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Not Falling but Floating (Until You Hit The Ground)

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He could ignore it. 

 

He wanted to ignore it. 

 

It didn't hurt, not yet anyway. 

 

He could ignore it. 

 

Diego ran his tongue over the gap in his teeth where he had lost a molar. 

 

He shouldn't ignore it. 

 

Fuck.

 

*****

 

"Name?" The kid behind the counter couldn't have been more than about fifteen. 

 

Oh god, this was a mistake. 

 

"Uh, Castaneda, Diego Castaneda." Diego tongue tripped over the words. He could feel himself flushing. It was his own name. He couldn't even say his own name. 

 

Was it too late to just leave? 

 

The kid rolled his eyes with a weary sigh. "Your appointment was fifteen minutes ago," he said in a tone that really wasn't helping Diego's resolve. 

 

Diego could feel himself slipping into flight or flight mode. He couldn't fight a freaking receptionist. 

 

If he couldn't fight, then maybe he could still flee.

 

"I'm sorry, I got tied up." Diego would personally remove every tooth from his own head before he admitted to this kid that he had gotten here half an hour early and only just managed to talk himself into coming inside. "I could come back another time." 'or never' the little voice in the back of his mind supplied. 

 

A voice called out from the back of the office. "Five! What have I told you about being an asshole to the patients!" Diego startled, jerking back slightly at the unexpected noise. "Just sign him in!" 

 

The kid- Five- scowled, reaching under the counter to snatch a clipboard full of papers. He practically threw it across the counter at Diego, who only managed to catch it before it fell out of sheer muscle memory. 

 

"Fill these out," Five snapped, "And Klaus will come to get you when you're done."

 

Diego's fingers twitched. If he couldn't flee, he might end up picking a fight with a receptionist. 

 

Would it really be picking a fight when it was so well earned? Diego could see why Five might need the reminder to not be an asshole. 

 

Settling carefully onto one of the spindly chairs that filled the waiting room, Diego was careful to fill in each blank carefully, taking his time to make sure everything was in his very neatest handwriting. 

 

It wasn't a delaying tactic. 

 

Of course not. 

 

There was no telling what the boy at the counter might do if the paperwork wasn't up to par. He really shouldn't fight the receptionist. That was all. 

 

Diego stared down at the paper as he walked back, scanning it for errors for a third time. At last, positive that there was nothing that he had missed, Diego slapped the clipboard on that counter with more force than might have been strictly necessary. The plastic of the the clipboard connected with granite, and a ringing smack echoed through the room. 

 

He looked up, victorious, ready for round two with the snarky little bastard behind the counter. 

 

The words dried up in his mouth. 

 

That definitely wasn't Five. 

 

This man was slumped into the same rolling chair, but his feet were casually propped up on the high counter, ankles neatly crossed. He reached up to snag the clipboard from Diego's limp grasp. The fabric of his scrub pants shifted, pulling tightly against skin and revealing well defined muscle. 

 

Oh fuck. 

 

Diego felt like a Victorian man who had caught a glimpse of ankle; but honestly, shrines could be devoted to those legs. 

 

They were God-tier legs.

 

"Don't worry, Five usually has that effect on people," The man said, grinning as he popped a bright red lollipop into his mouth. "I sent him on a time out. He's a mean little bastard when he hasn't had his coffee." 

 

Dimly, Diego wondered if he had to get his scrubs specially made. 

 

Scrubs didn't usually cling like that, Diego thought desperately. 

 

The man cleared his throat slightly, looking at Diego with an eyebrow raised. 

 

 

Diego was staring.

 

 

He needed to say something, and he needed to say something now. 

 

"Aren't those supposed to be really bad for your teeth?" Diego blurted out, voice slightly too loud in the quiet of the room. 

 

Diego wanted to disappear. 

 

He wanted to melt into a puddle on the floor and vanish. 

 

How could he- how could he be so stupid? How could he say that? 

 

Filter Diego, filter. 

 

The man let out a deep laugh, and relief curled in Diego's gut. He thought it was funny. 

 

Thank God he thought it was funny. 

 

Slowly, the man slipped the lollipop from between lips that Diego flatly refused to describe as luscious, even to himself. 

 

If he didn't acknowledge it, it didn't count. 

 

Besides, he certainly wasn't already busy, distracted the cherry red stain left behind by the candy. 

