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Miserable (Pine Gap, Kath) *finished*


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I've finally been able to write a bit again, and this fic - which most likely will get another part - just came out of nowhere, so I wrote it down. It's basically tough no-nonsense boss lady getting really sick with the flu, but unfortunately duties don't rest just because you need to. 🤷‍♀️ Some language warning. 

If I write that second part there might be some reluctant caretaking from lover-to-enemy ex-husband. Maybe. :lol: 

Anyway, enough said! Please leave a comment if you like it! ^_^ 


Kath coughed herself awake in the middle of the night, the raspy, chesty cough of a flu that had really knocked her on her arse right in the middle of the workday yesterday.

She’d felt a bit out of sorts in the morning, more tired than usual, and there had been an uncomfortable irritation in her throat. Kath wasn’t one to call in sick over a pesky cold, definitely not for something that was still in the realm of ‘maybe’-cold, so she went to work as usual. It was about two hours into the workday that she started to feel really shitty. She was reading through some reports from ops floor, but struggled to focus because a headache that had barely been noticeable when she came in had now gotten to a point where she had to squint to read the letters. Well, maybe it was time to invest in reading glasses. But she hadn’t had a problem making out the letters yesterday, seemed odd that it would happen from one day to the next.

She was also feeling increasingly achy. Her body felt heavy and sore, as if she had done some really hardcore workout yesterday, when in fact she hadn’t worked out at all yesterday. She’d been too tired. And her throat felt really scratchy at this point, not a discomfort, but a sharp burning sensation.

Okay, fine, so she was coming down with something. No big deal.

Until about forty-five minutes later, when she ran her fingers through her hair and winced in pain. It felt like even the roots of her hair had been bruised, and her very skin hurt from even the slightest brush. She was freezing, shivering uncontrollably, at first certain that the thermostat was broken again, but if that was the case, why was she sweating at the same time?

Kath wanted to facepalm. She had originally planned to get her annual flu shot last week, but so many things had happened in such short amount of time, with the mole and the situation with China, and the divorce papers, so she had simply decided to postpone it. Clearly that decision had been stupid, and now she was stuck with the consequences. Because this was not a cold, this was the flu, and Kath could feel the acute viral infection work its black magic inside of her.


She’d had the intention to see the day through anyway, taking some fever suppressants and painkillers, but by lunch, she had to throw in the towel and go home, she was too sick to be efficient, and she had barely gotten home before she collapsed on the couch in a fever-induced haze. She’d remained there until it was getting dark – at some point Bruce had joined her, and was curled up next to her, purring softly – and then she’d gotten up, fed Bruce, decided that her throat hurt too much to force any food or drink down it, and went to bed. At that point she had started coughing too, a raspy, raw cough that tore at her throat and made the soreness even worse. She had pulled the covers over her, and blacked out from fever rather than falling asleep, and she had slept until now, 2.40 am according to the alarm clock next to her bed. Certain it had been the coughing fit waking her up, she rolled over once it subsided, and tried to go back to sleep.

Then she realised someone was pounding on the door. Not knocking, pounding. First wondering if she was just fever-hallucinating this, she glanced at Bruce, who had gotten up and stood at the end of the bed with a curious, alert look about him.

Not a hallucination, then. She groaned at the thought of having to drag herself out of bed, but almost 3 am was surely not a random visit, it had to be important, so she got up and put on a bathrobe, pulling it tight around her, and went to check the door.


Coughing so hard she nearly keeled over, she somehow made it down the stairs and checked who was there. She rolled her eyes annoyedly, but at the same time she felt an unpleasant pang of worry in the pit of her stomach.

“What could you possibly want, at this hour?” she growled at her ex-husband, a very highly decorated agent in the intelligence community. Then she had to turn away and cough harshly into her cupped hand. The cough was so heavy that she almost doubled over, and every time she coughed, the thick congestion in her sinuses shifted and either tickled her nose or made it run, or both. Much as she struggled to get her own body back under some kind of control, the coughing fit ended with two really strong, really messy sneezes, back-to-back.

Jacob would normally have some snarky comment to deliver, and she waited for it as she removed her hands from her face and put them into the pockets of her robe, hiding the mess that now coated her palms.

No snarky comment came, he just kind of paced, running his hand through his thick greying hair.

