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It starts out innocently enough. Peter can’t quite tell what it is, but something about Sonny is just off. He’s fidgety, restless in a way that has nothing to do with his usual bounding energy or childlike excitement. At times he seems startled or almost scared, but of course Peter’s stubborn-as-a-mule husband insists everything is fine. That he’s fine. It’s just that Peter can tell he’s not.

There hasn’t been an incident at work – Peter would be aware of that. There hasn’t been any case that hit closer to home or stressed them more than the average, either. So Peter can’t really figure out what exactly it is that turned Sonny into the equivalent of a skittish horse.

Peter doesn’t realize how bad it has become until he unlocks the door to their apartment after a gruesome day at work to find himself face to face with a frantic looking Sonny who is aiming his service weapon square at Peter’s chest. For a moment time seems to freeze. Then Sonny slowly lowers his weapon and reaches for Peter’s wrist, hastily tugging him inside and closing the door behind them quietly.

“Hey, Sonny, what’s going on? What happened? Is everything okay? What are you doing with that gun?” Peter is trying his best to stay calm and reasonable but he’s fighting a losing battle.

Sonny raises his finger to his lips, hissing, “Shh, they’ll hear you. Stay behind me.”

Peter stares at him. “They? Who are they, Sonny? Talk to me. What’s going on?” Peter lowers his voice to not upset Sonny further but something in his chest is turning to ice. Whatever it is that Sonny thinks is happening, Peter has a feeling it’s not real.

“I don’t know who they are. But someone’s in here. In our apartment. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. And I heard rustling. I just need to find them so I can arrest them.” He sounds close to hysterical, his eyes wide and a fine sheen of sweat on his face.

“Sonny, have you called backup? How long has this been going on?” Peter tries his best to fight down the panic that’s spreading in his chest. He’s seen this kind of thing before. In his sister. When her schizophrenia started to manifest. She too had been convinced someone was inside the house, her room, watching her.

“No, I … I searched the rooms but I can’t find them. They have to be hiding somewhere. I just have to figure out where.” Sonny says, his hand gripping the weapon so tightly his knuckles turn white.

“Sonny, hey, hey, listen to me. You need to calm down, okay? Take a deep breath. How often have you searched the apartment, hm? How often?” Peter reaches over and cups Sonny’s neck gently.

“Four. Four times,” Sonny admits and his jaw clenches. “But they have to be here somewhere. I could hear them. I know what I saw.”

“All right, listen. If you searched the rooms four times already chances are they’re not here anymore, right? Maybe they snuck away. How about you put the gun away and we sit down for a moment, okay? I’m sure we can figure it out.” Peter’s heart is beating a staccato in his chest as he waits for Sonny to answer.

Sonny seems to deflate right in front of his eyes. “Yeah, okay, let’s sit down. Maybe you’re right. They must have left while I was at the other end of the apartment.” He flips the safety on his gun and shuffles over to the couch, the picture of abject misery.

Peter reaches for his phone and calls an ambulance.

“The antibiotic? You’re kidding me!” Peter knows he’s sounding way more upset than is reasonable but seeing Sonny like this freaked him out.

“It’s a rare reaction but nothing that can’t be fixed. He’ll be good as new in no time, don’t worry.” The doctor smiles at Peter patiently and pats his arm. His voice is calm and he is exuding confidence and reassurance. Peter soaks it all up, grateful to have an explanation, grateful Sonny will be okay.

“I’ll see myself out,” the doctor finally says, and Peter thanks him and shakes his hand, unwilling to leave Sonny’s side. He’s in bed, sleeping peacefully after the doctor gave him something to calm him down. Peter makes a mental note to let Sonny’s physician know about the adverse reaction to the antibiotic he’d prescribed a few days ago.

Feeling exhausted Peter sinks onto the covers next to Sonny and lets sleep claim him.