 

With fight or flight out of the equation, apparently Diego's mind was content to leave him with flight or fuck instead. 

 

Great. 

 

Absolutely peachy. 

 

"Luckily I have an excellent dentist, " the man smirked, twirling the thin white stick between long fingers, "Besides, it's nice to have something to suck on now and then isn't it?"

 

Diego blinked. 

 

Had he just? 

 

No. 

 

Diego was projecting. 

 

He had to be.

 

"Anyway," The man said, swinging his feet down gracefully as he turned to the computer. "I'm Klaus. I'll get these put into the system and I'll come grab you in just a sec okay?" 

 

"Yeah," Diego backed away from the counter, "That's, um, that's fine." 

 

Diego forgot to sit softly in the seemingly delicate chairs, collapsing instead and desperately trying to gather himself. 

 

Klaus had scattered Diego's thoughts like dandelion fluff in a hurricane. 

  

 

The panic began to reassert itself as the minutes stretched by. Without the distraction of a curly haired wet dream to keep his mind occupied, he could feel the tension beginning to build between his shoulders. 

 

His foot bounced. 

 

He forced it to stop with a hand on his knee. 

 

Then he started drumming his fingers. 

 

Searching for something, anything, to take his mind off of what was about to happen, Diego scanned the surprisingly nice, but very minimal contents of the room. Soft blues and greys covered every surface in muted color.

 

A speck of color on the far wall caught his attention. It was a painting. The canvas was enormous, stretching across the wall across several seat backs. Diego traced it with his eyes, trying to make sense of the abstract whirls of color. 

 

Soft blues faded into greens and purples as he stared. The picture itself looked very soft, but somehow he got the impression of darkness, of a deepness clinging to the canvas, just out of sight. 

 

Which didn't make sense. 

 

It was a painting. 

 

There was no such thing as 'out of sight' when it came to things like paintings. 

 

Being 'within sight' was literally the entire point. 

 

He strained his eyes, searching for a hint of pattern despite himself, but he couldn't quite-

 

"Do you like it?" The unexpected voice surprised him, and he startled backwards in his seat. "You're a little jumpy for such a big guy aren't you?" Klaus asked, looking at Diego in a way that made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, Klaus commented from his place, slumped artfully against the doorframe to the back of the office. 

 

"Not usually." Diego muttered, looking away, tugging slightly on the soft leather sleeve of his jacket. "But yeah, I like it a lot." Diego waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the art, trying to suppress his embarrassment. "The colors are nice." 

 

There was no need to mention the elusive shadow he had been chasing. 

 

It was probably just a trick of the light, a figment of his own imagination. 

 

Klaus hummed thoughtfully as he turned to study the painting critically. "Thanks," he said at last, "I never did like this monster; it's a little too depressing. Some of my newer ones are in the back, they are a lot better. I can show you, if you want." 

 

"You made this?" Diego asked, "Really?" 

 

"Yup," Klaus said, popping the p with his lips as he turned away, gesturing for Diego to follow him to the x-ray machine. Diego stood still, staring at another painting done in a hundred shades of in golds and blues, as the machine whirled and clicked around him. 

 

"I thought I was going to be famous once upon a time." Klaus continued conversationally, "It didn't exactly work out, but I still love to play with my paints when I get the chance. It's nice. Soothing. I do get the occasional commission, too."

 

Klaus stepped back, motioning again for Diego to follow him down the long hallway. 

 

"Wow," Diego said, whistling softly as they passed other brightly colored canvases. "These are amazing. Really. It's great that they let you put them all up here."

 

Klaus spun around, walking backwards as he shot Diego an amused look, "Yeah, the owner likes me."

 

"Here you go, Room 2." Klaus pushed open the door, gesturing for Diego to step inside behind him. 

 

The sight of the chair was a bucket of ice water over Diego's head. "I should tell you something," he said at last, still standing rigidly in the doorway after several long moments. 

 

"Are you okay?" Klaus asked, looking up from where he was laying out rows of gleaming silver instruments with deft fingers. 

 

"Not so much, no." Diego admitted, using every bit of control he had to keep his voice level as he moved towards the chair, sinking slowly into its unforgiving embrace. "I hate the dentist." 

 

Klaus frowned slightly. After a moment's obvious debate, he dropped to sit on a low stool, rolling over to bring himself eye to eye with Diego. "Like, 'I don't like going to the dentist', or like 'I have a phobia of the dentist'? 

