A/N: I know it's taken me way too long to upload this chapter, and it's not even a very good one at that. I'm sorry. I'm just struggling with my own mental illnesses at the moment, so it's been hard to write.
On the bright side, we get some small peeks into David's and Rox's points of view here. It's still quite Henrik-heavy though I'm afraid, because I find him the easiest squad member to write. (Followed by John. I only know how to write messed up traumatised neurodivergent people, lmao. Probably because I am one.)
I'm seriously considering bumping the rating up to M now. I haven't done it with this chapter, but I might switch it in the next few days or when the next chapter comes out, because while there's nothing extremely graphic here, even the presence of 1. adult themes such as self-harm and 2. a vaguely sexual moment in this chapter are starting to make me feel uncomfortable rating it T.
Also, shoutout to NeverNeverLady for consistently reading and reviewing my fics. I've never had the chance to say this to you before because this is my first multichapter fic on here so I couldn't put anything in chapter notes, and I have my PMs turned off for social anxiety reasons, but it's nice to have a fan. (And I 200% agree with you about Henrik and John being a great couple - John's one of the few people who truly 'gets' Henrik, and if canon hadn't gone down the incredibly ableist "oohhh crazy murderer!" route with John, I think they could've had something really good. They are indeed both quite nice to look at too, as you point out... and I mean that in the most innocent way possible because I'm too much of a lesbian to fancy either of them, lol. I do have a bit of a thing for Rox though.) I hope you enjoy this chapter! *waves*
The chapter title is from Hate Me (Sometimes) by Stand Atlantic btw. Their entire latest album is very John vibes all around actually.
When Henrik gets back home, he finds John in the kitchen, preparing dinner as usual.
Well… mostly as usual.
John refuses to make any acknowledgement of it, so Henrik doesn't either, but the redness in John's cheeks and around his eyes makes it clear he's been crying.
Henrik is really starting to worry. John's barely been back 24 hours and all of this has already happened in one day. Henrik can handle John being run-of-the-mill depressed, he can handle John not getting out of bed and needing Henrik to prompt him to do things like bathing or eating, but – John when he's paranoid and having mood swings is a whole different ballgame.
"Had a chat with David earlier," John says as he waits for the kettle to boil. "He says he'll talk to Rox about this. Hopefully she'll stop trying to get in the way of my life now."
"That's good," Henrik murmurs in reply, though he doubts David's genuinely going to do that: it's more likely to just be a way of preventing further paranoia.
They eat dinner in a painful silence. Henrik wishes John would just talk, open up to him, explain what's going on.
Because maybe then, Henrik could find a way to help. But he doesn't know what to do at all when John won't say anything.
Henrik wakes up in the middle of the night to the sound of John screaming.
This isn't the first time this has happened. John's had these awful nightmares for as long as Henrik's known him. But it's still terribly hard to watch, and all the more worrying when there's something clearly wrong that John won't talk about.
Henrik carefully lifts a hand up, well aware that if he isn't as gentle and reassuring as he can be, he might make things worse. Thankfully, John doesn't lash out in panic tonight: instead, he lets Henrik settle his hands onto John's shoulders. The touch seems to calm him, and he stops screaming, but he's still shaking and tearful, muttering something to himself in a language Henrik doesn't understand.
"It's okay, John, it's okay," Henrik promises, "it was just a nightmare, älskling."
John doesn't bother giving a verbal response, but grabs at Henrik's pyjama top, hiding his face in the fabric as Henrik sits up and rocks him carefully. After some minutes, John settles back to sleep.
John probably won't remember this in the morning, Henrik thinks, but maybe that's for the best: it'll spare him the embarrassment.
Henrik gets called into work in the morning; he wasn't even supposed to be on shift today, but apparently there's been a major car pile-up in the city, and many people are injured, so the hospital needs all hands on deck.
But Henrik's scared to leave John alone like this.
So, reluctantly, he makes a phone call. "David?"
"I've just been called into work. Long story short, Holby needs me. Can you spare some time to stay with John today? I don't want him being alone for more than a couple of hours at the moment."
David doesn't say anything for a moment. "It's that bad?" he eventually asks, clearly concerned.
