Ok, folks. This is it. All that's left after this chapter is the epilogue (with a little surprise ending). Hope you enjoy! Thanks SO much to all who reviewed.

I do not own The Outsiders...

Dally walked quickly, his hands shoved deep in his pockets. He tried at first to avoid the slush puddles, but eventually gave up. The sidewalks were a mess. It had stopped snowing and the temperature had actually gone up a bit. But even though it had finally climbed to just above freezing, it seemed colder than it had in days. He cursed himself for not bringing gloves. Then he almost laughed. In Tulsa, he didn't even own a pair of gloves, and when it got cold he had just toughed it out.

This is why I have to go home, he thought. I'm turning soft.

Darry was right. He was a different person. He had let out a side of himself that he'd never intended for anyone to see, even himself.

He walked down the sidewalk past Matt's clinic. He walked down the street where the church was. He was so intent on just walking that he didn't notice that there was someone on the church steps watching him.

"Merry Christmas, Dallas," said a familiar voice.

Dally turned to see Joe perched comfortably on the top step outside the church.

Dally stopped and stared. He tried to hide his shock at running into this strange person for the third time.

Joe just chuckled. "We keep running into eachother!"

Dally regarded him coolly and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket. He leaned on a lamp post as he lit up.

"So, what is it this time?" Joe asked, running his hand through his graying hair.

Dally looked up at him. "Huh?"

"Well, every time I run into you, you seem to be in the middle of some kind of a... dilemma. And I told you, I'm good at readin' faces."

"Well, you ain't gonna be reading my face anymore, old man. I'm goin' home."

"Home, huh? Had enough of country life?"

"Maybe," Dally said, blowing a smoke ring.

Yep... it's tough out here in the country. It ain't the life for everybody."

"Tough? In the country?" Dally laughed. "Yeah, it's real tough."

"Well, for a city kid it would be. People get too close to them here. It spooks 'em. I've seen it more than once."

"Maybe I'm just bored. Ever think of that?"

"But this isn't how you act when you're bored, is it?"

Dally didn't respond.

"So your friend... Johnny- he must be all right then?"

"How do you now his name?" Dally felt goosebumps on his arm was something so curious about the old man. Dally couldn't put his finger on it. But something about him just kept Dally talking. Something about him sparked Dally's interest just enough to keep him from walking away.

"You told me his name when I pulled you out of the river. Don't you remember?"

Right. He had. There was nothing mysterious about this old man, Dally told himself. He's just a crazy old man. "Huh...yeah, I guess. He's fine, anyway. He don't need me to be here anymore and I don't need his family givin' me charity."

"Maybe it's not charity. Maybe they just care about you."

"That would be pretty stupid of them." Dally laughed and shook his head. "That family don't need me moving in and screwing up their reputation."

"Because of your past?"

"Past, present and future," Dally said almost proudly.

Joe shook his head. "You need to learn to let go of your past. And your pride."

Dally threw down his cigarette then and stared at Joe in dibelief, his curiousity quickly replaced by irritation. "Care about people, trust God, pray, let go of my pride...Who the hell do you think you are? You're just full of advice, ain't you? Where do you get off telling me how to live my life?"

"I'm not telling you. I'm just making suggestions," Joe shrugged. "Sounds like you've been listening, at least."

Dally's anger surged dangerously close to his boiling point.

Joe stood suddenly. "Look, kid. It's Christmas and I've got a lot to do," he said, his gentle green eyes looking off in the distance, as though Dally were the one taking up his time. "There's a basement full of people down in the church there, and they need meals cooked. So I've got to get back."

"You work at the church?" Dally asked, confused. He could see through the basement windows that there was a crowd of people in there. Most were dressed like Joe had been the day Dally had met him on the train. Like they might be homeless people.

"Sometimes," Joe smiled. "But I don't really like to call it work."

Dally shrugged. "Why do you bother helping all these people anyway?"

Joe put his hands in his pockets and smiled down at his shoes. "It's just what I was put here to do. And I told you, Dallas. Caring about life gives meaning to life."

Dally just rolled his eyes.

"Can I give you one more suggestion?" Joe asked, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Dally glared, but didn't protest.

Joe came down the steps and walked up to Dally, stoping only inches from him and looking him straight in the eye. "Sometimes God opens doors and pushes you through," he said. "But sometimes the doors are just unlocked and you have to open them yourself."

