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“Judging by these x-rays,” says Gavin's dentist—he allows his drugged-up self to laugh at the use of his best friend's nickname—hinting that there's not anything good for Gavin to look forward to, despite how well he's taken care of his teeth for so long. “You're going to need surgery. Setting aside the wonderful condition of the rest of your teeth, there is no way to prevent the decay of teeth, and removing the teeth is your only option.”

“There's not anything else we can do?” Ryan asks after a moment, keeping his eyes fixed on the x-rays pinned to the illuminated board in front of him.

“Nothing at all," Doctor Robert says, trying gently to keep Ryan from losing his patience, as he can see the man clenching his fingers into fists. "It's a surgery, not a death sentence. He's going to go under for a few minutes and then be back to his usual self in no time, albeit a little loopy. More so than how he is now."

Gavin cracks a smile at that and glances up at the dentist he'd been going to for years. "Yeah, s'like he says, Ryan, I'll be fit as a fiddle and I'll have less stupid dumb teeth in my mouth—"

Ryan waves him off. "Gavin shut up, you're high. He's never had surgery before, I'm not going to lie to him about how much it's going to fucking suck. How are we supposed to pay for a surgery anyways?"

"Well, we do have payment plan options and if you have medical insurance—"

"We don't have medical insurance," Ryan snaps.

"Then the payment plans—"

"I don't have time for this right now, I have to get him home," he growls.

They help Gavin sit up and stumble into Ryan's arms, and somehow make it to Ryan's car parked out front. He doesn't even check out of the appointment or bother to pay for the heavy pain killers Gavin is on. His only focus is getting Gavin into the car and buckled up before getting into the driver's side.

"Surgery, huh?" Gavin muses, his head rolling to one side.

If he had the option to, Ryan would have strapped Gavin's head to the seat, with it lolling about like that he looked like a stuffed animal with too little stuffing in its neck. "I'm not letting you get surgery," he says. "Not with some washed up doctor who doesn't know shit about what he's doing."

Gavin rolls his head the other way to face Ryan, and furrows his eyebrows, holding Ryan's determined gaze. "Rye, he's a doctor— he's got more talent than I've got in my little finger." Instead of holding up his finger, he extends his entire arm in a gesture that's close to being offensive. "I don't think you've got any say in what happens to my mouth anyways, know that? He might know what's better." He drops his arm, and his head rolls back to resting on the center of the cushion.

Ryan shifts his weight in his seat, and adjusts his mirrors. "Thanks for your insight, but you're seeing colors that don't even exist," he says, as though it's perfect reason against a professional diagnosis.

"They sure are pretty," Gavin says, smiling. "But we can talk later, I'm tired now." He closes his eyes, letting out a heavy sigh. "I think maybe it's my turn for a nap."

Ryan doesn't think it's fair to bring up how many times Gavin had napped during the appointment today. "Sleep well," he says, slipping the key into its spot and turning it. His engine purrs and with Gavin sound asleep next to him, he decides more firmly that Gavin doesn't need a surgery that they can't afford.

Ryan watches Gavin for a few more moments as he drifts further into sleep. He takes one last look at the Family Dentistry sign and doubts he'll ever see the glaring red neon and stupid cartoon tooth ever again.

—————

Scrolling up and down the computer screen three times, Ryan scans the assortment of tools for sale. It’s been three days since Gavin's appointment, and he's on a hunt for some alternatives, but he's not entirely sure what the fuck he's supposed to be looking for. Every tool looks like something out of a horror film, and the prices are even more horrifying than the tools themselves. Gavin is moaning in pain on the ratty couch behind him, but he puts it out of his head.

"Ryan please, I ache all over," he whimpers, voice two octaves too high and drowning in tears. "Just let me get the damn surgery," he begs, "we'll figure out how to pay for it— I'll pick up two jobs— anything."

Gavin has never offered to get a serious full-time job before, let alone two serious full-time jobs. This prolonged torture is at least improving his character, Ryan thinks. Ryan ignores Gavin for the most part and goes back to his scrolling, doing his best to act like someone who knows what they're looking for.

