Major spoilers for "Hello, Henry" episode 1.3. If you haven't seen that yet, watch it first before reading this.
My Own Worst Enemy
Power Play by Ecri
"He scared me. What happened to his face?" Ruthy asked.
Henry felt his heart skip a beat as he realized what his daughter was telling him. His world had been flipped upside down and inside out so many times in the last few weeks that some part of him thought he should be accustomed to it by now, but every time it happened, he felt the same. His heart skipped a beat, he felt a warm flush, and he felt adrenalin pump as the panic set in.
This was different.
This was his little girl. He'd barely been able to convince himself that Jack's preference to martial arts wasn't necessarily a sign that Edward was somehow more his father than he was, but this was much more serious. This was reckless and this was Edward's misguided choice. He had somehow believed it reasonable and acceptable to bring his daughter along on some sort of information gathering sojourn…and at the very least it had scared her.
Henry knew there was no way to protect his children from everything that could scare them or harm them or harm them, physically or emotionally, but the fact that Edward had knowingly put his daughter if not in harm's way than at least in harm's general vicinity petrified and infuriated him.
He had never been able to accept that he was unable to protect his family and indeed had only recently begun to realize that he had less control than most men over such things, and could afford the illusion of safety even less than that.
He had to put an end to this.
My Own Worst Enemy
Stress used to be too many meetings or too many business trips or Jack getting bad grades while Ruthy needed braces. Henry now thought of those as the good old days. His hands still shaking from a mix of fear and adrenalin in quantities he couldn't recall ever experiencing before, Henry sat on Norah Skinner's sofa and accepted the whiskey she held out to him. Downing the sizable draught in one gulp, he looked up at her expectantly.
"What else don't I know?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.
Norah shrugged, and her detached, analytical calm set Henry's teeth on edge. "I'm not sure what you do know, so I don't think I can answer that question."
Henry laughed. It was a small chuckle at first, but it grew. As he sat on Dr. Skinner's sofa, the tiny chuckle grew to a full-throated laugh before morphing into a maniacal, almost hysterical guffaw. With surprising speed, he sobered, stood and threw the now empty whiskey glass across the room where it shattered satisfyingly against the wall making Dr. Skinner jump.
"Edward?" She asked, peering at him in uncertainty.
Henry laughed again. "Henry." He took a step closer to her, and was surprised when she backed up a half step. "I'm Henry." He stopped and sat down, putting his head in his hand. "Whatever that means."
She sat at her desk, and Henry raised his head to stare at her. "I need to know something, but I have no idea who to ask. I don't trust any of you people, and you have given me the single most shocking night of my life." He sighed heavily and shook his head slowly glad he had laughed rather than cried. It had been a near thing.
"What..." Dr. Skinner began, and then cleared her throat. "What is it you need to know?"
"Is there some way I can…you can…Mavis can…" Exasperation stopped him and he rubbed a tired hand over tired eyes. "Look, Edward made a bad call. He showed incredibly poor judgment, and I want him reprimanded or…I don't know…shot!" He took a deep breath and stood, pacing across the back of the room. "My problem is who do I tell? You? Mavis? I don't think any of us need this on official files, but I will not have him repeating this mistake."
"What did he do?" Dr. Skinner's curiosity was obvious even if she were trying to hide it.
Henry shook his head. "No, I'm not telling you until I know I have some kind of control over this. I recognize that any control I may think I have over my life is more illusory than most people's, but I can't just have this be a quick word and a pat on the back, and a 'oh, humor the old alternate personality, Edward, we know you did the right thing' sort of a deal." He stopped pacing and stared at Dr. Skinner, and something shifted in her eyes to tell him that, perhaps for the first time, she really was listening to him.
"I can express your concerns to Mavis. Come with you perhaps when you tell her, if you'd rather be the one doing it…"
"But will he be dealt with? Will he be made to understand that this cannot be repeated?" Henry's voice was low with emotion, but he wasn't going to blow this moment, this chance to have some minute say over the events of his life.
"Henry, what did he do?" Now the concern seemed real. He scanned her face, taking in her eyes, her facial expression, and everything about her that screamed that she wanted to help, that she wanted to reassure him somehow, and that she couldn't imagine what Edward might have done that would so upset him.
Again, Henry sighed. He leaned both hands on the back of the sofa and hung his head. He thought about the man she had killed and why she had killed him. "Do you know why I agreed to speak to the man you killed tonight? Do you have any idea why I suddenly decided I couldn't take it any more and had to go to this man?"
She shook her head, looking for all the world as if she couldn't speak because the words were stuck in her throat.
