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Cold hands, warm heart


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Hello everyone!
This is my first original fiction, so I'm quite nervous. If anyone has any tips for me, please comment them down below or DM me😊
I got the idea for this story while trying to stay awake during an especially boring lecture on the human genome.
There's not much sneezing in this chapter, but there'll be more in the following chapters. I hope you'll enjoy reading it!

Chapter 1



Alex watched as snowflakes whirled down from the grey sky, sticking to the windows of the café at the other side of the street. The wind was freezing, even for January. The blonde ducked his head deeper down into the collar of his coat in an attempt to shield his face from it, while at the same time retaining some warmth. Suddenly, he felt his phone buzz. He hurried down the road, nearly slipping on some icy patches as he reached the sidewalk. His phone continued to hum underneath the layers of clothing he was wearing. The caller was determined. As he opened the door of the café, warmth flooded over him like a wave, and he welcomed it, taking off his scarf and unzipping his thick jacket. He stepped away from the door, his frozen fingers making it difficult to get a hold of his phone. There was no caller ID, he realised when he finally managed to get it out of the inside pocket of his coat. He picked up anyway.


There were a short pause and a reluctant sigh, and Alex was about to hang up when the person on the other side of the line spoke.

“I need help.”

Alex was surprised to hear his step brother's voice coming from the device.

“Julian? Where are you?” he asked. “Where are you even calling from?”

“A pay phone. Your dad took my phone, remember?”

Alex swallowed uncomfortably. Julian was right: their dad - Alex’s dad - took Julian’s phone away as a form of punishment. He’d never done the same with Alex.

“Right.” Alex didn’t want to waste any words on something both him and Julian knew was a painful topic. “What do you need help with?”

“He kicked me out.” Julian’s voice sounded uncharacteristically soft and fatigued.

“Who did?”

“Simon. Who else?” Julian lashed out. Alex was taken aback for a second or two.

He understood, though. Julian had been living with his friend, Simon, after Alex’s dad had kicked him out when he started college. He’d done the same with Alex, but Julian proved to have more difficulty with the situation than his older brother. It appeared Simon had eventually got enough of his brother as well.

“Why did he do that?” As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew he shouldn’t have said them. Immediately, Julian withdrew himself from the conversation. After a few moments, there was a sharp gasp before the younger brother spoke again.

“Look, are you going to help me or are you going to keep on interviewing me? Where are you right now?”

“At the café.”

“Good, I’ll meet you there in a bit.”

There was a loud click, and Alex looked at his phone for a few seconds before realising Julian had hung up and regaining his composure. The older brother took place at an empty table, ordered two cups of hot chocolate, and waited for the other to arrive.


Julian got to the table at the same time his hot chocolate did.

“Good to see you again,” Alex said. He took a sip of his hot chocolate and immediately had to pretend he didn’t just burn his mouth. Julian huffed quietly, sitting down but not taking off his coat despite it being quite warm in the café. Alex took a good look at his brother’s face. Julian was usually hard to read, but today, Alex could clearly tell he was off. His skin was paler than usual, and he looked kind of uncomfortable. His hands were trembling, and all it took was a simple glance in their direction for Julian to shove them in his pockets.

“You alright?” Alex questioned, carefully. He was well aware that any comment on Julian’s condition at the moment – whether it be the fact that he got kicked out or his health – could cause his younger brother to shut him out even more than usual. As expected, Julian avoided eye contact and simply responded with a soft yet harsh “Fine”.

Alex noticed a hint of congestion in his voice, though so subtle someone who didn’t know Julian probably wouldn’t have noticed it. Alex knew better than to comment on it, anyway. There was a brief moment of silence while Alex tried to think of something to say. Just as he wanted to start a new topic, Julian turned to the side, away from Alex. Without warning, his head dipped down into the pinch hold between his thumb and index finger. Knowing his brother would feel uncomfortable if he watched, Alex took another sip of his drink. Julian sniffed wetly, rubbing the back of his hand against his nose as he turned back to Alex.

“Bless-” Alex started, but Julian cut him off.

“One more word and I’m out of here.”

