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Finally weaning off the meds that make me feel awful, so here's a celebratory short fic! From a Tumblr prompt to write a long build-up. University lecturer sneezing fit, not much else lol.




Kendall was fully occupied with the translation exercise when Diana nudged her elbow. Glancing down, she read the note her friend had slipped along the desk.

He’s going to sneeze.

Understanding immediately, Kendall shifted her attention to the front of the lecture hall, where Doctor Vieri was sitting. Sure enough, she caught him leaning back in his chair, one curled finger pressed gently up against the base of his long, curved nose.

This was the first sign.

At the beginning of the semester, Kendall and Diana had bonded over a mutual appreciation for their Italian Literature tutor’s disorderly curls, smooth skin and highly expressive lips. As happens in such cases, this had tended towards a close observation of the man wherever possible, which in turn had created a fascination with Dr Vieri’s sneezes that had far outlasted the early novelty of an attractive lecturer.

It might not have been so obvious, had Dr Vieri not been afflicted by some allergy in the last two weeks of October, just as the two young women were at the height of their interest in his existence. But during this time they had realised, to their joint amusement, that Dr Vieri’s fits of sneezing, frequent as they were at that time, could be anticipated well in advance of their arrival. The doctor himself seemed at least partially aware of this- in that allergic October he had occasionally interrupted the flow of his lecture with a mildly exasperated, “In a minute I will sneeze, but,” and a wave of his hand, and then persist with his topic until it became actually necessary to stop and let the sneezes pass.

It had become a game between the two students to see which of them could correctly identify the approach of a sneeze at the earliest stage. The one who called it first scored a point, the tally kept discreetly unlabelled at the back of Kendall’s academic planner. That October, opportunities for point scoring had come frequently, necessitating high alertness from both competitors and leading to at least one accusation of guessing that a sneeze was due based on frequency, not actual observation. They had not dropped the competition with the passing of Dr Vieri’s allergy, however, and the semester’s scores currently stood at 25-22 to Kendall. For now.

That curled finger was now brushing up and down Dr Vieri’s septum in an almost unconscious rhythm. As the girls watched, his fingers closed into a loose fist. He sniffed and pressed his nose against it with a more deliberate rub than before, then self-consciously lowered the hand to his lap.

He was unable to leave his nose untended for long, however. Kendall thought she detected a faint twitch to his nostrils just before he raised his hand again and delivered a thumb-and-forefinger pinch to his septum. Oh, he was definitely going to sneeze.

A couple of breaths later- breaths matched almost exactly by the two observers, translations shamelessly abandoned for now- it was obvious that their lecturer was aware of the advancing disturbance in his nose. He ground the offender against his closed fist again and shook his head as though forbidding it to proceed.

Such admonitions had never worked before, and the pattern would not be broken this morning. The restless flare of those long, expressive nostrils was now beyond doubt. Dr Vieri wrinkled his nose in an effort to placate it without touch, and they twitched all the more insistently at the insult.

The hand hastily returned to his nose. This time his so-animated lips had fallen half-open in a tender gasp, preparing for the natural response. He pressed them closed, his fingers working at the taut curves of his frustrated nostrils, evidently waiting as long as he could before indulging the growing urge to sniff hard.

When he gave in at last there was a distinct crumpling of his gentle features. His dark eyebrows folded towards the bridge of his nose and his lips were drawn dramatically upwards into a grimace that showed the intensity of the itch, a flash of teeth briefly visible as Dr Vieri’s head tipped back involuntarily. He gave a miniature nod as though accepting his undignified fate, and reached urgently for the tissue box on the corner of his desk.

The brisk rasp of multiple tissues being snatched out in quick succession attracted the attention of several other students in the room, heads rising from books and eyes catching a glimpse of Dr Vieri’s anguished face before he brought the tissues up to stand between himself and his captive audience.


It was the first breath that Kendall was able to hear from her position about half-way back in the theatre, and it was chased by another, more urgent inhale, as Dr Vieri hurried to fold his tissues into a useful cover for his nose.


The breath caught, then released itself with a shudder that showed itself in Dr Vieri’s shoulders. Kendall felt sure that for anybody with a more obliging nose that really ought to have been enough to sneeze. Nonetheless, Dr Vieri’s nose demanded more, forcing him to act out this little tragedy several more times under the unwelcome spotlight of his students’ gaze.

His elbows were resting on his knees now, feet firmly braced against the floor as he breathed through the tickle, patiently waiting for the breath that would go that step further and finally allow him to-

hh-hhuHH… IH’ZZCHHhhue!

There it was, a profoundly irritated, throat-scraping sneeze that tore jaggedly through the silent room. Dr Vieri gasped once in apparent relief, then tightened his grip on his tissues as he felt the rest of the sneezes approaching.

Kendall had only ever seen Dr Vieri stop at one sneeze once, and he had looked as surprised as everybody else. This attack was proceeding true to his usual pattern, that long-awaited first sneeze opening the gate for several more. His record was eight, but that had been at the peak of his allergic misery, and was unlikely to be repeated again.

ieh’SSCHhhue! hh- huh’TZSCHhue!

Two itchy sneezes burst out in quick succession. Dr Vieri pressed the tissues tight to his face and began to rub his nose vigorously through them, as though something about those sneezes had succeeded in making the irritation unbearable. Inevitably, he sneezed a fourth time, this one sounding like it had to be scratching something.


Was that it? There was a long pause. Dr Vieri raised his head a little uncertainly, eyes still narrowed with some unresolved irritation. He rubbed his nose again, then looked up towards the long window at the back of the theatre, squinting at the thin sliver of daylight until it triggered a sneeze so physically violent it made Kendall wince.

hh! hhhihtZZZHHH’UE!”

That seemed to do it. Dr Vieri straightened up slowly, looking a little dazed. A shouted “Bless you!” from the corner of the lecture theatre and “Salute!” from somewhere nearer the front seemed to alert him to the fact that he had thoroughly distracted the class from their assigned work.

“Ah, Grazie. I… hm.” He drew the tissues carefully away from his face and crumpled them in one hand, looking up at the lecture theatre’s main clock. “I think five more minutes, then we discuss.”

A faint rustling of clothes and papers rippled across the room as the class turned back to their translations. Kendall turned to the back of her planner. Making sure that Diana could see her do it, she made a neat tally mark under her friend’s name. 25-23.

“You’re catching up,” she murmured.

Diana grinned. “Watch your back, sister. It’s cold season.”

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Oh wow, I absolutely adore this!

I love the little game that Kendall and Diana have going on, and I love the detail that Dr. Vieri’s fits can be anticipated minutes beforehand. Makes for a delightful buildup, and I love how you executed it. 

Wonderful story, thank you for writing!

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