"I don't – I'm not sure. He's seemed alright this morning, but… better safe than sorry, with the state he's in. He'd been crying yesterday, before I got home from work. And he had another nightmare last night."
"I just… I worry about him."
"Don't we both?"
"Mm," Henrik affirms. "It might be best you invite him over to yours. You know as well as I do that John doesn't like feeling like he's being babysat."
"Of course," David agrees.
"I know why you're doing this."
David looks up from the article he was just reading on his phone. "What?"
"I know you didn't ask me here out of the goodness of your heart. You did it because Henrik asked you to babysit me."
"Yes," David confesses. There isn't any point in trying to lie to John if he's already figured things out.
"At least you're admitting to it," John sighs, sitting down on the sofa. "I think Henrik actually expected me to believe you just randomly called me up and wanted to invite me over. Just like Roxanna expected me not to know it was her who told Ms. Tate I 'wasn't fit' to operate. I'm not five. I know when people are lying to me."
"We want to help you, John. That's all. Rox and Henrik, they're… they're trying their best."
"I don't need help!" John insists.
"We all do sometimes," David points out, because he knows John doesn't always seem to remember that.
"Fine. But I don't need help right now. I had a bad few days, alright? There was a trial patient I hoped I could save, but she died in theatre. It was a nasty shock and I wish things had gone better. But that's it. That's all that happened. I have to move on with the trial and focus on the next patient."
"Why don't you tell Henrik and Rox that, then?"
"You think they'd believe me? They've already proven to me they don't trust me."
"I don't think it's that they don't trust you, John."
"That's exactly what it is," John hisses. "They don't want me working. They don't even want me having more than two hours to myself. 'Cause they think I'm some walking liability who's going to slit his wrists the second they turn their backs."
David flinches at John's blunt words, but doesn't bother trying to correct him again. John's paranoia doesn't respond to rationality, David figured that out back in 1986. "I'm sorry you're going through that."
Roxanna hurries up to Henrik in the car park, having just managed to catch him at the end of his shift and the start of hers. "How's John?"
"Currently in the process of achieving the World Record for Fastest Mood Swings," Henrik remarks sardonically.
Henrik nods. "One second he's snapping at me and calling you a – his words – 'fucking bitch'. Then I get back home and he's been crying. Then he's not talking to me for the entire evening. He was fairly stable this morning, but I doubt it'll last long."
Roxanna frowns. It's not at all unheard of for John to have mood swings, but they're very rarely like this. Everything that's happened since John's trip to Lisbon is starting to make her worry that he's doing even worse than she thought. "And to think he hasn't even been back for seventy-two hours yet."
"Indeed. I hope it'll pass, but…"
"Contrary to what he probably believes, I don't want him to be away from work any longer than he has to. I hope it'll be over soon as well." Roxanna sighs. "I know you never wanted to listen to me when I said it, but he wasn't well before Lisbon and he certainly isn't now. He needs help, Henrik. Therapy. Medication."
"And he has told me he doesn't want those things. I can't force treatment onto him without his consent."
"Do your best to talk him into it, then. Or something. Because you're not going to have a choice if this gets so bad we have to…" Roxanna can't bring herself to finish her sentence. She doesn't want to think about the idea of John being sectioned, but she can't help but fear the worst-case scenario.
John sleeps through the night.
Henrik isn't so lucky.
He lies awake, staring at the ceiling. What the hell is he supposed to do about all this? John's a paranoid wreck at the moment and he's refusing to let Henrik help him.
Roxanna's words won't stop playing over and over in Henrik's head. You're not going to have a choice if this gets so bad we have to… you're not going to have a choice if this gets so bad we have to… you're not going to have a choice if this gets so bad we have to…
Hospitalise him against his will. Henrik's well aware that's how Roxanna wanted to end that sentence, but her implication is not going to come true. Henrik won't let it. John can't be sectioned, no matter how ill he is. He wouldn't cope on a psychiatric ward. The group environment would be too much for him – John needs his privacy. And he hates feeling trapped or restricted.
If things get really dire, Henrik will take any other measures he needs to. He'll bribe John if he has to, or threaten him with the loss of his job like Roxanna did for him just months ago. He'll lock the kitchen door while he pleads for John to eat, he'll help John wash and shave if John starts neglecting his hygiene, he'll do all the things he used to do in Boston and then in Trinidad, he'll care for John the way John cared for him earlier this year.