 

"That- that second one." Diego forced out through gritted teeth. 

 

" Okay," Klaus said the word slowly, the syllables rolling slowly through his mouth as his eyes searched Diego's own. "How can I help?" 

 

Diego's stiff muscles relaxed ever so slightly. He had expected to be brushed off, at best. 

 

At worst, well. 

 

A memory flooded his mind. He was so much smaller then, crying for his mom. The nurse pinched his arm with cruel fingers, scolding, telling him to sit still. 

 

"I don't like the rubber block, the one to hold your mouth open." 

 

Doctor Reginald's fingers forcing the huge piece of rubber further and further back into his mouth, until his jaw ached more than the pain of his not entirely numb tooth. 

 

"And the uh," He couldn't do it. This was a terrible idea. 

 

"The what?" Klaus prompted gently. 

 

"The suction. The straw. I hate it. I can't- I can't breathe." Diego said at last, focusing on fighting the shortness of breath he could feel developing in his chest. 

 

The nurse again, hard eyed and careless in her apathy. She had put the straw too far into the back of his throat. He couldn't breathe. He was going to suffocate. 

 

He couldn't breathe. 

 

Diego pulled in a shuddering breath, fighting for the oxygen that he needed. 

 

There was a hand at his back, a murmur in his ear. "It's fine, it's fine." Klaus hummed. "In, out, You're okay, you're fine. C'mon, Just breathe for me." 

 

"I'm sorry," Diego said, shame flooding his face. "I don't- I don't know what happened." 

 

He knew exactly what had happened.  

 

"Are you sure you're okay to do this today?" Klaus asked, frowning slightly as he continued to rub soothing circles into the center of Diego's back. "The doctor can prescribe you something for anxiety. You can come back another day."

 

"No," Diego said, forcing the word to come out normally when all he wanted to do was shout, "If don't do it today, I'm not doing it. I won't come back." 

 

"Are you sure? You want it done today?" Klaus's voice was skeptical, but Diego nodded his head firmly. 

 

"I'm positive, please. I just want this to be done with." 

 

"Right." Klaus studied him closely, tugging absentmindedly on a dark curl that had sprung free from the tightly bound bun at the back of his head. 

 

"So I think I know what we're going to do," he said at last. 

 

Diego nodded, leaning forward slightly as he waited. "When is the last time you had a cleaning?" Klaus asked. 

 

Diego hesitated, finally deciding that the truth was the only real course of action. "A while, years really," he admitted. "I had a bad experience as a kid. Walked out of the office and refused to go back for twelve years. Last time I came in, I had to get a molar removed. That was about four or five years ago." 

 

He expected Klaus to say something, tell him how important it was to have regular checkups, as if it was something he didn't already know. 

 

Klaus simply nodded. "If it's okay with you, I'm going to go ahead and do a cleaning. No drills, no frills. Just a cleaning so that we can get a better idea of what's going on in there before the doctor comes in. Sound good?"  

 

"Sure. That sounds fine." Diego responded automatically as his brain scrambled for purchase. 

 

That did not sound fine. 

 

That sounded absolutely terrible. 

 

He just wanted to get his tooth fixed. He hadn't signed up to double his time.

 

Except, he sort of just had. 

 

Fuck. 

 

Something must have shown in his face, because jewel bright green eyes focused on Diego's face again, considering. "How about this," Klaus said, slowly. "If you start to freak out at any point, just tap your leg with your hand twice and I'll stop, no matter what. It'll be our safe word today. That alright?" 

 

Despite himself, Diego let out a bark of laughter. "Two taps, safe word, okay. I got it." 

 

Two taps. 

 

Simple. 

 

Diego could do that. 

 

Safe word. 

 

Fuck. 

 

Diego wasn't going to let himself be drawn into this fantasy. Nope. No. Not happening. 

 

Klaus was just trying to be nice. He was trying to help. He was trying to make Diego laugh, help him relax. There was nothing more to it. 

 

No point in even entertaining the thought. 

 

Nope. 

 

"Excellent," Klaus grinned suddenly, bright and boyish as he reached to grab his mask, pulling it carelessly over his face. 

 

Tiny curls stuck out around his head like a halo in the fluorescent light. 

 

Fuck. 

