Today was gonna be the day but they'll never throw it back to you,

By now you shoulda somehow realized what you're not to do.

I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now.

And all the roads that lead you there were winding,

And all the lights that light the way are blinding.

There are many things that I would like to say to you,

But I don't know how.

I said maybe,

You're gonna be the one that saves me.

And after all,

You're my wonderwall

Dallas Winston knows-maybe more than others—that everything starts with a spark. Every big or little; insignificant or life-changing event starts with one choice. He knows that fact so well that it burns in his bones and paints a scowl over his features day after day because he's lived through so many sparks that rage into wildfires that burn him up from the insides.

The brutal irony of that situation is, though, the one spark he didn't start, is going to kill the first—and what he's sure to be the only—person he loves. That little spark of matches started a conflagration and landed Johnny in the ICU.

He knows now he is a spark, just like the ones he creates with matches on his necklace.


She's the second nurse to see him that day. He wasn't fond of the first one, with her tightly spun curls and the constant snapping of her gum. The second she wrapped his burns and finally pranced out was the second he was finally able to breathe.

She seems about five percent better though—maybe six and a half, if she's lucky—than the first. She doesn't even blink her dark eyes when she realizes he's shredded his hospital gown. She just smiles in a sad way the makes him insides churn because can't somebody in this hospital not give him a sympathy look.

"What do you want?" He snaps at her, tugging idly on his necklace and twisting in his overly-starched sheets.

She actually grins at him this time, a set of perfectly straight teeth splitting her face in half, dainty hands twisting her nurse uniform. "Well, it can't be comfortable to be covered in ashes. You look like you just rolled in a fireplace, but you don't hold a candle to Ponyboy down the hall. His face is black as night—"

"Ponyboy?" He cuts her off, but she doesn't seem to mind, she just busies herself with a basin of water the she's placed on his bedside table. "Is he okay? Have you seen Johnny? Tell him he's gonna be okay, alright? You tell him—"

"I've just been to see Pony, had to clean him up too. He's fine, just fine. The doctors are making him stay the night to monitor him; his brothers are here, too. I'd forgotten how cute that Sodapop is…" She trails off, dipping a wash cloth into the water, before ringing it out. "I haven't seen or heard much about Johnny Cade though, just that he's in the ICU."

She starts to sponge at Dally's face, pink skin emerging from the soot. He filches the first time she touches him, not expecting the coolness of the water. It becomes nice though, he feels as though he's burning up in his chest in a way that makes his toes curl.

"You don't look old enough to be a nurse," he remarks to her back as she submerges the cloth in water again.

She spins around and starts scrubbing at his neck and chest, "That's good, because I'm only fifteen." She gives a small laugh before continuing on, "I volunteer here; my mom's an actual nurse. I just go to high school for the most part."

"What's your name?" Dallas asks, as a lock of golden blonde hair falls into her eyes, but she doesn't bother to tuck it back.

She looks up, her coffee eyes meeting his iced ones for the first time since she showed up in his room, "Blake. Blake Mullings."

"Isn't that a boy name?"

"Isn't Dallas the name of some lame Texas city? You don't score high on originality there, bub."

"Oh, and you do?"

"With flying colors, of course."

Dally smiles at her—only in the corner-of-his-mouth-slightly-turned-up way because he can't actually grin at a girl—and notices the summer freckled smeared across her nose that haven't completely faded into autumn yet.

He doesn't think she's so bad, with an upturned nose that would look ridiculous on anyone else but it fits her face well enough, and her big brown eyes might me a tad too big. And when she smiles they crinkle up a bit, not that it's a bad thing, because she smiles a lot.

She flicks her eyes up at him, before rolling them when she catches his glance back.

"You got a cancer stick, Blake?"

Blake shakes her head and steps back, dropping the cloth into the now grey, smoky water. She picks up a camera on the table that Dallas is pretty damn sure she didn't have just a few seconds ago and holds it up, "Smile!"

She presses down on the shutter and Dallas struggles to keep a straight face.

"You're somethin' else." Dally states, before grabbing at the camera and halfway pointing it towards her, snapping the shutter when she smiles, and holding it back up for her dainty hands to snatch.

Blake worries into her bottom lips and her brows crease as she struggles with something, but abandons whatever idea she had and gives Dally a small smile. "I better go. Can I come back to see you?"

The greaser shrugs, "I don't see why not."

He may or may not watch her ass as she struts away, camera gripped against her hip.


"That little shit," Dallas swears under his breath, feet thumping wildly on the black tar pavement in front of him. The fuzz wail loudly behind him—it almost drowns out the screaming in his head.

Johnny'sdead, Johnny'sdead. It echoes around his skull and ricochets off his spine. There's a catch in his left ankle and a blade wedged finely in between his lower ribs, slicing him open with every new ragged breath, even though his lungs heave for something more.

He closes his eyes and just runs into the September wind, tears stinging at the corner of his eyes. It's just a game, innit? Just a game. Like the first game when he was ten and got hauled in for knocking off a whole display case of chips simply because he was hungry and his dad was too inebriated to feed his damn kid. The fuzz didn't care then, the fuzz doesn't care now.

He hasn't run like this in a while. Just flat out sprinting with no destination except for somewhere else. He knows once he hits that smooth patch somewhere in the quick dash, with the stolen money heavy in his coat pocket, he'll breathe new, clean air and be the champion of this chase.

But Dallas Winston doesn't want to be victorious. He wants to die. And Dallas always gets what he wants.

The heavy slapping of his feet gradually slows until he's just jogging to the general proximity of where the gang is rushing towards him. The steady wailing—the shrieking high notes making him wince—draws closer and closer until Dallas stands still entirely.

He laughs. It's bitter, but what's he to do about it. The cops are behind him, his friends are in front of him, his dad's off in a shitty apartment somewhere boozed up, Johnny's dead—and Dallas Winston is reaching into his pocket to pull out an unloaded gun.

He doesn't register the quick withdrawal of the pistol, or whatever the hell he screams out. He doesn't register the gang screaming at him. He hears complete and utter silence for the first time in a long time—that static roar between channels or the snatches between songs on the radio.

He hears the screaming of the end.

The blonde smirks, and finally registers the bullet ripping through his abdomen, then another grazing his leg. He registers the wetness of the pavement as his face falls into it, knees no longer able to support his very dead weight.

He's spiraling down, down, down, and in the hazy twilight that people usually yell, "Don't go towards the light!" Like they can fucking stop death itself when it comes to collect another life for company in hell, he hears a wave roaring through.

Except it's not a wave. It's a hurricane of pain crippling him even more than the lead bullets that ripped open his body. He can hear the steady voice of a boy who owned the distinctive appearance of a puppy that's been kicked to many times.

And somewhere in there, mixed with puppy dog eyes and the taste of ashes on his tongue, he hears the voice of some random fucking blonde who decided to clean him up after a fire.

"Can I come back to see you?"

Dallas mulls it over, and finally thinks of a definite answer: Sure, whenever she makes it to hell.

The thing about hitting rock bottom is, even though you know you're about to hit, it still comes as a shock when you drop onto the unforgiving end. He lets the light wash over him because it's the least painful thing that he could even bear to think of.