against the worn doorframe. Soda sat down next to him, not touching, but not running away either. Not doing anything. "Soda? Oh, Soda, don't hate me. Please don't hate me. Pony hates me. I hate me. I couldn't stand it if you hate me too. But I guess I deserve it. You should hate me. No real brother would've hurt his younger brother. It's my job to protect you two from that, and I'm the one who did it. I didn't protect you from myself." Darry was crying softly into his hands, unable to fathom how he had stooped so low.

Soda was watching this pan out, a sad light in his eyes. Their family was falling apart.

"I know you didn't mean to, Darry," Soda said, reaching out to his brother, "But Pony didn't mean to stay out late either. You need to listen to him, and not jump to conclusions. Look where it got us this time." Darry slumped even lower, guilt shining in his eyes. "But we can work this out later. Right now we need to go after Pony. He's hurting, Dare. He needs us."

Darry took a steadying breath, straitening and swiping his hand across his face. "You're right. Let's go find Pony. Let's go bring our brother home."

Darry and Soda had been searching for quite a while. They'd hit the lot first, but not seeing either Pony or Johnny, had just been scouring nearby streets for any sign that they had been there.

"Maybe they're at the park?" Soda suggested tentatively. He was starting to think that they wouldn't find Pony tonight. No one could find his brother if he didn't want to be found. But I'll keep looking, he thought firmly. I'll keep looking until we find him. Soda snuck a glance at Darry. He looked awful. Dark circles bagged under his eyes, which were still glistening with unshed tears. His face looked drawn and worn, weighed down with guilt and despair. He could've aged ten years, Soda thought sadly. Oh Pony, honey, where are you? Just then he heard muffled shouting coming from the front of them. The park.

"Pony!" Soda cried, already sprinting. Oh, God, please be all right. Let him be all right. I can't lose him too. Darry's face was as hard as stone. It didn't betray the turmoil raging inside of him. What have I done? If he's hurt, I'll never forgive myself. He can't be hurt. Not after Mom and Dad. He can't be…dead. At this he raced even faster, desperate to get to Pony before anything should happen. They skidded around the corner into the park, sweat dripping off their faces, taking in the scene in front of them. They froze in horror.

Johnny was on the ground, covering his face with bloody hands while two Socs kicked him, again and again and again. One cussed him out, spitting on him, while the other reached into his back pocket, flipping out a switch. Johnny whimpered, terrified. And Pony, Pony was surrounded by the other three Socs, next to the fountain. No, in the fountain. They were holding him under the water, and he was limp. He wasn't moving. He. Wasn't. Moving. Oh, God.

"Pony!" Soda screamed, "Ponyboy!" A red haze filled his vision, and he took off, faster than he had ever run before, Darry hot on his heels. The two Socs railing on Johnny looked up, startled. The one with the switchblade grinned, and took a swipe at Darry. Darry didn't even pause, just punched him so hard that he flew several feet back, his companion quickly beating it the heck outa there.

"Johnnycakes, you okay?" Soda had paused to help Johnny up, cringing at the gory mess that was his friend. There were bruises all over his body, and cuts from the knife running up and down his arms. A gash ran across his forehead, painting his face and hair scarlet.

"Ponyboy," Johnny gasped, clutching at his ribs, "You gotta help Pony!" Soda's stomach clenched in panic, and he whirled towards the fountain just in time to see Darry dragging the limp body of his brother out of the fountain. He rushed over, falling to his knees next to Pony's inert form. Darry was working tirelessly, mechanically, doing his best to revive Ponyboy, but it wasn't working. He wasn't breathing.

Darry was trying his best to stay strong. For Sodapop. For Ponyboy. Even for Johnny. But it was so hard, just so damn hard when all he wanted to do was curl up and bawl like a baby. But he couldn't. He had to stay strong for them, for his brothers. He wouldn't give up on Pony; he wouldn't let him down. Not this time. Time passed, and finally, finally, Darry stopped his ministrations and just focused on begging.

"Pony, baby, wake up. Come on little buddy, we need you. Soda needs you, Johnny needs you, and I need you." Darry clutched the soaking Pony to his chest, not caring in the least if he got wet too. "Oh Pony, I'm so, so sorry baby. I didn't mean too. I would give anything to take it back Pone, anything. You gotta come back little buddy. Come back to us. Please, baby, please. I'msorryI'msorryI'msorry," He was rocking him now, chanting, Soda sobbing next to them, long ago having given up on holding it back. Johnny just sat there, shocked, staring numbly at the face of his best friend. Pony, ice cold and dripping, lay still. Darry sobbed, burying is head in Pony's chest. Johnny looked away. Soda stared at the face of his baby brother, disbelieving, as tears ran down his cheeks. They left tracks in the grime.

