A/N: As I said, pure hurt comfort schmoop. I make no apologies. You are warned. Disclaimer: I in no way advocate the pulling of teeth at home, no matter how vicious the Frito and how terrified you are of the dentist. And no, I don't know what you mean, I would NEVER try that... Never. Shut up. I wouldn't.

Set Sometime after Phantom Traveler, but before Season Three. Your pick. Thank you to TraSan

Al Dente

It was a busy night at the diner, the waitress bustling back and forth. Sam was researching a haunting at an old farm and Dean was watching the waitress. Sam sighed as he watched his brother eat. Dean thought he was being sneaky, but Sam could tell every bite was agony.

"Don't say it," Dean said, putting down the fork full of pancake and reaching for his milkshake. After taking a drink—a spasm of pain crossing his face—he set that down as well.

"Say what?"

"My tooth is fine."

"It's been bothering you for weeks, and it's gotten a lot worse in the last few days, hasn't it?"

"No," Dean mumbled, his hand unconsciously going to his jaw.

"No? You refused steak last night, Dean. Steak."

"What?" Dean shrugged. "That's not the end of the world."

"With you? Yes it is, I have never seen you refuse steak of any kind, much less a free t-bone."

"I wasn't in the mood for steak."

"Right," Sam said with a nod. "I really think you need to..."

"No. No dentist. No way, nuh uh, nope." Dean grabbed the bill from the table and headed towards the cash register.

Sam looked at the barely touched burger, the partially consumed milkshake and shook his head. Dean's tooth had to be killing him. Of course, one bad experience at one dentist when he was ten and he'd never been back, no matter how many times Sam had tried to convince him otherwise.

He knew the filling in Dean's tooth had actually fallen out several years before, his brother had been fixing it with temporary filling compound since then, but that hadn't stopped the tooth's slow decline. Dean had been losing parts of it since the filling fell out and now it wasn't much more than a jagged nub. Something had happened a couple of nights before that made it worse. Sam suspected the Fritos or the peanut M&Ms. Sam had seen the moment Dean had chomped down on something just right, or in this case wrong. Since then, Dean's choice of food had been getting softer and softer and when his brother had turned down steak for just mashed potatoes it was enough to set Sam worrying.

"Shut up," Dean said as Sam got into the car and that was the last thing uttered for the drive back to the motel. When they arrived Dean stalked into the room, pausing at the small fridge to grab a beer before flopping on the bed. His brother twisted the lid off and flicked it across the room before taking a drink. "Son of a bitch!" Dean slammed the bottle down on the bedside table, the beer foaming out and onto the floor. "That's it."

Sam watched in confusion while his brother disappeared out the door to the car. He was back moments later with the tool box and first aid kit, he headed into the bathroom with both, several minutes later he came out with a strange look on his face.

"Come on, Sammy, let's do this."

"Do?" Sam asked.

"Get this damn thing out of my mouth. I numbed it up with Orajel, all you have to do is yank it out." Dean held out a set of bent needle-nosed pliers and snapped them at Sam.

"Oh no!" Sam stood, backing into the wall. "I'm not pulling one of your teeth out."

"Well I can't!"

Sam noticed blood on his brother's lip. "You already tried didn't you?"

"No." Dean replied, Sam raised his eyebrows at him. "Maybe." Dean said a little sheepishly. Sam waited. "Fine, yes I did, but I couldn't get a good enough grip on it."

"You should see a dentist."

"Pull out my damn tooth, Sam." Dean stomped over, and slapped the pliers against Sam's chest.

"Dean..."

"I can't take it any more. I have to be able to eat more than lukewarm pudding. Just do it." Dean took a breath. "Please?"

Sam sighed, it was the please that really meant something. The desperate please, the one that Dean knew he couldn't resist. "Fine, where do you want to do it?"

"Bathroom, in case it bleeds," Dean said, leading the way back. He sat down on the toilet. Sam noticed that Dean had gauze, tweezers and several other items carefully laid out on the sink. "I washed my mouth out with whiskey too. It should be numb, I poked it with that needle." He pointed at a sewing needle beside the water glass.

"I don't think this is a good idea."

