Ponyboy arrives late for dinner, and the others--Darry, Soda, and Steve--are getting ready for the rumble. Darry's muscles bulge in his tight t-shirt, and Pony pities "the Soc that takes a crack at him." Pony, Soda and Steve add extra oil to their hair, and Pony puts on a clean t-shirt and jeans for the occasion. When Two-Bit arrives, the boys head to the vacant lot. They lament that they will be short-handed without Dally, Johnny and Curly Shepard, who is in "the cooler." When the boys arrive, Tim Shepard's gang is waiting, as was another greaser gang, the Brumly boys. One of the Brumly boys asks about Darry, and he predicts that Darry will "be asked to start the fireworks." He is right, and the gang leaders soon suggest that Darry should be the first to challenge the biggest Soc. The greasers are outnumbered--they have 20 boys--and when the four carloads of Socs arrive, they total 22.
The Socs "lined up silently, facing us," and Darry
... stepped forward... everything looked unreal, like a scene out of a JD movie or something. Then Darry said, "I'll take on anyone." (Chapter 9)
At first it appears that no one will accept Darry's challenge, but suddenly his old football pal, Paul Holden, steps forward. Once best friends, the two had gone their separate ways. But Paul says, "I'll take you," and Darry smiles at the opportunity to prove he is the better man. The two stalk each other for a moment until a voice rings out. "Hold up!... Hold it!" It is Dally, who has run from the hospital after threatening the nurse with a switchblade in order to join his friends. When Darry turns to see who it is, Paul delivers
... a hard right to the jaw that would have felled anyone but Darry. The rumble was on. (Chapter 9)
Pony and Dally have a rough time of it, but Darry--who always takes on "two at a time anyway"--looks after Pony, and Pony helps out Dally. Pony nearly "blacked out" after being kicked in the head, but he is still coherent enough to hear a greaser cry out "They're running!" The greasers are battered: Shepard has a broken nose, Two-Bit's "hand was busted wide open," Steve has three broken ribs, and Darry has a cut on the forehead and would "have a black eye." But the greasers have won, and Darry proclaims,
"We beat the Socs." (Chapter 9)