2nd Annual "For My Valentine"

A Twilight Love Story Contest

Title:LOVE AMONG THE MICROBES

Rating: M

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Summary: Can a self-acclaimed lab geek ever find the woman of his dreams? Well, he may be able to find her, but can he convince her to go on a date? Dr. Edward Cullen falls in love with Dr. Bella Swan, but, in a moment of weakness, admits to her that he owns a G1 Transformers collection. How can he possibly win her heart?

For more information please see contest details at http://www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/~formyvalentinetwilight

The World of Twilight and its characters all belong to Stephenie Meyer.


I'm preparing a DNA PCR. I'm swamped with samples to be tested because of the damn E. coli outbreak. I was here all weekend. In fact, I barely got home long enough to take a shower and get something to eat. I feel like shit; I look like shit; I hope I don't smell like shit, but there are no guarantees. When you work in the epi lab and there's a fucking outbreak, it's suddenly a 24/7 world.

What makes my plight even worse is that my father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, is the Washington State Epidemiologist. He's not only a medical doctor, but he's also a Ph.D. in epidemiology. The man is a legend in the public health world. He's been offered the head of CDC numerous times, but he's always declined, because he knows my mother's heart is here.

Being his son, and in the same field, isn't always easy. I have vivid memories of walking through the Washington Department of Health alongside my father, seeing the respect and reverence everyone had for him. There was never a question of what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Although my father chose the medical route first, I went straight for epidemiology, studying at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I've been the main PCR guy in the lab for about 4 years, ever since we got a grant from CDC to determine the genetic subtypes of specific outbreak strains; we're one of the few labs performing such sophisticated analyses. Does that mean I need to be extra precise, and run the testing program perfectly? Abso-fucking-lutely.

Suddenly, my train of thought is interrupted.

"Have you met her yet, Eddo?"

I roll my eyes. He knows I fucking hate that nickname. "Who?"

"The new head of Team Diarrhea. Dr. Swan."

"Oh, my dad mentioned he hired her. I hear she's very tenacious."

"No clue. Wondered if you'd seen her yet."

"Can you please be more direct, Jasper?"

"Oh, you mean can I emulate the first graduate of the Dr. Edward Cullen School of Charm? Where 'tact' is simply a word in the dictionary?"

"Fuck off, Jazz. I have a shit-ton of samples to process. Go bug Emmett."

"No can do. Team Diarrhea has an emergency meeting in ten minutes. Jesus, do you ever read your e-mail?"

I pinch the bridge of my nose. Jasper is my best friend, he's seriously attached to my baby sister, and I love him like a brother, but goddamn, he gets on my nerves when I'm trying to work.

"When and where is it?"

"Ten minutes, Cullen Conference Room."

Like I don't already have enough shit on my plate. Literally.

I slip on the lab coat that has my name conveniently embroidered upon it. Saves a lot of time and small talk. I remove my lab goggles and replace them with my glasses, grab my most recent data, and head to the meeting. I walk into the conference room, sliding into the only open chair; fuck, of course it's in the front of the room. I prepare to be bored for the next 45 minutes. My life would be so much easier without meetings. They totally kill my productivity.

I'm scrolling through my e-mails when she starts to talk. I've always been a fidgety multi-tasker, so I listen while I read. It's how I work best, but it always drove my mom nuts. The people I work with understand it is just one of my quirks.

I hear a woman clearing her throat, then speaking in a relatively soft voice. I'm partially paying attention. I typically zone people out until they start saying something worthwhile, then I refocus. It's common knowledge that most people screw around with inane small talk for at least five minutes at the beginning of any presentation. I'm sure this entire meeting is going to be a waste of time, so I have no intention of actively listening.

"So, Dr…Cullen, is it? If you're going to just sit there reading your e-mail, you can go do that at your desk. This is a meeting of Team Diarrhea, we have an epidemic to solve, and if you're not part of the solution, you've got to go. Do I make myself clear?"

Yeah, the entire room is staring at me. I feel like I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar; I'm beet red. I close my iPhone and set it aside.

"Thank you. So glad you've decided to grace us commoners with your presence today."

I look at her closely, because I've never met anyone so instantly impolite, aside from myself, that is. Clearly, she's trying to set a hardass, don't-fuck-with-me agenda, and I'm her first victim. Fair enough. I basically asked for that. While people have high expectations of me because I'm Carlisle Cullen's son, they also tend not to fuck with me. But Swan? She didn't even blink an eye before dressing me down in front of our entire team.

As she starts to review the most recent epidemic data, I watch her. I'm very interested to know more about her. I make a mental note to google her once I get back to my desk. When I look up at her again, she's got her back to the audience, and she's writing on the whiteboard. She's sort of petite, so she has to stand on her toes to reach the top of the board. It's kind of adorable.

The fuck, Cullen? Adorable? Really? Maybe you should do a PCR analysis of your DNA to see if you turned to XX recently.