Joe paused then for effect and smiled slightly. "And when opportunity knocks, don't be the one to say 'Can someone get that'?" And with that, he gave Dally a grin, trotted back up the steps of the church, and went inside.

"Was that supposed to be funny?" Dally called after him, annoyed. "You're crazy!"

But he was more irritated over the fact that he was begining to think the crazy old man might be right.

Dally stood there a moment. Then he cursed, lit another cigarette and headed back to the house. His feet were wet and his hands were cold. And he knew that Wendy would make him sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolate. He tried to be annoyed at the idea. But he couldn't.

When he got back to the house, Two-Bit was in the livingroom modeling all the clothes that everyone had gotten for Christmas. All at the same time. Everyone was sitting around laughing. Johnny was kind of hanging around in the doorway of the kitchen next to Darry. They both looked distracted and pensive.

"Hey, where you been, Dal?" Two-Bit asked. "You're missing my fashion show!"

Dally shot him a look. He saw Johnny retreat into the kitchen and he followed.

"Did you tell him?" Dally asked accusingly to Darry.

"I overheard," Johnny said in Darry's defense. He sounded sad.

Darry gave Johnny's shoulder a squeeze and headed off to the livingroom.

Dally sighed and sat down on one of the kitchen stools.

"It's ok, Dal. You don't have to stay if you don't want to." Johnny said quietly.

"Johnny... it ain't that I don't want to stay. I just... I don't belong here. you know? It wouldn't be right for me to stay."

"Why not?"

Dally shook his head. "I think these people have been through enough trouble already, don't you?"

Johnny looked pleadingly at him.

"Johnny, c'mon..." Dally pleaded right back.

And Johnny saw his window. Dally hadn't decided for sure yet. He could hear it in his voice. Johnny hurried over and took the stool across from him.

"You can keep the big room," Johnny offered.

Dally looked up at him, amusement in his eyes. "It ain't about the room, kid."

Johnny bit his lips, obviously thinking hard. "I'll make sure Grandma doesn't bug you about goin' to school amymore."

Dally grinned a little. "18... remember?"

Johnny cursed and then covered his mouth, looking nervously towards the livingroom.

Dally stifled a laugh. "Look, kid, like I said, it ain't about all that. I don't want them giving me charity and I don't want to cause them any trouble-"

"You wouldn't be-" but Johnny stopped there. They both knew Dallas Winston was trouble with a capital 'T'. Whether that would change in this environment was really uncertain at this point. Sure, Johnny thought. He's stayed out of trouble for a month, but he'd also been very preoccupied and busy with all that had been going on. Now that things had quieted, would he get bored? Would he go back to his old habits?

Dally was grinning slightly, knowing what Johnny was thinking.

But then Johnny lowered his eyebrows defiantly. "It ain't gonna be like that here, Dal. You'd be real happy here!"

"You don't know that," Dally said.

"Dally," Johnny looked at him desperately. "Look, man, I ain't one to be telling you what to do or anything. But," he fidgeted nervously. "I really think you should ... stay. I mean, come on! Remember what you told me at the beach? About how you wanted to see me safe and happy and surrounded by people that could give me a future? Well maybe I want that for you too. Come on, Dal! This is a great opportunity!"

Opportunity knocking? Dally wondered. He shook his head. "It ain't the same, Johnny. They don't owe me a future. They don't owe me anything. I'm not part of their family."

"Yes you are!" Johnny said and then he got that look. Those big black pleading eyes... that almost hurt look.

Dally had seen that look before- the one that made everyone Johnny's big brother. But "The Look" had never been used against him. It was like a weapon- drawing guilt out of it's opponent like a sword would draw blood.

"Can... can you just think about it? Please?"

Oh, for the love of- Dally sighed and leaned forward onto the table, dropping his head onto his arm. Johnny had never asked him for anything. How could he tell him no? I have to, he thought. He'll just have to deal with it.

"I have one more Christmas present for you," Johnny said changing the subject, satisfied that he'd at least made a chink in Dally's armor and knowing that if he didn't demand an answer, then Dally would be thinking about it.

"What?" Dally looked up tiredly.

"Yeah! And... you can't take this back to Tulsa..." Johnny said defensively. "I got you a cat."

"What?" Dally almost burst out laughing.

"Yeah, and I don't think this cat likes riding in cars."

"I could take the train," Dally offered, somewhat jokingly.

"He doesn't like traveling." Johnny said.

"You really got me a cat?"

Johnny nodded.

