I don't own the Outsiders. There'll be five chapters in this, but I'm letting you know that they're all done in first person, but each chapter is a different person.

Here is my little explanation that you don't need to read: if you've ever had something in your head for forever and you had to write it for it to leave you alone, then you get why I wrote this. It's just a point of view thing. I mean. We all know what happens during these few days, and it's not like I made aliens come to earth while the boys were gone. Although that would be interesting. So this really has no purpose. It's just full of angst. I can't think of anything else. I guess I just like being in the guys' heads - let's call this practice! Okay.

So basically ... I'm posting this to get it out of my Doc Manager, it's been there long enough.

And that's all! Happy reading!


Day One

~ Sunday ~

~ Darry ~

I don't know what I was expecting. I spent all night praying that it was all just a dream. It was my worst nightmare. It was so quiet in our house that morning.

I knew from the moment that Sodapop came out of his room, pale-faced and shaking his head – it was like telling me Ponyboy had already been found dead in the river or something. How could I have let this happen? I had been getting more and more riled up last night - and Soda had told me I'd better cool off, or I'd do something I'd regret. It was funny how he was always right about things like that.

"Any sign?" I croaked, even though I knew there wasn't.

"He ain't here, Darry," Soda said quietly, cutting to the chase.

"Did you try Two-Bit's?" I asked. "He coulda gone to Two-Bit's last night."

Soda shook his head. "He didn't."

"Did you check?" I shot back, out of desperation. "Did you call?"

Sighing, Soda shook his head. "I'll call now."

For a second, a tiny ember of hope roared inside my chest, watching Soda call the Mathews'. On a normal day, he would've just loped down the street - they only lived about five minutes away, ten if you took your time - and he probably would've ended up staying there for an hour. That was just how it happened. But I guess neither of us had much energy that morning. I knew I wasn't the only one who hadn't slept a wink.

I just kept thinking of what had happened all night.

We both flipped when Ponyboy left. I had made to go chase after him, but Sodapop had shouted - really shouted at me, thundering and roaring like he hadn't in a long time - that we should just stay here, and give the poor kid time to cool off, room to breathe.

We both knew we couldn't sleep. We didn't bother trying for a long time. My gaze was transfixed on the front door, waiting for it to creak open.

Even when we went to bed, it was about five in the morning, and all I could think about was how only three hours ago, Ponyboy had been right here, safe and at home, with people who loved him. Even if he didn't know it. I should have listened to Soda. I couldn't count the times that Sodapop told me that with each day that passed, Ponyboy was only more and more convinced that I didn't love him. I was so shocked and taken aback by such a stupid idea, that I didn't believe it. I didn't even register it; Hell, I didn't even think about it. It seemed so stupid to me, I paid no attention to it. It was only a few hours ago, he was here.

All night, all I could think was that I should have wrapped my arms around him and refused to let him go, refused to let him out of my grip, or out of my sight even. I should have kept him in my arms until he'd promised me he'd stay. I should've kept a firm hold like I should have from the start, and waited until he got too sleepy and worn out to fight back, to try to run anymore.

And then I thought - he wouldn't even be doing this if I hadn't hit him in the first place. This was all my fault. All my fault. And for all I knew, he was still running, putting as much distance as he could between him and his brothers, his home.

With every hour that passed, it was another hour he was just gone. Six o' clock, my baby brother's been gone for four hours now. Seven o' clock, God, it's been five hours, why won't he come home? Eight o' clock, where is that kid, it's been six hours? By nine - what if something really bad happened to him? Something really, really bad. It was like I could feel it. It was like I knew.

My eyes filled up with tears - again - as I watched Sodapop on the phone.

"Hi, Mrs. Mathews," he said, sounding exhausted. I watched as he raked his fingers through his blond hair, eyes closed, his face lined. He looked older than I had ever seen him look. "It's Sodapop."

Something I couldn't distinguish from the other line.

"No no," Sodapop said then. "I don't need to talk to either of 'em." She thought he was calling Two-Bit, or his sister Holly. "I just wanted to know if you'd seen Ponyboy in the last while. He hasn't been over, has he?" I grimaced - he couldn't keep the desperation out of his voice.

Then he sighed - the most heartbreaking sound I'd ever heard, and when he spoke again, he sounded strained, like someone was choking him. "No, that's okay Ms. Mathews. No we don't know where he is. Yeah, I know. Well if you see him ... Just tell him we're real worried about him over here."

She said something else, and after saying goodbye, Sodapop dropped the phone as if he hadn't the energy to hold it up anymore, and looked at me like he could burst into a fresh wave of tears.