Julian’s gaze told Alex it was probably best not to challenge him, but he couldn’t help it. Instead, he chuckled, taking a napkin from the side of the table and pushing it in Julian’s direction. His brother completely ignored it.

“What makes you think I want you to stay?”

Julian looked up at him and his eyes narrowed, though the expression didn’t match the way he sat slumped onto his chair. Slowly and hesitantly, he drank a bit of his hot chocolate that had remained untouched until now.

“Look, man, I really need your help,” he mumbled from behind the steaming mug.

Alex expected Julian to stop there, as the younger one had never particularly enjoyed asking anyone for help – especially Alex. To his surprise, Julian continued.

“I know we haven’t been that close lately, but… can I stay at your place for a while?” Julian looked genuinely upset. It was a rare sight.

“You probably don’t want me there, but I promise you won’t even have to see me. I’ll leave before you wake up and come back when you’re asleep. I promise, I just–”

“Julian. Stop,” Alex sighed, taking in the sight of his younger brother. Rambling was very unlike Julian, and Alex couldn’t help feeling bad for him, even if it was just a little.

“You can stay at my place for a while.”

Julian visibly relaxed and the panicked expression he’d been wearing earlier melted off his face. An awkward silence followed. Right. Julian wasn’t one to thank people.

“Is your stuff still at Simon’s place?”

“Yeah, but I really don’t want to go back.”

“Alright. Finish your drink; then we’ll go to my place.”


I hope you guys enjoyed reading this! 
Also, feel free to comment any suggestions, I may incorporate them in one of the following chapters😊

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7 hours ago, serpentspass said:

whether it be the fact that he got kicked out or his health

This caught my eye! Does Julian have a bad immune system or is Simon just a germaphobe? 

Can't wait to see where this will go!

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Hello @serpentspass! It's always nice to see new writers around. And I know that male brothers or friends taking care of each other is a quite popular trope here around. I think this was an interesting start. Although I don't understand why Julian is so rude to someone he wants help from. Also - how old are the brothers? I guess at least Alex is an adult as he has his own place to live?

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8 minutes ago, Hedgehog said:

Hello @serpentspass! It's always nice to see new writers around. And I know that male brothers or friends taking care of each other is a quite popular trope here around. I think this was an interesting start. Although I don't understand why Julian is so rude to someone he wants help from. Also - how old are the brothers? I guess at least Alex is an adult as he has his own place to live?

Hey! Thank you for your interest in the story!
I think (hope) the reasons behind Julian's behaviour will become clear in the second or third chapter. At least, that's how it'll go if I stick to the planning I've got in my head now😊
Julian is 19 and Alex is 20.

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4 hours ago, caramelfuzz said:

Wait never mind sorry I thought it said "whether he got kicked out for his health"

Haha it's okay! I quite like the idea of Simon being a germaphobe, though. I might incorporate that into the story😊

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15 hours ago, EvaBloom said:

Ooh, I'm starting to like this! And I love the fact that Julian stifles, this is looking good! I'm looking forward for more updates :D

Ahh thank you so much! I'm glad you like it😄 Yeah, I personally love stifles so that's why I decided to put them in my story hahaha

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17 hours ago, Ti🌸 said:

I liked this first part and I’m really interested to see what will come next! Thanks for sharing!

Thank you!😄

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I'm really liking this so far! You've hooked me and I'm really interested. (I also like your writing style :thumbsup:)

Looking forward to more! :D

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On 11/18/2018 at 12:57 PM, WolfPack said:

I'm really liking this so far! You've hooked me and I'm really interested. (I also like your writing style :thumbsup:)

Looking forward to more! :D

Thank you so much! I'm happy you like my writing style, since this is the first story I've written in quite a while😄
I'm sorry the second part isn't up yet, I'm about halfway. I'm fairly busy with school at the moment but I'm gonna try my best to post it in the next couple of days.

