So...I have this amazing reviewer, TMart37, who leaves the funniest reviews. I asked her if she'd like to collaborate on a funny story one day, and she said, Hell yeah! Giving herself the well deserved title of Comedic Consultant, she helped me come up with the plot and crazy scenarios for a story which I then wrote and submitted to TwiFandomNews competition, Revenge of the Nerds. Lo and behold...it came Third in the Judges Vote, was Sarcastic Bimbo's Judges Choice, and won the We Got Our ION You award for a story the judges would like to see more of. Color me surprised!

~CMS~

Title: Color Me Surprised

Summary: What could an ambush, an infestation, and a flying car have to do with falling in love?

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Rating: M (for language)

Word Count: 7487

DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thank you to my wonderful prereader and beta, NKubie, for her help whipping this into shape!

~CMS~

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, Emmett," Edward muttered while limping heavily, one hand cupped over his rapidly swelling eye and the other wrapped around his co-worker, Jasper's, shoulders. Emmett was on the other side of their mutual best friend, as the lanky Texan needed both their help to be half-carried, half-dragged into the Seattle General Emergency Department. "Jasper got shot in the throat," Edward continued, referring to the bright orange, grapefruit sized welt just to the side of his Adam's apple. "And you don't see him carrying on like a baby."

"That's because he can't talk!" Emmett retorted, feeling affronted. "I can't believe you called me a baby," he added in what could only be described as a whine. "You didn't get shot in the gonads. You just copped a few paintballs to the face, which, okay, I'll admit, isn't pleasant, but it does . . . not . . . compare!"

"Guys, enough." Ben, the fourth member of their programming—and paintball—team, who was nursing a clearly out-of-joint shoulder, gestured towards the ER's glass-fronted reception area. The waiting medical receptionist was eyeing the approaching young men with disapproval. "I told you we should have taken off these effing coveralls." More than anything, Ben hated being belittled despite finding himself in potentially belittling situations far too often. "We look like we've escaped from an exploding paint factory."

"Might as well have," Emmett grumbled, reaching down to pull the material away from his crotch for about the twentieth time. To say he was walking gingerly would have been an understatement. Impersonating a baby duck wearing an oversized diaper was more like it.

"There was no time," Edward muttered. "In fact, I think we made a mistake not calling an ambulance for Jasper."

"With Rosie driving, we made better time than the paramedics would have," Emmett said. "Although I don't want to think about the state of my truck." Emmett loved his truck, but he loved his friends more, so he hadn't thought twice when they all piled in for the trip back into the city. To be honest, he had been in too much pain to think of anything but getting some relief.

"Shh…" Ben ordered, as they approached the desk.

The woman behind the glass looked like she wouldn't be out of place running a maximum-security women's prison. Shaking her head, she asked, with undisguised disgust, "Paintballing?"

Edward, his nerves worn thin after the horrors they had all experienced, almost retorted, "What gave us away?" But he was distracted when Jasper started making a gurgling sound while pawing at his throat.

"Oh, shit, I don't think he can breathe," Emmett said. "He's gone blue around the lips."

"I thought that was just paint," Edward said, his feelings of panic reaching heights he hadn't experienced since the last time he'd had to do a live presentation. "Help him!" he shouted at the receptionist.

For a large woman, she moved quickly, calling for assistance while pressing the button that opened the security door that led through to the treating area. Before they knew what was happening, Jasper had been whisked away by a proficient team of medical professionals. At least, Edward hoped they were proficient. A couple of them looked awfully young. He would have asked if one of their team could accompany Jasper, but they were all in need of medical care.

"Who's next?" the receptionist asked, having retaken her seat and sounding bored.

"Me! Me!" Emmett shouted then shot Edward and Ben apologetic looks. "Sorry guys, but my swimmers are at stake. Rosie will kill me if I lose one of my nuts." He lowered his voice to add, sotto voco, "And the last thing I want is for her to be able to call me a 'one-balled bastard,' 'cause you can guaran-damn-tee I'd be hearing that waaaay too often."

Edward and Ben shared a look, and motioned Emmett forward. He wasn't the only one scared to death of Emmett's out-of-his-league girlfriend. She also happened to be one of their superiors at the company where they designed programs for software used by investment firms. Even the upper-management guys trod carefully around her, as Ms. Rosalie Hale was not to be messed with.

"Speak of the devil," Ben muttered, elbowing Edward with his good arm.

Edward turned to see Rosalie enter the ER's semi-filled waiting area looking like she had just spent the day at a high-end spa rather than a paintball farm. Once she had spotted them, she strode over like she was Goddess Barbie on a mission of vengeance.