I wouldn't tell him this, but I'd heard him crying last night. I don't think he'd heard me - to be honest, a lot of the time I wondered whether Sodapop thought I was still able to cry or not. But after a while, I was all dried out - but the quiet of my thoughts alone was even worse. But Soda, he kept it up for most of the night. I didn't want to tell him it wasn't tough - who cared about being tough anymore? I didn't think he cared more than I did either. Sodapop just felt everything a lot different, a lot stronger, than a lot of the rest of us. I'd always thought Ponyboy was like him in that way.

But I'd spent the night listening - hoping against hope that I would hear the door open, and Ponyboy would tiptoe into the room he shared with Soda and crawl into bed next to him. And then in the morning, I'd probably holler at him for scaring us so much, while I hugged him to me and refused point-blank to let him go, while Soda laughed in the background, and jokingly told me to quit strangling his kid brother.

"Nah, he ain't there, Dar," he said quietly.

"You don't think he went to Steve's, do you?" I asked, not knowing what else I could rack from my brain.

If it was a different situation, Soda would have roared with laughter. But he didn't. "No I don't," he said sharply. "Besides, Steve would've dragged him back by the ear by now."

"Yeah, ain't that the truth," I muttered.

Soda collapsed into the armchair it seemed I had spent an eternity in last night, and covered his face in his hands.

"Where the hell is that kid?" he shouted.

"You don't think he's just back in the lot, do you?" I said quickly. Soda shook his head.

"Nah, he'd be home by now," he said.

"He could be still asleep," I grumbled in my exhaustion.

It was a quiet morning. I kept replaying the night's events like an old movie that I had stuck in my head, like someone had stuck a TV right in front of my eyes and that was all I could see.

After hours of being up, pacing around the house, and getting weaker by the minute, I decided that we'd better eat something. So I went to start breakfast - though it was late. I wondered was Soda meant to be at work. He usually had a shift on Sunday, but on any given week he might have it off. He hadn't mentioned anything. I wanted to tell him he'd have to go to work anyway, but I just didn't have the heart.

"Little buddy, I don't know if we got any grape jelly left," I called into Soda. He waltzed in a moment later, opened the corner cupboard, and pulled out some grape jelly from behind a year old, unopened box of cereal wordlessly. I managed a weak grin at him, and he shrugged his shoulders.

I was just about to put on Ponyboy's eggs - hard, just the way he likes him - when I realized again that he wasn't there to eat them. And then I let a few tears spill over, standing there in my kitchen, over a pile of eggs.

Soda just stood there and looked at me, stunned. "Darry - w- wha-"

"I was just about to make some eggs for him," I muttered, clearing my throat.

Soda nodded. "Dar, it's gonna be okay." I pretended as if I didn't hear him. "He'll be home soon, I know it."

Just after he had done talking, Steve and Two-Bit were running in, out of breath and looking pretty frantic.

"Man, you won't believe what we just -" Steve started, before he stopped, panting for breath, stood up a little straighter and looked around. "Whe- Where's the kid?"

Soda let out a tiny whimper and turned away, so with a sigh, I answered his question. "He ain't been home all night."

"He ain't what?" said Two-Bit, dropping the fork he had just picked up.

"You saw him last night, didn'tcha Two-Bit?" Soda said, grimacing.

"Yeah, I did!" Two-Bit said, nodding earnestly. "Well, I was with 'em, and then I left to hunt up a poker game or somethin', I don't really remember what I did after that."

Steve rolled his eyes. "Convenient that you never remember."

"You callin' me a phoney, Stevie?" Two-Bit grinned at him, looking amused.

"Well, either phoney or a drunk," Steve said, shrugging.

"Drunk!" Two-Bit repeated. Then he threw up one hand. "Yes, I'll admit it. I like beer."

Soda and I laughed - you just had to at the sincerity on his face - but it felt oddly constricted.

"So - uh," I decided to was time to press on. "Did they say where they were goin' after you decided to go hunt up trouble?" I asked Two-Bit, who furrowed his brow and frowned while he thought.

"Well, I asked 'em were they headin' home," he said. "And Ponyboy said not right then." I felt my lips tighten. Of course he didn't want to come home. "Somethin' about another smoke," Two-Bit continued. "And the stars, I don't know," he said, shaking his head and waving his hand around. "I was just leavin', and they were still there on the curb."

"Wait, hold up," said Steve, frowning. "Has anyone seen Johnny?"

"Maybe he went home," said Soda stiffly.

"Wouldn't we have seen him by now?" Two-Bit said.

