Oolia

The Owl Teacup

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I felt like writing some fluff this time, so here's a story about a woman in her 30's going on a blind date with a doctor while battling a blossoming cold. Hope you enjoy! :)

First part below!

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“Still here?”

Leonie blinked, pulled from her deep concentration by her coworker’s husky, warm voice. She slid her gaze from the brightly lit monitor to her office door just a few feet behind. Her eyes took forever to adjust to the distance shift after being locked on spreadsheets for hours. She could barely make out Lisa’s small silhouette backlit by the bright hallway.

Leonie struggled to swim back to reality, stuck in a hyperfocused haze of numbers and calculations. “What time is it?” She darted her eyes back at the screen and checked the computer clock. How could time fly by so fast?

“Almost 8:30 pm. When is your date?” Lisa took a step in the small, dark office. She reached for the light switch, but decided against it at the last second.

Leonie groaned, rubbing her face with both of her hands. “9:00 pm. I should just cancel. I’m definitely coming down with something.” She swallowed tentatively, and sure enough, there it was. A soreness deep in her throat, and a heavy, swollen feeling in the back of her palate. She’d been feeling under the weather for the past two days, downing orange juice every morning. She’d even tried a few fizzy vitamin C powder packets mixed with water, which tasted nothing like their advertised flavor.

“You can’t cancel again! He’s going to think you’re toying with him,” said Lisa. She took a seat in the hard plastic chair in front of Leonie’s desk.

Leonie hated those chairs. They made her feel like her body was a collection of sharp bones arranged just the perfect way to dig painfully into the plastic. A proletarian’s torture device.

“But Lisa, I’m sick! How rude would—“As if to illustrate her point, Leonie’s nose caught fire, twitching under the assault of a fierce tickle. Leonie sucked a breath through her mouth before catching a sneeze into the crook of her elbow. “Heh—TSHHiu!”

“OK, now you’re just being dramatic,” said Lisa, laughing. “Isn’t he a doctor anyway? He’s used to this kind of stuff. All you have to do is get through a one- or two-hour dinner, make a good enough impression for a second date, and you’re golden. You can work the charm later.”

Leonie grabbed a tissue from a box tucked neatly in her top drawer. “You just want me to go because he’s a doctor.” She blew her nose with one hand, blinking away the wetness in her teary eyes.

Sick or not, she had no desire to go. Her mother had arranged this date, which added insult to injury. Dating was too daunting for Leonie. Too many variables, too many emotions difficult to control. There was a reason she’d chosen to become an accountant. Numbers were her solace, a reprieve from her constantly brimming mind.

In fact, if she could choose right now between spending the night working on taxes, like she’d been doing for the past week, and going on a two-hour date with Dr. Vo, she’d pick work in a heartbeat.

“Come on,” said Lisa, her voice low and daring. “You don’t even sound sick yet. He won’t notice.” She cocked her head to the side. “If you can keep your nose in check, that is.”

Leonie sighed. Lisa was right; she’d already canceled twice because of work, hence the very late dinner date. And her mother would hold it against her if she didn’t at least try to meet the guy. She’d tell everyone in the neighborhood, including the cashier at her favorite grocery store, that her eldest daughter never listened to her and would end up alone, and did she ever tell them about this nice doctor she once tried to set her up with, and how much Leonie’s life would have been different if only she’d followed her dear old mother’s advice?

“Fine,” said Leonie, before hastily grabbing another tissue and burying her nose in it, her eyelids fluttering. “EhhNGXXT!”

“That’s pretty good! Just stifle them like that when he’s not looking. Won’t notice a thing.”

Leonie scoffed, wiping her nose. “Just a simple ‘bless you’ would suffice, Lisa.”

“Oh, bless you bless you bless you. Now come on, get out of here before you’re late!”

 

***

 

Night had fallen like a curtain and now draped over the city, doted by street lamps casting their glow on the sidewalks. Leonie walked from spotlight to spotlight, readjusting the thin scarf around her neck. She regretted not choosing a thicker one this morning, and she especially regretted changing into a little black dress for her date. Goosebumps traveled in waves over her exposed legs with each gust of wind.

The wind was freezing, hailing from the last breath of winter. March had always been a moody, unpredictable month in New England. One day, spring almost veered into early summer, and the next, snowfalls wrecked havoc on the morning commute. No wonder Leonie had caught a cold. How was one supposed to dress in March?

Leonie felt a buzz in her coat pocket. Another text from her mom.

Mom: Ask him what he misses about Vietnam.

Leonie rolled her eyes. It was the tenth conversational tip her mom had sent today, all of them regarding something Vietnamese. His favorite Vietnamese dish, how to say “good morning” in Vietnamese, his thoughts about the Vietnam War (!), and other clumsy, Vietnamese-obsessed questions.

Leonie: I get that he’s Vietnamese, mom, but I don’t think he wants to talk about his heritage all evening. Plus, wasn’t he born here?

Mom: I’m just trying to help!

How had Leonie gotten to this point in her life? Single at thirty-four, going on a blind date arranged by her own mother, desperate enough to brave the unpredictable weather with a blossoming cold just in case the man turned out to be dating material. The probabilities were against her, and she knew it. Her mind was mathematical, yet her heart never listened.

Leonie sniffled as a gust of wind made her eyes and nose water. Her sinuses felt hot and heavy.

A pang of nostalgia and sadness hit her square in the chest. She missed her ex the most when she was sick. She had this crisp memory of him bringing her a cup of tea in bed when she’d caught a cold, right before they broke up. He’d chosen her favorite mug, the one shaped like an owl. After placing it on her nightstand, he’d lovingly kissed her forehead. One last shred of tenderness before it all turned sour.

