This is a one shot inspired by a friend, (I hate dentists, but who don't?) AJ, I hope you feel better!
Thank you everyone for reading, and please review and let me know what you think!
Do not own, make no money.
The Dentist Visit
"Come on Jack, you can't keep pretending it doesn't hurt when I can clearly see that it does." Evelyn Mercer crossed her arms in front of the boy. "You are old enough to be able to come to me and tell me when you have a problem like this."
Jack frowned and used his finger to trace through the frost that had formed around the edges of his bedroom window. "I don't know what you're talking about." He muttered, but avoided turning to look at the woman standing next to his bed. This was not the way he'd planned to spend his Saturday.
"Your tooth, Jack, it hurts doesn't it?" Evelyn came right to the point.
Jack let out a huff, but still didn't turn to look at his new foster mother. "It will go away. It always does." He muttered. "How did you know?"
"Well, my first clue was at dinner last night when you kept making a face every time you took a bite of your pizza." Evelyn sighed. "I had hoped that you would come to me and say something, but I can't just sit back and watch you suffer. I heard you, up all night. You couldn't even eat breakfast."
"It always goes away, it will go away." Jack insisted. He hated the idea of being a problem. He'd only been there for a couple of months, and he was still trying to fit in. Being a problem wouldn't help him fit in. Besides, he wasn't a baby; he could take a little pain for a day or two. It never lasted longer than a couple of days, just as he'd told Miss Evelyn.
"Dear, if you have a bad tooth, it needs to be looked at. It can get infected and make you very ill. You do understand that, don't you?" Evelyn was still pushing.
Jack blew out a huff of air, feeling his cheeks puff out like balloons as he did. He was twelve years old for God's sake, he wasn't an idiot. He knew a tooth could make him sick. "It's never been that bad before. It will be fine." He really didn't want to be a bother to this woman who had been nice to him. Besides, if he let it show just how badly his tooth hurt he'd never hear the end of it from Evelyn's three older sons. They had been giving him a hard time since day one and he was getting tired of being made fun of. He didn't want them to know that he was in pain, and he sure didn't want to let anyone know about his fear of dentists.
"Jackie, remember when we talked about you being safe here?" Evelyn asked quietly and Jack could hear the springs of the bed squeak, giving away the fact that the woman had taken a seat on his bed.
"Yes." He spoke and couldn't keep the whine out of his voice. He hated it when she wanted to have a heart to heart talk. She seemed to want one of these talks a couple of times a week and it was really getting irritating how she could manipulate his decisions just by using that gentle tone.
"Well, being safe means that you will be taken care of in many ways, Jack, and your health is part of that. It's my responsibility to make sure that you are happy and not hurting in any way. I take my responsibility very seriously dear." Evelyn spoke with a tone of finality. "That means that you will go to the dentist, there just isn't any question about that. What I want to know is why you didn't tell me you were in pain, and why you are so determined not to go fix your tooth so that it doesn't hurt."
Jack finally turned and looked at the foster mother who had taken him in when no one else wanted him. "Angel said only babies run to adults when they hurt." He finally shared the words of his foster brother. "And Bobby said a man can measure how strong he is by how much pain he can take." He let his tongue play with the achy tooth as he spoke. "They'll think I'm a baby if I go to the dentist." He stepped over to where Evelyn sat.
"Oh, dear, I see the problem here." Her voice sounded quite serious as she nodded her head slightly. "You let those idiots put stupid ideas into your head. Didn't I warn you about that?"
Jack opened his mouth to argue, but didn't have the chance.
"Bobby thinks if he can bleed all over my rugs he's made himself more of a man. And don't let Angel fool you, he's afraid of pain, anyone with the slightest bit of brains would be, don't you think? He's just putting on an act to try to impress Bobby, and I'll never understand that." Evelyn reached out and took a gentle hold of Jack's arm, which had taken on a long, lanky look during his last growth spurt. "Believe me, when Bobby had his first toothache and had to go to the dentist, he cried like a little girl. Don't let him fool you for one minute."