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Finally, here's an update! I'm so sorry for making you guys wait so long, I was quite busy and (ironically) I also got sick. Today I decided to procrastinate writing an essay on embryonic development by writing chapter two of this story. I hope you'll enjoy reading it! 
As always, if you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to write them in the comments😄

Chapter 2

It was already getting dark as they walked home, though the difference between late afternoon and night wasn’t that drastic when the days were this short. Nightfall hadn’t brought hues of red, pink and orange with it, and, even in the dark, the sky was as grey as it had been all week.

It had stopped snowing, and the step brothers were left walking down the street accompanied only by the chilly wind and each other. Neither of them said anything. The moments of quiet gave Alex some time to think about the situation. Of course, he’d never reject his brother if it meant he’d end up living on the streets, but he wasn’t sure how to approach this. He and Julian hadn’t talked much since the big fight they had at the end of last year when Alex moved out, and Julian was left at home with Alex’s dad. Even though his anger towards Julian had somewhat faded since then, there remained some... unresolved conflict between them. Alex wasn’t sure whether to address it. He didn’t particularly want to, but if he let the decision up to Julian, they’d probably never get around to it. Julian’s preferred way of dealing with things was not dealing with them at all.

“Hh'gnxt!” The sneeze was less successfully suppressed than the one in the restaurant. It even sounded a little painful to Alex. He kept looking ahead as he heard Julian’s breath catch again.

“He'nxt-uh!” In his peripheral vision, Alex could see Julian bend forward with the force of the sneeze.

“Bless you.” Alex mentally cursed at himself. He was so used to blessing people; he did it automatically. It was hard to remember Julian didn’t exactly appreciate it. He mumbled a quick “Sorry”. If Julian heard it, he didn’t react to it.


Alex made Julian wait in the hallway while he checked whether his housemate, Mark, was home. He found him in his bedroom, playing a video game. A biology book lay open on the side of the table.

“I see you're studying hard.”

Mark nearly jumped out of his office chair. After having recovered, he paused the game and turned around. “Damn it, Alex, don't scare me like that.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” Alex said, laughing. “Oh, by the way, would you mind if my little brother joined us for dinner? He's not feeling too well so I offered he could stay at our place tonight.”

He knew that wasn’t the entire story, but he couldn’t get himself to tell him about everything that was going in. If he wanted to let Julian stay at their place for a longer period of time, he’d have to tell Mark about the entire situation eventually. However, he decided it’d be better not to mention anything about Julian being essentially homeless just yet. It was probably best not to give him an opportunity to judge Julian before he’d actually met him.

“Ah, you’re in luck,” Mark said. “I called you to ask if you’d have dinner here or somewhere else. You didn’t answer, but I figured I’d buy enough soup for us both, anyway. So, if you don’t mind sharing your portion with your brother, I don’t see why he can’t have dinner with us.”

“You’re amazing,” Alex said. “Are you going to cook or should I do it?”

“I’ll cook,” he said, getting up from his chair.

“Have I told you you’re amazing yet?”

“Not often enough.”


After Alex had introduced him to Julian, Mark disappeared into the small kitchen. Alex sat down on the big couch in the living room, and Julian sat down too, as far away from his brother as possible. The younger sibling let out a deep sigh and ran his hands through his hair, leaving his hands resting on his temples just long enough for it to be suspicious.


“None of your business.” Julian looked away from Alex, staring at one of the beige walls of the small apartment.

“You have to tell me what's wrong, or I won't be able to help you.”

“Would you stop assuming I want your help?” The usual irritated undertone of his voice was overshadowed by fatigue.

“That's funny; I must’ve imagined that phone call earlier today when you specifically told me that you did, or do, in fact, need my help.”

Julian huffed, ignoring his brother’s words. Typical. Alex decided he didn’t feel like coaxing anything out of Julian at the moment.

“Do you want to have soup?” he asked, as he made his way to the kitchen to grab placemats and cutlery.

“Not really.”

“Too bad, we don’t have anything else.”

“Then why did you ask?”

“I was hoping you’d say yes so it would seem like we didn’t just have soup.”

For a split second, Alex could see a smile on his brother’s face.


The soup was good- for as far as cheap, ready-made soup could be good. Alex and Mark talked about their studies while Julian listened silently. At one point, Julian slid his chair back from the table, turned away from them and nearly doubled with a forceful, but still contained, “Hih’ngx-ah!”

