Henry Jekyll is drunk. He is drunk and currently hunched over his desk, body cramping suspiciously. He couldn’t tell if it was because of all the wine he had had or if the stupid shit Hyde had gotten into was finally manifesting itself. He should be able to tell. Damn it! He should know, he’s a doctor for fucks sake! Can’t even do that right. Can’t doctor right, can’t drink right, can’t science right. He can’t even run a stupid lab right.
His eye throbbed and he wondered what he was going to do about it. He didn’t know. He supposed he had a plan a bottle and a half, no two bottles and a half--three? When he started drinking he knew he had some idea. But it was stupid. Besides, no matter how much he iced it his eye would still be swollen. He can’t go talking to people with a swollen eye, what will they think! They’ll think he’s a drunk and nobody likes a drunk. Or they’ll think he’s clumsy and who trusts a scientist who’s clumsy? Or they’ll finally realize what a stupid idiot he is, how they’re wasting their time, then they won’t donate and the society will fail and all the lodgers will be homeless and get arrested and it’ll be all his fault because he’s Henry Jekyll the stupid idiot who can’t do anything right, not science or medicine or even being an adult. And what if they ask for the truth...oh what then? “Oh, yes, you see my childhood idol believes me to be the destroyer of the very thing I hold most dear and so she punched me. She would have done it again if it weren’t for the blood loss. In fact, that’s the only thing keeping her here in her own personal hell ahahaha!”
Henry felt himself burp and could taste bile. He didn’t want to puke. He wanted to go home. But with how drunk he is home is too far away right now. So instead he lifted his head off the desk, shakily lifted an arm and grabbed the bottle, drinking straight from it and ignoring the glass. Hyde was in it anyways. The green smear glowed faintly and Henry could hear him talking but he couldn’t focus on what Hyde was saying. It didn’t matter. He knew the truth anyway.
Robert Lanyon is feeling a little drunk. He hadn’t meant to get this way. He had simply been enjoying a glass of wine after dinner. The bottle had been quite good and next thing he knew it was empty! He didn’t know how Henry could do it, this drinking alone thing. He felt quite nice but he was all alone and what’s the point of being too happy if you’re alone? Yet somehow Robert found himself sitting by the fireplace, empty glass in his hand and empty bottle next to him. He wished Henry were here. He wished he were here so they could talk about something. Other than science. That was all he heard nowadays because of that blasted Society. Robert wished he had never encouraged Henry, had never helped him. Robert wished for many things.
But most of all he wished to know what dark secret haunted his best friend’s eyes. For the longest time Robert thought it had simply been stress. Henry had always overworked himself in some capacity and the creation of such a monster as the Society has proven to be the perfect draught for him. But now Robert was not so sure. What is it? What is it? He wished Henry would talk to him. It felt like Henry was avoiding him. Walking away from him. Robert wanted him back. Which is stupid, wanting Henry. He was just across town in his office. Or just a few streets over at his house. Henry hadn’t gone anywhere. Robert wanted him back.
It was final, he decided as he set his glass down. No more waltzing around the issue, no more mister nice guy. He was going to get his friend back. He would ring him up, and they would go to lunch and talk. Just like nothing had changed, like there was no Society to take up Henry’s time. Dr Robert Lanyon would erase the dark shadow from Dr Henry Jekyll’s eyes even if it killed him!
It was proving harder than Dr Lanyon had anticipated. With their ‘grand exhibition’ coming up, the investigation of Edward Hyde, and Henry’s natural propensity to overwork himself, Robert found that Henry just didn’t have time to do more than visit with him for more than a few minutes. Robert needed to change tactics. A direct approach obviously wasn’t working. Sneak attack it is then. But how exactly to go about it?
It was not the first time that day that Henry Jekyll had his head braced in his hands. He felt miserable and here in the confines of his office he was free to show it. He felt ill, he was sore, his head hurt, and his eye was still swollen and throbbing. But most painful of all was that Robert was feeling neglected. Unloved. And likely was feeling the emotional repercussions of talking to his father. And Henry wasn’t there for him. Can’t be there for him. Robert needed him and Henry couldn’t be there. Why else would he be at his office door every hour it seemed looking to talk, asking him out to lunch, he’ll buy, or maybe to go see a play, any play even one of those three penny mad science shows that you love so much. Robert wanted loved and with him he couldn’t get any.
Henry could feel a tightening in his eyes, a binding in his throat, and a pounding in his chest. The air became thin and he was soon gasping for breath in an attempt not to suffocate. He trembled and thought of Robert. He thought of Robert. Thought of Robert. Robert.
He thought of Robert, thought of Robert, Robert.
He thought of Robert thought of Robert Robert.
Thought Robert thought Robert thought Robert...
