Sharon reached over to the small tissue box she'd brought to the library with her, covered her nose and mouth, and sneezed lightly into one with a feminine-sounding, "Ahchii!"

"This seat taken?" she heard. She looked up to see Anthony standing in front of her with a soft smile on his face. It was about time. They were supposed to have met at 10 and it was already 11:30.

"Well..." she wanted to make it hard on him to make her point. "I was saving it for my partner. We were <sniff> supposed to be researching for our Shakespeare paper. But he's already an hour <sniff> and a half late and I'd hate for him to show up now without apologizing and be accepted by a vacant spot at the table, so <sniff> go right ahead."

Tony, of course, did not sit. "I'm sorry..." he said straight out, feeling badly. "I slept through my alarm and just woke up a few minutes ago. I haven't even eaten breakfast. I'm really sorry, Shar."

She pushed the chair across from her out with her feet and pointed to it. "Better make this the last time. I've been doing the dirty work here alone, waiting for you. Check this... thi... " she quickly snatched up another tissue. "achIIii!" She recovered in a second. "Check this out." She passed him a few books in which she'd paper clipped pages of importance.

"Oh, I see," he murmured, leafing through the first one. "This paragraph here on..." he paused suddenly, only to continue a moment after, his voice sounding a bit different, though she couldn't place it. "Macbeth. There's a lot about the character moti... motivations."

Sharon looked up to see him rubbing his nose. He looked up as well but when their eyes met, Tony quickly sniffed and placed his hand in his lap as if he'd been doing nothing at all.

Sharon, a little curious, was about to ask when another urge to sneeze ran through her. She glanced venomously at the potted flowers on the library windowsill on her right and the open windows all around her that were opened to the fresh, spring outdoors. Plucking a few more tissues, she buried her nose to give a soft, light, "ahCHiii!" followed immediately by a quick double, "AhCHii! ahhCHI!"

Tony noticed, wondering if he should ask or not. Finally, he decided to. "You all right, Sharon?"

Sharon nodded with a pleasant smile. "Oh yes, I'm fine. Why?"

"Well, you've been..." he paused again, then continued as quickly after as he could, "sneezing the whole time I've been here. You aren't... coming... down with a cold... are you?" The pauses were becoming more frequent and more lengthy, not to mention more mysterious. Most likely, he was embarrassed for her.

She shook her head. "No, it's only my allergies. You know I have a terrible case of the sneezes this time of the year." She giggled lightly.

He nodded, remembering her last spring and summer before classes ended when she'd have to ditch parties or leave the scenes early because she couldn't keep from sneezing. "Oh."

He sounded disappointed enough to make Sharon's curiosity rise above standards of politeness. "Why do you ask?" Sometimes he was such a difficult person to figure out. It seemed almost strange that she had known him since the first day at college nearly 3 years before. "You're <sniff> disappointed?"

"Oh, no!" he exclaimed. "Only well... I haven't been feeling too well lately and I was a little worried about getting you sick. I figured I didn't have to worry so much if you were already sick."

She looked up from the current reference book to study his face. "You're not feeling well?"

Shaking his head, "My roommate, Brad, came down with a bad cold a couple days ago. I think I must have caught it from him."

The more she looked at him, the more he had to admit to seeing his flushed cheeks but otherwise pale face, and his weak brown eyes. "You're welcome to my tissues if you need them, Tony." She laughed, "Of course, you're not sneezing now." She loved letting him know she understood without actually telling him.

He nodded. "Which is not for lack of trying."

Innocently, "Hmm?"


"Oh, you mean, you're not sneezing on purpose?" She'd overheard his sneezes several times before and knew they were strong enough for her to wonder how he could possibly hold them back and have her not notice. "You know, that can hurt you, to hold them in, I mean."

He put his head back in the book he was reading.


"It's embarrassing!" he whispered strongly back, rubbing his nose a little, his face falling to one of helpless misery. He felt terrible but complaining about it was the last thing he wanted to do.

"It's okay," she whispered back, sniffing. "I don't mind or anything. Heck, I'm sneezing, too. You know you don't have to be embarrassed in front of me about anything.

He nodded reluctantly. "I know."

They went back to reading and Sharon sneezed twice, full, small sneezes, "Hachii! ahCHii!" She reached for a tissue only to be met at the box by his hand which reached for one at the same moment. The look on his face told her he was ready. He bent forward a bit and closed his eyes in preparation. "HaahhSHEOO!" he sneezed hard, strong, bending forward for a brief second and straightening up after.

