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Tissue Issues (many m/f, series) - PART 6/7 is FINALLY UP!


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If you've made it this far, past the overly lame title... Thank you! Now you'll have to wait a little longer for any sneezing xD Sorry! It starts off slow in this first part, but I'll post the second part tomorrow, and that's when the plot really picks up! As for now, enjoy!


Corey’s eyes opened, blinked a few times, and looked down and to the right of him. There was Amanda, still sleeping, a soft, barely noticeable smile on her lips.

Corey sighed and smiled too. What a fantastic night. He didn’t want it to be over yet. He wanted to stay in bed with Amanda just a few minutes longer, to prolong the amazing feeling from last night. He began to stroke Amanda’s long blonde hair while reminiscing about their night on the town, taking in Toronto for all it was worth. A delicious Indian restaurant, a museum, and dancing. Then taking a simple walk in a park, where they were able to see most of the gorgeous Toronto skyline. The CN Tower, of course, and the Scotia Tower, and their own building, and many others. The chilly November night wouldn’t stop them. It just gave them another reason to cuddle closer. Now, they lay in bed, the result of their first night sleeping together.

Presently, Amanda too was waking up. She looked up at Corey and her small smile grew into a grin. “Morning, sunshine.”

“Morning.” Corey kissed the tip of her nose.

Amanda looked at the clock next to the bed, and her mood suddenly changed. “Oh! Shoot, we have to get going!”

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“Don’t you remember? Stapleton called an important meeting for 9 am this morning!”

And how could Corey forget? From the way their boss had made it sound in the urgent e-mail she sent two days ago, ‘important’ couldn’t even begin to describe this meeting.

Thankfully, Corey’s apartment building was just a ten-minute walk from their place of work. They were ready and out the door by 8:30, giving them ample time. The pair walked close together, arm in arm in their white collar attire, for romantic reasons but also for want of keeping warm. That Monday morning was much like the previous night – chilly, and then some, even for the time of year. Toronto had not yet its first snow of the season, but it was in the predictions for the coming week.

Corey went to his pocket, pulled out a tissue from the pack he always carried with him, and blew his nose quietly as he could. Still, it was not silent, and Amanda heard him and looked over at the noise instinctively. She smiled, as she usually seemed to do. Not because sneezing or noseblowing turned her on, Corey convinced himself, the way it turned himself on – but because Corey was using the tissue their company made.

They made the final turn and walked into “their building”: Hanx Facial Tissue Company Headquarters.

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Oooh, lovely start. :D Very curious to see what happens next. :) (And they're really cute together. :) )

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Last part was short and had an abrupt ending, but I promise this part is a lot more interesting! :):wub:


The meeting was held in the biggest conference room in the building, with the biggest table, even though only seven people would be in attendance. Even though they were eight or ten minutes early, Corey and Amanda were the last to arrive – and since they arrived together, with the other five waiting for them, they received some suggestive looks and, from Mark, snickers.

Not from Miss Stapleton, though. Her swivel seat, at the far end of the table, was faced away from everyone else, toward the big window she was looking out. She noticed the final two had arrived, but barely. Her mind was occupied.

Corey sat down in his assigned seat, between Jamila and Old Mr. Harvey. Amanda likewise took hers, which was directly across the table from Corey’s, between Mark and Alex.

A unique feature of the conference room tables at Hanx Co. was that at every seat, there sat a Hanx tissue box in a slightly lowered groove in the table. Should anyone need a tissue, they would not have to use their own. It was the idea of the former CEO, before Miss Stapleton; he had all the desks specially ordered and made in that fashion, spending a lot of money the company didn’t exactly have at the time.

Miss Stapleton swiveled back around in her chair to face the other six. “Good morning.” Someone, perhaps Alex, started to reply, but then he thought better of it and let Stapleton continue to speak. “I called this meeting so we could discuss our options for the next quarter. You saw the third quarter numbers. We aren’t exactly doing any better right now. We need to make a splash, get some recognition.”

“You know it’s Kleenex’s fault,” said Jamila angrily. “They monopolized the industry before we were even a corporation! Even today, even just last week someone asked me if I had any Kleenex on me. Not tissues, mind you, Kleenex. I said no, I never do! Then I walked away and hogged all my Hanx to myself, the bastard – ”

“That will be quite enough, Miss Carter,” Stapleton interrupted amid groans from the others at the table.

“It’s the same story every meeting,” Mark complained.

“Hey, you work here too! Doesn’t that just grind your gears?”

“It does, but the thing to do isn’t to sit around and complain about it!” Mark shot back. “We have to get something done!”

“And that is exactly what we are going to try to do,” said Stapleton. “We need action, people! Plans!”

Mr. Harvey, the chief marketing officer and the one in charge of advertising, was blowing his nose already. It usually took him less than five minutes into any meeting before the inviting box of Hanx in front of him seduced him into doing so. At 63, Harvey was the oldest man not just at the table, but in the company. He’d been with Hanx since its inception in 1987, and was, conspicuously, the only person over 40 years of age at the meeting. Even CEO Stapleton herself was only 35, though she’d have you believe 31.

Stapleton continued. “This needs to be the biggest brainstorming session we’ve ever had. Miss Carter is correct in wanting to do something about Kleenex, and even Puffs. The questions are what and how.”

“I say we start a mudslinging campaign – ”

“No, Jamila!” Mr. Harvey spoke up, lowering his third Hanx of the morning for just a minute. “In all my years here, we’ve never taken cheap shots at anyone. And in all my years here, I’ve never seen an employee as feisty as you are.”

Jamila quieted down, unsure as to whether that was a compliment or not. She brushed back strands of her very long black hair from her face. Jamila Carter was a second-generation Lebanese-Canadian, in her late twenties. Lebanese on her mom’s side, who had moved to Toronto and had gotten dual citizenship. She had most of her features, including her dark brown eyes and rather large Arab nose. She was given an Arabic name to contrast with her father’s “Carter,” and it fit her rather well – “Jamila” is Arabic for “beautiful.”

Corey finally felt ready to contribute. “Miss Stapleton, you asked me last month to work with Research and Development on researching the Kleenex ‘Sneeze Shield’ formula.”

“Yes, how has that been going?”

“Well,” Corey grinned, “we think we’ve cracked it.”

That woke everyone up. Even Stapleton’s jaw dropped a bit. “Sweet!” cheered Jamila, fist-pumping. This would have normally irked Stapleton, but she couldn’t be bothered with Jamila’s antics now.

“They’ve already started working on a way to copy it, and it doesn’t look too complicated, actually,” Corey continued. “If we can make some minor modifications, we can avoid any patent laws and market it as our own! And if the whole process is as simple as I think it should be for my team, we can be ready for the start of Q1 next year.”

“That’s a good starting time. Not exactly like the beginnings of cold season, but we can make it work,” Stapleton was saying. “Excellent! Excellent.”

The rest of the table continued to say their congratulations to Corey. The room was general chatter for a few moments, until there was a loud interruption.


It was Jamila. The rest of the room had fallen silent, but that didn’t mean they weren’t used to Jamila’s “hearty” sneezes. Nor were the others new to the sight of Jamila holding a Hanx tissue, one freshly snatched from the blue box in front of her, ripped half to shreds by the force of her sneeze. On the contrary, it was a semi-common occurrence at these meetings.

Most of the room said “Bless you,” while Jamila quietly said “Excuse me,” something she did not say very often.

“Which reminds me,” said Amanda. “Didn’t Dr. Jameson say something last time we met? About having corporate test the next new products?”

