I do not own "The Outsiders", nor do I own "In Over My Head" by The Fray.

"I never knew,

I never knew that everything was falling through.."

Buck Merril stretched his arms, flexing them as he attemped to wake himself up fully from an uncomfortable sleep.

Yawning loudly, he swung his legs over the side of the small, messy bed and stood up.

He peered around at the messy, stuffy closet he was ashamed to call a bedroom. I mean, sure he could have his pick from the suite of rooms he owned, but it would mean one less room and less money coming in.

Plus, the noise would have been terrible. The racket from the surrounding music and even the noise from people doing "the wild thing" would have been terrible. Based on experience, Buck knew that his walls were paper thin. He'd never be able to get any sleep.

He wasn't a heavy sleeper like some of his regulars. Dallas Winston found his way to Buck's mind. That boy could sleep through a tornado and still wake up early to see if Buck could hustle up some breakfast for him or not.

Buck thought of Dallas (or "Dally" as he liked to be called) as a decent fellow, one who he could always rely on to have a beer with. Dallas would actually listen as he moaned about how some of the regulars would stumble in and make a scene, demanding free beer and a place to stay.

Dallas Winston was one of the only people Buck Merril would consider a friend.

Buck allowed himself to sigh as he showered. Life wasn't too bad, apart from the drunken regulars and a fist fight here and there. The money was pretty good, too. You wouldn't believe how much people were willing to pay for cheap beer and a room to stay.

The warm water felt good as it soaked his skin, making Buck feel more alert and awake. This allowed Buck time to think, and mentally make a list of the things he needed to do today. And the first thing on that list was to get that rattling pipe fixed.

Steam hung heavily in the air as Buck exited the shower. He tried to wipe it off the mirror, but it hardly did any good. He decided to give shaving a miss that day; he couldn't see himself in the mirror properly. He couldn't remember where he'd put his razor, anyway.

He slipped on two different socks and his old sneakers and made his way downstairs, to say good morning to his absolute being. His pride and joy, his baby.

His bar.

No longer tired, he began unstacking the bar stools off of the tables. It was nearly time to open, and people would come downstairs and demand him feed them. Buck knew that everyone was perfectly capable of going somewhere else for breakfast, like the Dingo or Jays, but he needed the money. And any excuse to show off his bar, of course.

As Buck finished opening up, he vaguely remembered the night before. He'd had a few drinks, that was for sure. It had been a great night, with the greasers once again victorious.

Tim Shepard had told him a right old tale about how the east side had once again prevailed. Apparently Dallas had fought too, despite the burn on one of his arms.

Buck had meerly sighed when he heard about Dallas fighting, it was so typical of him.

Buck's place was officially open for the day. He spied some glasses in need of washing, so he collected them and began running the hot tap water around the back. He had nothing better to do, anyway.

As he dried the last of the shot glasses, he heard someone enter the room.

"Mornin', Merril," he heard, and he walked out into the bar. One of his waitresses, Patsy, was leaning against a bar stool.

Buck nodded. "Torres."

"Where do you want me?" Patsy asked.

"Stay behind the bar. Them people'll probably want their food when they come down," Buck replied, sitting down in the chair Patsy had stopped leaning on.

"Is Harry here?" She asked, referring to the cook Buck hired for the morning. Funny how he never hired him for afternoons, as Buck's place never cooked lunch or supper.

"Yeah," Buck replied, as he eyed his cook coming through the door.

"Mornin'," the grouchy cook said as he entered the small kitchen area behind the bar.

Patsy looked over at Buck. "Tell me again why you only serve breakfast, and nothin' else?"

Buck grinned. "I feel sorry for them people who have hangovers in the mornin', and they need their breakfast. They're on their own for everything else."

"How generous," Patsy said with obvious sarcasm. She spied an obviously hung over group of people stumble down the stairs.

That was the second thing on Buck's to-do list. Start dishin' out demotions to mouthy waitresses. Buck tried to picture Patsy doing dishes all day. He laughed out loud.

Patsy rolled her eyes at her boss as the day really began.

x x x x

"Buck," Patsy moaned as she came back up to the bar.

"Table three. What?" Buck asked as she took the order from him.