Kath was freezing, and the cool night breeze wasn’t exactly making things better, she literally ached to go back to her warm bed.

“Listed, Jacob, I’b really fucking sick, I’b dot joking.” She heard the congestion padding her rough voice and making the words almost impossible to understand. She sniffled – well, it was actually more like snorting if she was completely honest, not exactly ladylike, but she had been married to this man, she’d been disgustingly sick around him before – trying to clear her airways enough to be intelligible.

“Jacob. I need to go back to bed, I have a 40 degree fever, and…”

“Kath, you need to come with me to base.”

“Did you not hear me?”

“Oh, I hear you.” He gave her a pointed look. “Australia needs its top officer on site, because the shitstorm of all shitstorms is about to hit.”

“Could you be more specific?”

“I’ll get you up to speed during the drive, come on.”

“Alright, alright…” she sniffled thickly. “Let me just put on some clothes.”

“Hurry,” he said and began heading back to his truck.

Kath turned around and went back inside, feeling as if her very bones were groaning with pain and wanting to go back to bed, but only too much aware of all the potential shitstorms that could hit to just brush it off.

Putting on some clothes, attempting to look as presentable as possible in case she’d have to be in contact with higher-ups in person, she tossed two travel packs of tissues and two kinds of painkillers, and some cough drops, into her purse before heading out.

Her phone was riddled with text messages and voice messages and at least ten missed calls – she’d slept through it all. So it made sense Jacob had driven over to get her. Of course sensitive matters wasn’t going to be discussed over text, secure phone or not, but she had expected at least a hint. No hint at all meant it was the highest levels of classified, and that did not bode well.

She climbed into the passenger’s seat, put on the seat belt and leaned back, closing her eyes.

“Alright, fill me in.”

“I remember when you used to say ‘fill me up’,” Jacob said with a chuckle, back to his usual smarmy self.

“Oh fuck off, I’ve never said that,” Kath snapped, and started coughing.

“Ah, no, maybe you’re right, maybe it was someone else,” he said, not sounding the slightest thrown off his game. Then his tone changed to a crisp, businesslike. “Remember the standoff in the South China Sea?”

“Jesus, Jacob, I have the flu, not Alzheimer’s,” she said.”Of course I remember.”

“Well, turns out they may have moved a few of their nuclear submarines when our antenna went blind.”


Kath sneezed into both hands and proceeded to cough so violently she doubled over onto her lap.

Jacob ignored her.

“Turns out those nuclear submarines are armed and ready. Guess where they are?”

“No need to drag out the suspense,” Kath said in a shaky, thick voice.

“Well, they’re pointing what they have right at us.”

“At us?”

“Yep. Talk about plot twist, ay?” he chuckled. “Good ol’ ‘Straya, in the crosshairs of the nukes, just like the big guys.”

“You’re not funny,” Kath said automatically, but she knew that this was just him relieving tension by making poor taste jokes. That was just his personality.

“Not, it really isn’t,” Jacob agreed. “The top brass in Canberra wanted you on site in case they go…”

“Don’t say it,” Kath warned him.

“… nuclear.”

“Oh God,” she sighed and started coughing again. Congestion crackled in her chest with each breath, triggering yet another coughing fit, until her eyes were streaming and her nose was running. Then the sneezing started.

“That’s cute,” he said mockingly. “Tough-as-nails Kathleen all wrecked by the sniffles.”

Kath had just caught her breath again after the short but intense sneezing fit, and leaned back, wincing as she swallowed.

“I hope you had your flu shot,” she said. “Otherwise you’re guaranteed to get this.”

“I had my flu shot,” he said. “But I’d still prefer if you don’t cough all over me.”

“I’ll try not to,” Kath muttered and blew her nose forcefully into several tissues. She was so congested, it felt like a concrete wall blocked her nasal passages, but at the same time her nose was dripping. Her throat felt like she had swallowed fire. And that low, droning ache from deep within her very bones and joints, radiating all the way out to her tender skin. Her head was pounding in a rhythm like her heartbeat, aching so bad her eyes watered constantly.

I don’t want to be here. Jesus fucking Christ, they couldn’t wait starting WW3 until I’m at least not bloody crook?

HaaaRSSSHHuhh! Uh… aaaEERRSSHHH! Fucking ow!”