“He did,” replied Stapleton. “The lab wants to have two volunteers out of the seven of us go down and help test things for a while. Said something about how we should stand by the products we make, as if carrying them around with us was not enough. But frankly,” she said suddenly, with a random lightening of mood, “I understand, and I’m all for it. Except I’m not going down there.”

A few of them chuckled, even though they knew she was being totally serious. Stapleton was all business.

“Me neither,” Harvey chimed in, “but I nominate Miss Carter for the job.”

A few others voiced their agreement for the decision. Corey would have liked to as well, but he already felt himself turning red from Jamila’s previous sneeze, and tried to keep the idea of future sneezes out of his head.

After a bit, Jamila conceded. “Alright, I’ll do it.”

“Good! But we need two. And Dr. Jameson mentioned something about having one man and one woman, probably to compare and contrast, so let’s have a fella now.”

Alex shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He knew Mr. Harvey had already taken himself out of the running, so he, Alex, was one of just three possibilities. He really, really didn’t want to have to sneeze in front of other people – it was too embarrassing for him, ever since he was in high school. But he thought that if he said he didn’t want to, it would raise suspicion. It was irrational, but it really worried him.

Mercifully for him, Mark spoke up and said, “Yeah, I’ll give it a shot.”

“Okay, great! We’ll be in touch with the lab as soon as we can to get more information.”


Annnd another abrupt ending, sorry xD I'll get to Part 3 soon!

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Tissuesssss :P Tissues are amazing, I love them! So excited that they feature so heavily in a story :D *Loves all over the story*

Verrrrry interesting set up and plot...I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next :D

*Rereads* :rolleyes:

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I promise and swear upon my unborn children that this is the last part of this fic that will be light on sneezing xD There's still more expo and plot to get through, but don't worry! It's interesting! Really! :)

Also, thanks to Kiwifruit for coming up with the idea for the purposely lame name of the rip-off of Kleenex's Sneeze Shield. :(

Part 3 awaits...


“Now, we’re going to need a completely new marketing campaign for this,” Stapleton continued. “We can’t call it the ‘Sneeze Shield’ like Kleenex, obviously, so what will it be called?”

Silence re-entered the room for a few moments.

“We could just call it the “Sneeze Shield,’ and purposely misspell ‘Shield,’” Alex suggested timidly, and Harvey at once shook his head.

“No, no, deceit isn’t really what we’re after,” he pointed out.

It kinda is, thought Corey, seeing that they were almost exactly copying another company’s work, but he thought better of speaking his mind.

After a few less-than-stellar ideas were tossed around, Amanda suddenly spoke up. “The ‘Kachoo Kabuster’?”

It took a second, but the others started to voice their agreement with the idea (much to Amanda’s surprise – she first thought it was a stupid name, but was now glad she had offered it). “‘Kachoo Kabuster’ it is!” Stapleton stated. It was as business-like as the other things she said, but the rest of the table could tell she was growing happier every minute of this meeting.

She was not one for playing games, always concerned with the matter at hand, how a good CEO should be. But there were times her employees would see Clarissa Stapleton to have a soft side, a fun side. She didn’t want to always be all-business, but it came with the title. Her youthful beauty had not left her in her mid-thirties; she had learned at a young age how to look fashionable as well as professional in her various color-coordinated trouser suits. Frequently, streaks of her dark blonde hair fell out of her hair tie and over her ears or her face, and rather than busying herself with putting them back up, she would just let them hang there freely. It made her feel a little more comfortable, relaxed even, in her otherwise overly-official attire. Her dark blue eyes were intense – sometimes with rage, sometimes with competitiveness, but sometimes with passion.

Mr. Harvey was presently speaking. “…ad campaign, we need a big star for the commercials. Someone people know, someone they’re attracted to.”

“But stars never do tissue commercials!” Jamila complained.

“Doesn’t mean we can’t try!” Harvey replied. “And I have the perfect girl in mind.”

“Who might that be?” asked Stapleton.

“One Kim Kardashian.”

Now the room fell silent. Mr. Harvey was, indeed, out of touch with reality sometimes, being the age he was. But to suggest they try to get Kim Kardashian for a Hanx commercial? The others shifted in their seats, unsure of how to break it to the poor old man that a mega-celebrity like her would scoff at that proposal.

No one wanted to be the first to say anything, but the silence spoke volumes to Mr. Harvey. Still, he persisted – “C’mon, it’s just the exposure we’re looking for! There’s no harm in asking.”

Stapleton sighed. “Even though I’m your superior, Mr. Harvey, I feel that you know something about the business we don’t. You’ve been here longer than most of us put together. So, since you’re the CMO here, I will allow you to ask whomever you would like for the ad campaign.”

“Thank you, Miss Stapleton,” Mr. Harvey said with a wide smile. “You won’t regret it!”

“Talk about a successful meeting!” Corey said cheerily. He and Amanda were headed out to lunch later that day. After the Kardashian discussion, the rest of the meeting went quickly, mostly conversations about details and other legal matter.

“I know! Look at you go, with the big tech breakthrough,” said Amanda, playfully punching his arm as they walked.

Corey answered by putting that arm around his girlfriend. “You weren’t so bad yourself, there, naming it for us. Not every company has a general counsel with such a creative side like you!”

Amanda flashed her genuine smile, out of flattery, and their lips met for a quick kiss.

Corey sighed to himself in gratitude. All was going well in his life. A great job, in which he was making a big difference, a good apartment, an incredible girlfriend… But with all of these niceties around him, he longed for one more thing. It was stupid, really, primal even – but it wasn’t about to be denied. Yes, sleeping with Amanda last night capped off the best night he’d ever had, but something was missing.

He felt ashamed sometimes to even think about it, but Corey often couldn’t ignore his sneezing fetish. Couldn’t ignore the fact that in the four years he’d known Amanda (they’d been together for almost two), he’d only seen her sneeze once. It was over three years ago, and while he wished he could say the memory was perfectly clear in his mind, as if it were yesterday, it really wasn’t. Even the details he could remember were still fuzzy to him. Neither of them had landed their respective corporate positions, and were in a small, cubicle-flooded office on a lower floor. Corey was getting a drink from the water cooler when he heard a small “Hit’shoo!” – or maybe it was “Heh’chew!” Either way, he remembered that his head jerked up so quickly to find the source of the sound that he started to choke on the water he was drinking. He only saw Amanda, holding a Hanx tissue to her nose, walking away, turning a corner. No time for even a ‘bless you.’

Since then, Amanda had been sneezeless, at least in his presence. Noseblowing, at least, was another story; when one works for a facial tissue company, one tends to develop a penchant for blowing his or her nose. But that was secondary to sneezing for Corey. He’d seen Amanda do that tons of times – and as a result, it began to lose its allure. It only reminded him of what he was missing out on for the past four years. To Corey, it began to seem very selfish of him, to be wanting this so badly; to make 11:11 wishes not for his girlfriend’s health and happiness, but for her to catch a cold; to not fully enjoy everything else he had received in life.

“Are you okay up there?” Amanda asked, as she often did when he fell silent. Corey’s 6’2 frame almost towered over Amanda’s petite 5’4.

“What? Oh, sorry,” Corey apologized. “Just thinking.”

“What about?”

“Um… us.”

“Aww,” smiled Amanda, and, just as they reached their lunch destination, held him closer.

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LOLLL zneeze - 11.11 wishes xP That is so you, to incorporate that into a story :)

Awesome new part, as always :( Will be interesting to see if they somehow manage to get Kim to join their cause!

