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striderlicious

i absolutely love this fic! its so intense and also adorable. i love that theres story elements along with the main illness plot. i also love that for once the love interest can possibly stay healthy! i also love tht derek wound up making himself worse, although i also feel bad for him. but i guess i just want him to feel bad i dont know. anyways this is really good so thank you!!

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9 hours ago, striderlicious said:

i absolutely love this fic! its so intense and also adorable. i love that theres story elements along with the main illness plot. i also love that for once the love interest can possibly stay healthy! i also love tht derek wound up making himself worse, although i also feel bad for him. but i guess i just want him to feel bad i dont know. anyways this is really good so thank you!!

I love when a new person comments! And such a wordy and unbelievable comment it was! Thankyou for your lovely words. They are rejuvenating! 

Don’t feel bad! Derek made himself worse to protect Anel. And Anel can only make him feel better if he feels bad ;)

Is it weird that I want to gush about (disect) this story with you hahahahaha! Authorproblems. 

And a small prize for making me feel warm ...Should Maggie’s date leave in the morning or be included in the story?

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mysterysneeze

I commented on the artwork that was based on this story, but I wanted to comment here too. The way you wrote the dialogue and interactions with your characters is really well written. They act like real people, and the fears at the beginning are relatable. The first part of your story helped set up how the characters act, told what they were annoyed with and fearful about, and helped explain what was going on. I think it is a nice detail you did that his sneezes got more urgent and desperate sounding the further along the story went. Caretaking is something that is really cool to see but not very often done with stories. I like the way you explain how she is trying to take care of him. What is interesting is he is so nervous and tense about her care taking.

The way you wrote this story is enjoyable and well written! You did a great story here =) 

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striderlicious
4 hours ago, Reader said:

I love when a new person comments! And such a wordy and unbelievable comment it was! Thankyou for your lovely words. They are rejuvenating! 

Don’t feel bad! Derek made himself worse to protect Anel. And Anel can only make him feel better if he feels bad ;)

Is it weird that I want to gush about (disect) this story with you hahahahaha! Authorproblems. 

And a small prize for making me feel warm ...Should Maggie’s date leave in the morning or be included in the story?

oh gosh well im glad you like my reply! im always worried when i reply on fics. as an author i love approval but also im always concerned as a reader tht im too much. 

that is very true. im so glad about that anel deserves to be happy and safe and its always so good when a potential partner goes out of their way to help the other. 

its not weird at all! i would love to at some point honestly. i have yet to post a fic on this site cuz motivation and nervousness, but hopefully soon i will. 

im v glad i could do that for you! and honestly i actually kinda like him so far. we dont know much about him but its kinda cute how hes just kinda tiredly slumped in the kitchen. he seemed somewhat of a jerk from just her description at the bar, but he did go back for her later, which is kinda sweet. its really up to you, but id love to know more about the guy! especially because hes an outsider to the things going on in their group, and it would be interesting to get the perspective of an outside observer. 

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2 hours ago, mysterysneeze said:

The way you wrote the dialogue and interactions with your characters is really well written. They act like real people, and the fears at the beginning are relatable.

This observation is really sweet because I always admire when ppl can do that, but never attributed that quality to my own work. Thankyou ~

The first part of your story helped set up how the characters act, told what they were annoyed with and fearful about, and helped explain what was going on. One time when I was stuck in the story, I went back and read from the beginning and easily picked up the story just from relearning the character and what they would do based off their personality. Anel is the only mystery. Kinda lol

Caretaking is something that is really cool to see but not very often done with stories.

Thankyou! I haven’t seen it much also but I eat them up when I do. It’s a much needed preference for me. When I read that, I wondered briefly if I posted this in the right section.

What is interesting is he is so nervous and tense about her care taking. Oh man. I had a paragraph here and then I remembered I took out a part because the last update was long. 🤭

The way you wrote this story is enjoyable and well written! You did a great story here =)  😁😍😭 Thankyou! 

 

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1 hour ago, striderlicious said:

oh gosh well im glad you like my reply! im always worried when i reply on fics. as an author i love approval but also im always concerned as a reader tht im too much. Hahahahaha no definitely not. I think commenters sometimes are afraid of being sharky but I like water animals 😏 or too excited like it puts pressure on the author but I write what gives me butterflies. Have you had bad experiences with that as a reader? 

that is very true. im so glad about that anel deserves to be happy and safe and its always so good when a potential partner goes out of their way to help the other. I almost died reading this from all the feels. I’m such an emotional creature. 

its not weird at all! i would love to at some point honestly. i have yet to post a fic on this site cuz motivation and nervousness, but hopefully soon i will.  It’ll be fun to chat about both of our stories or ideas for a story. I definitely understand your reasons for waiting, but if you like it then it’s a good chance someone else will. People read outside their preference too so that’s good! 

im v glad i could do that for you! and honestly i actually kinda like him so far. we dont know much about him but its kinda cute how hes just kinda tiredly slumped in the kitchen. he seemed somewhat of a jerk from just her description at the bar, but he did go back for her later, which is kinda sweet. its really up to you, but id love to know more about the guy! especially because hes an outsider to the things going on in their group, and it would be interesting to get the perspective of an outside observer. Genius!

 

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mysterysneeze

I'm thankful you take time to reply to comments ^^ It is usually the writers and artists themselves that are nervous or unsure about their own work.

You posted your story in the right section XD sneezing with caretaking is awesome to me, and I think you have done great with showing both sneezes and caretaking in your story.

To be honest I rarely comment on male sneeze things. I enjoy female sneezes a lot, and I like female characters in general more than male characters, but I do not only focus on female characters. Both male and female characters are important in a lot of movies and shows. Characters to me are more important than sneezes =) If I like a character, I usually have a desire to see them sneeze. 

You did a great job with your main characters in this story ^^ I like each one. Anel is awesome, not just as a caretaker role but as a character herself. Derek is a loveable main character with relatable insecurities. 

Thank you for taking time writing this story =)

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striderlicious

i didnt realize at first that you actually replied but im super glad you dont mind lengthy excited comments! and honestly im just a generally nervous person. 

honestly though being an emotional creative just makes your work better because you know how to feel and demonstrate that within your art of choice. 

honestly i really do enjoy that about this community. like even if someone doesnt understand completely they still try and read it anyways!! and yeah you do have a point im just fairly anxious normally.

honestly though i just love your writing in general. and the first person perspective is always so interesting because it just makes it feel so much more...human i guess? and i cannot wait for more honestly! im excited to see where you take it from here. 