 

Then the high pitched buzzing of the brush started to fill the room. Diego tried to relax, he really did, but every muscle in his body tensed as Klaus pulled up next to him, whirling instrument in hand. 

 

Kicking himself, Diego wished desperately that he had had thought to bring headphones with him. 

 

He wished he had gone somewhere else, where his signals weren't getting all mixed up. 

 

Where he at least knew that he wouldn't be fighting a gridlocked fight between being horny and being horrified. 

 

He wished he hadn't gone anywhere at all. 

 

It didn't even hurt.

 

Diego clenched his eyes tightly shut. He didn't want to see. He didn't want to know. He just wanted it to be over. 

 

Klaus began to speak. His voice was lilting, the erratic rise and fall of his inflections dragging Diego’s attention back to him as Klaus began to work. 

 

Klaus didn't seem to have any sort of rhyme or rhythm to what he was saying. It seemed almost like a constant scream of thought, most of the stories held together by only the most tenuous connections. 

 

Diego felt like he could barely keep up. 

 

It was one way to keep the panic at bay anyway. 

 

"I've been doing this for about four years now, and I'm proud to say that I haven't had anyone die on the table yet. Ben has been around a few years longer than me. He's a great guy, very gentle when he's working. He's so patient." Klaus laughed under his breath. "Well, he would have to be, wouldn't he? He's put up with me for the last thirteen years anyway." 

 

Klaus's movements were as light and quick as a hummingbird's. 

 

Diego could barely feel it as Klaus worked, hands sure even as he continued to spin stories. "We were high school sweethearts you know. People kept telling us that we would get tired of each other, that we would grow apart, but we never did. I feel like I've known him all my life. Sometimes I swear he knows what I'm thinking before I do. He's going to take good care of you, I promise." 

 

Bit by bit, the tension began to drain slowly from Diego's muscles. He wasn't relaxed, not by a long shot, but he didn't feel like he was on the verge of falling to pieces or flying out of the chair. 

 

It was something. 

 

It was more than he had expected, truth be told. 

 

Lulled by the cadence of Klaus's voice, Diego was actually surprised when Klaus turned away, putting the tools back on the tray with a bright clatter of metal against metal. 

 

"All done!" Klaus said cheerfully, "Not so bad, right?" 

 

"No," Diego said, surprised at himself, "Not at all. That was actually okay." Diego ran his tongue across the front of his teeth thoughtfully. He couldn't remember the last time they had felt so clean. "Thank you."

 

Klaus just winked at him. "Any time big guy," he laughed, pulling his mask off carelessly. 

 

The strap caught on his bun, snapping the band. A cascade of wild curls poured down, framing his face in tight spirals. "Whoops," Klaus laughed, running his fingers through the strands, only serving to fluff the frizzy mess out even more.

 

Diego felt the blood draining from his face, rushing instead to somewhere much more embarrassing. 

 

His fingers flexed, wanting to bury themselves in the strands, wanting to brush the loose curls from Klaus’s face. 

 

He could practically feel it, the silky strands springing free between his fingers. 

 

Had Klaus noticed? 

 

Oh God.

 

Please let Klaus not have noticed. 

 

"The doctor will be here in just a second okay?" Klaus said, apparently oblivious to Diego's discomfort. "I've got to go deal with this."

 

"Yeah. Sure. That's fine." Diego made himself look away, staring pointedly down at where his hands twisted tightly together. 

 

Klaus was a married man, apparently, if nothing else. 

 

Diego shouldn't even be entertaining those sorts of thoughts to begin with. 

 

To make it worse, his husband was the person who would have a multitude of sharp tools in Diego's mouth very, very soon. 

 

Fuck. 

 

As the minutes stretched, Diego's mind began to race, throwing fears in front of his eyes faster than he could process them. 

 

The panic began to churn in his gut, thick and vicious as lava. 

 

What was he doing here? Why had he come? 

 

Was it too late to go? Change his mind and just leave? 

 

What would they do if he walked up to the desk right now, said thank you for the cleaning, I will literally never be back? 

 

This was a bad idea. 

 

It didn't even hurt. 

 

He shouldn't have come. 

 

He never should have come.

 

It didn't even hu-

 

"Mr Castaneda?" A voice, new and deep came from the doorway be find him. Diego's spine froze, turning completely rigid. 

 

It was either that, or physically jump out of the chair and make a break for it. 