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This is so funny...and of course replete with intellectual property posers. So let's hope they get to the lab scene next [ because the obvious way to increase market share is to have paper hankies as sneeze-resistant as the real thing.....]

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I can't believe I haven't commented on this story yet! It's brilliant! I really love all the characters, and stylistically speaking I like how you intermittently describe them one at a time. It's an interesting way to set them up.

Here's hoping that there will be a nice, board-wide cold going around in the parts to come...

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I'm sorry it took me this long to write Part 4, guys! I had a paper for summer homework to complete :/ But anyway, this is finally the part I know everyone's been waiting for! PLENTY of sneezing, mainly female but with some male! Tried to incorporate a lot of different ideas into it. Here ya go! :blushing:


It was Thursday morning now, and Jamila woke up a half hour earlier than usual for work. It was because she was informed yesterday that the first phase of ‘Kachoo Kabuster’ testing would take place that morning, and she and Mark needed to be at a different location than normal – namely, the primary Hanx lab, on the other side of Toronto.

After showering and getting dressed, she started to head out for her normal morning coffee place, but thought better of it; it was on the way to corporate headquarters, and she would just be wasting time going the wrong direction. These little delays and lapses in judgment, however, were prolonging Jamila’s time outdoors. Her nose was already beginning to react by running a bit. She wasn’t the type who always sneezed in the morning – just someone who always sneezed when she had to. There was no stifling, no holding back or fending off – just tenacious, thorough, multi-syllabic sneezes.

And before she knew it, Jamila’s first of what would prove to be many more sneezes that day ripped through her body. “HehhHHSHEWWW!” The heads of passersby already started to turn, but Jamila knew another one was coming… “EHHHCHOOO!”

No strangers on the street said ‘Bless you’ as Jamila took out her pack of Hanx, fluffed one up and blew her nose to her heart’s content. She finally located a semi-appetizing-looking coffee shop, ducked in, and ordered a small mocha to go. It was nice and warm inside, and Jamila took a sip of her coffee before returning to the bitter cold weather outdoors. These quick changes in temperatures started bothering her nose again, but not yet enough to provoke more sneezing.

She decided she couldn’t walk anymore; she had to catch a cab for the rest of the way. In seconds she hailed one down and got inside. The heater was on full blast.

“Take be to the Hanx Co. lab on the east side o-of towd… please…” Jamila managed before exploding with another “HehhHHSCHOOO! Excuse be…”

“Bless you,” the cab driver muttered uninterestedly, and began driving.

Jamila needed to give her schnozz another good blow, but she was suddenly embarrassed again, like she was the other day sneezing in the corporate meeting. Normally she loved letting loose with her signature ferocious yet feminine-sounding sneeze, even in public… especially in public, actually. Then she realized what was on her mind – sure, she sneezed a lot, but no one had ever made her sneeze, like what was going to happen today.

Well, no one since when she was in ninth grade, when she was bullied in school by a few girls because of her huge sneezes. One morning, a particularly nasty little girl secretly dusted Jamila’s homeroom desk with sneezing powder before she came in. It was a particularly fine powder, so that when Jamila slumped into her seat when she came in, the powder immediately rose, just enough – to nose level. One inhalation, and Jamila was done for. “AHHHSHOOO! HEH’CHOOO! EhhHHSCHEW! HeghhCHEWWW!” She barely had time to breathe between sneezes. Over the volume of her sneezing, she barely heard herself being scolded by the teacher for “causing such a disturbance.” She was sent to the nurse’s office, thankfully, and not the principal’s office, but the real culprit was never punished.

Jamila had now agreed to be “tested” for the new Sneeze Shield – er, "Kachoo Kabuster" – and was having these sudden pangs of regret and embarrassment. But it was too late now. The cab had just pulled up at the lab, and she was already a few minutes late. There was no turning back now.

As she shed her coat and rubbed her nose, Jamila was greeted in the front by an older man wearing a white lab coat. “Miss Jamila Carter, from corporate headquarters?”

She nodded and muttered a quick but polite “Yes, sir,” and followed the man down some flights of stairs. He introduced himself as Dr. Wimbley, another man who had been with the company for the majority of its existence, almost as long as Old Mr. Harvey himself. He made a few “corporate jokes,” at which Jamila laughed politely, but nervously. She just wanted to get this over with.

Mark was already down in the main lab when Jamila and Dr. Wimbley arrived. “Morning, Jamila!” he called as they entered. Again, Jamila smiled, but only to be mannerly. She was already regretting everything.

“…you would need to do is sit there and let our trained professionals do their stuff. Okay?” Dr. Wimbley was saying. Jamila had been absorbed in her own thoughts and missed most of it, so when they sat her down in a rather comfortable chair behind her, she had no idea what was going on.

Mark sat next to her in an identical chair. “Are you ready for this, Jamila?” he asked excitedly, as if they were just strapped in to a roller coaster.

Jamila could only gulp and say, “I hope so!”

A man and a woman, both dressed like Dr. Wimbley, now approached. They each carried two things: a box of Hanx in one hand, and a strangely-twisted paper product in the other.

“Mark…” asked Jamila, “What is that?”

“What, the Tickle Twists? They’re just Hanx tissues rolled up like that ahead of time. Weren’t you listening to Dr. Wimbley?”

Tickle Twists?

The man took his position in front of Jamila, and the woman in front of Mark. Jamila was looking back and forth between Mark and the man in front of her, until her inducer said, “Hold still, please, and face me.” As if to help her with that, he put his hand under her chin. Then the stupid “Tickle Twist” entered her right nostril. Jamila gulped and held her breath, but it was no use. There was no avoiding it, only putting it off. She knew if she was able to put off having to sneeze (which wasn’t often), the sneeze would just become louder or more forceful, or multiply – or all of the above.

Mark was already starting to sneeze. Only a minute after they both had started, Jamila heard from her right a moderately loud “Heh-Ishh!” and knew that it was Mark. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the woman who was inducing him quickly grab a Hanx – presumably one with the Kachoo Kabuster formula – up to his mouth and nose as he sneezed. The tissue not only stayed unripped, but seemed to absorb any moisture from the sneeze.

Mark didn’t strike Jamila as someone who sneezed much, but she knew that would probably change over the next… wait, exactly how long would they be sitting there?

“Mark,” Jamila managed to get out, “how long did they say we’d be here?”

“All – ah – hah – Hah-ishh! All day, but we’re getting breaks.”

“W-whed?” Her nose was starting to fill up again from the tickle, but she knew she wouldn’t get to blow it for a while.

“I think they said the sessions are an hour at a time. Huh-Huh-ishhoo!”

Damn, Jamila thought.

“Hey,” Mark continued to the best of his ability, “how come you aren’t sneezing yet?”

“Yes,” said Jamila’s inducer, sounding annoyed, “why?”

“S-sorry…” Jamila had been struggling with the initial tickle for almost four or five minutes now, but no longer cared about the people watching her. She had to let loose.

“Hah – ” – the inducer grabbed a tissue as quickly as humanly possible to hold to her face – “HAH – HAHHHCHOOO!”

And wouldn’t you know it, the Hanx ripped cleanly in half, and wetness from the sneeze sprayed everywhere.

But Jamila didn’t care. She hadn’t needed to sneeze that bad since the sneezing powder incident from her youth, and damn, did that feel great! Of course, due to her holding it back, the sneeze was much bigger and, therefore, more pleasurable for Jamila to finally get out.

