Status: Finished for now, more chapters possible

Red Light. Green Light. Black.

nervous paces

Darry awoke with a start to find himself in his bed at home; it was 3 AM and he’d been asleep for just over three hours. The gang had finally convinced him to get some sleep outside of being slumped over plastic hospital chairs. Darry figured he’d never fall asleep, but somehow he had, though judging by how tired he was, he suspected it was somewhat restless. The house was eerily calm, only broken by Soda’s light snoring, coming from the living room. Darry figured it made sense; Soda shared a room with Ponyboy. Just a few short hours ago, the brothers had seen Pony, bloodied and bruised with enough wires coming out of him, he could be a machine.

Ponyboy hadn’t said much, other than a weak “hey” accompanied by a grimace; Soda shushed him, voice catching in his throat, and moved a chair closer to the bed, brushing Pony’s hair back from his forehead. Darry took to pacing the same five steps back and forth, fighting back tears. They had been waiting for him to be wheeled into surgery, when the doctor explained the operation would have to be postponed a while longer. He didn’t say anything more, but Darry knew what he had been thinking- a more important case had come in- a Soc or something. His fist had balled up so tight, the knuckles cracked before turning white under his taut skin, and he had to restrain himself from strangling the incompetent doctor. Soda looked at him with narrowed eyes as they trudged back out to the waiting room, where Johnny and Two-Bit still sat, filling the air with chain-smoked cigarettes. The two perked up, noting Soda’s tear-streaked face and in turn were outraged at the news.

An hour later, the doctor came back, saying they were ready for surgery. Darry and Soda went to reassure the boy, whose wide eyes affirmed all their fears.

“You’re gonna go in for surgery now, Pone. Don’t be afraid. The doc’ll fix you up and you’ll come out good as new,” Soda squeezed his hand in an attempt to comfort the both of them.
Darry gripped his youngest brother’s shoulder and nodded in agreement. “You’ll be fine, kiddo. We’ll be here waiting.” The boy muttered a rough “thank you” and his mouth twisted in a gruesome grin, slivers of glass still embedded in his cheek; it made Darry’s stomach turn.

A nurse suggested they get some sleep as the surgery could be hours long, and it was already late. Darry started to protest, but Johnny and Two-Bit waved him off, saying they’d stay and keep watch.
Soda drove home, Darry suddenly too exhausted to keep his eyes open. That night, he listened to the sounds of Soda getting ready for a night on the couch. He rolled over on one side and stared at the wall until sleep overtook him for a short while.


Knowing more sleep was out of the question, Darry grabbed some water and headed to the arm chair, turning the TV off on his way. The chair was where their father did his best thinking, and Darry hoped it would work for him as well. He had been set to go to college in the fall, but watching his younger brother now, he wasn’t so sure that would be an option. Soda was sprawled out on the couch, still fully dressed in a flannel and jeans; a wet spot had formed on the pillow, but whether from drool or tears, Darry did not know.

Head in hands, he quickly palmed away the few tears that slipped over his cheek. There were bills to pay, food to buy- it hit him that he was now the sole care-taker of two teenagers, and he was on the cusp of adulthood himself. No job, no money, no school. For the first time in his life, brainy and brawny Darry felt lost.

“Now what?”[/i[