Mark blessed him, and Julian responded with a soft “Thanks”. Alex tried to shoot Julian a glare, but the younger one avoided all eye contact, looking down at the table instead. 

“It’s getting late,” Mark noted, seemingly unaware of the tension between the brothers. “Can you wash up the dishes? I’m going out tonight.”

“Ugh, alright. But only because you did the cooking.” Alex took Julian and his bowls. Julian’s was still half full, so he threw the remains down the sink- it was no use putting them in the fridge, Julian wouldn’t finish them anyway. As Alex started to clean the dishes, Mark got ready to go out.

“You better not get home too late!” Alex shouted as Mark opened the front door to leave. “Or too early, for that matter!”

When Alex entered the living room again, Julian was still sitting at the table, his head resting in his hands.

“You can sleep on the couch tonight.”

As soon as he heard Alex’s voice, Julian sprung up from the chair. He looked a little disoriented as he made his way to the worn sofa. Deciding that, again, he would be better off not commenting on it right now, Alex went into his room to get some spare blankets. While he was there, he also found his old pyjamas. Alex wasn’t sure whether they would fit Julian, but he decided to take them just in case. When he got back to the living room, carrying a cushion, two blankets and the pyjamas, Julian was already asleep on the couch, still wearing his shoes.

Alex couldn’t help but smile a little at the sight. His younger brother looked a lot smaller, and definitely a lot less angry. He carefully took off Julian’s shoes, putting them in the small hallway. He then spread one of the blankets over Julian’s curled up form and set the cushion, the pyjamas and the extra blanket down next to the couch. After contemplating whether he was willing to take the risk of Julian getting angry at him in the morning, he decided to put a box of tissues and a glass of water on the coffee table. Finally, he turned off all of the lights and got ready for bed himself.

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Oh my gosh I love this!!! I can't wait to learn more about their dynamic. Poor Julian is so uncomfy! He needs to quit being so stubborn but also I really love that he is stubborn


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On 12/3/2018 at 6:30 PM, caramelfuzz said:

Oh my gosh I love this!!! I can't wait to learn more about their dynamic. Poor Julian is so uncomfy! He needs to quit being so stubborn but also I really love that he is stubborn


Thank you so much!! I'm happy to hear you find their dynamic interesting. I'm really trying not to make it too obvious or too subtle, so I hope I've been successful so far hahaha. I absolutely love subborn characters oops, I'm glad you like Julian's character!

On 12/3/2018 at 6:31 PM, EvaBloom said:

Omg omg!! I was waiting for this update! But Julian is a bit rude to Alex, perhaps he'll be more nice as he stays with him? :lol:

 Gosh, I love this, please continue!

Ahhh I'm so happy to hear you were waiting for this. And you might be right! I don't plan my stories, but I'm sure Julian will become more approachable soon😄


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/14/2018 at 11:05 PM, Privatedancer said:

I hope there is more to come :)

There is! I have a very difficult and important exam on Friday, but after that I have enough time to write again, so the next chapter will probably be up in a week or so 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Happy New Year everyone! I've been quite busy (even during the holidays hahaha) but today I had some time and inspiration, so I finally wrote the next chapter. I hope you guys enjoy it! As always, feel free to let me know if you have any tips or suggestions :happysmiley:

Chapter 3

Even though it was 3 AM and he was exhausted, Alex couldn't sleep. His mind was occupied by around ten different trains of thought. On top of that, Julian had woken up about half an hour ago and was now keeping Alex up by sniffling just about every second. Alex wasn’t sure whether he should go check up on him, or stay in bed and yell at him to blow his damn nose. That was likely the entire problem and the reason he was still up this late; he just didn't know what he should do. He'd never had to take care of Julian - or anyone, for that matter - before. When they were little, their mum used to take care of them when they got sick. After she left… Alex wasn't too sure. He mostly took care of himself, so he figured Julian had done the same until he’d called him on that payphone.


