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The Cold Type (The Bold Type; Jane, Sutton, Kat)


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Once again, coming in hot with a fandom maybe no one cares about, but I've been watching this show while working out and I absolutely adore the characters. As always, I dove deep in the care-taking aspect of it (mostly with the male characters of the show being care-takers, but also some sweet F/F friendship stuff). Hopefully you guys will enjoy, and hopefully some of you have seen the show :lol:

!!SPOILER WARNING!! For those who care: This is pretty much taking place 1-2 episodes before the Season 2's finale.

For reference:


From left to right: Kat, Jane, Sutton


From Left to Right: Richard, Pinstripe, Ben

Alright, enough babbling... Let's go!


The Cold Type

Jane Sloan loved New York. There was nothing quite like taking a stroll down a busy street, watching people go by in a hurry, surrounded by buildings so tall they could kiss the sky. New York had always felt like home to her.

But if there was one thing that she hated about the city, it was winter. Especially when it lingered well into spring, blowing freezing winds through thin coats until every single hair raised in shivery protest.

It wasn’t that Jane didn’t own warmer coats—quite the contrary: she owned many, many coats. It was just that New York had moved on to spring fashion weeks ago. It was officially trench coat and bomber jacket season. Sure, Jane could have checked the weather before leaving her apartment in the morning, but then she might have missed the next train, which was a big no-no. Sometimes, the easiest choice was the worst one, and when you’re battling a low-level morning headache, there’s just no way around it.

And that’s why Jane cursed herself as she trudged down the street, wrestling the wind and struggling to keep her military green bomber jacket closed against her chest. When she finally reached her work’s building, she gratefully slipped through the door and welcomed the comparative peace and quiet of the atrium. Sure, there was the usual morning bustle as everyone made their way to their floor to start their work day, but it was nothing compared to the whistling of an insistent winter wind.

Jane sniffled, her nose running from the change of temperature. And, of course, she hadn’t brought tissues either. Tissues were for winter jackets.

“Jane!” called Kat at the top of the escalator to the lobby, waving two to-go coffee cups. Sutton stood next to her, flashing Jane a smile. They both looked fabulous, as always, and Jane was hit by a surge of love for her best friends.

After a quick ride up the escalator, during which Jane tried to get her shivering body under control, she lurched forward towards the coffee cup that Kat held out for her. Holding it with both hands, Jane took a sip, hoping the steaming liquid would warm her from inside.

“Well, hello to you too,” said Kat with a raised eyebrow.

“Cold,” said Jane in-between sips. “So cold.”

Kat put her arm around Jane’s shoulder, bringing her closer. “You should have worn something warmer, silly.”

“Can’t. It’s spring,” mumbled Jane as the three girls headed towards the elevator.

“So?” asked Kat.

“You can’t argue with fashion,” said Sutton. “But you can accessorize better,” she added, removing her large pale blue scarf and wrapping it around Jane’s neck. “This is called ‘fashion smart.’”

“I could have used some of your ‘fashion smart’ this morning, but you were gone before I even woke up,” said Jane, arranging the scarf with her free hand. “I don’t even know how you’re functioning with so little sleep.” Her voice caught at the end of the sentence. She cleared her throat, wincing.

Sutton sighed, pressing the elevator button. “We’ve got so much work to do before Paris fashion week. I’m basically working 20 hours a day at this point. I don’t even know why I go back to the apartment at all.”

“I have a tent you can borrow,” said Kat with a teasing smile. “It’s a pop-up tent. You just put it on the ground, pull a little, and SURPRISE! It’s a fully assembled tent. It would work great in the office.”

“Amazing,” said Sutton with mock enthusiasm.

Jane felt a prickle in her nose, burning like wildfire through her sinuses. A quick, squeaky gasp escaped her lips as she turned away from her friends, her breath catching in her throat. “Hhh—Ihh’TSCHheew! Ehh’TSCHheew!”

“Bless—“ started Kat.

“NN’TSCHheew! Excuse me.”

“Bless you!” said Kat and Sutton almost in unison. Kat examined Jane’s face, as if seeing it for the first time today. “Are you getting sick?”

Jane shook her head. “No.”

Sutton narrowed her eyes. “You do sound a little… scratchy,” she said, wriggling her fingers in front of her own throat.

Kat nodded, leaning towards Jane for a better look. “She does. And she’s a bit pale, too.”

“Guys, I’m not sick.” Jane sighed. “It was just a sneeze. Calm down.”

The elevator dinged and the doors open. The three girls stepped in, along with a few other employees.

“It was three, actually,” said Sutton, pressing Scarlet’s floor button.

“Three pretty strong sneezes,” added Kat, biting her lips to repress a smile.

Jane knew the more she reacted, the more they would tease her about it, but for some reason, their accusation really irritated her. So she’d sneezed and was a bit tired. Big deal. She was not sick.

“Guys, just stop. Can’t a girl sneeze in peace in this world anymore? Sheesh.” Jane had tried to spin her reply in a carefree, fun way, but it had come out a lot harsher than she’d intended.

“Whatever. Just don’t get me sick,” said Sutton, matching her seriousness. “I don’t have time to get sick.”

“Not a problem. ’Cause I’m not sick.”


Jane sat in the conference room, nursing her second round of coffee that morning. The first one hadn’t made a dent in her fatigue. She wondered if Kat had accidentally gotten her a decaf latte. This time, she’d chosen a dark roast and had forgone milk and sugar; a pitiful attempt at tricking her body into thinking the coffee was stronger. She’d written an article about the power of the placebo effect during her recent stint as a freelancer, so this would be an interesting experience. At the very least, the disgustingly bitter taste would be enough to keep her awake during the pitch meeting. She took another sip, grimacing.

Jacqueline Carlyle waltzed into the room, ready for business. Everyone around the table, including Jane, immediately sat straighter. It wasn’t that Jacqueline intimidated them—although on some levels, she did—, it was more that she inspired them to be better. The editor-in-chief emanated an aura of confidence and self-control, enveloped in just enough warmth to nurture and encourage growth. Jane aspired to be even half the woman Jacqueline was when she reached her age.