"Why hasn't my boyfriend been seen yet?" she demanded of Receptionist Ratched. "He's been injured in the testicular area, and our future procreational abilities are at stake. I insist he be seen by a specialist urologist immediately."

The could-be-warden's heavy eyebrows rose like two caterpillars preparing to duel, but when Emmett started to cry—actual tears running down his cheeks—she huffed a breath and told him to take a seat.

"I don't think I can," Emmett said, wiping hastily at his eyes. "It's too swollen down there, and seriously," he leaned towards the gap in the glass security window and whispered, "I think something's come loose, like, the bags torn open and the goodies are spilling out."

"Holy hell," Edward muttered, taking an involuntary step back and placing a protective hand over his crotch. Ben mimicked the action and then whimpered in pain from having jostled his arm. The receptionist took a closer look at Ben, thankfully appearing to see past his baggy, paint-splattered coverall and recognizing there was something seriously wrong with his shoulder. She picked up a phone and spoke into it. Within minutes, a couple of nurses arrived to whisk Emmett, Ben, and the regal Rosalie, through the magic doors beyond which pain relief was, hopefully, available.

Edward watched them go with intense longing. The left side of his face hurt like hell. Actually, everything hurt, including his crotch which had also taken a hit, just not as direct or from so close a firing range as Emmett. James and his team of Information Technology Assholes, hence the name Edward had assigned them, the ITAs, would pay, big time. Edward vowed it. Exactly how, he wasn't sure, but he would put his impressive education to good use in figuring it out.

Ninety agonizing minutes later, Edward was finally ushered through the hallowed doors. His injuries had not been deemed life-threatening or as much of a priority as the busload of vomiting Japanese tourists that had arrived not long after he was left stranded in the Emergency Department waiting room. The hallway beyond led to the curtain enclosed cubicles where his friends were waiting: Emmett, to see if surgery was necessary on his undercarriage or if a few stitches would suffice to 'hold things together', Ben, in recovery from having his shoulder realigned; and Jasper, who was sucking ice water through a straw after having been injected with anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling in his throat.

"Seriously? Not another idiot paintballer," Edward heard muttered as he was directed to take a seat on a finally-available bed. He swung his head to see the source of the complaint, and promptly had the breath knocked out of him at the sight of a young medical student . . . doctor . . . angel of mercy? The stunning brunette was standing at the end of his bed wearing crinkled blue scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck and a weary expression on her heart-shaped face. She looked like she had stepped out of his own personal fantasy. It was even the one where he played the patient.

"Not another idiot," he said, then shook his head. "I mean, I'm with the idiots you've already seen. We were all together . . . just one bunch of idiots."

Edward groaned. Over the years, he had honed his awkwardness around women until it was an artform. He had never had a serious girlfriend, or even a trivial one for that matter. In high school, he had been too bookish and focused on his studies, graduating ahead of his peers at only sixteen. At college, his still gangly limbs, floppy hair, and occasionally, spotty face hadn't exactly imbued him with confidence. By the time he was midway through his second degree, he had started growing into himself and gaining the attention of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, by then, the die was set.

He had managed to go on a few dates, but they hadn't gone anywhere. In part, it was Edward's fault, as what he lacked in experience he made up for in imagination and a surprising romantic streak. He knew what he was looking for in a girlfriend, and he just hadn't found it … until now, he suspected. He wanted someone who was intelligent, which was a given if she was a doctor; empathetic and caring, also a given since she was in a 'caring' profession; mildly attractive, which made her overqualified and might work against him. The timing was terrible, and he hardly looked his best, but Edward couldn't help feeling that their meeting was meant to be. If he could only come across as cool and not craptastic for a change, he might stand a chance. It might help if he refrained from calling himself an idiot . . . again.

The angel stared at him blankly for a moment and then blinked. "Sorry, I didn't mean for you to hear that," she said, crossing to his side. "I'm Dr. Swan. Just how hard did you hit your head?"

"I didn't," he said, and her dark brows rose, nothing at all like the could-be-warden's furry slugs and more like celestial wings that formed two, perfect arcs. "I've got welts all over me," Edward added. "But it's the ones next to my eye I'm here about." He removed his hand to reveal three lime green splotches of paint covering rapidly purpling and swollen circular lumps between his left eye and his ear and along the bridge of his cheekbone. "I was caught just as I removed my protective goggles," he explained.

Her beautiful brows rose higher. "Is that allowed?

Edward honest-to-god growled. "No way, it was totally against the rules! We were ambushed after the game was supposed to be over. Multiple shots from close range. Emmett was bending over, retying a shoelace, when he got shot from behind in the, well, groinal region. Jasper copped one in the throat when he spun around to see what was happening, and Ben dislocated his shoulder when he tackled one of the guys who kept firing at my face, almost point blank."