Alex was surprised Julian suppressed his sneezes even when no one was around. He couldn’t remember whether he used to do that when they were younger. Then again, ever since their teen years, the two of them had tried to avoid each other as much as possible. When Julian was having lunch downstairs, Alex took his food to his room and ate it there. Sometimes it was the other way around, and in that case, Julian would skip the meal and leave the house for a while. It had almost been a relief when Alex finally moved out, and the tension between them eased a little. Now, that tension was back, and it took a lot of responsibility with it. Alex knew he didn’t have to take care of Julian, and Julian would probably tell him that if he asked about it. He felt like a biologist on National Geographic trying to help a wounded animal; move too slowly, and he won’t be able to help, move too quickly, and he’ll startle it. Somewhere, there must be a point of balance between doing too little and doing too much, but it had proven difficult to find.


The harsh sneeze triggered a few coughs from behind the closed door, and Alex was still debating whether he should help Julian out or not when the coughs turned into a full-on fit. At this point, he’d feel bad if he didn’t do anything. So he entered the dark living room, probably more nervous than he should be.


Immediately, the coughs became softer, though they kept sounding just as desperate. Alex manoeuvred around the room, feeling for the lamp in the corner of the room he knew didn’t emit light as harsh as that of the lamp hanging from the ceiling. Once his eyes were adjusted to the light, he found Julian sitting on the couch with his knees against his chest and his arm held tightly to the lower half of his face. Alex sat down next to his younger brother. He hoped laying a gentle hand on his shoulder would help Julian relax, but all it did was making him flinch.

“Hey, take it easy,” Alex said, trying to sound calm while also frantically trying to recall how his mum used to handle these situations. Julian looked absolutely miserable, shaking with the effort to hold back the fit. Alex saw the glass of water he’d left on the table earlier that night was empty already, and he refilled it in the kitchen, nearly spilling it as he made his way back to the couch.

“Here you go.” He pressed the glass into Julian’s free hand.

As soon as Julian moved his arm away from his face to drink the water, the fit worsened. Alex quickly took the cup back into his own hands as Julian doubled over, barely managing to get any air in between painful sounding coughs. All Alex could do was wait until the coughing subsided. A few moments after Julian stopped coughing, though, his breath started to hitch.

“Ugh- hah… not again. Hah… Hah’ngx! Heh’nxt!”

“Bless you.” Alex placed the glass of water back on the table.

“Oh please, shut up.”

Alex offered Julian the box of tissues, but Julian’s eyes had glazed over, and his breath started hitching once again.

“It- Heh… Heh’nxt-uh! Ugh… it just doesn’t stop,” Julian croaked. His consonants were soft and rounded. He sniffled again, and Alex was about to tell him to blow his damn nose when he saw tears welling up in Julian’s eyes. A tear slid down his cheek, and Julian instantly buried his face in his hands, shoulders shaking silently.

Alex was next to him in a flash. “Wow, hey, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Julian shrugged, his voice muffled by the fabric of his sweater. “J-just tired, I guess.” In any other situation, Alex probably would’ve believed him. Julian had always been quick to cry about any disagreement, any discipline, any uncomfortable situation. This time, Alex figured there was more behind it.

“No really, you can tell me.”

Julian looked up at him, probably too tired and too miserable to lie. 

“Just- everything.” His voice was even shakier than his hands. “First getting my phone taken away, getting kicked out. School starts in a few days, and all of my stuff is still at Simon’s place. I have nothing.”

Finally, something he could work with. Who would’ve guessed it took Julian nearly choking to let Alex know what was wrong.

“We can figure that out, alright?”

Julian nodded, wiping his eyes and nose on his sweater sleeve.

“We’ll do that tomorrow, though. I think we can both use some rest.”

Alex handed Julian the pyjamas and the blankets and turned off the light, returning to his bedroom feeling like a weight lifted off his shoulders. He hoped Julian felt the same.

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I really like this story! I like that you have a good plot and I'm more than happy to read more about Alex and Julian, and get to know what's behind Julian's behaviour! 

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I love it and cant wait for the next chapter!!! I'm in love with these characters, you are so good at describing them!

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