...It was a long while before Henry could breathe again. At least, it felt like a long while. He had no clue how long it had really been. Jekyll could feel an inescapable exhaustion permeating his body and all he wanted to do was sleep. It was, however, too early to go home. Besides, he couldn’t, he had work to do so instead he uncorked a new bottle of wine. He looked at his schedule. Completely booked for the next two months. Fuck. How was he supposed to give Robert the attention his best friend needed and was craving? He could barely even find time for Hyde!
“Yanno, I never knew what Lanyon ever saw in you, my dear doctor, but now I really wonder. Keep this up and he won’t even stop by your office to chat,” Hyde quipped as he bloomed over to Henry.
“Stop it, Hyde,” Henry groaned as he grabbed a fist full of paperwork.
“What? It’s true. Though truth be told, I don’t know why he even wants to do more than chat in your office for a few minutes. I mean, all you ever talk about is the Society and we both know he hates it. He hates the Society and he hates talking about it even more.”
Henry took a large gulp of wine and Hyde grinned as he ‘felt’ it settle in his stomach.
“In fact, why don’t you save him the trouble?”
“Trouble of what?”
“Realizing that you’re a shell of a man, that anything worth being friends with dried up and disappeared a long time ago. That not only will hanging out with you be a complete waste of time, simply talking with you will be too.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Ridiculous? Me? No.” Hyde put a hand on his chest in mock offense. “All I’m saying is is that Lanyon has to work his ass off to get even a little time with you and the time he does spend with you sucks. Who wants to waste their time on something that sucks when they don’t have to?”
“Robert and I have been best friends fro more than 15 years. I highly doubt that he’s going to simply abandon me over this.”
“How can you be so sure? You have to admit, the two of you have been drifting apart over the past few years.” Hyde drifted from the desk to the mirror by the door.
“True. But it’s only a phase. Everyone drifts from their best friend for a bit before they go back to being just as good of friends as before.”
“That’s what you think. How do you know that Robert wants to go back to the way things were?” Hyde asked while fading before reappearing in the cabinets above Jekyll’s head.
“Well why wouldn’t he?”
“What if he got a new ‘best friend’ while you two drifted?”
“That’s ludicrous. Where would you even get such an idea?”
“Think about it.”
“Oh I’m thinking about it. Thinking about how preposterous it is!”
Hyde launched himself back into Jekyll’s face.
“No you ass, actually think about it!” He moved back a little. “When was the last time the two of you got lunch?”
“That’s what I thought. The last time you went and saw a play?”
“Just the other day. We went to see the Mad Galvanist at the Diodati.”
“Yes, true, but the only reason you went was because they’re showing the Mad Galvanist and he was trying to show you what bad publicity it is. So you went for work and he wasn’t having fun. When was the last time you saw a show that was good and both of you wanted to see?”
“Exactly! And when was the last time you two talked, and I mean really talked? My god do you even remember what color his parlor walls are?”
“I don’t even remember what color my own are. Stop bothering me, I have work to do.”
Hyde frowned as he moved back to the cabinets above Dr Jekyll’s head. Damn he had hoped that would work! Just think, if he had talked Jekyll into pulling away from that awful Lanyon then Hyde wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore!
“Besides, it’s as I said before. Robert and I are best friends and have been for years. If he didn’t want to be friends with me, why would he be working so hard to spend time with me?”
Ah-ha! Bingo. Hyde sat back on Jekyll’s desk as he conceded that, “I suppose you’ve got a point. I mean, I’d give it one last good shot, too, before I gave up on my best friend. Just to double check that I didn’t just waste over 15 years on a hollow shell, a marionette of a man.” Hyde whispered the last bit as he enveloped Jekyll before fading away to let him do his paperwork.
“Oh sod off,” Jekyll said to thin air, scowling at Hyde’s stupidity. And in the back of his head he heard it.
“You know I’m right.”
Hyde was right. That was the only thought circling through Henry Jekyll’s mind as he lay awake that night. He had finally made it home, finally able to sleep in his own bed after so, so long. It had to have been at least a week since he was last able to go home. He was exhausted. Yet here he was, 3 o’clock in the morning, awake, the knowledge that Hyde was absolutely right spinning around in his mind. And why wouldn’t he be? He might be all of Dr Jekyll’s deep, dark desires made flesh but he is, in some small, odd way, himself. A version of him without consequences and thus a version of himself not viewing the world through a haze of exhaustion and stress. While he would not ordinarily say this, Henry knew it to be true: Hyde could see it all clearly. Could accurately discern what was happening. Was right. Robert was losing faith, losing interest. In him, in their friendship. And as Henry thought back over the past few years, but especially after the Society’s founding, he found nothing for his friend to love. Sparse meals in which they only discussed the Society, infrequent plays where he spent the whole time distracted with thoughts of the Society, and piles upon piles of missed calls* because he had something to do at the Society. Hyde was right. He sucks. (He already sucked but Robert was still around after 15 years. So while the knowledge made him uncomfortable, Henry was fairly confident that Robert didn’t think he sucked that much. Or, at least, he didn’t used to think that. He probably did now.)
