Here it is--my first shot at Dr. Cockroach/Susan. I guess it's more of a pre-Dr.C/S, but hopefully it passes muster and nobody's too wildly out of character.
Disclaimer--I own nothing, naturally. If I did, this wouldn't very well be fanfiction, would it?
"Is your PhD really in dance?"
Dr. Cockroach jumped, glancing up at the large woman who'd been watching him from her chair for the last five minutes without a word. It probably wouldn't do to admit that he'd sort of forgotten that she was there—women didn't take that sort of thing very well. But this experiment was really rather consuming, and it'd been years since he'd been able to play with nitroglycerin. Saving the earth really had its benefits (even if they were still living in the same facility as many of them had stayed in for fifty years), one of which was the fact that he was actually allowed to use real scientific supplies and publish his findings, at long last.
He'd been staring at her for a few seconds, thoughts obviously still turned inward. The doctor shook his head, embarrassed, and cleared his throat.
"I er—I'm sorry, what?"
Susan's lips twitched slightly at his transparency. "Is your PhD really in dance?"
"Yes," he replied, a hand slowly drifting up to the back of his neck. "Yes, one of them. Is it so hard to believe?" he asked with a small smile.
"Oh, I didn't mean that!" she said hurriedly. "I didn't mean to offend you—"
"You didn't, my dear."
"I just…I don't know many…people who have a PhD…let alone one in dance."
Dr. Cockroach kept his antenna from dropping at her obvious uncertainty when referring to him with a supreme effort of will. "Well, my dear," he said lightly, turning back to his experiment. "You do now."
He smiled a little at her curiosity. "Well, I was always able to keep a beat," Dr. Cockroach murmured. "And I took a class to opt out of gym once, and I was actually fairly good at it."
"That's it? But isn't a PhD years and years of studying something?"
"Yes. And I studied it for years and years."
"But it seems like you only had a passing interest in it—and that's a lot of work!"
The doctor sighed, still smiling. Susan's attention was very flattering, but a little exhausting. "Well…perhaps it wasn't just a matter of knowledge."
"No…" he said, smile drooping off his face. He fitting a pair of goggles over his gargantuan eyes, pulling on a pair of gloves he'd made out of a discarded tarp. "I did it as a social exercise."
"I did it to meet people, my dear," Dr. Cockroach clarified, carefully wielding a pair of beaker holders to tilt the glass container to pour out a little concoction of his own creation into a bubbling vessel of sulfuric acid.
"Wouldn't a class at the Y have been a little more cost-effective?"
Dr. Cockroach chuckled. "Perhaps, but I thought it was time to round myself out more. Besides, I really truly did enjoy it very much."
"Did you ever meet anyone?"
"No," he said quietly, unhappy memories surfacing. "I'd already gotten my degree in biology at that point and I was already fairly well-known around my university as something of a loony." He swallowed slowly, trying to keep his voice light. "And taking dance classes was a fairly transparent attempt to integrate."
He could hear Susan's concerned frown in her voice. "But you were trying."
"But my laugh frightened people. I could work out in moments what major mathematicians and scientists had spent their lifetimes crafting."
"But that just means you're smart."
"Kind of you to say, my dear. But it didn't quite work out…I was left lighter in my wallet and lighter on my feet, but I never managed to find a partner."
"I'd be your partner," Susan said abruptly, and his experiment chose that moment to explode violently. Of course, to the giantess, it sounded like little more than the pop from a furnace sputtering to life, but it blackened the doctor in soot and left him coughing and waving his arms to get out of a cloud of potentially lethal gases.
Susan pinched the collar of his coat in her fingertips and slid a hand beneath his feet, lifting him out and away from the foiled experiment. "Are you okay?"
Dr. Cockroach hastily pulled off his gloves and goggles, clearing his throat to try to get his voice back. "Fine," he hacked, looking down at the smoking wreckage of his work station with a little sigh of depression.
"I'm sorry—did I surprise you?"
"A little, my dear. But I suppose that's what happens when you mix two opposing forces unexpectedly."
Susan blinked a little at that, not sure if he meant the conversation they'd been having, his experiment, or they themselves. "I mean it."
Two large hazel green eyes looked up at her, blinking slightly—from the fumes or surprise, she wasn't quite sure. "Really?"