Dr. Swan made a humming sound as she carefully inspected the side of Edward's face. "I think you owe your friend a debt of thanks," she murmured. "If any one of these shots had hit your eye, you'd be in serious trouble. As it is, I think an icepack and some painkillers should do the trick, but we'll get an x-ray to be on the safe side."

Edward wanted to ask her to accompany him to have the x-ray taken . . . and then forever after as his life partner, but that may have been premature. To his dismay, after making some notes in his file, she bid him good luck, saying one of the other residents would see him before he was released.

Dr. Bella Swan was surprisingly reluctant to leave the handsome if harried-looking and decidedly colorful young man to the care of another doctor. There was something about his eyes, well, the one that wasn't splattered with green paint and quite likely to close up altogether overnight, that had caught her attention. That and his decidedly sharp jawline—she had a thing for jaw porn. It was a real thing. You could google it. The Urban Dictionary described it as "The phenomenon of a very sexy and strong jawline . . . preferably displayed on Robert Pattinson."

This young man bore RPattz, as he was known by his fans, a more than passing resemblance, enough that she was almost tempted to stay. But her shift had finished four hours prior, and she was dead on her feet.

Reluctantly, she left.

"Thanks, Dr. Swan," Edward called after her, and then he lowered his voice to add, "for ruining me for all other women for the rest of time."

"So, what's the plan?" Emmett asked . . . again. The heavy-duty painkillers he was taking messed with his memory, but he had refused to stay home and rest as instructed. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell he was going to miss out on their team exacting retribution against the IT Assholes led by James with Mike, Tyler, and that weaselly bastard, Riley.

Edward sighed. While he understood Emmett's desire to be present for the coming chaos, his swollen crotched, but thankfully still dual-testicled buddy was even less up to the mental task than usual. Edward blamed Emmett's obvious intellectual decline over the previous year, since graduating alongside him from MIT, on the steroids he suspected his friend was abusing to achieve his impressively muscle-bound physique. Emmett denied doing so. He said it was the rigorous workouts his beloved Rosalie put him through on a nightly and early morning basis that were to thank . . . or to blame. It depended on your perspective. While Edward liked keeping fit, and was subsequently lightly muscled, he had no desire to end up impersonating a condom full of walnuts crossed with an Oompa Loompa. Emmett also tended to go a bit heavy on the spray tan.

"Edward? The plan?" Emmett prompted, causing Edward to admit, to himself if no one else, he was also feeling subpar. He suspected it was less the fault of the colorful blows he had taken to his body and face two days prior, and more as a result of a raging case of testabantur inflictam . . . 'infatuation,' for those not conversant in Latin.

Despite knowing next to nothing about her, like her first name and whether she had a boyfriend already, Edward couldn't stop thinking about and mooning over Dr. Swan. Despite the blatant futility of his obsession, he fully intended to return to it once their mission was accomplished.

"The plan," Edward said for what felt like the umpteenth time, "Is already set in motion and just requires implementation. While you and Jasper were recuperating yesterday, rightly so," he added when Emmett would have defended himself—being called 'a baby' had clearly stung. "Ben and I spent several hours writing a program and then loading it onto the ITA's network, hidden in such a way that it will take hours, if not days, for them to find and remove it."

"First, they have to work out there even is a program, and their offices haven't actually been infested with excessively loud, screechy, scratchy, rodents," Ben added, rubbing his hands together. After the humiliation and actual physical pain they had endured at the hands of the ITAs, he was ready to return the favor tenfold.

Jasper gave two thumbs up, as the doctors had said it could be a few days before he was able to use his badly abused vocal chords. He could swallow now without choking and no longer struggled to suck air into his lungs through a windpipe reduced to the size of a straw, which was a relief. Jasper liked to focus on the positive side of things.

"Right," Emmett said nodding thoughtfully. "And we get to control where and when the noises appear, and both watch and listen to the results, from our comfortable offices via remote screens."

He was stating the obvious, so Edward merely shrugged.

"I still say we should have reported them to the police," Ben muttered and then held up his hands when Emmett would have argued the case . . . again. All four had agreed that management would not appreciate the bad publicity, and Emmett deserved to keep the nature of his injury private.

"Here goes nothing," Edward said and pressed the keys that would cause the rodent noises to begin in Tyler's computer, though hopefully he would assume it was coming from behind the tower. At first, nothing happened, so Edward increased the volume ever so slightly.

"Eeeargh!" Tyler squealed and pushed back away from his desk so violently that his chair tipped backwards, depositing him on his ass—which was fitting.

"Fucking A, it worked!" Emmett yelled, before the other three signaled for him to keep the noise down.

