Disclaimer – I don't own The Outsiders or any of it's characters. All rights go to S.E. Hilton.
When the scrawny, blonde boy came into the hospital on the gurney, there was no doubt in my mind who he was. He was one of us, a Greaser, but more than that. He was the youngest of the Curtis boys. I pulled away from the nurse tending my wounds to be sure. I saw the face, that young, innocent face, and knew.
"What happened?" I asked the nurse softly, my voice scratchy from the cold I had cleverly gotten after going to the rumble in nothing but a thin camisole and jeans.
It wasn't common for a girl to show up at a rumble, and had Dallas been on top of his game, he would have tore me a new one for even daring to do so, after the painstakingly long two weeks we had just endeared. But he was livid with hate and disgust, and hadn't even noticed me.
When the Soc pulled a knife, it was already nearing the end of the rumble. I got stabbed for being stupid, nothing new for me. I'd been stabbed before, and barely felt it anymore.
"what do you mean?" the nurse asked, her eyes catching the doctors as the gurney passed by.
"That boy, I know him, what the hell happened?" I asked. I looked at the clock, and noted that it was hours after the rumble. The hours I couldn't quite remember.
"I have no idea," she said as she added a thick bandage to my arm. "But I want you to -" she started.
"I ain't doing shit," I growled as I pulled away, now fully aware of the state of shock I was in. I ran down the hall, rather, I staggered down the hall, since running was way out of my level of control at that point. I spotted Darry and Soda pacing back and forth, their eyes full or worry.
"Darry, what happened?" I croaked. I swayed slightly, before I could brace myself against one of the hard plastic chairs.
"Dally and Johnny are dead," Sodapop answered before Darry could.
"Excuse me?" I yelped, blinking rapidly. "I think I heard that wrong?"
"You didn't," Darry sighed. "Pony's sick," he added.
I stared at them in disbelief. I bit back a growl, before turning to the nurses station.
"Kate, are you going to be coming in tonight? We need someone to cover Macy, she's out with the flu," Grace, the head nurse on the floor asked. I worked the night shift, cleaning the floor for a lousy salary. When they hired me two years ago, it was out of sympathy. My mother had died of cancer a few weeks prior, and my family had moved out of state, leaving me to fend for myself. I had been desperate, and had no intentions of sticking with the job – I hated hospitals – but when they saw how capable I was, they stopped caring that I was a low-life greaser. All they cared about was that they could pay me next to nothing, and get a good job done.
"No. I ain't covering for no one," I hissed. "But you can kindly tell me the status of Ponyboy Curtis," I barked.
"I can't do that, you're not family," she sighed. This wasn't the first time I pulled her strings to get her to tell me about one of my non-biological brothers.
"Excuse me, I was supposed to be paged if anything changed with Johnny Cade, but you oh so kindly forgot to do so. So tell me, what is the status of Ponyboy Curtis, before I walk my bloody little self into his room and beat the living daylights out of his doctor,"
"Calm down Kate, he's going to be fine. Exhaustion, concussion, possibly case of pneumonia. He'll live," Grace said tiredly. I nodded, then walked slowly back to Darry and Soda, who were now sitting, their eyes tired and scared.
"Did the doctor talk to you?" I asked.
"Yea, we can take Pony home in a few hours," Darry said tiredly.
"Alright, good." was all I could say.
"What were you doing at the rumble tonight, anyway?" Soda asked.
"Had to be there, for Johnnycake. I wasn't about to sit this 'un out. Dally woulda killed me if he knew tho," I sighed. "I can't believe they're dead," I added, shaking my head.
See, here was the thing. Dally was the closest thing to family I had. He was the only one who would put my safety before anything. He kept me outta jail, or bailed me out if I got stuck in the slammer, he made sure I had somewhere to stay, even if it was just a room at a party or a overturned garbage can. He made sure I was alive. Dally coulda been a good guy, if life hadn't dealt him a shitty hand.
I'd grown up with these guys. I was a year older than Darry, and had been there for a lot of their childhood. I knew the boys, and took to them as anyone would. I was a greaser with class, as Soda and Steve would say. I didn't run around selling myself or killin' people, or getting into illegal shit. I was smart enough to hold a decent job, even if it paid shit. Darry and I were on again, off again alotta the time, and over the years, Soda and Pony become like brothers to me.
Despite their open door policy, I rarely crashed there if Darry and me were off tho. Because I was always scared of that man. He was the biggest and tuffest of the gang, as far as I was concerned.
"Hey, you good?" Darry asked, snapping his fingers in front of my face, pulling me out of my memories.
"Yeah, I'm good."
"Kate, I really need you to cover tonight's shift!" Grace begged as I stalked past the nurses station. "Please?"
"Listen, I ain't up for a nighta cleaning. I'm feeling lousy, I lost two of my closest friends tonight, and Ponyboy's sick. I gots better things to do than clean this shithole," I murmured, my head pounding.
"Then you're fired," my boss said from the other side of the hall. "You come when called you know that Katelyn, don't like it, then find yourself a new job,"
"Aiight, I'll clean your damn hospital, but if I fall dead on my ass, you're the one paying for it," I grunted. I shook my head, and made my way back to the waiting area.
"Hey, you let me know if anything changes with Pony, you hear? I got pushed into a shift tonight, I'll prolly end up at your place by 6, I ain't spending tonight on the streets," I said with a groan. My head was pounding, and my arm throbbed, but it didn't matter. I worked under worse conditions before.
"We hear. You take care of yourself," Darry said, his eyes softening slightly.
That night was the longest shift of my life. But the moment I got off work, and saw a teary eyed Darry standing in the waiting area, I knew something terrible had happened.
"Darry?" I asked, my voice soft, shaking.
"He died," he whispered, his eyes wide.
"Who? Who died?" I asked, my heart now racing.
"Ponyboy. He up and died,"