"Bless you!" Mary exclaimed, pushing the tissue box across the table to him.

He lifted a fist to his face, his first finger pressing up against his nostrils to smother a

second as best he could, "AhhSHHMmm!" He paused, sniffed, then uttered a delicate,

"Uhh.." as he sat back in his chair, bringing tissues up to his nose to blow it. "Excuse me."

"Boy, when you sneeze, you really sneeze <sniff> don't you, Tony?"

He nodded, his cheeks going red. He slumped in his seat miserably. "Sorry…"

She stood and went to him, sitting down in he chair beside him and putting her hand on his forehead. "Tony! You're burning up!"

He shook his head, making her hand retract. "I took some Aspirin right before I came," he informed her, shivering slightly but trying to cover it up by fully straightening up in his seat. "I'll be fine."

"You're sick and getting sicker. You need to go to bed."

He shook his head. "What? And leave you here to do all the work? I <sniff> I don't think so! Besides I just got up. And plus we have class in half an hour. It's only a little… a little c-cahhhh hahhh-HAHHCHOO! <sniff> a little cold."

She had a kind heart for self-sacrifice, but also knew he'd do her no good sitting there and sneezing rather than doing work. "Anthony, I really think you should just forget about the project today and go back to bed."

"I'll be.... HahhHSHHHOO! <sniff> I'll be... AHHHSHHHO! <sniff><sniff>

Fine-Ah-CHOOOO!" he sneezed each, desperately trying to hold them back so he could speak but the sensations in his nose were growing worse with every passing moment.

"Sure you will," Sharon replied sarcastically, standing up behind him to rub his shoulders. She found his muscles to be tense and aching. "Come on, I'll walk you back to your dorm room."

He looked up at her. "No, really, I'll be ok. You.. ehhh.. HahhhhHIHSHOOO! <sniff> You've got to believe me." He began to protest again, then felt another strong sneeze approaching. "HAHHSHHUOSHH!" She closed his book and handed him a tissue.

"How long have you been feeling like this, anyway?"

"Just since... sin... HahhhCHHUUOOO! this morn- hahhhSHEOOO! <sniff> morning. But we have class in a few minutes. I'll be find for just 50 minutes, really."

She knew this was going to become a really bad cold, but she trusted that he could make his own judgement calls. "OK, come on, we might as well get headed over." She helped him to his feet and let him lean on her slightly as they walked out.

Once outside, Sharon had to work to control her allergies. She began sniffing as the pollen in the air whirled around in her small but sensitive nostrils at every breath. "ahCHH!" she sneezed, holding her hand up to her face.

One of Sharon's friends, Jennifer, came up to them then. "Gosh, you two are a sight!" she giggled to see them walking unsteadily, sneezing and sniffling. "Are you both ok?"

"He's got a cold and it's just my all.. al… ahCHH… alergies," Sharon attempted to explain. The three of them walked over to the lecture call, Anthony stifling his sneezes while in the presence of someone else.

* * *

The expression on Anthony's face was, if nothing else, one of misery. His face drooped with fatigue and you could tell from it that sitting up and paying attention in class was the last thing he wanted to be doing. His nose ran, but even with constant sniffling every minute or so, he could do nothing about it. He sat perfectly still, sitting in his seat as if her were fine, looking straight forward at the board, his hands folded in front of him on his desk. Every few seconds, he'd bring his hand up to his nose and rub once, twice, thrice, then quickly put it back on the desk with the other. Once in a while, his lips would purse and he'd gasp softly, only to rub his nose again, and then resume normal position. He'd sneezed twice already, both stifled completely, at which he winced and rubbed at his ears.

Sharon, sitting a row back and a few seats over, had perfect view of him, yet there was nothing she could do that wouldn't draw attention to him. She felt awful for him, knowing that he should be taking it easy. And the classroom was freezing cold with the air conditioner flowing in at full blast through vents right above him… she knew that wouldn't be at all good for his fever.

"ehh…" it was a sound it seemed they were the only two in the hall who could hear. She focused in on him immediately. His chest heaved, and he lifted both his hands to his nose and mouth. His eyes were tightly closed, breaths fast and heavy. His whole body pulled back, then went forward in spasm with a soft "mch" He exhaled, louder than the sneeze itself, and sniffed, even louder still. Then he rubbed at his ears once and relaxed back into the seat, his hands folded on his desk as if nothing had happened.