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                                Maggie
         I turned on the light in the kitchen,  giving Dane a good long and hard stare. I guess my curse with men would continue. 
         I looked through the medicine cabinet, slightly regretting giving Derek my last dose. My brother would be here in fifteen minutes and I needed something for my headache. I wish Anel could give me a massage. It hurt to move. I felt like I did two weeks ago which was reasonable since I was hungover, but equally frightening if spending time with Derek had caught up with me. I shook my head to push the thought away, but all I succeeded in doing was adding dizziness to my list of complaints. At least if I did have the flu...again, that would convince Marcus even more that Anel was out of town. As long as I kept that away from her too. I found some Tylenol, but nothing else. I was out of luck. Even I knew Tylenol and alcohol didn’t mix. I turned back around to Dane slowly as I thought of the cute guy from karaoke I met who blushed after every word and asked for my number. He had been so sweet these last few weeks while we texted. It had seemed too good to be true to the point that I hadn’t told anyone about him. I wanted him to meet Anel though. He was so nervous when I pulled up to Derek’s house. I wanted Anel to approve so badly that I’d accidentally put a lot of extra pressure on him. From what he told me, I’d laughed at how jealous Derek was and agreed with him about how infectious Anel’s laugh was and how generous she was as a person.
      Because of sweet memories from the  first few weeks, I woke him up so he could lay down in the guest room. 
     He blinked his eyes and then held his head in his hands in the pose all hungover people end up in. 
    “Sleep in the guest room if you want.”
     He wiped his eyes and tried to stand...before falling back into his chair weakly. How much did he drink? He stood back up, gripping the table tightly. He looked at the fridge, the next thing he could hold onto, and balked at the distance to get there. I came up next to him and waited, not wanting to see him fall. He looked at me, hesitating only a moment before resting one hand on my shoulder. 
     He thanked me quietly and kept his head down. I didn’t comfort him. I comforted myself and the small sting in my chest by rubbing his back. He stiffened, but didn’t say anything. I turned on the light in the den wondering what his problem was and led him to the couch.
 Although I didn’t want to be That person, I was about to be That person. That person that couldn’t let things go. That person that wanted an answer for every question. That person that came up with crazy plans to keep her best friend and her brother away from each other without knowing why she needed to.
      “Why did you go off with that girl?”
       He looked up, surprise and anger twisting his face. 
     “What was I supposed to do? Pretend you weren’t ghosting me and stay? And I left, but there was no girl.”
     Words escaped me completely. I waited for his accusation to make sense while hoping there hadn’t been a girl.
     His bloodshot eyes turned redder, highlighted by the clear film that suddenly covered them. 
       “You couldn’t take your eyes off your phone and you kept leaving the table to answer calls. I got the message.”
        It hit me all at once! I started shaking my head quickly and then stopped and held my head. I lowered my voice for both our benefits.
      “I answered two calls and replied back when my family texted. There’s a reunion coming up. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to think I wanted you to go.”
      He looked away from me, shaking his head.    “Nah. I know how it works. Text your friends about me on the date and how terrible it’s going and then make up some emergency so they can pick you up.”
     I couldn’t fathom why he would think that. About me. 
      “It was my family! I wouldn’t do that. Why would you think that?” He looked at me as if I should know the answer even though I was the one asking!
      “Because you’re gorgeous and beautiful and can do way better than me.”
      I waved away the compliment. He grabbed my hand. 
     “You always deflect my compliments. I’m not sure if you’ve heard them so much they don’t mean anything to you but for guys like me, it’s hard to say them.”
     “What do you mean guys like you? You’re amazing!”
      My phone chimed just then and Dane’s eyes dimmed, a small sardonic grin curling his lips. He laid down and closed his eyes. 
     “Early start to your day, I see. Make it a good one.”
      “D-....”
        I left to find a blanket from the guest room and covered him with it.
        “I promise it’s just my brother picking me up. Please just...talk to me later. Ok? This is just a misunderstanding. I have to go.”


                              Anel

ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…..ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…
     I opened my eyes slowly to a dark and unforgiving world filled with noxious fumes from our own breaths hanging stagnant in the trapped air. What little air we could survive off of had the tangy and sour smell of sweat. I peeled my arm off Derek’s back, struggling to push against the thick humidity in the air and the weight of my soaked clothes. It was hotter than Sahara under here. I needed a shower, but I didn’t want to get out from under the covers with my wet clothes.
  ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…..ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…
   ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…

     Last night after Derek revealed he was with Maggie, he fell asleep during the few minutes I was speechless. It didn’t make sense, and I just had to work it out in my head. Maggie wasn’t like Derek’s mom at all, but she did like to keep a healthy distance from germs. She was fine with Derek being in her room yesterday though. Was my safety from Maggie’s terrible date just an excuse for him to lock me in my room so he could spend time with Maggie alone? That seemed a little extreme and pretty nonsensical, but I couldn’t think of a sensible answer.
ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…..ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…
   ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…zzzggzg...zg……….......

    “Adgnel…”
    He cleared his throat and tried to roll away in the tight enclosed space with his arm under me. I lifted myself up solving one problem, and he solved his other problem by lifting his side of the blanket.
  “Hold od. I have to…ah!!”
    He got back in so fast, the only thing on his mind to find heat quickly as he enveloped me. “It’s freezeh..Ah HaeShOO! HehAESHOo! Derek’s sniffles filled the silence.
   “It’s why I’m still under here.” I played with his hair and felt his forehead. His fever was very low or gone for now. 
   “I’b too cold to bmove.”
    I smiled freely in the darkness. 
   “Why would you want to?”
   “I actually dod’t, but I st-still hahh ahhh..haa..Nevermind.” 
    “I’m not afraid of a sneeze.”  He relaxed against me, shifting slightly to take one arm from under me. I felt his hand on my rib a moment later. The weight of it felt like lead to me, because I knew what was coming if he moved it.
     “What about coughing?”
     I swallowed, wondering why this was turning into a conversation. 
     “The same goe..”
     I remained perfectly still as he moved his hand.  Ahshoo! hehaishoo! HehEshu! 
     “Ok. I hope you really dod’t because I feel like there are rocks id my chest.”
    “How about you shower and try to get it out? I need one too so I’m gonna hop in the main...Oh Dane is out there, so I’ll use your shower.”
     I hoped there was nothing in my voice or body language that betrayed anything but casualness as Dane’s name brought up my next question.
     “Last night you said you couldn’t come with me because you were with Maggie.”
      He tensed and didn’t sneeze. I lost it.
      “Actually, you know what?! I’m sweaty!  Shower! I need to shower! Right!”
      I threw the covers off me and raced to the door, guided only by the small stream of sunlight let in through the thick shades.
    “Adnel! Wait!”
    I didn’t, and it was only after I finished taking my shower that I realized I’d forgotten a few things in my haste. Psyching myself up outside the bathroom door, I readied to take two or three steps to the hallway closet, hope it held towels or even sheets at this point, and steal some of Derek’s clothes. I could hear Dane snoring from the couch. It would be fine. I opened the door slowly and looked down at a tray table that held a towel, folded clothes, and a small opened bag of travel-size toiletries. Happiness rushed through me before I could get a tight rein on my feelings. I didn’t even know what Derek and Maggie were doing a few hours ago. I dried off and put on Derek’s clothes, needing to use whatever tightening feature each item had. Everything I needed was in the toiletries, which was convenient. Not super thoughtful or ridiculously sweet. After I grabbed my phone from his room, I should go to Maggie’s room and sleep some more in there. I stopped in his doorway. Derek had changed the sheets and made the bed. My phone was on top of a piece of paper. 
       It’s not what you think. I’d like to explain if you’ll let me. Please.
     The tips of my fingers glided across the bed until I reached his side and got under the covers. He must have put them in the dryer for a few minutes because they were still warm. I was so comfortable and relaxed, almost weightless from relief. I didn’t even want him to explain anymore and as soon as he came out, I would tell him. His shower ended soon enough and within a few minutes, he was opening his door. Feeling a little bit awkward, I kept my eyes on his chest.
      His chest became bigger as he walked over to me until I had to turn my head to avoid ramming my face into it. I hugged him back. 
     “You don’t need to explain, babe.”
     He let go and turned away from me, taking a step.
      Hei-ishoo! Hei-eishoo! Ishoo! Aeshooo! Hah ehshuu! hah haeshoo-Eshu!
     I handed him the tissue box from his nightstand and blessed him slowly. He blew his nose with several tissues and still had to grab another four tissues to finish. On the way back from throwing away his tissues and washing his hands, he turned off the light and made his way back to the bed without bumping into anything. A small chill ran through me when he lifted the covers, but it was soon replaced by his warmth. He gathered me to him tightly and securely.
      “I’ve never had someone with me when I’ve been sick. You already met my mom and saw both of our reactions. I was scared how I might react and how others would react , so I stayed away from people whenever I got sick. With girlfriends, I pretended to go out of town or stayed at a hotel if we lived together. With friends, I just went MbIA.”
        Congestion seeped back into his voice, never gone for long. 
       “I tried to keep bmy distadce frob you too, but you bmade it so hard. You bmake it so hard.”
     I missed his lips completely the first time, kissing his nose and moving away from the squelching sound before taking another shot. I would have landed perfectly the second time if he didn’t fling his head back, so I met his chin instead. The exact second his stomach rippled and his arms turned into steel bands, I realized what was happening and pushed my face into his pillow and shoulder. 
HaaAshoo!       Ha-EhShOo!                                                   HaEISHOO!   HESHOO!
         I swiped my hand along his back longer than necessary. He sniffed a few times before I felt his soft breaths. He traced his fingers along my face, lifted my chin, and kissed my cheek. I should have mapped his face out with my fingers and then kissed him. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. 
        “You godda let be fidish?”
          I almost sprung on him again for those words, but only made a sound of agreement, not trusting my voice. 
       “I thought you felt obligated to stay.”
     “Because of your panic attack?”
       “Yes but also Baggie. She asked you.
      My heart melted for what he had to endure but also for the effects from those experiences that he still carried with him. He wouldn’t believe me if I said his cold didn’t bother me, but he would if….if I....I almost told him. Not all of it, but just enough so he didn’t worry about these things. It was on the tip of my tongue…….I thought you were the sweetest person, but this whole time you’ve just been gettin’ your rocks off!? That’s so gross, Anel! Just repulsive and sickening! What kind of…..
           I hugged Derek tighter, suddenly afraid and reminded again of what I could lose if Marcus ever told anyone. Derek hugged me back without knowing how much I needed it right then. 
       “But I kdow it’s because you care about bme. I care about you too. It’s why I wadted to protect you earlier and went to Baggie.”
       “You won’t get me sick. Don’t worry.”
        I said it automatically, the words so familiar to me that I didn’t need brain function to put my words in the proper order. Thankfully he  didn’t say anything else because I was lost in my memories. I followed his slow breathing, trying to slow my heartbeat to his and calm myself down...You stay away from my sister. And the rest of my family!
She’s my best friend! Marcus, please!
I’ll tell her. I’ll tell everyone!
No! You can’t!

