“If you can breathe right now, I need you to breathe for me or something because I can’t. I can’t breathe right now and I literally feel like I’m dying. I’m dying. Somebody help, oh god, I’m dying!”
“You’re not dying. You are perfectly fine.”
“Everybody wants me fucking dead! I am not fine! My chest hurts and I’m just trying to do the right thing and everyone wants me dead! I also can’t breathe. I might as well be dying. I’m dying.”
“Inquisitor, do you need something?”
“Cullen, she’s having a panic attack. We should just leave her alone and allow her to calm down.”
“What if she actually is dying?”
“She’s NOT!” Cassandra shouted, “You are not helping. I have this. Go. All of you!” She stood between the other advisors and the Inquisitor, one hand on the Dalish woman’s shoulder. “Just go. I will take care of her and call you back in when she is ready to go over the plans. She has been through a lot since the Conclave and we mustn’t overwhelm her with everything at once.”
“Please… Listen to Cassie…” Alvira glanced up at them. She looked back at the floor, sitting in the chair that Cassandra guided her to. She was shaking, chattering her teeth. She could barely speak without a stutter. Her voice was barely above a whisper, but she was quivering.
Cullen was left just staring for a whole ten seconds after the others had left, and Josephine returned to pull him out. “She’s fine, Cullen. Cassandra can do this.”
“Okay, Cassie, this… This is why I am an archer. This is why I don’t get up close and personal with enemies because I can’t do it. I can’t. It makes me wanna puke all over everything and demons and spirits do NOT like to be barfed on!”
“Breathe. I do not want to hear about your ‘barfing’ on demons. It will not happen. I will personally make sure you get through this. Josephine will help with issues of diplomacy, just as I said before. You will be okay, Inquisitor. You have been okay.”
“We need to get on with the meeting when you are ready. I’m not sure if-”
“Go get Bull or this meeting will NOT happen today. I need him, please.”
“I’m not even sure if he’ll fit!”
Alvira laughed. “Oh my god, Cassie… That’s actually exactly what I said before we-”
“I do not need to hear that. I’m going.” She left the room and walked past the other three who were listening at the door. She glared at Cullen, then headed quickly towards Skyhold’s tavern. She entered, seeming flustered, and stormed over to where the Chargers always were. “Iron Bull, the Inquisitor asked for you. She was talking about… Barfing on demons.”
He looked at her. “Hey! Cassandra! Is she alright?” He stood up.
She turned and started back to the war room. “Yes, she is. It’s just a panic attack. She found out about the people who want her dead and it upset her.”
“You know she doesn’t do well with that stuff. You don’t tell her. She doesn’t need to worry. We will take care of it, so she doesn’t even need to know.” He picked up his pace just a little bit. “You left her alone?”
“Cullen, Leliana, and Josephine are just outside the door. She is only alone inside the room. She is safe.”
He barely even glanced at the other three advisors when he opened the doors. He looked around, spotted her, and made his way over, scooping her up in his arm. As if they’d done this a million times before, she curled up against his chest and kissed the soft spot on his neck, almost immediately calming down. Her breathing slowed and she gently drew circles with her fingers on his chest. He sat down and held her tightly, just tightly enough that she felt secure. He knew exactly what she needed, knew how to fix the little hurts she experienced on a daily basis, and he wasn’t going to ever not do what he knew he needed to do.
“Thank you, Bully.”
He smiled at her. “Can I call them back in, Elfira?”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s not my name, but yes. I’m good now. Just don’t go.”
“I won’t.” He looked up at the others and nodded for them to come back in. Cassandra led the way, the others following. They looked to Alvira for instruction to continue their meeting, and she smiled but held closer to Bull. He was her crutch. She barely ever did anything without him since meeting him. Before he became Tal Vashoth, she didn’t care that he was reporting back to his superiors in the Qun. She found his mere presence comforting, but it was most comforting to her when she could hear his heartbeat and feel the warmth of his skin, the gentle pressure of his arm as he held her close. That was her happy place, curled up next to his chest. The anxiety almost went away completely there. Warmth, happiness, security… These were things she didn’t know before him, and she found that they were things she never wanted to give up. She hoped that she made him feel those things too, but she didn’t know.
Holding her in his arms made him feel free. He didn’t do it out of obligation, out of respect, or anything else that he didn’t choose. He held her because he wanted to, because he loved her. He wanted her to feel safe and happy. He wanted her to feel calm. He wanted her to eventually be able to do things without him because he knew that he could die and leave her alone. He wanted to build up her confidence and her independence. She deserved the world and more. She wanted nothing more than to help others and save people, so he chose, he decided, to make sure she could. She made it where he could choose.
The inquisitor fell asleep with her ear pressed against his chest, mid-meeting. The others finished without her and Bull promised them he would bring her up to speed when she woke up, because her panic attacks always left her exhausted. Always. He once had to backpack her back to Skyhold because she had one in the middle of the battlefield, in the middle of a fight. She got injured because her ability to react quickly was impaired by a spike in her anxiety. He saw her get hit, once, and immediately, without even thinking, he struck down those he was fighting and rushed to her side. As she shakily shot an arrow into the face of the demon, he swung with his axe and hit it, then looked at her for barely a second before he swung her over his shoulder. She barely had time to put her bow up before she was up and out of harm’s way. He didn’t waste any time getting her out of there, signaling to the others to follow him out. She fell asleep on the way back to camp, slung over his shoulder. Panic attacks, anxiety, always left her exhausted. Always.
He walked her out and to her room, gently setting her down in her bed and lying next to her. He wrapped one arm around her and held her close. He wasn’t going to move until she woke up. No, he wouldn’t move. He wanted to stay with her.
In her dreams, she was alone. Clouds spread out in all directions and she was spinning, arms outspread. It was beautiful, just blue and white as far as the eye could see. She had no pain, no green mark on her hand. There were no holes in the sky. Just sweet, quiet, silence, and the beauty of the sky. She laughed, a genuine sweet laugh, so happy that she got this break from the horrible fear she lived with all of the time. She was euphoric. Happy. So so very happy. Then, a short moment after she hit the white puffy clouds, things began to change. The blue went green as a hole sprouted up directly above her. Suddenly her paradise had become her hell. Demons sprouted from the hole and she screamed. She had no weapon. She had nothing. They were on her, and then…
She screamed and he jumped, quickly pulling her into a tight hug. “Shh… I have you. You’re okay. You’re safe. I have you…”
Alvira didn’t recognize him in her inbetween haze. She lashed out, fighting him, hitting him. All the while he kept calm, held her. He held her until she calmed down, until she started sobbing. She buried her face into his chest and cried. She dug her fingernails into his skin.
He rubbed her back with one hand and ran the other through her hair.
“I’ve got you, Elfy. You’re safe.”
“There were, there were demons in my-my dream. It wa-was good. I was good until the… the demons. I was calm.” She curled her left hand closed. “M-m-my hand hurts. My hand hurts. Hold me.”
“I am. I have you. They are not going to get you. They’re not going to hurt you.” The Iron Bull smiled softly, a small smile that barely touched one corner of his mouth, and he pressed a gentle kiss to her head. “You don’t have to be afraid.”
“I…” She smiled. “I hate the color green. I-it used to be my favorite, but I hate it now. I… Bully, I want the sky to be blue again. We have to make the sky blue again. Blue and white…” She laughed a little. “I’m going to get that nasty color out of my sky.”
“You do that, Elfy. I don’t have any doubts. You can do it.”
She grinned and hugged him, “No more green. Not in my sky. Or in my hand! It’s all going away from where it doesn’t belong."