A/N: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm late with this, I know. I could write the really long and rambly explanation that I did on my SPN fic, but I'll spare you all the sob story, but to be honest I think Lou Reed's death had a lot to do with it. It was hard to get out of bed the next morning (all I know is that David Bowie better never die or I don't know what I'll do).

Disclaimer: Don't own, pardon typos, swearing (maybe? I don't honestly know), last chapter/epilogue.


It doesn't go the way I thought it would.

And isn't that just a dumb thing to say, a major cliché?

Because nothing goes the way we originally intended; we're not psychics who can predict the future and then manipulate it to go with our wills. I can't decide what I want my future to go like, it just happens, because sometimes things just happen.

And I think that's something that I should have learned a while ago, but I didn't (I was always an idealistic one, to the point where it was almost pathetic...Angela's reminded me of that a couple times). And now I'm really paying the price for it.

Destiny is kind of a weird thing. People in nicer areas of town are desperate to chase after it, to leave the warmth of childhood and enter into the coldness of adulthood, while others like my brother Sodapop or even Two-Bit would be fine if things stayed the same for them forever.

I think Two-Bit and Steve kind of thought I was destined to get hardened just like Dally when he and Johnny died, but it's not what happened. If anything, I softened emotionally-wise, but I didn't look at the world with my rose-colored glasses anymore, at least not as much as I used to (and even then not really; I may have been optimistic but I wasn't oblivious to the hardships of the world...the whole Soc and greaser fiasco cleared that up for me real quick).

And my brothers have always known my destiny was to go to college, leave Tulsa behind, earn a lot of money in my life. And to be honest, when I was fourteen, I was fine with that. I liked the fact that they had faith in me, that they knew I was smart enough to go on my own path.

I got older, and inevitably, more insolently adolescent, and things really started to catch up with me.

I was going to college. The University of Oklahoma. On a full ride.

I love it here, I honestly do. The classes are hard but I've met really tuff people, always willing to support me when I need it and my brothers have been helpful as they've always been.

Ruby and I...

Well, we didn't work out, and that's one of the things I mean when I say, "It didn't work out like I thought it would". We were going for about six months and then I think we both realized it wasn't right, we were too good of friends, and it was obvious we both weren't really interested in each other like that anymore. It was unanimous, neither of us getting upset, and we managed to keep in contact for the rest of my senior year up to now, and every once in a while we'll meet up, or she'll write me at school, always starting her letters with, Hey, college boy!

It's disappointing, actually. I go through a whole process of not knowing my feelings for her and then it ends. When stories end, it usually is when the boy and the girl finally have that kiss, finally realize their love, and then it's all sunshine and rainbows. You don't usually know what happens after the happily ever after, and you never know that sometimes things don't work, that's just the way things work, and sometimes things just happen.

With the end of a hectic summer, starts a new beginning in the fall.

Curly died in the fall.

His funeral reminded me a lot of Ruby's brother's, all the soldiers and everything, but this was different.

It was smaller, personal, probably even more sad because of how sparse everything was...it was just Two-Bit, Soda, Darry, Ruby, Angela, Tim, and their mom and stepdad.

Some of Curly's friends filtered in later, but they probably weren't wanting to go; Lord knows I didn't want to.

I cried when I found out. I'll never forget the phone call I got from Tim, I'll never forget the roughness in his voice as he told me that Curly was shot at point-blank range by a gook and wouldn't be coming home. That they were flying his body home and the funeral would be soon.

So much. So much death everywhere, it follows me around, and I just don't know what to do.

I was a wreck; I dropped to my knees inadvertently but waited until Tim hung up to really lose it.

Angela was sobbing at the funeral, poor girl, and Tim was so tense and was grinding his teeth together so much I thought he'd chip one.

I hated this because when I closed my eyes I could only see the panic-stricken look of the fourteen year old Curly falling off the telephone pole, and I didn't want to know what his face looked like when a Vietnamese soldier put a gun against his head.