Sharon had had enough. She collected her things, and, bending over, went down a few seats to right behind him. She tapped him on the shoulder and as he jumped, startled, she whispered, "We're leaving. Right now. Get your stuff, come on."

He started to shake his head, but she reached down and picked up his backpack. Then Sharon began walking out, through the back; Tony hurried to catch up, looking angrily after her as everyone around them stared.

Once outside, he fell back against the hall wall, his eyes closed, his body shaking with coughs.

"I'm... sorry," she said, timidly putting the bag down beside him. "Please don't be too mad?"

He shook his head, rubbing at his nose. "Thank you, Sharon," he whispered grateful to be out of there at last.

"Come on, let's get you back to your room, ok? Can you make it, or should we take the bus?"

As much as he wasn't looking forward to people's stares at him on the bus, he knew he wouldn't be able to make it across campus on foot. "Bus… I… I… hah… HAHSHOOO! HAHHHCHOO! HEHHCHOOO!" he shook with each loud explosion, as if each had been building through the whole class only to come now.

She dug a packet of tissues out of her pocket and handed them to him as she watched him struggle with his nose.

He nodded a thank you, blowing his nose and tossing the tissue in the trashcan a few feet away, a perfect shot. Then Tony picked up his backpack, slung it over his shoulder, slipped his arms through, and headed over to the bus stop with her beside him.

Sharon could tell his fever was kicking in, as he struggled to keep his eyes open. Seeing it rather neglected, she took a couple of tissues out of her pocket and rubbed his nose for him. He only nodded and yawned, closing his eyes to slump against the bus stop pole.

The bus pulled up, and about ten people filed on, Tony taking a seat by the window, Sharon slipping into the seat beside him.


They get back to his dorm with the help from a girl named Jennifer they happen to run into.

Sniffling, Sharon dug his card out of his pocket and slid it through for him as he leaned against Jennifer and the wall. She helped him inside, getting him to sit down on the bed.

"There you are. I have a friend who lives upstairs and I'm sure she has a thermometer she'll let me borrow. I'll be right back. You get changed for bed and get under the covers, all right?"

He shook his head. "Don't bother. It's only a little cold. I don't want you treating me like a little baby; I'm 21, Sharon."

She smiled. "If there's one thing I've learned from being pre med it's that patients like you always want to be babied when they're not feeling well."

Tony shot her a displeased look. "So, you mean all I am is one of your patients?"

She smiled shyly. "No, Anthony. You mean much more than that to me. I'm not here as a nurse. I'm here as your friend. I care about you… you know that… So can I go get the thermometer?"

He looked at her a moment. He then nodded. "Okay, Shar."

She returned a few minutes later to find him shirtless and stretched out in his bed with a blanket over him up to his waist. She sat down on the bed beside him, shaking the thermometer. "Here you go. Open up." He did, lifting his tongue so she could slide it under easily. Then he pointed to the tissue box on the desk beside his bed. She took it, intending to hand it to him, when she realized that it was empty. "Oh… I'll go get you another then," she told him, glancing at her watch. Two minutes later and two boxes of tissues wealthier, she was once again beside him.

Her own nose was tickling a little, and she sneezed, "iachish!" opening the box to get one for herself just as he echoed.


She laughed, removing the thermometer to read it as he sniffed and rubbed his nose.

"One hundred point three," she told him. "That's pretty high." She felt guilty about not insisting he return to his room earlier.

"HARRRR-SHEOOO!" Sharon heard a man sneeze powerfully, but this time it wasn't Tony. A second later, a guy came walking through the door, his nose buried and blowing into a large handkerchief. As the door closed behind him, he doubled over to give a powerful second, "HHHAARR-SHHHEOO!"

"Geusundheit," Tony snuffled, sitting up in bed to look a bit less helpless.

His roommate, Brad, nodded, stuffing the cloth in his back pocket. "Thanks." He surveyed the scene. "Looks like you're not feeling too well, yourself, huh Tone?" Brad sat down on his own bed, changed his shirt, and collected a few books.

"Yeah. I think… I… caught your cold," he admitted, trying hard to hold back the sneezes by scrunching up his face. He so much hated sneezing in front of people. "Huh.. hahhh…" he couldn't help it for its strength was too much for him. He managed to stifle it, though. "Chhmm!"