“Alright everyone,” said Jacqueline, standing at the end of the table, a cordial smile on her lips, “let’s hear your pitches for this week. I’d like us to extend our theme of powerful women hiding within the workplace. We’ll also need a few light pieces and a quiz for this month.”

Jacqueline went around the table, listening to pitches and guiding writers in the right direction. Jane watched her work, transfixed. Soon, her mind started floating around the room, her eyes unfocused. However, when one of the writers proposed a piece about women in the White House, Jane snapped back to reality. Her heart dropped to the floor.

That was the pitch she was going to propose when her turn came.

Panicked, she crossed it off the page in her notebook, but there was nothing else to fall back on. She’d been so confident that Jacqueline would love it that she hadn’t come up with a plan B. And sure enough, Jacqueline gave the writer the green light for the piece. Great.

There were only two more people before Jane. She had to think fast, but her mind was blank, her thoughts dry. Awakened by the rush of adrenaline, Jane’s nose started tickling again, adding to her distraction. Women in hiding, women in hiding, she mumbled under her breath, trying to jolt her brain awake. Her nose twitched as the tickle turned into a sparkle, making her eyes water. She tried to control her breathing, but the brewing sneeze wasn’t going to give up so easily.

“Jane?” asked Jacqueline, looking down at her notebook.

Jane didn’t answer, struggling with the tickle. She brought up her elbow and turned towards the side, getting ready for a sneeze that suddenly didn’t want to come out.

Jacqueline lifted her gaze. “Jane?”

“Hhh—Ihh’TSCHhheew! So sorry, I—’TSChheew!”

“Oh, bless you! You alright there?”

Jane sniffled quietly, sitting upright in her chair. “Yes. Sorry about that.”

“No need to apologize. So, what do you have for me this week?”

Jane stared at the elegant older woman, trying to throw out an idea. Any idea. Or even form words with her mouth. Any word. “Um…” She saw her boss’s features transform from an open smile to a puzzled raised eyebrow. “Uhhh…”

“Do you want me to come back to you?”

“No! I just…” Jane cursed herself internally. Why hadn’t she said yes? What was wrong with her? “I was thinking about…” Finally, an idea hit her. “Pseudonyms!” she practically yelled, raising halfway in her chair. “Women authors using pseudonyms or initials in order to make it in the book publishing industry.” She saw Jacqueline’s eyes light up, which spurred her forward. “I could interview authors and agents to find out if and why it’s affecting how readers choose books to purchase.”

“That sounds great Jane! Let’s go with that.”

Jane smiled and relaxed in her seat. But her elation was short-lived. She didn’t actually know anyone in the publishing industry.

Where would she even start?


“You look terrible,” said Kat as she leaned on Jane’s desk. Her friend was slumped in her chair, her eyes glazed over as she stared at the screen.

There was no doubt in Kat’s mind that Jane was sick, no matter how much the brunette denied it. It was kind of adorable how much Jane argued about it, right up until the point where she could no longer hide it. Kat wondered if it was because Jane hated appearing vulnerable, or if she was actually trying to convince herself that she was healthy.

Jane sighed, rubbing her forehead as if to calm a nagging headache. “I’m just tired.” She grabbed her empty mug and peered into it. “Wanna grab coffee downstairs?”

“Sure! I was actually going to ask if you wanted to get some lunch.”

Jane scrunched up her nose. “Not really hungry. But I’ll come along. I can use a break from… doing absolutely nothing except panicking.”

Kat pouted, resisting the urge to say something about Jane’s lack of appetite. She already looked miserable, and Kat didn’t want to irritate her even more. Plus, it wasn’t as fun to tease Jane without Sutton around.

Kat linked her arm around Jane’s as they headed downstairs. “What’s going on?”

“Just got my assignment for the week,” Jane said, her voice cracking at the edge. “Actually, I assigned myself a piece without any leads and I just spent the entire morning trying to figure out my angle. Do you happen to know any authors or agents?”

Kat shook her head. “Not personally, but I can poke around my contact on social media if you need. What’s the piece about?”

“Women using male pseudonyms to publish books.”

“Oh, kind of like J. K. Rowling?”

“Yeah, but I want the opinion of women in the industry today to see if the new feminism movement has changed anything. Except I don’t know where to start.” She laid her head on Kat’s shoulder and sighed.

Kat frowned. It wasn’t like Jane to feel so defeated over something as simple as finding contacts. There were multiple ways to approach it, and Jane had done it before. Kat knew it was a sign that her friend wasn’t feeling well. It broke her heart.

“Let me know how I can help. If you think of anyone, I can try to reach out. You know the six degrees of Kevin Bacon thing? I’m like three degrees closer.”

Jane laughed, which triggered a small, pitiful cough. Kat cooed and squeezed her friend closer. She wondered how long it would take before Jane gave in and finally agreed to rest. Last time, it had taken a good three days and a lot of convincing. And some yelling.

Kat was grateful that her immune system was basically indestructible. She hadn’t been sick in nearly four years, and couldn’t remember how it felt to have a cold. She attributed it to a good sleeping routine and her daily morning smoothie. All that vitamin C was paying off, baby!

As soon as they reached the ground floor, the pair headed for the coffee shop in the center of the lobby. Midday light filtered in from the two-story windows covering the outside wall. People milled around, drinking coffee, sitting with their laptops at the many tables scattered around the open space. Kat smelled the aroma of coffee and fresh bread wafting around, her stomach grumbling. Maybe she would get a sandwich at the café. She didn’t really want to force Jane to go out in the cold if she didn’t need to.

“Sloan!” a man called behind them.

The two girls turned around. Pinstripe, a.k.a Ryan, a writer who used to work upstairs at Pinstripe magazine, walked towards them with a big grin on his face. Beard stubbles, short hair cut, leather jacket over black t-shirt and tight black jeans—he looked like he had just jumped out of a romance novel about a reformed bad boy with a heart of gold. Kat still didn’t quite know what to think of him yet. Or even what Jane truly thought of him. The two had dated very briefly until Jane had realized that he wasn’t ready to commit.

“So we meet again,” said Jane, her voice dripping with sarcasm. That was their thing. Sarcasm. Kat didn’t really get it, but she always enjoyed watching it unfold.

“It’s equally lovely to see you,” said Pinstripe. His smile faltered as he examined Jane’s face. “Rough party last night?”