Jack closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. He knew she was going to get it out of him eventually, so he figured he'd surrender the information now, to cut down on the frustration. "I've never been to a dentist, and I don't want to go."
"You're afraid?" Evelyn asked.
"Yes," Was all he could manage at that moment, and he kept his eyes closed as he spoke.
Evelyn's arm snaked around his shoulders. "I'll make you a deal, I'll go in with you and if you'd like, I'll even hold your hand."
Jack opened his eyes, the horror of the offer striking him like a hot knife. "What? Are you crazy?"
"No, I'm not crazy." Evelyn smiled. "I held Jeremiah's hand the first time he had to go to the dentist, and he was fifteen years old." She rolled her eyes. "Boy, now that is a story that I'll have to tell you sometime. Him and his big teeth, and…" She stopped and smiled at Jack, obviously forcing herself back to the subject at hand. "No one at the dentist office will say anything if I go in with you; and the boys won't need to know about it at all."
Jack looked into the eyes of the only adult who had ever been honest with him, whether she was sharing good or bad news. He knew he could trust her words, though it had taken the past two months for him to reach the level of trust he was at now. He drew in a deep breath. "You already called the dentist, didn't you?" He asked.
"Yes, I did, and you have an appointment in an hour. I'm sorry Jack, I'm not trying to be mean here, but you can't let that tooth go, you have to go to the dentist." Evelyn's voice was soft, but level.
Jack sighed and nodded his head, allowing his left thumb nail to poke into his mouth enough for him to chew on it with one of his good teeth. "None of the guys will know?" He asked quietly.
Evelyn reached up and took a gentle hold of the boy's hand, pulling it clear of his mouth. "I promise, they will never know." Evelyn had smiled and patted him on the arm just as the phone downstairs rang.
Jack nodded his head, dreading what was about to happen and yet at the same time he was anticipating it, wondering about it, and almost happy for the experience. He was twelve years old and he'd never been to a dentist, this was something new and in its own way, exciting. "My tooth won't hurt anymore." He muttered the words to himself more than Evelyn.
"No, it won't hurt anymore." Evelyn gave him a slight squeeze just as Bobby called up the stairs that she had a phone call.
Jack followed Evelyn down the stairs and walked over to sit next to Bobby on the couch while Evelyn went to the kitchen to take her phone call.
Bobby yelled at the hockey game taking place on the television screen as if they could hear every word that came out of his mouth. Jack watched Bobby more than the television. He liked Bobby. The man was honest with him about everything, something Jack wasn't used to. He was still trying to figure the man out though. He was in his twenties, but he still lived at home most of the time. He played hockey, but he didn't hang out with his team mates too much, in fact, he didn't act as if he liked anyone he played with.
Jack liked him, but it didn't seem Bobby liked him. The man was always finding something wrong with him. He made fun of him, and cracked jokes all of the time, and Jack was doing his best not to give him anything more that he could use for jokes. He tried his best to impress Bobby, but it never seemed to work the way he wanted it to. When he found a knife in the mud at the park down the block he'd taken it home to Bobby, thinking they could clean it up and he could keep it. Bobby had yelled at him about picking up strange knives. "Hell, for all we know it was used to knife some drug dealer and the cops are looking for it. Now you have your finger prints all over it. Way to go dumb ass!"
Jack swore he'd never pick up another knife again. He'd stayed up half the night and watched out the window for a whole week, looking for cops or murderers who might be after him. It seemed every time he tried to impress Bobby it ended up in a similar way.
Evelyn walked into the living room. "Jack, it looks like our plans are going to have to change." She looked worried.
Jack felt his eyes narrow. "Why?" He asked.
"That was the office. There is an emergency and I have to go in. I'm sorry. I tried to get them to call Charlie, but he can't be reached, so…" Evelyn's eyes flicked to Bobby. "You know, I'm sure Bobby could fill in for me, and take you. He'll do it if we ask."