Dally looked at him a little confused. "Why'd you get me a cat?"

"Oh, Dal, I think you'll like him! I know, I know you're more of a dog person, but this cat REALLY needs a home and I think you'd be able to handle him. You know, bring him around... tame him, kind of."

"Tame him?" Dally stared at Johnny.

"Yeah!" Johnny grabbed his arm. "I wanted to wait to give him to you when things had quieted down. He kind of freaks out if there's a lot of noise. Come on! I'll show him to you."

Dally though seriouosly for a moment about telling Johnny that he heard the bright lights of Tulsa calling to him, but he thought better of it.

Dally followed Johnny back into the livingroom where everyone was settled into a chair or sofa talking and laughing.

"Johnny!" Wendy called. "When are you going to give Dally your other gift?"

"Right now!"

Dally stood nervously beside the Christmas tree as Johnny hurried upstairs. He returned momentarily carrying a small cage covered with a towel.

"Johnny, I don't know about this-" Dally stammered uncomfortably.

"What'd you get him, Johnny?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, what is that?" Soda chimed in.

"I know what it is!" Ponyboy said excitedly

"Did you get him a puppy?" Two-Bit asked hopping up off the couch to see.

"No!" Dally cut in. "It's a cat! It's a wild cat!" He didn't even try to hide the concern in his voice.

Darry made a sound from behind his third cup of mulled cider that sounded suspiciously like laughter. Dally shot a glare at him.

Johnny just ignored everyone and opened the door of the cage.

Dally cringed.

There was a collective "Awwww!" from the entire room as Johnny pulled a tiny orange and white kitten out of the cage and handed him to Dally.

Dally rolled his eyes as he took the little animal from Johnny. "This is the cat I'm supposed to tame? You don't look like you need to be tamed," Dally said looking at the kitten.

The kitten, looking as ferocious as he possibly could, stared at Dally with his big blue eyes and hissed.

Everyone laughed.

"That cat is just pissed off at the world!" Two-Bit commented.

"He's a tough little guy, isn't he?" Steve laughed.

"Dally, I think you've met your match!" Darry said.

"Yeahhh..." Dally said nervously. "Well if nothing else, I have the perfect name for him."

"What?" Johnny asked.

"Tim Shepard." Dally said, nodding decicively.

It was the day that Steve left that Dally started feeling miserable. It started out mild for about an hour or so- a headache, a tightness in his muscles. Then by about lunch time, it hit him like a ton of bricks. He crawled into bed at Wendy's insistance, and just laid there for the rest of the day. He barely had the energy to say goodbye to Steve.

He didn't get out of bed the next day, either. Or the day after that.

The boys were having lunch in the kitchen. Everyone was a little concerned about Dally. They'd never seen him this sick before. Of course, back home when he was sick he would just disappear for a few days, so none of them knew if he'd ever been this sick before or not. Johnny looked nervously over his grilled cheese sandwich at Wendy. "Is Dally ok?"

"Dally's going to be fine, sweetheart. He's got the flu."

Darry walked by and ruffled Johnny's hair. "It'll knock him out for a few days and then he'll be his cranky old self."

Johnny looked doubtfully at him and went on eating.

"Well, I guess this means he's not coming home with us then, huh?" Soda asked.

"That's what it should mean," Darry said. "But I'm sure he'll try. Ponyboy, we're gonna have to get you a train ticket today to bring you home. Dally's not going to be in any condition to drive when it's time for us to go."

"You really think he'll try to leave?" Wendy asked Darry in disbelief.

Darry shook his head. "I don't know what's goin' on in that head of his. He seemed dead set on goin' home, but you never know."

"Last time I talked to him he seemed like he was thinking it over," Johnny said hopefully.

Wendy threw down her dish towel and untied her apron. "I'm going to have a talk with him."

Wendy went upstairs and knocked at Dally's door, which was wide open anyway. When she got no response, she walked over to Dally and felt his forehead.

He sighed a little and opened his eyes.

Wendy smiled at him. "How are you feeling?"

"Mmm... lousy..." Dally said weakly.

"You've got yourself a nasty case of the flu, young man," she said sitting down on the edge of his bed. She had brought up a bowl of water and a wet cloth which she laid across his forehead.

Dally closed his eyes.

"That's it...You just need some rest," Wendy said softly. "I just wanted to see how you were doing. Do you need anything?"

"I need... to pack up my stuff..."

