Yeah, sorry I left Darry out of the last chapter, I couldn't think of a good reaction for him…
Anyway. Chapter 2.
Pony blinked his eyes, adjusting to the absence of light as the screen before him went black. The theater was only partially filled, not unusual for a Saturday afternoon showing.
As the people filling the seats around him pushed themselves up Pony watched them go in a daze. This was not a dream; at least it didn't feel like his usual dreams. Pony swallowed and stood on shaky legs to follow the crowd through the exit. Something in the pit of his stomach was unsettled. Something deep in his mind voiced the tiny idea that just maybe he'd been given his second chance.
Pony squashed that thought immediately. There was no such thing as a second chance, he told himself ruthlessly. Really, did he think he was so damn special? That he got to go back in time to save the lives of two people that didn't deserve to die? Did he honestly believe that goddamn voice was anything more than a stupid taunt from the back of his mind?
He must have just had another episode, a blackout, the doctor had called them. Maybe his alarm clock had rung; maybe he had gotten dressed and headed for the movie house. Maybe he'd fallen asleep and forgotten the last few hours. Apparently forgetting short periods of time was not uncommon for kids after experiencing a traumatic event.
He was a little disappointed in himself; he'd managed to go a whole month without a blackout until now. Darry had been so proud of him. Darry, the only one who was able to understand and manage his grief in a way that wasn't destructive towards himself or others.
Ponyboy shook his head at himself as he left the movie house, almost as if to shake off the completely impossible ideas that were lodging themselves in his brain. He tried to hurry home, surely Darry would be worried about him by now, and Pony had no idea if he'd told Darry where he was going or if he'd even left a note. If Pony didn't get home soon Sodapop might even get so upset he'd utter a whole sentence.
However, as he was walking, he noticed out of the corner of his eye one tuff looking car trailing him. He felt his palms begin to sweat as he quickened his pace and looked back over his shoulder and nearly tripped. The car was the same make and model as the one that had trailed him as he left the same movie house four months ago.
Maybe, his mind whispered, it was the exact same one, with the exact same people. Ponyboy refused to let the idea take hold even as the car pulled up next to him, and the exact same socs stepped out of the mustang.
"Hey greaser!" One of them sneered. Pony knew where this was going, almost as surely as he knew that this was not a regular blackout.
Uncaring of his reputation—he was already untouchable because of the murder—he turned and fled the advancing socs.
He must have been more out of shape than he thought because they had him pinned almost immediately. Pony's face was ground against the rough cement of the sidewalk, he could feel the burn across the right side of his jaw.
The soc that had him tackled flipped him over, slugging him a few times to keep him from fighting back, but he didn't need to bother. Ponyboy knew there was no use in struggling anyway; they had four guys to his one.
The boy flipped out a blade as he planted his knees on Pony's chest, which hurt way more than it sounds.
"Now greaser, how about a haircut?" Pony had no more time to marvel at the word choice, so similar to the last time he was jumped, than he did to wonder at the fact that his hair seemed to have grown back to the place it had been at four months ago. Not a regular blackout, his mind urged him to believe, and Pony was quickly being persuaded that there was something much, much bigger than a blackout going on here.
As the boy leaned forward with the knife and Pony abandoned his inner musings and started screaming desperately for Darry, "DARRY! Help me! Darry!"
Four months earlier he might have yelled for Sodapop or Two-Bit or any one of the gang, but it seemed now that Darry was the only one he could really count on anymore.
The boy sitting on him slugged him again, and hissed, "Shut him up, for God's sake!"
That's when Pony heard the footsteps, several pairs in he was correct. Suddenly the pressure on his chest was removed and someone had hefted him up and was shaking him, "Pony? Are you alright?" Darry asked.
"Yeah, Darry, I'm fine," Pony muttered, "Now quit shakin' me!" Darry let go immediately, he always did when he realized he was being too rough.
"You okay, little buddy?" Ponyboy nearly choked when he heard the question, or more accurately, the voice.
Pony swung around to stare at Sodapop as if he had grown another head. He may as well have, it would've shocked Pony a lot less. Soda had spoken maybe all of two words in the past three months, and day by day the light in his eyes growing dimmer. Now Soda stood before him looking the same as he had four months ago, light, carefree and happy.
"Soda…"Pony trailed off, staring at his brother in amazement, "you're talking!"
Soda's eyebrows furrowed, giving him a concerned expression, something Pony hadn't seen in what felt like years, "'A course I am Pone…are you okay? They musta' hit ya pretty hard."
Darry scrutinized Pony through narrowed eyes, "C'mon. You need to go home," he said.
Pony reached up to rub his face in the place where he'd been hit the most, "I'm fine Darry. It's not near as bad as last time," Darry had hardly let him out of the house after how bad he got beat in the rumble.
Darry's eyes widened, "Pony, what do you mean by last—,"
He was cut off by a sudden loud whoop that was coming from behind Ponyboy, a cheer that Ponyboy recognized from what seemed like ages ago.
"Didja' catch 'em?" Soda asked, his concerned gaze still on Ponyboy.
"'Nup. They got away the dirty—" Two-Bit went on to call the socs many unprintable names. All of which Pony had heard before, in what he recalled as a very similar conversation.
Darry was right, he thought, I need to go home and get some rest.
Before he told Darry he wanted to go home he turned around to inspect Two-Bit. His words had seemed un-slurred and from what Pony could tell he appeared to be sober for the first time in four months. Maybe everyone was having breakthroughs today, he thought before he looked beyond Two-Bit, and saw the figures standing there.
Not a normal blackout.
Three boys stood behind Two-Bit him. Two of them were dead. Or supposed to be.
"J-Johnny? D-Dally?" he stuttered incredulously.
Dally raised a sardonic eyebrow, "Got out early for good behavior," he said with a mocking smile.
"Guys, I think Pony took a good beating from the socs, he may—"
For the second time that day, Darry was cut off, only this time it was by the sound of Pony retching as he hurled the contents of his stomach out onto the street.
"Aw, my shoes! C'mon man!" Two-Bit whined.