"Bless you," Sharon said, wondering if this, too, was embarrassing for him. He was stifling them, after all.

"Hey, don't worry, Tone. I'll be gone in a minute. Got some studying to do with

Clara Robinson, if you know what I mean."

Tony looked guiltily over at Sharon, thinking of all the work that they two had to do. Sharon shook her head, trying to tell him that the project didn't matter to her in comparison to his health.

Brad sniffed himself. "Hey, does this shirt smell clean?" He pulled at the material, bending over towards Tony.

Tony sniffed, his nose stuffed, and shrugged. "Sorry, I can't smell anything."

Sharon smelled it and nodded. "It's fine."

Brad smiled, nodded. "Good. I don't feel like doing laundry." Brad left a minute later and Sharon sat down in the desk chair, typing away at the computer. Tony grabbed a few Kleenexes and blew his nose. "I'm so <sniff> sorry about <sniff> the report," he told her. "Of all times to get sick… I'm really sorry."

She reached over and patted his leg. "It's quite all right, Tony. It's not your fault at all. We can get a little done on the Internet and get back to the library later when you're feeling better."

A slow smile spread across his face and he opened his mouth to answer only a loud sneeze beat him to it. "HAHSHOO!" A handful of tissues smothered the rest. "Hah-SHMM! HAAHCHOPH! HAHHSHOOSH! HehhhHASHOOSHHMM!"

"Bless you!" Sharon exclaimed at the large result. She was beginning to wonder how sick he really was and if, perhaps, he were able to even help her a little on the report in his condition. "Tony… be honest with me. Do you want me to go?"

He finished blowing his nose. "No. It's ok. I don't… I don't mind sneezing in front of you any more."

She patted his leg. "If you want me to leave at any time, just tell me, all right? I don't want to make you uncomfortable. Or if you wanna get some sleep or anything… I can go."

"No, don't!" he reacted quickly, biting his lip after, ashamed he's been so fast to admit he wanted her comfort. "I mean, I'll be fine. Please stay."

She nodded, typing a bit more on the keyboard. "I will."

"AH-HAHCHOO!" he sneezed, lying down again to bring the covers all the way up to his neck.

"Boy, you're sneezing quite a lot, aren't you?"

He nodded at her blatantly obvious observation. "Yeah. My nose keeps tickling so <sniff> so much. You're hah… HAHHSHOO! <sniff> you're sounding better, though."

"Yeah, I am. My allergies are tricky. They come and go so easily I never really know when an attack is gonna hit."


"Yes, Tony?"

He sighed. "Never mind."


"No, never mind."

The printer started and she turned back to him to give him her undivided attention.

"No, really, Tony. What?"

"I was just wondering… if you could… maybe… I feel bad for asking, but… give me a back rub?"

She smiled, loving to see the shy side in a guy who was usually composed and overly confident. "Of course. I'd love to." He sat up and she got behind him, sitting Indian-style on the bed. She worked her hands over his shoulders, feeling him loosen at her touch, hearing him sigh. "Feel's good?" she asked, moving down his back, rubbing with force.

"Feel… f-fuh.. HUHHCHOO!" he sneezed, bending forward, sneezing freely, his muscles tensing again only to relax as he sat back up and she continued. "Feels great. Thanks, Shar."

She smiled. "What are friends for?" She finished the back rub to find him half-asleep and barely sitting upright. She helped guide his head to his pillow and pulled the sheet and blankets up and over him. She carefully sat back down in the chair to see his eyes closing, to find his breathing slow, his body going limp.

Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door and Tony woke, looking around confused for a moment, then distressed the next as the knocking came again.

Sharon stood. "I'll answer it." She went to the door, opening it halfway, slipping out, and closing it behind her. "Yes?"

"Yeah, um, is Tony in?"

She nodded. It was Tony's younger brother. She stuck her head back in to ask Tony,

"It's Andrew. Do you want me to let him in?"

He croaked back, "Sure." He sounded worse every time he spoke.

Andy walked in with a smile, only to have it fade as he saw his brother.

"Hey, Andy, what's.. HAH-HAAHHCHOO! what's <sniff> up?"

Concerned, "Tone? You okay, bro?"

Tony nodded. "I'b <sniff> all right. Just caught a bad cold from by roobmate."

