Jump to content
Sneeze Fetish Forum

You Rarely Flinch (Alienist: Sarah)


Recommended Posts

So I'm into this new show called "The Alienist" and I love the characters. It's set in the late 1800's in New York. Psychiatry is an emerging science and a doctor and two other people are trying to use new methods to solve a series of murders. It's got a bit of a Sherlock Holmes vibe to it. Anyway, this is a story about the lone female character, Sarah. She's always done up in a very Victorian style--lots of layers of clothes, hair in a bun, etc.

Even if you don't know the series, I hope you like the story :) 

"You Rarely Flinch"

She straightened her coat and adjusted the broach on the knot of the scarf that rested at her throat. She was tired and knew she was coming down with a cold, but given the tension between her and the men she was working with, Sarah refused to take a day off from their work. She simply would not give them the satisfaction of living up to the title of "the weaker sex." The carriage lurched to a stop in front of Dr. Kreizler's house and she didn't wait for the driver's help before stepping out into the chilly, damp New York morning air. She rang the bell and Mary let her in and silently took her coat as usual. When she entered the main room, John said good morning; Laszlow never looked up from making notes on his chalkboard.

They were reviewing the letter that the killer had sent for what seemed like the hundredth time and Sarah could feel herself growing more tired and chilled by the moment. Conversation paused when Mary brought in tea; for all his insensitivity, Dr. Kreirzler took pains not to expose Mary to the ugliness of their ad hoc police work. The thought of a hot cup of tea was enticing and Sarah reached for the delicate china pot. Her hands shook as she poured her tea, an action that did not go unnoticed by Mr. Moore.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

"Fine, I assure you."

"Your hands are trembling."

"Perhaps I quit drinking," she said sharply, referencing John’s own difficulties with hand tremors as he did his best to abstain from alcohol. It had the desired effect, and he refrained from questioning her further.

At least he refrained until she sneezed. The three of them were seated around the large table reviewing medical reports and asylum records when she could no longer fight the growing sensation in her nose. Sarah tilted her head away from the table and brought her hands up to shield her face.

ahh…ahhIhtshhh! ahhTsshhew!

"God bless you," both men said. John offered her a handkerchief but she waved off his offer, already taking one from her pocket to dab at her nose.

"Excuse me," she said breathlessly, bringing the embroidered cloth to her flaring nostrils.

AhhTshhhew! Ktsshhew!

"God bless you again. Are you sure you're well?" Mr. Moore asked, looking concerned. "You seem a bit pale."

"I told you, I'm fine."

"Are you two quite finished?" Dr. Kreizler snapped.  

"Show a bit of heart, Laszlow, You're a doctor, surely you can see when a person is unwell."

"If Miss Howard says she is fine then I take her at her word. She seems more than capable to assess her own state and my time is better served trying to figure out what is driving the behavior of our killer before he takes another young boy." 

Sarah lost count of how different versions of this conversation had they had in the last few weeks; John being snapped at for trying to pull Laszlow's attention to anything other than the murders. Normally she might feel bad for John but his continued questioning was getting on her nerves and she was glad for the distraction. She was able to work for another hour before the tickle in her nose returned. The only sound in the room was the ticking of the large grandfather clock and the occasional turning of pages, making it difficult to get away with the increasing sniffles and quiet throat clearing she was forced to occasionally indulge in. She pretended to ignore John’s concerned glances and, more than once, asked Dr. Kreiszler a question she already knew the answer to just to avoid dealing with the other man. In this case, however, there was simply no avoiding the urge to sneeze. She took the handkerchief off her lap and tilted her head away.

Ahhtschhew! Tsschhew! ah Ahh AhhTSHHeew!

"God bless you," John said.

"Yes, God bless you, Miss Howard. Perhaps if you are catching cold you would be better off at home in bed," Laszlow said. Her face remained still and controlled as she felt that familiar flare of anger bubble up. John shook his head in frustration—sometimes his friend’s callousness was really too much, especially when directed towards a woman.

"There is no reason for me to return home unless an occasional sneeze makes it too difficult for you to concentrate on your work, Doctor," she said. She picked up her pencil and returned to scanning her paperwork for relevant notes.


The next morning she felt (and looked) noticeably more ill but still refused to stay home. Her only concessions were wrapping and extra wool shawl around her shoulders before putting on her overcoat, and tucking and extra handkerchief into her pocket. The carriage ride to Dr. Kreiszler’s jostled her head and Sarah nearly changed her mind about being out of the house when a cough overtook her. She pressed a hand to her throat as the coughing died down—it was scratchy and sore in the aftermath. Cold or no cold, there was work to be done and she wouldn’t give Laszlow the satisfaction of missing a day.

The men were already working when she entered the main room. New boxes of records had been received and she felt her head swim at the amount of work they had in front of them. It was dizzying...

"Sarah?" Suddenly John was at her side, a hand on her elbow. She didn't remember closing her eyes but she must have because the room was out of focus. Even Laszlow had looked up from his work with something akin to concern in his eyes. 

"Yes. Sorry," she said, letting John help her towards a chair. Despite her very best efforts she could not repress a shiver and it prompted Dr. Kreizler to pour her a cup of tea, sliding it over to her with his good hand. "Thank you," she said, taking off her gloves and raising the cup to her lips. The cup rattled when she put it back on its saucer and she cleared her throat. “Have we made any progress?”

“We identified two possible suspects who had been discharged from the state-run asylum south of Albany but both died before the slayings began.”

“So we are, essentially, back to square one,” John said.