"Just do it." Dean opened his mouth and pulled back his lip.

Sam looked down at what was left of his brother's tooth. "Let me check it first." He picked up a toothpick and prodded at the bits of tooth sticking out over the gum. "This is a mess and I think it's infected."

"No shht shrlk," Deam mumbled as Sam poked at the bits trying to figure out how to best get a grip on it. "Ow."

"Sorry. I really don't know if..." He stopped what he was about to say when Dean growled. With a sigh, Sam picked up the pliers and reached into Dean's mouth, trying to get a good hold on the tooth. He could feel it gritting back and forth as he tried to pull on it. Dean must have broken it in half or something. Sam wondered if it was best to try for the whole tooth at once or pull the bits out one at a time. He maneuvered the pliers around in his brother's mouth, ignoring the grunts of pain from Dean, knowing the whole time if Dean was making any noise at all it had to hurt like hell. Dean didn't even flinch when Sam stitched him up.

"I can't get a good grip, I think these things are too big." Sam set them down and picked up the tweezers instead. He managed to get a hold of a piece of a tooth and tugged, feeling it shift inside Dean's gum, blood began oozing out the side of the tooth and Dean was suddenly gripping the sink so tightly his knuckles were white. Sam took a deep breath and tried one more time. It hardly moved, but he could feel the broken bits grinding together as he tugged. He pulled the tweezers out of Dean's mouth, his brother was paper-white and sweating.

"Sammy?"

"Dean, you have to see a dentist."

"Yeah, go find one. I'm going to sit here."

Sam patted Dean's shoulder, walked into the main room and found the phone book and opened it up to the dental section. He called the number on the first ad he spotted that had evening hours. They were in luck, the dentist had just had a cancellation and could see Dean in an hour. Sam got directions to the clinic and went back to check on his brother.

"They can see you in an hour, Dean," he said quietly.

"I don't want to go to the dentist."

"I know."

"I hate dentists."

"I know."

"And it's hard to hum Metallica while they are working on you, you know? I..."

"It's okay, Dean. I'll drive you."

"You just want to make sure I get there." Dean smirked then frowned.

"That's it, come on let's go, they said there was paperwork we needed to do."

Dean nodded and got up, trudging through the motel room to the car and dropping into the passenger seat. Sam was worried at how gray his brother's face was, reflecting more than just physical pain. Dean was terrified of dentists, the fact that he agreed to go was huge.

By the time they pulled up in front of the dentist, Sam noticed his brother's hands were shaking. "If you run, I can catch you," he said jokingly.

"Not if I hit you first." Dean got out of the car and stared at the glass door that led into the office like he was sizing up death.

"It's okay," Sam said softly, walking towards the door, trusting Dean to follow him. "I'm here with Dean Stephens, I just called for an appointment?"

"Fill these out, have him sign here, here and here. How will you be paying today?"

"Cash." He carried the papers over to Dean and pointed to the spots where his brother was supposed to sign. Dean took the pen and scribbled on the papers, not really looking at anything. Sam took the papers back and sat beside his brother. Dean picked up a magazine and set it back down, got up and paced across the room, poked at the toy machine by the door and paced back.

"Nervous?" an elderly woman asked, closing the book on her lap. Dean just growled and paced towards the back wall like a caged lion.

"Just a little," Sam said to her with a smile.

"Dean?" a young woman in bright pink scrubs called. Dean looked at her and over at Sam, then followed her into the back.

"My grandson gets a little nervous," the woman said, smiling back at Sam.

"It's his first time to the dentist since he was ten."

"Oh, he should go every six months."

"You tell him," Sam laughed.

One of the assistants came hurrying across the room towards them. "Sam?"

"Yes?"

"Can you come back and..."

"Sure," he said, following her as she led the way into the back. Dean was in the room at the end of the hallway, sitting on the dental exam chair, white-faced and sweating.

"We just want to do the x-rays," she said, several black squares in her hand.

"X-rays, Dean, you've had them a thousand times." Sam put his hand on his brother's shoulder and gently pressed him back against the chair. "They're just x-rays, they won't hurt at all." Sam glared at the nurse, daring her to say otherwise.