It was three years ago, and yet Leonie still longed for that moment whenever she felt vulnerable. If she were a superhero, this would be her weakness. A dash of rhinovirus and a cup of hot tea: her very own Kryptonite. Enough to turn her into a blubbering, needy mess.

Her phone still in her hand, she navigated to the contact list, as she’d done thousands of times before, flicking right to Mike’s phone number. She glanced down at it as she walked, knowing that she wouldn’t call, and yet feeling comforted that if she wanted to, she could.

But he probably wouldn’t answer.

She pocketed her phone, and instead fished a packet of tissues. Her runny nose had turned devilishly tickly. Leonie took a few shallow breaths, trying to hold in the sneeze while she fumbled with the tape on the cellophane. She stopped walking to focus on the task at hand, her eyes half-closed and her head tilting, as if pulled back by the tickle in her sinuses. Her fingers tore impatiently at the packet, but it was too late. She doubled over, sneezing uncovered towards the ground.

HehhTSSHHiu!”

A passerby jumped out of the way, startled. “Geez, bless you!”

He continued on his way without waiting for a thank you, chuckling at his own reaction. Leonie’s face had turned lava red, her skin scalding from embarrassment.

A few blocks away, Dr. Vo probably waited for her at the bar & grill he’d chosen.

Leonie was five minutes late, Kryptonite-riddled, and ready for the night to be over.

TBC

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Wonderful!!!! Can't wait to see what happens next!!!!!

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4 hours ago, Oolia said:

Her fingers tore impatiently at the packet, but it was too late.

WOW that is 100% my cup of tea!! 

First of all, I love how we've already begun to get to know this doctor that hasn't even been introduced yet! And Leonie's persistence is so endearing! 

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So far this is shaping up to be very sweet! This first part was great for setting the scene, and I can't wait to find out what happens next. Something that never occurred to me before is I love it when characters get nagged by annoying parents or friends. It's not even a fetishy thing, I just think it's funny. I'm interested to see how the character dynamics change once the actual date starts.

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I was so excited when I saw this had been recently posted.  You're definitely one of my favorite writers on the forum, and this was as amazing as I was expecting.  I can't wait to see what happens next:D

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Posted (edited)

@Sneezingnonstop Thank you! Hopefully you will enjoy this next part as well :D

@Galaxy Thank you so much! Glad it's your "cup of tea" (nice play on word there :V )

@Blah!? Yeah, moms especially tend to pressure their kids into relationships. I'm glad mine never did, but I thought it would be a great way to sort of force Leonie to go the blind date anyway, just so that she doesn't have to deal with her mom nagging her :lol:

@CHOCOLATE <3 Aww thank you SO much! You've made my day! I can't believe I'm part of someone's favorite writers on the forum :o Hope you enjoy the rest of the story!

Here's part two!

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This isn’t too bad, Leonie tried to convince herself as she took a sip of iced water, menu in hand. She was sitting in front of Dr. Vo, or “Patrick,” as he’d insisted that she calls him.

The fact that he wasn’t 60 years old had somehow managed to shock her. She, of course, knew he was in his late 30s; her mother had told her so, but Leonie still refused to believe that doctors could be her age. She always imagined them to be the good old doctors who needed glasses to write up a prescription, with their wrinkly hands and grandfatherly smile. She’d forgotten that she was now at the age where doctors could even be YOUNGER than her. How horrifying.

But Patrick was far from horrifying. Leonie looked at him over her menu. He had the kindess eyes she’d ever seen. His angular face softened the moment he locked eyes with you, his whole face alive in a quiet, yet intense focus. His black hair peppered with gray reinforced his calm and composed demeanor. In an emergency, Patrick seemed the type of person to take control and keep everyone settled.

“Should we get any appetizers? You must be starving after working so late,” said Patrick, lowering his menu and giving her a sympathetic look. “I hear their mozzarella sticks are delicious.”

Leonie had to concentrate on Patrick’s lips to make out what he was saying. The bar & grill was packed with people. The buzzing of conversation had reached the noise level of a spaceship launch, rumbling through her brain and giving her a headache.

“Sure, that sounds good!” she said, trying to sound excited.

They sat in silence for another minute, eyes glancing over the laminated menu. Leonie realized that she hadn’t mentally prepared for this date. Not only had she somehow expected Patrick to be an old, almost-retired doctor, but conversation subjects also eluded her. She tried to form interesting questions in her mind, but the noise and a brewing tickle in her sinuses made it incredibly hard to concentrate.

“So my mother mentioned that you’re Vietnamese? Do you speak the language?” she blurted out without taking her eyes from the menu. The bitter taste of instant regret filled her mouth. She’d sworn that she would stay far away from any dumb questions about his ethnicity. Thanks, mom.

“I’m actually Japanese.”

Leonie’s heart dropped. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I—“

“No, no, I’m joking! I’m Vietnamese,” said Patrick with an uneasy chuckle. “I apologize, I tend to make terrible jokes when I’m nervous.”

Leonie looked at him in shock, her eyes wide. And then burst out laughing. Patrick joined in, until they were both laughing so hard that people glanced at them from the neighboring tables.

The joke wasn’t that funny; it was even a little mean. But it had been so unexpected, and the delivery so impeccable, that Leonie’s nerves had turned into uncontrollable giggles. And just like that, the tension between them disappeared.