"I meant do you need anything to eat or drink. You are not getting out of this bed," Wendy said insistantly.

"...gotta go home..."

Wendy folded her arms and looked sternly at him. "When are you going to get this through your head- you are home!"

She sounded so much like Grandma Cade right then that Dally laughed a little. But he shook his head, unable to utter more than "No,"

Wendy hung her head for a brief instant and then looked at him sadly. "I wish you'd reconsider."

"I can't stay here. You don't know me... who I really am-"

"Well," Wendy said, folding her hands in her lap. "Why don't you tell me 'who you really are'?"

"I'm a hood! A JD, you know," Dally said angrily, but weakly. "I steal cars, I jump people... Hell, I've nearly killed people in New York!"

Wendy was shaking her head as she raised her hand up to stop Dally from continuing. "Do you plan to continue doing these things?"

Dally looked at her, confused.

"That's not 'who you are' Dally. Those are bad choices that you made... some of them very bad... but that's not who you are. And you're wrong. I do know you." Shestraigtened and looked at him, her eyes full of as much determination as her voice. "It's you who doesn't know yourself."

Dally was too weak to protest.

"You know what I see in you? I see a brave, loyal, kind person who- no, don't shake your head at me! I see how you've been kind to this whole family. I've seen you helping Tom and Will and I've watched you with the animals and why, you might not be Johnny's brother by blood, but I know as well as anyone that it doesn't take blood to be a brother. We made a big mistake not getting him out of Tulsa sooner," Wendy said looking down for a moment, shame evident in her voice. "But I thank God that he had you to look out for him while he was there. Johnny just adores you, Dallas. There's a reason for that. He sees it too. You're a kind, good person. And this family wouldn't be whole without you. We all love you. We all want you to stay."

Dally felt a twinge in his chest. He looked away from her.

"No one's ever told you that before, have they?"

Dally still wouldn't look at her.

"Well, it's true," she said simply. "We can't tell you what to do. Maybe you have a good reason for needing to leave. If you do...well, then we'll understand. But I really hope you'll think about what I said."

She took the cloth off his forehead and wet it again in the bowl of water that she'd brought. She wrung it out carefully and laid it across his head again.

"Can you at least promise me one thing?" she asked.

Dally finally looked at her and she saw that his eyes looked somewhat teary. But she wasn't sure if it was because he was sick or not.

"Can you promise me that you'll stay here at least until you feel better?"

Dally paused. "All right," he nodded finally.

Wendy smiled, leaned forward and kissed his forehead. "You get some sleep, all right?"

Dally watched her go. He'd never known what it was like to have a mother... until now. Don't let her in... don't let her... but Dally knew it was too late. It had been too late for a long time.

Dally lay in an uncomfortable sleep. Tim Shepard The Cat had come out from under the bed and curled up on his pillow.

The snow had turned to a cold rain outside but the fire in the fireplace crackled and glowed warmly.

Tim Shepard The Cat let out a low growl as Darry came in quietly and sat down in the chair beside the bed.

Dally flinched slightly as a seemingly cold hand touched his forhead.

"Hey," Darry said as Dally just barely opened his eyes.

"Hey," Dally replied, his voice barely audible.

"You're a mess, aren't ya?" Darry chuckled softly.

"Real funny." Dally uttered weakly.

Tim Shepard The Cat looked at Darry and hissed.

Darry laughed. "Wow," he said looking at the tiny orange kitten with the angry eyes. "I think Santa really stiffed you this year."

"It wasn't Santa. It was Johnny," Dally said, his eyes still closed. "That kid's turning into a real trouble maker."

Darry laughed again. "He's changed, that's for sure. But in a good way." Darry nodded, thinking about Johnny. "Yeah... this was a really good move to let him come out here." He looked sympatheticly at Dally and gently ruffled his hair.

Dally tried to scowl.

"Look, buddy... I just came up here to talk to you about Ponyboy."

"What about him?"

"Well, he doesn't have a train ticket home because you were going to drive him. And obviously, that's not going to happen now."

Dally groaned.

"So we're going to go get him a ticket today because we're all going to have to leave tomorrow...And since you don't need to take Ponyboy home, well...there's no reason for you to leave here now."

Dally groaned even louder. He didn't want to talk about this anymore. He was so conflicted about the whole thing.

But what no one knew was that he had already made up his mind. A big part of him didn't like the decision he'd made, but a little flicker somewhere in his soul knew that this was where he was supposed to be. He was going to stay.

