Back at the flat
"Oh god, oh god, oh god-"
Ellen sat huddled in a corner, head between her knees and gasping in shallow breaths. Her eyes were wide, and she was quite clearly freaking out.
Cassius knew a panic attack when he saw one.
The rest of the team were out for lunch, but Ellen had stayed behind, insisting that she had some things to do. Derek (being the motherbear that he was) had wanted to stay with her, but she had pushed him out of the door with a fond smile on his face.
"Okay, um," He muttered to himself, scrambling to get down on his knees in front of the girl.
Her breathing was erratic, almost to the point of hyperventilation, and her eyes are tightly clenched closed.
"Hey, hey, you're okay," He reached out, but stopped himself from brushing a hand down her cheek just before his fingers made contact with her skin.
Ellen whimpered and shook her head, nails digging into the fabric of her leggings. "No, no, no don't let them take me, don't let them take me, oh god, oh god, oh god please don't let them take me."
"Oi! Listen to me!" He leans forwards until her uneven breath is ghosting across his face, smelling of mint, and grips her forearms. "You are not there. Wherever you think you are, you are not there. Are you hearing me? You are not there."
Her eyes are still shut.
"Hey now, can you open your eyes?"
Her body convulsed forwards, and her she seems to fight to lift her eyelids, but she finally does it, blinking into the air, still panicked.
Cassius calms somewhat. "Okay, I'm going to touch your hands." He warns her, reaching out to gently move her hands to rest on his chest, resting his own over hers, the gloves rubbing against her skin.
"I'm breathing, right? Try to copy me." He makes almost exaggerated breaths, a steady rhythm under her fingers.
She trembles, and he says "In, out. In, out. Come on, you got this." He almost cries out in relief when she starts to calm down. "In. Out." He continues repeating the mantra, encouraging but gentle. "You're alright."
Ellen sags forwards, almost collapsing, and on reflex, Cassius catches her. This time, he doesn't hold himself back, careful fingers sliding across the side of her face, brushing ginger locks out of her face.
"Thank you." It's so soft that it's less like a whisper and more like a breathy gasp.
"You're welcome." He pulls her into his arms fully and twists around so that his back is braced against the wall, Ellen leaning against his chest, curled up between his legs.
They sit there for a long time.