This is just a one-shot I wrote about Dally's thoughts the night he died. I'd like to thank OutsidersFanatic for beta-reading it. All reviews are welcome!
Disclaimer: I don't own The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton does.
He looks at Johnny lying there, and he can't believe it. He doesn't want to believe it. Johnny's not moving. He's not breathing.
He pleads, begging for something to change, but it doesn't. Of course it doesn't. How could he even fucking think for a second the world would go his way? Never has, never will. Never fucking will.
He can feel the grief and the sadness that are threatening to overwhelm him. He's almost crying but he fights the tears. He's Dallas Winston, dammit! Dallas Winston doesn't bawl! But the tears still come. He wipes them away. More come.
He looks at Johnny one more time, and it's too much. He needs to move, to get away. He's so angry that he can't think straight. He punches the wall, imagining that it's the damn Soc that got Johnny in this mess. If he wasn't already dead, Dally would kill him.
He can't stand to be there any longer, so he runs. He leaves out the first door he sees. He needs to get out. He needs to get away, because if he stays any longer, he'll snap.
"Hey you! You're not allowed to be here," a man says, but Dally doesn't care. He isn't gonna let anyone tell him what to do. Especially not one of those damn doctors who let Johnny die.
He raises his heater and points it at the man. "I'm allowed wherever I want," he says. The man doesn't say anything, just walks away, going back to his job.
"Why do you bother helping people, huh?" he asks. He's not sure if he expects an answer or not. He doesn't get one, but that's just as well. Nothing anyone says can make things better. "It doesn't do any good," he adds, more to himself than anyone else.
He tries to clear his head. It doesn't work.
Johnny's dead. Two words. Words never hurt you, just sticks and stones, right? And blades and heaters and fire...Sure, words couldn't hurt you but what they meant could.
And what those two words meant hurt him more than he'd be willing to let on. He was Dallas Winston. He was a hood and he had a record a mile long. He'd learned to get tough, to not let anything touch him. But really he'd learned to become such a good actor he fooled even himself.
He hates himself for caring this much. But even more than that he hates that he's still alive.
Survivor's guilt, he thinks they call it. Not that it matters. All he knows is that it should've been him. He should've been the one to break his back. He should've been the one to die. But he was a coward. Always has been, always will be, he thinks. If it had been him to rush into the burning church...
But hell, he was too selfish, too concerned with his own safety. All he had cared about for years was surviving. Now he wishes he'd been different.
He's not sure how he finds the car, or how he manages to drive so far, but he does. He doesn't know where he's driving and he doesn't want to know. He just wants to be moving.
He tries to think straight, but his thoughts keep straying back to Johnny: Johnny thinking of turning himself in, Johnny running into that damn church, Johnny lying there in the hospital, dead. Johnny's dead, he thinks over and over. He's gone.
At some point the car runs out of gas. He just abandons it, and starts running. He almost barrels into someone, but the minute he shows them his heater, they get the hell out of the way. He likes seeing the fear in their eyes. It only lasts a minute, though. Then he's running again.
All he had wanted for Johnny was for him to have a chance. The chance he had never gotten. Johnny had reminded Dally of himself. Painfully. The way the kid didn't have a family member worth crap, the way he still wanted his parents to care about him...Dally understood that. Sure, he didn't give a damn what his old man thought now. But there had been a time when he had.
He's not completely sure how he ends up in the store. He wouldn't be looking at the magazines, but he wants a distraction. No, he needs a distraction. Not that he can focus on them. He just flips through them and tries not to think of Johnny.
He hates the way the store clerk looks at him, like he's just another hood. He's not even a person to that man, just a menace who should be locked up for good. He wonders if anyone ever looked at Johnny like that, if anyone saw the hair grease and the scar and didn't bother to look farther. And then he's not even sure why he's wondering, because of course someone did. The Socs did. And the store clerk probably would have too.
"You gonna buy one of those, son?" the clerk asks. Dally can tell the clerk wants him to leave. To spite him, he tears the magazine in two. It feels good. There are others things he wants to rip in two, but this'll have to do for now.
"You rip those up, you have to pay for them," the clerk says, as if that's going to persuade him not to. "Don't do that," the clerk adds, but no one controls Dallas Winston. Nobody.