“Your deadpan is amazing,” said Leonie, out of breath and almost euphoric from the laughter.

“So I’ve been told, but it gets me in trouble sometimes,” replied Patrick, back to his initial composure. “And to answer your question, I do not speak Vietnamese. My parents both moved here when they were young and spoke English to me. They know Vietnamese, but they didn’t pass it on to me, sadly.”

The waiter interrupted them, introducing himself and asking if they were ready to order. While Patrick asked about their selection of beers, Leonie sniffled, feeling the tickle growing more intense. A sneeze was definitely brewing. She picked up her menu and tried to hide behind it.

The burning sensation traveled from the back of her sinuses to the right side of her nose. Leonie itched a few breaths, praying that Patrick wouldn’t finish ordering before the sneeze came. She folded her index finger under her nose, while keeping the menu up with the other hand. Finally, her head bobbed towards her chest.

“Ehh… Hh! IIHGNXTT!”

She gave a little sniff and let out a sigh of relief. With the amount of ambient noise, Patrick couldn’t have heard the stifle.

“And for you, miss?”

Leonie lowered her menu, looking up at the waiter in confusion.

“Anything to drink?” he said politely, pen and paper in hand.

“Oh! I’ll have a glass of Riesling, thank you.” She winced at how congested her voice sounded. She sniffled again, trying to act casual, and glanced back at Patrick.

Hopefully he hadn’t noticed anything.

 

***

 

The ice had been proverbially shattered.

Much to Leonie’s surprise, she and Patrick had fallen into conversation as naturally as old friends who hadn’t seen each other in forever. For the next hour, not a second of silence had a chance to settle between them.

The only interruptions came from the waiter, who brought them their drinks and a plate of mozzarella sticks. Patrick had eaten half of the appetizer, and politely left the other half for Leonie, but she wasn’t particularly hungry. At least the wine had dulled her senses, along with her symptoms. Patrick was also keeping her entertained, recounting stories of his childhood camping trips. Leonie practically forgot her burgeoning illness.

But shortly after they sent the waiter away for the fifth time, asking for “a little bit more time” to make a decision on their entrees, Leonie’s nose decided it was done being ignored.

She felt the telltale signs of a sneeze deep within her sinuses, but gave it no mind, focusing instead on Patrick’s story.

“…parents would let us pitch our own tent further in the woods…”

However, the tickle grew exponentially stronger, sending a shiver down Leonie’s back. She tried to quell it by pushing her tongue up her palate, but it didn’t make a dent in the sneeze’s progression. When she sniffed, the tickle sizzled like a splash of water on burning coal.

“…left the tent pole at the camp, but after making such a fuss with the parents…”

This wasn’t going to be a one-off sneeze that Leonie could hide behind a menu. Despite her eyes watering, she tried to maintain an interested smile, nodding along at the story. But she was no longer paying attention, her focus consumed by the ravenous tickle making its way down her nose.

“…shapeless tarp on the ground, and all sorts of nocturnal animals that…”

She could feel her eyes closing involuntarily, her nose scrunching ever so slightly. She had to act fast, but wasn’t sure what do to. Risk a snotty, sneezing fit in front of her date and humiliate herself, or interrupt his story and run to the restroom, making him think that she battled some sort of digestive trouble.

Ultimately, she just couldn’t trust her nose.

“…didn’t end up sleeping much, staring at the stars and waiting for—“

“I’m s—so sorry Patrick, could you eh… excuse me a second?”

Leonie grabbed her purse and headed towards the restroom behind Patrick, trying her best to act as normal as possible. Her lips parted, her breath hitched. She had almost reached the restroom’s door when the tickle took complete hold of her nose.

EHHNNGGXXT!”

Leonie stumbled forward in her heels under the force of the stifle, but held her balance. She prayed that Patrick wasn’t watching her right now, wondering why she’d left so abruptly. She pushed the door to the ladies’ room without glancing back.

She locked herself in a stall, rolling a wad of toilet paper around her hand while the next sneeze built up. Her eyes were streaming from the intensity of the burn in her sinuses, and she longed for some relief.

She leaned back on the stall door and gave herself fully to the fit.

EEHTSSSHHiu!! EHHhTSSHHHH! NNTSSHHiu!”

Leonie buried her nose in the rough toilet paper, catching every sneeze, but she wasn’t done. Mucus had loosened up in her nose and spawned another irresistible tingle. She threw the used wad of paper in the toilet and grabbed another one, rubbing her nose furiously with it. She gave a tiny, liquid sniffle, which was enough to trigger another set of itchy sneezes.

She breathed one urgent, quivering lungful of air and covered her nose with the toilet paper. The sneezes came hard and fast, riding on the same breath and leaving her panting.

EHHTSSSHHUUTSSSHiu! TSSHHTssshhTshhh…!”

She gasped, and one last, powerful sneeze echoed in the empty restroom. “HEHHTSSHHHIIUUU!!”

Finally, the tickle was gone.

Leonie blinked away the tears. She blew her nose a few times to clear her sinuses as much as possible, but the damage was done. The cold had now officially taken over.

 

***

 

When Leonie rejoined the table, a fresh glass of wine was waiting for her. Patrick smiled, but didn’t mention anything about her sudden escape to the restroom. Polite and considerate, no wonder Leonie’s mother wanted her to meet him.

Leonie took a sip of her wine, struggling with the throbbing pressure behind her eyes and nose. The restaurant had somehow gotten louder. Groups of people were laughing raucously, enjoying drinks and relaxing after a hard week. The lights had been dimmed even more, and music blared through the speakers peppered around the room, some fast tempo with a lot of bass. The bar & grill was turning into a club & grill.

