Henrik has no reason to expect anything other than a normal day at work today.
He pulls up outside of the hospital, undoing his seat belt as John undoes his. (Neither Roxanna nor David are on shift today, so it's just the two of them. As such, John had suggested that Henrik might as well give him a lift to save them having to drive to work separately, and Henrik couldn't bring himself to turn John down.) He gets out of the car, carefully ducking so as not to hit his head on the car door frame – he's done that before, and sorely regretted it – and walks through the doors, John following after him.
They get into the lift together, and John presses the button to bring them up to the Neuro ward on the second floor.
After a moment, the doors close, and the lift starts going up.
And then it stops. Henrik assumes they've made it, and he steps forward, preparing to get out. After a few moments, though, he realises something – the doors just aren't opening.
"It shouldn't be taking this long," John points out, as if Henrik hadn't figured that out already. He's pressing frantically at the 'open' button.
"Mm," Henrik hums. "We're stuck, I think."
"No, we're not," John insists, pressing the button yet again. "We can't be."
Another several minutes pass as John waits for the doors to open, before he slumps against the wall. "Oh my God… we are stuck. Great, now what the hell are we gonna do?"
Henrik takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself, and presses the emergency button. "Wait for help, I suppose."
"That could take hours!"
"That's not likely."
"You know our luck. If anyone's going to end up stuck in a lift for hours…" John's breathing is becoming faster and shallower by the moment, Henrik notices. "Oh, God, we're so fucked."
Henrik taps his fingers on the side of the lift. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. If you get it wrong help won't come, you're not doing it right do it again do it again–
Despite this, Henrik knows he can't show his fear right now. John needs calm and stability, not Henrik making his panic worse. "We'll be okay, I'm sure. They'll get us out."
John places a hand to his chest. "No they won't! We're running out of air already, I can't breathe, I can't breathe I'm gonna pass out I–"
Henrik frowns in worry, but shakes his head. "We're not running out of air, John, okay? Look at that crack between the doors, air is coming through."
"If… if there's so much air, th… then why can't I breathe?" John says in between gasps, sounding worryingly fragile. Henrik can't stand it. It's disconcerting, seeing John upset. Henrik's spent so much time looking up to him, trying to be like him, wishing he could be as charismatic and calm as John is. John seems to have it all figured out.
And then moments like this come along and Henrik's reminded that John has weaknesses, too, that John's just as lost as he is, merely better at pretending not to be. And truth be told, Henrik doesn't know how to deal with that. He needs someone to tell him what to do, especially in moments like this.
But he can't let any of that show, so as calmly as he can, he says "I think you're having an anxiety attack, John. Have you had one before?"
John nods, then immediately shakes his head as if trying to deny his own claim.
"Okay, well, there's nothing to be scared of. I won't let anything happen to you. It's okay," Henrik whispers in the most soothing tone he can muster. "Can you try and breathe with me? In… and out, in… and out. Like that. There you go."
John tries to follow along, which Henrik thinks is a good sign.
Henrik has finally got John's breathing down to a reasonable pace, when suddenly John thrusts his arm out and grabs Henrik's hand tightly. Henrik is caught off guard, but decides not to mention it, aware John is already going to be embarrassed enough after this is over.
"I'm sorry about that," John chokes out, completely neglecting to mention the part of this where he's clinging to Henrik's hand like a drowning man. "Just… claustrophobic."
"I understand. It's a common fear."
They fall silent again after that.
Some time passes, still without the lift opening, and it's really not helping with Henrik's anxiety. Not with John's, either, he's sure. From a glance at his watch, they must have been in here over twenty minutes now.
The lift is going to drop and crash and the impact is going to kill you and John both and it's all going to be your fault because it always is, it's always your fault–
Henrik winces. This is stupid, he's so stupid, there's nothing to be worrying about. The lift is safe. Nothing is going to happen. He knows that.
"What's taking so long?" John says.
Henrik shrugs his shoulders in reply. He feels John squeeze his hand tighter; Henrik's unsure if John's making the gesture to reassure him, or to reassure himself.
Finally, the lift doors open. Henrik mutters a quick "thank you" to the repairwoman standing next to them, and feels John let go of his hand just as suddenly as when he'd grabbed it.
"You won't… tell anyone that happened, will you?" John pleads in a whisper. "The… the…" the words 'panic attack' seem, understandably, to die on John's lips.
"Of course not," Henrik promises. And then he heads on to the ward, ready to finally make a start on work.