It hurts so bad Buck almost wants to go looking for a pair of pliers to pull the stupid tooth out himself.
His wisdom tooth removal surgery isn’t scheduled until Monday, which means he has a whole week of suffering left until he can feel any sort of relief. It’s a constant throbbing at the back of his jaw and nothing is helping.
Not the numbing gel Bobby had him try, not the ice pack Chimney had offered from the freezer, not the salt water rinse that Eddie had recommended, and not even the ibuprofen Hen had given him earlier.
The inflammation wasn’t going down and the pain was making Buck irritable beyond reason. It had been so distracting last night he’d barely gotten any sleep, which wasn’t helping his mood today. To top it all off he’s grouchy from hunger, since eating solids has ceased to be a thing he can do without wanting to cry outright. So for the past two days he’s been drinking smoothies and protein shakes.
There’s only half an hour left on his shift and as much as Buck loves his job he can’t wait for these next thirty minutes to be go by already so that he can go home where no one can see him cry like the big baby he feels like right this moment.
He mostly sulks in silence for the remainder of said shift, grateful when no calls come through, ready to book it the second the clock strikes eight. And he would have, too.
If it weren’t for the fact that Chimney announces last minute that he wants everyone to join him at their usual bar to celebrate Maddie’s birthday.
Buck blinks, confused. “Uh, her birthday isn’t for another two weeks?” he half mutters, the pain in his mouth making it difficult to speak at this point.
“That’s what makes it a surprise party.” Chim announces cheekily. “I already invited all her friends from the call center, Josh convinced her to go help him get over a ‘rough day’, so everyone’s on their way now.”
Hen congratulates him on the forethought, “Real sneaky, Chim--good job.”
Buck sighs, rubbing at his aching jaw. “Sorry, I think I’m skipping this one--I’ll take her out to lunch or something next week to make up for it.”
Chimney groans. “But Buuuuck! You’re really gonna let a little toothache keep you from celebrating your own sisters birthday? C’mon man, she’s gonna be wondering the whole night why you’re not there if you don’t at least make an appearance, just come and stay for like half an hour, at least. Please?”
He wants to tell Chimney to shove it, because the so called ‘little toothache’ feels more like someone is drilling a hole inside his gums and he hurts so much that the thought of spending even a minute more in the company of others is making him want to pull his own hair out in frustration, but...
Chimney’s right--ultimately his wisdom tooth isn’t so serious an issue that he can justify missing his sisters birthday, of all things. “Fine.” he sighs again, annoyed in spite of himself.
“Tooth still hurt?” Eddie asks, noticing Buck hasn’t ordered anything to drink at the bar except an ice cold water, which he’s holding up to the side of his cheek with a sour expression on his face.
“Mmm.” Buck nods in confirmation. It hurts too much to talk and quite frankly, the pain, which has been constant now for days, and seemingly without an end in sight, is frustrating him to the point of tears--which is ridiculous! He’s been through so much worse--he’s literally had an entire fucking fire truck crushing one of his legs before. He should be able to handle one damn wisdom tooth, easy!
Eddie must see something in his face that concerns him, because in the very next moment he’s resting the back of his hand against his forehead and frowning at the heat coming off of it. “Woah, Buck, you’re burning up.”
Buck blinks at him, “I am?” he asks, wincing when his jaw protests.
“Yeah, bud.” Eddie rests his hand on the back of his neck, also hot, he notes worriedly. “Come on, I’m taking you to the ER.”
Buck shakes his head. “It’s fine, I’m fine, it’s just a tooth.”
“You’ve got a fever, you can barely open your mouth wide enough to get words out, and you look like you’re about to cry,” Eddie squeezes the back of his neck gently. “I know your dentist appointment isn’t for another week, but I think you might have an infection, and that can’t wait a whole week. So come on, we’re going.” He leads the younger man outside and the fresh air is so nice on his flushed skin that Buck sways on his feet, leaning on Eddie as they make their way to his truck.
By the time they get to the ER it’s packed and unfortunately tooth ache isn’t very high on their priority list, which means Buck is going to have to wait a while.
Eddie gets a cold bottle of water from the vending machine right next to the nurses station and holds it up to Bucks jaw, hoping it’ll help alleviate some of the pain, at least. “Y’don’t hafta stay here.” Buck mumbles miserably. “S’late. Chris is waiting for you to come home.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Eddie assures him. “Christopher’s at a sleepover tonight. So consider yourself stuck with me.”
It’s another hour before he gets seen, and by then he’s a little delirious with fever, hot to the touch and aching all over. Eddie has to help him sit up on the examination table for the doctor to take a look. It turns out Buck does have an infection, from an impacted wisdom tooth, and after making sure he has an appointment to get it removed coming up, the doctor tells him that unfortunately, besides prescribing him a round of antibiotics and recommending some over the counter pain meds, there isn’t much else that can be done until an actual dentist is able to get in there.