Andy frowned suspiciously at his brother. "Maybe I should call Mom-"

Tony sat up. "No you won't! <sniff> It's just a few sneezes. I'll be fine, Andy. If you call Mom you know I'll kill Hahh-CHOOSH! <sniff> kill you."

Andy looked at Sharon.

She nodded. "He's got a bit of a fever and some sneezes and aches but otherwise, yeah, he'll be just fine."

Tony sneezed again. Sniffling, "See?" glaring at his brother. "I'll be fide."

Andy ruffled his older brother's hair and gave him a grin. "Well, if you're not, I'm reserving the right to call Mom and have her send you up some of her homemade soup, okay?"

This time Tony grinned. "It's a deal. Thaks, Ad… Hahh… HAHCHOO! <sniff>

Andy." He sneezed again, and once again, reaching for the tissues as Andy left and shut the door behind him.

Sharon sat back down on his bed. "You've got a very sweet little brother there,


He nodded. "Yeah, tell me about it. You know, he has a crush on you."

She seemed surprised. "Oh?"

"Yeah, but I told him you were mine."

Her heart skipped a beat. Noticing the sweat on his brow, she put the back of her hand against his forehead. "Your fever's up. I think you're becoming delirious."

"I know."

"You know?" she was confused.

"Yeah," he sniffed. "I do. It's a lot of fun to skate." He nodded, closing his eyes, and passed out.


She stays with him much of the evening, and then goes home when dorm visiting hours are up. She heads back over the next day when he doesn't answer the phone.


She tried the door first and, finding it unlocked, walked in. At once her eyes fell upon Anthony, sitting up in bed with a book on his lap, a box of tissues at his side, and dozens of used, balled-up tissues scattered about on the bed and floor. He was holding one then, folded and crumpled, up against his bright red nostrils to keep them from dripping. He was bent over the book, squinting and trying to concentrate but sniffing every few seconds and looking as generally miserable as anyone could possibly look.

She cleared her throat and he looked up at once, seeing her and cringing with embarrassment. "Oh God!" he groaned with as much voice as he had left, sniffing strongly and quickly gathering the tissues so he didn't appear to be so untidy.

"Poor Tony," she cooed lightly, in not more than a whisper. "Your cold's getting worse, I gather?" She sat down on his bed and put the back of her hand to his forehead to find it still burning.

He nodded woefully, closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to see her through his embarrassment. "Yeah."

"Maybe you should go to the infirmary?"

He shook his head. "No... I don't want to..." He was not about to tell her how much he hated doctors and all they stood for, but he wanted to make it clear that he wasn't going to go, all the same. He opened his eyes and looked at her with great longing. He hated to admit it, but he felt terrible and he needed her. "Can't you take care of me? You're almost like a doctor anyway…"

She melted at his words and his soft, fever-dazed eyes. "I'm not even close… but of course I can take care of you." Sharon took the book from his lap and set it on the desk, sure to keep it open to where he had it. Then she cleared the rest of the tissues off his bed for him and got him a glass of orange juice from the fridge in the common room at the end of the hallway. Coming back, she nearly ran into the guy who lived in the room across from him. The man had a thin cigarette in his hand and was puffing out a breath of smoke just as she passed.

Immediately her nose began to tickle furiously. Sharon tried hard to hold her breath, but it was too much for her. She ducked into Tony's room quickly as she pinched her nose tightly. As soon as she was inside, the smell was gone, but her nose, tickling nonetheless, needed to be rid of the sensation. She held her nose closed but could not prevent the sneezes from coming. Stifled, they filled her nose but came out only in miniature, suppressed form, "Achi! Tch! Tich! ch! HaCH!" soon her nose was tickling more from stifling the sneezes than from the smoke irritation, so she just let them out. "AhCHO! HaCHiii! Ahchhi! ahh… ahhhCHIIIii!" She gasped for breath and found him holding a tissue out for her. She took it, dabbing her watering eyes first, then holding it up in front of a face which signaled that the sneezey feeling was still in her nose… it just wasn't strong enough to make her sneeze.

Tony realized it, sniffing but watching her. He decided to talk her through it. "Hey,

Shar… you gonna sneeze?"

She nodded, eyes closed, mouth open, face fallen in helpless longing.

He chuckled. "Who said you could? I'm sniff I'm the one with the cold, remember?"