    I knew our relationship was over as soon as I told him, but I thought he could understand that my interests never extended to his twin. Maggie, Marcus, and I had grown up together and we were always together. I always thought I would marry Marcus and Maggie would be my maid of honor and second mother to any children I had. A small knife slowly wedged itself in between my ribs bit by bit to reach my heart, a good reminder of what could happen if I get too attached to anyone and he tells them.
ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…..ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…
    Derek finally fell asleep. ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…..ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…
    I scooched away from him and got out of bed. 
   ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg…ZZGGZZHZzzzggzg
I would just watch tv or get some work done. Some healthy distance would be wise. 

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Mysterysneeze, I think the same about reading stories for content first and then sneezes! It can be hard to balance plot and sneezes, especially if you don’t want it to seem like it’s being thrown in there. I really appreciate your comments! They are so nice and well thought out. You explain and expound on every point and I like hearing your opinion since you prefer female sneezes. You’ll have to let me know in pm that male sneezing story that was one of your favorites! I bet it’ll be good reading. 

Striderlicious! Your idea was genius and opens up the story to another viewpoint...like viewing Maggie and Marcus yassssss. I want Dane to have a viewpoint, so now I just have to figure out his personality and stuff. You anxious....no way! Although I’m def on that train. Talk to you soon!

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Nval95

So i read it once, then i read it twice. I am so going to draw their cuddle time!!!!!!!!!  *squeal they are so so sweeeeeeeeeeeet. Hug fest! Hug fest!!

1 hour ago, Reader said:

   He got back in so fast, the only thing on his mind to find heat quickly as he enveloped me. “It’s freezeh..Ah HaeShOO! HehAESHOo! Derek’s sniffles filled the silence.
   “It’s why I’m still under here.” I played with his hair and felt his forehead. His fever was very low or gone for now. 
   “I’b too cold to bmove.”
    I smiled freely in the darkness. 
   “Why would you want to?”
   “I actually dod’t, but I st-still hahh ahhh..haa..Nevermind.”

Oh i truly love this part 

1 hour ago, Reader said:

    I should have mapped his face out with my fingers and then kissed him. I wouldn’t make that mistake again

Oh but you should!!!!!! Why i should you not do so? Mistake? Whats mistake?!! I see no mistake!! Not at all. X'D 

Readeeeeeeeeer, Derek is so cuteeeeeeeeee. Oh poor Dane ≥﹏≤ Anel noooooooooooooooooo,  come baaaaaaaack, you need to cuddle more with Derek X'D ignore you work, Derek is better (whut?) but seriously i love your works~~ love it oh so much~~~~~(灬♥ω♥灬)

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5 hours ago, Nval95 said:

So i read it once, then i read it twice. I am so going to draw their cuddle time!!!!!!!!!  *squeal they are so so sweeeeeeeeeeeet. Hug fest! Hug fest!!

Oh i truly love this part 

Readeeeeeeeeer, Derek is so cuteeeeeeeeee. Oh poor Dane ≥﹏≤ Anel noooooooooooooooooo,  come baaaaaaaack, you need to cuddle more with Derek X'D ignore you work, Derek is better (whut?) but seriously i love your works~~ love it oh so much~~~~~(灬♥ω♥灬)

Anel’s mistake was trying to kiss 💋 him in the dark 🌑 she won’t make that mistake and she’ll use her hands next time....😍

I’m so ready to see this drawing!!!! I can just tell from your words that you already have an image in your mind and I can’t wait to see it on paper!!!! I’m so excited!!! I know it’s going to be heart-stoppingly delicious! You spoil me~

Derek oh Derek! You’re too much. We can’t handle the cute! 

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striderlicious

This is so cute and good!!! I feel bad for poor Anel and her bad experiences. I'm very happy to have a partner that shares many of my fetishes and this one they think is cute even if they don't share it. I also feel bad for Maggie she seems so stressed poor thing. But honestly so far I love Dane! He's so shy and awkward and anxious and relateable. Getting so nervous that you just go hide in a corner when you're out with people. I do the same exact thing! I think people secretly hate me so I wander off and hide. Poor guy he needs a good hug. I love him so far and I'm very excited to see where you take this! Thanks for updating!!

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2 hours ago, Reader said:

Anel’s mistake was trying to kiss 💋 him in the dark 🌑 she won’t make that mistake and she’ll use her hands next time....😍

I’m so ready to see this drawing!!!! I can just tell from your words that you already have an image in your mind and I can’t wait to see it on paper!!!! I’m so excited!!! I know it’s going to be heart-stoppingly delicious! You spoil me~

Derek oh Derek! You’re too much. We can’t handle the cute! 

But but, she made him sneeze, sooooo its not a mistake. In fact, she should do more 😈 😂

Okay~ I'll tag you when its finish. Not at all XD

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!!!! How can someone be that cute!! 

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1 hour ago, striderlicious said:

This is so cute and good!!! I feel bad for poor Anel and her bad experiences. I'm very happy to have a partner that shares many of my fetishes and this one they think is cute even if they don't share it. I also feel bad for Maggie she seems so stressed poor thing. But honestly so far I love Dane! He's so shy and awkward and anxious and relateable. Getting so nervous that you just go hide in a corner when you're out with people. I do the same exact thing! I think people secretly hate me so I wander off and hide. Poor guy he needs a good hug. I love him so far and I'm very excited to see where you take this! Thanks for updating!!

Thankyou!!!! I know! It hurt me to write that part a little. I knew that would be the reason but then i added that memory and i said reader, give yourself a hug. 

I am insanely interested in hearing what it’s like to share a fetish with a partner, but I want none of that in real life lol. I’ve noticed a bunch of ppl on here have several fetishes. I think ppl have many but they just don’t know it yet. 

