Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.

Author Note: Another sick!Steve ficlet for you all. Unbetaed. Please point out any obvious mistakes my tired eyes may have missed. Enjoy!

Soda's POV

I was just beginning to get really stressed out at work when the familiar truck swung into the parking lot and Darry got out. I went to meet him.

"Hey, Soda," he greeted me as I came up.

"Hey, Dar. Need a fill-up?"

"Yeah. Also need a spare." He kicked the front passenger tire irately. "Bloody got a puncture heading down past Buck's place."

I studied the partly deflated wheel before glancing back up at him.

"I got one that'll do. But I'm overrun with cars at the moment so I'll change it back home. This one'll get ya back but don't go running around on it more than ya can help."

"Damn, you sure it won't stretch another coupla miles? I gotta go - "

"Darry, I may be a dropout but I know my cars," I told him, jabbing my finger at him good-naturedly.

To be straight, it probably would be okay, it was a slow leak after all. But I'd rather he didn't. Last thing I wanted was my big brother ending up in a hedge. And it was his day off, anyways. In my opinion he shouldn't be out running errands. Who takes a day off to do errands? Am I right? I'm right.

He sighed, relenting.

"Sure thing, Sodapop. Why's it such a madhouse today then?" he asked conversationally, leaning against the hood as I topped up the tank.

"It's not really. Just...well, it's difficult trying to do two jobs at once. Dunno how you cope," I added dryly, sending him a look.

He ignored that comment. I'd never hidden the fact I thought he worked too hard.

"Two jobs?"

I shrugged.

"Steve ain't much help today."

"How come?"

"He...he don't seem too good."

"Goody should send him home."

"Easier said than done, Darry."

Darry's POV

He finished with the pump and I followed him inside to collect the new-ish wheel he was gonna give me. Steve was in the shop, hands resting heavily on the counter. I'll be honest, he looked like shit.

"Hey, Steve."

"Hey, Dar," he croaked.

Sounded like shit too.

"Ya shouldn't be here, buddy," Soda told him gently. "Go home."

Steve was shaking his head before Soda had even finished his sentence.

"Don't wanna go home," he growled, eyes clenched shut tight. "I'm fine."

Soda sighed and gave me a 'I-told-you-so' look before vanishing into the back and bringing me out my much-needed tire.

"Here ya go, Dar."

"Thanks, Soda."

Steve moaned and put his head down on the desk.

"Still think you're fine?" Soda asked.

Steve shot him a glare out from under his arms.

"Shut it, Soda."

"Crikey, Steve," I murmured as Soda rang up my stuff. "Just go home already."

The stubborn teenager shook his head again.

"Why not?" Soda demanded, his patience obviously beginning to wear a bit thin.

"Why so?"

"Hanging 'round this place ain't gonna make you feel better."

"And going home an' having my dad beat on me will?" he shot back.

Ah. So that's the problem. Me and Soda looked at each other.

"Go home with Dar."

"Come back with me."

Those two sentences came out a bit jumbled as we said them at exactly the same time but Steve got it. However, he was still shaking his head. God damn, kid. He's gonna give himself vertigo. Oops, there we go...

Steve just managed to catch himself before he fell then chose to avoid a concerned Soda by coming out the counter flap and sagging against the vending machine, forehead pressed against the cool glass.

"Why not?" Soda asked again.


"I'm gonna need a little more than that, Steve."

"Okay, because."

"Well, that's a concrete argument," I answered sarcastically. "I dunno how we can counter that, Soda."

I got a 'you-are-so-not-helping' look and rolled my eyes. Soda sure can say a lot without saying anything. Anyway, Steve was beginning to wear my patience a little thin now.

"Are you gonna come with me or not?" I asked him impatiently.

"Make me."

Well, okay then, I thought.