"He told me that he could help. He said he could protect them." At her confused look, he spoke slowly. "My family. He said he could protect my family."
Dr. Skinner rose and crossed the room to stand at his side. She put a gentle hand on his shoulder. "What did he do, Henry?"
Henry looked at her and the anger drained away to be replaced by a bone-aching fatigue and a shattering weariness. "Nothing," he said, unable to trust her. He had just watched her kill someone and had helped her dissolve the body in some kind of acid. He couldn't trust her. Not with this.
Without saying anything else, he walked out of the room. Finding his way to his car, he drove to Edward's apartment. He needed privacy for this, and he didn't want his kids or Angie walking in on him while he tried to exert what little control he might have.
He set the phone to record, and he stared at the tiny screen. "You took my daughter with you to meet some, some informant or something. She told me about it. She asked me what happened to his face. She said he scared her and she knew she was supposed to be in the car and she shouldn't have seen…but this isn't her fault. I don't know a lot about Janus or about the jobs you do, but I do know that your job and my life are supposed to be kept separate. I know the fact that we're 'broken' makes it harder, but…" He stopped ranting and took a deep breath. "I will not have my daughter's life or the lives of any of my family endangered because you crossed that line.
"You need to know, Edward, that until I get some sort of assurance from you that this will never happen again, I will not do anything…I won't go to work at A.J. Sun and I won't pretend to be you in front of Trumbull. I won't fire my gun or watch Raymond's back. I. Won't. Do. Anything." He let his rage seep through every pore. "Make me believe you, Edward. Make me believe that you understand me, or I will take this to Mavis. I don't know what she'll do with it. I don't know if she'll side with you or me, but I do know that she will have to address it somehow, and if she doesn't, I will find a way to make you pay. If I have to burn down this apartment and destroy everything in your little hidey-hole, I'll do it. Surely," Henry said, in exasperation as he wrapped up his tale, "this was against the rules and more than a little…" the anger bubbled up from somewhere and he threw up his hands. "…I don't know…STUPID!...for you to bring a little girl to something like that, especially my little girl. I don't know if you've noticed, but you and I do look a lot alike, and if your cover…our cover were blown, my entire family as well as you and me would be at risk. Wouldn't we?"
He took a breath to try to calm down. "Now, I don't really know the chain of command! I have no idea if there's a protocol in place for who to speak to in the event that your secret alternate personality has taken your eleven-year-old daughter on a covert mission with him!" Henry said in a tone dripping with sarcasm, but I will find out, and if I have to ruin your career to do it, I will."
He picked up Edward's gun and cocked it to show he knew how to do that much, and he spoke quickly and in hushed tones. Nearly finished, he swallowed hard and closed his eyes as the emotions of it hit him all over again. "How do I know my daughter's life isn't in danger?" He spat the words and fired the gun.
My Own Worst Enemy
Edward woke to find himself staring at a TV screen. He glanced around the room noting the half-eaten bowl of chicken soup and glass of orange juice. Angie was standing nearby looking concerned, and he realized she had seen the pre-shift nod.
"Are you all right?" She asked, a hand snaking over to feel his forehead. He was hard pressed to keep himself from pulling back from the touch, but he managed it.
"I'm…" fine, he realized wouldn't work. "Better." He amended.
She smiled. "Nothing fixes a cold like chicken soup!" She hurried from the room taking the dirty dishes with her.
Edward shook his head and noticed the phone sitting on the bedside table. He picked it up and keyed it on. He watched the video in growing surprise.
On the screen, Henry picked up Edward's gun. His voice, when he spoke, was low, menacing and a lot like Edward's. "If you ever endanger any of their lives again, if Ruthy sees that man again or if anyone else follows her or scares her…" He cocked the gun and pointed it downwards. "I will shoot myself in the foot. I know I can't kill you, but I also know that with that kind of injury, standard procedure would be for me to become the dominant personality until the injury was healed. You can't be a spy if you can't run." He fired the gun, and Edward jumped, startled in spite of himself and looked at his foot. It was fine. Whole and unharmed, Edward realized that Henry must have shot a hole through the floor of his apartment.
In grudging admiration, a slow smile spread across his face. "Well played, Henry." He conceded the point with a little self-directed anger…wondering briefly if both his personalities were angry with him, what did that mean in psychological terms. He had made a mistake and he had let himself be swayed by irritation and frustration. Henry was right to be angry.
He let the message finish almost surprised by the threats Henry had decided to lob in his direction. Keying the record button, he recorded a reply conceding the victory to Henry before settling down. He flipped through the TV channels until he found a baseball game. If he had a sick day, he was going to take advantage of it.