"So," I said, in some way that made them all shut up, I don't know what I did. "No one knows where our baby brother is. And no one knows where Johnny is either?"

Soda swallowed and looked at his shoes - well, at his feet. I ain't never seen that kid wear shoes indoors. Two-Bit and Steve glanced at each other.

"You don't think ...?" Steve said to Two-Bit, who went white.

"Well, uh," he said, rubbing the back of his neck anxiously. Soda sat up on the kitchen counter, gazing intently at Two-Bit. "I don't know man," said Two-Bit.

"What?" said Soda sharply.

Two-Bit, grimacing, turned to Soda and me. "Well, see. Me and Steve just came over here to tell y'all. They found some dead Soc in the park."

Soda's jaw dropped.

Steve shook his head soberly. "The kid was knifed. Bob Sheldon - you remember Soda, we went to school with him?"

Soda nodded, gulping. "Yeah I remember him." For a minute, he stared at Steve with blank eyes - and then he covered his face in his hands.

Two-Bit looked uncharacteristically somber. "Well, we kinda ran into him last night," he said grimly, looking so utterly awkward and reluctant to have to tell us this. "He thought we'd sorta - picked up his girl."

"And did you?" Soda demanded.

Two-Bit shrugged. "We was walkin' with her and her friend is all. And besides, he was so drunk, he woulda given me a run for my money."

"If ya had any," Steve muttered.

Two-Bit thwacked him on the arm and continued. "And he seemed pretty pissed when he left. Maybe he went looking for us last night."

"And maybe he found them," Steve added bitterly. "All we know is - now the kid's dead."

My throat was tight, and it was hard to swallow. I knew that this was something a lot worse than forgetting to be home on time, or falling asleep somewhere. Somebody was dead, and all the signs were saying that Ponyboy had something to do with it. But Pony couldn't kill anybody - he was a fourteen year old kid, not a murderer.

I felt ... relieved, mostly. At least it wasn't my brother was dead; even if he was missing, at least he was still alive. I knew he was.

"So you're thinkin' Pony and Johnny had somethin' to do with it?" Soda said, muffled under his hands.

"Well," Steve grimaced. I knew he didn't want to tell Soda the truth as much as any of us didn't want to hear it.

"They could have have done, kiddo," I said in a soft voice. I was startlingly calm, aware that Steve was staring at me waiting for an explosion.

The words were only barely just out of my mouth, and there was a rap on the door, and we glanced around at each other. For one fleeting second, I thought it could be Ponyboy, and I was already promising myself that I wouldn't holler at him, I wouldn't punish him for being out all night, for scaring us half to death, I was just that happy to have him home, where he was safe.

But I knew really, that no one knocked at our front door, ever, let alone Ponyboy.

"Uh, Darry," said Sodapop, who had darted to the window. "I ain't sure you're gonna like this."

"Why, who is it?" I said, thinking to myself about how not in the mood to talk to anyone I was.

By that time, Soda had opened the door and couldn't answer. I came to his side - and felt my jaw unhinge.

"Officers," I said cautiously.

"Mister Curtis," the police officer said gruffly. "Can we have a moment of your time?"

I nodded numbly, noticing how sheet-white Soda's face was gone.

xxx

I sat numbly on the couch; my eyes were tired and sore, and every little stirring movement outside the window had me bolt upright, peering keenly outside, thinking it was my baby brother, coming home.

I don't know why I kept thinking that.

Sodapop was seated on the floor across from me, occupying himself by chain-smoking through a packet and a half in one day, and chewing on his nails when he wasn't taking a drag. He was tired too, and I knew that just sitting around was making it even worse for him. He wasn't used to sitting still.

"Dar, d'you think Ponyboy's scared?" he asked.

I sighed. "Yeah, I think he probably is." The cops had told us as much. They'd asked us was Ponyboy home, and said they needed to speak to him about a murder in the area the night before. It was sort of crushing, having to tell them that he'd run out at two o' clock, and he hadn't come yet. Suspect for a murder - not that they sounded like they were suspicious of anything. The officers that had come to the door had seemed pretty certain of what had happened. And yet I couldn't believe it. Not my brother - not Johnny - not some popular Soc who was bumming around on the wrong side of the tracks for whatever reason. It didn't make sense. It was English they were speaking, but it seemed a very strange kind of English. It might as well have been Chinese.

They told us that they had accounts from eye witnesses - some of the dead kid's friends, no doubt - and there seemed to be no question that Ponyboy and Johnny had been involved in some sort of fight. And then that Soc ended up getting stabbed.

Soda gulped. "But you don't think he could've - he could've killed anyone, r-right?"