“Bloody hell, Kath, you really are sick,” he said, glancing over at her.

“Congratulations on your observation s-skihhh… skills… ahhESSSHH!”

“Can you do this?” he asked with surprisingly little venom in his voice.

Kath gave him a tired, heavy-lidded look.

“Do I have a choice?”

They both knew the answer to that. No, she did not.


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God this is so GOOD.  I have not watched Pine Gap (yet) but I love how you describe her misery, weaving in all those little details.  It's so beautiful.  I hope there is in fact a Part 2!

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On 8/27/2022 at 11:42 AM, SleepingPhlox said:

God this is so GOOD.  I have not watched Pine Gap (yet) but I love how you describe her misery, weaving in all those little details.  It's so beautiful.  I hope there is in fact a Part 2!

Thank you!! :heart:  You certainly should watch it at some point. For her voice, if nothing else. ;)  Will probably be a part 2 up very soon if my tired ass doesn't fall asleep over the laptop this afternoon. :lol:  Which is very much a possibility. 

17 hours ago, djm4991 said:

This IS really good, I agree! I haven't watched this series either.

Thank you so much!  Yeah, I'm not surprised, not many has watched it. Netflix did a shitty job of promoting it. I liked it a lot, though. ^_^ The world status quo has changed somewhat since, but I first saw it when it was new (late 2018) and it was consistent with what went on then. Plot is more about what's going on at the facility though.  

In case you want a general feel for the show, here's the official trailer.  Kath is the redhead. :wub:  Jacob is the dude shouting at Jas that it's not her job to understand. :rolleyes: 


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So apparently I'm doing a multi-chapter story after all... :rolleyes: :rofl: Here's next chapter. As always, love to hear what you think! ^_^ 




By the time they reached the base, Kath had dozed off, leaning against the window on her side. They both had to show ID to be let in through the guarded checkpoint though, so Jacob reached out to shake her awake. He cringed at how hot she was underneath the expensive blazer and turtleneck sweater.

“Hey, Kath,” he said, shaking her but a bit gentler than he first intended. “Checkpoint. Where’s your ID?”

She very slowly opened her eyes and looked at him. Her green eyes were glassy and the look in them disoriented.

“Checkpoint,” he repeated, and Kath straightened up and began searching her purse, sniffling as the forward-leaning position made her nose run again. She found her ID card and took it out. Jacob took it from her and handed it to the guard, who looked at it and then shone his flashlight into the car to confirm it was the right person. Kath closed her eyes against this intrusive bright light, and her throbbing headache increased a notch.

“Alright,” the guard said and handed their IDs back. Jacob passed hers on to her, and she clipped it onto her clothes with movements so slow it felt like she was underwater.

“Why?” she said, interrupted herself with a rough coughing fit and then continued; “why would they aim their nukes at us? It makes no… ahhayEESSHHHoo! No sense.”

“Maybe they just want to ruin our week,” Jacob said. “Honestly, I don’t have the security clearance, I only know what I told you, and the only reason I came to get you was because I was the highest security clearance that they could spare, so you could know something about what’s going on before you walk into it.”

“Who else is here?”

“Ethan and Rudi. Gemma is on her way from Canberra. Dani from Washington. If shit really hits the fan, you might get a visit from the PM himself, you lucky girl.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Kath said, rubbing her temples with her fingertips, then moving her hands to press gently at her cheekbones. She grimaced. It wouldn’t surprise her if this would turn into a sinus infection once the flu itself had run its course.

“It’s kinda hard not to, when China points four nukes at us,” he said, voice rising in pitch. Kath was sick and her grasp of her immediate surroundings was vague, but she realised what that was. Pure, unaltered fear. Jacob was scared.

That really underscored the seriousness, because Jacob never showed fear.

“It bloody better not end up in nuclear war,” he said. “I have a date this weekend.”

“I’m sure it would be a tragedy for her to miss that,” Kath said, rolling her eyes.

“Like you’re such a catch yourself,” Jacob hurled back, as if he hadn’t already made it very clear to her that she wasn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t be her ex-husband.

Kath was about to reply, although she wasn’t sure what that reply would consist of, but the moment she opened her mouth, she started coughing instead. Violently. That kind of deep, congested cough that rattles in your chest and tears at your throat, and the more you cough, the more you need to cough.

