Peter sighed, flipping through his friend's file. He'd been making sure everything was up to date, in time for the one year review of Neal's situation. He'd made Neal get a physical, psych checkup, eye exam, hell, even a tetanus booster. But something still seemed to be missing. He sighed for a second time, when he found it. Date of last dental exam–12/13/06.
Peter walked over to Neal's desk. Neal looked up at him, saw the file in his hand, grinned, and then suddenly stood up, knocking his coffee all over his shirt, "oops, I guess I better go clean this up–." Peter rolled his eyes, as Neal tried to make his escape, and grabbed the younger man by the arm, "I don't think so. You haven't gone to even the prison dentist in three years."
"He kept confusing whether he was supposed to be poking the red parts or the white parts...so he just stabbed all of them."
"Well, it's not the prison dentist anymore."
"Not buying it. We're going to the dentist."
Neal sighed, "can I change my shirt first?"
"That's your own damn fault, Neal."
Neal shrugged. Peter sighed, shaking his head. As dangerous as it was, he was finding it harder and harder to not feel something when Neal looked at him like that. He looked at the younger man again, then glared, "fine. But I'm coming with you. No jumping out the bathroom window."
"Peter, we're on the fourth floor."
"So's was that judge's office."
Peter watched, rather amused, as Neal held the stained shirt away from himself with two fingers on the way to the bathroom. He supposed it was uncomfortable, but it was still amusing to watch. He leaned against the wall opposite the sinks, between the last urinal and the first stall, watching Neal peal away the shirt from his not undefined, if rather scrawny, chest.
Peter frowned, noticing the bright red scald marks, "you're rather burn yourself than go to the dentist?"
Neal smirked at him in the mirror, "well, that may not have been in the plan..."
Peter snorted, shaking his head, "well hurry up and get dressed. Appointment's in two hours."
"Two hours? Where is it, New Jersey?"
"You think I don't expect you to delay as much as possible?"
Neal grinned. Peter rolled his eyes, shaking his head.
By the time they pulled up in front of Peter's dentist's office, Neal was looking significantly less amused...and significantly more pale. Peter turned off the car, but didn't get out, "you're afraid of the dentist."
"Don't worry. This is where I go."
Neal raised an eyebrow, "then why am I here?"
Peter shrugged, "I had an idea that you might not just be avoiding this for no reason. Plus, I didn't want you to be able to scam them into saying they treated you when you just sat in the office for an hour."
Neal sighed, and opened the passenger side door, getting out. Peter escorted him into the office, and signed him in. Neal just sat in on of the chairs by the table full of magazines, pale hands fidgeting with his tie, jacket, shirt buttons. Peter sat down next to him, "Neal, it's just getting your teeth cleaned. You've been shot at. You can handle getting your teeth cleaned. Calm down."
Neal didn't answer.
Peter reached over, resting his hand on Neal's shoulder, "hey. Look at me."
Neal did. He looked embarrassed, but that didn't stop him from being incredibly pale. Peter shook his head, "it's okay. Look... do you want me to come in there with you?"
Neal shook his head, and stood, as the hygienist, Mrs Harrison came out, and called his name. Peter watched his friend walk towards the plump, friendly woman with teddy bears on her scrubs like he was walking to the electric chair.
It was about half an hour later, when the hygienist, Mrs. Harrison, came out, frowning, though she smiled when she met Peter's eyes, "Peter? I'm sorry, but your friend is really having a hard time, and he refuses to explain why he's frightened."
Peter sighed, and got to his feet, following her into the room. He had an almost overwhelming urge to pull his friend out of there right that minute, when he saw just how pale Neal was. The younger man was sitting in the dentist's chair, hands clenched tight on the armrests, eyes squeezed shut. He looked like he was going to pass out.
Peter pulled up a chair that was sitting by the window, and sat down, "hey. You're scaring Mrs. Harrison. And me, kinda."
"Just hate it."
"Anything anyone can do to help?"
"No. It's okay. Sorry."
"It's okay. She's almost done, anyway."
Peter looked at Mrs. Harrison, and shrugged, a bit helplessly. She shook her head, "he calmed down some the minute you walked in. Would you mind just staying?"
Peter shook his head, "sure. Of course."