Kat bit her lip to stop herself from giggling. She felt Jane tense next to her.

“No. It’s Monday. This is my Monday face.” Just as she said it, her nose scrunched up. Her eyelids fluttered and her mouth hung open for a moment. She turned to her side and sneezed into her elbow. “Ihh’TSCHhheew! Ugh. Ehhh… Ehh—TSCHhheew!”

Bless you, Sloan!” said Pinstripe, a hint of surprise in his voice. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you sneeze.”

“Well, congratulations, you got a two-for-one deal. Hope you enjoyed the show.” Jane’s voice was strained and exhausted, void of her usual liveliness. Even Pinstripe seemed to notice it.

Kat tried to change the subject. “You know, for someone who doesn’t work here anymore, you sure hang out in the lobby a lot.”

“Oh, Sloan didn’t tell you? I got a book deal upstairs. I’m just meeting with my editor.”

“Congratulations!” Kat said, then turned to Jane. “Wait, Jane, weren’t you—“

Jane’s face lit up. “Oh my god, how could I even forget this? Of course!”

Pinstripe stood in silence, looking back and forth between the girls with a confused look.

“I’m writing a piece on the publishing industry,” explained Jane, suddenly a little more alive. “Do you think you could hook me up with a few contacts?”

Pinstripe smiled. “Sloan, if you keep asking me for favors, you’re going to owe me for eternity.”

“Hey, you said I was the one who pushed you to write this book. You owe me!”

Pinstripe chuckled and bowed his head. “Good point.” He glanced at his watch. “I have a meeting in a few minutes, but let’s meet up tomorrow afternoon at our usual spot?”

Jane nodded. “Sounds good. See you then.”

Kat watched him walk towards the elevator, silence stretching between Jane and her. She held it in for as long as she could, but it was too much to bear. “’Our usual spot?’” she asked in a sing-song tone.

“It’s a coffee shop,” said Jane with a warning look, but a smile on her lips. “Don’t you start.”

Kat shrugged. “Just sayin’! You’re kind of playing with fire here, Jane.”

“Speaking of fire, let’s get some coffee. It’s freezing in here.”

Kat nodded. It wasn’t really that cold in the lobby, but she could see the goosebumps on Jane’s arms. She wondered if she could get her to wear the wool cardigan she kept in her office for when the AC blasted frigid air in the summer. The trick was to figure out a way to offer it to Jane without making it obvious that Kat knew she was sick.

She decided it would be her challenge for the day.


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@20andsickfic & @Heather: Thank you for the encouragements! :D

Here is part two!


The next morning, Richard Hunter jogged to the elevators, suitcase in hand. “Hold it please!” he yelled, making it just in time to prevent the doors from closing. He stopped dead in his track when he noticed that none other than Sutton stood in the center of the elevator, alone.

Her eyes widened when she realized it was him. Richard finally stepped in with a polite smile and stood next to her, his heart beating out of his chest. It always did that when he ran into Sutton at work. It was excruciating.

“Good morning,” he said.

Sutton smiled and nodded without looking straight at him.

As the elevator rode up, Richard stole a glance at her. Frowning, he noticed that she looked pale, and her nose was a bit red. Had she been crying? His heart dropped at the memory of the last time he’d seen her cry, when she’d put an end to their secret relationship.

Sutton sniffled. A quiet little noise that caught Richard’s attention.

“Are you alright?” he asked, his professional front disintegrating.

She looked at him, then looked down. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

But Richard heard it. A bit of congestion in her voice, a slight croak. She’s sick, he realized. Just as he was about to say something, the elevator doors opened. People filed in, splitting Richard and Sutton apart.

Suddenly, Richard heard a tiny gasp, followed by a dainty sneeze. He turned his head in time to catch Sutton bent to the side, her hand over her mouth. His “bless you” got lost in the few other well wishes around, and soon enough, Sutton stepped off the elevator onto her floor. The door closed shut behind her, leaving Richard concerned and yearning to see her again.

He shut his eyes for a moment. Sutton had made her choice, and so had he. There was no going back.


Sutton brought a tissue to her nose, wiping it in anger as she rushed to Oliver’s office. She hated sneezing in tight crowds, and of course it had to have happened with Richard two feet away. Her face was still hot from embarrassment. Not only did she have to deal with this, but now she’d have to face Oliver’s wrath for being late. All because she’d slept through her alarm.

And all because she’d caught Jane’s stupid cold.

Her head was swimming, her sinuses were hurting, her throat was scratchy. She’d slept like a brick under the effect of Nyquil, so much so that she hadn’t heard Jane leave. Why hadn’t she woken her up?

As she rushed passed Jane’s desk, she leaned towards her roommate and whispered, “You got me sick AND you didn’t wake me up?!”

Jane’s surprise gaze met hers. “I’m not sick,” she whispered back, “and I left early to work on my piece!”

Sutton grunted, resuming her speed walk. She didn’t have time for this. As soon as he saw her from behind the glass walls of his office, Oliver called out to her with his booming voice, earning a few glances from the writers.

“Red!” he yelled. “Where the hell were you?”

Sutton rushed towards him. “I’m so sorry Oliver, I—“

“I don’t have time for excuses,” Oliver interrupted her. He glanced up at her from the portfolio he held in his hand. His expression softened a bit. Did Sutton look so bad that even Oliver pitied her? “Don’t be late again. Especially before Paris. Got it?”

“Got it,” said Sutton, nodding.

Her boss proceeded to list about a thousand tasks he needed her to do, including retrieving a few missing pieces for the collection they were bringing to Paris. Sutton took note of everything, her handwriting becoming mere scribbles as she tried to keep up.

Her nose started tickling. She bit her tongue, hoping to ward off the sneeze, to no avail. She held her breath, still writing, until the burning in her sinuses took over and she could no longer control it. She brought her wrist up to her nose and stifled an exasperated double. “Hhh! KSCHhh! Ihh’KSCHhh!”

“Oh and Red?” said Oliver when she was done.

Sutton sniffled. “Yes?”

“Please keep your germs contained.”