Kath was a smoker, but not a heavy one, and she didn’t really have a smoker’s cough. If she had had that, Jacob might not have reacted much to the sound of this deep, heavy cough – he would have been used to it from waking up next to her for the past decade or so. But as it was, the cough that rocked the slender redhead next to him, was a tell-tale sign that she wasn’t exaggerating, she was not supposed to be anywhere except in bed under a heap of blankets right now.

Jacob reached for something between them, and Kath leaned away from him, still coughing so hard she was shuddering, and her eyes and nose were streaming.

“Kath,” he said, gently tapping her on the upper arm. She looked at him, face flushed with fever and the force of the coughing fit. She really looked miserable. “Here you go.”

He held out a bottle of water, two thirds full. Kath took it and had a few, careful sips, her throat feeling like she was swallowing razorblades rather than lukewarm water, but at least it helped calm the cough, if only momentarily.

“Thank you,” she said breathlessly. “I’m gonna keep it, I don’t think you want to drink from it after me anyway.”

“That’s an understatement,” Jacob mumbled and pulled in at the parking lot.

Kath stepped out of the car, groaning quietly from the pain throughout her entire body as she did. She took a moment to adjust her clothing, hoping she looked better than she felt, but even if she did, that didn’t really say much.

“Do I look okay?” she asked. Jacob chuckled.

“You look like shit.”

She sighed.

“That’s what I thought… hehhh…”

A sneezy expression took over her features, eyelids fluttering shut, irritated, red nostrils flaring wildly as she took several hitching breaths, chasing the tickle…

Since they were outdoors, she simply turned away from Jacob and sneezed openly, not wasting any of her precious tissues or soaking her hands or sleeves with the spray.

EeeSSSHHH! HaaaEESSHHHoo! Heh… ERRSSHHoo! Ugh, fuck, that hurt.”

“Bless you,” Jacob said, surprising both her and himself not only by the blessing itself, but the tone with which it was said. He cleared his throat. “You’d better go inside before you get pneumonia too.”

“Yeah,” Kath muttered and headed to the door, getting her access card ready. She was dizzy, and in her fever-induced haze she wasn’t entirely sure if this actually happened or if it was a particularly vivid fever dream. Nukes directed at Australia? Why? It didn’t make any goddamn sense.

Then the itch ambushed her nose again, overwhelming her with a desperate need to sneeze, a need she couldn’t fight even for a second.


“Whoa, I already showered today, thank you very much,” Jacob grunted and sidestepped to avoid the plentiful spray expelled from his ex-wife’s inflamed airways. She hadn’t actually sneezed on him, but the snarky response came automatically.

“I’b sorry Jacob, hodestly…” she tried her hardest not to let it show just how miserable she felt, but a moan escaped her in spite of her efforts. “Oh God…” her breath caught in her throat, “… c-cue that f-fuhh.. huhh… fucking cough…!”

“Keep hacking, you might strike gold,” Jacob joked, but Kath was coughing so fiercely that he regretted the words. She hadn’t even heard them, however, so she just kept walking down the corridor, coughing harshly as she did.

Ethan stepped out of a conference room between their offices.

“We’re in here.” He looked horrified and did a lousy job at hiding it. “How are you feeling?”

Kath gave him a watery-eyed glare and said in a choked voice;

“Fucking fantastic, can’t you tell?”

“Can I get you anything?”

“No. Someone bring me up to speed, preferably before I pass out.”

“I’m sorry you had to come in,” Ethan said.

“Well, that’s why they pay me the big bucks. Don’t worry about me.”

Ethan’s dark eyes lingered on her; her slumped posture, the red fever spots on her cheeks, her glazed eyes, her chapped, damp nostrils…

“I think I’m gonna worry about you a bit either way, but…”

EepTSCHkk!” Kath tried to stifle a wet sneeze into a crumpled tissue. “Bloody hell, that really hurt,” she muttered under her breath and pinch-wiped her nose with the tissue before dropping it on the table, sniffling deeply, sighing even deeper, and rubbed her burning eyes, trying to will herself to produce the laser focus she was known for.

Ethan and Rudi took turns explaining the situation, which had started with a SignInt revealing a bit too much valuable information to be allowed to slide.

“They’re targeting us, Kath. Not America, not Australia, Pine Gap.”

