"It's to hot," Ponyboy whinged, perched on the side of the bathtub. "I'm starting to melt, I know I am!"

Soda rolled his eyes and ignored his brother. "It's not coming through Darry," he called into the kitchen where Darry was turning the kitchen taps. The old shower had not worked for years, but (unable to stand his brother's whining for much longer) Darry had finally given in and attached it to a hose, which he in turn had attached to the kitchen taps.

"Wait," Darry called back, as he heard the faint sound of water gurgling somewhere in the house. "I think I can hear it coming." Pony and Soda both held their breath to listen.

Sure enough, the hose slowly began to fill with water. Darry held it in his hands, following it into the bathroom. A small drop of water fell from the shower onto Soda's upturned face.

"It's coming, it's coming!" Pony yelled, jumping up excitedly and squeezing under the shower next to Soda. He got there just in time, for seconds later water began cascading out of the shower, drenching the two boys who squealed excitedly. Darry breathed a sigh of relief, maybe now he could get on with his paperwork.

For the next couple of hours, things went quite well. There was only one interruption, which was Steve marching through the doorway, muttering about a fight with his old man. But only minutes later Darry heard one more voice added to the happy shouts coming from the bathroom so decided not to worry about him to much.

So Darry was still sitting in the same armchair he'd sat earlier that day, lost in the world of forms and bills he was now required to deal with, when he felt someone watching him. He peered up from the gas bill he was worrying about, and found Pony standing in front of him.

"Pony, what are you doing? I thought I told you to stay in the bath?"

"I know, but I decided to come visit you. Because I thought it wasn't fair that we were having fun while you were in here by yourself."

Darry sighed and shook his head. "How long you been standing there Pone?"

Pony shrugged. "A while?"

Darry glanced at the wet patch surrounding him and sighed again. "Yep, I think a while would be about right."

"Why are you sad Darry? Is it 'cos I've dripped on the floor? I didn't mean to, I just couldn't reach the towels." Pony looked down and wriggled his toes, causing the carpet to squelch under him. "I'll clean it up if you want, honestly I will."

"Nah forget it, I'll do it later. And I'm not sad Pone, everything's just fine. Now why don't you go and play with the others?"

Pony shook his head. "No I don't want to. Steve's talking to Soda, and they won't let me hear what they're saying. And you are sad, I can see it in your face. Why you sad Darry?"

"I told you Pony, I'm not sad. I've just got a bit of a headache is all."

"Do you want me to rub it better?"

"No I don't think so Pone. It doesn't work on headaches. But thanks anyway." Darry rubbed his chin as he moved on from the gas bill to the water bill. His eyes grew wide as he stared at the figures in front of him. He was beginning to regret letting Pony and Soda use the shower all day.

"I could try?" Pony said hopefully, moving closer to Darry and leaning against his knees. He didn't like it when Darry had paperwork to do. He was always in a bad mood afterwards, and generally seemed distracted and distant, so much so that Pony often and to shake him just to get his attention. Pony usually tried to keep out of his way when he was like this, but today he wanted, needed, Darry to notice him.

"No Ponyboy, go play." Pony quietened down, his brother's tone making him weary, but he stayed where he was, scuffing his toe against the armchair. After a minute he got bored, and picked up the calculator Darry had been using. He typed in the numbers 0.1134, then turned it upside down and showed it triumphantly to Darry, smiling broadly. But Darry hardly glanced at it, just gave Pony one of his half smiles which disappeared so quick if Pony blinked he'd of missed it.

Pony waited a minute more, hoping Darry might just snap out of it. But Darry didn't move, so Pony climbed up onto his lap instead, accidentally knocking a wad of papers off the arm as he went.

"Oh Pony! Look what you've done! It's taken me ages to..." Darry stopped suddenly as he felt Pony's hands on his forehead, slowly tracing the worry lines that had begun to appear there, Pony's small fingers cool against his skin.

"Don't you be doing no more worrying ok? I'll do the worrying for you, I'm gonna help you." His fingers found the Darry's temples and began to massage them in small circular movements, like he'd seen his Mother do when she was stressed. "Your head ain't gonna hurt no more."

And in a funny kind of way, it was helping Darry's head. Although it didn't make it go away, it did help ease the drilling, and the ritual became a routine between the brothers. And in a way, it helped Pony just as much as it helped Darry.