Gavin drops his head heavily onto the pillows Ryan has propped him up on, nearly hits his jaw on them, and immediately sucks in a sharp breath. "Ryan, please," he pleads, cradling his face in his hands, "I've never been in pain like this before." Ryan turns to say something to him, but Gavin gives him a firm fuck-you hand gesture. "None o' that bull right now, Ryan, I can't get over it and I'm not being a baby and I think it's leaking pus and blood in my mouth." As soon as he finishes the thought he gags, rolling onto his side to retch into the bucket that had been there since he had gotten home. Ryan had emptied it out at least five or six times— even on pain relievers his mouth was hurting him enough to the point of making him puke.

Ryan scrambles to his side, unsure of what he should do. He settles for running his fingers through Gavin's hair. "Gavin," he says, "even if you picked up three, hell, four jobs it wouldn't be enough. We can't cover a serious surgery like this." Gavin huffs, a pathetic noise, and Ryan uses a nearby tissue to swipe away a little trail of vomit and spit from Gavin's chin.

"Ryan you don't know what his is like," he mutters. "You don't have rotten, gammy teeth in the back of your mouth." His words are sharp, piercing Ryan's gut with guilt. "They're not bleeding all day and making you feel like you would rather be boiled alive."

When Ryan opens his mouth to protest, Gavin cuts him off. "I would rather be dead than have this sort of pain anymore, Ryan— honestly just get the damn kitchen knife and end my misery— I would thank you for it," he hisses. "I wouldn't blame you for not knowing, seeing how your teeth are perfectly fine and healthy right now"

"Gavin, I'm— I'm trying to help you," Ryan insists. "I'm looking up how to help you, honestly I am. There's nothing more I can do about this, I'm serious. We can't afford the surgery and we will never be able to unless we go into debt and give up our apartment— which we can barely afford as is."

All Gavin can do is stare. "No," he says. He rolls onto his side facing away from Ryan, being extremely gentle with his jaw.

Ryan frowns at his back. "Gavin... Gavin, please try to understand. You just don't understand how expensive this is— it's not like how it was in the UK for you. Everything is a lot different in America," he explains. Gavin is unamused by his answer, and continues to ignore his boyfriend.

"Maybe I should move back to the UK," he quips, and Ryan's mouth goes dry. He knows when Gavin is upset with him and won't listen to reason. If it were any other day he would try to make Gavin see he was wrong, Gavin would call him a stubborn, rude prick, and they'd fuck it out. Maybe it wasn't the best way of solving arguments, but it was better than now, when the stress and tension were brewing between the two of them.

"I'm sorry," he says quietly, but even that does nothing to quell his boyfriend's rage. He goes back to his chair, turns to face his computer screen, and returns to scrolling.

—————

I don't know what any of this shit is, Ryan thinks as he picks up the tenth, heavy metal tool from an Amazon box. A month had passed since he'd been told Gavin needed surgery, and he had yet to do anything significant about it. Well, as far as professional medical help went. He researched and read textbooks and ordered all of these tools that were so far out of his grasp he immediately regretted doing it.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Gavin groans. His cheeks are swollen and red, and he looks the most miserable he has been in his entire life. Ryan knows it's almost over, though, and ignores his moodiness.

"Opening some stuff that I ordered," he says. He sets aside a device used to keep a patient's mouth wide open as the dentist worked. The only thing he hadn't been able to find was something for sucking the blood and drool out of his mouth. That would prove to be a problem.

"You got a package, and I'm in crippling pain," he grumbles. Over the past two weeks his mood had plummeted— coinciding with a sudden inability to eat. He could barely sip soup, hot or cold it caused him grief.

"Gavin, this is stuff to help you," Ryan says, even though he knows Gavin doesn't believe him.

A moment later, and Gavin is asleep again, although his expression is contorted by agony. Ryan thinks that he might have ascended beyond actually feeling the pain and was more to the point of being so rundown that he only ever slept. Ryan feels bad for him, he can't imagine what sort of pain he's in all day every day, but he keeps reminding himself that it will be over soon. Between the practice videos and the mountains of textbooks he's read, Ryan is confident in his abilities. With every night since he ordered the tools he had been sleeping less and less, anxious that he was going to fuck something up. The tools now existent and weighing heavily, but comfortably, in his hand, there was no fear to be found.