Kath was still not sure if she could trust her own senses, her own mind, and unlike Ethan who had a second in command, Rudi, she was on her own. Yes, she trusted Ethan, but she was the only person in here speaking for Australia, and this was too important for her to try and keep her own personal pride and pretend she could handle something that she might not be able to safely handle.

“Go get Jacob,” she said. “Fuck security clearance. I clear him.”

“Good call. If you hadn’t suggested it yourself, I would have,” Ethan said, gesturing for Rudi to go and find Jacob.

As the other man left the room, Kath momentarily hid her face in her hands, exhausted and burning with fever.

Ethan put a hand on her shoulder.

“Now that we’re alone, do you need anything? And please don’t say you’re okay, you’re not okay.”

“Thank you. But I can handle it, I promise.”

I hope to fucking God that’s not a lie, she thought.

She feared that it was.


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20 hours ago, sneezemeister said:

WOW! This was amazing. The title is very apt, I'm sure she is miserable 

Thank you so much! Well, she better be miserable if I said so, lol! 😅 Seriously, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! ❤️ Poor Kath is really gonna regret her very existence on planet Earth soon, poor thing. 😏 (Nah she'll be fine, just sick and miserable and sneezy..  😈)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, so, here's the last part of this fic. I have tried to proofread but my eyes have decided to not convey info properly to my brain so I might have missed stuff. :lol: If that's the case I apologise. But yeah. 

Let me know what you think! ^_^ 


Rudi came back with Jacob in tow.

“Couldn’t stay apart from me very long, could’ya?” Jacob teased. Kath rolled her eyes.

“You know you’re only here ‘cause I’m bloody crook, ay? Don’t let it… heh… get to your h-hehh… head…” this time the hitching wasn’t a buildup to a sneeze, but to another raspy cough that she tried and failed to suppress.

“I know, I know, don’t give yourself a heart attack,” he said indifferently, pulled out a chair and sat down. “So, how long do we have before nuclear annihilation?”

“You are… painfully to the point, Mr Kitto,” Rudi sighed.

“Yes he is,” Kath muttered, then took a sudden, sharp breath and sneezed violently into her hands, not even having the presence of mind to get the used tissue up to her face. “HehhISSSHHoo! AaaESSSHHuh! AaaERRSCHHoo! Uhh.. huhh… rrSSSHHHew! Oh by God,” she exhaled. “Fuck.”

While Rudi brought Jacob up to speed, Ethan excused himself and disappeared. Kath barely noticed; everything was a fever haze at this point and she kept catching herself closing her eyes and drifting off. She was so exhausted, so achy…


Her name wasn’t spoken in a harsh tone, but it might as well have been, from her reaction. She jerked and sat up straight rubbing her eyes furiously with both hands.

“Easy,” Ethan said. “Here you go.”

He put a cup of steaming hot tea in front of her – black tea, full of caffeine to jumpstart her slow brain, and honey to soothe her sore throat – and gave her thin shoulder a quick squeeze. Hang in there, it seemed to say, and she was eternally grateful, for the encouragement as much as the beverage. She gave him a nod and a brief smile and put her freezing hands around the cup to soak up some of its warmth.

“So their problem is that they found out we’re spying on them? Big fucking deal, don’t they know Pine Gap spies on everyone in the vicinity? That’s why we’re fucking here in the first place,” Jacob said.

“They do,” Ethan said. “And it’s an old antenna. They even use the knowledge that we’re listening when they want us to hear something. How that’s suddenly a reason to point nukes…”

“It isn’t,” Kath said. “They want us to pay attention to that antenna. Why? Because they’re doing something else that they don’t want us to notice. They count on the nukes to be scary enough that we’ll scramble to find some fucking diplomatic solution, running around like decapitated hens, and isn’t that what we’re doing right now?”

“What if they just want us to agree to look away from that signint antenna for a moment so they can do something while we’re assessing the fallout of doing so?”

“If they want to convey something to someone without us listening in, they’d hardly do so in the spot most likely to have more than one spy sat aimed at it,” Ethan said. “Although if their demand is that we close that eye, who knows? But do we want to gamble with nukes?”

“We may not have to choose,” Kath mused. “I need to speak with Jas.”

“Oh fuck me, not Delic again, you have an unhealthy obsession with that chick,” Jacob groaned.