I had to think of how he could be the good person even though I wrote him as bad, so I’m glad it works. It’s actualy really cathartic talking about anxieties with a fellow anxious person. High five! But anyways, yea I really see his character as what you described and being really happy Maggie agreed and then going on the date and all his insecurities come up and she’s like whaaaa..? 

You’re welcome! 

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striderlicious

That makes sense honestly. I'm glad you planned this out too! That's super cool honestly I just kinda bs my writing usually. Like alright lets start typing and hope for the best. 

Yeah it's pretty great sometimes. Although I'm actually kinda a prude so it can get kinda awkward. Also it isn't this fetish so that's always awkward to talk about but apparently they think it's cute so I guess it works. 

Honestly though I'm really impressed you managed to turn it around so well!! I honestly absolutely appreciate it. And it really is though tbh. Existing can definitely be tricky at times. High five!!! Heck ye. Honestly though I can definitely relate to Dane, especially how other people don't really understand when you react because of anxiety and it can frustrate them. Even explaining it is tricky some times so I feel. I bet that in itself was pretty hard. I'm very happy he did though. 

I still wanna give Anel a hug tbh. She deserves to know that the boy is so in love with her honestly. What dweebs. It's super cute though. Especially how much she just wants to care and he's so nervous about all of it. 

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Posted (edited)

Hey guys, here for another weekly update! Everyone gets a viewpoint in this chapter, so it's pretty long. I had some lovely assistance from @Nval95  Thankyou darling~
        
                                Derek
               Anel came forward and opened her arms, eyes sparkling. When I lowered my head, my chin crinkled against the plastic covering on her head. Crackling sounds rose up the entire time I encircled my arms around the glorified trash bags she wore, and her goggles poked me in the chest. The texture of her latex gloves caught on my skin twice when she slid her hands down my arms and stepped back from my hug. Her nose and her mouth were covered with two masks, the yellow kind that signaled hazard and the white circular ones with a filtering piece in the middle and plastic metal bars on top.  
                 “Is this what you want?”

hehAEshoo!…..hhrRreshooo!....HrrSHOO!......HRRSCHOO!......
             What a nightmare. I moved my head an inch away from the wet spot on my pillow. Everything hurt. It wasn’t just a mass of dull pain either. Each part of my body was distinctly and separately in agony. I rolled off the side of the bed and slowly went out into the den in search of medicine. Anel was walking with Dane to the kitchen.
       “I’m not sure why she was so preoccupied with her phone, but I’ll tell you this. Maggie has a bad track record with guys. So much so, that she stopped introducing me to them. You’re the first guy in two years and that’s pretty special.”
      “Really?”
       He looked at her like she had the rest of his life in her hands. 
       “Really. And, I’m sorry for grilling you like that earlier. That must not have been nice to wake up to.”
        I wish I would have seen that.
      “Be glad I didd’t let her see you whed she first got here.”
      Startled, they both stopped and turned. Anel held her hand out with wiggling fingers and waited for me to catch up. Dane gave me a small smile. I nodded to him and interlocked my fingers with Anel. She cut me a glance sideways. 
      “Yea. You should always cool off first.”
       It hurt to even smile. Just as I was about to ask Anel where the pain medicine was, she spoke up first.
       “Can I borrow your computer and some headphones if you have them? I need to do some work.”
       “Yea, let me go get it.”
        I somehow made it back to my room and sat on my bed to rest, seeing my laptop and noise-cancelling headphones across the room. I woke up three hours later.

                                 Dane
      I leaned against the railing of the stairs and soaked up the sun as I talked to my sister, Tracy. She sighed.
      “What would you have done differently?”
      “In all honesty, nothing. If I had stayed, I would have been miserable even though she was just talking to her family because I didn’t know she was talking to her family. At least this way, everything’s out in the….open. Hold on. Somebody’s pulling up.”
       It was Maggie’s car, but a man stepped out. He was taller than me with hair a shade lighter than mine. He carried himself confidently as he walked closer and when he focused on me, I wanted to shrink back from his piercing eyes. He held out his hand when he came closer. 
      “I’m Maggie’s brother, Marcus. You must be Derek.”
       My eyes must have looked like saucers. Tracy spoke, still on speakerphone.
      “Brother? Ask him if he picked up Maggie this morning. And tell hi-”
      I took her off speaker phone and cleared my throat. 
      “My apologies. Please excuse me for one moment.”
       I didn’t know why all of a sudden I was talking so formally. Or waiting to be dismissed. I definitely wasn't trying to impress him.Marcus, looking amused, nodded and pointed to the stairs before he sat down. Leaning up against Derek’s car, I put my phone to my ear.
     “You were on speaker phone!"
     A beep sounded in the phone. 
     “Hold on, Trace.”
      I clicked over to Maggie.
     “Mag-”
     “Is anybody at the house? I think my brother is heading over there!”
      “Ye-
      “You can’t let him go inside!”
       My heart started racing from the sound of her frazzled and panicky voice. Marcus sat on the stairs, the picture of calm as he watched two squirrels chase each other up a tree. I lowered my voice.
       “He is sitting on the stairs. Long story short, I was outside on the phone with my sister when he pulled up. I walked away from him to hang up with my sister when you called.”
       “What has he said so far?”
        I quickly relayed the short conversation, even including my sister’s interruption. For some reason, it seemed important to say everything. 
       “He thinks you’re Derek?”
      “Yea, I’ll correct him when I go back.”
      “Wait! Let him think that. I’ll explain later. I promise.”
      She hung up. I clicked back over to my sister. 
       “I’ll call you back.”
        I mumbled a goodbye and hung up, making my way back to Marcus. I was so confused. Anel and Derek were the only ones in the house. Did Marcus have a problem with one of them? He stood up when I came over.
        "Sorry about that."
         "No, you're fine. I should be the one to apologize for coming here out of the blue. Maggie said she was at a friend’s house when I called her from the airport and I just thought maybe it could have been Anel."
       His eyes zeroed in on barely perceptible tics on my face, the small flicker of recognition I couldn’t hide. 
       “You know her?”
        "Maggie talks about her all the time."      
         “Do you have her number?”
         Wariness crept in. He was looking for her, but didn’t know her number? I frowned, shaking my head. He quickly backtracked.
        “I had it, but I lost it. Anyways, I’ll get it from my sister. It was nice meeting you, Derek."
          He left quickly and didn’t look back. 
       “Thanks.” I said to his back. 
        I called Maggie back and told her everything. She told me what little she knew and made plans to come over in a couple of hours. 

                              Anel
          Derek came into the den with a box of tissues and a clump of tissues pressed to his nose. I turned off his headphones just as he started talking.
         “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I’m sorry.”
         “It’s ok. I found them.”
          He picked up a tray table and set it up in front of me. Grabbing his laptop from my lap, he placed it on the tray table and then stretched out and laid his head in my lap. I cupped his face, feeling for a fever. Still low. 
       “How are you feeling?”
        He pulled my hand away from his face, quickly turning his head. 
        HaAeeShooo!
        There were faint drops of spray on my leg that I hoped he didn’t notice. I’d ditched the sweats he gave me hours ago and just wore one of his long-sleeved shirts with a pair of shorts I’d choked my waist with when using the drawstrings. He sat up and turned away from me, bringing his tissues to his face.
      Huh-IsshOo! HuhhIshA! HuhIishChooo!