"Quiet," Edward commanded. As the head of the team, he liked to lead by example and prided himself on utilizing a creative and intellectually supportive middle-management style, but sometimes taking charge was required. Plus, he was petrified of his immediate superior, Aaron—you can call me Aro, 'cause I'm hip and much cooler than you nerdish freaks—the Director of Programming and didn't want to attract undue attention.

"Yeah, but you have to admit that is effing cool," Ben whispered. He was from an extremely conservative church-going background and didn't like to swear. To replace the most common, and to his religiously trained ears most offensive epithet, he used 'eff' a lot. "Look at them all. James is standing on his desk, for eff's sake. What an effing wanker!" He also freely enjoyed using the common British expletives, as since they were bona fide members of The King's English, he had convinced himself they didn't count as actual swearing. Of course, he still refrained from using them around his mother.

While grunting in a way they all agreed sounded painful, Jasper motioned to be allowed at the keyboard. His fingers flew, and in seconds, 'rat noises' could be heard coming from beneath three separate desks in the IT offices. Pandemonium ensued. More chairs were upended, a couple of screens were shoved to the floor, James copped an elbow to the ear, and Riley had his fingers stepped on in the rush for the team to seek higher ground.

"Effing outstanding," Ben said, his voice filled with awe. "You are filming these pillicock-suckers, right?" he asked, surprising Edward, who was certain the more common variant of the obscenity was of U.S. origin. At his raised brow, Ben shrugged. "Anglo-Irish, 1610."

"Will you look at that?" Emmett whispered, as Mike suddenly screeched and grabbed the back of Tyler's shirt—the one he was still wearing—to stem the gush of blood that had begun spurting from his nose. The pudgy-faced twerp, as Edward thought of him, was prone to nosebleeds when under stress. Tyler spun around, trying to wrench his shirt free, causing Riley, who was nursing his squashed fingers beneath his armpit, to fly off the table and crash into the office's ubiquitous water cooler.

"No, no, no, no, no!" Edward muttered, watching in horror as the cooler teetered, then tottered, then tumbled to the ground, sending a mini-tidal wave of water rushing straight through the base of one of the nearby internet servers.

All four programmer's jaws unhinged, as a bright flash lit up the various screens they were using to watch the ITA's office. Then their screens, their computers, the lights, and the entire building, went dark.

"Eff me," Ben muttered.

"Eff the lot of us," Edward said, letting his head drop forward and smack into the desk in front of him.

Two days after the Great IT Office Debacle of 2018, the APT (Amazing Program Team...a self-designation) were understandably subdued. Maintenance had made a thorough search of the IT Assholes' offices and, naturally, hadn't found any critters or signs of vermin infestation. To the APTs delight, the ITAs had their literal asses handed to them on a platter by management. The four members of the APT had performed so many fist bumps at the victory they had secured over their violent nemesis they had given their biceps an extra workout.

Then it all went south.

James, in a fit of fury, had ordered his team to take everything in their offices apart to find the source of the noise and their humiliation. When nothing was found, they had started in on their CPUs. They wouldn't have found anything, as the source was in the coding not the hardware. But Emmett, who had just returned from applying numbing cream to his nether region, hadn't realized he was sitting on a mouse—a computerized one rather than an actual varmint—and the rodent noises had started up unexpectedly. When the ITAs realized it's source they had put two and two together.

The bollocking—a word Ben had deemed acceptable and Edward adopted—the APTs received from management over their involvement in the debacle was hardly surprising, although things could have gone much, much worse.

"I can't believe we lost our monthly bonus," Jasper grumbled. He could now talk a little if he held a hand to his swollen larynx and gave it some support, which was nice. He needed the money if he was ever going to be able to afford to move out of his mother's basement and woo Alice properly. He could have afforded to move out already, but his mother was disabled, and Jasper paid for a nurse during his work hours. Twenty-four hour care was expensive, but his mother deserved the best . . . and Alice deserved a boyfriend with his own home. It was a conundrum.

"Yeah, but at least James' crew lost their bonuses, too, and they're on an official warning," Emmett said.

Edward gave him a nod of thanks, as he felt significantly to blame, as the prank had been his idea. From the dirty looks he kept sending his way, and the repeated mentions of their lost bonuses, he suspected that Jasper felt the same. Initially, it had looked like they might lose their jobs, which would have been a disaster for all of them. But when Edward had explained to Aro and his superior—the even more terrifying, Marcus—what had happened at the team-building paintball fiasco, management had decided to spread the blame. As long as the company wasn't held responsible for anyone's injuries, that was all they cared about.

