Sophie winced. "Wait, thomething'th not right..." She tried to say. Abby tried to pull away, and they both noticed another problem.
Both of their braces were hooked together, causing them both to yelp in pain when they tried to separate. Also, Sophie's buzz was getting louder, and Abby was beginning to feel it as well.
Thinking quickly, Abby stood up, carefully guiding Sophie with her. They awkwardly made their way across the bedroom, lips still pressed together, with Abby leaning forward due to their height difference.
After rooting around in a drawer, Abby retrieved a pair of orthodontic wire cutters, and with a bit of effort, managed to separate herself from Sophie.
Abby took a quick sigh of relief, before looking back at Sophie. She'd sat back down on the bed, clutching her mouth, looking somewhat pained.
"Here, let me thee..." Abby rushed over, gently prying Sophie's fingers apart to get a closer look.
She had cut one of Sophie's front brackets, and the facebow had become severely bent during the struggle. Abby could ever so slightly hear the buzz coming from the expander, and could feel the vibrations when she touched Sophie's braces.
"Jutht lie down, I'll thee what I can do in jutht a thecond."
Sophie laid flat on the bed, wincing as she watched Abby get prepared. She placed a collection of dental instruments in a neat line on the bedsheet, then climbed on the bed, maneuvering Sophie's head on her lap.
"Okay, I need you to open really big for me..." She ordered calmly, snapping on a pair of exam gloves.
Sophie complied, allowing Abby to start by removing the headgear, before moving on to removing the expander.
The further she got, the stronger the buzz became. The procedure took almost a full hour, and despite her obsessive study of orthodontic appliances, Dr. Park's work was like nothing she'd seen before. Removing the device felt like solving a Rubik's Cube. It seemed like it was designed so that only the doctor herself would be able to take it out...
At long last, the pesky appliance came loose. It was still vibrating as Abby sat it down on her bedside table. She clipped off the remaining broken ends of Sophie's braces, before stopping to admire her work.
"How do you feel?" She asked softly.
Sophie let out a relaxed sigh. "A lot better now, thank you." She sat up and looked at herself in the vanity mirror. Despite how used to it she had gotten, Sophie was surprised at the wave of relief she felt when the headgear was removed. She bared her teeth, looking at what remained of the braces. God, she looked like such a dork. Why had she gone along with this treatment for so long?
Abby interrupted her thoughts. "We need to call the offithe right away. I'm sure if we tell them what happened they'll underthtand. Maybe they can thet up and emergenthy appointment for you..."
Sophie bit her lip as she watched Abby pull out her phone, explaining the situation to Quinn. All of a sudden she had a very bad feeling about this.
"Good newth, they thay they can thqueethe you in tomorrow morning. I can go with you if you want!"
Sophie nodded, a mix of emotions stirring inside her.
The girls met up outside the office. Sophie felt oddly squeamish when she saw Abby's face. To see such pretty features marred by the cold metal headgear made her stomach turn. Just the day before, she felt herself being aroused by the headgear itself...
"I'll jutht thit in the waiting room, we can get ithed coffeeth when they're done with you!"
Hearing the lisp made Sophie even more disgusted. How could they do this to a girl as sweet as Abby?
As they stepped inside, Quinn gestured for Sophie to follow her down the hallway. She turned around, giving a forced smile back at Abby.
Sophie stared at the ceiling as Quinn prepped her for her treatment. The restraints felt a bit tighter than usual.
After a few moments, Dr. Park entered the room, a pink mask dangling under her chin.
"Sophie! It's nice to see you, even under circumstances like this!" She sat by Sophie's side, adjusting the examination light and snapping on a pair of gloves.
Sophie opened her mouth, allowing Dr. Park to take a look. "Wow, she really did take it all out by herself! That girl has a lot of promise, only Dr. Whites and I have access to the schematics!" She looked down at Sophie. "How are you feeling? Having the device removed so abruptly can cause some negative side effects... have you been feeling any confusion, paranoia, anhedonia...?"
Sophie narrowed her eyes. "Why would those be caused by taking out my braces?"
Dr. Park smirked. "Because of the cognitive influence, sweetie. This technology is still in its early stages, playing with it the way you and Abby have can be quite dangerous!"
Sophie began to break out in a cold sweat. "W-what do you mean by that?"
Sophie saw a brief spark in Dr. Park's eye. "Let's just say these braces straighten a bit more than just teeth. I've been spoken with hundreds of office coordinators, and I believe we've narrowed down the precise traits for an ideal dental team member. We have a waiting list of quite a few offices that would like their assistants and hygienists treated by us!"
Sophie squirmed under the restraints as the doctor continued. She held up an expander, identical to the one Abby had just removed. "This is the Park Neuro-Orthodontic Appliance, or PNOA. We've been working with Apollonia University's neuroscience center for the past few years to develop this. My adjusting the vibrations from this device, we can change just about any personality trait given enough time and trial-and-error. Heightened obedience, attentiveness, passion for dentistry..."
Sophie managed to get out part of a sentence. "So when Dr. Woods talked about saving my grade..."
Dr. Park smiled. "Willow sent me your transcripts, and you seemed like a perfect specimen. She tells me you've been improving quite a bit lately."
Sophie began to raise her voice. "What about Abby? She was a perfect student! She doesn't need any... any brainwashing!"
Dr. Park sighed, still with a slight smirk. "I wouldn't use such a crude term as that, but yes, Abby was a different case. While I'm a firm believer that young women should present themselves however they wish, we've found that many dentists would prefer their employees to... look a certain way. You don't need blonde hair and perfect makeup to be a good hygienist, but a specific type of professionalism can be everything when it comes to getting new patients through the door. It never hurts to look a bit more feminine!"
Sophie had heard enough. "And what if we refuse? You can't force us to wear these!"
Dr. Park sighed and gave her patient a sympathetic look. "Of course not sweetie. If you'd like, I can let you out of that chair right now, and you can forget about this whole thing. One question though, what number tooth is the 2nd premolar?"
Sophie paused for a moment, before raising her voice again. "What does that have to do with anything?"
Dr. Park raised an eyebrow, the spark in her eye returning. "I believe your final is tomorrow, if you can't answer a question as basic as that, I don't believe your chances of graduating are very high."
Sophie furrowed her brow. She knew this yesterday, she aced the flashcards with Abby, why does everything she studied seem so blurry now?
Dr. Park interrupted. "Here's a proposition. I install your PNOA, and you take the test. Once you're finished, you and Abby can come back to the office to have them removed. Since you seem so certain about your decision now, I'm sure you won't change your mind in just one day. Unless of course, you think you can cram an entire programs worth of knowledge the night before..."
Sophie squirmed in the chair. After a few moments... "Tomorrow. First thing when we finish the test."
Dr. Park smirked. "Okay, sweetie. Would you like to be sedated again?"
Sophie nodded, as she felt the rubber mask placed over her nose once again.
Sophie sat on the stage in her hat and gown. She smiled as she watched her girlfriend give the valedictorian speech.
Eventually, the students threw their hats in the air, the and the stage became a storm of confetti. Abby came down from the podium, running over to Sophie and kissing her. The photographer snapped their picture after, capturing them both smiling at the camera, showing off their bubblegum pink braces.