Jack felt panic hit his gut. "What? I knew it, you are crazy." He shook his head.
Bobby, who seemed to be paying little attention to their conversation, snapped his gaze form the television over to Jack. "Did you just call my Ma crazy?"
"No, Bobby, he didn't mean that." Evelyn planted her hands on her hips kept her gaze on Jack. "Bobby will behave himself, I promise." She spoke carefully. "You have to go Jack, there is no question about that, and I cannot take you myself, I wish I could."
Bobby's brow wrinkled with confusion. "What the hell are you talking about?" He turned the television off; apparently sensing the conversion was serious.
Evelyn kept her gaze on Jack. "Bobby can be quite responsible, if you give him the chance."
"Responsible?" Bobby's scowl deepened. "I wrote the fucking book on responsible." He was at a loss for what he was talking about. "What do you want me to be responsible about Ma?"
"You promised." Jack ignored Bobby and begged Evelyn with his eyes not to leave him in Bobby's hands for this. He would never be able to go through with it if Bobby took him to the dentist.
Evelyn nodded her head. "Okay, let me call the office and tell them I'll have to come in later. They will have to find someone to fill in for me until I can get there."
"No, wait." Bobby stood. "What are you talking about?"
Evelyn turned and walked out of the room, ignoring Bobby for the moment.
Bobby looked down at Jack. "You know how important Ma's job is, right? You ain't got no right demanding she do something that could interfere with her job. That job is the only thing in her life that means something to her."
Jack felt guilt creep in now. Bobby was right. Evelyn Mercer was good at her job because she cared about the kids she helped, and that was rare. Was he keeping her from helping another kid like him? That wasn't right. He couldn't stand the thought of being the reason for keeping her from helping someone.
"What is it you want her to do? You want to go to the mall or something? I'll take you to the mall." Bobby spoke slowly. "I won't even make any gay jokes about a shopping trip."
Jack rolled his eyes and looked up at Bobby. His tooth seemed to pound a little harder as he raised his face. "I don't want to go anywhere." He muttered and stood to go tell Evelyn she could cancel his appointment.
"No, you don't just walk away from me. What did Ma need to do with you?" Bobby asked.
Evelyn walked back into the room at that moment.
"Nothing, "Jack couldn't keep his voice steady as the throbbing took up the feel of his heartbeat pushing against the inside of his gum.
Evelyn sighed and started to speak, but Bobby didn't give her a chance. "You got a problem with your mouth there?" He asked.
It was Jack's turn to scowl and he tried to look annoyed. "No." He figured attempting any more than that one word would be pushing it.
Bobby nodded his head. "You got a toothache." He looked over at his mother. "You're taking him to the dentist?" He asked.
Evelyn looked as surprised at Jack felt. "Yes, Bobby, I am taking him to the dentist."
"I'll take him to the dentist. You go to work." Bobby spoke with gentleness that Jack had only ever heard him use with his mother. "Don't worry I'll be responsible, I promise." He smiled.
Evelyn looked at Jack. "I think that decision should be Jack's. I did promise that I would take him."
Jack felt as if he was trapped. He didn't want Bobby taking him to the dentist. He would discover that he was afraid of going, and that was not how this was supposed to work out. Of course, if he insisted Evelyn take him, then he would be keeping him from her job, and Bobby would never let him forget that he was being selfish. He shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head slowly, looking down at the floor, feeling as if he was being cheated in some way.
Bobby sat next to him in the dentist office. He hadn't said anything the entire drive over, and now he kept rubbing his hands on his jeans, as if he was drying them off. "Damn, this place hasn't changed one bit."
Jack felt his stomach tighten on him. He couldn't think of anything to say. He wouldn't have agreed to come if he hadn't been promised that Evelyn would go in with him. Now he was stuck with Bobby, and that meant he had to try to act as if he wasn't afraid, which was harder than one might think. Though, for some odd reason, he had the feeling that Bobby was as worried as he was.