It also meant they grew in number.

“EhhHHSHOOO! HARCHEWWW! HahhHHSHAAA! ITCH-AAA! HEH’SHEW!” she continued without catching her breath, until after the sixth one. She gasped for more air. Her inducer grabbed another two Hanx and another fresh Tickle Twist, and as soon as he slipped it back up her nose, Jamila was off to the races again. Even Mark’s sneezing had slowed down as he watched in amazement of Jamila’s fits.

Both of them were vaguely aware of the others around them, more men and women in lab coats, but most of them were holding clipboards, recording data. Now more and more people working in the area had gathered to witness Jamila’s fits – and a few women, who had deemed Mark cute, watched his sneezing as well.

The first hour session seemed to go on forever to Jamila, and when it ended, she grabbed about a dozen Hanx from the box in front of her (it was a miracle it hadn’t run out yet) and blew her nose more loudly than ever before in her life. She didn’t care anymore about what other people saw or thought of her; the sneezing felt too good not to enjoy, and likewise for blowing her nose. She filled at least eight tissues before squeezing them into an unstable wad – much to the doctors’ dismay – and threw them out.

“Jamila the Sneeze Queen,” Dr. Wimbley remarked. “We’ll find a cure for her yet!”

The new tissues had done fine in holding Mark’s sneezes. He was the male, and the doctors had assumed his sneeze would be more powerful than Jamila’s, but rather they paled in comparison in terms of strength and volume. His were average, hers extreme.

But he wasn’t jealous or anything. During that first break, he found Jamila and, in fact, congratulated her. “I’ve heard you sneeze before, but not like that! Actually, I’ve never heard anyone sneeze like that! The doctors are flustered,” he laughed, “at what to do about your sneezing. It’s really funny, actually!”

“Yeah,” she said, “but maybe not so funny for the company.”

“Well, they still have us till four p.m. so we’ll see what they come up with! If I don’t get to talk to you again, have a great rest of the day sneezing your brains out! I know I will.”

Jamila smiled at this. Yes, we will.

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Whee, I looove the whole "covering someone else's sneeze" thing :P Smexy stuff right there.

Also...Tickle Twists...:)

Can't wait for more :D

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Whee, I looove the whole "covering someone else's sneeze" thing :P Smexy stuff right there.

Also...Tickle Twists...:)

Can't wait for more :D

What she said!

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Alex often felt that he didn’t belong in that room. The other six were always so much more able to brainstorm, to handle whatever was happening. Alex was the youngest of the seven, at just 25, as well as the newest at Hanx Co. He quickly rose through the ranks of another company before being hired by Hanx as comptroller. He was very good at his job, and he had nothing against Hanx as a company, but he felt that he was sort of left out of the clique of the other corporate officers.

This fact was severely compounded by the fact that, though he liked working at Hanx, he didn’t like thinking or talking about what they produced.

Alex was not fond of sneezing, at all. He didn’t care for hearing other people do it – he certainly tried to sit away from Jamila if he could help it – but worse than that was his distaste for his own sneezing. He was “scarred,” if you will, as a preteen when he sneezed through his nose in class once, making the strangest sound anyone had ever heard, and producing undesirable strings of you-know-what. Alex was mortified at what he’d done. Even though he would end up moving and never seeing any of those classmates again after that year, he vowed never to let anyone see him sneeze again.

That was why he was so confused, and intrigued (but still disgusted), when he’d witness someone like Jamila sneezing, rarely covering, loud as can be, all over the place. How come she was never embarrassed by it? It was a mystery to Alex.

Fortunately for him, Alex didn’t sneeze much to begin with. He always seemed to be in good health, so he caught very few colds, and he had no seasonal allergies. He was, however, and always had been, allergic to cigarette smoke. This was normally simple enough to avoid, despite living in a big city where there were bound to be some smokers around outside. But today was not a normal day for Alex.

After work, Alex went as planned to one of his favorite diners in town for dinner. As he walked up to the door of the place, the faintest smell of cigarette smoke made itself present to him. This was not unusual for Alex; the place had a smoking and a non-smoking section, and when he sat in non-smoking, he was fine.

“One for non-smoking, please,” Alex said when the greeter greeted him inside.

“Non-smoking’s filled up right now, hon,” she replied. “It’s a twenty-minute wait. But if you don’t mind the smoking section, you can go in right now.”

…Well, that’s a predicament.

Alex had been craving this diner’s hamburger all day long, but he’d either have to wait for it or brave the smoking section – and risk sneezing in public. The juicy, perfectly-grilled burger seemed to be calling out to him. More so than that did his hunger – he had skipped lunch, so waiting was not an option.

But the smoke would certainly get to him within five minutes! What was he supposed to do?


“Oh – yes, sorry, I’ll – go to the smoking section, that’s fine.”

“Okay, right this way.”

Alex started to curse himself out under his breath, calling himself an idiot for making that decision. Hindsight is 20/20, and he could say more easily now that he would have survived the wait, or better yet, he would have been fine, if a tad disappointed, going to another restaurant. But it was too late now, wasn’t it?

As he sat down, though he worried about the smoke, he soon noticed it wasn’t actually bothering him yet. He only saw one or two cigarettes out, and realized that maybe, just maybe, the section was predominantly filled with people like him, those who wanted to eat in non-smoking but didn’t want to wait the twenty minutes.

The time it took for a waiter or waitress to attend to Alex, he split between fiddling with the menu, pretending to decide what to order even though he already knew what he wanted, and looking around. He had never been in this part of his favorite restaurant before, and he’d always wondered if it looked any different than the non-smoking section.

It didn’t, really.

Suddenly he noticed a girl at the nearby counter taking furtive glances his way. It wasn’t just once or twice, but several quick peeks, Alex decided. Was she checking him out? Alex brushed a bit of his blonde hair up off his forehead and sat up a bit straighter, just in case. Alex was considered cute in high school by some of the girls, but he’d only had one girlfriend, for a few months in college. He wasn’t much of a dater, a tad shy, but he did care about his appearance.

Then, out of nowhere, the girl decided to look right at Alex. Alex, in his reverie, had begun staring back at the girl, however moderately-attractive she was. The girl smiled. Alex gave a quick grin back and nodded, almost awkwardly.

Finally, mercifully, the waitress came and Alex ordered immediately. “Should be 15-20 minutes,” the waitress said as she walked away.

Damn, Alex thought. I should have realized I would have to wait for my food, either way. Now what?

‘Now what’ turned out to be the moderately-attractive woman from the bar walking towards Alex. “Hi! Do you mind if I sit here? I feel so lonely up at the counter!”

Wow, forward much? “Oh, uh – sure! Yeah.”

It was the only thing – well, the only polite thing – Alex could think to say, and now the young woman, who then introduced herself as Patty, sat down across from him. Alex’s nose finally started to twitch from the smoky ambiance of the room.

So the minutes went by, and Alex forced himself through all the pleasantries with this woman he had no interest in, but was too timid to turn away. “Yes, so what do you do for a living?” “Mhm, interesting.” “Yes, my food will be here any second now, any second…”

Alex considered lying when Patty asked him what he did for a living. Not that he was embarrassed about working at a tissue factory, just embarrassed at the irony that he never carried their tissues with him, and would soon be in sore need of a few. So rather than lying, he just told a very vague truth: “I’m the comptroller at a small corporation here in Toronto. You’ve probably never heard of it.” Thankfully for him, Patty didn’t ask the name of the company. Maybe she was starting to lost interest in him?