But he couldn't tell Darry. Not with words. He didn't know why. "Yeah, I know. I'm just...gonna stay till I feel better." Dally said. But when he said it, he looked at Darry, speaking more with his eyes than with his voice.

Darry caught the look and smiled slightly and nodded "Yeah, Dal... this is a good place for you to start feeling better. You do that."

Darry stood. "We'll see you soon, buddy." he extended his hand.

"Yeah... hey, take it easy on Ponyboy, all right?" Dally said weakly, reaching out and shaking Darry's hand.

Darry regarded him solemnly. Something tugged at his heart to know that the toughest of their gang cared so much for his little brother. Darry knew then that Dally didn't want to leave the gang. But he had to. This was his window of escape and he had to go. He was glad that Dally had finally come to realize that. Darry knew that the gang was not going to be whole anymore. But Dally and Johnny were safe and they would all find comfort in that.

Darry nodded. "You take good care of Johnnycake... just like you always have."

Dally closed his eyes and was asleep before Darry left the room.

When he woke up again, he was surprised this time to see Johnny asleep next to him, a text book opened across his chest and several pieces of paper spread out on the blankets. Dally had woken up three times over several hours. Not once had he been alone. Something inside him warmed at that thought.

But then he felt a bit of concern... was Johnny sick? He reached over and felt his Johnny's forehead, but he felt fine. Was he having nightmares again? There had been more than one occasion during the whole ordeal with Johnny's parents that Dally had awakened to find Johnny curled up beside him asleep and Coal at the foot of his bed.

He gave Johnny a nudge. "Hey..."

"Mmm?" Johnny opened his eyes sleepily.

"What are you doin'? You ok?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah... I just wanted to talk to you about something so I was waiting for you to wake up. I must've fallen asleep."

"Well, I'm awake."

"Do you feel any better?" Johnny asked sitting up.

"Some..." Dally rubbed his eyes. "What day is it? Are you doing homework? Did you go back to school? Did everybody leave already?"

"No. They're all leaving tomorrow morning. My math teacher's a jerk... he's the only teacher that assigned homework over the break. I had kind of forgotten about it till just now. I was working on it while I was waiting for you to wake up."

There was a long pause a Dally tried grogily to wake himself. He figured he knew what Johnny was going to ask him. Tim Shepard the Cat let out another growl.

"So..." Johnny started nervously. "You're not going to go with them?"

Dally turned back to look at him. Johnny's eyes were full of concern. But they were no longer full of fear, or saddness. Dally thought about all the trouble he'd gone through over the past few weeks... over the past few years. And finally he'd come out on the other side. They both had. Dally thought about going back to Tulsa. He pictured himself driving home and leaving Johnny behind. Whenever he started questioning the decision he'd made, he thought about that.

He waited a moment before saying anything, but he avoided the question. "You shouldn't be in here, you're gonna get sick."

"I don't care. I don't want to have to go back to school anyway."

"I thought you didn't mind school all that much anymore! And what about Caroline? She's gonna be home from her trip soon."

Johnny hesitated. "Well, it's too late now."

There was a long silence. And finally Dally looked back at him. "You worryin' about everybody going home tomorrow?"

"Yeah," Johnny said sadly. "I'm really gonna miss them."

Dally nodded. He looked at the ceiling for a moment then he shook his head and gave Johnny a weak grin. "Me too."

Johnny sat bolt upright, smiling from ear to ear. "You're gonna stay? Aw, Dal that's great! I knew you'd stay!" he said gleefully bouncing up and down.

"Uuhhgg! Stop it!" Dally moaned.

Johnny laughed. "Sorry," he said, his eyes still glowed.

"No sappiness!" Dally warned, pointing his finger at Johnny. "You'll make me sick!"

Johnny just grinned happily.

Tim Shepard The Cat growled.

"Hey," Johnny said a thought occured to him. "You wanna see something funny?"

"Does it involve Two-Bit?" Dally asked rubbing his forehead. "'Cause if it does, no. I don't want to see anything funny."

"No," Johnny said, picking up the kitten from Dally's pillow.

The kitten growled and stiffened.

"Johnny, be careful, man. You're gonna get clawed."

"No, I won't. Watch." Johnny set Tim Shepard The Cat down on his lap and started to pet him carefully. At first, the kitten just stood there, stiff as a board, growling. Then slowly, he began leaning into Johnny's hand, the way cats do when they're being petted. But every once in a while, he'd still let out a ferocious little hiss.