Sutton’s face caught fire once again. She wished she’d just stayed in bed and hid from the world underneath her covers, but the fashion department was under stress from the preparations, and they were already understaffed. There was no way Sutton could take a sick day without jeopardizing the schedule—and letting Oliver down.

She turned around, ready to leave, when Oliver added, “Make sure to bundle up, too.” He kept his gaze on the pile of forms on his desk. “It’s cold outside.”

Sutton smiled to herself. At least he wasn’t too mad.



“Bless you, Sloan,” said Pinstripe, offering her a napkin. “This is the fourth sneeze in half an hour. Are you ready to throw in the towel and admit that you’re under the weather?”

The two sat in their usual spot, a typical hipster coffee shop filled with plants, mismatched chairs and handlebar mustachioed men. The sound of quiet chatter and keyboard typing filled the room around them, and Jane probably would have been able to smell the familiar scent of freshly roasted coffee beans if it wasn’t for her deeply congested nose.

She grabbed the napkin from Pinstripe and groaned. Admitting that she was sick was already hard, but doing it in front of Pinstripe was just the rotten cherry on the expired cake. But there was no denying it. Her symptoms were ten times worse than the day before. She battled a constant tickle in her nose, on top of a sinus headache, a runny nose and chills.

“So I’ve caught a bit of a cold, what’s the big deal?”

Pinstripe gave her an empathetic smile, which sent Jane into a confusing mix of irritation and gooey warmth. “I mean this in the best way possible, but you really don’t sound good, Jane.”

“Don’t you ‘Jane’ me,” she said, rubbing her temples. He only used her first name when he was being serious.

“Isn’t your boyfriend a doctor? Can’t he magically cure you of this cold?”

Jane rolled her eyes, taking another sip of coffee. “He’s really busy at the hospital this week. Tonight is his only night off.” She regretted saying this immediately. It sounded needy, like she was complaining that Ben wasn’t available enough. It hadn’t been a problem until yesterday evening when she’d felt like crap and wished he could have been there to keep her warm. She knew it was just the cold making her feel vulnerable. It was a horrible feeling.

Pinstripe leaned over the table, looking at her straight in the eyes. “You should go home and sleep. You have more than enough time to write your article.”

“I don’t even have a lead yet,” Jane whined.

“I’ve got one for you.” He passed her a Post-it note with a few names and phone numbers written on it. “I’m sure at least one of them will be happy to meet with you. When you’re healthy.”

Jane made a face at him, which quickly morphed into a pre-sneeze expression. She unfolded the napkin and sneezed into it, away from the table. “IIHH’TSCHhheew! Ugh, this is get—getting o—’TSCHhheew!… old.”

“Bless you,” said Pinstripe, his voice modulated by a hint of tenderness Jane didn’t know he could muster. “Go home. Take care of yourself.”

She smiled. “I’ll think about it.”


Sutton pushed the heavy door of Safford’s building with her shoulder, her hands full of garment bags. Grunting, she slipped through the small crack she managed to open for herself, careful not to get the bags stuck in the door. Why was it that the entrance was always crowded when she was in a rush, making it impossible to get through, but when she needed help with the door, the place was deserted?

She gave a short, polite smile to the security guard at the badge station, and managed to swipe her badge on the scanner without dropping anything. She took a deep breath, looking at the escalator as if it were an insurmountable mountain. Her arms were so tired of carrying such a big load that her muscles were shaking.

She had spent the entire day running around the city, picking up clothing and jewelry requested by Oliver. Running in and out of overheated offices into the cold New York streets had done a number on her sick body, confusing its temperature regulation. Sutton felt both hot and cold, and didn’t know if she dreamed of a hot bath or an iced cold lemonade at the moment.

She’d blown through three packets of pocket tissues and had been blessed by at least four different Uber drivers. As she walked through the atrium, she avoided looking at the huge decorative mirror on the wall. If she looked anything like she felt, she’d be mortified that anyone had seen her like this. She’d rather not know at all.

She sniffled, her nose tickling like crazy. With no hands to grab a tissue, all she could do was wiggle it and hope for the best. The tickle vibrated through the bridge of her nose, making her breath itch. She didn’t stop, fumbling forward as her eyes closed.

“Hhh’KSCHhh!… IHH’KSCHHh!”

The sneezes were desperate and powerful, bending her at the waist, which was all it took for her to lose her balance. She yelped, feeling herself fall forward, but a steady hand grabbed her at the last moment.

“Easy,” said the man as he helped her right herself.

Sutton’s heart flipped in her chest. She’d recognize the voice anywhere.

“Richard! I—Hhh’KSChhh!”

Richard tightened his grip on her arm, steadying her. When she met his gaze, Sutton noticed Richard’s eyes were filled with concern. Her heart ached with a desire to press herself against his chest and feel his arms envelope her. But she couldn’t. She’d made her decision—she’d chosen her career over Richard. And now he had a girlfriend.

“Bless you,” Richard murmured, his warm hand still against Sutton’s arm. When he realized it, he took it off. “Are you alright?”

Sutton nodded, trying to pry her eyes away from his. His brow furrowed as if to say, “No you’re not.” It was a look he’d given her before, when they’d sneak into each other’s apartment at night to be together. She knew his body language like the back or her hand, and so did he.

She gave a short, pitiful laugh. “I’ll be OK. I just… I caught a cold. From Jane. It’s nothing.” He cast another doubtful, protective look upon her.

“Sutton!” yelled another voice nearby.

Sutton looked up to see Kat jogging down the escalator.

“Are you OK?” Kat asked as she reached Sutton and Richard.

“Yeah, Richard saved me,” Sutton said with a sad smile.

“Amazing.” Kat briefly nodded at Richard. “Here, let me help you bring these up,” she said to Sutton, grabbing most of the garment bags. “I haven’t seen you all day, where have you been?”

“Getting all of these,” Sutton said. She looked back at Richard again. He seemed uncomfortable and awkward, something she’d never witnessed before. It was odd to see such a professional, put-together executive suddenly feel small and out of place.

“I should probably go,” Richard said, pointing towards the elevator. “Take care of yourself, alright?”

Sutton smiled and nodded.

When he was a few paces away, Kat whispered, “Wanna wait until he’s gone so we’re not stuck in the same elevator as him?”

Sutton scoffed. “Uh, yeah!”

