- Genre: Angst, Fluff, Friendship
- Word Count: 1,478
- Pairing: Reader, Jaemin
- World: NCT Dream
- WARNING: This fic talks about anxiety and panic attacks.
You often wonder how you got this way, plagued by an unseen force that plots to make your life as difficult as possible. Its name was Anxiety, and you’ve been dealing with it for as long as you could remember. It was far more than just feeling anxious every now and then. You rarely stopped feeling anxious, jumpy and scared of everything. As you grew older and started taking medication, your panic attacks started to become few and far between, but the anxiety, the fear still lingered, hovering over you like an umbrella. Despite this, you did the best you could to live a normal life.
You kept your head down and powered through the waves of anxiety, always putting on a bright smile so those around you didn’t know what was wrong. It always worked, and by the time you were legal, you had mastered the smile so perfectly, no one could see through it. For years, that’s how it was, but then you met a boy that sought to destroy all of your hard work. He could see through the mask to who you really were, and he could read you like a book. One look and he knew if you were struggling to hold back your fear. He never said anything, but the little things he did made it obvious that he knew.
Whenever you would feel the anxiety creeping up on you, he would be stuck to your side like glue, talking in soft tones and offering to help you with your work. It didn’t matter that he was the idol and it was your job to take care of him. Despite being several years younger, Jaemin was intuitive and mature beyond his years. Being near him made you feel safe and secure, but it also made you uncomfortable.
Your whole life has been spent fighting this battle alone, and now someone was working their way onto your side of the field, fighting alongside you and supporting you. It was different, and you didn’t like change. Despite how safe he felt, you forced yourself to keep your distance. He was an idol, after all, and you were just working for his manager.
The anxiety never missed the chance to whisper in your ear late at night about how quickly NCT was growing in popularity. ‘Soon,’ it would cackle. ‘Soon he’ll be so popular, you won’t even be a memory to him.’
And deep down, you knew it was right. You forced yourself to avoid him as much as possible, even in the moments of weakness when you longed for his comforting touch and soft words letting you know you would make it through. You had to be strong, you couldn’t bring him down with you.
“Y/N,” Dream’s manager approached you as soon as you entered the building. “I have something personal to take care of. You’re in charge of the boys today. Make sure they keep practicing, feed them, and then return them to the dorm. Understand?”
Although he asked if you understood, he gave you no chance to respond as he brushed past you and out the door. It wasn’t the first time he had thrown the boys onto you so he could have time to himself, but you dreaded it every time.
With a sigh, you stepped out of the elevator and headed towards the practice room. Mark and Haechan were currently gone, practicing with 127 for their next comeback, so that was two fewer boys to worry about. The remaining four boys were following the choreographer as she brought them through a stretching routine before teaching them the new dance she was working on for their comeback.
You took a seat in the corner of the room, bringing out your laptop so you could organize each boy’s schedule. It was your job to make sure none of their plans overlapped with one another while still somehow managing to factor in rest and sleep. It wasn’t easy, but you managed.
“Hey,” A soft, familiar voice reached your ears and your heart reacted, picking up speed. You knew who it was, but you didn’t lift your eyes from the screen.
“Did you need something, Jaemin?”
“A reason why you’ve been avoiding me would be nice.” He answered, his voice soft. It wasn’t angry or annoyed, just confused. He briefly wondered if he had stepped over the line at some point.
“I’m not avoiding you.” You mumbled, fingers frozen over the keys as guilt started to rise within you. “I’ve just been busy.”
“We both know that’s not true…” He sighed, gently closing the laptop as he kneeled in front of you, his eyes searching yours. Once you met his gaze, you couldn’t look away. He had you completely under his spell. “Talk to me. Please?”
You swallowed at the look in his eye. He was so concerned and confused, worried for your sake. “I…” Your mind was drawing a blank and you knew a panic attack was incoming. As quickly as you could, you moved the computer from your lap and rushed out of the room.
Your chest was turning cold as if ice was spreading up your ribs. Your heart was racing so fast you thought it might burst and your breathing became shallow. You were hyper-aware of your breath and your heart rate, and the people that walked past you. They paid you no mind, but your brain convinced you that they were staring at you, wondering why you were acting so strange. Tears stung your eyes and your stomach twisted, wanting to release its contents.
For the first time in a year, you were having a panic attack and it was a bad one.
You fumbled for the door handle of a nearby room, one you knew to be a vacant and unused office. A warm hand moved yours out of the way before twisting the knob. You didn’t hesitate to rush inside, palms slamming on the desk as you reminded yourself that you didn’t have to force your breathing.
Arms wrapped protectively around you and you let them pull you to the floor, curling up against Jaemin’s chest. Your body was shaking from a mixture of being cold and the sobs that now escaped your lips. You felt pure terror lurking in your heart like you would look up and see the grim reaper himself there to claim you.
“It’s okay. You’re okay.” Jaemin whispered softly, his arms tightening around you as his hand brushed back your hair. “I’m here, I’ll protect you.”
The words only made your tears increase as your hand fisted around his t-shirt. You sobbed into his neck, begging the fear to disappear.
It did as you asked, thirty minutes later. The rest of your symptoms slowly started to fade, leaving you feeling drained and exhausted on all fronts. You just wanted to go home and crawl under the comforter, but you had a job to do.
Jaemin’s hand gently caressed your back, following the curse of your spine back and forth. He had been sitting in that uncomfortable position, his back against the drawers of the desk. He didn’t complain, nor did he shift. He was completely focused on you and making sure your panic attack passed without issue.
You finally found the courage to speak, but it was soft and vulnerable. “I’m sorry, Jaemin.”
“Sorry for what?”
“For… For this.”
He chuckled, kissing the top of your head. “Silly noona, don’t apologize for something you can’t control.”
His words made you smile and you forced yourself to pull away. As wonderful as it was, you knew you couldn’t stay in that position forever. “Is your back okay?”
He leaned forward, wincing a bit as his back disconnected from the drawer handle. “A little sore, but I’ll be okay.”
You frowned, feeling the guilt return.
He shook his head, hand gently cupping his face. “Don’t look at me like that, you break my heart. I promise I’ll be okay, I’m more concerned about you.”
“Jaemin… You’re an angel.”
He hummed, thoughtfully. “In that case, I’ll always look after you and protect you. I’ll be your guardian angel~”
You smiled, sniffling as you tried to contain your tears. You felt so free, so loved. After all these years of fighting alone, you now had someone at your side helping to keep you on your feet and watching your back. It no longer felt uncomfortable. No, it felt as if some of the weight had been lifted from your shoulders.
His thumb wiped away a stray tear as it fell. “You’re so strong, Y/N. You’ve made it this far on your own, but you’re not alone anymore. We’ll be strong together, okay?”
You could only nod as he pulled you back into his protective embrace, his cheek resting on the top of your head.