"This ain't no damn restaurant, you know.," Patsy walked away, handed table three their order, and quickly went back.

"I know that," Buck replied simply. They went through this just about every morning.

Patsy sighed. "Where is Sylvia? She was supposed to start half an hour ago, and we're flat out."

"Well, I would call her, but then I'd have to leave the bar for a minute or two.."

"Don't you dare."

Buck grinned. "We'll just have to wait for her, I guess."

The door opened dramatically, and Buck had a fair idea who it was.

"Buck," Tim Shepard addressed him solemnly as propped himself on a stool.

"Shepard," Buck replied, sensing a note of seriousness in Tim's voice that he had never heard before.

"Have you heard?" Tim asked, and Buck raised his eye brows.

"Heard?" He repeated, and Tim nodded.

"Here," Tim replied, slapping down the news paper infront of him.

Buck noticed the headline immediately. "TwoTeenage Heroes Dead."

Buck quickly skimmed the article, colour draining from his face when he saw the names.

"Winston.."

Tim coughed, and Buck briefly looked up from the article.

"The funeral, it's next week. You coming?"

Buck nodded, unable to say anything.

Tim cleared his throat. "I'll get goin'.. see you around, I guess."

"Yeah," Buck replied, his eyes following Tim as he left.

He looked at the article again, his eyes unbelieving. He felt someone tap him impatiently on the shoulder.

"Earth to Buck," he heard Patsy say as he turned to her.

"Huh?" Buck asked, stuffing the newspaper under the counter.

"Come on, people are hungry," Patsy sighed impatiently.

"Yeah, yeah," Buck replied, serving up drinks to the next few people.

After about half an hour, he heard the door open dramatically again.

Buck looked up to see Sylvia rushing towards him, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Buck!" She cried out, as she rushed over and put her arms around Buck.

Buck reluctantly put his arms across her back.

"Have you heard?" She sobbed, and Buck confirmed this.

"It's so.. horrible! He's dead, Dally's dead! I knew he always got into trouble and all.. but I never expected it to turn out like this.. you know.. dead!" Buck sighed, patting her back.

"I know," he replied, aware that people were sending looks their way.

Sylvia pulled away, wiping her eyes.

"I should start work now," she said, trying to move past him, but Buck used his arm to stop her.

"Take the day off," he said, looking at her red eyes and noticing she wasn't wearing any make-up, "you're in no state to work."

Sylvia sniffed. "Are ya sure? It's so busy today.."

"Go," he replied, gently pushing her in the direction of the door.

"Thanks," she said quietly, and walked out the door.

"Why'd you do that? You know we're busy," Patsy said from behind him, as she served another table.

Buck ignored her, and went back behind the bar to serve the next drink.

Patsy would'nt give up.

"What do you think Winston'll say, when he hears you were touching his girl?"

Buck slammed the glass onto the polished wood counter. He'd had enough.

"Winston won't be saying anything. He died last night, that's why I let Sylvia have the day off." Buck breathed heavily as the two stared at each other for a second.

Buck then looked away and took the next order, aware of the stares he got from his customers.

"I'm heading off," Patsy said as she came up to Buck. "Need help closing?"

Buck shook his head. "I'm too busy wallowing in self pity," he said. He cracked a small grin.

Patsy sat down in the stool across from him. "I'm sorry, Buck."

Buck shrugged as he sipped his drink.

"What for? Ain't your fault the kid was stupid enough to get himself shot."

Patsy sighed. "You know what I mean."

Buck skulled the rest of his drink. "Shouldn't you be heading home?"

"I want to help you close up," Patsy replied, hands on hips and everything.

"Go home, Patsy. I'll see you in the morning," Buck wouldn't take no for an answer.

Patsy raised an eye brow. That was one of the few times he ever used her first name, and he only used it when he was unhappy about something.

"Alright. Are you gonna be okay?"

Buck nodded. "Go."

Patsy reluctantly put on her coat and left.

Buck sat at his place, refilling his drink.

He grabbed the newspaper and sat down with it, reading the article over again. He still couldn't believe it. Dallas Winston.

The Dallas Winston. The Dallas Winston, dead.

"I'm losing you and its effortless

Without a sound we lose sight of the ground.."

Constructive critism is welcome with open arms.