Hyde was right. But damn if Jekyll was going to let him stay that way.
Proving Hyde wrong was making itself to be harder than Henry had anticipated. Things were already so complicated before and now with Frankenstein here things were becoming a right mess. So when Lanyon came around, once again asking after him, Henry did the exact opposite of what he wanted to do: he told him to go away.
“What? Not even going to spare me a minute to chat?” Robert asked, angling his body to try and get into the office.
“No, Robert. Not today,” Henry said as he continued to block the doorway.
“Why Henry this is preposterous--”
“I know Robert, now please leave.”
A strange look came over Robert’s face. Henry supposed it was sad but truth be told he couldn’t read it.
“Not now. Please, Robert.”
“Alright, I suppose,” Lanyon had barely finished speaking before he found the door shut in his face.
Henry heaved a sigh as he collapsed back at his desk. His original plan to do whatever Robert wanted to do next time he came by and studiously not talk about work was failing miserably. Figures, it was his plan after all. How could he have screwed up something so simple thought? All he had to do was wait for Robert to show up and that was that! Ugh, he was such a failure. He remembered the look that crossed Lanyon’s face before he closed the door. He had no idea what it meant. But Henry had a feeling that it proved Hyde’s hypothesis correct. That it meant Robert was sad to have wasted so much time on a loser like him and he didn’t care if he and Henry got together, were friends. Lanyon’s such a great man, he probably did have a new best friend. One who wouldn’t start unfundable ‘Societies’ or make him needlessly worry. He should just withdraw now and save Robert, or rather Dr Lanyon, the hassle of doing it himself.
Robert sighed. He realized very quickly that a sneak attack wasn’t going to work. Henry never left his office. Can’t exactly ‘sneak attack’ someone who doesn’t ever leave their office. So Robert was back to the direct approach. Or rather, he would be. The problem is that Henry won’t let him get near him. Literally. After getting a door to the face earlier that week every time Lanyon went over to the Society he was immediately informed by any passing Lodger that Dr Jekyll was busy and not to be disturbed or that he’s not in his office right now, he’s got other matters to attend to. Robert felt a slight squirming begin in his chest. Surely he hadn’t been annoying Henry that much? He knew the man could be a little illogical at times and not think all that clearly but even he wouldn’t go shutting doors in his face without first asking to be left alone. No, while everything was most certainly not alright, Robert had no reason to feel upset at this. Still, he felt so anyways. Though, come to think of it, Henry did ask to be left alone. And with such a blank look on his face, too. But why? What had changed?
“Perhaps it’s me,” Robert wondered aloud as he looked out his dining room window into is garden. It was a lovely day out but he could see storm clouds gathering in the distance.
It was true that the Society had put some distance between the two of them lately. And he supposed his repeated attempts to cheer Henry up by taking him out had been on the obnoxious side. But what if the dark look in his friend’s eyes wasn’t stress or a bleakness brought on by being overworked? What if it was the dark look one gets when being forced to spend time with someone they detest?
Bladderdash. It couldn’t be. While Henry is an incredibly gentle soul who could smile and nod politely with the best of them he still wouldn’t be spending time with Robert if he hated him that much. He looked at the clock. Almost 7:30. Perfect. Henry should be home by now and if he isn’t then Robert could wait. It would be like a...oh heck. A sneak attack. Anyhow, something was going on and Lanyon needed to figure out what. If Henry wouldn’t see him at this office, then he was just going to force him to see him at home. Robert grabbed his hat and coat and marched out the door.
“Damn it Henry Jekyll we are going to talk!”
Henry unlocked the door to his house. It felt odd being home so early but he knew if he had stayed at work any longer he would have completely lost his temper and done something he’d regret. He didn’t understand why Frankenstein was fighting him so much! Sure she might hate everything he stood for (ouch) and think him some ‘industrialist slut’ (that one still burned) but he’s trying to save her life, damn it! But no matter what he did or said, Frankenstein still resisted him. And so he had gathered up the rest of his paperwork and found himself in his study at home a little before 7:30. There was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Henry called and he watched Poole poke his head in through the door.
“The good doctor Lanyon is here, sir, and he said he would like to see you,” the servant said. Well that was odd. What could Dr Lanyon possibly want with him? Shouldn’t he have realized by now that he was free to never worry about Henry again?
