Hey, so this is a fluffy story that came to my mind. I tend to write them whenever I'm procrastinating and next week is my final exams so of course I have to write this one RIGHT NOW.

Johnny and Dallas are alive.

Soda leaned over the counter and gave the pretty girl across from him one of his many charming smiles, "What can I do for you, darlin'?"

He realized that his endearment had more than the desired effect when the girl blushed and shyly responded, "Well, I wouldn't mind your number for starters," Soda internally rolled his eyes, shy, yeah right.

"No can do gorgeous, new rules, employees can't go handin' out their numbers anymore!" He said, doing his best to sound disappointed. That was not, strictly speaking, true, but he really needed to cut down on who he gave his number to. He couldn't keep 'em all strait anymore.

The girl frowned, "Oh, well can't you break that silly old rule? Just this once, for me?"

What was her name again? "Not if I want to keep my job, now what can I get ya'?" Soda asked; nervously eyeing the long line beginning to form behind her. The DX was really bustling today, especially because Steve was in the back working on several cars that had come in last night and the other daytime employee, Ricky, had failed to show up for work again. For the third time this week.

Soda bit back a sigh as the people behind the girl began to show signs of impatience.

Finally the girl seemed ready to order, "Um, I think I'll have a Pepsi?" Her voice turned up at the end making her request sound more like a question. Soda waited patiently for the rest of her order but when the girl said no more he turned and pulled a cold Pepsi from the fridge. Jesus, all that thought for nothin' but a Pepsi?

After he served the girl she quickly left, seeing that he was in no mood to flirt. Today was going to be a long day, Soda thought. Pony had gotten up (and accidentally woken Soda up too) at the crack of dawn to start studying for the ACT's or SAT's or some acronym like that, which Darry had heartily approved of but it gave Soda a headache just thinking about. Soda had then gone back to sleep only to wake up three hours later, late for work. When he got there his boss had realized, for the first time, that one of his employees was missing and had called him out on it in front of the whole store. Granted, the DX was hardly patronized before noon, but still it hadn't made him feel too great.

Soda quickly helped the next few customers, during which the other employee finally showed up and after being yelled at by the boss man, twice as much as Soda had and in front of a much larger audience, he joined Soda at the counter.

That was when Soda first heard it. It was a high pitched slightly heart breaking sob coming from the candy aisle. "Hey Ricky, man the counter while I check something out." Ricky barely looked up from the customer he was flirting with to nod to Soda's request.

Soda made his way cautiously to the candy aisle where he found the source of the noise. Sitting in the middle of the aisle sat a small girl, Soda would guess six or seven in a bright yellow dress quietly sobbing to herself.

Soda approached the girl warily, not having much experience with distressed 6 year olds, "Hey there, sweetheart. What's wrong?"

The girls head snapped up. Apparently she hadn't heard anyone enter the aisle. Soda smiled at the girl. She really was adorable, long blond hair woven into a long French braid down her back, big green eyes, round chubby cheeks with a smattering of golden freckles everywhere the eye could see. More than that Soda was surprised to find that he recognized her.

"Hey! Denise, right?" He asked the little girl. The little girl blinked at his use of her name and sniffed. Soda remembered the girl from around his neighborhood. Her mother was a nurse who had helped fix up Johnny after the fire and Ponyboy after the rumble. She must be worried sick about her poor little daughter. Then again, Soda thought, she works double shifts back to back most every day; she probably doesn't even know her daughter's missing.

The girl hadn't responded, she just looked up at Soda with wide eyes, unable to decide whether she should be afraid of this stranger or rejoice that she'd finally found someone who knew her. Soda snagged a candy bar from the shelf and quickly opened it, holding it out to Denise as an offering.

Denise sniffed again and wiped at her cheek, reaching out toward Soda for the candy bar. "There ya' go, hun." Soda swooped her up off the ground and into his arms placing the small child on his hip, causing the girl to squeal with delight.

"Alright Denise, do you remember me? I'm Sodapop, I live next door to you!" Denise chewed the candy bar thoughtfully until her face lit up with a memory of him and other boys playing football outside his house. Soda grinned as the girl obviously placed him, her face alight with recognition.

"Now, little lady, what are you doin' here all by your lonesome?" he asked, truly worried for the poor girl.

Denise's eyes immediately filled with tears and Soda swore internally for saying the wrong thing. "Hey, now it's okay! I gotcha', we'll find your mama!"

Denise choked back tears and told him, "We can't find mama!"

"Why's that?" Soda asked, confused.

"'Cause I'm lost!" Denise wailed, catching the attention of some of the patrons.

"You're not lost, sweetheart! You got here, didn't you?"

"That's only a-a 'cause I followed Mary! But sh-she left without m-me!" Mary, Soda thought, could she mean Mary Jensen? She must, that was the only greaser Mary he remembered coming in here. Shit, Mary left hours ago! How long had the poor girl been crying in the corner? More than that, who in their right mind would leave their child in the care of Mary 'All Night Long' Jensen?

Denise had started to sob again, burying her head in Soda's chest and wailing furiously. "Hey now, it's alright, Denise. Shh," Soda patted her back, trying desperately to calm the child down. "Hey! Hey, I got an idea," This quieted the girl down for a moment, "You can stay with me and my friends for the day and when your mom comes home you can go see her!"

Denise thought for a moment then grinned ecstatically at the idea of playing with all the big boys who she watched play football outside on the weekends. "Okay! I can stay with you all day?" She asked.

Soda glanced back at the long lines at the counter and outside the window where cars were lining up, full of passengers ready to patronize the DX. "You'll be with one of us," he finally promised the little girl.

The next chapters will be longer, just a fluffy story! I'll probably update soon, Steve's chapter is next (but Soda will probably have another chapter after he gets off work)! (Every boy will have a chapter where they have to take care of Denise)