Bobby sighed several times before the door on the other side of the waiting room opened up and a dental assistant smiled at them. "Jack?"
Jack felt his legs freeze and his heart stopped beating instantly.
Bobby seemed to go perfectly still as well, staring with his mouth open at the girl in the doorway.
"Jack?" The girl smiled. "Are we a little nervous?" She asked, but her gaze was fixed on Bobby.
Bobby cleared his throat and looked over at Jack. "You'd better get going." His voice was quiet and sounded tense.
Jack swallowed at his fears and started to stand. He looked Bobby square in the eye, ready to back out of this foolish idea of sitting in a chair and letting a perfect stranger poke and prod around inside of his mouth. He seen something in Bobby's eyes that he hadn't expected though, and he remembered Miss Evelyn's words less than an hour earlier about having someone go in with him. "Bobby, will you come in with me?" He tested his theory, treading lightly, still unsure of the oldest Mercer son's temper. He hadn't raised a hand to him, except for smacking him in the back of the head. And Bobby Mercer was pretty tough, hell, he'd come in just a few nights before with a bloody lip and bruised knuckles from a bar fight. Evelyn hadn't been too impressed, but it was obvious that Bobby Mercer was not one to back down from anything. Jack didn't want to look like he was scared shitless of a dentist, not in front of Bobby, but if Bobby went in with him; maybe it wouldn't be so bad. He could show Evelyn's oldest son that he wasn't a 'fairy'. It had quickly become a nickname he hated and maybe this would stop Bobby from using it.
Bobby's eyes seemed to grow in size. "What?"
"Will you come in with me?" Jack noticed a twitch at Bobby's left temple and was sure the man was about to berate him for being scared.
Bobby rubbed his hands on his jeans once more and swallowed hard. "Okay. But we have to make a deal right here and now kid."
Jack was confused, "A deal?" He questioned while his mind tried to think of the most terrible price he could possibly have to pay to keep Bobby from bragging to his brothers about what a chicken shit the new foster kid was.
Bobby sighed. "Okay, if I get sick, you can't tell anyone, and I'll buy you that toy drum set you seen at the thrift store last week." Bobby's words actually trembled, and for the first time Jack realized the man's skin was turning chalky under beads of sweat.
Jack's mind raced through Evelyn's words back in his bedroom. 'Believe me, when Bobby had his first toothache and had to go to the dentist, he cried like a little girl.' The words rang out in Jack's mind. He smiled at Bobby. "I won't say a word." He stood quickly and without thinking twice he grabbed hold of Bobby's hand. "Come on. We have to get this over with so we can stop by the thrift store." Jack gave the man a tug.
Bobby stood and if Jack didn't know better, the only way to describe the expression on his face was that the man was pouting. He paid little attention to Bobby as they went back into the inner workings of the dental clinic. Jack barely heard the girl talking to him while she took x-rays of his teeth. He glanced at Bobby a few times, the man was sitting in a chair tucked away in the corner. When the dentist came in and started to look into Jack's mouth, the boy reached his hand out towards Bobby, wishing it was Evelyn in the room, but willing to suffer through his only contact being Bobby, if it was going to get him the drum set he so desperately wanted. He loved music, and he could picture himself years from now sitting behind a set of drums on a big stage.
Bobby's hand grasped his, and Jack flicked his eyes in the man's direction. Bobby seemed to take on a hint of green around the edges while Jack lay in front of him with his mouth held wide open and the dentist held a long needle down towards him. Jack remembered the doctor saying something about numbing the gum so the boy wouldn't feel anything when he filled the cavity in, but everything seemed to go blurry about the time Bobby fell and hit the floor.
Jack felt Bobby's hand slip from his hand and the next thing he heard was a loud crash and thud.
Evelyn stood at the counter and looked over at the kitchen table. "Jack, would you like any more ice cream?" She asked cheerfully.
Jack smiled at her. The left side of his mouth was still numb and though he was trying not to talk too much the lip still hung as if it were detached from the rest of his face as he slid a spoonful of chocolate ice cream into his mouth. "Nothankayou." The words ran together awkwardly, but Evelyn understood.
