"I'm having another panic attack."
Buffy and Cyrus each had a gentle hold of one of Jonah's shoulders. Cyrus was raised by health care professionals so he knew it was a panic attack before Jonah had even said anything. Luckily, Jonah had Cyrus there. Cyrus knew how to talk someone down from these. It was about making the person feel grounded. Physical contact and encouraging words were key.
"We're right here Jonah, just breathe." Cyrus said.
Buffy followed in Cyrus' steps by repeating "in and out" into his ear.
This continued for about two more minutes. As soon as Jonah's breathing and heart rate had steadied, Cyrus broke the pattern.
"We're sorry" Buffy corrected. "I didn't even stop to think you'd have to be witness to our drama. You didn't deserve that."
"It's okay. I'm sorry you had to see that." Jonah spoke for the first time.
The look on Jonah's face was pure shame. This was the last thing he wanted. He felt he was a burden enough without the panic attacks.
Cyrus must've been able to read his mind.
"Jonah, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of." Cyrus said reassuringly. "We all have things that we don't like about ourselves, I know I do, but they're just out of our hands. You have to learn to love these things about you, or you'll never be truly happy." Cyrus had channeled his past experience with his own self-acceptance, some of which he'd only recently become comfortable with.
Jonah just bowed his head. He knew logically that there wasn't anything inherently wrong with him. It was just a matter of getting his own heart to realize that. Buffy what giving Cyrus a look of compassion. With her impending move and all her T.J. drama, she'd nearly forgotten that Cyrus was going through a lot as well. Cyrus hadn't even said anything about it since his Bar Mitzvah.
"Look you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but talking about it really does help." Buffy said to Jonah, but glanced over to Cyrus, implying that it was directed at him as well. Cyrus smiled back.
"If it helps, maybe we could share a little with you as well. Make you feel less like you're alone in all of this." Cyrus suggested.
Jonah sighed. "It's not that I don't want to talk about it, I just don't really know how to talk about it. It's like, once I feel it coming on, it's too late to stop it. And when it's happening, the room is spinning, I can't breathe, or even form a coherent thought and i feel like... well like I'm dying. Everyone is constantly telling me 'you're Jonah Beck' holding me up on this pedestal and I'm afraid they'll be disappointed if they get to know the real me."
"Jonah, you are talking about it." Buffy confirmed.
Although it was slight, you could see a smile pulling at the corner of his lip.
By this time they had all taken a seat on the floor.
"How do you feel now Jonah?" Cyrus asked.
"I feel... better. Not great, but better. You said you'd be willing to share? You don't have to I just... don't like being the center of attention."
Cyrus took in a deep breath, grabbing the attention of Buffy. She knew what was about to happen, but not to the extent. "There's something I want to tell you. You've opened up to me, so it's only fair I do the same. Now's a better time than any."
"Cy, you don't have to tell me if you aren't ready. I get it."
"No Jonah, I want to. I guess my fear is that you'll think differently of me." Cyrus said. Buffy watched the exchange with caution. Despite the fact that her and Cyrus were fighting, he was still her best friend and she never wanted him to feel hurt. Buffy grabbed ahold of Cyrus' hand. She hadn't forgave him, but she wasn't going to let him go through this alone. "Remember how Iris and I broke up? I never really told you why."
"Yeah, I never really got that. You guys were practically perfect for each other." Jonah interrupted.
"You're right, except there was one thing that outweighed all of that." Cyrus was still unsure at this point how much he wanted to tell Jonah. Maybe some could be left to a later date.
Jonah reached a hand out and held Cyrus' other hand. "What is it?"
Cyrus took in a deep breath. "The problem was that Iris... she's a girl. And I... I like boys." Cyrus left out the part that he was crushing hard on the boy, who was currently holding his hand.
The room seemed to fall silent. It's the first time Cyrus had said those words out loud. He held his breath as he anticipated a reaction.
"Oh." The phrase was cryptic. But Jonah's grip on Cyrus' hand hadn't changed. Maybe Jonah's okay with this. "That's cool."
Cyrus removed his hands from their holds. "I'm sorry for making this awkward. Can we just forget I even said anything?"
"No, Cyrus. It's cool, really. I'm sorry you felt like you couldn't tell me. But I'm really happy you did." Jonah's words put Cyrus at ease. "So who all knows?"
"Just Andi and Buffy... and now you." Cyrus answered. "And you can't tell anybody."
"Of course I won't. It's your decision who knows and when they do. I would never take that away from you."
Now the three were just left smiling. Jonah still hadn't told Andi, and Cyrus hadn't given Jonah the whole story, and Buffy and Cyrus still had stuff to hash out, but right now, things were okay.
"So what do you say we get these pancakes on those plates out there?"