He’s also been too tired to focus on work, which is why he’s nowhere near surprised when a letter of termination from the IT company he worked at shows up with the package. He’s got too many other things to be thinking about, a boyfriend with an infected mouth, for one, and a severe lack of knowledge of what to do with him.

"This is when shit gets real," he tells himself, looking at Gavin over the rim of his glasses. He hasn't bothered to put in his contacts for some time, and he can't remember the last time he washed and brushed his hair.

"Gavin, babe?" he asks quietly. He doesn't say anything again for a while, waiting and watching to see if Gavin will wake up from some gentle prompting. Clearing his throat, he makes his best effort to wake Gavin up. "Gavin, get up I've got something to show you." It comes out softer than he had been expecting, but he was about to offer hacking his own boyfriend's teeth out so he didn't really blame himself.

To his credit, Gavin stirs. “Uh,” he slurs as he wakes up, cracking an eye open at Ryan, "what's it, Rye?" he asks. Ryan sighs fondly at the use of the nickname he hasn't heard in a month.

Ryan walks over to Gavin with his box of tools and supplies. Gavin stares at the box, making absolutely no connections. "Gavin you— you're about to think I'm crazy," he warns. "And I don't blame you if you do." Gavin stares at him. "I've been reading dentist textbooks— the kind of books they read in universities, and— and I think I can remove the infected teeth."

Gavin seems taken aback, drawing his head away from Ryan. Of course, that might just be a sleep reaction. His eyes are barely open, and he continues to look at the box of dentistry tools. Among the pile of scary contraptions is a little bottle and a syringe. Questioning Ryan on when, how, and where he got prescription grade drugs doesn't cross his mind.

"Fuckin' go for it," he slurs. As far as he knew, this was some fever dream. He was more than accustomed to those.

"You're sure?" Ryan asks.

Gavin nods and shrugs. Ryan sighs. He had been expecting that to be so much harder. He walks to his computer chair, and then wheels it back to Gavin.

"Here," he says, hooking his hands under Gavin's armpits and hauling him into the chair. "I need you to sit here." Gavin's head is lolling, though, side to side like an old ragdoll. His eyes are closed again and Ryan thinks for a brief moment that he might not have to sedate Gavin with how out of it he already is.

Ryan grabs the rolls of gauze he had purchased, with the intent of using them to help Gavin heal, but is instead now using them to keep him bound to the chair. He's extra cautious around Gavin's mouth, not wanting to cause him any pain before the real procedure begins.

Ryan reaches into the box and draws upon all of his medical textbook knowledge as he grabs the bottle of morphine and the syringe. Most of the things he had gotten through legal sources. A 10 oz bottle of morphine, though— that was much harder to come by legally.

 

Ryan dips the needle into the bottle, and pulls back the plunger. His hands are shaking, and he breathes out to steady himself. I have to do this for Gavin, he reminds himself. He finds that after reassuring himself, his hands are much steadier. He lifts the needle out of the bottle, flicks it a few times, and pushes out the air bubbles. There's not much morphine in the vial— from what Ryan read, an oral surgery patient didn't need to be put under, they just needed to be numbed.

"Are you a doctor?" Gavin asks. Ryan peels back Gavin's lower lip, slides the syringe into the side of his cheek, and pushes down on the plunger. Gavin doesn't react right away, but within a few moments his eyes have completely glazed over and he looks the highest he's ever been in his life.

"No, I'm not a doctor," Ryan says. He presses a little bit of gauze over the puncture wound. He did it sloppily, and now Gavin is bleeding, his first mistake. "But you're going to be just fine, Gavin," he assures. Gavin doesn't seem to care either way.

Gavin turns his head as much as he can and raises an eyebrow at Ryan. "Just don't kill me," he says. "I don't even care if you mess up my mouth, just don't kill me," he mutters and then goes back to his nap without missing a beat.

Ryan looks back and forth between Gavin and the box. "I won't kill you," he promises. He doesn't know if he can hold true to his promise, but he's going to try his damnedest.