     He sighed and laid on his back again.
    “Pretty crappy.”
     “I’m sorry. Can I get you something?”
     “No, I’ll get it. Keep working."
      He lumbered up and walked into the kitchen.  I actually hadn’t needed to work. It was just overtime anybody could pick up, but it was necessary to maintain a healthy distance. Well...healthier distance. I turned my headphones back on and silence blanketed the room. 
                                 ~~~
       Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Derek hunch over into a tissue. The last jarring sneeze caused his grounded shoulders to shake, popped out a long vein on his trembling neck, and kept his head down longer than usual. He left the room, and returned a few minutes later, plopping down and resting his head back on the couch with his eyes closed. After a glorious minute, I stopped putting strain on my peripheral vision and turned back to  my work.
        A click brought my surroundings in focus as Derek’s warmth-infused baritone assaulted my sensitive ears. 
      “You make me sneeze.”
      “W-WHAT?”
      He smiled slowly. When did he develop dimples?
     “You do.”
     “Oh-hoh.” I managed to expel, hoping it sounded like a laugh. I self-consciously reached up to tuck my hair behind my ears and met with my headphones. That jolt gave me enough pause to snap me out of my daze and move to turn my silence back on. He stopped me and grinned, removing the headphones and bringing my hand down as he leaned closer.
      “You have this flush effect on me.”
      “L-like splotchy patches everywhere?” I said, veering the conversation into safe territory. He put on the brakes, backed up, and parked.
      “No. Flushed like a cooling shock that clears up everything. Then I sneeze.”
       There was an appreciative glint in his eyes as he gazed over my face.  
       “Seems like you’re leaning the wrong way then.” 
      I could just feel his lips caress my ear as he spoke. How’d he get so close? 
      “You’re not afraid of a sneeze right?”
       Son of a
       My voice emerged, stripped of nonchalance and indifference. 
       “I’m not.”
       He went still for a moment, and then straightened, his eyes darkening right in front of me. In order to avoid getting lost in them, I searched the planes of his face. A layer of dew was on top of his flushed skin. His nose was a scarlet red that flashed neon red lights whenever his nostrils flared. His smile fell slowly into a lazy shaped O. He struggled to open his eyes fully as his breaths came rapidly. He turned his head quickly and sneezed harshly. Turning back to me, he sniffed and tucked a piece of my hair behind my ear, running his palm along the back of my neck. He looked at my lips and I licked mine in reflex. His hands tightened on me and his tongue curled to the roof of his mouth. 
         “Nose and mouth, right?” He said it slowly, as if to remind himself, eyes still on my lips. 
          My tongue curled to the roof of my mouth.
         “No.” I closed the distance, arms finding his neck. He slipped one hand out of my hair and slid it around my back bringing me tighter against him. I felt his lips before my eyes closed, and I felt his tongue before the cry of the screen door had us jumping apart. 
           Maggie came in carrying my suitcase.

                             Maggie 
          I grabbed two margarita glasses and dipped them in lime juice before I twisted them in sugar. I poured lemonade into the glasses next and called Dane into the room. 
         “Can you take these to Derek’s room?”
         I handed off the drinks to him and grabbed two more glasses. 
         “Hey, I…”
         I turned around just as he started to lift his right arm. He sometimes scratched the back of his head when he was nervous but with two glasses in his hands, he couldn’t. He lowered the drink and shook his head. 
         “Never mind, I’ll see you in the den.”
          After he left, I asked myself for the thousandth time if this was really and truly the only option. Bringing one glass to my mouth, I decided it was. I licked around the outside rim of the glass and then rolled it in sugar. A ring of my sugary and sick saliva stared back at me as I rubbed my nose. 

      Hiiaschooo!
        The sneeze shot out my mouth and plastered the inside of the glass like paint flinging against a canvas. After pouring in the lemonade, I gently rocked the glass back and forth. The lemonade lapped against the sides of the glass, moistening the drying splatter and rinsing it off the sides. I made my drink quickly and went into the den to pass my cold to Dane to make sure he stayed the night. And hopefully the next night. 
        He reached for it reluctantly.
       “It’s just lemonade. I don’t think I’ll ever drink again.”
        Dane relaxed and smiled, his relief pushing the anxiety out of his eyes and his gratefulness eating away at me. Anel would take care of him. It would be ok. Pausing briefly to make sure Dane had a hold on the glass, I apologized as Dane cupped his hand behind mine to grab the glass.
        “I’m really sorry I messed everything up.”
         “N-no! I’m sorry! Sometimes, I...Let’s just start over.”
        He brought the drink to his lips quickly and drained it down. A trickle of sweat slid down my neck as he examined the glass. He brought it down to his mouth and gently raked his bottom teeth against the glass, trying to dislodge and eat the dried sugar.
       “Do you want to help me cook?!
I-It’s just going to be spaghetti.”
       He looked up, still sucking on the germs, and nodded eagerly. He ran his tongue over the same area my tongue had been. He finally pulled his mouth away. 
     “I’d love to.”
      His phone started ringing just then and he checked it. He looked up blushing. 
        “My sister’s calling.”
        “Oh the irony.”
        He laughed and answered it, telling her to hold on. 
      “Do you mind if I take this?”
      I shook my head and grabbed his glass from him.
      “Oh, can I have another one of those?”
       I gulped and nodded.
       “I’ll put it in a bigger glass this time.”
      “That’s ok. I like the sugar ring. I have a bit of a sweet tooth.”
        I know.
       He walked to the front entrance and stepped outside to take the call. 
       I went to the kitchen, set the pot to boil, and grabbed a jar of heat-and-eat spaghetti sauce. Anel came in a minute later. 
      “Thank you for bringing my stuff.”
       I let her draw me into a hug, careful not to cling onto her like I always did when I was sick. I was worse than Derek and that was saying something. 
       “Did you sort things out with Dane?”
      “Yea. I think so. Well, I hope so. I really like him.”
      “He’s super sweet.”
       I should have ended it there and broken the hug, but I was going to be alone for the next week. Sick and alone. I leaned back but kept my arms around her.
       “What about you and Derek?”
        A shadow crossed over her eyes for a moment before her eyes brightened back up. 
      “I like him alot. Maybe too much.”
      I nodded, trying to think of something I could say. Anel’s last boyfriend was my brother and that was always a touchy and cold-inducing topic. 
     “He’s amazing. It’s hard not to like…,” My eyebrows furrowed on their own. “....hehh hehh..him.. too m-much.”
     Anel flicked my nose playfully.
     
Hiiatschoo!....Heeiastchooo!..... 
     I stifled the next few but stopped when the urge to sneeze became stronger and quicker with each stifle. 
   
Heh-iiatschoo!.... HuhAitsch-HaAITSCHOo!...
     She lifted my chin and looked somewhat concerned as she used her sleeve to wipe the tears from my eyes. I had to think quickly.
       “Your...ah ah...heh-hair...I th-think…”
       My voice hitched up in register as my words turned breathy. My nose was still on fire, but I’d already sneezed too much. I thought I had a couple more hours before my symptoms came in full force. “I need...ah…heh....you to flihh..ah ha... flick it again. There’s one..ah...ah..onemorebutit’s st-stuck.”
      It was so hard trying to hold them back. My nose was so itchy!
     “H-Ha..HA...Ha!...Haa!!....
     I gave up just as Anel reached for my nose.
   
EiiAsSHOOo!.... HaisChOooo!
     "Hold on." I heard the water running behind me. Anel came back with a squeezed out paper towel and pressed it to my nose.
   
 Iiaatschoo!... HaeITSH!.... AITSCHOO! 
      “You ok?”
       My shoulders rose and fell and my chest expanded as I nodded. She pressed it firmer to my face.
       