Patrick said something to Leonie, but she couldn’t understand him.

“Not hungry?” he repeated louder, pointing at the mozzarella sticks. Crap. This poor man had waited until 9 pm to meet her for dinner, and all he’d had to eat was half a measly appetizer.

“Sorry, I’ve been working such long hours, I forget what it’s like to be a human being,” she joked. “But please, you should order dinner!”

“I would tell you that skipping meals is not good for your health, but I myself had to skip lunch today to squeeze a patient in… and then broke down at 7 pm and ate a sandwich. Or two.”

Leonie laughed. “What a great pair we make, unable to feed ourselves like real human beings.” She bit her bottom lip. Maybe using the word “pair” was a little too strong on the first date.

“Busy lives, busy minds,” he said, shrugging. “We always find a way to make it work.”

“Speaking of which, thank you for not giving up on me after I rescheduled twice.”

He chuckled. “Well, your mother had great things to say about you. I couldn’t pass this chance.”

Leonie almost choked on her sip of wine. “Wait, you talked to my mother directly? I thought this was a mother-to-mother kind of deal?”

“Oh no, she’s a patient of my partner at the clinic. He introduced us a few months ago when she came for her annual exam. She called the office a couple of times to make sure that you and I would meet.”

Leonie was fuming. “I’m so sorry! I can’t believe she pestered you like that…”

“Don’t be. I’m glad that she did. I’m having a great time.”

Leonie blushed, unable to keep from smiling. It was too early to call, but she really did enjoy his company. She hated to admit that her mom was right, but despite her illness, Leonie felt comfortable around Patrick. Maybe she was finally ready to move on and share her life with someone new.

She shook her head. This was classic Leonie; getting ahead of herself. She’d met the guy less than an hour ago, and she was already imagining moving in with him and having kids. What was wrong with her. How about enjoying the present and the casualness of hanging out with someone for a while? Why did everything have to be so serious with her?

Suddenly, she longed to go back to the office and bury her head in numbers.

As Leonie took another sip of wine, she tipped the glass over her nose a little deeper, and got a whiff of the fruity, sweet perfume of the drink. For some reason, it irritated her sinuses. Her nose twitched under the glass while she finished her sip. She swallowed quickly, knowing a sneeze was impending, but she barely had time to lower the glass. It came so fast that she didn’t have time to formulate a plan on how to subdue it. She reflexively turned to the side and brought a loose fist under her nose to lessen the inevitable spray.

Ehh’TSHHiu!” She kept her knuckles under her nose, embarrassed to sneeze at the dinner table like this, so close to food. Even if no one was eating it.

“Bless you.”

Leonie lifted her head to thank Patrick. He was looking at her, his eyebrows furrowed and his eyes even kinder than before, which seemed almost impossible. Leonie sniffed and winced at how wet it sounded, further adding to her embarrassment. At least her nose wasn’t overly runny. Yet.

“How about we go somewhere more quiet?” said Patrick over the noise of laughter from a neighboring table.

Leonie nodded, rubbing at her nose. Patrick dropped a few bills on the table, and they filed out of the restaurant, avoiding eye contact with the poor server who’d tried taking their order about a million times.

TBC

Edited by Oolia

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I've been closely eyeing this thread and I'm excited to see where it goes! Patrick's politeness and Leonie's looming cold make it really fun :) Every time I saw the asterisks I got scared it would be over, but it was a good length and left me wanting more *patiently waits with hands clasped* xD.

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These two are so adorable!!!!! I cant wait to see what happens next! Keep it up :)

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This is SUPER cute! I love all the details and I totally have a feel for them as characters. I'm very much looking forward to more too :)

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To echo what everyone else has been saying, this is really cute. Both main characters are great, and I love seeing their interactions so far. Hopefully they've got something fun planned for the next part. I also really enjoy the little bits of backstory sprinkled in here and there, even the stuff immediately preceding the story. I can just see Leonie's mom being all smug. Finally, the sneezes were really nice in this part. I always enjoy seeing them get progressively stronger, and anyone who stifles with a finger under their nose is alright in my book.

Really looking forward to the next part!

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This was AMAZING :jawdrop:  I can't wait until the next part.  

How do you pronounce Leonie's name? Is it like "Lee-oh-knee" or "lennie"?

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This really good. I love.

I second Chocolate. I'm pronouncing her name as "Lennie."

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I'm glad you guys are enjoying it! :D Thank you so much for the comments!

29 minutes ago, CHOCOLATE <3 said:

How do you pronounce Leonie's name? Is it like "Lee-oh-knee" or "lennie"?

I was actually wondering if it was common in English or not. I'm a native French-speaker, and that's the name that popped into my mind, and I loved it so much that I didn't want to try to find another name :P The way I pronounce it in my head is closer to the French pronunciation ("lay-oh-knee"), but I asked my husband and he says "lee-oh-knee", so honestly, whatever way sounds good to you is fine :lol:

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33 minutes ago, Oolia said:

I'm glad you guys are enjoying it! :D Thank you so much for the comments!

