It had been a long couple of days, and it wasn’t like she’d never had anxiety before. She wasn’t exactly what someone would call a calm person. So, really, it shouldn’t have taken her by surprise. Yet, like all the times before, it had.
They were walking to the lifeboat; somehow Rufus always managed to find an out-of-the-way place to park, and they were once again walking back several miles in uncomfortable period-appropriate clothing. Rufus and Wyatt were walking a bit ahead of her, talking about something, she wasn’t really listening to what. Then, all of a sudden, she felt her heart rate begin to pick up. Knowing what was about to happen, she tried to take some calming breaths, to will away her rising panic like she had earlier in Holmes’ trap. But after several moments she knew it was hopeless, and her breathing began to pick up as well till she was almost hyperventilating.
At this point, Wyatt should have been used to hearing Lucy call his name in distress. Yet the more it happened, the more he hated it. His track record lately hadn’t been too good for protecting her. So when he heard her croak, “Wyatt,” from farther behind him than she had been walking before, he immediately turned around, ready to shoot whatever bastard had snuck up on them this time.
To his relief and Rufus’ confusion, Lucy was standing alone a few yards behind them, hands clutched to her chest. Her breathing was rapid and her eyes unfocused. For a moment he was afraid she might pass out.
“What’s going on?” Rufus asked as they both rushed over to her.
Lucy just shook her head as a few tears leaked from her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing would come out. Realizing she wasn’t able to talk, she became visibly more panicked and began trembling.
“It’s okay, she’s just having a panic attack,” Wyatt said, taking one of her hands and leading her over to a fallen tree. “Here, sit down,” he told her as she was already collapsing onto it. Her breathing was still horrible and she looked like a mess, but he knew it would subside in a few minutes.
She leaned forward so that her face was near her knees and made an effort to try to regulate her breathing. Wyatt began rubbing up and down her back as she inhaled shaky breaths before letting out a gasp or two. Rufus looked at him in question, and Wyatt, knowing that Lucy probably didn’t want an audience, asked Rufus, “Why don’t you go get the lifeboat ready for us to go?”
“But, what about…” he gestured to Lucy.
“I’ll stay with her.” He was uneasy about splitting up anymore, but he could see the lifeboat from where they were currently sitting. As Rufus walked away he continued to rub her back before she abruptly sprung up and began pacing back and forth in front of him, sucking in breaths as she could.
He remained seated and just watched her as she slowly pulled herself together. Within three or four minutes she stopped pacing and her breathing came back to normal. She wiped the escaped tears from her face and stopped in front of him, looking absolutely embarrassed and unsure of herself.
“You okay?” he asked, standing up.
“Yeah,” she whispered before clearing her throat. She avoided his gaze but he continued to look at her. She felt like he was scrutinizing her and she had nowhere to hide, and before she knew it her face crumpled and her traitorous tears began falling again.
“It’s okay,” he told her, moving forward to pull her into a hug. She went willingly, her arms winding around his waist under his jacket as she ducked her head into his chest. He rubbed her back like he had before and through her tears she thought to herself how lucky Jessica must have been to have him as a husband.
“I know,” she squeaked. “I don’t know why I’m crying!”
He chuckled. “Delayed reaction. All that stress has to come out sometime.”
She figured he was right but didn’t say anything, instead choosing to enjoy the embrace while she could. After a minute or two, she felt composed enough to pull away from him.
“Thank you,” she told him, but it felt pretty inadequate.
“Don’t mention it. We’re a team.” He gave her that lopsided smile of his, and she felt some of her embarrassment ease.
Rufus either had terrible or wonderful timing, because he chose that moment to return.
“You okay?” he asked her.
“Yeah, I’m good,” she said. “I can’t wait to sleep for the next 20 hours though!”
“You and me both!” Rufus agreed.
In sync, the trio began walking back to the lifeboat. The team was back.