Eddie gets the antibiotics filled at the hospital pharmacy upstairs from the ER while Buck waits in the car, an icepack one of the nurses gave him gingerly placed against the side of his face. When Eddie gets back he makes Buck take a couple of ibuprofen for the pain, even though Buck insists the pain killers haven’t done much to help get rid of his hurt since the tooth ache began.
“Maybe with the antibiotics you’re gonna start tonight they’ll work.” Eddie tells him, already pulling out of the hospital parking lot.
Buck doesn’t even question it when they end up at Eddie’s place instead of his loft, too exhausted from the pain to care at this point about where he’s sleeping tonight. He sits at Eddie’s kitchen counter and stares as the other man digs through his fridge for something. “What’re you doing?”
Eddie makes a little noise of approval and holds up a cup of yogurt, as if in triumph. “You need to take the antibiotic but it says you gotta eat something with it or it might make you sick, so,” he waves the yogurt in his hand, “this should be easy to get down. Here.” he places the cup in front of him before going to fetch a spoon from one of the drawers when a noise makes Eddie turn around in surprise. “Buck?”
Buck is obscuring his face with the palms of his hands and his shoulders are shaking with the effort it’s taking him not to outright sob. This is, quite frankly, probably one of the more embarrassing moments in his life--he’s been through literal hell and back, especially since becoming a firefighter, but here he is, crying over a fucking tooth ache in front of Edmund
o Diaz of all people. The man went to war for shit’s sake!
“S-sorry.” he wipes at his eyes hastily, trying in vain to make the tears go away. It’s not even the pain that’s getting to him anymore, it’s the fact that it’s nonstop, and no amount of ice or ibuprofen, no amount of salt water rinsing or numbing gel, nothing is helping, and nothing will help until he can get the damned thing surgically removed in a week.
An entire week from now. God.
He’s being a huge baby about this whole thing, he’s aware, but he’s just so frustrated and aching and tired. And the fever isn’t helping, either.
“C’mere.” Suddenly he’s got arms wrapped gently around him and he’s being pulled in, up against Eddie’s broad chest. “Don’t apologize--this sucks and you’re allowed to be upset about it, yeah?”
But Buck shakes his head, though he doesn’t move to get away from Eddie, instead leaning further into the other man’s embrace. “It’s stupid. S’just a tooth.” he sniffles miserably.
Eddie frowns. Buck is still too hot for his liking, trembling more prominently now. He holds Buck a little tighter, rubbing his back comfortingly. “Hey, no, it’s not--you don’t feel good. It’s ok to cry.” A year ago Eddie probably wouldn’t have been able to utter those words out loud, probably. He thinks that it’s because of Buck, who so often wears his heart on his sleeve, that he’s able to say them now. It’s ok to cry. Because it is.
As if finally given permission, Buck does let it all out, crying pitifully into Eddie’s chest and clinging onto the fabric of his t-shirt, needy and out of sorts. Eventually, drained and all cried out for the night, Eddie manages to get Buck to eat some of the yogurt. It should be humiliating, and maybe when Buck is less feverish and in pain he’ll think it is, but it’s actually quite easy to just lean against Eddie and let him spoon feed him small bites of the yogurt.
He should feel childish, perhaps even silly, but in reality he feels safe and cared for in a way he hasn’t felt in a very long time now and it makes his breath hitch and soon enough the tears are back, though they’re silent this time.
Eddie makes a sad little noise in the back of his throat--he hates seeing Buck in so much pain, especially when he’s unable to do anything about it. “It’s ok,” he murmurs softly, holding him close. “It’s gonna be ok.”
Buck swallows down the antibiotic, wincing, but does get it down, at long last. Eddie leads him down the hall and to his room and quickly sets about getting a pair of shorts and a t shirt for Buck to sleep in. “Bed’s more comfortable, so you sleep here, ok? I’ll take the couch.”
“Can you stay?”
Eddie blinks, looking back at Buck, who’s flushed pink from the fever, eyes puffy and red rimmed from sobbing, who’s holding himself now, like if he let go he’d fall to pieces. “Yeah Buck.” he nods. “Of course.”
They change quickly enough and Buck curls up on his side of the bed looking terribly small for someone over six feet tall, and Eddie can’t help but reach out, closing the distance between them. Buck stares at him in the dark, his eyes adjusting slowly. “Eddie?”
“Sorry.” Eddie pulls his hand back, gulping, nervous suddenly. “I--” he pauses. He’s not sure what to say. How to say that he saw Buck there on his bed, how to say Buck looked lonely, how to say that the urge to hold him had overwhelmed Eddie for a moment.
Buck seems to understand, however, because he scooches across the bed, albeit hesitantly at first, until Eddie is brave enough to meet him halfway, wrap his arms around his frame and cradle Buck against him.
Buck’s eyelids flutter and close and he’s able to sleep through the night for the first time in days.