At long last, Alex’s burger came, and he began to eat rather quickly, famished as he was – but he also wanted to get out of there before a sneeze started to form. Patty noticed the speed at which he ate and said, “Well, you’ve been waiting a long time for your food. I’ll just be in the ladies’ room a couple minutes!” With that, she excused herself – an odd exit to match an odd entrance.

Alex saw the opportunity, and hoping she really would be a few minutes, began to scarf down his food. He did not plan to stay for dessert, and in fact already had the money separated in his wallet ready to pay with, tip and all. He just needed to get out of that diner.

There was not a tickle that began to form, but rather an itch, slightly different than what Alex usually experienced when a sneeze was building. Was it compounded by how nervous he was he would have to sneeze in public? Alex considered briefly going to the bathroom to let it out, but there was no guarantee that someone else wouldn’t be in there or come in after – it was not a one-person, private bathroom.

Soon he found himself done eating, and when the waitress walked by he asked for his bill, and quickly, please. “In a rush, sir?” the waitress asked, not unkindly. Then, jokingly, “Running out on a bad date, are we?” She laughed.

“Yeah – somethig like that.” He could tell by his speech that his nose was starting to fill up.

He was out of there a few seconds later and never saw Patty again.

Now the challenge was to get back to his apartment before he sneezed, or, in the interim, find somewhere no one would hear him. Technically, other people would be able to hear Alex in his apartment if he didn’t stifle and just sneezed normally, but as they weren’t visible to him, he could more easily put them out of his mind.

He started running the handful of blocks left to his building, rubbing his nose vigorously. It helped him a lot that he was away from the smoke now, but the itch that had started at the diner wasn’t going away until he sneezed.

Four more blocks…

Two more…

Maybe fifty paces…


Just up the stairs now, no time to wait for the elevator. He lived on the third floor anyway.

The sneeze (or sneezes) was fast approaching. He just needed to get inside and shut the door. Then he’d feel safe. Out of sight is out of mind.

He ran for his door, 3H. Fumbled for his key. Forced it in to the door. Got inside, and closed the door.

“Ha-ISHoo! Huh-ISHew! HEH-ISHoo!”

When sneezing from his cigarette allergy, he always seemed to sneeze in triples – and never any false starts. Already another trip was coming:

“Huh-SHOO! Eh-SHOO! Ha-ISHoo!”

And with that, he collapsed into his armchair, slunk down and finally relaxed.

Corey looked up at the clock as he rummaged through his cabinets. Time was of the essence; Amanda was coming over in less than twenty minutes, and he still had to clean up the majority of his apartment. He had just finished vacuuming, and was now looking for his dust rag. He hadn’t dusted around his apartment in probably months now.

He started at the small bookcase in his room, which seemed to usually collect the most dust. As he started, he felt a faint tickle begin to take shape in his nose. Ugh, not now, he thought. Normally he liked having a good sneeze, but there was really no time, with Amanda coming ov–

Wait – Amanda! Maybe I can finally get her to sneeze, with all this dust… I mean, it’s here, it’s not like I’m adding it or anything. I’m just… enhancing it, by pure accident, of course. No harm, no fowl.

– but that would be stupid, not to mention immoral. Come on, man, you’re going to resort to “making” her sneeze? What are the chances that that’ll actually work, even? You don’t know if she’s allergic to dust or anythi–

“Ha-ESHOO!” Corey finally sneezed. Wrapped up in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the tickle growing inside him, and the sneeze took him by surprise.

“Hah… huh-huh-huh-Huh-ESHOO!” he sneezed again after several quick hitches.

Ugh, that felt good. See, it’s affecting me, and I’m not even that allergic to dust. She’ll probably be affected too, regardless. So I have nothing to worry about! I’ll just keep dusting, as I had originally planned, and tonight’s the night I finally get what I’ve been wishing for. Easy as pie.

Corey got up and moved to the next room, the next table, et cetera, with a stray sneeze here and there. “Ha-ISHOO!”

The doorbell rang a few minutes early. Corey ran and put away his dusting implements, almost as if he was rushing to hide some heinous crime he just committed. The tickle was not quite out of his nose yet, either, but it would have to do. Amanda was here.

“Hey, baby,” Corey said as he opened the door. They kissed right away.

“Hey, yourself! How’ve you been? It feels like I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“Heh, well, it’s only Saturday night, it’s been a little over 24 hours,” Corey joked. “I’ve been fine, just milling about, doing random things that need to get done.”

“Fun! Like cleaning the apartment?”

Corey froze, off-guard. Had she already sensed the dust that had been kicked up in the room? Was she getting suspicious?

“H-how did you know?”

“Um, you left your vacuum cleaner out, silly!” Amanda teased back, pointing to the back wall where the vacuum had been left.

“ – Oh – right,” said Corey, not as nervously now.

He finally relaxed, and the two went to the couch to cuddle and watch a DVD, as per their plan for the night. Corey was happy and having a great time, not thinking about “it,” when suddenly –


“Bless you!” said Amanda, reaching habitually for the nearest box of Hanx to pass to him.

“*sniff* Thank you,” he said. And that started the back-and-forth in his head.

Now! Before it gets any later – keep talking about it! Say “Oh I’ve been dusting and it bothers my nose so much” or something like that! Anything, to get her to go along with it! Maybe she’s a fetishist too, for all I know!

BUT she probably isn’t. Don’t ruin this night with that junk. You’re having a great time now as it is. Don’t. Ruin. It.

…buuuuut what if I just went to get us some drinks, and oh-so-gently, accidentally brushed against that dusty side table next to her? It was the only piece of furniture I didn’t get to dust, so maybe it was divine intervention?

No, don’t do it, don’t do it don’t do it don’t –

“You want a drink, hon?”

“Um, no thanks, I’m good.”

“Okay. I’m just gonna get some water for myself.” He got up, crossed behind the couch, and quietly as he could, dusted the table with the back of his hand.

It did kick up some dust. Corey hurried through getting his water – he didn’t want to be in the other room if she sneezed. So he quickly but carefully walked back towards the couch – and right through the dust.

“*sniff!* Hah – ha-ISHOO!”

“Bless you again!”

“Heh, thanks – Heh-ESHOO!”

“Bless you! Corey, are you okay?”

“Oh, sorry. Yeah, I’m fine.”

He still wouldn’t allow himself to talk more about the incident, which was probably for the best. Thankfully, Corey didn’t sneeze for the rest of the night, but neither did Amanda. She had a fantastic time with him. He should have had a fantastic time, but didn’t allow himself. There was always something more he wanted.

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I can't believe I haven't commented on this yet. Awesome story!

Why didn't Amanda sneeze? Just wondering...

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I can't believe I haven't commented on this yet. Awesome story!

Why didn't Amanda sneeze? Just wondering...

Plot reasons :laugh:

But thank you so much for commenting! And thank you to everyone else for commenting, also! I really wish I had the time to do individual thank yous, seriously, but I can't, I've been swamped recently :/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, between going away for a week for band camp and coming back to a hurricane that knocked out the power in my house for two-plus days, this really is the earliest I could get part 6 up :rolleyes: Thank you everyone so much in advance for being understanding! I'm aiming to have the finale up before Labor Day.


“Well, I just wanted to thank you two for being so cooperative with the Kabuster testing the other day,” Miss Stapleton was telling Mark and Jamila. “The lab came back to us with nothing but praise for you two – especially since they finally perfected the formula to hold even Jamila’s sneezes,” she added with a smile and even a hint of a wink – rather out of character for her.

