*slams door open* I HEAR AUTISTIC RUBEN HEADCANONS AND I AM ALL HERE FOR IT!! how does he stim? special interest (im guessing chemistry would be a good one but idk if dr. douche ruined that forever)? iM JUST EXCITED FOR THIS
okay so - and i mean this obviously applies any time i talk ruben but im definitely gonna make it clear here - this is like, hardcore Death of The Author approach to the the show, i really don’t think Do No Harm writers got much further than “chemist. helps protagonist. what are chemists like? nerd, socially awkward, but one of our Good Guys so make him endearing, done.” when they were thinking up his character. but look i can fucking spin gold out of pocket lint if i want to and that’s what im gonna goddamn do.
special interest OBVIOUSLY CHEMISTRY but then i feel like post-series he probably has to take some time away while he recovers and kind of reassesses his relationship to the whole field, which is rough.
i read his loyalty to jason as partly an issue with fixating on one person (because jason is like, big neuroscience guy, handsome as fuck probably if you’re into that, and jason actively seeks him out to spend time with him even if it’s just to use him for his skills. he doesnt seem to have a lot of friends. sometimes being useful is the closest you can get to being liked), partly struggling to deal with the manipulation tactics (difficult for anyone but if you’re not good at the social nuance even harder to figure out and ruben is likeable but he’s clearly not a social wizard. and i honestly feel like even though ruben yelled at jason a few times before it, ian saying ‘you think you guys are friends? you aren’t’ in the club still seemed to hit him like he’d just not quite realised this really isn’t what friends do. but he also doesn’t have much else, so he sticks with it), but also because holy shit, jason is a fucking scientific anomaly and ruben gets to explore whole new frontiers of his science that nobody else has mapped. like, for someone who wants to seek out knowledge and understand everything about their interest, that’s some major fucking allure. anyway i already wrote a whole fic on that but its a big part of my headcanon.
so that means post-series WHERE HE OBVIOUSLY LIVES AND MOVES TO WASHINGTON HEIGHTS BUT THATS NOT THE DISCUSSION WE’RE HAVING he’s got his social and his special interest and now probably a fuckton of PTSD all tangled up together and so at least his specific area of chemistry might not bring the same comfort, at least not while he figures things out.
i have my ruben has a lot of plants headcanon where he can still be doing science and getting all specific about things like the sunlight and the alkalinity of the soil and all that. it’s more biology than chemistry and it’s not got the ‘i’m forging new paths’ kind of buzz, but it’s science, and it’s not really any more or less complex to him whether he’s keeping a plant or a brain healthy, it’s just finding how to apply the fundamentals in specific situations (it is in fact something that is quite difficult. even though he knows not everyone has the understanding, i dont think he quite grasps that a lot of people dont even have the ability to understand it the way he does). but yeah, thats part of why he likes it too: its different, but the same. and he likes that he can use it to help things grow and live. so i think they would be an alternative way to channel his interest without the bad associations of neurochemistry.
(he does miss the excitement though, of working on actual new discoveries. but in the sort of wary, terrifying way that someone misses an addiction: he knows how good it feels, he knows how far astray chasing it can take him. he doesn’t really know how to find a balance between the high and being healthy.)
i think he doesn’t have so much the hyperactive fidgety sort of stims but that he likes visual ones, making patterns and fitting things together. this works well for his job too. i imagine he sometimes just like, sits and looks at microscope slides of neurotransmitters just to chill out. and that he likes deep, grounding pressure, which he does not get enough of from Really Good Hugs or just like, lying underneath his mattress so then it gets kind of confusing with the wall slamming sometimes, messed-up life that he has*. get the guy a weighted blanket.
*you never see much talk of the relationship between things you like as stims and things you are Into, ive just realised. i dont know if that’s because it’s not actually a Thing for anyone else or if it’s just because nobody wants to acknowledge that not only are autistic people sexual but that the autism is itself part of your sexuality? but like. there’s a definite relationship between my stims and my kinks. because it’s sensory pleasure. so duh. but i see that getting complicated for him with his jason-crush and his science-crush and his sensory-seeking touch-deprived lonely self.