Work Header

Altschmerz (NCT)

Chapter Text


Renjun woke several times in the night cold, lonely, and covered in sweat. 

Something he should have been able to accept and digest long ago. It's the stubbornness of it, he would think, and the way it sneaks up and grabs you. It will remain endlessly horrific no matter how many times the scenario presents itself. And it has presented itself regularly. Every night as a matter of fact. Only this night, he dreamt he was in his house again, resting peacefully on a soft mattress and blanket he's had since his innocent years; when youth was all he knew and nightmares were soothed by wise hands.

Time changed that.
It had changed everything.

There were no longer wise hands. No one to turn to for help or comfort. So Renjun slept as he lived. Isolated. Alone.

It was during these hours when he couldn’t stay awake, when his tired eyes couldn’t hold off the exhaustion of his body, that unconsciousness infringed. Like a stranger violating a body, restraining it with their own, this somatic presence filled his nose, his mouth, overflowing into his ears and eyes, suppressing Renjun’s vulnerable little body. Unable to lift his head. Unable to lift his arms. His legs equally held down. A shadow pervading every part of Huang Renjun, seeping through his pores, into his veins, through every strand of hair both above and below. But it’s only darkness and it will pass. It does every night.

“Sleep paralysis.” the doctors call it. An uninvited playmate in the night. The kind of playmate that involves fragments of barely conscious rapid eye movement blended with panic, disquieting images, and a heart beating too hard, beating too fast, thumping and racing. Not being able to move or speak is frightening. 

“It’ll pass in a few moments Renjun. Just try and stay calm. You’ll be okay.” 

“It’s violating.”

“It’s not real.”

“It’s against my will.”

“It happens.”

His subconscious wants to call out, needs someone to save him from this distress, but the miasma only sinks deeper into Renjun’s chest, spreading throughout his anatomy, cradling him in darkness.

And then everything's gone. 

What remains is but a residue of pressure and shadows. The nervousness and stress drifting into hibernation as Renjun’s tired body slips deeper into unconsciousness.

Jaehyun out of bed after hours hears Renjun’s frightful panicking. Smiling at the vulnerability of his only "friend" in this god forsaken place, Jaehyun is glad tonight's entertainment is someone he's more familiar with. Something about the intimacy in the younger’s panicked cries has Jaehyun shuffling his feet at a slightly quicker pace to reach his destination and to his luck, the entertainment’s room is unlocked. Most are on this ward. It’s the saner side of insanity so there aren’t as many precautions, rules, securities. It’s too easy, he thinks, as he turns the knob to Renjun's room. But he’s glad because it works in his favor- and that's worthy of appreciation.