Jamila blushed, and rubbed – it was more of a swat, actually – at her nose just remembering the itchy “Tickle Twists.” But she nodded politely, as Mark vocalized, “No trouble, Miss Stapleton.”

“You will be happy to find,” Miss Stapleton continued, “an extra little something with your Christmas bonuses next month.”

Mark beamed, and even Jamila had to take a second to appreciate her boss’s newfound generosity. “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome…” And suddenly Stapleton turned sort of distant. She moved back toward her desk, which Mark seemed to take as a dismissal of sorts; he moved toward the door to leave.

Jamila stayed in place, though, unsure of what was going on with her boss. She was acting completely out of character. Sure, she’d been unusually pleased since the Kabuster plan was put into action a week ago. But pleased enough to pay Mark and Jamila extra for their extra efforts in the lab testing? Maybe normal bosses, but not Stapleton. She wasn’t that type. And now she shifted from sociable to aloof in a matter of seconds. Was she delirious?

Stapleton now stood at the front of her desk, reaching for a fresh tissue from the box of Hanx near the head of the desk. Taking it in both hands, she proceeded to blow her nose, but not in her normal way. She usually would do her best to blow quietly, not silently but barely audibly. This blow, however, was indeed audible – probably from the floor below them. She honked and honked for a good thirty seconds, not noticing Jamila – and Mark, who had not fully left the office when he heard the boisterous blows – staring at her.

As she finished, Mark quietly asked, “Are you okay, Miss Stapleton?”

“Yes, fide. Just dealig with a bit of a cold.”

Jamila nodded in empathy. “Feel better soon.”

“It’s alright so far. If anything, I’d rather feel like this when the Kabuster tissues hit the market, just to test them myself!” she added trying to sound good-humored.

“That’ll be quarter one, next year, right?” Mark queried.

“If all goes according to plan, yes. And when we do, what a relief that will be! We’ll be topping Kleenex and Puffs in no time flat,” she sighed, which sent her into a coughing fit. “I think we should have a party, for the whole company, when this all gets completed. Could even be the end of this week!”

It all makes sense now, Jamila thought. She doesn’t get sick often, and this sounds like a doozy of a cold. It must be making her delirious. That’s why she’s so out of character. I mean – a party?!

“The last phase is getting the ad campaign id place, and Mr. Harvey is working od that right dow,” Stapleton continued.

“Did he really get Kim Kardashian for the commercials?” Jamila asked.

Miss Stapleton began to shake her head ever so slightly, as in saying ‘No,’ but then replied, “Harvey told be he had doe trouble. I don’t really see how he did it, but I wod’t believe it till I see the girl with by own two eyes.” She grabbed three more Hanx and gave her nose another hard blow.

At that moment, Corey entered a studio somewhere on the outskirts of Toronto. Mr. Harvey had summoned him there to lend an extra hand with the commercial. He shed his coat as he walked in, and spotted Mr. Harvey talking to a young girl – not Kim, more likely a makeup artist or set designer – in a corner of the front room.

After a few moments, Harvey noticed Corey and waved for him to come over with his hand. “Good morning, boy!” he said jovially. “We’ll be starting in a few seconds. Corey, this is Melanie. Melanie, Corey,” he said, introducing the would-be stagehand they were with.

They shook hands. “Pleasure,” Corey said politely.

“Melanie will lead us to the studio, and we’ll meet our star now,” said Mr. Harvey.

The young blonde looked up. “Oh, yes! Of course!” And she turned and lead them down a flight of stairs.

As they walked, Corey leaned in to the older man to speak more secretively. “Mr. Harvey, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you call me by my first name before – let alone, call me ‘boy.’ You’re always just as business-like as Miss Stapleton.”

“Ah, but we’re not really on business here, son!” he whispered back in reply.

“Aren’t we? We’re overseeing a very important commercial shoot. And by the way, is our model really Kim Kar-”

“Here we are!” Melanie stated cheerfully, opening up a wide double-door into the studio. And there, standing smack dab in the middle of the room, was Kim Kardashian.

Corey truly felt taken aback a bit. He found himself rubbing his eyes as if to wake himself up from a dream. Could it really be? There she was, standing, facing the trio that had just entered, smiling, hands on hips – Kim Kardashian. Her long dark brown hair… glowing skin… and curves upon curves… Kim. Freaking. Karda –

“Corey, meet the most successful Kim Kardashian impersonator in the world!” announced Mr. Harvey.

To say that Corey was snapped out of his fantasy would be an understatement. It was more like the cloud on which he was floating was removed from underneath him as he fell back to earth abruptly. “I should have known it was too good to be true!” he whispered to Harvey. He could now suddenly see the differences between Kim and her impersonator – they weren’t many, but the few that were noticeable now screamed out to him. The main culprit was a large mole on her left cheek. Harvey was presently instructing “our other lovely little lady Melanie” to apply as much concealer to that as need be, even giving her a small tin of what was presumably a kind of makeup.

As Melanie led Faux-Kim away to a makeup table, Harvey turned back to Corey and said, “So what? It looks like the real thing. I tried to get Kim, and of course she said no dice. But I’m a man true to my word.”

“Oh, you are?” asked Corey. “And what happened to the Mr. Harvey who said ‘Oh, no no no, deceit isn’t really what we’re after?’ Kim’s people are gonna see five seconds of this commercial and sue! And you know what really gets me? Is that in all your years at the company I’ve never once seen you do or say one dishonest thing!”

“There’s a first time for everything, Corey.” Then, a strange thing happened. Old Mr. Harvey, after a pause, put his arm on Corey’s shoulder, and his tone of voice changed. “Listen, Corey. I’m old. Real old. I don’t have much time left, with the company or otherwise. I want to make a splash with Hanx before I go. It’s been my lifelong work. And whatever the legal ramifications are, truth is, kid, I’m fairly certain I won’t be around to face them.”

Already Corey couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and could barely begin to sort out his emotions. But then Harvey made matters more complicated.

“Do you realize why I called you here today?” Corey shook his head. “Okay, let me put it this way.” Mr. Harvey removed from his pants pocket a tin, identical to the makeup tin he had just given Melanie to use on Fake Kim. He popped off the lid with little force, revealing the powdery white contents. “Sniff this. Just put a few dabs under your nose.”

Corey blindly obeyed, really unsure of what else to do. He put a bit under his nose, kept his two powdery fingers there as well, and breathed in. It irritated Corey’s nose right away. He coughed a bit and rubbed at his nose, which of course only made matters worse with the powder. “Huh-huh! Huh-ESHOO! Ha-ISHOO!” he sneezed, grabbing a few Hanx from his pocket just in time for another double. “Heh-ESHOO! Heh-ESHAA! Holy crap, what is that stuff?” he asked before blowing his nose into the Hanx.

“It truly is makeup,” said Harvey, “but it’s technically black market because it also has, well, that effect. Our Kim has to sneeze for the commercial, doesn’t she?” Corey could have sworn he winked.

“That doesn’t answer me why I’m here, Mr. Harvey.”

“Oh, come on, kid! Follow your primal instincts. Get past all the corporate mumbo-jumbo in your head for a second and think like you would think – in bed.”

While this was a very awkward thing for a young man to hear from a septuagenarian man, Corey realized now. Fake Kim or not, this shoot was going to be all about Kim sneezing and sneezing, and blowing her nose and then probably sneezing some more. He had desperately tried to push that out of his mind when going to the studio, but Harvey’s egging him on helped bring the thoughts back.