 

To apologize, explain that it was all some kind of mistake, that he was fine, really. 

 

Thanks for the cleaning, that will be all. 

 

No. 

 

No. 

 

If he didn't do it now he would never do it at all. 

 

It was important. 

 

It needed to be done. 

 

His body was a fucking temple, and he would care for it properly. 

 

Diego focused his eyes on the neatly painted wood of the windowsill. He traced it again and again with his eyes as the doctor spoke, outlining the procedure. 

 

He didn't hear a single word. 

 

"Are you ready to get started?" The man asked at last. 

 

"Sure." Diego gritted out, digging his fingers into the arm rests as he forced himself to lean back, eyes screwed tightly shut. 

 

"Hey, are you okay?" the voice was closer now, right next to him. 

 

Diego felt the lightest of touches against his wrist. 

 

"Wait a second, have you even looked at me since I came in here?" 

 

"No," Diego admitted, forcing his eyes open, but focusing his gaze downward, staring at his own knees. 

 

"I really hate dentists," He said without meaning to. "Honestly, I'm just doing everything I can not to walk out of here right now."

 

Why? 

 

Why had he said that? 

 

That's not the sort of thing that you just said to someone. 

 

Diego chuckled weakly, trying to play the moment off. The sound was nearly hysterical even to his own ears. 

 

A hand on his shoulder, "Just take a breath. Look up. It's going to be okay." 

 

Diego's eyes flicked upwards and instantly his mind went blank. 

 

Holy fuck. 

 

Holy FUCK. 

 

Had Diego accidentally wandered into a Calvin Klein add? The dentist version of Grey's anatomy? 

 

He couldn't handle the doctor looking at him like that, eyes soft and kind in a face that checked every box for 'yes' that he had. 

 

It wasn't fair.

 

"Let's just talk a while," The doctor said, as Diego fought to keep the gobsmacked expression off of his face. "There's no rush. You're the last patient of the day. We have all of the time in the world. I'm Doctor Hargreeves, but you can call me Ben, okay? What would you like me to call you?" 

 

"Diego is fine." 

 

Diego was more than fine. 

 

In fact, Diego regretted it already, because he wasn't entirely sure if he would be able to keep himself together if he heard his name from those lips. 

 

"Diego then," Ben smiled, and God, his teeth were perfect. 

 

Yeah, there it was.

 

Ben looked young, and beautiful, and so very, very fuckable. 

 

Diego could feel his face beginning to flush. 

 

'Get control of yourself, Diego. You look crazy.'

 

This was bad. This was very, very, bad and only getting worse. 

 

"Now Diego, I've been doing this for a while. What you've got going on in there is as simple as it gets. It's one of the very first things I learned in school. Are you worried about something going wrong?" 

 

"No, no it's not that, exactly." Diego swallowed, trying vainly to push the embarrassment down as he explained. 

 

This was already bad enough, he really didn't need to add anything else to his list. 

 

The alarms were still going off in his mind, a constant roaring of panic in the background; instead of screaming for him to run, however, they shrieked at him to do something, say something- anything to save face, to make it better and not worse. 

 

"I just, uh, I don't like having my mouth held open. And the suction. I hate the suction. I can't- I can't breathe."

 

Ben nodded, obvious in his understanding. Calm competence practically radiated from the man.

 

Diego was envious. The only time he ever felt that in control was when he had his knives. They were an extension of himself, and he felt naked, bereft without their steely presence. 

 

He wished that he had one now. 

 

He'd left them home on purpose, and honestly, he wasn't sure if it was the right call or not at this point. 

 

Ben and Klaus probably wouldn't appreciate him fondling his blade in the chair. 

 

Probably the right call. 

 

"Klaus said that you did okay during your cleaning, and he's going to be the one assisting me today. Is that okay?" 

 

Diego nodded, remembering the quick, light movements Klaus had made during his cleaning. "That's fine, yeah. That's good." 

 

"Do you remember your safe word?" 

 

Diego hadn't been expecting it the first time, and he certainly wasn't expecting it now, he choked out a nervous laugh, hand carding through the back of his hair. "What is it with you people and safe words?" 

 

Ben's eyes crinkled when he smiled, and Diego's mouth went completely dry. 

 

This was bad. 

 

Admittedly, this was bad for an entire different reason than Diego had expected, and he supposed that he should be grateful for that at least, but it was hard. 