After putting away the syringe and bottle, Ryan grabs the car-jack-like device that is meant to keep Gavin's mouth open. He hooks his thumb between Gavin's teeth, an easy task when he can hardly keep his mouth shut from the drugs, and forces his jaw apart. Gavin groans, but it's a dull one, the pain an absent throbbing for him. The noise goes straight to Ryan's groin, and at first he feels bad for getting a boner when his boyfriend is in pain, but he rationalizes that it's just the adrenaline. Ryan wedges the tool between Gavin's teeth, keeping his mouth wide open.

He puts on a surgical mask next, because Jesus Christ is Gavin's breath awful, but it's also standard procedure. It doesn't help to mask the scent of rot, but it's better than nothing. Ryan sets up his light next, a simple headgear piece with a mounted-on light that's bright enough to illuminate just how horrible Gavin's mouth has gotten. His back two molars on his bottom jaw—the two that were causing him the most trouble— have rotted into black stumps. His gums had long since turned purple and green, the rest swollen and bright red, and if it weren't for the raging hard-on he had, he would have been puking at the sight. It was his fault for letting Gavin get this bad— he had to fix what he started.

He can't tell if it's been minutes of hours as he stares at the box of tools, the only thing that's keeping time is Gavin's breathing and his own elevated heart rate. Ryan's scared to start, but as soon as the gloves are on, he pushes his nerves aside. He thinks only of Gavin as he reaches into his mouth, and grabs the tooth on the left side between his forefinger and thumb. The first thing he has to do is loosen the tooth- at least more so than it already is. He moves it back and forth, and surprisingly it's a very simple task. Within a few moments he's gotten it loose enough that he thinks it's ready for the next step. With his other hand he grabs the elevator, a sort of screw-driver looking thing. He crams it between Gavin's gum and tooth, swallowing hard and ignoring Gavin's little whimper. Ryan works the elevator between his gums and tooth until he can feel it slip under the crown of the tooth.

It’s still not quite enough, though, and two minutes into the procedure Ryan decides it's time for the forceps. He grabs those next, his one hand keeping leverage with the dental elevator. He clamps the forceps around the tooth, and forces himself to breathe. He can't fuck up. Gavin ever being able to eat again is riding on his shoulders. His very life is riding on Ryan's shoulders. A hundred of the worst scenarios are running through his head. What if he overdosed Gavin? What if Gavin is really in incredible pain at that moment? He pushes the thoughts out of the forefront of his head, and yanks on the tooth with the forceps. He's not at all as graceful as a trained professional, and Gavin lets out a sharp yell. Ryan pauses for a moment; allows Gavin to calm down again. As soon as his breathing is regulated, Ryan pulls on the tooth again, more insistently that time. Gavin nearly screams but Ryan ignores him. With a firm amount of muscle the tooth pries itself free, and Ryan falls backwards onto his ass as soon as its free.

He stares at the black tooth held between the clasps of the forceps, somewhat in awe at the sight. It's disgusting, and he doesn't know how dentists can do this on a regular basis, but he sets he tooth aside and steels himself to suture the gaping hole that now resides in Gavin's mouth. Ryan first takes a bit of the gauze he hasn't used and presses it to the bleeding hole. Drool has started to drip out of Gavin's mouth, but Ryan doesn't have any time to wipe it off. He leaves the gauze in Gavin's mouth and as quickly as he can, with shaking hands and baited breath, threads a tiny needle meant for closing up much larger wounds. He makes do with what he has.

Very quickly, Ryan realizes just how hard dentists have it. When he removes the gauze he can see what a mess he's made of Gavin's mouth. The gum around the tooth that's no longer there is shredded, and there's not much for him to work with. He readies himself for a few seconds, and then presses the needle through the blackened skin just above the jaw bone. The stitching-up process takes much quicker than Ryan expected, even with Gavin whimpering and whining every time he makes a new entrance or exit wound. He grabs a new swatch of gauze and presses it to the wound again.

He feels like he needs a break; his hands are shaking worse than before and he feels close to passing out. Even though he knows he's hardly been working for more than fifteen minutes he feels like it's been hours. Sweat is beading along his hairline, and he swipes his arm across his forehead to keep it from dripping into his eyes.

"Just a little bit more," he says to himself, determined to get this done and get it done properly.