“I’ve watched you, Corey, ever since you arrived at the company. Listen. I have the fetish too.” (Corey blushed deeply.) “Why do you think I’m with the company? Why do you think I’ve been so insistent on getting Kim-slash-someone-that-looks-like-Kim?”

“How did you know?”

“I’m 73. I’ve got experience with our people, Corey. Especially since there’s nearly a dozen working within Hanx Co. right now.” Corey’s ears shot up at that statement, but Harvey went on. “So I can tell who’s who and what’s what. Now listen. Let’s go over there and have a ball watching Kim Kardashian start sneezing her beautiful butt off, and cross the legal bridge when we come to it, ‘kay?”

Corey’s conscience was screaming out to him Jiminy Cricket style, but the way Mr. Harvey put it was so appealing… “Got it,” he smiled.

Kim was presently arriving at the set from makeup and costumes just as Corey and Harvey sat down. The mole was completely gone, and she looked more like the real Kardashian than before. She was rubbing her nose just a bit, but apparently absent-mindedly so, because she said, “So how are we going to make me sneeze? Because tell the truth, I don’t very often, guys.”

“Don’t worry honey, we’ve got that all figured out!” Mr. Harvey called. “Just do what you do!”

Corey: “She doesn’t know about the…?”

Harvey chuckled and shook his head. “Course not.” Then he turned around and growled to his cameramen, “Cameras better be rolling.”

The cameramen, who had previously been lazing around, munching doughnuts and waiting for directions, suddenly staggered to their feet and got the cameras in order. It occurred to Corey that Mr. Harvey, whose official title was chief marketing officer, didn’t hire a director for this shoot. He was the director… or maybe he and Corey were co-directors!

Kim looked up, rubbing her nose some more. “Oh wow, speak of the devil! I think I’m gonna sneeze… Ha-ha-hahh… Hah-ISHEW!” She sneezed into the crook of her elbow. Corey fought the urge to call out “Bless you!” from his co-director’s chair. “Whew! Excuse me!” said Kim before launching into another “Hahhh-HahCHOOO! Excuse me!”

“The thing with our Kim is she doesn’t do a great job with the voice,” said Corey to Harvey.

“You’re right, it’s too ‘valley girl,’” Harvey remarked.

“Yeah… oh well, we’ll fix it in post!” said Corey, referring to the post-production process, then added gleefully, “God I’ve always wanted to say that!”

“Huh-ISHEWW! Excuse me! Wow, I dunno what’s come over me!”

“Valley girl or not, I’m digging the ‘excuse me’s!’” Corey said privately to Mr. Harvey, chuckling. “Did you instruct her to do all the sneezy talk?”

“That’s the greatest thing! I didn’t!” replied Harvey.

“I only sneezed four times from the powder, and that was already her fourth…” Corey noticed, almost worriedly.

“But you put just a few dabs under your nose. It’s potent stuff, and I told Melanie to go liberal with it,” Harvey assured with a smile.

“Hur-CHEW! Huh-CHEWW! Excus- ha-huh-huh-huh-ISHOO! ITCHEWW!”

It was the most glorious moment of Corey’s life, fetishistically speaking, and yet his thoughts turned to his thoroughly-unsneezy girlfriend. Maybe, just maybe, if Corey could get some of the stuff to use on Amanda…

“HA-SHEW! Hah! Hah-TCHEEE!” Faux Kim, meanwhile, was going wild. She was still oblivious to why she was sneezing, but there was no time for her to question it aloud between sneezes. “Heh-ISHOOO! HuTCHOO!”

Corey was, no doubt, enjoying the show. But he couldn’t wait to turn to Mr. Harvey and ask – “So how do you get this stuff?”

“No,” the reply came immediately. Mr. Harvey obviously had anticipated the question would be asked. “Not for personal use.”

“So you show me this magic powder and wave it in front of my face and then won’t tell me how to get it?” Corey asked angrily.

“Kid, can we talk after the show?” said Harvey, nearly drowned out by another magnificent “Hah-CHEWW!”

Corey understood, put his hands up in apology and understanding, and quietly nodded and returned to his “co-directing.”

“I know exactly how you would use that make-up, and it wouldn’t be as make-up,” Mr. Harvey was telling Corey as they left the studio. It had been a magnificent “show,” and more than enough film of Fake Kim sneezing into Hanx tissues had been shot and was already in post-production.

“Then why did I even come here? Why did you show me the stuff if I can’t use it?” a livid Corey demanded.

“Before you started asking for the powder, did I ever say anything about Amanda to you?” Harvey asked as a reply. This made Corey stop and think. No, he hadn’t. “We were enjoying the Kim clone like two normal sneeze fetishists would. I know what it is. You think about it too much, don’t you.”

Despite the “Don’t you” at the end, it was more a declaration of a fact than a question. “Do you love her?” Harvey asked.

“With my whole heart.”

Harvey studied him for a minute. “I believe you,” he finally conceded. “You have a lot of living left in you, Corey. So does she. And if you really do love her that much, and you’re together for a while, you’ll get to see her sneeze without unnatural forces acting in your favor.” He almost chuckled at his own weird phrase. “I’ve seen it all, kid. Trust me on this. Just think about it less often. Put the fetish in its place – which, be frank with you, isn’t high priority. If it is, it shouldn’t be.”

Corey thought about it, and finally decided Harvey was right. “Forcing it” was never the right way to go. He should know by now! He tried it the other night, and failed. Now, hearing it from a wise old man who also happened to share the fetish and be able to see Corey’s point of view, Corey could finally relax about the topic. All he had to say was, There’s a time and place for the fetish, and this is not it.

They were both presently leaving the studio building, having the rest of the day off. “I got a text from Stapleton, it sounds like we’re celebrating Friday!” said Corey. “Party for the whole company!”

“Christmas miracle come early!” said Harvey. “We haven’t had a party for anything company-related in all the years she’s been here!”

“But before that, party every day, right?” Corey teased.

“Of course! I could smoke a cig inside and everything!”

They both laughed, and then Corey felt obligated, as they parted, to say, “Thank you so much, Mr. Harvey. It’s been… you’ve helped me so much.”

The old man smiled. “No problem, kid.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is dumb. But my thinking is, maybe you'll disagree, and I hate leaving things unfinished, even when they're delayed by 2 or 3 weeks due to circumstances unforeseen. Oh well.


Whatever was making Miss Stapleton “delirious” – her cold or, more likely, a cold medicine she was taking (and possibly in overdoses; this was Jamila’s new and improved theory) – it did not stop and suddenly halt the idea of a company party. No, much of the week was dedicated to preparing for the first non-holiday-related office party the company had had under Miss Stapleton’s regime. Stapleton herself seemed agreeable throughout the week despite her cold, which gave her frequent coughing fits and pauses to blow her nose. Nobody had yet heard her sneeze, which was no surprise; it was not something she cared to do in public. When she absolutely had to, she would stifle silently. It wasn’t a very “CEO” thing to sneeze openly, particularly if people were around.

Corey, meanwhile, had had a fantastic week. After his experience with Mr. Harvey at the studio and finally learning his lesson about his fetish, he had more thoroughly enjoyed being with Amanda, as he should. The fetish almost never entered his mind, and Thursday night, the night before the day of the party, they had one of the most romantic, perfect dates imaginable. It reminded him of just a week or so ago, when they slept together for the first time, that wonderful night before the big Kabuster-related meeting… it was around then that he noticed his fetish instincts really starting to get out of control.