HuhAitsch!... Ha-AITSCH!....
       She took the paper towel off my mouth after a minute or two of no sneezes and then tossed it into the sink. 
          Hha…. Hhaa…..HAA!...
       She whipped around, pulling her sleeve over her palm, and covered my mouth.
        ...
HIIAATTSCHHOO!
        Letting her sleeve go, she pushed the heel of her palm gently up my nose, wiping off the mess. I hugged her and waited to feel her rub my back. 
         “I almost needed two hands for that last one.”
        I smiled at our running joke. I was a bit of an indiscriminate sprayer around Anel. She usually covered for me. Like I said, I was way worse than Derek.
        “Are you sick?”
        “No.You just flicked too hard.”
         She chuckled and apologized.
          I always told Anel when I was sick, so I knew she believed me. I felt a small trickle of guilt at her easy trust, but pushed it away quickly. Our friendship was on the line. We’d already lost that close-knit feeling of family after Marcus and her broke up. That had hurt the most. It was like she’d lumped Marcus and I together and said good riddance to the both of us after they broke up. I tried to be understanding about what she was going through even when she sold the apartment they lived in together, moved states to be closer to her family, and never spoke to anyone in my family including me for the next three months. During that time, her phone was disconnected and all of her social accounts online were closed. Marcus was just as silent, preferring to avoid our company in order to avoid our questions. I ended up calling her family two weeks into her silence to check on her. Her family said she’d been traveling and living an electricity-free lifestyle for the last few weeks, going off on ridiculous adventures and breathing air she could breath in a park. They told me to give her time and promised they would tell her I visited. 
       She leaned back from the hug, rubbing my back and mother henning me. I pushed her away gently. 
       “You’re smothering again.”
      She stuck her tongue out at me.
      “Can’t help it.”
      I wet another paper towel and blew my nose, before washing my hands and asking Anel to finish cooking. There was one more phase to my plan. I headed to Derek’s room and knocked on his door. 
     “**** **.”
     He mumbled something so I went in. His room was dark besides a dull lamp on the other side of his bed. I quietly walked to the closet in the room and opened it just as quietly. Derek’s snores started back up again. I rummaged through Derek’s closet, fully committed now that I had started. 
      Suddenly, my nose started to tickle. 
     “hh... Hh!!”
      I pinched my nose hard hoping to stay the sneeze as I frantically searched for a hoodie. The tickle receded for a moment but suddenly came back with a vengeance. 
      “H-Ha..HA...Ha!  ha!...”
      I blindly searched for something, anything to cover my sneeze when my hand landed on something soft. I brought it up to my face forcefully and stifled the sounds.
Nnnghxt! Nnnghxt! 
      Blinking in a daze, I stared at what I had just grabbed. I looked up at the stack of blankets on the closet shelf figuring one must have started to fall down at some point. Even better. I pulled it down and left Derek’s room. Once in his guest room, I started to tickle my nose with my hoodie string while I closed and locked Derek’s door. Spreading the blanket out on the floor, I laid down and continued to coax out sneeze after sneeze taking turns muffling the sounds into the blanket or sneezing into my hands and patting the blanket. I took a deep breath and blew into my hands, rubbing the clear substance together and lightly rubbing my hands over the blankets. I dropped the blanket off on a couch, grabbed my makeup bag, and headed to the bathroom to cover my red nose. I had just closed the door when the screen door warned me of Dane’s return. 

 

Edited by Reader
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ebay34

I love all of the different perspectives and story lines going on. More importantly I love that Maggie is actually trying to get Dane sick! I love it when contagion is planned out like that.

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Puzzle

Omg! I'd love to see Dane get sick, but trying to hide it until he can't no more. Great job on the different perspectives on each character! I hope to see more soon!!

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Nval95

Anansjxkdjsbdhhxbsh Σ(っ゚Д゚;)っ(=゚Д゚=)(°ロ°٥) Readeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!!!!!! 

*squeal oh my god!!!! Lord!!!! Whut!  Girl!!!!!!!!  That. Is. So. Damn. Awsome!!!!  Mein God Σ>―(〃°ω°〃)♡→ Reader reader reader *rolling around like crazy. My god that is so so good. Awawawawa ♡⃛◟( ˊ̱˂˃ˋ̱ )◞⸜₍ ˍ́˱˲ˍ̀ ₎⸝◟( ˊ̱˂˃ˋ̱ )◞♡⃛ LOVE IT!!!!! 

17 hours ago, Reader said:

His nose was a scarlet red that flashed neon red lights whenever his nostrils flared. His smile fell slowly into a lazy shaped O. He struggled to open his eyes fully as his breaths came rapidly.

Reader, are you trying to kill me Σ>―(〃°ω°〃)♡→ nyaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Gimme gimme gimme!!!! 

17 hours ago, Reader said:

licked around the outside rim of the glass and then rolled it in sugar. A ring of my sugary and sick saliva stared back at me as I rubbed my nose. 
      Hiiaschooo!
        The sneeze shot out my mouth and plastered the inside of the glass like paint flinging against a canvas. 

Of all that is holy. Readeeeeeeeeeeeer *squeal 

17 hours ago, Reader said:

  “That’s ok. I like the sugar ring. I have a bit of a sweet tooth.”
        I know

Nyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa give it to him, give it to him!!!  Dane, oh you poor innocent guy 😂😂😂😂😂 

17 hours ago, Reader said:


Nnnghxt! Nnnghxt! 
      Blinking in a daze, I stared at what I had just grabbed. I looked up at the stack of blankets on the closet shelf figuring one must have started to fall down at some point. Even better. I pulled it down and left Derek’s room. Once in his guest room, I started to tickle my nose with my hoodie string while I closed and locked Derek’s door. Spreading the blanket out on the floor, I laid down and continued to coax out sneeze after sneeze taking turns muffling the sounds into the blanket or sneezing into my hands and patting the blanket. I took a deep breath and blew into my hands, rubbing the clear substance together and lightly rubbing my hands over the blankets. I dropped the blanket off on a couch, grabbed my makeup bag, and headed to the bathroom to cover my red nose. I had just closed the door when the screen door warned me of Dane’s return

Hello there virus!!! Allow Magie to facilitate you, this is a very special limited service that is guarantee spreading you like wild fire without the need to work hard.  😈😇😂😂😂

Mein god reader ⁄(⁄ ⁄•⁄ω⁄•⁄ ⁄)⁄ this is so damn awsome *melts awaaaaaaaaaay

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Reader

Hey guys, the story will end soon so let me know of any and all last minute requests! 

@ebay34 Thankyou so much! I actually kinda like the different storylines too! It’s crazy how it turned out. I’m happy you like purposeful contagion because I didn’t know if I wrote it properly. I kept thinking I was going overboard.

@Puzzle You changed your name!!? I definitely can’t keep using puns hahahaha I love the name change though! Going to put your idea in this next update!! (which I will finish by tonight). Thankyou!! 

@Nval95 Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I’m so happy you approve! You had me rolling on the floor in laughter when I was reading this boo. Your words were sooooo precious and melty too 😊 I really appreciate it sooooooooo much! Your excitement is contagious!!! I’ll have to add a little bit more...I mean...there has to be a little bit of time before Dane starts showing symptoms right?

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striderlicious

I'm not exactly sure what Maggie is up to, but I absolutely love it! I feel kinda bad that she's sick again, but purposeful contagion is always fantastic. Thank you very much for writing this! I love this chapter a lot. Poor Dane is not going to have a good time. 

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Reader

@striderlicious Just trying to make sure her eggs are all in one batch or whatever that idiom is. Eggs all in one coop? I’m so happy you liked that chapter because it was my first time writing about contagion. Your comments are so lovely btw!  Thankyou so much! 