“Not exactly,” Laszlow said. “With each person we rule out I’m sure we are getting closer to our killer’s identity. It’s extremely unlikely a person capable of this level of violence would have avoided a period of care in an institution. We must simply keep looking until—”

Ahhtschhew! Tsschhew!

“God bless you, Sarah. You sound worse than—”

AhhTSHHeew! Ktsshew! ahhtshhew! Tshheew!

“Forgive me,” she said.

“Sarah,” John sighed. “You’re clearly ill.”

“It is just a slight cold. I assure you I’m quite capable of continuing our work.”

“Please allow me to see you home," John said.

"I have no intention of returning home and, even if I did, I would not require assistance in finding my way." Her response would have had more bite if not for the fit of coughing that followed. This time it was Laszlow who stepped in, handing her a cough drop from a tin he’d taken from his pocket. The taste was fairly unpleasant but it did help get the cough under control. When she opened her eyes she saw both John and Laszlow looking at her with concern; she hated those looks.

"Miss Howard, it's clear you are not well. Please allow me to examine you and make sure it is not something more serious than a cold and then let Mr. Moore take you home" Dr. Kreizler said. She gave a barely perceptible nod and rose from her chair, fighting the wave of dizziness that threatened her once again. "This way, please," he said, leading her down a hallway towards the room he used to examine patients. She sat on the table as the doctor got his equipment from the cabinet. “Do you mind removing your coat so I may better hear your lungs?” he asked.

“Of course,” she said, beginning to undo the buttons of her dark jacket from the top down. Three buttons from the bottom and she froze, her nose suddenly prickling with an intense and unforgiving tickle. To her horror, Sarah sneezed openly before she had a chance to cover her nose and mouth.


“God bless you,” Laszlow said. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and held it out to her. Sarah was in no position to refuse and pressed the cloth to her nose.

AhhTSHHeew! Ktshhew! ahhtschhew! Tsschhew! eh AhhKTSHHHeew!

Equal parts humiliated and ill, Sarah kept her eyes closed for a moment.

“God bless you,” Laszlow repeated. “How long have you been feeling poorly?”

“Three days, I suppose,” she said, returning to the row of buttons. She took off her jacket and shivered. There was no fireplace in this small room and she felt the cold February damp in her bones. Laszlow began by listening to her lungs and checking her temperature.

"Your lungs sound clear and healthy and your temperature is only mildly elevated," he said. Next he checked the glands on either side of her neck and examined her eyes, throat, ears, and concluded by applying pressure to her sinuses. This was the action that elicited the most reaction from her. "My apologies," he said when she winced and pulled away. 

"I didn't mean to flinch."

"You rarely flinch," he said. "No matter the circumstance."

ahhtschhew! Tsschhew! AhhTSHHeew!

"God bless you, Miss Howard. You really should have stayed in bed today," he said, turning towards his desk. "It is just a cold for now, but if you don't take care it could worsen." He poured her a small glass of brandy and held it out to her. "To fight the chill," he added. "I understand your desire to prove yourself but there's no need."

"There's nothing but need, Doctor."

"I suppose I'm partly to blame."

"Do not give yourself too much credit, Doctor. There are plenty of people to whom a woman must prove herself on a daily basis."

"Not with us. Not with me," he added. "You have remarkable character and a brilliant mind. You have proven your metal a hundred times over. There is no shame in taking a few days’ rest when your body requires it. No one, certainly neither John nor myself would consider that a defect."

She felt her defenses soften a just little. She wasn't surprised that Dr. Kreiszler could so easily read her, but she was surprised by the fact that he was attempting to be comforting. She'd seen glimpses of this side of him before—especially when he was working with one of the children in the orphanage or witnesses in their investigation. He was capable of compassion even if he didn't allow himself to indulge in it very frequently.

"May I ask what you're thinking about?"

"I was wondering why you reserve this kindness only for those in distress, Doctor. Surely you might combat your own loneliness by indulging in these traits more often."

"What makes you think I'm lonely?"

"You are not the only person capable of making observations," she said.

"I suppose not.” It was like watching a door slam shut—his demeanor back to his usual aloof nature. He took the tin of cough drops from his pocket. “Keep these. They’re fairly new but they seem to be effective in lessening a person’s cough.” Sarah slipped her coat back on and accepted the small metal box.

“Thank you, Doctor. I appreciate you taking the time this morning.”

“Of course.”

“I am sorry for—ahhKtshhew! ahhTSHHeew! K’tshhhew!

“God bless you. You really should get home and nurse that cold," he said. "If your fever rises or you begin to experience any wheezing please contact me straightaway."

"I wonder if I might take one box of the asylum records with me," she said. "Surely there is nothing to prevent me from reading while I am recovering?" 

"No, I suppose there isn't. I'll have it sent over this afternoon."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"My pleasure, Miss Howard. I hope you feel better very soon."

Link to comment

I'm really interested to watch the show, but I don't think there's anyway for me to do so yet.  Anyway, great scenario!

Link to comment

I've been wanting to watch this show ever since I first started seeing commercials, but I don't know where :( Anyhow, I don't know the characters but I liked this fic and their interactions. I'm compelled :) 

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Gah I love your writing do much :wub: And this is one of my favorite scenarios; a doctor who is normally not the most kind that shows concern and care for someone. The huge difference in reactions from the two men is also super appealing to me, and so is Sarah's refusal to rest just to prove herself. So much goodness in this story :yes:

I always love how much depth you add to your drabbles and stories, too! I have never watched the show, but I have such a good grasp on who they are because of how well you wrote them.

Definitely looking forward to more drabbles from this show if you get inspired again!

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...