Dally laughed.

"He can't make up his mind!" Johnny said.

"Yeah, but if you stop petting him, he'll probably try to kill you." Dally said.

But Tim Shepard The Cat decided on his own when he'd had enough attention. After a few minutes, he wandered off of Johnny's lap and back to Dally's pillow. All the while glaring at Johnny for touching him.

Johnny watched him, laughing. Then he turned back to Dally. "I'm really glad you're staying, Dal."

Dally closed his eyes. "Me too, kid. Now get outta here so I can get some sleep!" Dally said trying to sound like his gruff old self. But he could tell from Johnny's smile that he had not pulled it off. He watched Johnny trot out of his room, Coal glued to his heels as usual.

The next morning the boys all packed up their things and gathered in the front hallway. Wendy had packed them all lunches and snacks and she was handing them out and checking to make sure each of them had their coats zipped and gloves on. Darry was laughing as he watched her putting a hat on Sodapop.

"We're going to miss you boys! It was so nice having you here," she said handing Two-Bit a brown paper lunch bag.

"It was nice of you to let us stay," Darry said. "We really appreciate it."

She looked at him seriously. "If you ever need a place... ever-"

Darry nodded. "Thanks."

Ponyboy and Johnny were in the livingroom, both looking very sad. Wendy walked over to them and gave Ponyboy a hug and a kiss on the forehead. "So when would you like to come back for a visit?"

Ponyboy smiled a little then.

"How about Easter?" Wendy suggested. "Do you have some time off from school then?"

Both Ponyboy and Johnny's eyes lit up. Easter wasn't too far away. They grinned at eachother.

Wendy laughed. "Easter it is then!" Then she looked back at the guys in the hallway. "These two are the talkative ones of the group, aren't they?"

The boys all laughed.

Dally came down the stairs then, wearing sweatpants, a t-shirt and a bathrobe and looking like he'd been hit by a truck. "Yeah, laugh it up. I can't get that one to shut up anymore, half the time." he said, pointing at Johnny.

"Yeah, right!" Two-Bit said with a laugh, just missing Johnny making a face at Dally.

"I'm serious!" Dally said to Two-Bit, and making a face right back at Johnny. Johnny shook his head and laughed.

Ponyboy hopped off the couch and went up to Dally as the other boys said their goodbyes to Grandma Cade and Tom.

"Thanks for bringing me out here, Dal," he said. He had come to feel a little differently about Dally over the past few months. Like Johnny, Ponyboy had begun to see past the cold, tough exterior. He was beginning to realize that there was a lot more to Dallas Winston than met the eye.

"No sweat, kid. Now listen, you keep those grades up and stay outta trouble, you understand?"

"I will," Ponyboy promised seriously.

"Because I will come back and beat the tar outta you if you dont, got it?"

"Got it."

And then, to Ponyboy's amazement, Dally hugged him and messed up his hair.

"Have a safe trip kid," Dally said, giving him a playful shove back towards the other boys.

Tim Shepard the Cat hissed at them all from the top step.

"Bye, Timmy!" Two-Bit called as he walked out the front door. "Boy howdy. I can't wait to tell ol' Tim that he has a cat named after him."

Johnny and Dally watched them from the livingroom window as Will drove them to the train station.

Dally felt a twinge of saddness, but an even deeper sense that this was all ok.

Tim Shepard the Cat hopped up on the end table where the Nativity scene was set up. His swishing tail knoced over one of the figures. Dally picked it up and studied it. It was an older looking man with graying hair and a slight beard, but he wasn't one of the wisemen and he didn't look like a shepard.

Dally held it out to Johnny who was still looking out the window. "Hey...who's this one supposed to be?"

"Huh? Oh, that's another angel."

"Where are the wings?"

Still looking out the window, Johnny answered. "Grandpa figured God sent some angels here that don't have wings- that way they can just look like regular people."

Dally stared at the figure in his hand. It looked familiar. Very familiar.

Just a coincidence, Dally told himself as he put it carefully back on the table. It seemed to smile at him through it's carefully carved, gentle green eyes.

Dally went back to looking out the window. The car had dirven off now and the two of them just knelt there, leaning on the back of the couch gazing out the window as the rain turned back into snow. Dally wasn't sure why they were still staring out the window or what they were staring at... but he was sure that he definitely was right where he was meant to be.