Hey guys, we’re winding down. Thankful to all the readers! You guys give me confidence! Alright so the focus was not on sneezes this chapter so it’s pretty barebones on the descriptive front. 😄 Regardless, I hope you enjoy ~~

 


                               Derek
        Derek: Why does he need to stay over again?
        Maggie: The less you know, the less you’ll accidentally spill in a feverish haze.
        I shouldn’t have told her. I blew my nose again to get the peppery smell out of my nostrils. Dane and Anel were in the kitchen making spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. Anytime I stepped in there I started sneezing. As soon as I found out why he needed to be here, I’d decide whether it was necessary for him to stay.
         Hae Eshooo! Hae eishoo! Huh ieshoo! Hae-issh!
        Anel came over to the kitchen table as I sat down, slinging her arm around me and whispering,
        “You gonna blame those on me too?”
        I grinned like a fool and winked at her. She kissed me soundly, hummed sweetly, and went back to the stove. My phone chimed just then, wiping the smile off my face. 
        Maggie: It’d be great if he could stay for a few days. 
       Derek: What! Why?!
       I deleted our conversation and turned my phone off for good measure. Anel came back with tea. 
      “Everything’s ready. Do you want to eat in the den?”
      I nodded, gathering up as much energy as I could.
     “Ok, I’m going to set up the tray tables.”
     “I’ll do it!.”
     “I’ll do it!”
     We spoke at the same time, but Dane moved a lot faster. I grumbled under my breath.
     Anel chuckled softly.
     “Play nice.”
     I grabbed her hands and placed them on my head, hoping she could get rid of the headache that I could feel coming. She started massaging my temples, slow and firm, and then moved to the top of my head.
      “It’s ready you two.”
      The bane of my existence! I should call him Bane. Just when I was about to tell Anel my little joke, she stopped her massage.
        “C’mon. I’ll finish in the den.”
        We walked together to the den and passed Dane as he headed back into the kitchen. Maggie walked into the den from the other side and started helping him. Anel left me and walked back and forth from the kitchen to the den until my tray table and half of hers was loaded with soup, tea, water, tissues, lozenges, more tissues, and an empty bag for said tissues. Her soup was steaming and the smoke drifting up into my nose….
          Haah-ieshoo! haeshoo! Heih-tschoo!
          “Gesundheit.”
           Dane stood in the doorway of the kitchen, holding two plates as he mouthed something to me. I couldn’t understand.
           Maggie and Anel were chatting in the kitchen when Anel started laughing so hard she started snorting! I got up to see what was so funny, but Dane stopped me and whispered fiercely,
          “I have to talk to you.”
           “I’ll be right back.”
           “No, it’s urgent.”
           Anel settled down and emerged from the kitchen with two glasses and a wet stain on the front of her shirt. More threatened to spill from the glasses as she started chuckling again.
           “I need to change. Maggie was telling me about how y’all first met.”
           Dane’s voice sounded very warm as he took the glasses from Anel. 
           “Oh, that’s one for the books.”
          She smiled brighter for some odd reason and then walked past us. 
         “You’ll have to tell Derek.” She called back to us. 
     Dane pointed to the kitchen and gestured for me to follow. Maggie passed us, carrying napkins and silverware.                                                                                           “We’ll get the rest Maggie.”
        I wondered why he didn’t call Maggie into the room too. Dane grabbed the rest of what was needed and spoke quietly in passing.
       “Maggie’s brother was at your house today. He thinks I’m you and Maggie wants to keep it that way.”
        He was gone before I could say anything. I didn’t even know what to say. Her brother had been outside my house, and I didn’t know. I needed to know what this guy did!
       Derek: I’m not going to slip up and tell Anel. What did he
       “Where’s Derek?”
      I typed faster.
      “Oh, I think he’s avoiding me and hiding in the kitchen.”
      Anel spoke softly and Dane laughed just as softly. 
       Derek: do? What am I protecting her from?!
      I jammed my finger into the send button and turned my sound off, pocketing my phone just as Anel came in smiling, shaking her head. 
      “I leave for two minutes.”
     A lot can happen in two minutes. 
      I pulled her against me as we headed back into the den.
      “Dane, do you want to come to the store with me after we eat?”
      
    
          

                                Marcus
               “Right now I hear a painful rattle that’s preventing you from breathing well. It’s poisonous and spreading the longer it sits there. I don’t like that sound.”                 
          She looked up at me.
          “The only reason you’re not letting it out is because of me. I don’t like the sound of those words.” 
          She placed her hand on my chest. “You clearing out your chest so you can breathe? That sounds good.” 
        I sighed and nodded, not wanting to be gross in front of her but needing to breathe.
         Afterwards she stood up and checked. I held her while she did so. 
        “Your chest sounds good, love.”

        My chest tightened at the memory. I breathed through the compressions as I pushed my cart down the medicine aisle and grabbed some decongestant for Maggie. It was pretty easy to tell when she was getting sick. Maneuvering my cart into the next aisle, I stopped as a familiar laugh echoed off the ceilings.
         “I’m not sure why, but it’s hilarious. Don’t worry. He’ll come around once he hangs around you more.”
          “Yea, we can double date. Mini golf or something.”
         I deserted the cart as I searched for my sister and Derek.
        “We’ll set it up but we won’t tell him.”
        I peeked around the aisle. I found them. Derek was crouched down staring at two products in his hand. 
         “I’ll be back ok?”
          Derek, preoccupied and singly focused, didn’t respond. 
         “Dane?”
         Dane? He startled, nearly dropping the items. 
         “Y-yea sorry. I’m here. Uh, what?”
          Maggie smiled and shook her head.
          “I’m going to use the bathroom real quick.”
          He put back one of the boxes and stood up. “Ok. Do you need anything else?”
          “No, I’ll meet you at the checkout.
          Maggie lied to me. I left the store quickly and jumped into the taxi. 
          “You didn’t grab anything?”
         “I-I couldn’t.”
        “Do you want me to take you somewhere else?”
          She leaned in to kiss me. I barely managed to turn my head in time. 
          “I dod’t wadt you to get sick, sweetie.”
          “I’m always around you guys when y’all are sick and I never get sick. What’s different this time?”
           She was pouting, pushing her full lips closer to mine. 
          “I wasd’t kissidg you back thed.”
          Desire swirled in her eyes, a mirror to my own. She pushed me onto my back, the tightness in my chest from her weight a welcome thing, and smirked.
          “Ever heard of ripping the bandage off?”

           “Yes.”
           

                                 Derek
       The screen door screeched and the doorbell rang. I had an uneasy feeling about this. No one but strangers rang my doorbell.
      “I’ve never heard your bell before.”
      I tried to smile back as I got up and headed to the door. The doorknob turned and pushed open although the man stayed outside. His eyes, clones of Maggie’s, widened as he took me in.
      “You must be Derek.”
       I grabbed the door, preparing to slam it closed.
      “Derek, who is…”
      That’s when I saw her reaction. Knew that if I’d just known what it would be, I would have made sure nothing stopped our plan from working. She was afraid. She looked at me, her face frozen. It was like his image was burned into her eyes and he was all she saw no matter where she looked. I turned back to him just as he started to step inside. Anel brushed past me and knocked against him as she barreled down the stairs in her socks.
          “Anel!”
           “Anel!”
          Following, I ran into her as she stopped abruptly. She turned quickly to me, fear caked onto her face.
           “Where’s my car!!?”
           Maggie and Dane pulled into the driveway. Maggie got out before the car stopped completely and ran over to us. She grabbed Anel’s face.
           “Are you ok?”
            Anel didn’t answer. Maybe couldn’t answer. 
           I heard his voice for the second time and it was just as grating to my ears as the first. 
          “Why’d you lie to me?”
           Maggie snapped her head up to Marcus, pulling Anel closer to her by the shoulders.
          “Because you’ve ruined enough already.”
           Anel started shaking her head and backed away from all of us. 
          “G-give me k-keys.” 
          “Anel, we need to talk.”
           Marcus walked slowly, hands up at his sides as he approached her.
         “I don’t want to talk! I want you to leave me alone!”
        Plugging her ears, she crumpled into a heap on the floor. I shoved Marcus out of the way and scooped Anel up, holding her tight to me as I made my way back inside the house. I heard Maggie behind me.
         “Take my car and go home Marcus!”
          The sound of the screen door blocked his reply. Anel was shaking in my arms. I held her tighter, but she started squirming.
          “Let me go.”
          I fell against the wall as she started to thrash her arms and legs. Her arm swiped against my nose in the struggle.
          HaaahAaeshoo! HaaaShiiooo! HaiShuuu!
          She slipped out of my hold and ran past Dane and Maggie on her way down the stairs. She pulled Marcus with her and they left in Maggie’s car. 
                                Dane
     Derek had been a mess. After they left, he tried to go after them. I tried to stop him and got decked for my troubles. That seemed to calm him down though. Derek suddenly became my new buddy after. I hoped it would continue even after my black eye healed. We blew up Anel’s phone with texts and calls, but she didn’t answer. Derek lost his voice from how many voicemails he left her. Maggie had called Marcus and her family. He didn’t answer, but her family agreed to call her if they saw him. Eventualy, I convinced them both to sleep. 