"Sure," Susan said. "I've never really danced with anyone before—you know, my dad at parties. I took a year of ballet when I was little, and a week-long class to learn how to waltz for the wedding, but that's it. Derek didn't like to dance, and, well…he was pretty klutzy, anyway."
A vaguely evil smile flashed lightning-quick over the insect man's face at the mention of a Derek deficiency. But it was replaced by a sober expression to match his sobering thought. "I would be delighted to dance with you, Susan, but it will be a little complicated."
"Oh, come on, you're a genius. You can work out something, I know it!" the white haired woman replied, enthusiastic about the idea.
Dr. Cockroach smiled at her eagerness. "Very well, my dear. Shall we start with a waltz?"
"Jolly good. If you'd, ah, lower me a bit, I'll just get a little device together…"
Twenty minutes later, the ventilation systems had taken care of the smoke and Dr. Cockroach's experiment had been confiscated as a biohazard. The doctor tweaked a screw on what had once been a gallon milk jug and plunged a pair of galvanized nails into each of three government-issue potatoes. A pair of speakers (formerly earmuffs) blared out Blue Danube and the doctor hastily skittered up to Susan's left hand.
Standing tall on her palm, he cleared his throat and bowed as the tempo lifted, offering his hand.
"May I have this dance?" he murmured, looking at her carefully as if he expected her to pull away at any moment.
Susan carefully rose to her feet and offered the index finger of her right hand, tilting her left thumb slightly toward him. The doctor smiled and took her finger, kissing the nail chastely and placing his hand lightly on her thumb's knuckle, arranging himself as if he were holding a woman his size by the hand and waist.
They began, Susan watching his steps and trying to match his motions in her hand with her own feet on the floor. It was relatively easy, and the music was perfect for it…he'd managed to somehow crank enough volume out of the little makeshift music player so that she could hear the melody.
"One, two, three, one, two, three," the doctor murmured comfortingly, gently correcting her if she got her steps wrong.
"You've got a good memory, if you still know how to dance after fifty years since getting your degree," Susan said admiringly.
"Thank you," the doctor said, sounding a little embarrassed. "Truth be told, I have been keeping up on dances."
The doctor laughed. "One of the custodians keeps wondering why a copy of Dance Magazine arrives on his doorstep every month and just throws it out. Inevitably, I get it."
Susan giggled softly. "And he hasn't reported it to the general?"
"Not yet, apparently. I suppose I can start ordering my magazines in my own name, now, but old habits die hard."
"Do you practice?"
"Not often. Usually I'm working."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You just always seem to be doing something…amazing."
Dr. Cockroach looked up at her with a smile, his exoskeleton darkening slightly. "My dear. You are so very kind."
Susan smiled and they moved in silence for the rest of the song. The doctor coaxed her through a very awkward twirl, and to Susan's delight she neither tripped nor flung the scientist in her palm halfway across the room. It was strange to try to think of him as a man—after all, he was part insect. But calling him a 'bug man' seemed sort of insulting. She'd find something.
As the song slowed to its conclusion, the doctor kissed her nail once more, bowing deeply to her.
"Thank you, my dear," he said quietly. "That was most enjoyable." Who wouldn't after all, enjoy dancing with such a wonderful woman? He'd never had such luck in a partner before.
"It was," Susan smiled, struck by the sudden urge to return his kiss. She restrained it. "Maybe next you can teach me how to disco."
The doctor laughed, shaking his head. "I'm certain you know more about it than I," he said, looking at his device rather hungrily. He flicked one of the potatoes and, seeing that it pitifully belted out a bar or two and apparently had only one go in it, he broke off a bit of it. Clamping his snack in his teeth, he dug about the drawers of his new desk, seeking a screwdriver.
"Let's see if we can't do something about cancer, shall we?" he murmured aloud, making Susan smile. "I always fancied curing a terrible disease."
"Sure, if you're certain you won't finish it too quickly."
The doctor swallowed his chunk of milk jug delicately and smiled. "Well, there's always lupus to contend with. Or your case of boogie-loo flu."
Susan smiled, his outdated diction calling to mind his attempt to flirt with her in the airplane, embarrassed laugh and hand gestures and all. She stretched out beside him on her belly, ankles crossed and bent knees lifting them into the air as she watched him work.