"You all set for today?" Ben asked, knowing how much Edward hated having to take point when their team was required to try and explain their new designs to their code-illiterate co-workers. It required the programmer equivalent of baby talk. Normally, Jasper did the bulk of the public speaking when they did presentations. His Texan charm and relaxed manner made him a natural, but he didn't have the voice for it. Emmett would have liked a chance, but he had a tendency to go 'off script', a dicey proposition at best and not worth risking with him doped up on painkillers. Ben, for all his confidence when interacting with his team members, tended to fall apart if there were women present. Well, specifically one woman, Angela. She was one of the technical copywriters who interpreted the data the APT presented and then wrote the instruction manuals and web pages necessary for their customers to be able to use what the company developed. Ben was smitten but too terrified to return her tentative waves, let alone speak publicly while she was watching.

No, it was up to Edward to save the day and put the 'amazing' back into the APTs good name. With that intention, he had decided to take one of his rarely used anti-anxiety tablets, twenty minutes before the meeting. He also popped a couple of painkillers, milder ones than Emmett was taking, as the ache in the still somewhat bruised and swollen side of his face was distracting.

"You good?" Emmett asked once they were set-up in the conference room and ready to begin.

"Better than good," Edward said with a decisive nod. Several nods, actually, as he couldn't seem to stop nodding once he started. "I'm bester." He paused and gave his head a sideways shake that was followed by several repetitions. "No, goodest. Bester than goodest? Or is it gooder than bestest? I'm confused."

"You and me both," Emmett said, giving him a concerned look. "You okay, buddy?"

"Sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure, sure." Edward clapped his hand over his mouth to stop the run of words. What the effing bollocks was wrong with him?

"Ahhhh . . ." Emmett gestured to Jasper and Ben to come join them. "I think there's something wrong with Edward."

"More than usual?" Jasper asked.

"Dude!" Ben said, shoving Jasper and then grimacing and rubbing his still painful shoulder.

"Definitely more than usual," Emmett muttered when Edward suddenly grabbed hold of the edge of the lectern and held onto it for dear life. His eyes went so wide, the whites were visible the entire way around the forest green irises. It made them look like two peas floating in bowls of vanilla pudding.

Edward, oblivious to his friends concerns, had his own troubles to deal with, namely that his feet had levitated twelve inches off the ground. This was a new experience for him and nothing that his extensive education had prepared him for. Without heavy duty magnets, he hadn't thought it was possible?.

"Edward? You want to tell us what's going on?" Jasper asked, his hand at his throat and his voice little more than a hoarse whisper.

Edward nodded his head like a bobble-head doll stuck to the dashboard of an all-terrain vehicle being driven off-road. "Yeah, I'm flying . . . well, I'm trying not to. That's why I'm holding onto the lectern. If I let go, I'll float up to the ceiling." His eyes did the crazy wild thing again. "Don't anyone open a window, whatever you do! If I drift outside, who knows how high up into the stratosphere I'll end up going, and there's no oxygen up there. I'll suffocate!"

Ben and Emmett exchanged worried glances.

"Yeah, I don't think the windows open this high up in the building," Ben said. "So, that shouldn't be a problem."

At that point, Alice bounced over to say a chirpy, "Hi."

Jasper flushed scarlet. Emmett groaned and rolled his eyes, and Ben ducked his head and began shuffling his feet. Alice was the company's best graphic designer and good friends with Angela. She was also the object of both Jasper's and James' competitive affections. The only reason the APT had agreed to the ITAs provocative invite to 'show which team was superior' on the paintball arena, was so that Jasper and James could 'duel it out', once and for all. In their minds, Alice would reward the victor with the modern-day equivalent of her kerchief as a token of affection, like she was a princess bestowing favors on knights of old. What exactly the modern-day equivalent of a kerchief looked like they weren't sure, though both men had been secretly hoping for a pair of silk panties.

Frustratingly, Alice hadn't even shown up, deciding she didn't want to risk breaking a nail. On a more positive note, she had been extremely solicitous of Jasper's injuries since the debacle, and now spent more of her time flirting with him than she did James, much to the latter's obvious fury. Even now, he was glaring at them furiously.

"Hey, Alice!" Edward said with surprisingly good cheer while clinging for life to the lectern. "Did you know I call you Tinkerbell? Behind your back, 'cause it's an insulting reference to you being short, like a pixie."

"Edward, shut it, man," Jasper hissed, and then hissed at the pain caused by the original hiss.

"It's okay," Alice said with a shrug. "I've been called worse things, and Julia Roberts was awesome as Tinkerbell in Hook."

"You're a fan of Hook?" Jasper asked, leaning his elbow on the same lectern to which Edward was clinging in an attempt to look suave. "I've always thought of myself as one of the Lost Boys."

