It hadn't been so bad, at first. An extra whiskey or brandy here and there had done the trick, enough that Danny had been sure everything would work out on its own. Stacked up against a hot sun, cool water, and pretty girls who flirted and danced and were generally just all kinds of friendly fun as he and Brett played their usual game, skirting closer and closer to the day they both knew was coming, a sore tooth was a pretty minor annoyance. He made sure he chewed on the other side of his mouth and kept his glass topped off, and put it out of his mind for the rest of the week.
Then they flew home.
Brett was in high spirits, making plans for them to visit Monte Carlo next month. "I still think we should go sooner," he said as the plane took off, bumping Danny's arm. "Do you really have to go to Chicago next week? Surely they can get by without you."
"Yeah, I -- cripes!"
Takeoff was bad, very bad. Danny breathed tightly through his nose, holding himself as still as he possibly could, his neck muscles rigid and his hands clenched into fists on his lap as they climbed.
"Daniel, what is it?" Brett reached for his shoulder, then looked more closely at his face and changed course, covering one of Danny's hands with his own and squeezing lightly.
By the time they reached cruising altitude, his entire head was throbbing, and it felt like there was an icepick being jammed into his jaw with every throb. When it had been a few minutes without anything getting worse, he slowly, carefully, started to relax a little, unclenching one fist so he could pat Brett's hand. "Thanks," he rasped out.
Brett squeezed his hand again and let go. "Are you all right now? What happened?"
Danny leaned his head cautiously back against the headrest to give his neck muscles a break. "I had a toothache -- guess the tooth went bad."
"You had a toothache in Madrid?"
"And you didn't go see a dentist?"
"It was nothing, Brett, okay? Or I thought it was nothing, anyway." He clamped a hand to his face, hoping it would help even as he knew it probably wouldn't. At least they were flying back to London, not New York. "Besides, if I'd left you alone with the girls, who know what you would've gotten up to." Truth be told, he didn't really care what Brett got up to, as long as he got to be a part of it. He hadn't wanted a dentist to tell him he had to take it easy, stay alone in his hotel room.
Brett smirked and straightened a perfectly straight cuff. "Nothing untoward, I'm sure."
Danny hmfed on principle, but let it go, not up for the usual back and forth. He tried closing his eyes to see if it helped any, but all it did was make it easier to focus on the pain. He opened them again and tried leaning to the left, into his hand, biting off a swear as the pressure in his jaw spiked again.
"'M okay," he gasped, turning his head carefully to look at Brett. "Moved the wrong way." That was a little better, leaning away from the pain. He tipped his head a bit more, resting his gaze on Brett's familiar face.
Brett eyed him narrowly. "You really do look dreadful, you know."
"Ya don't say."
Brett frowned and flagged down the stewardess. "Excuse me, miss, I'm sorry to bother you -- "
"Yes, sir?" she asked, smiling politely, but clearly distracted.
"Have you a first-aid kit? My friend here is in a great deal of pain -- bad tooth, you understand."
She looked more closely at Danny, her professional smile softening into a look of concern. "Of course, sir. I'll bring you some disprin -- I'm sorry, we haven't anything stronger."
"That would be fine, thank you. Oh, and a whiskey, if you would be so kind."
Danny tapped Brett's sleeve and held up two fingers.
"Quite," Brett said, after another look at his face. "Make that a double, please."
The stewardess was as good as her word, back in a jiff with pills and a glass of the good stuff -- or at least the cheap airplane stuff -- to wash them down with.
"You're very kind," Brett told her warmly.
Danny ignored the by-play as the stewardess shifted to move an inch or two closer -- if Brett got her number out of this, more power to him, especially if it got them such good service. He popped the pills and took a healthy swig of the whiskey, and settled in to wait for them to kick in, his left hand cupping his cheek and jaw again in a vain attempt to push the pain away.
"Would you rather quiet so you can try to sleep, or shall I distract you?" Brett asked as the stewardess moved on.
"Distract me," Danny said promptly. No way was he going to be able to sleep with this. He made a few careful, tiny adjustments so he was looking more comfortably at Brett. "Tell me a story."
Brett hooked his left arm through Danny's right, patting his hand, and spun him a ridiculous, utterly earnest tale about a third cousin, a herd of pigs, and a family heirloom, his blue eyes guileless in the morning sun slanting into the cabin. Danny got caught up in it despite himself as Brett started working backward to explain just how the family heirloom became an heirloom, and why the herd of pigs was roaming free on the family estates in the first place, both of which seemed to involved a great-great-great-aunt that no one really talked about. He barely noticed as Brett kept the whiskey coming.
When the hot towel arrived, though, he stared at it.
Brett took it neatly out of the stewardess's hands with a murmured "Thank you," and folded it up smaller, looking at it critically before handing it to Danny. "That should do. Here you are. No, don't unfold it." He took it back and re-folded it. "Here, now leave it like this."
"It's not to wash my face?"
Brett looked sharply at him and smiled ruefully. "No, not this time. It's to hold against your jaw, to help with the pain."
"Oh. Okay." Danny put it against his face, the heat almost instantly soothing. "Oh, that's nice," he sighed happily.
"That's good." Brett linked their arms again, gripping Danny's hand lightly instead of patting it this time. "I have some bad news, I'm afraid."
"We're about to begin our descent."
Brett was right, it was bad -- but not as bad as takeoff had been, thanks to the booze, the heat, and Brett's hand, a lifeline that Danny clung to shamelessly. Brett kept talking, a steady wash of soothing sound, promising him they'd go see his dentist first thing, and Danny would stay with Brett, of course, just the two of them, and they'd have nothing but soft food for a week, if that's what it took, how did that sound?
Danny smiled and tightened his grip a little more. "Sounds even better than Monte Carlo."
After a moment, Brett squeezed back.