I let out a deep heavy sigh. "I don't know. I don't think so." I didn't know what he would have done it with - and even if it was just to defend himself, I don't know if I could ever imagine my kid brother taking a knife to somebody. They had said it was Johnny - but that seemed equally unbelievable.

"So what," Soda blurted out. "You think it was Johnny?" There was disbelief in his voice, almost like he found the thought funny, but I could tell - Soda was scared.

I sighed again, grimacing down at my younger brother. He was nearly seventeen now, but he still seemed so much younger to me. "Well Soda," I said gently. "Don't forget that Johnny was the one who carried a switch in his pocket everywhere he went. He wasn't about to let anyone do what those boys did to him a few months ago ever again."

Soda paled, and his lips tightened into a taut line. He raked his fingers through his hair, a cigarette still dangling from his lips. Normally I would have told him off for smoking so close to me, or for getting ash all over the floor, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

The neighbourhood seemed so quiet right then - even though I knew it wasn't. Reporters had starting coming around about an hour after the police had - they had finally cleared off, and it seemed almost eerie, the quiet that had followed their departure. That wasn't even it.

Before, the Socs made a sport out of jumping a greaser they caught walking by his lonesome, or a couple of guys they could outnumber. But now there had been an uproar, and they were all so angry. I guess that Bob kid had been a popular guy. I didn't really understand, since taking out their frustration or grief by attacking every greaser they saw sure as hell wasn't going to bring their buddy back. I didn't think it made them feel any better at all.

As for the greasers - well, they were always up for a fight. They didn't care what it was about, or who started it, or what for - any excuse was good enough for them, as long as they got to pair their fist with a Soc's face. All of a sudden, it seemed like warfare.

Except, when I thought about - it didn't seem so sudden at all. It felt like it had been simmering just beneath the surface for a long time. All it needed was a trigger.

But it was so much worse than I had expected. Overnight, it seemed to have spread faster than wildfire, and the Socs were so frustrated, and so full of rage, greasers were getting jumped left, right and centre. And greasers were beginning to retaliate, for no more reason other than "they started it".

It didn't make much sense - but it wasn't as if anything was making much sense.

Steve promised to stop by after work, and he did just that, chucking Soda a fresh pack of Kools when he got in.

Soda grinned in appreciation and opened them immediately, causing Steve to raise his eyebrows. "Man, everyone's pretty pissed," he remarked. "And I mean everyone. Ain't no one walking by their lonesome, anybody who does is getting jumped."

"Yeah well," Soda said, tapping the cigarette off the side of the box. "If it was the other way around, we'd be twice as bad."

"You kiddin'?" Steve replied. "We'd be ten times as bad - there wouldn't only be one dead kid."

"Ain't that the truth," Soda muttered.

"You hear anything about Pony or Johnny?" I asked Steve; he shook his head.

"I wonder how long it'll take for his folks to come lookin' for him," he mumbled.

Soda, uncharacteristically bitter, scoffed. "Don't kid yourself - they ain't ever comin' to look for him," he said darkly, puffing away incessantly.

"Hey Soda," I said. "Cool it, will ya? You're makin' me uneasy."

He said nothing, just inclined his head and took another drag.

Steve didn't stay long - I wished he did stay longer. For a long time after he left, I kept at my seat by the window, the phone resting so quietly beside me. I didn't want to keep Soda up, but he adamantly wanted to stay awake as long as I did.

The TV was on the entire time, because we were both too mentally exhausted to maintain conversation, but without it, it just seemed so quiet, it was eerie. I looked at Soda. His eyes were rimmed red, and he looked a wreck.

"Soda," I said quietly, my voice breaking. "What - what happened with Sandy?" I knew it was an awful time to mention it, but seeing him the way he was, I figured there might have been something else I might want to know about. He had told me before he left for the game that Sandy was pregnant. I didn't bother asking how long he'd known.

They'd had trouble, I knew that. He'd broken up with her once before, but they were back together, even though it hadn't been more than a couple of weeks. Maybe that was when he found out. That sounded a lot like Soda - that would make him stay with anybody.

Soda cleared his throat, his eyes darting around desperately, looking anywhere but at me. "It wasn't mine," he said shortly.

My mouth fell open and I slipped off the couch. He was the last person to deserve that. I could almost feel my heart breaking for my little brother. My heart was breaking for both my little brothers. I didn't know what to ask him about it, and I didn't really know how I was meant to comfort him. His expression was enough to render me speechless.

I bawled before the end of the night.


Reviewing would generally be what I'm hoping you're gonna do.