Ryan hesitates for just a second more before switching the car-jack-thing to the other side of Gavin's mouth. His drool is starting to pool on his chest and has begun darkening the light purple of his shirt, and it doesn't help that now there's blood too and his cheeks are ten times more swollen than when Ryan started.

"Just a little bit more, Ryan," he says again. He can't tell if Gavin is awake or asleep, but he's breathing and his heart is beating and that's all that matters to Ryan.

He grabs the second tooth and wiggles it back and forth, finding the process far easier the second time around. Practice makes perfect, he absently thinks as he pushes the tooth back and forth to compress the spongy bone and make the extraction easier. He works the tooth back and forth for longer than the first one, figuring that the longer he did it, the quicker and simpler his job would be.

A few minutes passes where he wiggles Gavin's tooth back and forth, listening to his little moans and groans and thinking about just how amazing they sounded. He and Gavin hadn't had sex since Gavin's first appointment, and damn if his whines weren't turning Ryan on.

Ryan takes the dental elevator and jams it under the tooth just like before. This time it is far easier— he doesn't even need the forceps. The tooth pops up quite easily and he sets it alongside its rotted counterpart. He presses gauze against the wound, sews it up, and then presses the gauze down again.

Ryan removes the tool from Gavin's mouth and rests it with the others that he had used. He peels off the plastic gloves and then unstraps Gavin from the chair. Ryan hauls Gavin back to the couch, and tucks the blanket up around his shoulders. In a few hours he would wake up— in more pain than before, but that would quickly go away.

He gathers up all of the tools he has used and places them on a towel that was sitting on the kitchen counter. Next he fills a pot with water and gently sets it on the stove to boil. He didn't have a proper sanitizing station, but as far as he knew, boiling water would work just as well.

Stumbling like a drunk man, Ryan manages to get himself into the bathroom to clean himself up. He's almost forgotten about the headlamp and mask, and takes those off, too. The mask he dumps in the trash. The headlamp— well, he isn't quite sure what he can do with that.

He turns on the faucet as hot as it can possibly go, drowns his hands in soap and begins to scrub all the way to his elbows, ignoring the burning from the steaming water pouring over his skin. More pressing things were on his mind than burning his hands— how he had just performed what was close to oral surgery on his significant other. How he had a set of dentist's tools that he was going to boil in a pot. What the fuck was he supposed to think about?

Despite his reluctance, his mind's eye knew exactly what he was supposed to think about. Gavin's eyes fluttering, his head rolling back and forth. His mouth wide open and drool steadily flowing from his mouth, mixing evenly with blood until it was hard to tell the difference between the two. His noises of pain, the little shouts and cries and whimpers— all of it had been somehow so sexual. Just thinking about it makes Ryan's cock strain against the front of his jeans. He groans and shakes his head— there was no way he was going to do this.

He thinks that he won't, but a moment later the strain against his jeans is uncomfortable and he sheds them within a manner of seconds. It seems natural to wrap his hand around his cock, groaning and imagining that instead of his own hand it was Gavin's. Hell— he barely even imagines that it's Gavin's hand instead of his own. Instead the image painted on the back of his closed eyelids is one of Gavin splayed out, mouth forced open, drool falling in rivulets down his body. He almost seems dead, but by his shallow breathing Ryan can tell he's not.

He's not into dead bodies, he tells himself, just his boyfriend in unbelievable pain. At first the thought nearly stops him from his actions, but he can hear Gavin groaning from the living room and it gives him renewed energy. He strokes up and down his cock, twisting his fist and swiping his thumb over the head every few tugs. Already a hot coil of pleasure is twisting deep in his gut and it doesn't take long until every muscle in his body feels tight, and then he's spilling into his hand.

Ryan stumbles forward, catching himself with one hand against the bathroom counter. His chest is heaving and his head feels light. He can't remember the last time he'd gotten off quite like that. There's a twinge of guilt in his chest, but it isn't enough to overpower the waves of warmth coursing through his muscles. He looks up, and meets his own gaze in the mirror. There's flecks of blood on his cheeks and sweat is beading all over his face.

He wonders if Gavin would be down for a quick fuck when he wakes up.

That was a little fucked up, he thinks.