He walks toward the clerk, running his hand over the magazines. The clerk watches him with a mixture of contempt and fear.
When he reaches the register, the clerk says, "You know you got to pay for that magazine," but no, he doesn't. He doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do.
He suddenly raises his heater and cocks it. It's not loaded but the clerk doesn't know that.
"God, don't shoot," the clerk says in a small voice.
"Gimme the money," he tells the clerk. "Gimme the money!"
The clerk complies, while saying, "I'm so sick of you punks. Take it and get outta here."
For once, he listens. He grabs the bills and beats it out of there. He hears the shots and then his leg hurts like hell, and he realizes he never considered the possibility that the clerk might have a heater too.
The clerk had thought of him as nothing more than a hood and he'd proven him right, dammit. He'd proven the fucking clerk right.
He remembers the way Johnny's eyes had lit up when he'd told him he was proud of him. At the time, all he could think of was how happy Johnny looked. Thinking back on it, he feels awful. Why did Johnny look up to him so much? He didn't deserve it and he knew it. He was a hood and proud of it, but only because that's how he learned to survive. If you were gonna have the reputation and the record, you might as well enjoy it. When you had nothing else, you took what you could get.
The pain is almost unbearable, but at the same time, he welcomes it. It gets rid of the numbness, the emptiness.
He doesn't remember consciously heading for a phone, but when he sees one, his instincts take over. He needs to call Darry. Darry can help him, hide him from the police.
He dials, and waits for someone to pick up. Someone had better pick up.
"Yeah?" someone says. He's not sure who.
"Hello? Dal," he says.
"Dally? It's Steve. Dally?" Steve replies, sounding a little surprised.
"Steve? I want to talk to Darry," he tells him. He hopes Steve doesn't ask any questions. He doesn't have a lot of time.
To his relief, Steve say, "Yeah, sure," and hands the phone to Darry.
"Hello?" Darry says.
"Yeah, Darry, listen to me," he starts.
"I just robbed a store, man. The cops-they're lookin' for me. Can you meet me in the park?"
"Sure, Dal. Are you alright?"
He can hear the concern in Darry's voice. "Yeah," he says, even though he's not. "Johnny's dead."
"We know," Darry tells him, and he wonders how they know, but it doesn't matter and he doesn't have enough time to find out.
"Johnny," he mumbles, then focuses and says, "Look, meet me in the park, will ya?"
"Hang on. We'll be right there," Darry reassures him, but it won't be soon enough, and Dally knows it. His breathing is ragged and it hurts to move but it hurts more to stay still so he's running again. Run, that's all he can do now; moving, focusing on his feet hitting the pavement and his breathing, which is becoming more and more uneven.
The pain has gotten worse and it's funny 'cause it makes him feel alive and dead at the same time. It hurts like hell to run but he does anyways because he's afraid if he stops he won't be able to start again.
The heater's still in his hand. He's not sure where the money went. He can hear the cop cars and then he sees them, closing in on him. But he won't go with them. He won't let himself be taken away. He knows it was wrong to rob the store, but he's so damn sick of following the rules of this messed-up society. He's sick of living in this cruel world of pain, where the good die young and so do the bad and only a lucky few manage to survive. Or maybe it's the unlucky few who survive, the unlucky ones who are left to deal with the pain and the loss and the loneliness.
He's survived for seventeen years, but he's not sure that's a good thing.
He's made his decision by the time the cops reach him, surround him. He shouts, "You'll never take me alive!", defying the world, one last time.
He raises the gun and suddenly thinks to himself that this is the coward's way out. Not that he cares. He already knows he's a coward, and that wasn't gonna change now. What the hell is that saying? A tiger never changes his stripes or somethin'? But that doesn't matter either. All that matters is the bullets that tear into him, pain searing through his body. He can vaguely make out the gang shouting. He's sorry for causing them pain, he really is. But he'd learned a long time ago to care about his own survival, and only his own survival, and old habits are hard to break. So even though he doesn't want to cause the gang pain, he doesn't regret his choice. He couldn't have survived without Johnny, and he knows that. By now the pain has consumed him. He can feel himself gasping for air he doesn't really want, his body fighting to stay alive when all Dally wants is death.
The world turns fuzzy and fades, until there is nothing left. No more pain, no more guilt. Just peace, and for that, he's grateful.