Once the coast was clear, they headed back to the office.

“So you caught Jane’s non-existent cold, huh?”

Sutton rolled her eyes. “If only she’d admit it sooner, maybe she wouldn’t spread it to everyone around. Although I guess I’m no better, sneezing all over the place. I’m probably going to get you sick.” She took a few steps away from Kat.

“Nah-ah!” said Kat. “I don’t get sick. My immune system is impenetrable.” She raised her fists under the garment bags. “Come at me, viruses! Adena says I’m going to jinx myself if I keep saying it.”

Sutton shifted her pile of garment bags under one arm and used her free hand to fetch a balled-up tissue, having no choice but to re-use it. She wiped her nose gingerly. “How is it going with Adena and the whole ‘open relationship’ thing?”

Kat deflated a bit. “It’s… alright. It’s not bad.”

Sutton raised an eyebrow.

“I just... On the one hand, it’s fun to explore my sexuality with different girls and see what I like, but on the other hand, it just feels… empty? And I’m starting to miss Adena. We don’t see each other as much.”

“Maybe you just need to take a small break and spend time with her?”

“I would, but she’s at a retreat right now. I’ve got a date tomorrow night, actually. Might as well use up the time when Adena’s gone.”

Sutton could tell the novelty of the experience was waning, and Kat wasn’t having that much fun anymore, but she didn’t know how to help her friend. She had no experience with open relationships and was worried that she’d give her the wrong advice.

“Well, I’m here if you want to talk or hang out.”

Kat smiled. “I know. And I’m here to rescue you from evil garment bags. And Richard.”

Sutton sighed. “Sometimes I don’t know if I want to be rescued from him.”

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Once again I don't really know anything about this show, but this is really cute. It's also interesting to see you juggle this many different characters at once. One of my favorite things about this kind of scenario is having the characters tease each other about their sneezes, or even just casually talk about them from a non-fetishist perspective. I feel like that can be very hard to pull off given that we, you know, *do* have the fetish, but I think you did a great job of it here.

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@Blah!? Thank you!! I had a lot of fun writing the sneezy banter between them; I'm so glad you're enjoying it :D

Here's the next part!


Jane sat on her couch, burritoed into a blanket while her boyfriend read the thermometer he had just plucked out of her mouth. She couldn’t believe that the only night she got to spend with Ben this week would be completely ruined by a stupid cold.

“Just a low-grade fever. You’ll be fine. Rest and drink plenty of fluids.”

Jane groaned and buried her face under the blanket. “I feel so gross.”

Ben smiled and patted her on the back. “It’s just a good old regular cold.”

The only answer she could muster from underneath the blanket was two exhausted sneezes. “Hhh’TSCHheew! Hhh—TSCHheew!”

“Bless you.” His Australian accent managed to make even a “bless you” sound sexy to Jane. If only she didn’t feel so rotten. “Need more tissues?”

Jane mumbled a “yes” before coming up for air, sniffling. After spending the afternoon on the phone scheduling meetups with Pinstripe’s contacts, her condition had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer focus on the screen. She’d spent the evening on the couch, feeling sorry for herself.

The door to the apartment opened and closed. Jane watched as Sutton stepped into the living room, looking worse for wear. She glared at Jane, then shuffled to the couch. “Move,” she told Jane, flopping dramatically between her and Ben. “I feel like death.”

“You too?” said Ben, unable to repress a smile. “How about I make you guys some tea?”

Both girls nodded. As soon as he got up from the couch, Sutton grabbed the blanket he had been sitting on and buried into it. “You’re already admitting that you’re sick and it’s only day two. Impressive,” said Sutton, her voice heavy with congestion.

“I didn’t have much choice.” Her symptoms had hit her so hard so fast. She was used to a slow build, which sometimes turned into a false alarm, but this cold was feisty.

Jane looked at her friend, noticing the flush high on her cheeks and her poor irritated nose. She felt terrible about passing on her germs to Sutton, but then again, they lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Sutton slept in the living room, and they shared a tiny closet of a bathroom. It was impossible not to spread a cold in such close-quarter. She’d be worried about getting Ben sick too if she didn’t know he’d built an amazing immune system from years of working in a hospital.

“I’ll get my revenge somehow,” mumbled Sutton, as if reading her mind.

Jane pushed gently on Sutton’s thigh with her fuzzy sock-cladded foot. “Come on, I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.” She pouted at her roommate, but Sutton shook her head. Jane tried again. “I’m really, really sor—Eh… Ihh’TSCHheew! Sorry—’TSCHheew!”

“God, it’s impossible to be mad at you when you sound so mise—miserable—Hhh’KSCHHhh!”

The two girls burst out laughing, passing around a box of tissues. They were quiet for a bit, lulled by the sound of ceramic cups clattering in the kitchen and water rushing out of the tap.

“I fell into Richard’s arms today,” said Sutton, mid-blowing her nose.

Jane’s mouth fell open. “Nooo! What happened?”

“I guess the correct way to describe it is that I sneezed myself off my feet, and he prevented me from face-planting on the marble floor.”

Jane grimaced. “How did that go?”

“My head is intact, but my heart is in pieces.” She threw the used tissue in a nearby overflowing bin. “How long will it take before it stops hurting?”

Jane bit her lip. Sutton had had a hard time with letting go of Richard since she’d put an end to their relationship, and learning that he had a new girlfriend had only made it worse. You only know you love someone when you let them go, thought Jane, but she didn’t say it aloud. There was no need to rub salt in the wound.

“I guess heartbreak is just like a cold. Only time and rest will heal it,” Jane said.

Sutton laughed. “That should be your next article.”

“Oh yes, because I’m sure Scarlet’s readers would love to hear all about the intersection of runny noses and missed opportunities.”

Sutton laid her head on the armrest, her eyes fixed on the ceiling. “No but think about it. The scratchy throat is like small issues that pop up in the relationship. And if you don’t do anything about it, it turns into a sore throat, which is when you start yelling at each other. When you grow apart, you start feeling chills because you’ve lost the warmth of the other. And the headache is pretty self-explanatory.”

“I think your fever is higher than mine,” mused Jane, laughing. “You’re not making any sense.”