He moved the chair back over to the window, and sat down in it again, prepared to wait. Neal opened his eyes and glared, "I said I didn't want you in here."
"I just don't."
Peter sighed, shrugging, "okay. Try to relax though, alright?"
Neal nodded, closing his eyes again, as Peter left.
About fifteen minutes later, Mrs. Harrison came back out, sighing, "well, we're done."
Peter nodded, "okay... is something wrong?"
"Well... he's not feeling very well."
Peter sighed, getting up and following her into the room again. Neal was sweating, shaking, and looked like he was about to pass out. Peter laid a hand on the younger man's shoulder, "hey. It's okay, it's over. Let's get you outta here, okay?"
He got a shaky nod in return, and Neal slowly started getting to his feet. By the time they were at the car, Neal looked a little bit better, and had stopped shaking quite so much. Peter didn't say anything, on the drive home. In fact, Neal was the first to speak, "sorry."
"That was humiliating."
"No it wasn't. And it wasn't humiliating to me, even if it were humiliating."
Neal just shook his head, but he seemed a little bit less worked up. Peter let the conversation drop, and just kept driving. He didn't say anything when Neal fell asleep. His friend was clearly exhausted, and Peter really didn't blame him.
Peter didn't go back to the office. He drove to his house, parked, and woke his friend with a gentle shake, "hey. Elizabeth wants you to have dinner with us."
Neal blinked at him, a bit suspicious, but seemed to take the invitation at face value, and got out of the car, following Peter up the small flight of steps. He still seemed a little shaky. Peter left him on the couch, and went upstairs, nominally to change into sweats, but also to call Elizabeth and tell her they were having Neal over for dinner.
By the time he came downstairs, Neal was konked out on the couch, tie undone, as well as the first few buttons of his shirt, probably taking the pressure off the irritated skin beneath. Peter joined him on the couch, turning the TV on low volume, and settling in to watch–both the TV, and his friend.
Neal had made sure he was scooted down, his head on a pillow a few inches out of the way from Peter's favorite spot on the couch.
When Elizabeth got home, she found her husband watching tv, Neal dozing with his head in Peter's lap. She smiled, "long day at the office?"
Peter looked at her, and smiled, "no, actually... long day at the dentist."
She frowned a little, "is he alright?"
Peter nodded, "yeah, he's fine now. He just doesn't like the dentist."
She nodded, "neither did my uncle. He passed out in the middle of a root canal."
"Did he ever say why?"
She shrugged, sitting on the arm of the couch, "well you remember him–it was uncle Theodore."
"The one that bit my head off when I called him Teddy?"
"Yeah... he said he couldn't stand just sitting there while someone did stuff to him. Hated feeling like he wasn't in control."
Elizabeth reached down, pulling aside Neal's shirt a bit, looking at the red splotches, "what happened?"
"He tried to get out of going by spilling his coffee."
She shook her head, "I'll go start on dinner."
Peter nodded, watching her go, and then looked down at Neal. He brushed a few stray pieces of hair out of the younger man's face, "Neal."
Neal opened his eyes, sitting up, "do you really have to ask?"
"Yeah. I do."
"Then why didn't you just say something before hand. I'm sure they would have given you a mirror or something..."
"It's no big deal."
"You almost passed out."
"But I didn't. And now I'm fine. No big deal."
"Lie back down."
"Lie back down."
Neal rolled his eyes, but did, resting his head back down on Peter's thigh, curling up on his side. He blinked, when he felt Peter's hand start to move over his arm, rubbing gently. Then he sighed a little, and turned onto his back, looking up at his friend, "Peter..."
"What?" asked Peter, a little sharply, withdrawing his hand.
Neal shook his head, "I'm sorry if I scared you."
Peter snorted, "you didn't scare me."
Neal smiled slightly, and turned his head a little, so his cheek was resting lightly against Peter's stomach. Peter sighed, and just sat, hand returning to Neal's arm, watching as his friend fell back asleep. He looked up, when Elizabeth came in, "he's going to be the death of me."
She smiled, "now you know how it feels."
Peter snorted, putting out his arm. Elizabeth smiled, and sat on the arm of the couch, leaning against him as he held her close. He looked down at Neal again, and couldn't stop himself from smiling, just a bit.