Ruby wanted to cry, I know that. She had that look on her face when you're on the verge of tears, and I knew that this seemed a little too much like deja vu to her, too.

The session was short and they were gonna bury him in the same cemetery they buried Ruby's brother.

Two-Bit looked like he was trying to not think of anything. That was a good defense mechanism, I guess. I tend to overthink things a lot, so I understand his logic a little bit with that. If you don't think about it, you could possibly forget about it for a while. Out of sight, out of mind. I just don't know how he'd be able to forget something so horrible.

Darry and Soda were looking mostly at me. They were waiting for me to blow, but I wasn't going to, at least not there. I already had a breakdown after the phone call and I think that's enough.

I missed the days where my biggest concerns were if Donna was cheating on me, or when I wanted a car, because life continually seemed to get worse, my friend count steadily dropping.

I wonder what I did.

I wonder what the Shepards did to be in this situation.

Sure, Angela ain't the classiest broad and has done some things to tick me off but overall she ain't too much of a bad person; not bad enough to deserve this.

And Tim's roughed up people with pipe and has slashed tires before but that don't make him deserving either.

I wish I could be like Randy or Ocean Storm...they see only the good in the world or come to peace with the bad, and I admire the good they see in everyone, everything.

I see Donna sometimes when I visit my brothers. She's asked me to come join her for lunch, to catch up, but I've been busy so far.

She's with some other guy now, and I honestly hope she's happy, because someone deserves to be.

It's not that I'm not happy but it's kind of hard to be when your friends are either dead or back in Tulsa, and I always find myself missing my brothers no matter how much I talk to them on the phone, and no matter how many friends I make here.

Sometimes I meet up with Ruby and she talks about the book she's writing and how her friendship with one of my fellow co-workers is finally improving, and really never did hate her, and that's good. Things are good back home.

Not that Tulsa is that far away, it's just I didn't bring my car to school with me and visiting home takes more effort than I have to give sometimes.

Ruby tells me they really miss me at Lansdowne, and that my job is always secure for when I come home in the summer.

"I kinda miss having you around at work," she always tells me. "I don't have any educated people to talk to about books."

"Robert not keeping you busy?"

"No, he totally is. In fact, he's tightened the reigns a little bit. Hardly ever lets me borrow a book anymore." She grins.

I look at her knowingly. "That's awful. That's the only reason I work there."

"Well, it's one of the many perks of the job."

"Ain't like the costumers are much of a joy," I say, smiling.

She laughs. "Are you likin' college, Pony?"

"Yeah," I tell her, and I mean it. "It's different from high school."

"I bet." She sighs wistfully, and I want to tell her that I wish she would go too, but I don't. She smiles.

So, things don't go as you originally planned them. It happens. Because as I've said, sometimes things just happen. And for better or worse, that's just the way things are.

It may be hard now, but it'll get better, because it always does. If there's something the gang has taught me it's that things always get better, even if it takes time.

I'm happy with my life but if I'm actually happy is up for debate. I've got so many things to be upset about but at the same time I've got millions of things to be grateful for, and in the end it all balances out.

I guess this, like almost everything I've come to know, is hard to explain.

A/N: Okay! So this is the end. I'm not too sure how I feel about it, and yes, it is quite short, but it's where I wanted to end it.

I'm so thankful to anyone who's read, reviewed, added this to their alerts, or favorites, because it really means the world to me, and I'm not even joking. You've really helped me along the way through the longest piece of literature I've ever written (which actually isn't even that long in comparison to other works I've read).

I'm terrible with endings (I just don't want to let go of my little universes) and who knows...maybe a sequel abounds one day. But don't get your hopes up. If anything, they'd probably be one-shot tags and continuances to this story, so...maybe one day.

Thank you so much.

This is probably an opportune time to mention that the title of this story is taken from a song from the Strokes: "Hard to Explain". I don't think I mentioned it ever beforehand.