I was actually wondering if it was common in English or not. I'm a native French-speaker, and that's the name that popped into my mind, and I loved it so much that I didn't want to try to find another name :P The way I pronounce it in my head is closer to the French pronunciation ("lay-oh-knee"), but I asked my husband and he says "lee-oh-knee", so honestly, whatever way sounds good to you is fine :lol:

It's not common in English, but it's gorgeous.  "Lay-oh-knee" is much prettier than "Lee-oh-knee" or "Lennie" :lol:

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I'm not really much of a cold fan, but I absolutely love your writing style, the likable and relatable characters, and your stunning attention to details! ^_^ 

 

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Posted (edited)

@Dusty15 Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying it! :D

@Cutelittlenose Thank you!

@Chanel_no5 It's always so nice to hear when someone who's not too much into your specific kinks is enjoying your story anyway because of your writing :wub: Makes my day!! Thank you!

@MysteryGirl Thank youuu! I was actually thinking about how the formatting was making the space between those asterisks really large :lol: I fixed it in this one.

Here is part 3! Only one last part after this one.

--------------------

As soon as they stepped outside, Leonie let out a sigh of relief. The night was cold and quiet, and the moon tiptoed in the sky.

Leonie welcomed the contrast. Because her ears had overadjusted to the loudness of the bar, sounds now appeared muffled to her. She always loved that feeling. It was like walking through cotton balls, enveloped by clouds and protected from the sharp edges of the world.

“The nights have gotten so cold these past few days,” said Patrick, rubbing his hands together.

Leonie nodded and took a deep breath, enjoying the refreshing cold wind on her face. Her nose, however, did not particularly like it. She gave a pathetic little sniff to keep it from running too much without alerting Patrick, but all it did was set off another tickle. Great, she thought. Nowhere to hide.

Patrick stood right in front of her. “Let me see if there’s any coffee shops open late around here.” He grabbed his phone from his pocket. “If you still want to hang out, of course,” he added, lifting his gaze from his screen to await Leonie’s answer. He then paused, studying her face curiously while she fought the tickle.

Oh to hell with it, Leonie thought. She lifted her index finger and muttered, “I’m sorry, I gotta sn—sneeze… hhHH! IIHTSSHiiu!”

She turned to her side, sneezing in her elbow. A couple of small coughs escaped her throat as she regained composure.

“Leonie—“ started Patrick, but Leonie interrupted him with her index finger once again.

“H—Hold on… EHHTSSHHiu! TSSHHHiu!”

“Bless you.” Patrick took a packet of tissues from his coat’s inner pocket and offered it to Leonie. “You must be coming down with something.” He said it with such kindness that Leonie’s Kryptonitis tingled deep within her chest. “As a doctor, I would advise you to go home and rest, drink plenty of fluids…”

Leonie took out a tissue from the pack and wiped her nose. There was a “but” in his tone, which immediately soothed her embarrassment at being found out so easily.

“But as I said earlier, I really enjoy your company, so I’d like to offer you a quick cup of tea before I send you home. Of course, if you really don’t feel good, we can reschedule.”

Leonie knew that the correct course of action was to cut her losses. End it while Patrick is still somewhat into her, and try again later. She could hear Lisa in her head. “You’ve got him in your pocket, get out before it turns ugly.” But then again, wasn’t he a doctor? Lisa had said it herself: he was used to this.

Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the low-grade fever creeping up on her, but Leonie felt daring. Almost adventurous, which didn’t often happen to her. She didn’t want to go home and lay in bed, feeling lonely. She wanted to hear more of Patrick’s stories and…

And get that cup of tea.

“I’d love some tea,” she said with a smile. “If you don’t mind all the sneezing…”

Patrick chuckled. “I may only be a family doctor, but I have stories that would make even the worst sneeze pale in comparison. But I usually keep those for the second date, so you will have to wait. Now come on, the coffee shop is only a few blocks away. Let’s get you out of the cold.”

*** 

Silence befell them at last, peaceful and comfortable. As they walked, Leonie listened to the sound of their steps on the sidewalk: a chorus of arrhythmic patters, one high and thin, the other low and full. The wind ran over buildings like a ghost, howling and whistling.

Shivers had started running up and down Leonie’s spine. Her bones felt oddly floaty, and her eyes burned. Yet her spirits ran high. Definitely a buzz from the wine, but also from her fever. She could feel it on her cheeks and her nape. Low-grade, for sure. She tended to run a temperature when she had a cold, and it always gave her a tipsy-like feeling.

She thought of Mike and then decided not to, mentally scribbling over the image of his face. She stole a glance at Patrick. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were fixed on the ground. Was he thinking of his ex, too?

Is this what dating would be from now on? Missing what was lost, hoping to find it in a stranger? Jumping from one ex to the future other? She shook her head. Stop it with the depressing thoughts.

“Oh, what is this?” said Patrick next to her, stopping in his track. He was pointing at a small alley in which a wall was painted black and covered in colorful writing.

Leonie approached the wall. “It’s a ‘Before I die…’ wall! I’ve heard about it a few months ago, but I’ve never seen one in real life. You’re supposed to use a piece of chalk to write down what you want to accomplish before you die.”

Inscriptions of different styles and angles, sizes and colors formed a beautiful jumble of hopes and dreams. Some were simple, like “Meet my neighbors,” while others were more humorous, such as “Find Atlantis.” Leonie loved the deeper ones, like “Make the world beautiful,” “Be an Iron Man,” “Forgive and be forgiven.”

“This is beautiful,” she murmured.

Patrick bent down to retrieve a few pieces of chalk on the ground. “This may be too heavy for a first date, but…” He handed Leonie a purple piece of chalk. “What do you want to accomplish before you die?”

Leonie picked it up. “Right back at you, of course.”

They both turned to the wall and took a moment to think about it. Leonie didn’t want to veer in the overly dramatic, but she also wanted to be honest. What would she wish to do before she died? What would she regret not achieving once on her death bed?