Alice giggled, which made about as much sense as Jasper wanting to align himself with a tribe of feral pre-teen boys when he was trying to impress a grown, if shortish, woman.

"Ah . . . not the time for this," Ben said, using his head to point in Edward's direction and coming off looking like he had some sort of neurological tic.

It did the trick though, as all eyes lowered to look at Edward who had managed to maneuver himself, so he was lying on the ground. He had his arms wrapped tightly around the central pole of the lectern, while his feet flailed oddly in the air.

"What is he doing?" Alice asked, and the other three men shrugged, which caused Ben to yelp with pain. His shoulder wasn't ready for that much action just yet.

"I'm trying not to fly away," Edward answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I didn't know levitation was possible without magnets, but apparently it is."

Alice giggled again. Emmett found it incessantly annoying—his Rosalie was not a giggler—but Jasper didn't mind. Girls liked guys who made them laugh.

Jasper's smile faded when he realized it was Edward who had made her laugh, not him.

"He's high as a kite," Alice said with another tinkering laugh, which was fitting, considering the whole 'Tinkerbell' thing.

"Don't call me that," Edward said in a voice altogether too loud to be appropriate for the situation. "You'll doom me to spending the rest of my life plastered to the ceiling. Call me an anchor, instead. I need weighing down."

"Bloody hell," Ben muttered, and then glanced around both furtively and guiltily. He usually refrained from swearing in front of management . . . and ladies. "I think Alice is right. What's he taken?"

"Just one of his anti-anxiety meds," Emmett said. "He doesn't take them all the time, just to help when he has to give talks like these. It's a simple beta-blocker to calm his heart rate."

A high-pitched giggle, not Alice this time, caught their attention, and the three men and one, shortish, woman, turned to see the source of the merriment. James and the rest of the ITAs were watching them with expressions of undisguised glee on their faces.

"Hmmm . . ." Alice said, putting her hands on her hips in such a way that she appeared even more Tinkerbell-like than usual. "Who else knows that Edward takes those pills before a presentation, and where does he keep them?"

"It's common knowledge, and he keeps them in his desk drawer . . . not one of the locked ones," Emmett said, his brows furrowing into a fierce scowl. "If management find out he's high, who knows what they'll do."

"We can't let that happen," Alice said with a decisive nod. "Jasper, you go grab the bottle of pills, though my guess is one of James' minions will have swapped them back for the anti-anxiety meds by now. Emmett, you'll have to do the presentation, but for God's sake, stick . . . to . . . the . . . script." She punctuated her words with sharp little pokes to his upper belly, as she was unable to reach his chest. "Rosalie will find out if you ad lib so much as one word, do you hear me?" Emmett nodded, his behemoth shoulders hunching. "Ben, you manage the technical side of the presentation. Jasper and I will take Edward to the hospital. Tell the higher ups he's having an allergic reaction, okay?"

"On it." Ben saluted just as Jasper returned, puffing from the run. He and Ben weren't as into physical activity as the other two members of their team, and it showed.

Getting Edward to let go of the lectern was no easy feat. Jasper considered taking the blasted thing with them, but it was even heavier than Edward who he feared he would have to carry.

"Hey, Edward. Let go, buddy. I'm taking you to see that cute doctor you keep talking about. What was her name? Dr. Pigeon? Duck? Kestrel?"

"Swan!" Edward shouted, releasing the lectern and throwing his arms around Jaspers neck.

"Is everything all right over here? Aren't we supposed to have begun already?"

No one had noticed Aro's creeping approach, as he was a very creepy guy and had it down to an artform. Emmett spun to face him, using his bulk to block Edward and Jasper from view.

"Sorry for the delay, sir. Edward's having an adverse reaction to something he ate, and Jasper and Alice are going to take him to the ER. I'll handle the presentation, and it will be good, because Edward wrote it, and I won't include a single one of the very many original and inspirational ideas that I would have contributed if anyone had bothered to listen."

"Er . . . very good, Emmett, just don't keep us waiting too much longer." Aro nodded, tossed his too-old-to-be-a-hipster-but-still-trying ponytail over his shoulder, smoothed down his manicured beard, and went to take his seat.

"Quick, get him the hell out of here," Emmett said over his shoulder to Jasper.

Jasper didn't respond. He was too busy beating at Edward's hands that had circled his neck, his face transitioning from red to purple.

"Oh, for crying out loud," Emmett muttered, grabbing hold of Edward's elbows and pulling his arms apart, releasing Jasper who began to gasp and cough.

Edward immediately wrapped his arms arounds Emmett's middle and wouldn't let go.

"I'll fly away, I tell you," he shouted, the noise thankfully muffled as his face was squished against Emmett's lower belly, precariously close to his still swollen groin region.