“Excuse me? It makes perfect sense.”

“OK, what about sneezing? What does it mean?”

Sutton remained silent for a few seconds. “Sneezing means… Uhh… Sneezing means that—Hhh’KSCHhh! Alright sneezing means nothing—it just sucks, and being sick sucks, and metaphors suck.”

Jane burst out laughing, and Sutton soon joined in, until they both started coughing from laughing too much. Ben walked in with two steaming mugs, telling them to settle down and have some tea to soothe their throat.

Sutton sat up and grabbed her mug. “Can’t you just give us some kind of pill or shot to cure this?” she asked Ben.

Ben shook his head. “I’m afraid not. All you girls need is rest, which neither of you seem too keen on getting.”

His remark was met with the deafening silence of two stubborn career-driven women.


The next morning, Richard took the elevator down to Scarlet’s office for a meeting with Jacqueline. As the floor number decreased, he caught himself readjusting his tie as if it was too tight. He forced his hands down and clenched his jaw.

He hoped he would see Sutton, but also hoped he wouldn’t.

Things had been rocky with his girlfriend in the past few weeks. He wasn’t sure anymore that she was right for him, though he hadn’t been able to express why. Now he was starting to get a clearer picture: She just wasn’t Sutton.

Richard recalled his last run-in with Sutton the day before, when she’d almost fallen in the atrium. How lucky for him to have been so close to her when it had happened. Touching her had sent a jolt of electricity through his veins.

She’d looked so exhausted. He hoped that she was at home resting today.

As soon as he stepped into Scarlet’s offices, Richard looked towards Oliver’s atelier, his eyes searching for Sutton. He spotted her immediately. She had her back to him, leaning over a table filled with accessories. As Richard approached Jacqueline’s office, Sutton turned her head, giving Richard a better look at her face. She seemed even sicker than the day before, her skin pale and her nose bright red. She stood a little slumped over, as if her body didn’t have the energy to stay upright. Richard’s heart ached for her.

“Richard?” called Jacqueline, standing in the doorway of her office. “Everything alright?”

Richard plastered a smile on his face and forced himself to walk towards Jacqueline. “Yes, sorry. I thought I saw something.”

Jacqueline glanced towards Oliver’s office, but had the grace not to ask any more questions. Richard forced himself to focus on the task at hand and sat down with Jacqueline to discuss business.

Towards the end of the meeting, Richard noticed Sutton walking towards the kitchen, stopping midway to sneeze into a tissue.

“Well, I think that about covers it,” said Jacqueline, following his gaze once again.

Richard smiled. “Great. I’ll bring your concerns to the board and see what I can do.” He stood up. “Was there anything else?”

“No, you’re free to go!” Jacqueline gestured towards the door. “Have a great day, Richard.”

He could almost hear a hint of teasing in her voice, but he didn’t know if he was imagining it. His relationship with Sutton had been a secret. No one in the office except for Kat and Jane were supposed to know, but maybe his body language had been too obvious, and Jacqueline had picked up on it. He really needed to work on that.

Richard walked out of Jacqueline’s office, heading for the restroom, but made a sharp turn into the kitchen at the last moment. Sutton stood by the coffee machine, trying to choose a coffee pod from the selection on the counter. She stifled a cough in her elbow, then cleared her throat.

Richard moved towards the sink and opened a cupboard, picking up a packet of tea. Sutton had seemed to notice his presence but didn’t say anything.

“You should really be drinking this instead,” Richard said, handing her the tea sachet.

Sutton smiled and took it, turning it into her hands. “That’s what everyone has been telling me, but I could really use the coffee.” Her voice was a wreck, almost gone.

Richard winced. “You really don’t sound good.”

Suddenly, Sutton’s face fell and her eyes half-closed. Her button nose scrunched up. She turned to the side, her body jerking forward under the force of the sneezes. “IHh’KSCHhh! HHh’KSCHHhhh!”

“Bless you,” Richard said, handing her the handkerchief from his breast pocket. He didn’t care if anyone wondered where it went, or even if they saw Sutton with it. He would have before, worried about keeping their relationship a secret, but now it didn’t matter.

Sutton took it, wiping her nose delicately. “Thank you.”

“Sutton, you really need to go home. You have to rest, or you’ll keep getting worse.”

Sutton’s eyes filled with tears. “I wish I could but I have so much work. I can’t just leave.” She blinked the tears away before they fell, shaking her head lightly. “I’ll sleep as soon as fashion week is over.”

Richard just wanted to hold her and make it all better, but all he could do was put a hand on her arm. He noticed she looked flushed, and her body was giving off unnatural heat. He furrowed his brow, his lips a thin line. “Do you have a fever?”

Sutton shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she whispered, avoiding his eyes.

Richard placed his hand on her forehead without really thinking. For a second, he’d managed to forget that they weren’t intimate anymore, his concern clouding everything else. Sutton closed her eyes as if his hand felt nice against her skin, relief washing over her face. Richard kept it there a little longer. She was burning up.

Then he heard footsteps and conversation coming their way. He quickly removed his hand and took a few steps back, crashing down to reality. Sutton frantically spun towards the coffee maker to act busy. Two HR employees came into the kitchen with empty mugs.

“I would recommend the arabica. It’s pretty nice,” Sutton said to Richard in her professional, yet broken voice, a fake smile plastered on her face.

Richard nodded and thanked her, playing along. He watched Sutton fill her mug with hot water, the bag of tea still in her palm. She left the kitchen, shooting him one last parting smile.

He hoped the tea would make her feel at least a little better.


“And then he just put his hand on your forehead?” asked Kat, a mix of astonishment and giddiness in her voice.

She sat on the pouf in the fashion closet, surrounded by lavish designer clothes. Jane and Sutton laid on the carpeted ground, passing a box of tissues back and forth, looking like two miserable messes.

Sutton nodded. “Yep.” She’d called an emergency meeting in the closet after her encounter with Richard.

Kat couldn’t tell if Sutton’s red cheeks were caused by her cold, or Richard’s tender move. She bit her lip, torn between feeling annoyed that Richard kept popping up in Sutton’s life and acting so concerned for her, which inevitably sent Sutton into a downward spiral of regret, and secretly hoping that it meant they were on the way to reuniting again. Deep down, she felt like they were meant for each other.