While Leonie struggled with the question, Patrick stepped up to the wall, choosing a blank spot above the rest. Although he was tall, he still needed to be on his tippy toes to write in big, loopy letters: “Make a true difference in the world.”

Leonie felt a tug at her heart. “You don’t feel like you’re making a difference by helping your patients, and even saving their lives?”

Patrick turned to face Leonie, a few deep wrinkles on his forehead. “Sometimes it feels like it’s not enough, or not big enough. The world is so vast and my influence so small. I’d like to see if I can do better than this.”

Leonie nodded, touched by his honesty.

She sniffled, her nose starting to run again. She walked up to the wall and lifted her head to write her own message. She squeezed it in between two other big wishes, her letters small and neat, as if she were writing it only for herself to see.

“Find my place in the world.”

As Leonie started the loop on the very last “d,” the wind picked up and blew a fine dusting of chalk at her face. She finished her letter, fighting a fierce tickle. Her breath hitching, her nose flaring, she took a few steps back without looking. She inadvertently stepped on a piece of chalked behind her and stumbled back.

Patrick, standing to her right, instantly reached his arm around her back to prevent her from falling. Leonie straightened up with his help, but the sneezes were unfazed by the near-fall. She managed to turn to her left, sneezing in the crook of her elbow while Patrick still had his hand on the small of her back, making sure she was stable. Their bodies were so close that Leonie could feel herself leaning against Patrick’s chest as each sneeze pushed her towards him.

HHIITSHHiu! Eh… EHHTSSHHiu—Tshhh! NTSSHHiuu!”

“Oh my, bless you!” said Patrick as he let go of her. “Are you alright?”

Leonie’s fevered cheeks were blazing hot. “Yes, I’m sorry, I…” Her voice cracked and she coughed a few times, stepping away from Patrick.

“No need to be sorry,” he said, his eyes still filled with worry. “But you don’t sound well. And you seem really flushed.”

He extended his hand, but hesitated halfway to Leonie’s face. However, his doctor instinct seemed to kick in, and his eyes locked in an almost professional resolve. He placed his palm on Leonie’s cheek first, and then the back of his hand on her forehead.

“This isn’t very accurate,” he said, holding out his hand, “but I’m fairly certain that you have a fever.”

Leonie nodded, sheepish, as if he was about to scold her. A shiver wracked her body, both from the fever and the fright of almost falling down.

“You’re shivering,” Patrick said, looking down at Leonie’s arms as she crossed them over her chest. “Let me drive you home.”

TBC

Edited by Oolia

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Nice one! :notworthy:

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I'm actually kind of speechless after that last part, in a good way. The sneezing was as cute as ever, but I'm just fixated on that last part. After seeing the world through Leonie's eyes and hearing her thoughts, her wish felt sort of "pleasantly" bittersweet, if that makes any sense. I thought it was very sweet, but there was also a bit of sadness behind it even if it was a mostly happy moment. I'm not really sure how else to describe how I feel about it, so I guess that will have to do.

Suffice it to say I'm very interested to see what happens next!

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This part was as cute as can be, and thats even before the wonderful sneezing here!! Can't wait to see what happens next!

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I'm hooked. This is so cute. Maybe they could have tea at her home? The offer of tea seemed to good to ignore. Or maybe he finds another reason to stay?

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Eek! So cute :wub: I love those "What I want to do before I die..." art pieces. Very neat! They seem like such a great match and I'm eager to see what will happen next!

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Oh my gooooooooooooosh.  I read the latest part yesterday afternoon (and then re-read it three or four more times), but I was on my phone and wasn't able to comment until right now. 

 

On March 22, 2017 at 11:43 AM, Oolia said:

“Bless you.” Patrick took a packet of tissues from his coat’s inner pocket and offered it to Leonie. “You must be coming down with something.”

Concern for another character's well-being hits me right in the feels.  Leonie and I have the same Kryptonite :wub:

On March 22, 2017 at 11:43 AM, Oolia said:

“Oh my, bless you!” said Patrick as he let go of her. “Are you alright?”

Leonie’s fevered cheeks were blazing hot. “Yes, I’m sorry, I…” Her voice cracked and she coughed a few times, stepping away from Patrick.

“No need to be sorry,” he said, his eyes still filled with worry. “But you don’t sound well. And you seem really flushed.”

He extended his hand, but hesitated halfway to Leonie’s face. However, his doctor instinct seemed to kick in, and his eyes locked in an almost professional resolve. He placed his palm on Leonie’s cheek first, and then the back of his hand on her forehead.

“This isn’t very accurate,” he said, holding out his hand, “but I’m fairly certain that you have a fever.”

Leonie nodded, sheepish, as if he was about to scold her. A shiver wracked her body, both from the fever and the fright of almost falling down.

“You’re shivering,” Patrick said, looking down at Leonie’s arms as she crossed them over her chest. “Let me drive you home.”

 

aaaaaand I am dead.  You have killed me.  :boom: This whole scene was so sweet (also the fever-check was just perfect)  I'm very anxiously awaiting the next part (but seriously don't feel rushed or anything)

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Posted (edited)

@Geni101 Thank you :D

@Blah!? I went for sort of a "melancholy" feel. Glad you're enjoying it!

@Sneezingnonstop Thanks! Here's the next (and final) part :D

@Cutelittlenose I think you'll be please with this next part haha!

