Broken Smiles and Heavy Hearts
Plot: Dan and you have been friends for ages, and yet, he still doesn’t know how you feel about him. When you have a panic attack and he looks after you, you’re forced to tell him you like him because you can’t do it anymore.
Warning: maybe pretty angsty idk?? Panic attack happens so please don’t read if it will trigger you. Remember, if you do suffer from any mental illness, my ask box is always open, and I’m never too busy to help. Also, I hope it’s really fluffy, but it does get a little bit heavy at the end.
Pairing: Dan Howell x nonbinary!reader (or gender neutral/ any gender because no pronouns are really used)
Notes: is gender neutral and uses gender neutral terms to describe the reader. They/Them pronouns are used. Also, I really enjoyed writing this, and before people come at me saying I shouldn’t glorify a mental illness, please stop. I personally have anxiety attacks, and know multiple people who also do, so it’s not as if I’m talking from a inexperienced point of view. As well, I’d like to point out that when writing this, I consulted one of my friends who does have panic attacks and we agreed that perhaps, by writing this and things like this, us writers could bring awareness to a topic that is shrouded and often wildly distorted by a huge stigma.
“Y/N? Where are you?”
Dan’s worried voice came from outside the room and I took deep breaths, trying so hard to hold myself together when everything inside me was falling apart. It wasn’t like this was the first time I had ever had a panic attack, but usually my anxiety attacks included dissociation and paralysis, not hyperventilating, and anyway, this was the first time Dan had ever been so close to finding out.
Since we'd first became friends, I’d hinted at it multiple times, and after making speeches and being an advocator for dealing with mental health in teens, Dan had had an idea that I suffered from something and yet, until recently, he hadn’t known what exactly what it was.
And yet, despite trusting him with nearly everything for the past 5 years, I couldn’t bring myself to let him see me like this.
As I hear the door to my room open, the hysteria in my mind rises, and my breathing becomes even more erratic at the thought of Dan finding me. My thoughts are like an ocean, pulling me in, momentarily submerging me, always taking my breath, making me choke on the water, and yet, at the horrible end of it all, I’m stuck on the shoreline, wishing I was dead.
It’s a constant heaviness in my mind, tugging at my happiness and distorting everything until I’m scared for my life. It’s a hunger burning away at my mind, and the demons just can’t be satisfied.
I tried calming myself, but I know by now it’s too late.
“Y/N…” I hear someone open the door and drop to their knees just in front of me.
I open my eyes and desperately focus on the two brown ones around a metre away.
“Hey, Y/N. Don’t worry. I’m here and I’m not leaving you. I won’t come any closer, unless you want me to, but I’m not going anywhere.”
His voice is laced with worry, and you can momentarily tell he’s holding back tears.
“I want you to breathe with me ok? I know it’s hard, but can you try for me?”
I nod, my hands shaking as I reach out for his. He takes them immediately, and holds them gently, moving a few inches closer so I don’t have to stretch.
“Inhale,” the sound of his deep breath in sounds like bragging to my panicked lungs, but I know he’s only trying to help so I attempt to replicate his breathing patterns, “Exhale.”
After a while, my breathing has become a little more normal, and Dan begins to stand up, letting go of my hands, causing the hysteria to begin creeping back, “Hey, hey I’m sorry. It’s ok. I’m just getting your meds ok? They’re still under your pillow right?“
As soon as he says this, I calm down a bit and nod, keeping the breathing patterns as I wait for him to sit back down. Within seconds, his butt hits the floor just across from me, and he hands me a glass and two pills.
Suddenly, after what seems like hours of us breathing in time, I become acutely aware of my exhaustion and gesture for Dan to come closer.
“Dan.” His head lifts immediately, and his eyes flicker with worry as he mumbles assurances, gripping my hand just a little tighter.
“Y/N. How are you now?”
“Better. But I’m tired.”
“Oh.” He looks confused and takes a moment to think before coming back with a reply, “Um. I don’t know if you can sleep. I mean what do you usually do after an attack?”
“It’s bad for some people, but if I get tired, I sleep, as long as someone is there with me. Like, in case it happens again.” I know it’s wrong to make him stay with me out of pure selfishness but something tells me he won’t mind.
“Do you want me to stay in here then?” He questions, allowing me to rest my head on his shoulder.
My fingers wrap around his bicep as I mumble my answer, “Yeah. If you don’t mind.”
“Nah, I just wanna make sure you’re ok. Anyway, it’s getting late. You should probably get changed.”
It’s in this moment, you become aware of the mess you probably look. Your clothes are practically drenched in sweat and your hair is sticking up in every direction.
“Can I wear one of your shirts?” I whisper, my lips accidentally brushing against his collarbone. A blush rushes across my cheek and I notice his body clench slightly.
“Um sure. I don’t want to leave you to go get one though….” He replies, making the air a little less awkward as he turns to look at me properly.
“Can I just wear yours?” I question, pulling my face away so I don’t end up kissing his shoulders again.
A moment of silence passes, and I seem to have made it awkward all over again.
“Yeah… um hold on a second.” I turn my head as he pulls his shirt off.
It’s stupid but I feel so damn in love with him right now. And not just because he’s half naked.
He turns back towards me, and passes me his shirt, covering his stomach and chest as I change.
Before I know it, we’re lying in the bed, only centimetres away from each other.
“Why did you cover your chest? I mean, it’s not like you’ve got boobs.”
He stifles a laugh and after composing himself, replies with something that breaks my heart.
“Uhh. Well, I’m not cute or sexy and I don’t have a six-pack. I guess my low self-esteem got the better of me again.”
“It’s true so…” For the second time today, I can see him holding back the tears and again, it breaks my heart.
“You dumbass. You fucking dumbass. How can you not tell?” I say, the anger getting the best of me.
But I’m not angry at him. I’m angry at the world for making him feel like this.
“What?” His head whips around to face me.
“You’re the cutest thing I’ve seen, and it hurts when you say stuff like that. You can look after me, and Phil, and your fans, and yet you can’t look after yourself. You’re so fucking handsome, and I don’t understand how you can’t see that. Whenever I see you, my heart skips a fucking beat because I just can’t seem to get over the fact that I’m lucky enough to love you.“
“Yeah Dan. I love you. I know you don’t feel the same, but I love you.” I confess, my heart thumping double time.
“Who says I don’t feel the same?” He whispers, his hands resting either side of me, as he props himself up.
“Dan. Can you kiss me?” I say, looking up at him through half closed eyes.
“Your wish is my command.” He shortly closed the gap between us and soon he gently falls on top of me, his arms giving way as he reaches for my waist and my hands run through his curly hair. The feel of his skin against mine is better than I’d imagined. His lips map out my skin, going anywhere and everywhere; he’s kissing my lips, then my neck, then my jaw. My hands stroke his bare chest and his hands travel up my borrowed shirt.
“I love you goddamnit. So fucking much. I just want you to know that I love you and I have for a while. I’m sorry for not telling you.” He whispers against my skin, and I stop to play with his curly hair.
“I love you too Dan. And I’m sorry for not telling you about my anxiety.“
“Don’t worry. Phil accidentally let slip and I prepared myself in case it was gonna happen.”
“I love you.” I say again, pulling his hair as he lies on top of me.
"You’re such a dork.” I laugh, and he entwines our hands together.
“But you love me for it.”