 

In more than one way. 

 

"They can be a useful tool," Ben said, tipping his head slightly to the side. "If the idea makes you uncomfortable though, we can try something else."

 

"No it's fine, it's all fine." Diego hoped against hope that his voice sounded off only to his own ears, that the thoughts in his mind weren't as obvious to the two other men in the room as they were to him. 

 

Apparently it worked, because Ben nodded decisively," Good. Are you ready to do this?" 

 

"As ready as I'll ever be." Diego muttered, leaning back in the chair. 

 

"That's the enthusiasm I like to hear," Ben teased gently as he grabbed his mask, "Just remember, two taps okay? I'll stop. I promise I will."

 

"I believe you," the words slipped out, surprising Diego in their earnestness as he stared at the ceiling. 

 

If Ben said he would stop, he would stop. 

 

He was rewarded with the crinkling of Ben's eyes again as the man leaned in close. "Thank you," and the words were a deep murmur in his ear, "Now let's get this thing fixed for you okay?" 

 

Diego had expected Klaus to start talking again, that long spiel of light chatter that had gotten Diego through the first time. Klaus was still and silent, other than the occasional softly voiced response when the doctor asked him a direct question. 

 

The anxiety came again on a rising tide as Ben gave him the numbing shot, humming softly under his breath. 

 

Diego pinched his eyes shut. 

 

The minutes began to stretch, building on each other like sand in an hourglass that was slowly burying him alive. 

 

'Just stay calm Diego,' he told himself, a constant mantra in his own head, 'breathe, it's fine, it's fine, you can't even feel it, don't freak out.' It didn't matter. The sand was getting higher and higher, it was covering his chest, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't breathe, oh God he couldn't bre-

 

"You are doing so well," Ben's voice was right in his ear, low and warm, and velvety smooth. "I'm so proud of you. I know you're scared, but you are doing so well, so well," 

 

Holy fuck.

 

Holy. Fuck. 

 

All at once he became aware of the feeling of Ben's hand brushing across his cheek, his lips. 

 

He was slipping, sinking, sliding under calm waters.

 

He could feel the drill. He could feel the anxiety, still bubbling slow and painful beneath his ribs. 

 

It all seemed so far away as the doctor's words brushed warm across his skin, burning like fire along his veins.

 

In his ear, a constant stream of praise flowing deep and rich in a perfect baritone. 

 

He was falling, falling, falling, until falling became floating. 

 

Buoyant. 

 

Safe. 

 

The brush of latex against his tongue as the drill was removed. 

 

The metallic taste of the tools as the cavity was packed, filled, repaired. 

 

Until he was whole again. 

 

Nothing. Nothing at all for long moments. 

 

Diego drifted, lost. 

 

Then Ben was back, a single finger reaching in.

 

Diego closed his lips, and he sucked. 

 

Everything stopped. 

 

The moment froze around him, crystalizing into a thousand fractals.

 

And then, they shattered.

 

The realization of what he had done, what had he done, hit him like a brick across the face- a moment too late. 

 

Oh Fuck.

 

Diego's eyes snapped open, and he practically launched himself upright, wrenching away from Ben's hand. 

 

Oh God. 

 

Oh God. 

 

Oh God, he was completely fucked. 

 

He struggled, trying to force air into his seizing lungs. 

 

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he choked out at last, "I didn't mean to, I swear I didn't." 

 

The warm press of hands on his shoulders. "Shh, shh, It's okay." 

 

Ben's voice was low and calming as he attempted to soothe Diego. "It's fine, it's fine, it's a natural reaction, it happens all the time."

 

Klaus snorted softly in the background. "No it doesn't," he said under his breath, voice more amused than anything. 

 

Ben shifted away slightly, and Diego heard a small movement and a loud yelp. "It happens all the time." Ben's voice was pointed. 

 

"Yeah. Uh huh. All the time." Klaus collapsed into Diego’s line of sight, onto the rolling chair that Ben had abandoned. As he rubbed his ankle with a dramatic pout, his eye caught Diego's and he winked, grinning widely. "Twice a day at least."

 

Diego pinched his eyes shut again.

 

"Hey, no, it really is fine," he assured Diego, Diego felt Klaus’s hand patting awkwardly at his knee. "Why, if I had a dollar for every time I-" 

 

Ben cut him off. "Is there anything we can do to help? Would you like some water?" Klaus, get him some water."