@Dusty15 Thank you! I really love those art pieces too, and I was trying to find something unique for them to do. I kinda want to write in my own thing on one of these walls one day. I should check for one in my area!

On 3/23/2017 at 10:28 PM, CHOCOLATE <3 said:

Concern for another character's well-being hits me right in the feels.  Leonie and I have the same Kryptonite

That makes 3 of us :lol: Concern for others is my weakness, it affects me even more than sneezing, although in a different way. I LOVE it so much, so I always try to add it to my fics.

Alright guys, this is the final part! I hope you'll enjoy it. Thanks again for all the comments and encouragements!

----------------------------------------

 

“Do you need anything?” Patrick asked, one hand still on the wheel of his car. They were idling in front of Leonie’s apartment building, the vents loudly blowing hot hair to keep them warm.

“Yes, I should be alright.” Leonie stared out of the fogged-up window. She felt awful. As much as she didn’t want to end the evening so soon, she longed for the safety and comfort of her own home. Inviting Patrick up would send the wrong message, even if it was just for coffee. Or tea. “I’d love to see you again… Once I’m better.”

“I’d love to as well.”

Leonie offered a parting smile and reached for the door handle when Patrick asked, “Do you have any medicine at home?”

Leonie paused. “Hmm. I think I have some ibuprofen or something like that.”

“I can go to the drugstore and get medicine if you would like. What are your symptoms?”

Leonie repressed a smile. Maybe Patrick didn’t want to end the night so soon either. “Headache, a bit of a fever, sore throat, sneezing, congestion… I think that’s it.”

“Go home and get warm. I’ll come back to drop off the supplies and then let you rest.”

Leonie nodded and gave him her apartment number, then stepped out of the car. She made her way up to the eighth floor and into her apartment with an odd feeling of irreality. As if her mind was floating out of her body, the stitches unseamed. The fever played a part in it, but so did the absurdity of the evening. She’d never had a date so… atypical.

And she kind of liked it.

Of course, she didn’t like being sick, but it had triggered a couple of very honest moments with Patrick. Her previous dating experiences had been quite different. Everything was usually all surface, like the hard shell on a sugar-coated candy. Except she never had the guts to bite hard enough to get to the center, too afraid of what kind of rotten flavor hid inside. It was like playing an unwanted game of Bertie Bott’s.

She turned on the lights in her studio apartment. The place was clean, as always, so there was no need to worry when Patrick would be back with the supplies. Her bed was made, the sink was empty. Everything was in its place.

She kicked off her heels, feeling the cold hardwood floor under her feet. Shivering, she turned on the heating and fetched a warm sweater and some thick socks from her dresser. She caught a glimpse or her pale face in the mirror. She didn’t look too bad. A bit tired, but her flushed cheeks and her glistening eyes could almost pass as a fresh face after a ski day.

Leonie sat on her bed and hugged a pillow to her chest. She looked out the huge window taking up almost the entire back wall of her apartment. She’d chosen this particular unit because of the window. In the distance, she could see traffic on the highway, surrounded by city lights. At night, it looked like a river of scintillating rubies dancing in a field of stars. It was mesmerizing.

But somehow tonight, her tiny studio felt vast and empty, and she longed for Patrick to come back. She resisted the urge to fetch her phone and scroll down to Mike’s name once again.

Staring out the window, Leonie tried to estimate the number of rubies dancing on the highway. How many would cross the river in an hour’s time, a month’s time, a year’s time? She focused on the digits flicking through her brain as she counted. Soon, her eyes blurred, and she was lulled into a gentle slumber.

***

A knock on the door pulled Leonie out of the void. She opened her eyes, disoriented. Her skin radiated warmth. One look at her clock told her that she’d been sleeping for about 15 minutes. She tried to sniffle, but her nose was completely blocked.

Another knock and Leonie remembered Patrick. My date. Who offered to buy medicine for me, she reminded her foggy brain. She stood up and swayed, her body shivering as though the bed had sucked out all of its warmth.

She opened the door. “Hey.”

“I’m back, sorry it took so long,” said Patrick, examining her with an almost clinical intensity. “I had a hard time finding a pharmacy open 24/7.”

Leonie stepped out of the way, inviting him in.

“I don’t want to impose—“ started Patrick, but Leonie waved her hand, as if to put an end to the back-and-forth niceties she didn’t have the energy for.

“Come in and warm up for a few minutes at least,” she said.

Patrick walked to the counter, admiring the large window and the clean studio. He put down a reusable canvas bag who’d clearly been “reused” quite a bit. It bore the name of the state University, where he’d probably studied.

“Come sit down, you’re swaying,” said Patrick.

Leonie nodded and sat on one of the stools at the breakfast counter. Her head felt heavy and her throat was scratchier than before. Napping had been a terrible idea. She felt sicker and drained of all energy. Every time she moved, it was like a northern wind blew across her skin and made her shiver.

She watched as Patrick unloaded the bag. A box of cold medicine, some throat lozenges and a thermometer.

“I wasn’t sure if you had one of these,” Patrick said, removing the thermometer from the package. “It’s good to keep track of your temperature and see if the medicine is working.”

He slid the device across the counter towards Leonie, who took it and slipped it under her tongue. She took a deep breath and pressed the button, closing her lips together. Hopefully it wouldn’t take too long. She could not breathe through her nose.

When it finally beeped, she exhaled with relief and looked at the results. “100.2, not too bad.”

Patrick nodded. “But it’s enough to make you feel like bad.”