"Bobby, dear, would you like some more ice cream?" Evelyn shifted her attention to her oldest son seated opposite of Jack.
Bobby looked up from under the bandage that had been applied in the emergency room. "No, Ma, I'm good." He grinned and shoveled the last of his strawberry ice cream in. "Thanks."
"I think you should go lie down for a while Bobby. You don't have a concussion, but you should take it easy." Evelyn turned and headed for the laundry room to fold the load of clothes she'd put in the dryer that morning before leaving for the office. The dental clinic had called her at work to let her know that her son had passed out. She had rushed from the office, to the dental clinic as soon as she'd received the phone call. Once she'd picked up Jack the two of them had gone to the emergency room where the ambulance had transported an unconscious Bobby. Once she was sure both the man and the boy were fine, she had stopped at the small store on the corner to buy them their choice of ice cream.
Bobby seemed to be enjoying the chance to be treated like an injured child, and to be honest it was felt good to be able to baby him a little, she'd had so few chances to really mother him. He liked to act too tough for her mothering most times. Having Jack around seemed to make it easier for Bobby to share in the attention. As a mother Evelyn Mercer was happy to accommodate both of them. As a case worker, she knew that she had to find Jack a permanent home soon, or he was going to end up in a county home and she didn't want to see that happen.
Evelyn was nearly finished with her folding when she heard laughter drift in from the kitchen. A mixture of Bobby and Jack blended together to form a strange melody that seemed to sweep through the house. She dropped her clothes and moved to the doorway to watch them at the table.
"You promised me drums." Jack pointed his spoon towards Bobby.
"I know I did, but I didn't throw up, did I?" Bobby asked.
"No, you passed out." Jack shook his head. "You are such a puss."
Bobby nearly growled. "You ain't tellin' anyone I passed out." He warned the twelve year old, "I'll beat your ass if you say anything."
"Bullshit." Jack grinned as best as he could with his lopsided mouth. "You ain't gonna touch me, I'll tell Evelyn. I want my drums."
Bobby sighed and dug in his pocket for his wallet. "I'm gonna go broke before Ma finds a home for you." He muttered as he tossed a twenty dollar bill towards the boy.
Evelyn smiled as she realized how well Jack fit in with her sons. It was at that moment that she knew she had found the answer she'd been looking for. Then the word 'drums' echoed in her brain. Oh dear, she knew the best home for Jack would be right there, with her and her sons, but minus the drums. She had room, obviously; and Bobby, Jeremiah and Angel had all taken to him well. "Oh, I think I've found that home." She spoke before she realized it. "But they don't allow drums, dear." She tried to look sympathetic. "I'm sure something else could be arranged though. I mean how about a guitar?"
Jack looked at Evelyn; a look of utter horror crossed his face. "Huh?" He barely grunted out.
Evelyn noticed the same kind of expression on Bobby's face. "I still have a guitar in the attic. I think you would love it. You have the perfect hands for a guitar." She concentrated on Jack at the moment.
"I don't know how to play a guitar." Jack looked as if tears were welling up in his eyes and dropped the spoon in the bowl.
"That's okay, I can teach you." Evelyn walked over to stand at the end of the table. "You will find that I'm a very good teacher."
"But I won't be here." Jack muttered.
"Oh dear; where do plan to be?" Evelyn asked, doing her best to look baffled by his words.
"But you just said…." Jack now took on the same confused look that Evelyn was used to seeing on her sons' faces half of the time.
"I know what I just said. I found a home for you. A nice place, I think. It may be a little cramped though, but Bobby isn't here much of the time, so it won't be so bad." Evelyn shrugged her shoulders and turned towards the door. "Now, I believe that guitar is in the attic." She spoke just loud enough for her voice to carry.
As Evelyn moved up the stairs she was sure she could hear Bobby telling Jack to give him his damn money back. Yes, Jack was home.