"No, you won't," Alice said, removing the belt from Jasper's pants while the still-gasping Jasper looked on, his expression a mix of confusion and misplaced hope. Once she had the belt free, Alice slid the end through a loop in Edward's pants and secured it, holding firmly to the tail. "We've got you on a leash," She explained to Edward, making sure he could see to what she was referring. "You can't float away, now. Just come quietly, and we'll take you to see Dr. Swan. Okay?"

"Okay dokay, mokay, wokay, hokay, lokay . . . not, that should be Loki," Edward mumbled while, thankfully, allowing himself to be led away.

The trip to the hospital wasn't easy for any of them.

Jasper was suffering the effects of being almost choked when barely healed from being almost suffocated due to internal swelling. He didn't want to say anything and appear less manly in front of Alice—women liked the strong silent type, not the whimpering silent type—but he feared the internal swelling might be internally swelling once more.

Alice, who prided herself on appearing stylish at all times, was struggling to maintain her chic demeanor with Edward trailing behind her on a leash while occasionally jumping and scrabbling his feet out to the side. While he appreciated the leash was keeping him from floating up to the ceiling, Edward wasn't keen on being led along like a dog.

The car journey was a challenge, for as soon as all the doors were closed, in Edward's mind, the vehicle lifted twelve inches off the ground. He screamed, understandably terrified that all three of them were about to ascend to the upper atmosphere where certain death awaited.

Once Jasper had assured Edward that they weren't lifting any higher, Edward began trying to determine what mechanism was at play that allowed the vehicle to travel forward and even turn corners, considering there was no friction to assist the free-floating tires. He couldn't decide if it was magnetism or something more along the lines of a hovercraft. To be on the safe side, he started blowing out the window whenever Jasper had to make a turn, in hopes of steering the vehicle in the right direction.

Receptionist Ratched was, thankfully, not on duty. Her replacement, Receptionist Denali, was a lot friendlier. "You can call me Tanya, boys," she explained while thrusting her balloon-like and barely covered breasts in their direction.

Jasper giggled, his standard response to 'boobies', then blushed to the roots of his fair hair. So much for appearing manly to Alice, though he imagined the Lost Boys would have been similarly affected by the sight. Alice, the true object of his affection, was barely-endowed at all, not that Jasper cared one iota. Unfortunately, she was unaware of his preference for her over bustier women, and she shot him a disgusted look before taking charge of the situation. Her methods were effective, and in no time, they were being led along the corridor the boys had travelled four days prior.

Once Edward was seated on an examination table in a curtained cubicle, he insisted Alice tie the belt to the bed for safekeeping . . . namely his. Unfortunately, once he was secured to the bed, like the car he had just been travelling in, it levitated off the floor. Edward screamed, again, seriously doubting he would ever get used to the strange phenomena afflicting him.

"What's going on?" a young, male doctor queried. By appearance and accent, he was likely to be of Indian descent, which was of no concern to Edward except for the fact he was not Dr. Swan, and he had been convinced to risk his life to come here on the promise of seeing Dr. Swan.

"I don't want you," he said, rudely but unable to help himself. "I want the bird . . . no, the angel . . . no, the Swan! I want Dr. Swan! Dr. Swan, I'm here! Dr. Swan!"

"Hush, Edward," Alice said. "She might not even be on duty, or she could be busy with another patient.

"But I'm her patient, and I'm not covered in green paint this time. I want her to see me without the paint."

"It's not that much of an improvement," Jasper muttered, blaming Edward for Alice seeing him in a less-than-flattering light.

Unimpressed by his so-called friend's comment, Edward kicked out at him with both feet. He missed Jasper by a wide margin but almost hit the doctor who was in attendance.

"Would someone tell me what's going on? Do I need to call security? Arrange a psych consult?"

Before anyone could answer, the curtain was pulled aside and Dr. Swan herself entertained the crowded cubicle.

"Oh, it's you!" she said, looking at Edward. "Green eyes!"

Her cheeks colored, and she nervously tucked a wayward strand of brown hair behind her ear. Dr. Swan had spent an inordinate amount of time during the previous four days wondering what the paint-splattered but decidedly handsome patient with the crazy reddish hair, and green-splotch covered face—not to mention the angular jaw—would look like if he was 'scrubbed up'. It was even better than she had imagined, but his affect was a little concerning.

"What seems to be the problem?" she asked, donning a more professional 'affect' of her own. "You were calling my name?"

"Swans mate for life," Edward said, placing his hands over his heart. "If you're not already mated, I wanted you to know I'm available."

Alice groaned and dropped her head. "Don't take any notice of him. He's been roofied. He can't help what he's saying."