She couldn't help but smile and let out a laugh, which, for it's quick breath in and out, was all she needed. "AhhCHII! AHHCHHHO! Ahchhii! ahhCHii! HaCHHhh! AhhCHOOO!" She opened her eyes, the feeling past. "Whew," she finished, blowing her nose carefully and sitting back down on the edge of his bed. "Sorry, Tony," she laughed. "Didn't know I needed a permit. That darn cigarette smoke, you know?"

He tried laughing with her, but found his throat hurt a bit too much for it. She handed him the glass of orange juice and he thanked her, falling back against propped up pillows, rubbing his head, drinking with thanks. He finished the drink in a few thirsty gulps and handed the empty glass back to her. He was sniffing every few seconds, very softly, and wiped his nose on the back of his hand and wrist every so often, too tired to move, too exhausted to reach over for a tissue. "<Sniff, sniff>" he looked at her wantingly. "Shar, can you <sniff> come to bed with me and <sniff> warm me up a little?"

She was concerned. "You're cold?"

He nodded.

"Shall I get you another blanket?"

He shook his head, sniffing, coughing once. "No…" he reached out to her. "Just come and warm me up… please?"

She smiled, lying down in bed with him, curling up beside him. He shivered against her, and continued sniffing softly as he closed his eyes. Sharon wrapped her arms protectively around him, watching a smile spread across his face. In a few moments, he was asleep.



His cold gets worse, and Sharon takes him to the infirmary

"I hate this part," Tony whispered with a yawn. "And <sniff> why do they <sniff> make these rooms so <sniff> cold?"

Sharon reached around and rubbed his arms up and down fast to warm him up. "I don't know, Tone. Are you sure you want me here? Because I could go walk around outside a little if you don't want me hovering and sticking to you like—"

"Yes, I'm <sniff> sure I want you here!" he said, taking a Kleenex and blowing his nose. "I'm not… too, um, fond of doctors… actually…"

Her mouth dropped. "You don't like doctors but you like a future doctor?"

He sniffed again. "Yeah, because <sniff> you're <sniff> well, you're you."

She blushed, but he didn't notice, he had begun shivering and wasn't about to stop. She took one look at his tough but weakened form, sitting naked from he waist up, with boxers and the paper gown thing on his lap, and got a bit frustrated that he have to wait so long. She wrapped his coat around his shoulders, her own over his legs, and then hugged him. "Lemmie go see what doctors I can scrape up for you, ok, Tone?"

He shook his head. "You don't-t <sniff> h-have t-t-too…" He coughed a few times, and rubbed his nose again.

The scene was just too cute, Sharon had to admit. The toughest, most macho guy… the most sensitive, sweetest guy… was now utterly helpless and weak beyond belief. Not to mention that he needed her… and actually wanted her…

She stood out in the hall for a brief moment, before running into a doctor there. "My friend really isn't feeling so well…" she started, trying to figure out what she was trying to say. "We've been waiting forever. If we don't get some help soon…" The doctor looked so tired, and she flashed forward to her future when she'd have so many sick and hurt patients to keep track of. The last thing she knew she'd want when she was tired was to have someone who couldn't wait her turn. "I'd really appreciate it if you could maybe take a quick look at him… maybe… please… or at least, maybe someone… kinda soon… if you could… maybe…" She gave up.

The doctor patted her arm. "You're the twentieth impatient person who's come up and said that sort of thing to me toady, and of them you're the least persuading. What's the examining room number?"

With her face red, Sharon looked behind her and mumbled. "14."

"Well then, lets head back there Miss…"

"Sharon," she said, not quite understand what had just transpired.

They went in, finding a tired, weak, shivering Tony right where Sharon had left him.

"Mr. Anthony *****, your friend here was very nice in notifying me that you'd been waiting so long. I'm very sorry about that, but it's been quite busy today. Now what seems to be the trouble?"

Tony's teeth were chattering, and his head was throbbing. This was the part he hated the most. "I thi-th-think I.. h-have… a c-c-cold-d…" he said, sniffing as his nose started to tickle.

"Alright. How long since you've displayed symptoms?"