"Okay." Dean nodded and obediently opened his mouth, following directions and biting down when he was told. By the time they'd finished the fourth one, Sam was beginning to worry. Halfway through the second Dean had grabbed his wrist, but the time the machine clicked for the fourth Dean's hold had reached death-grip status.

"I'll be right back," she said.

"Where is she going?" Dean asked, panic pulsing through his voice.

"To develop the x-rays." Sam shifted his hand trying to ease the grip Dean had on his arm. "What is it about dentists?"

"They hurt you."

"Dean," Sam laughed. "I have stitched you up without any pain meds at all, set broken bones with nothing more than a shot of whiskey, you've been stabbed, a hot poker was shoved in your shoulder and this...?"

"This is dentists, they're different." Dean lifted his head.

"Different?"

"Plane different."

Sam nodded. He understood, some things were scary no matter how old you were, no matter how much your head told you it was going to be okay. "It's going to be okay."

"Hi! I'm Dr. Rex Winslow. It looks like you have a little problem, Dean. It is Dean, right?" he said kindly. Dean nodded. The dentist turned on a screen and pulled up several jpgs of dental x-rays. "This looks like a fresh break."

"Yeah, it happened the other night, I was attacked by a Frito."

"They are vicious creatures." Winslow laughed. "We can't save the tooth."

"Didn't think you could. Just want to be able to eat again and have coffee without it killing me."

"Heat bothers it?" Winslow asked with a frown.

"Yeah, cold too."

"Huh."

"What's huh? Why are you huhhing? Why is he huhhing? Sam? Why?" Dean was halfway out of the chair when Sam pressed a hand against his chest to stop him.

"Doctor?" Sam asked.

"It shouldn't have feeling left, being this decayed. Huh." He picked up an aerosol can and sprayed something on a large cotton swab.

"What's that?" Dean was sounding more and more panicked again, his brief calm when talking to the dentist was completely gone.

"It's just a little refrigerant, to test the sensitivity. Open your mouth," Winslow said. After a glance at Sam, Dean opened his mouth, wincing before the swab even got close to his face. "Okay, let me know when it's cold. Just raise your hand. Good, and here? Here? What about here?" On the last one, Dean groaned in pain. "Very interesting. I've only seen this three times since dental school. Hmm."

"Seen what?" Dean's voice rose with each word.

"You probably have a cyst on the nerve. It's why it still hurts sometimes." He smiled and pulled a rolling table over, picking up another swab and putting blue gel on it. "This is just something to numb your gum a little before we give you the novocaine."

"Before you give the..." Dean said, his breathing getting harsh. "Sammy, I can't do this."

"Yeah, you can. You've faced way worse. Remember three months ago in Mississippi?"

"No, can't do this."

The dentist cleared his throat. "I have an idea."

"What?" Sam asked.

"We do offer sedation."

"Sedation?" Dean stopped trying to escape and looked at the dentist. "Like knock me out?"

"We give you something to help you relax. It may or may not knock you all the way out, but you won't remember the extraction."

"What do you think, Sammy?" Dean said, looking lost and remarkably young.

"It's a good idea, that way they can get you taken care of."

"Yeah." His brother looked at the dentist. "Can he stay?"

Winslow smiled kindly. "Yes. Don't worry."

"Yeah, they say that at take off, too."

"Ah," Winslow said. "I don't like to fly either. In fact, the last time I did, my doctor gave me valium, so I do understand. I will be right back." He left.

"It will be okay, right?"

"He's just taking your tooth out."

"He's a dentist," Dean hissed.

"Here we go," Dr. Winslow said, coming back in the room. He put a small needle IV into the back of Dean's hand—of course Dean didn't flinch at all. "Ready?" he asked, screwing a syringe onto the port of the IV. As soon as Dean nodded he depressed the plunger.

"Tastes weird," Dean said.

"You always say that."

"It always does."

"You ma sure he dn taa all m tee."

"What did he say?" the dentist asked Sam as he picked up the swab with the gel on it again.

"You can't take all his teeth."

"Mmmm," Dean mumbled, closing his eyes.

The dentist smeared the gel on Dean's gums and left. His brother opened his eyes and looked at Sam, blinking slowly then looking at the ceiling before closing again.