But he is not letting John be sectioned.
In the morning, Henrik is planning to make breakfast, but he's barely washed his hands when John says "I'll do it."
"You heard me. Breakfast. I'll make it."
"Why? You've already been making most of our meals these last few days. You deserve a break."
John furrows an eyebrow, as if suspicious. "Well, no offence, but you're not a great cook."
"You've never said anything before," Henrik argues.
"That's because I was being nice," John snaps back. His tone of voice makes it clear this could easily evolve into an argument if allowed to get out of hand, so Henrik steps aside in a silent agreement to let John cook again.
When John's being all cagey and closed-off like this, it's usually a sign that something is wrong. But Henrik doesn't know what there is that could be wrong, in this case. If this were about John not wanting to eat, he wouldn't be making food at all. So it can't be that. The only thing Henrik can think of is that perhaps it's about a need for control, but why? Why does John suddenly need control?
Why won't John just open up so Henrik can help him?
Between Henrik being off shift and John being on leave, this is the first time since John got back that Henrik's been able to spend the entire day with him.
The incident at breakfast wasn't exactly a promising sign, but thankfully John's relatively calm throughout the rest of the morning. At one point, while Henrik's busy putting laundry in the washing machine, John speaks up and says "I'm sorry I snapped at you about breakfast."
"It's fine," Henrik assures him. "I'm just worried abou… I mean, do you know why you acted like that?"
"I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. That's all," John promises.
If that's the case, then you've been waking up on the wrong side of the bed for several days in a row now, Henrik thinks to himself.
As if trying to stop Henrik from saying that, John hurries to change the topic. "So, there's this documentary on TV tonight that looks interesting…"
Henrik's preparing two salads for lunch, one for himself and one for John, when he hears footsteps in the kitchen doorway.
He turns to look at John.
John glances at Henrik, sees him preparing lunch, and then interjects: "I'd rather make my lunch myself, if you don't mind."
"Is my meal preparation really that bad?" Henrik inquires, trying to hide the question as a joke.
"No!" John replies immediately. "No, no, I was being unfair earlier. It's not that it's bad, I swear, it's just – it's not safe," he mutters, voice getting smaller and quieter as he goes on.
Henrik frowns. Is John getting paranoid again? He's never known John to have these kinds of anxieties around food, though… "John? What does that mean?"
"Nothing, it's nothing, don't worry about it."
Henrik is quite sure he should be worried about it, but he doesn't push the subject further.
The rest of the day is almost painfully normal. They do chores and make occasional idle small talk and watch that documentary in the evening.
Besides John's odd insistence that only meals he makes himself are safe, and some moments when John briefly spaces out, it's almost like things were prior to John jetting off to another country and returning a little less mentally stable than before.
The next day is mostly the same, except for one difference:
They're sitting on the sofa, watching some silly romantic comedy on the TV because there's not much better to do, and right after the couple on the screen kiss, John leans in and kisses Henrik too.
Henrik kisses him back, and before either of them know it they're fumbling around on the sofa in an awkwardly positioned kissing and touching session, and John turns the TV off before throwing the remote to the floor and placing his hands on Henrik's waist, and–
Henrik's unbuttoning John's jeans when John suddenly flinches back. "No," he pleads, looking like a deer caught in headlights. "Stop. Please."
Henrik pulls away immediately. "Okay. My apologies if I, uh, got the wrong message or anything, I wouldn't want to do anything you weren't comfortable with."
"It's not you," John insists, thankfully calmer now. "I just don't feel up to it right now, alright?"
When they're getting ready for bed that night, Henrik notices something.
It's just a brief flash as John's hurriedly changing into his pyjamas, but Henrik's eye is caught by a glaring red mark on John's thigh.
Fuck. It's happening again. That's why John panicked on the sofa earlier, isn't it? He didn't want Henrik to see that he's gone back to hurting himself.
Henrik had suspected John would do this, planned for the possibility, but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking to see it for himself.
He slips out of bed that night, once he's certain John's fast asleep, and locks away all the shaving razors and the kitchen knives.