“How do you feel?” asked Jane, blowing her nose.

“Like hell.”

Jane scoffed. “I mean about Richard.”

“Like hell,” repeated Sutton. “It was… so nice. I could feel actual sparks when his hand touched my forehead. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because his hand was cold and my forehead is basically molten lava.”

Kat slipped down on the ground and placed her hand on Sutton’s forehead. “Like this?” She frowned. “My god, you are burning up. You really need to go home.”

Sutton closed her eyes. “People need to stop telling me to go home. I wish I could go home. I dream about going home. I just can’t.” She sighed, then opened her eyes to look at Kat. “Also, this is super nice, but there’s no spark.”

Kat moved her hand down Sutton’s neck in small, soothing motions. Suddenly, Sutton grabbed her wrist, moving it away from her face. Her nostrils flared, her eyes unfocused. “I’m about to… snee—“ Kat leaned out of the way. “Hh’KSCHhhh!”

“Bless you,” said Kat and Jane.

Sutton groaned, her hand over her nose. “Tissue me.” Jane handed her the box, and Sutton pulled out a couple of tissues to blow her nose.

“I wish Ben was a little more like Richard about my cold,” said Jane. “Like… tender, you know? I mean, it’s not that he doesn’t care, but… He’s just so medical about it. It’s all about ‘fluid intake’ and ‘simple respiratory infection’ and ‘healthy people recover from colds in a few days,’ yada-yada-yada. I get it, I know I’m not going to die from this, and he’s dealing with actual serious issues at the hospital, but a little more fussing would be nice.”

Kat laughed. “Jane the Queen of Denial now wants people to fuss about her cold. You are one contradicting woman.”

Jane grabbed the closest clothing item lying on the ground—a beret—and threw it at Kat.

“No but I get it,” said Sutton. “Honestly, I thought I was going to burst into flames when Richard touched my forehead. The way he looked at me, the way he touched me. I felt important and cared for. And he didn’t even care that I look repulsive.” She buried her face in her hands. “I’m so confused. He has a girlfriend. I already made up my mind. What am I going to do?”

Kat stroked her hair. “Well, first you need to get better.” She looked around the closet, balls of tissues littering the ground around the two girls, almost like a chalk silhouette in a murder scene. “And then we need to call the CDC and have them decontaminate this room. Or just… burn it down.”

“I don’t even know why you’re hanging out so close to us,” said Jane, clearing her throat. “You’ll end up catching it, super immune system or not.”

“Nope, not gonna catch it. Still no signs of it.”

Sutton gasped. “Don’t jinx it! You have a date tonight.”

Kat smiled. “I’ll be fine. You worry about yourself.”

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@20andsickfic Thank you!! 😘 Here's the very last part; hope you enjoy it ☺️


Later that evening, while Jane finished up the first draft of her article, someone knocked at the door. She tightened the blanket around herself and shuffled to the door, ignoring the mess that had become her apartment. The area around her couch was littered with dried-up tea bags in empty mugs, piles of magazines opened at random pages, take-out boxes filled with cold noodles. And tissues. Tissues everywhere.

When she opened the door, she let out a small gasp.

It was Pinstripe.

Of all the people Jane had expected to see standing there, Pinstripe hadn’t even crossed her mind. She couldn’t remember the last time he’d set foot in her apartment. Probably the very last… “fun time” they’d had. God, how long ago was that?

“Sloan,” Pinstripe said, almost as surprised to see her in this state as she was of seeing him on her doorstep. Jane now wished she’d had checked the peephole before opening the door. Maybe she’d have tried to look more presentable.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, the wintery wind drifting in from outside making her shiver.

“May I come in?” He took in her small, shaking body. “You shouldn’t be standing in the doorway like this. I wouldn’t want you to get worse.”

Jane stepped aside, letting Pinstripe walk in. He made sure to close the door behind him. “I asked Kat if you were doing better today and she said you’d gotten worse.” He gave her a sad smile. “Sorry you’re not feeling well.”

“Don’t come too close,” warned Jane, shuffling back to the couch and crumpling back on it. “You don’t want to catch this.”

“I’ll take my chances,” said Pinstripe with a grin. He walked over to the couch and sat down next to Jane, putting a grocery bag he’d been carrying on the ground between his legs. Jane cracked a smile as he looked around, obviously trying very hard not to mention how messy the place was.

“So you just came to check up on me?” mused Jane. “I guess you do have soft side after all.” A fresh tickle grew in her nose. Knowing better than to try to fight it, she leaned over the coffee table and grabbed a few tissues. “Hold on… I gotta—Ehh’TSCHhhheew!”

“Bless you.”

“IHh’TSCHHhheew” Jane groaned.

“Bless you again.” Pinstripe looked at her, a mix of concern and mischievousness in his eyes. “And apparently you have a vulnerable side after all. I guess we’re both full of surprises.”

“What’s in there?” Jane pointed at the grocery bag.

“Oh. I wanted to get something to make you feel better but…” He took out a gallon of apple juice and three chocolate bars.

Jane laughed. “So you have no idea how to shop for sick people.”

“Look, I knew you’d be covered medicine-wise since you’re dating a doctor. And you can never have too much chocolate.” He eyed the apple juice. “The juice was just a panic move.” He looked around the apartment. “Is Sutton not home?”

Jane shook her head, wiping her nose with a tissue. “She’s still at work, the poor thing.”

“Look who’s talking. You’re the poor thing,” he teased, but his face grew serious as he examined her. “You’re all flushed,” he mumbled, almost to himself. “Do you have a fever?” Pinstripe slid closer to Jane and put the back of his fingers against her cheek. His brow furrowed, and he moved his hand to the other cheek.

Jane’s insides instantly lit on fire. So this was the spark Sutton had talked about. She felt the coolness of his hand against her burning skin, electricity buzzing from his touch to the tip of her toes and back. Pinstripe stopped moving his hand and kept it on her cheek, looking deep into her eyes. Time slowed down, the air thick with desire.

After what seemed like an eternity, a tickle deep in Jane’s sinuses shook her out of her trance. She wiggled her nose as her mouth fell open. The sneeze progressed as fast as lightning, and Jane barely had enough time to move away from Pinstripe to sneeze into her blanket. “Ehh—TSCHhheew!”