 

"Yes sir," 

 

Diego was imagining an inflection there. He was. He couldn't even breathe. He was not actually picking up on any sort of subtext. 

 

No. 

 

Ben just sighed, keeping up the slow movements of his hands against Diego's arms. 

 

It only took a moment before Klaus was pushing a cup into his hand, the paper flimsy and waxey beneath his fingers. 

 

He was fine. 

 

Diego took a sip of the water, the cold liquid soothing his throat as he swallowed. 

 

He was okay. 

 

His skin buzzed faintly, the adrenaline pulsing just under the surface. 

 

Klaus began to hum, straightening the implements left on the tray as he pointedly did not look to where Diego was slowly, slowly pulled himself away from the razor's edge of outright panic. 

 

"Are you okay? Do you feel better?" Ben's voice was soft. "We can take a break if you need to, but we really are almost done. I just need to make sure that everything set properly." 

 

Did he feel better? 

 

Diego felt distant, slightly disconnected from his own thoughts. A wave of exhaustion hit him, burying him under its unforgiving swell. 

 

Was he okay? 

 

Not by a long shot. 

 

It wasn't even that he had sucked Ben's fucking fingers. 

 

No. 

 

The real problem was that he wasn't positive that he wouldn't do it again if given the chance. 

 

"Yeah," he said after a long moment. His voice came out low and clear, and he was surprised at how normal it sounded. "Yeah, I'm okay. You said we were almost done?" He attempted a weary smile. 

 

"Almost done," Ben promised. 

 

"Alright." Diego leaned back in the seat, "let's finish it."

 

Ben's response was another eye crinkling smile as he pulled on a fresh pair of gloves. "Good," his voice slipped back to that smooth buttery tone, and Diego let his eyes close. 

 

"You've done so well, we are almost done now. I'm really proud of you." 

 

Diego could feel himself beginning to slip again, already ready to fall back under the sweet spell woven into the cadence of Ben's voice. 

 

He held onto his control with both hands, fighting the pull. 

 

True to his word, it took Ben only a couple of minutes before he was reaching in one final time. "Great job, we're all done now. You did a fantastic job. I just have to make sure there aren't any sharp edges, okay?" 

 

Ben pressed down on the tooth. 

 

And then his hand slipped. 

 

Diego could feel the fingers clear into the back of his throat. Ben's knuckles brushed his nose. Diego could feel the faintest brush of movement with every breath he took. 

 

Ben froze. 

 

And well, there was really only one thing Diego could do. 

 

He swallowed. 

 

Ben's breathing hitched slightly, eyes widening for just a moment. 

 

And then he was gone. 

 

Ben pulled off his gloves with brisk, professional movements, pressing the mask down over his neck. 

 

Diego swallowed again, feeling the phantom of Ben's fingers in his mouth. 

 

"You did very well." Ben said, "That should definitely hold, but if you have any issues just come by. We will always fit you in." 

 

Diego had imagined the slight pause there. 

 

Of course he had. 

 

He glanced to Klaus, who leaned against the counter, staring at Ben with an amused smile. Unlike the other teasing grins he had tossed Diego's way, this one didn't seem to be there to provoke any sort of reaction or response. It was just… fondness. 

 

Diego's heart clenched. He pushed the feeling away. That ship had sailed for him a long time ago. 

 

Maybe one day. 

 

But certainly not today. And it wouldn't be Klaus staring at him in that gently exasperated way that people had when someone they loved was being absolutely ridiculous. 

 

Diego was projecting again. 

 

Ben pressed on, continuing his steady flow, "Don't eat anything too hot or cold for a couple of hours. At least until the numbness wears off okay?"   

 

Of course he had imagined it. 

 

Nothing had happened, other than Diego sucking Bens finger and making things weird. 

 

That's it. 

 

"I'm going to go get your bag together, just come to the desk when you're ready okay?" Ben said, turning to leave. "Klaus, come and help me?" 

 

They left the room together, and Diego rubbed his hand over his face, prodding the tooth gently with his tongue. 

 

Ben had done a good job. 

 

And all while wrangling Diego's particular brand of crazy. 

 

The man deserved an award, really. 

 

Diego was going to have to go out there. 

 

He didn't want to. 

