A/N: Birthday present for Laura's Eyes, who asked for another chapter and more h/c Sorry if it's not your birthday anymore when I post, I have to write up the whole thing from scratch lol.


Because he took such a long nap in the afternoon, Soda was still awake by the time Darry got home from waiting tables at half past midnight. Two-Bit had come around for dinner, and he and Soda had sat mucking around, playing poker and making a lot of noise while Pony tried to study. Pony had gone to bed an hour ago, and Two-Bit had gone home shortly afterwards, and so Soda was sitting on the floor alone, a line of cards in front of him set up. He had been playing Solitaire.

"Ain't that boring you?" Darry asked, quirking a smile.

Soda frowned. "Kinda, but no one's around to do anything with." He stood up and ran a hand through his hair. "Your dinner's in the oven."

"Thanks." Darry had stark dark rings around his eyes and his shoulders were slumped as he moved. He switched on the oven and sat down at the table, running an exhausted hand down his face.

Soda came up behind him and started kneading his shoulders. He was good at massages, always had been, but it seemed every time he worked the knots out of Darry's muscles they'd just return with a vengeance. Darry was probably someone who could benefit from having a doctor look at his back, but they would never be able to afford it.

"How'd it go?" Darry mumbled, slumping forwards.

"Good," Soda replied.

"He didn't die?"

Darry's tone was one of sarcastic disbelieving. He knew what the plan had been: he was the one Soda talked to most about work. Soda's hands fell from Darry's shoulders and he took a step back, hurt crossing his features.

Darry spun around. "I didn't mean –" he started.

"No, he didn't die," Soda snapped. "In fact it all looked really good."

"I'm sorry," said Darry quickly, but it sounded like he was just saying it. "But come on, Soda, you know the chances of someone living through something like that –"

"Well he did, Darry, and I want to do it too."

Darry frowned. "You can't be serious," he said. "That's just mental, Sodapop. You know the chances you'd have. Even if you did survive you'd probably be a vegetable."

"Well maybe it's a good thing you're not allowed to tell me what to do anymore," snapped Soda sarcastically.

Darry shook his head. "You're not doing anything like getting your head cut open. And I may not be able to tell you what to do, but I know you. You're never going to show me such disrespect as doing something so stupid when I feel so strongly about it."

Soda wrapped his arms around his middle, ignoring the tears running down his face. "You don't – you –" But to his great frustration, his lungs chose that moment to stop working again.

He tried to hide what was happening, but he may as well have been trying to use a fly screen to scoop water.

He shuddered violently at first, trying to contain his spasming lungs, but then he gave in and coughed deeply. It was strange, after so many years of having lungs that kept trying to kill him, every time he still harboured the false hope that if he coughed, it would make him feel better. It never did, and it didn't this time either. He bent almost double, the coughs feeling like they might wrench his stomach muscles loose if they were anymore forceful, and he distantly felt a hand gripping his shoulder and guiding him over to sit in a chair.

He fumbled in his pocket for his inhaler and huffed greedily at it when he found it. He finally opened his eyes as he felt his lungs start to loosen up, and he was left panting, breath still a little wheezy, looking at Darry kneeling in front of him, eyes wrinkled in concern.

"Don't you get it?" Soda gasped in frustration. "I can't live like this anymore. I can't."

And to his embarrassment, he broke down in tears.

Darry leaned forward and held him silently, rubbing his back the way he always used to when they were younger. "But I can't lose you," he said softly.


A/N: Really short, sorry, but I didn't have time for longer. Hope you liked it. Please leave a review! (hoping to get to 400 if I am honest :D )