The offices, the cubicles, the hallways, even the restrooms – up and down the whole building, everything was decorated. Was it premature celebration? Eh, maybe. A few brave souls whispered such sentiments as these throughout the week, but no one dared challenge corporate, especially since they would all be getting free cake out of it Friday. Considering the product wouldn’t go on the market till January, and considering that they had no guarantee of its success, coupled with the fact that they would more than likely face a ton of legal trouble with it… then again, when it was put that way, maybe this was the time for celebrating.

And Friday finally came, and with it a growing sense of excitement. There was still a full work day to be completed before the party – Stapleton wasn’t that trippy that she’d cancel a full day’s work – but at seven, the celebrating was on. Besides, many of the lower-level employees who had not much else important to do spent the majority of Friday’s work day finishing the excessive decorating and ordering the catering and such.

Corey saw Amanda that morning on a stepstool, helping another woman hang up a large banner that read in bold, assuming letters: “CONGRATULATIONS HANX CO!”

Playfully, Corey snuck up behind her and lightly tickled her vulnerable sides as a way of saying “Good morning.” Amanda let out a sort of yelp of surprise and lost her footing on the stepstool for a second. Corey grabbed her and helped her regain her balance just in time.

Amanda turned her head over her shoulder and gave him a playful “menacing” glare. “How dare you.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

Corey laughed and said “Morning! See you at the party?”

“Of course!” She winked.

The other woman, presumably of a lower-level department, had been observing all of this. “He’s cute. Flirting much?”

“Nope,” Amanda beamed. “Boyfriend.”

“Aww! He seems like a great guy,” the woman replied, as most women do when talking about friends’ lovers whom they’d just met.

“He is! He was acting a bit strange the other day, but last night we had the most amazing time… God, I can’t wait for this party!”

And the party finally did come. It was overall very relaxed, almost as if the preparation for the event made everyone too exhausted for the event itself. Or maybe the workers at Hanx did not feel totally comfortable with the idea of partying in the workplace. Despite these minor issues, there was still a general excitement around and at the party, and everything went off without a hitch for the first few hours.


Corey’s head involuntarily spun at the sound of Jamila’s sneeze, in surprise just as much as interest. “Bless you!” he called back to her. She was easily six or eight meters away, but she may as well have sneezed right behind his ear.

“Thank you!” she waved back. She looked stunning in her classic little black dress, which matched her black hair perfectly.

It was the first time in a while that he had started thinking about sneezing again, but Corey couldn’t help it when Jamila sneezed. He wondered if Amanda’s sounded like that…


He knew that voice, which belonged to a body just sidling up behind him, and forced himself again to stop thinking about his girlfriend sneezing. He turned around, looked passionately into Amanda’s beautiful eyes, thought of everything else, how he wanted to start a life together with her, hold her forever, kiss her forever. He started the latter by deeply kissing her on the lips.

“Whoa, hey!” Amanda grinned after the kiss. “Ha ha, you drunk already?”

“Not on alcohol. On you.” They kissed again.

Somewhere else, Jamila was blowing her big, itchy nose, trying to figure out what it was this time that was bothering her sinuses. It was far too late in the year to be allergies, unless somehow a cat was let into the building.

And somewhere else, Miss Stapleton was talking to Mr. Harvey.

“Dear, are you feeling well?” Harvey asked politely. “You seem more… giggly than your normal self.”

“Oh, yes honey, thank you! I think it was just that stuff I took earlier, oh what the hell was it called… whatever it was, it was some strong medicine.”

With his natural fetishist’s curiosity, Harvey took advantage of the situation and asked, “So it’s helping, then? You do sound better already.”

“Oh, yeah, my nose is a lot less stuffed up and my cough is gone, thankfully…” And just then, Stapleton felt a sneeze developing in her nose. It was the main symptom left off her list of what got better, because, simply, it hadn’t. She feebly started to grasp for the box of Hanx on the table behind her – even though it was a party, it was a Hanx Co. party, and tissue boxes served as the centerpieces of all the tables – and grabbed a tissue to cover her nose. Harvey easily saw these classic signs of an impending sneeze, not to mention her fluttering eyelids and changed breathing. He found his boss to be very attractive, but it was a pity she stifled.

Which is what Stapleton was planning on doing, until at the last second she realized she didn’t care. Why should she? Mr. Harvey was there, but why would he give a damn about an unstifled, natural sneeze, anyway? And if anyone else passing by saw or heard – so what? Besides, it was a party! She didn’t have to act all CEO right now; she could finally take a break and let loose, and a full, natural, perhaps loud sneeze was a perfect symbol of that.


The tail end of the sneeze was powerful but significantly more feminine-sounding than an average woman’s sneeze, definitely more so than Jamila’s, for example.

Harvey, of course, was delighted to hear his boss not-stifle. “Bless you, hon,” he grinned, and reached back to bring the Hanx box closer to them.

“Thagk you, dearie!” Stapleton answered, her voice just as uncharacteristically high. “You’re a doll.”

Is this really how she talks when she lets loose? Harvey couldn’t help but wonder as he watched Stapleton honk into another Kleenex. Still, he couldn’t help but take advantage of the situation…

“You’re too kind! Say, would you mind if I lit up in here?”

“Oh, go ahead! It’s a party, after all.”

Delighted, Harvey took out his pack of cigarettes, the first time he did so at his place of work in several years, and lit one and began to smoke.

Alex was perhaps on the other side of the room at this point, but he almost immediately realized that Harvey had done this. For some reason, the smoke got to Alex’s sinuses just as soon as it raised into the air, much more quickly than his episode at the diner. This tickle was much stronger than that one too, and his instinct was to hold his nose to try to prevent himself from – gasp – sneezing in public.

This only made his nose itchier, however, and avoidance was not a possibility anymore. Plan B was to turn to the table next him, smother his face in a dozen Hanx, and run away. Or maybe he should run away first, then take Hanx from the bathro-


His eyes grew wider as he realized what he’d just done. It came too quickly, too quickly to even notice it was happening at first. WAY too quickly to stop. And of course, the floodgates were opened.

“Huh-CHOO! Hah-ISHoo!”

He finished his triple, imagining the horrors of people all around him, staring at him sneezing, though this wasn’t entirely the case. The room was dark, and his paranoia in a way began to blind him even further. He started to sprint for the door, Hanx now in hand, as another triple escaped:

“Hah-CHOOO! HEH-shew! Heh-EHshoo!”

“Poor Alex,” said Amanda, still dancing with Corey. “Wonder what’s gotten into him?”

Corey was desperate at this point. Amanda had just brought up the topic. Never mind that it was about a guy. But no, he couldn’t. He put it out of his mind. He even said a prayer. Not for Amanda to sneeze, or to get sick, but for him to forget about everything.

Well, it worked. The pair had the night of their lives. They danced, got a little tipsy, and went home to Corey’s apartment. Corey forgot about it all, realized he had the most beautiful girlfriend in the world, and thanked his lucky stars for her.

Corey’s eyes opened, blinked a few times, and looked down and to the right of him. There was Amanda... awake.

With a tissue over her nose and mouth.

“…Morning,” Corey whispered.

“Bordnig… ih… Hih-ISHEW!”




“…Bless you.”

“Thagks. Sorry, I *sniff* think being out so late last dight, ad how cold it was… I thigk I caught sobethig.”



On a semi-related note, that's it. This is the last fic I'm going to write for a long while. Explanations here.

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