“I handpicked her for this job for a reason,” Kath said. “This is the reason.”

She stood up, swayed for a moment before she caught her balance, and shooed away Ethan’s unspoken offer to support her. She headed for the doors. Ethan and Jacob exchanged looks and then wordlessly followed her.


“Wow Kath, you look awful,” Jasmina said. Kath shook her head.

“And yet I feel worse than I look,” she said, but before Jas could make any sympathetic comment, she continued; “Do you have any indication this is a diversion?”

She sniffled thickly and tried not to let it show on her face how absolutely disgusting she thought it was.  

“Logic tells me it is, but… it just doesn’t feel like it, you know what I mean?”

“What does the analysis say?”

Her nose was coming dangerously close to dripping, which Jas noticed and handed Kath a napkin left from the snack she’d had earlier. Kath took it and pressed it against the underside of her nose, feeling the hot moisture through the flimsy paper.

“Well, it doesn’t really tell me a whole lot, to be honest, however, there’s this tradition of not losing face, which is extremely important to the CCP…”

“I know that,” Kath said, and would have sounded impatient if the flu ravaging her from within hadn’t already stolen most of her energy. A tingle grew in the back of her nose, feeling more like a jabbing from a needle than a feathery tickle, and her eyes slowly narrowed as she fought a losing battle against another sneeze.

“Which makes me wonder what important conversation awaiting that they don’t want anyone listening in on…”

Kath’s eyes overflowed with tears as they closed, and she turned away from Jas and sneezed into the thin paper napkin, really pressing this thin shield against her nose and mouth with one hand.

HuhhMGTSHHK! Oh for fuck’s sake,” she croaked.

“Bless you,” Jas said. “Kath, you really should be in bed.”

“I’ll be alright,” Kath replied, although she seriously doubted it herself by now. “Check if there are any scheduled state meetings soon, and if so with whom.”

“Sure,” Jas said. Kath straightened up, and put a hand over her eyes for a couple of seconds. The headache was horrible, bordering on migraine levels, and the congestion filling her sinuses seemed to almost pulsate in pace with her heartbeat. And then there was her throat, feeling as if she had swallowed a bunch of razorblades. Her chest hurt too, from the recurring and violent coughing fits. And every limb, every muscle, every joint in her body felt like they were sobbing in pain. Yes, she should fucking be in bed.

But she was the boss.

Forcing herself to move again, she slowly made her way towards the door, when suddenly a thought pushed through the thick haze of illness, and she turned around and almost ran back to Jas. Ethan and Jacob only stared at first, then they followed suit.

“Jas,” Kath hissed, and then doubled over with a chesty coughing fit, fighting desperately to regain control of her agitated airways, and eventually succeeding. Meanwhile, Jas had waited quietly, not even shying away from the obvious biohazard that her usually so composed boss currently was. On her other side, Simon had more or less melted into his chair to avoid the germs Kath tried but to some extent failed to keep contained within her own space.

Once the coughing fit subsided and Kath managed to stave off the urge to sneeze as well, she continued, out of breath, cheeks flushed, watery-eyed and damp-nosed;

“Losing face, ay? So, what if that convo has already happened and they got a ton of shit for it from their guest? We would’ve picked it up, but we might not have understood what it was about. It would be quite embarrassing for the CCP if a visitor was spied on, right?”

She sniffled thickly and groaned.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, I’m drowning in my own snot,” she muttered mostly to herself, but Jas heard her and gave her arm a sympathetic rub before replying.

“Yeah, it would. Especially if they had neglected to tell said visitor that this area was under surveillance, if they knew it themselves. It’s possible. Likely, even.”

Kath nodded.

“If it’s there; find that convo,” she said.


When they returned to the conference room, Gemma had arrived and was waiting for them. Rudi had filled her in on any updates, and when the trio entered the conference room, Gemma gave Kath a onceover that the redhead did not appreciate, and said:

“I hope you’re not contagious.”

Kath, knowing that she probably was highly contagious, and not in the mood to be shamed for being present when she had not herself chosen to be present, smiled at the younger woman.

“Guess we won’t know that for a few days, will we?” she said sweetly. She maintained eye contact even though another raspy cough began rising within her, shaking her slender body as she tried to suppress it the best she could.

“I suppose,” Gemma said, sighing. “You didn’t get your flu shot yet, then?”