“Sir? Shall I send him away?” Poole asked when Henry didn’t respond.
“Hm? Oh, no, no. Let him come in,” Henry said. “In fact, tell him to meet me in here, I have something important to tell him.”
Poole nodded and closed the door. A few minutes later he returned with Dr Lanyon in tow.
“Dr Lanyon why do you come in,” Henry smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Henry? What’s the matter?” Dr Lanyon asked as he walked closer.
“Oh it’s nothing too important, don’t you worry. That will be all, Poole.”
Poole bowed his head and left.
“Well surely it must be something important if you’re acting like this. Really Henry, what’s wrong?”
Jekyll began to organize some papers as a way to avoid eye contact with his former best friend.
“Henry?” Dr Lanyon moved even closer.
Dr Jekyll stood up and walked over to the window in his study.
“I’ll cut to the chase. Leave me alone. Stop coming to my office and asking to do things and certainly stop coming to my door trying to chat. I don’t wish to see you anymore.”
Dr Lanyon stilled. Henry watched as rain began to gently fall on the street outside, the dark clouds above promising a greater storm was yet to come.
Henry turned a little to face him. “Why what?”
‘Why are you doing this to me?” Dr Lanyon’s voice cracked as he made his way over to where his friend stood. Henry looked back out the window.
“Listen, Rob--I mean Dr Lanyon, we both knew is this was coming,” he said.
“No I didn’t!” Robert shrieked. "Why the FUCK would I know would I know this was coming? Everything was fine until one day I show up and you’re slamming the door in my face! And I demand to know why. Why are you closing doors and acting like we’re complete strangers Henry?”
Henry closed his eyes and listened as the fall of the rain grew louder.
“I’m just saving you the trouble.”
“'Saving you the trouble' what in the world are you talking about? Please Henry just be plain with it, I am in no mood to play games with you tonight,” Dr Lanyon snapped.
The rain grew louder and thunder rumbled.
“Saving you the trouble of ending the friendship,” Henry said solemnly, holding his hand up to silence Dr Lanyon when he tried to respond.
“Listen. I know I’ve never been a particularly good person, let alone a good friend. We’ve been drifting the past few years and the Society has only made it worse. I know you don’t particularly care for it and I know that it will forever be a part of me and it’s part in me will only grow with time. I don’t know what you saw in me in the first place, Dr Lanyon, but whatever it was has surely dried up and disappeared by now. So, yes, I’m saving you the trouble of ending this friendship. You needn’t worry about going through the proper and polite motions to do so. I have closed the door for you.”
More thunder rumbled. Dr Jekyll glanced out the corner of his eye to see Dr Lanyon standing there, red faced and with a blind rage shining in his eyes.
“I hate you Henry Jekyll,” he spat out. The rain increased.
“I hate you! How dare you think you know even a fraction of how I feel. That you would get the notion in your head that I feel anything other than care and concern for you--no don’t you dare! Don’t you dare try and tell me I should look for friends I won’t worry about because that won’t happen. Not only am I not leaving you, I worry about you because that’s what friends do!
“But that’s not the argument we’re having. Oh no, I’m not done talking about this stupid notion you’ve got in your head of me not wanting to be friends anymore. I have absolutely no idea where this poppycock idea came from and I don’t care to know Henry because I know it has to be another one of your stupid 3am ideas. The thought that I could even hate you, my god! That has to be your most moronic one yet!
“And I know I’m not always as supportive of the Society as I could be. But can you really blame me? I want to see you succeed so badly and this is such a big and risky project to take on. And over the past few years I’ve had to watch you sell your soul to these high class prigs like my father and how this whole ordeal has just been draining the life from you and I--I just…”
Robert clamped his eyes shut to prevent the tears from spilling, but a few leaked out anyways.
"There’s just been such a dark look in your eyes lately and it scares me so much to see you hurting.”
Henry felt tears in his own eyes. He found himself wanting. He wanted held. He wanted to be able to snap his fingers and make everything go right. He wanted Hyde to go away. But most of all, he wanted his best friend.
“Robert…” he whispered, voice hoarse. He sniffed as tears began to fall and before either man knew it they were wrapped together in a tight embrace. Any inhibition Henry may have still held suddenly fell away and he began to sob. Robert’s grip on him tightened.
They stayed that way for a good long while. Eventually Henry’s sobbing lessened and he began to tell his best friend (almost) everything that was wrong (Hyde could wait). Robert gently consoled him all the while. And nothing was fine, but everything was alright. Neither worried about losing the other, or what loomed ahead for them in the future, or what society might say if it could look in at the the two men softly holding each other and soothing away tears. Because while the study window was brightly lit on the dark night, the rain forced everyone’s heads down so they couldn't see in.