He tried hard to think. Had I been two days or three? It was sometime in the early morning, was that supposed to count as an additional day? Or maybe it had been 4 days… "Ummm…" he tried hard to remember. He looked up at Sharon helplessly, and raised his hand to his nose to stifle a strong sneeze, "hahchmmm! Uhhhh…" he rubbed at his nose, now trying to remember the question. His head was spinning, everything going fuzzy in front of his eyes. He closed them tightly and sniffed again. "Ummm…"

"3 days," Sharon answered for him, going to him, taking his hand for support. Sharon proceeded to answer the questions for him, as he sniffed, held back his sneezes, and tried to stay awake. The doctor took his temperature, listened to his breathing(the deep inhalations made Tony cough several dozen times), and examined him.

"You're right, Mr. ******, it is just a cold, but a pretty bad one. You…" he flipped through the files, "live in the dorms?"

Anthony nodded, pulling on his shirt and sweater at last.

"Well, that's good, not much of a walk. Check back with us if your fever gets any higher, all right? I can give you some aspirin and cold medicine, but I'm afraid there's not much you can do but let it run its course."

Tony nodded again, and sniffed, hoping down from the table and following Sharon to the door. "Thank you for taking time out to see us, doctor," Sharon thanked him, feeling that she it was the least she could do. She suddenly felt a tingling sensation in her nose, and she cupped her hand over her nose and mouth as she bent forward with a single, surprised-sounding "Ah-Tchoo!"

The doctor smiled. "Don't mention it. Thank you for being so polite. It's a nice thing to see every once in a while. And don't you be coming down sick, too!" he said, to the sneeze.

Sharon laughed. "Not a chance!" She wanted to have told him she was pre med. She wanted to ask him a zillion questions about working with patients, how the infirmary worked, how the patients were treated… but one look at Tony told her that she'd better get him back to his room. And she, herself, had a terrible headache from lack of sleep, from the obvious reasons. She hoped that with the meds, it might make for a more restful night for them both.


"This isn't happening. This isn't happening," Sharon repeated to herself, as she stood in front of the mirror in the ladies restroom down the hall from Tony's room. "I'll take it again- I must be fine." She ran the thermometer under the sink water, then shook it until it leveled off at room temperature. Then she stuck it back in her mouth, under her tongue. Not ten seconds had gone by before she felt the strong urge to sneeze. Not the powerful allergy sort of urge, but the constant, light tickling through out her whole nose. She pulled the thermometer out, closed her eyes, and sneezed thrice, into the palm of her hand. Then she stuck the thermometer back in. Only a few seconds later came a forth. Then a fifth, then a sixth and even as she tried in vain to plug her nose so the reading would be accurate, there came a seventh, eighth, and ninth. She gave up, and pulled it out, just as a tenth came at her. "One-oh-t… tuhhh... teehhhh… T-Choooo!" she sneezed the eleventh, steadying herself by leaning on the sink. "One-oh-two?" she asked herself… realizing it was half a point higher than just a few minutes ago. "This canNOT be happening!" She blew her nose and splashed her face with water, then put on a nice smile. She knew she wouldn't be able to hide it from him for long, but she was pretty good at covering up. With any luck, she would be able to get through the paper without sn— "EhTchooooo!"

"AhhTichooo!" she sneezed into her shoulder, squinting back at the computer screen as if nothing had happened.

"Shar, you ok?"

She nodded. "Yeah. It's just my allergies, s-sorry to.. to… ehhh… EhhhChooo! AhhTichoo!" She sniffed strongly. "Sorry to disturb."

He nodded. "I'm just making sure. You look kinda pale all of a sudden."

She laughed. "Just tired out." She resisted the urge to ask for a back rub. "I'll be fine."

"Well, that's good. After all the care you've given me, it would be horrible if you caught my cold from me. I'd feel awful!"

"ehhh… Yeah, it would b-be… EhhTCHOO!" she sneezed strongly.

Tony felt her forehead, and she pulled away at it, but he placed his other hand on her back, holding her there, and she gave in at the feel of his cool hand against her head. "You take your temperature lately, Shar?"

Reluctantly, she nodded.

"So you know you have a fever?"

She bit her lip, nodding, looking down at the floor.

"Why don't you lie down a few minutes while I take over typing for a while?"

She shook her head, biting her lip. "I'll be… o… ok-eehhhTCHoo!" He handed her a tissue. "Thanks." He nodded, helping her get up and lie down in his bed. "I'm so sorry…" she whispered as he pulled the covers up to her chin. "I didn't mean to get sick…"

He lay down with her, facing her, holding her. "It's ok, it's not your fault."