"Oh, no, he's been saying that since Saturday," Jasper managed to squeak. "He's only been drugged for the last hour or so."

"Ah . . ." the young male medical professional looked to Bella. "You want to take this one?"

"Sure," she said, picking up Edward's admission file. After ordering a full toxicology screening, she encouraged Edward to lay back, so she could examine him and then draw his blood. A few carefully placed prods assured her that he would sustain no lasting damage—or scarring, thank Heavens. It would be a crime to mar such a good-looking face—from the circular imprints of his run in with a maniacal paintballer. "How does that feel?" she asked, as she carefully examined his skull for bumps, still not convinced he hadn't sustained a more serious blow to the head.

Edward stopped his appreciative moaning to moan, "Better than sex. Please, don't stop."

Jasper guffawed, and then groaned, as guffawing hurt. "Like you've had sex," he muttered.

"I have, too!" Edward retorted, justifiably offended. "Several times this week . . . with my hand while thinking about this beautiful lady right here."

Bella blushed but didn't comment. She may have also indulged in a couple of bouts of self-love over the previous few days with him playing a starring role.

"Doesn't count," Jasper said. "S'not the real thing."

Edward rolled his eyes. "Well, there were a couple of times back in college, but I'll admit, it wasn't as good as I'd been led to believe it would be."

"Were they with actual, live women or the blow up variety?" Jasper asked, and Alice elbowed him with her sharp, pointy elbow.

"Moving on," Dr. Swan said, as she prepared Edward's arm to draw blood. She asked how he had come to be roofied, and between Alice's flood of words and Jasper's hoarsely uttered interjections, she got a fairly comprehensive take on events. "Do you still feel like you're levitating?" she asked Edward, as she was sticking a small wad of cotton wool over the withdrawal site with a strip of white tape.

Edward looked over the side of the bed and then let out a whoop of joy. "I'm back on the ground! You're a miracle worker, Dr. Swan."

Before she could react, he sat up, grabbed her by her shoulders, and then planted a kiss on her startled lips. If she was honest, her lips didn't act like they were startled. They acted like they had been waiting for this very kiss for their entire lives, as they tingled in a surprisingly pleasant manner. Surprising, because Bella couldn't recall a kiss having ever felt so pleasant. Also, surprising, as she didn't know this man, and any kind of response to his inappropriate actions of a positive nature was highly unprofessional.

"Woah, buddy!" Jasper lunged across the bed, and grabbed a hold of Edward, who was putting his all into the 'Emergency Room Kiss of All Kisses,' as it initially became known.

After gripping Edward's shoulders, Jasper yanked him backwards. Unfortunately, Edward didn't release Bella's shoulders, so when he fell backwards onto the bed, she came with him, landing spread-eagled across his body. Edward didn't think it was unfortunate, and he would have been even happier than his currently blissful state if his friends had chosen that moment to depart the cubicle and draw the curtains closed behind them.

Bella knew what she was supposed to be thinking—and doing, namely forcibly removing herself from her patient's arms and calling for security. But her prodigious intellectual prowess was circumvented by the best damned kiss of her life. It was just a pity the kisser was currently under the influence of a faculty-altering substance . . . and her patient.

With that sobering thought in mind, she summoned the willpower to draw away, her face flushed and her womanly parts clamoring to know when they could expect more of the same.

"Sheesh, Edward," Alice muttered. "At least take a girl on a date before you ravish her."

"Brilliant idea!" Edward said, a triumphant smile on his face. "Dr. Swan, will you go out with me?"

Bella considered how to reply. She knew what she wanted to say, but it wasn't worth risking her career over. In the end, she suggested what she hoped was a workable compromise.

"I might say yes if you ask me at a later date, but I have some conditions," she said.

Edward's eyes widened, shocked she was giving him a chance at all. "Anything."

"Firstly, ask me when you're sober."

Edward frowned. "But I am sober," he said, knowing he hadn't had anything to drink all week. "I'm soberererer." Edward paused and gave his head a shake. If this problem with his speech continued, he would have to have it looked into. "I am sober . . . er," he said very carefully, "than a judge, and not one who keeps a bottle of whisky hidden in his robe, either."

Bella looked to Jasper and Alice, who quietly assured her they would remind Edward of the condition once he was no longer under the influence of whatever substance was currently coursing through his veins.

"Secondly," Bella said, her expression pointed. "Make sure you're not my patient at the time."

"Good idea," Edward nodded, seeing the value in that. It would put them on a more equal footing, and she wouldn't lose her very important job.

"And thirdly," Bella said, "It better not be paintballing!"

~CMS~

I'd love to hear what you think of this crazy little tale. TMart37 and I have a wealth of ideas for expanding and continuing this if you guys are interested. :)

xx Elise