"Good drugs?"

"Ver..."

"It will be over before you know it, Dean."

"Th..."

The dentist came back and checked on Dean, then pulled out an old-fashioned looking syringe and pushed it into Dean's mouth. Sam looked away, moving to the end of the dental chair so he could keep his hand on Dean's leg but not have to watch the procedure.

He managed not to watch most of it, but he heard it all. The crunching, the drilling, even a grunt from Dean as the dentist worked to free the bits of tooth. Sam did look up as the dentist took a pair of pliers, a lot like the ones he'd tried to use earlier, and pulled most of the rest of the tooth out. He set the large piece aside, reached into Dean's mouth with a clamp and after twisting them a total of twenty-seven times, not that Sam was counting at all, the last of the tooth came free. Winslow grabbed the drill and did a little more work then asked for a suture.

"All done. I put some coagulant in the wound, since I had to be a little more brutal than I hoped. It was probably a good thing he was out."

"How long will he be out?"

"He should be awake anytime, you can take him home as soon as he can walk. There is a pharmacy next door if you want to fill his prescriptions before he wakes up. Make sure he takes his first dose of the pain meds before everything wears all the way off."

"I will, thanks." Sam took the paper from the doctor and hurried out. Luckily, the pharmacy wasn't busy and he was back at the dentist's in fifteen minutes. He stopped by the reception desk, settled the bill and set up an appointment for Dean to get the stitches out in a week. When he walked back to the room, Dean's eyes were open.

"Hey, how are you feeling?" he asked, steadying his brother when Dean tried to sit up.

"Mouf fees weir."

"It's full of novocaine and packed with gauze."

"Oh, kay. Go?"

"Yeah, they said you could. You have to be careful."

"Kay, Sammy." Dean waited while Sam pulled him to his feet and then steered him down the hallway and out the door. They were back at motel before Dean was more aware of his surroundings. "We back?" he asked, his voice muffled by the gauze.

"Yeah, keep biting down on the gauze. It has to stay in another forty minutes."

"Okay." Dean got out of the car and nearly went head first into the car beside them.

"Hey, slow down." Sam caught him under the arm and turned him towards the room, holding onto him and opening the door. He helped Dean over to his bed and made sure he was lying down before he went back to the car to grab the bag from the drugstore. Dean's eyes were closed when he got back, so he grabbed the bedspread off his bed, covered his brother up and turned on the TV.

Forty minutes later, he shook Dean awake and made him spit out the bloody gauze, checking to make sure the wound wasn't bleeding. He gave him a dose of the ibuprofen and vicodin the dentist prescribed and let Dean go back to sleep.

"Hey," Dean said, waking Sam from a light doze sometime later.

"Hey." Sam sat up, checked the clock and reached for the bottles of meds. "You need to take more, and I will make something for you to eat for the antibiotic."

"Antibiotic?" Dean asked, taking the pain meds without a fight.

"Yeah, your tooth was a little infected and you were a pus-filled mess."

"Thanks." Dean sat up. "It doesn't feel all that bad. Better than it did."

"Good. I got mac and cheese, is that okay?"

"Out of the box?"

"Name brand."

"Hell, yeah, it's okay. That's a stupid question."

Sam made the macaroni and cheese and brought it over to Dean. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he handed his brother the bowl of food. He grabbed the bottle of antibiotics and gave one to Dean, then got his own bowl of the pasta.

"You don't have to eat mushy food, Sammy."

"I know." Sam sat down on the bed beside Dean. "Want to watch some TV? There is a bad monster movie marathon on the local station."

"Oh please tell me they are showing The Monolith Monsters," Dean said, carefully chewing the mac and cheese.

"Sadly, they are. Then Monster on Campus and ending with Them." Sam cleared his throat. "Um."

"What?"

"I'm proud of you for going, Dean."

His brother smiled. "Turn on the TV, I want to see the part when the monoliths first land."

"Oh, yay," Sam said sarcastically. "My favorite part."

"I know." Dean laughed and nudged him with his shoulder. "Thank you, Sammy," his brother said quietly.

Sam nudged back and leaned against the headboard as the movie started. "You're welcome."

The End