“I’ve been better,” she admitted, tempting a smile. “But I’ve been worst, too.” Her voice sounded rough and congested. She got up. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Nothing for me, thanks. I should let you sleep. I just wanted to make sure that you’d have everything you need.” He looked at Leonie as she walked around the counter to join him in the inner kitchen area. “But you need to keep yourself hydrated. Maybe some tea?”

Leonie nodded, her heart fluttering. A cup of tea.

She grabbed the kettle on the stovetop and turned to the sink.

Patrick extended his hand towards it. “Want me to make it for you?”

Leonie hesitated, but shook her head. “Nah, I got this. Thank you.” She filled the kettle and clicked on the gas. The flame popped and she fetched her mug. The mug. The one in the shape of an owl. She dropped a bag of lemon and ginger tea in it and set it down on the counter, waiting for the water to boil.

A tickled formed in the back of her throat. She tried to clear it, but it turned into a small cough that she caught in the crook of her elbow. She winced in pain.

“I can check your throat to make sure it’s just a cold,” offered Patrick. He chuckled. “Sorry, I’m having trouble keeping ‘Dr. Vo’ from taking over.”

Leonie giggled at how embarrassed he looked, a first since she’d met him. A crack in his polite, controlled behavior. It was adorable.

“If you can save me a trip to the doctor later on…” she said before heaving herself onto the counter. The cold marble seeped through her thin jeans and sent another shiver up her back, but this time it reverberated through her nose. A tickle quickly formed, and Leonie held a hand in front of Patrick as he approached her. He stopped, confused, but understood when he saw her eyes closing and her nostrils flaring.

Leonie tilted her head back as the prickle expanded. Her knuckle reached reflexively under her nose to quell the irresistible, exquisite itch, but it only seemed to enhance it. Her breath quivered as she inhale deeply and launched forward, bringing her sweater over her nose just in time.

“Hhhh… EHHTSSHHHiu!”

She kept her collar over the lower half of her face, her eyes still shut, feeling the tickle build up again.

EHTSSHiiu!”

“Bless you,” said Patrick, his voice so tender that Leonie felt weak. “I’m so sorry you don’t feel good. Hopefully it’ll be over in a few days.”

Behind him, the kettle whistled. Patrick turned and picked it up, then filled the mug to the brim and set it down on the counter next to Leonie. She stared at it, sniffling, trying to keep her feelings under control.

“May I?” Patrick said, his hands towards her face. He was tall enough that they were almost face to face. Leonie nodded. When his hands first touched her on either side of her neck, goosebumps traveled like a wave on the map of her skin. She closed her eyes, breathing in through her mouth. His fingers felt cool on her hot skin, and rough from overwashing. He palpated her neck symmetrically on each side, below her jaw, feeling for swollen lymph nodes.

It should have felt cold and clinical. Even embarrassing. But somehow, it felt intimate and loving.

Patrick’s hands went down towards her throat, always gentle. Leonie opened her eyes and saw a look of concentration on his face. His eyebrows knitted, his eyes following his own movements. Leonie bit her bottom lip and glanced at the cup of tea steaming at her side.

Her mind was a blur of emotions, attraction, neediness, nostalgia, desire. How could she tell them apart, how could she know what was real and what was Kryptonite?

Patrick grabbed his phone and turned on the flashlight mode. “I’ll use this to look at your throat. Close your eyes so I don’t blind you.”

Leonie closed them, but as soon as Patrick turned his device towards her, the flash of light through her eyelids was enough to set off another tickle. She squeezed her eyes and lifted a hand.

“H—Hold… Ehh…”

Patrick quickly move the light away as Leonie turned to her side. She muffled a sneeze in her elbow.

EHHTSSHHHiiu!”

“Sorry,” Patrick chuckled. “Bless you. Better now?”

Leonie nodded, sniffling. At least the sneeze had cleared her mind a little. She shook her head and her shoulders, trying to loosen the fever’s grip.

Her nose behaved when Patrick tried again. She opened her mouth and said “Aaah” when asked. And just like that, the examination was over.

Patrick took a few steps back to give Leonie some space. “No signs of a serious infection in your throat. Some inflammation though, but that’s normal with a cold. Your lymph nodes are a bit swollen, so they might be tender for a few days. Like I said before, you need to rest. Sleep as much as you can, drink as often as you can. Don’t go to work tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow is Saturday,” said Leonie with a smile.

“I know, but you’ve been overworking yourself for the past two weeks,” Patrick countered, his voice stern with concern. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought you absolutely needed to go in tomorrow to finish something. I have patients like you. Hardworking and loyal. But think about yourself first for a few days, alright?”

Leonie nodded, keeping her eyes down. He wasn’t exactly wrong.

“Alright, I’ll let you go back to sleep now.” Patrick pocketed his phone and looked around the studio one last time, as if making sure everything was in order before leaving.

Leonie slid down the counter without a word and went in for a hug. After a split second of surprise, Patrick closed his arms around her small, warm body and pressed her back gently. “I hope you feel better very soon.”

***

Once Patrick was gone, Leonie took the owl teacup and emptied it in the sink. She grabbed a different cup, steeped another bag. Then, she walked to the window and sipped her hot drink, watching the rubies flow.

In a few days, when she’d feel better, she’d call Patrick to ask him on another date.

But in the meantime, she’d just drink her tea.

And everything would be alright.

 

The end

Edited by Oolia

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:boom::boom::boom: This was beautiful.  I am dead.  That is all.

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<3 so sweet! I love the ending and the promise of a sweet future together. I certainly wouldn't mind a sequel date with him being the unfortunate recipient of her cold!  

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