A/N: Yup, spent my New Years Eve coming up with this. It's a bit odd.

Disclaimer: The Outsiders aren't mine.

I'd decided to take a short cut through the park to get to my favourite place: a nice little place, with an overhang that would shelter me from the heat of the blazing midday sun. If I were lucky, I'd find something to eat there. I needed something to eat: I could go without drinking for a while yet- there was always something around to drink- but my stomach was telling me it was time to find my next meal. Usually I'd just plod along the road, looking for a nice spot to turn in and find a meal, but the blazing sun had heated the pavement to the point of discomfort, and the grass of the park provided some much needed relief.

I was thinking of what I'd get to eat- a steak, if I had my way, but I was more likely to have to settle for scraps- when something interrupted me. I couldn't be sure, but it sounded like someone saying 'Stupid, stupid, stupid," in a low voice. Now, I wasn't exactly sure what that could mean, but I decided to take a little detour and find out.

It didn't take long to find out what was going on: a girl sat at the base of an oak tree, knees in front of her, pulling up grass with her fingers. She was muttering all kinds of things, "Stupid, stupid, worthless...", then throwing the grass away from her, and cursing when the wind brought it back to land on her lap.

She looked up and saw me- I could tell she was crying- and then cussed me out for a minute.

"You hear me?" she shouted, but I just stood there and looked at her. I'd been thinking about food again, not paying attention to what she'd been saying. "You get out of here! I don't want to see you!" When I didn't move, she added, "Get out of here, you mangy mutt!"

I'd heard that tone of voice enough times from enough people to know what it meant. I may not be the smartest, but I know when I'm not wanted. How else could I survive living on the streets? So I started on my way again, meandering on my course, when I saw her move, and felt myself being dragged backwards. I let out a growl and started to snarl as something clamped around my ribs- if you didn't defend yourself, you'd die out here. I'd seen it happen out here.

"I'm sorry!" she called out, and I turned my head and saw that she'd grabbed me around my middle and was dragging me back to her. I stopped snarling- sometimes, I'll snarl and seem vicious to save my skin from people, but I sensed that I didn't need to here. This girl seemed more of a danger to herself than she did to me- I thought that with all the crying she was doing she might somehow hurt herself. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I just..." She paused and wiped her nose with her sleeve. "I just can't stop messing up! Everything I do just gets me in more and more trouble... I didn't mean to yell at you!"

She was clearly distraught- I remember, a long time ago, a young boy doing a similar thing. He held me, buried his head in my coat, and cried and cried, until finally his parents had came, and taken me for a car ride. I never saw the boy, or his parents, again.

And, just like the boy, she buried her head in my coat, and cried for a moment.

"You're disgusting," she said, lifting her head and wiping her face. "No, I'm disgusting... Do you know what I did?" Tears started to course down her face again. "I'm disgusting!" She sounded almost animal like, with all the whimpering and strange noises she was making. "I didn't mean for this to happen." She grabbed my neck and brought me face to face with her. "I didn't mean to hurt him!"

I reached out and licked her face, then put my head on her knee and just rested it there, slowly licking her sleeve. She didn't seem to notice, and just kept on crying.

"It's better like this, you know," she sobbed. "It's better that he not know... It's better that he think it... That he think... It's better that he thinks I'm just a terrible person. He couldn't deal with... with this! It's best... Like this..."

And again, she buried her head in my coat, apparently forgetting that I was disgusting. I didn't know what she was talking about, all I knew was that she was upset. I'd ran into a lot of people over the years- some of them would scream at me, throw things at me, try to hurt me- but some of them, like her, seemed to seek some sort of comfort. They'd invite me into their home for a night, feed me, then kick me out the next day. Sometimes kids would pet me on the street, or give me a hug when they'd scraped their knees. There were all kinds of people in this world.

And so we sat, her head on my back, for a long while, until her sobbing finally receded and she let me go. She stood up.

"You're just a dog," she mumbled, standing up. "But thanks."

She started walking away in one direction, and I started off in the other. My stomach was growling loud enough to wake the dead.