One almost could have missed the fluttering of eyelashes, the slow thumpthump of a small boys heartbeat, the shallow rise and fall of a shivering chest. Pony gasped.

It was dark. Dark and cold, cold and dark. I was floating, I think. I couldn't feel anything, or see anything, or hear anything, or do anything. I could just think. But even that was fading, thoughts getting sluggish, eyes dropping closed. At least, I think they were closed. There was no way to know. Slowly, a lighter haze filled my vision, coalescing into a bright point in my vision. I guess my eyes were open after all. It gradually grew larger, until it filled my very being. I felt myself drifting, getting lighter, beginning to merge with the light. I felt myself letting go, happy to leave the darkness behind. Peaceful, it was so peaceful now.

Wait. I stopped drifting, the light getting smaller, farther away. My body getting heavier. Faintly, I heard sobbing, voices, felt myself being rocked, held. But that couldn't be. I was here, wasn't I? Wherever here was. Slowly, then faster, faster, faster still, I felt myself being dragged upward-it was up, right?-towards the sobbing and the voices and the rocking. Heavy. I was so heavy. And the pain. Oh, Lord, did I hurt! I couldn't breathe. Something was weighing down on my chest. I need to breathe. I need to breathe. I need to breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe! Suddenly the weight was gone. I gasped, my eyes flying open, choking and retching, coughing all that filthy water from my lungs. Gradually I became aware of strong arms holding me steady, and gentle hands soothing my burning face. I opened my eyes, and the blurry images of my brothers formed before my eyes.

Soda was crying softly, his eyes red and puffy, but with a relieved smile on his face. Darry was staring at me, just staring, but I saw the world in his eyes: relief, guilt, pain, anger-at me?-and a sad, helpless look that I hadn't seen since he was standing, hands shoved in his pockets, at Mom and Dad's funeral.

"Oh honey, we thought we'd lost you!" Soda cried, crushing me in his embrace. I hugged him back, not wanting to let go. Suddenly, I became aware that it was freezing out, and I was soaked to the bone in water that might as well have been ice. I started shuddering uncontrollably. Soda felt it too.

"Pony, you're burning up! Darry, come feel his forehead." My head snapped up, locking eyes with my oldest brother. He made a move as if to touch me, but stopped, dropping his hand forlornly, looking for all the world like he was lost.

"Pony I…" He started, rubbing his neck. I didn't give him a chance to finish.

"Darry!" I screamed, throwing my arms around him, "Oh, Darry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean make you worry. I shouldn't have-"

"No, Pone," He interrupted, looking me in the eyes. "I'm the one who should be sorry. No matter how much you screw up, and no matter how mad you make me, it's no excuse for me to hit you. You're my little brother. I'm supposed to protect you, and instead I hurt you, driving you away, causing you to get jumped by those bastards. I'm sorry, little buddy. Can you ever forgive me?" He looked so vulnerable in that moment, so un-Darry-like. Not Superman, but my brother. I think I loved him more in that moment than I had ever loved him in my life.

"Of course I forgive you, Dare. You're my brother. You make mistakes, I get that. But I do, too. We just have to learn to live with them, and move on." I hugged him even tighter, trying to get my point across. But wasn't there…

"Johnny!" I cried, "Is he okay?"

"I'm right here Pone," He said, walking into my field of vision. A little-no a lot-worse for wear, but by no means dead, like I had feared.

"Oh, thank God," I sighed, pulling him in for a hug, "I thought for sure they'd killed you this time."

"They almost did, but your brothers got here just in time." I glanced over to see them both smiling softly at us, sitting in a puddle of mud and blood, just looking happy that we were okay. I walked over to them, and they embraced me so hard I found it difficult to breathe.

"I'm just glad you're okay Pony," Soda whispered in my neck, "We were awful worried about you." Darry just held me tighter. After what seemed like an eternity, but just a moment, we let go. I sat back and looked at my family-what was left of it-and smiled. I had my brothers back. Both of them. And that's the way it was gonna stay.

"Let's go home."

Well there you have it! My first fanfiction. I hope it didn't make you cringe. I DO hope you enjoyed it. For now I'm only going to be writing One'shots, as I don't want to be that author that takes forever to update, or loses interest halfway through. I will take suggestions though, for The Outsiders, or even other books, movies, T.V. shows, I'll just have to have read them or seen them. Until next time! (:

~Sense of Peace