“I was kinda busy the past few weeks, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Yeah, well, busy sorting out your fuckups here on base…” Gemma began, when Ethan felt the need to break in.

“We were equally responsible for the thing with the mole, so no need to pin that on Kath alone.”

“Oh, I did use ‘your’ in plural form,” Gemma said and gave him a tight smile. “Though I can’t do much about you, Kath still reports to me.”

“Technically it’s not my job to vet and confirm American employees,” Kath said, saw the look on Gemma’s face, and wisely decided to shut her mouth.

Only to start coughing again.

“Technically, I want to know what the fuck is being done to figure out why we have nukes pointed at us,” Gemma said. “Someone who can actually speak… you.” She pointed at Ethan, but before he could speak up she looked at Jacob and scowled. “Since when did you get security clearance to be present in here?”

“Since Kath gave it to me half an hour ago,” Jacob replied, not adding ‘bitch’ verbally but Kath who knew him read his mind and actually smirked. It didn’t sit well with Kath how Gemma was her superior despite being so young and not even coming from a military background. Kath respected the hierarchy, albeit reluctantly, but that didn’t mean she liked the way it was set up. Not when paper-pushers with no actual experience in the intelligence community or the army could somehow be the superior to the DCoF of Pine Gap who also held the rank of Captain. Gemma owed her position to politics, and Kath hated politics.

“Oh well, given her condition maybe she needs a lieutenant,” Gemma said.

Her condition doesn’t mean she can’t fucking hear you, you know,” Kath said, wiping her runny nose with the remnants of her tissue. There really wasn’t much left of it, and she just realised that she had forgotten her purse in the car. With tissues, fever suppressants/painkillers, cough drops… “Fuck.”

She lowered her hands and looked at the depleted tissue with an expression of total defeat on her face. Quickly replacing that expression with something more neutral, she closed her eyes and tried to will her body to heal faster, heal instantly.


An unknown amount of time later, there was a fierce knock on the door, followed by someone stepping right in.

“You can’t come in here,” Gemma began, but Kath had just opened her eyes and made a reassuring gesture.

“Jas has the convo. I should hope,” she added, glaring at the younger woman. Jas was someone with a habit of overstepping the line, but right now she really didn’t feel like scolding and mentoring her in the simple art of following the fucking chain of command.

“Yeah, I think I have the convo, it was the ambassador from Russia,” Jas said and placed the paper in front of Kath.

“Ooh, yeah, I imagine Russia wouldn’t be too happy learning that we’re listening in,” Kath said.

“It would be quite the loss of face for Chairman Chen,” Jas agreed.

Gemma looked pleasantly surprised.

“Well done,” she said and snatched the paper from the table before Kath had a chance to read it. Or sneeze on it, which was more likely Gemma’s main concern. “You can go back to ops floor,” she told Jas, who was only glad to escape the tension in the room.

Gemma then turned to her American counterpart.

“Dani, I guess it’s time for us to do our part now.”

“Excellent, finally,” the gruff older woman said. “Let’s go somewhere else and talk. Away from the disease vector.”

“Always a pleasure to see you too, Dani,” Kath said, but the snarky comeback was somewhat ruined by the fact that she immediately had to sneeze again and only barely had time to cover the messy outburst with her hands.

UhhhGTSCHHuh! Fuhhhuhh… aaaaERSSCHHooo!”

The sneezes grated at her throat in a way that made her eyes fill with tears of pain, and she had no tissues, nothing to wipe her mess-covered hands on, and she was so exhausted and sore that getting up and walking to the nearest bathroom felt like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen.

Jacob had cocked his head to the side and studied her with interest, almost amusement, making bets with himself how she was going to handle the situation, but instead of doing either of those things, a sudden sob rose from her aching throat. And another sob, definitely not sniffles caused by her stuffy and drippy nose. Fresh tears rose in her eyes, overflowed, threw themselves down her cheeks, and this was followed by yet another sob.

Jacob was caught off guard by this development. He had seen Kath cry at some point during their marriage; that time Bruce had been missing for a week (the damn cat had waltzed in like nothing happened in the middle of the night, after Kath had cried herself to sleep after convincing herself that he was dead) was what came to mind because that was the last time he’d seen it, but something as mundane as being out of tissues wasn’t something Jacob imagined would bring her to tears.