    I woke up a few hours later with a sore throat and a killer headache. Someone continued knocking on the door.
        I placed the pillow over my head as Maggie groaned next to me. 
        “What is it!”
        I winced at the sound but appreciated it once the knocking stopped. Derek came into the room and showed us his phone. All I could focus on was the time the text message came in. 6:03 in the morning. A glance at the time confirmed it was still 6:03.
         Nellie: I’m so sorry Derek. I can’t explain right now and I honestly never want to but I just want you to know I’m fine. I’m going on a little trip but I’ll be back by Maggie’s reunion and I’ll try to explain as best I can. I’ve listened to all your messages and I promise to leave you just as many before I come back. You can’t answer the phone when I call though ok? Don’t strain your voice anymore and make sure you sleep and drink fluids. 
         “Right good.”
        I tried to assure him but I couldn’t coherently string even two words together in this state. Maggie was checking her own phone. 
          Lena: I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this. I promise it’ll be over soon. I didn’t kidnap Marcus and he didn’t kidnap me so assure your family for me. I love you and I’ll see you soon. 
         “Lena?”
         Maggie teared up. “In case, Marcus looked through my contacts for her name.”
          I gave her a one-armed hug as I grabbed Derek’s shoulder with the other. I still couldn’t think of anything to say. She shrugged out of my hold and quickly reached for tissues on the dresser.
     Hiiashoo! Hiiaashooo!
       “Bless you.”
     My voice sounded a little scratchy. 
        “Thankyou. Do you feel ok?”
        “Yea. What about you?”
         She shook her head. 
         “I’m sick.”
         Derek’s face fell and his shoulders slumped. He slid his gaze over to me and gingerly leaned back. My hand dropped from his shoulder as he stood up and left the room. Confused, I looked at Maggie. 
         “He doesn’t want you to get sick.”
         She gave me the same look Derek gave me a minute earlier and then laid back down with her back to me. 
          “What are you doing?”
           “Texting Anel back.”
          “Look at me for a sec.”
          She turned her neck slightly, giving me her ear. I still found her lips and kissed her. She squeaked and tried to sit up.
          “Dane!”
          “I’m not leaving so don’t even try avoiding me. I’ll be back.”
        I marched into the kitchen where the medicine was and took some painkillers for my headache before I left to go find Derek. He was sitting in his room, staring at his phone. As soon as he saw me, he hunched his shoulders and ignored me. 
          “Do you need anything?”
           He shook his head without looking up.
            “Do you want to wa-”
            He shook his head before I could finish. 
             Well that was a failure. I started to close the door.
            “Wait, how’s your um face?”
            I pretended not to hear him and closed his door all the way. Maybe I could get him out of his room this way. 
             Maggie came out of the bathroom with a wet paper towel. She handed her phone to me.
             “I just took some medicine. I’m going back to sleep. Can you wake me if Anel texts or calls me?”
             I assured her I would and made sure her phone was on loud before slipping it into my pocket and heading into the kitchen to make breakfast. Once I was up for the day, I couldn’t go back to sleep. 

                                    Maggie
         
        “The movie is in!”
         As long as I could fall asleep, I didn’t care what we did. I felt awful, but I’d already slept so much and left Dane by himself all day. Derek did the same. I dropped my dishes off at the sink and followed Derek into the den. Dane was sitting on the couch wrapped up in a blanket. Shoot! The blanket! He lifted part of the blanket and wriggled his eyebrows. Inwardly I sighed as I joined him on the couch and cuddled close. 

                                      ~~

          He brought the end of Derek’s blanket to his nose and massaged the area, trying to rid the itch from the germs multiplying in his nose. They tickled and teased, thriving in the dark and damp environment as his nostrils flared at the sensations. He scrunched his nose, still engrossed in the movie, as they rolled around his nose. Frowning slightly, he rubbed harder as the small light teasing from before turned into a prickling itch. He plugged his nose and got up, bobbing his head every few seconds as he left into the hallway. I followed him into the hall, nodding at Derek to silently let him know I would make sure he was alright. Derek frowned but nodded and focused back on the movie. I opened the door to the guest room and stuck my head in. 
           “Hhischiew-tschiew! Haa-Itschiew!”
          “Bless you. Everything ok?”
          He sniffed and rubbed his nose.
          “Thanks. Yea, I just didn’t want to interrupt the movie. I’m good now though. Ready?”
          He pulled back his hand before I could grab it and turned into his elbow.
         Itsschiew! Haashiew! 
        “Sorry. My nose was just a little itchy.”                     I was almost afraid to ask but I did anyways.
          “Are you sick?”                                                  “No. Just an itchy nose.”                                                 When we made it back into the den, Derek was waiting for us, movie paused, with a slight frown on his face. 
          “You ok?”
           Dane nodded quickly before getting under the blanket. Derek played the movie but two minutes didn’t pass before Dane was getting up again.
        “Bathroom.”
        Derek glanced at me quizzically before getting up. 
        “He’s going to mine. Is everything ok with him?”
        “He says so.”
         Derek sat back down and watched the movie again. Dane came back and slipped under the covers, whispering apologies. I waved them away and focused back on trying to sleep. Dane sighed a few minutes later but didn’t get up. He just eased away from me a bit. He stifled a few into his elbow so when he finally let one out, Derek startled at the sound. 
          HEH-ITSNggtx-TssCHEW!! Heh-TSCHIEW!! 
          “Bless you.”
          “Are you getting sick?”
          Dane shook his head quickly at Derek. Derek relaxed even before Dane explained.
         “No. Allergies. Sorry, I hate when I interrupt stuff because of them.”
         Color suffused into his cheeks, neck, and ears. 
          “We don’t care about that.”
           Dane’s allergies calmed down finally. I slept soon after.

                             Derek
            I glanced over at Dane again, cringing at the purplish bruise that decorated his pale face. 
           He made a small sigh before he sneezed again. I winced. Every time he sneezed, his bruise would redden and it had to hurt every time he squeezed his eyes shut. Dane helped Maggie up and took her back into the guest room. I waited for him to come back, needing to apologize for the hundredth time. He finally came back and grabbed the blanket on the couch before turning back around.
          “Dane.”
          He turned back to me with eyebrows raised. He looked exhausted and his nose was redder than his cheeks usually were. 
         “What’s up Derek?”
         “I’m sorry for punching you. Does it hurt?”
          Dane shrugged but didn’t answer. He just groaned and touched the side of his face as he brought his elbow up. 
         Ishhh-shiew! HaaaIshhiewww!
          He sighed and let the side of his face go. 
          “Do you have allergy medicine with you?”
         He shook his head and yawned.
          “Ok just sleep for now.”
         He nodded and left the room. I found my keys and spent ten minutes trying to silently open the screen door. There had to be 24-hour stores around here somewhere. 

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ebay34

Every time you post I always get excited to read all of the different story lines. They all are interesting in their own way and they are all so entertaining to read. I'm just wondering how much longer Dane can blame his "allergies" for what is happening.

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Puzzle

Omg! Yes yes yes! I love how cute Dane is and how much more stronger his sneezes seem! Keep up the good work! I hope to see more soon!

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