 

Part of him didn't even know if he would be able to walk, or if his legs would just collapse the moment he tried to stand. 

 

God, he'd fucked it all up so badly. 

 

Diego wouldn't be surprised if they thanked him for coming by, and tactfully informed him that next time, maybe he should find a different dentist.

 

He deserved it. 

 

Slowly, Diego pushed himself up, standing on coltish legs as he slowly made his way to the door. 

 

"There you are!" Ben's smile was easy and wide as he walked down the hall towards Diego. "I was starting to think you'd decided to take a nap on the chair."

 

"No," Diego forced a chuckle, rubbing a hand over the back of his head, "I thought about it, but it seemed like it might not be the best idea."

 

"I've done it. Surprisingly not bad, actually." Ben reached into the bag, pulling out an appointment card. "We set you up for a cleaning. I know you probably don't want to come back after everything that's happened, but it's only twice a year. Cleanings are important. It's how we stop any issues before they have a chance to really develop." 

 

Diego took the card from his hand, hoping that he didn't look as surprised as he felt. "Yeah, um, " warmth bloomed in his chest, "Yeah, I'll definitely come back." 

 

A glimpse of handwriting on the back of the card caught his eye. 

 

There was a phone number, written in the same messy scrawl that he had seen filling in the appointment information on the front. A smiley face sat, directly underneath, grinning its too wide smile. 

 

He looked up at Ben, eyes questioning. 

 

For the first time since Diego had walked into the office, Ben looked slightly flustered. "Oh. Yeah. That." He shifted slightly, shuffling his feet against the linoleum, "If you ever wanted to, you know, hang out sometime. We would like that. Me and Klaus, we would like that."

 

Diego stopped his mouth from falling comically open. 

 

Barely. 

 

"You don't have to." Ben said, "I don't usually hit on my patients, I swear. No hard feelings if you're not interested."

 

"No I, no, lI will." Diego tucked the card carefully into the pocket of his leather jacket. "um, thank you. For everything."

 

Ben relaxed, shaking his head slightly. "You're fine. Thanks for coming Diego." Ben winked, turning away to walk back up the hallway. 

 

Diego's stomach dropped directly into somewhere a little less appropriate for a public place. 

 

Five stuck his head out of a doorway, staring at Diego with obvious annoyance. "If you're done flirting with my boss, some of us actually have things to do tonight, and you're the last patient of the day. Chop chop."

 

"Don't be an asshole, Five," Diego grinned, moving towards the exit. "I'm going."

 

Five scowled deeply before turning and darting back into what looked to be a file room. 

 

Diego walked through the darkened lobby, making his way to the exit. He pushed out into the cool early evening air. 

 

Klaus stood outside, hair a froth of loose curls around his head as a cigarette dangled from his fingers. 

 

"Aren't those things supposed to be really bad for your teeth," Diego asked, stuffing his hands into his pockets. 

 

He felt the sharp scrape of the card against the palm of his hand and grinned.

 

Klaus grinned back, before taking a long drag of the cigarette, leaning his head back to release the smoke slowly into the air. "Luckily, I have an excellent dentist." he said at last. "So do you, I hear." 

 

"Yeah," Diego looked out across the parking lot, watching as lights flicked off in offices up and down the street, people locking the doors and setting alarms. The end to another day, just like any other day before it. "Yeah, I think I do."

 

"You going to call us?" Klaus asked, eyes strangely sharp as he looked at Diego. 

 

"If you want me to." 

 

"I do." Klaus shoved the butt of the cigarette into the base of a potted plant, dusting his hands together as he moved back towards the office. 

 

"Then I guess I'm going to call you." Diego moved towards his car, spinning backwards as he walked to watch Klaus open the heavy door. 

 

"Good." 

 

"Hey, can I ask you a question?" Diego called out impulsively, stopping Klaus just as the door began to shut behind him. 

 

Klaus leaned backwards, stretching to stick his head outside, raising a questioning eyebrow. "Go for it." 

 

"Do you get your scrubs custom made?" 

 

Klaus face slowly stretched into a full smile with eyes dancing as he laughed, surprising Diego again with the deep, velvety sound. 

 

"Of course I do. Do you really think things like that happen on accident?" 

 

Diego grinned as the door slipped shut; the heavy clunk of a deadbolt engaging echoed across the parking lot. 

 

What had he gotten himself into?