Nevertheless, she cried now. Neither Rudi nor Ethan had noticed yet, and Jacob could either be his regular asshole self and mock her about it, or actually help her save face this once.

“I’ll get you your tissues,” he said and got up, walked past her and put his hand on her shoulder for just a brief moment. “I’ll be right back.”

When he came back a few minutes later, Kath still had both hands over her nose and mouth, hiding the mess, but she had gotten the crying under control, and it didn’t seem like either Ethan or Rudi had noticed.

She thanked him and made good use of several handfuls of tissues. Jacob had a comment about saving the rainforest and not cut down so many trees brewing on his tongue, but he swallowed it. He estimated Kath’s tolerance level when it came to his bullshit was about as low as it could be right now.

Instead they sat there waiting for news. The room was silent, aside from the repeated sniffling, noseblowing, coughing and sneezing coming from Kath.

Eventually the secured landline phone, only used within the base, rang. Kath was closest and she looked around at the others, feeling the seriousness like a thick blanket over the room, and picked it up.

“They have agreed to remove their nukes,” Gemma said, and Kath heaved a sigh of relief, then glanced over at Jacob.

“Congratulations, you don’t miss your date this weekend,” she said.

“Yeah, well, I kinda lied about that,” Jacob said. “Didn’t want you to think I would be sitting home alone like some loser.”

He waited for the response, not sure which response he hoped for; a sassy one to shut him up, a neutral one, or one with a half of an invitation unspoken in it.

What he got was nothing.

DCoF Kathleen Jane Sinclair, highest Australian official at Pine Gap, had quietly passed out, phone still in hand, face resting against her arm.


When she came to, she was lying down at a sofa in the far end of the conference room, and someone was dabbing her hot forehead with a cool damp cloth. She looked up and saw Jacob sitting next to her.

“My fever must be higher than I thought,” she croaked. “I hallucinate that my dickhead of an ex actually takes care of me.”

“You scared us,” Jacob said dryly. “I may think you’re a complete and utter bitch, but I don’t want you dead.”

Really?” she said, trying for sarcastic but not really getting all the way there, not with how weak her voice was.

“Really,” Jacob sighed. “Fuck’s sake, Kathy, this is exactly what I can’t stand about you. This stoicism to ridiculous lengths, and also that fucking conviction that you already know what others think. Yeah so maybe you’re right most of the time, but maybe not always, that ever crossed your mind?”

The only word that really stuck was Kathy. He was the only one who had ever called her by that nickname, and he hadn’t used it since everything was alright in their marriage; years ago.

“Anyway, Ethan is getting the doctor. If she says you should go to the hospital, you will. If she okays you to go home, I’m staying with you.”

Kath looked at him, and then the fever spoke through her – at least that’s what she would tell herself, and anyone else she would tell she didn’t even remember it – as the words coming out of her mouth were:

“I never thought of it before, but it’s rather sexy when you take command like that.”

Jacob barked out a quick laugh.

“I think we’re looking at a trip to the hospital, you're delusional,” he snorted and kept dabbing her forehead with that cool, soft cloth. Then, giving her hand a quick squeeze, he said in a much softer tone; “You did a great job today, Kathy.”

Kathy, she thought as she drifted off again, this time into a feverish sleep that was at least somewhat restful. 



Edited by Ghost_no5
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19 hours ago, sneezemeister said:

Loved this part! 

Thank you!!! I wasn't really sure about this part, it felt way harder to write than the other two. 🤔😅 Glad to know it works for the reader! ☺️

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I love your work and style so much, I don’t even need to be familiar with the fandom to enjoy it. I’ve read (and lurked on, oops) almost all of your recent works and loved every one! Thank you for all the amazing writing (and the very sick women)! 

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On 9/15/2022 at 5:52 AM, Anonymace said:

I love your work and style so much, I don’t even need to be familiar with the fandom to enjoy it. I’ve read (and lurked on, oops) almost all of your recent works and loved every one! Thank you for all the amazing writing (and the very sick women)! 

Thank you so, so much! I really needed to hear that right now, things have been rough lately. :heart:  Heh, yeah, I tend to be into obscure fandoms and the characters that few others love. :lol:  I'm so happy to know that you think it's worth reading anyway! Thank you again, this really made my week! 


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