Pinstripe chuckled, letting his hand fall on his lap. “Bless you, Jane.” He looked around, dazed, as if he had also been enraptured in the moment. “I should probably go and… let you rest.” He got up, a hint of awkwardness to his movements, and walked back to the door. “Call me if you need anything, alright?”

Jane nodded. “Thank you for the chocolate. And the apple juice.”

Pinstripe grinned. “Feel better soon.”


Kat sat on Cammy’s bed, biting her bottom lip. Cammy laid seductively against the pillows, all curves and luscious hair. She was gorgeous. Things had gotten steamy very quickly at the bar where they’d agreed to meet after work. It hadn’t been long before Cammy had invited Kat at her apartment.

It was to be expected—the dates were, after all, only meant to be sexual. She wasn’t looking for a loving relationship. She already had that with Adena.

Kat closed her eyes. Thinking of Adena while making out with another girl was against her rule. It made her incredibly uncomfortable, no matter how many times she reminded herself that Adena had been the one to propose the open relationship.

“Everything OK?” asked Cammy.

Kat nodded. She rolled her shoulders, trying to relax, then resumed kissing her date. Cammy smelled divine, a mix of jasmine and woody, earthy notes. But somehow, something felt off. Kat tried her best to be in the moment and enjoy it, but truth be told, she just wasn’t.

Fatigue had hit her like a ton of bricks towards the late afternoon. It had been a whirlwind of a day at work, with tons of meetings and social media storms. Still, Kat wasn’t usually this tired even after the craziest days.

Cammy grabbed the back of Kat’s head and tried to pull her down, but Kat resisted.

Cammy broke off the kiss, confused. “What’s wrong?”

Kat shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just not—" Suddenly, a tickle bloomed in her nose. She sniffed, trying to get rid of it, but it only grew stronger. She gasped and covered her nose with both hands. “EHP’TSChhooo!”

Kat sat on the bed, shocked. She almost never sneezed.

She gasped again, the tickle returning with a white-hot vengeance. “IHP’TSCHhooo!”

She especially never sneezed twice in a row.

“Bless you,” Cammy said, not quite understanding what was happening.

“Oh no,” Kat said with a short laugh.


Kat swallowed, testing her throat. Sure enough, there it was. A scratchiness that she hadn’t noticed. And a small headache threatening to grow behind her eyes. The signs had been there most of the afternoon, but Kat hadn’t paid attention to them.

She sniffled, her nose now runny, as if the sneezes had officially unleashed the virus.

“I think I caught a cold.”


Kat knocked on Jane’s door, shivering in the cold night. When the door opened, Jane greeted her in her trusty blanket.

“I thought you had a date?” Jane said, moving aside to let Kat in.

Kat looked around the place, wondering if a tornado had landed in there. Sutton laid on the couch with a thermometer in her mouth. This was the very picture of Kat’s near future. Soon, she would be the one with a thermometer in her mouth. She was not looking forward to it.

“Is something wrong?” asked Jane, concerned.

“I caught your cold,” said Kat in disbelief.

“You did?!” said Sutton, taking the thermometer out of her mouth.

“Sutton! Keep it in your mouth until it beeps!” scolded Jane.

Sutton made a face, but put the thermometer back in her mouth.

“And you,” Jane said to Kat, “come in here.” She opened her blanket wide, and Kat nestled in there, rearranging it so that they both could fit in spite of their significant height difference. They shuffled awkwardly to the couch and joined Sutton.

“Are you sure you caught it?” asked Jane.

Kat nodded, unable to answer as a tickle took over. She gasped and crumpled down on her lap. “EHHP’TSChhooo!”

“Never mind,” said Jane, laughing. “Welcome to the club. It’s miserable.”

The thermometer beeped and Sutton took it out. “At least we’ve got each other.”

Kat smiled. That was the reason why she’d come straight to Jane’s apartment after apologizing to Cammy and running off. She knew she could always count on her friends to be there for her, in sickness and in health.

She grabbed the box of tissues, peering into it. “We might run out of tissues.”

Jane shook her head. “No worries. If we need more, Pinstripe will deliver.”

Kat looked at her, confused.

“I’ll tell you all about it, but first, we need to decide who’s going to make tea.”

“Not me, I still have a fever,” Sutton said, pouting as she read the thermometer.

“And I’m new to this whole ‘being sick’ thing,” said Kat, exaggerating the sad eyes.

Jane rolled her eyes and got up. “Fine, I’ll do it.”

Kat stretched out over Jane’s spot, making herself comfortable. Maybe this wouldn’t be too bad after all. “Guys, we should all call in sick tomorrow and do a movie marathon.”

“Actually, I finished my article tonight, so I’m definitely calling in sick tomorrow,” said Jane from the kitchen. “I’m in.”

Kat looked expectantly at Sutton. “Come on Sutton, you know you can’t keep going to work like this.”

“It could be arranged,” said Sutton. “Oliver told me to stay home tomorrow if I don’t feel well. He said he’d rather be without me for a day than without everyone else in the team because I infected them all.” She smiled. “I think he meant that he wanted me to rest because he cares about me.”

Kat laughed. “If that’s what you got from it, sure.” She did a little dance. “Yay, movie marathon tomorrow! We haven’t done that in ages. Oooh we can rewatch all the Harry Potter movies!”

Sutton scoffed. “Leave it to Kat to find joy in being sick.”

Jane brought out a tray with three mugs. Kat managed to push around part of the mess on the coffee table to make room for it. Each girl grabbed a cup.

“To feeling like crap,” said Jane, lifting her mug in the air.

“To losing our voice,” added Sutton, raising her own tea.

“And sneezing our asses off,” said Kat.

The three clung their mugs together, and the air filled with honey-lemon scented laughter.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/26/2018 at 9:48 PM, Heather said:

Gaaah Richard is my favorite... This was great as usual! 


On 10/15/2018 at 8:18 AM, ZakuConvoy said:

Can't say I'm familiar with the show, but this fic is good!  I like the way you spell out your sneezes.

Thank you so much guys! I'm glad people are still enjoying this little story! ☺️ 

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