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It's Not That Bad


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Well I haven't written anything in quite awhile and this is my first time writing this fandom so I really hope I manage to do the characters ok. I'm open to constructive criticism but please be gentle. There aren't a whole lot of sneezes in the first part, but that should change in subsequent parts. Also to anyone that is familiar with previous stories I've written, I hope you won't be too disappointed that I no longer spell out sneezes in my writing. I just don't have the patience to do it anymore. Please feel free to imagine the sneezes sounding however you like.


Title: It's Not That Bad

Author: Shayla

Fandom: White Collar

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I’m merely borrowing them for my own amusement.


The first thing Neil noticed when he woke up that morning was that his mouth felt all dry and gritty. The second thing he noticed was that he could not breathe through his nose at all which explained what was going on with his mouth. This did not seem like a promising start to his day. Neil dragged himself out of bed and made his way to the bathroom. The third thing he noticed as he looked in the mirror was how red his eyes were. He grabbed a wad of toilet paper and proceeded to blow his nose in the attempt to clear his head. The toilet paper felt rough against his nose and he wished that he had some tissues, but he rarely ever got sick, so he wasn't in the habit of keeping them in the apartment. After several blows he managed to clear his nasal passages somewhat, but it wasn't much of an improvement. Then Neil's cell phone started to ring. He tossed the sodden toilet paper in the wastebasket and ran back to his bedroom to answer the phone. The fourth thing Neil noticed as he picked up his cell phone off the nightstand was that he had over slept and that he should have been at the office fifteen minutes ago. Sure enough the phone showed that it was Peter calling. Neil reluctantly pressed the button on the phone to accept the call.

"Neil, where are you? You're fifteen minutes late," Peter started before Neil could even utter a greeting.

"Sorry, I overslept. I'll be there as soon as I can." Neil cringed at the sound of his own voice, his congestion clearly audible as he spoke. "Anyway, shouldn't you know where I am? All you have to do is check my tracking anklet."

"It was faster to call you," Peter answered. "Are you feeling alright Neil? You sound awful."

"I think I'm coming down with something, but I don't..." Neil paused as he felt a sudden sharp tickle in his nose and sneezed twice, each one forceful enough to bend him at the waist. "I don't feel that bad. I'll just pick up some cold meds on my way in."

Peter sighed. "Maybe you should just take the day off and rest. I don't need you coming in here and infecting the whole bureau."

"Peter, it's not that bad," Neil protested, but then another sudden sneeze betrayed his words. "I'll just pick up some medicine and I'll be fine in an hour."

"No, you're staying home," Peter insisted, "do you have any idea what Elizabeth would do to me if she found out I made you come in to work sick? She's rather fond of you."

Neil grinned. "You've got a point there."

"Just promise me that you're really sick and that you're not going to run off on some con?"

"Hey, I wanted to come in. You're the one insisting that I stay home."

"For all I know you could be faking and insisting on coming in to work anyway as a way to try to manipulate me into saying that you should stay home," Peter argued.

Neil rolled his eyes. "I love this bond of trust between us," Neil replied, the sarcasm he was going for somewhat lost in his congestion.

"Just don't leave the apartment Neil."

"What, I can't even go out to buy drugs and tissues?"

"Fine, you can go to the drugstore, but I'll be monitoring your anklet. If you need to go somewhere else for any reason, I expect you to call me first. Is that understood?"

Neil sighed. "Yes Peter."

"Good, now get some rest and feel better. I'll be by later to check in on you and bring you some files to look over."

"Great I can hardly wait." Neil said and hung up, not bothering to say goodbye. He shook his head. It was so like Peter to try to get some work out of him despite the fact he'd practically ordered him to bed rest. Though truth be told, he'd be glad for something to do since he'd probably be bored out of his skull by lunch time. Still, he wondered how Elizabeth would react if she found out. He'd definitely have to mention it the next time he talked to her.

Neil went to the kitchen and poured himself a tall glass of water to try to quench the horrible thirst he was feeling as a result of breathing through his mouth all night long. As he drank the water he decided that he should probably skip breakfast since eating would probably be too awkward until he could breathe through his nose better. His nose started to tickle again, but it built up more slowly than before. He quickly finished his water, then just stood there as he waited for the sneeze to come. After a couple of seconds the tickle in his nose seemed to magnify and his breathe started to hitch and just as he felt the sneeze about to hit, the tickle suddenly dissipated. The tickle hadn't left completely, but it was nowhere near strong enough to make him sneeze now. He rubbed at his nose in annoyance which really didn't seem to help at all and then his nose actually started to run. Neil grabbed a couple of napkins off of the counter and blew his nose and winced at the napkin's texture which was worse than the toilet paper. He really needed to get down to the drugstore and get himself a proper supply of tissues.

When Neil was getting dressed, he almost started to put on a suit and tie out of habit, but realized it was rather silly to dress up just to go to the drugstore. He didn't really own too much in the way of casual clothing, but he managed to find some loose fitting jeans and a navy blue t-shirt to wear. Before he left, he checked around June's place to see if he could find any tissues. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally found some in the downstairs bathroom. He grabbed several from the box and put them in his pocket. The tickling in his nose suddenly flared up again and he grabbed another tissue from the box just in time to sneeze into it. He sneezed three times in rapid succession and paused as he felt a fourth sneeze lingering just out of reach. Neil's breath started to hitch to build up to what felt like was going to be a monster of a sneeze and he grabbed onto the edge of the sink to brace himself. After what seemed like several minutes, but in reality was only a few seconds, he let loose with a huge sneeze that seemed to be bigger than all of his previous sneezes of the day combined. That last sneeze left him feeling a bit dazed and it took him a moment to realize that the tissue he had sneezed into was soaked through. He discarded it in the wastebasket and grabbed a couple more tissues to thoroughly blow his nose and discarded those tissues as well. He started to feel a headache coming on and gently massaged his temples.

Normally Neil wasn't that fond of taking medicine, but right now he wanted nothing more than to get to the drugstore so he could get something to nip this thing in the bud before it got any worse. As soon as Neil left the house, he realized that getting to and from the drugstore wasn't going to be as easy as he'd thought. Within moments his eyes started to sting and tear up and he felt a horrible burning sensation in his sinuses and nasal passages every time he breathed in. He wiped the tears from his eyes and rubbed his nose vigorously before setting off towards his destination.

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