I tell my inner voice to shut the fuck up and return back to my view of Dr. Swan. When she stands on her toes, you can see the outline of her heart-shaped ass perfectly. Since I'm unusually tired, and need another caffeine infusion, my mind involuntarily ponders cupping that hot little ass. When she turns around, you can see her tits perfectly, because she is wearing a sweater that clings to all her curves.

Fuck me, Dr. Swan is hot! Who knew? Fuck me, she already hates my guts.

I'm still thinking about her awesome rack, and staring straight at it, when I sense everyone in the room looking at me. Dr. Swan crosses her arms in front of her, and gives me a really impatient look. Something tells me I fucked up, again.

"Dr. Cullen, do you have the latest PCR data, or are you expecting me to look it up myself? I need to understand whether you are on the team or not."

"I apologize, Dr. Swan. It's been a long weekend and I'm a little tired. The latest PCR data tell an intriguing story. It appears that we are infected with two separate strains of E. coli, so the school cases are likely unrelated to the restaurant cases."

"Thank you. It's good to know that up front, so that we don't have to spend extra time chasing false leads. We'll need to break the Team Diarrhea phone lines into two groups, so we can interview the types of cases separately."

She talks about the survey needs for the phone banks, and pulls Jessica Stanley into the conversation. The second Stanley begins, I disengage my brain, because I know nothing of importance has ever been uttered from her horse-toothed mouth. Jessica is a specialist in behavioral epidemiology, so she focuses on the qualitative side of research. That's better known as "the touchy-feely" side of research. It's something we quantitative guys scoff at. Some hardcore lab guys view behavioral epi as a soft science—that's like the kiss of death. "Soft science" is barely one step away from being a theatre major. As if all that isn't bad enough, she isn't even a fucking Ph.D. All she has is her Master's, and it's terminal.

While Stanley drones on about issues of little importance, I use the free time to direct my attention back to Dr. Swan.

Okay, class, let's review our data. First, Dr. Swan has a smoking hot ass that looks like it would fit perfectly in Dr. Cullen's hands. Second, Dr. Swan sports a most amazing rack. Third, she is wearing her hair pulled back into a bun. That is code for: "I look all uptight and high strung, but I'm definitely a vixen once I let my hair down."

As I imagine the things she might do when she lets her hair down, our eyes meet and we both instantly avert our gaze, only to look back at each other a few seconds later. This time, we watch each other for a few beats, and we clearly share a "moment." I think.

After Stanley finishes her 20-minute tirade of touchy-feely bullshit, the Team Diarrhea meeting mercifully comes to a close. I gather my stuff and head towards the door, until I hear Dr. Swan calling out my name.

"Dr. Cullen? Do you mind if I have a word?"

Shit. What did I do now?

"Of course not. What can I do for you?"

She watches the room clear out before she says anything, so we spend a few tense moments together before either one of us speaks.

"I guess I should introduce myself formally, after our little incident just now," she says, holding out her hand. "My name is Dr. Swan, and I'm the new head of Team Diarrhea and food-borne outbreaks."

I shake her hand in return. She abruptly lets go, and squirts some antibiotic hand gel into her palm. She holds it up to me, silently asking me if I want some, too. I shrug, so she grabs my hand and squirts out some gel. She half apologizes, saying, "One of my thesis profs won't even shake hands with people anymore. I think that is rude, but I acknowledge how easily germs are spread, so I just settle for hand gel. Before you have to ask, no, I do not have OCD, but I am very meticulous."

I shake my head, chuckling at her. "Good to know. My dad mentioned that he brought you on board. He was pretty excited that he convinced you to join us. Your thesis attracted a lot of attention around here."

"Are you kidding? Being able to work with your dad is like a dream come true for an epidemiologist! I feel fortunate he was interested in me at all."

Wait a minute, is she fangirling over my dad?

Before I can even acknowledge what I'm doing, I blurt out, "Do you want to come see the lab?"

"Excuse me?"

"You haven't had a chance to tour the lab yet, and I thought maybe I could show you around."

"Oh, I hadn't really thought about it, but that's actually a good idea. You can use that time to get me up to speed on your work for this epidemic."

"Right. My name is Edward, by the way. No one calls me Dr. Cullen, especially not when my dad is around. It gets too confusing."

"Oh. All right."

"Do people always call you Dr. Swan?"

"People I don't know do, yes."

"What's your first name, if I may be so bold?"

"Bella. But you can call me Dr. Swan."

Fuck. That is such a bad sign.

"If that's your preference, then that's what I will call you."

She looks at me funny, cocks her head to the side, and raises one eyebrow. She pauses for a few seconds and starts to crack up.

"I'm kidding, Edward. Look, I think I got off on the wrong foot with you. I'm sorry I called you out in the meeting, but I hate wasting time. Before I knew who you were, I assumed I'd have to end up repeating everything I said because you weren't paying attention. I'm all about maximizing efficiency."

Did she just use the words "maximizing efficiency?" I think I'm in love.

"To be honest, I have a theory that no one says anything important in a meeting until at least 5 minutes after they start talking. I've learned to zone that out. I hate to waste time."

"I totally agree with you, actually! I can promise you that I'm all over dotting my i's and crossing my t's. I won't waste your time over trivial matters."

Unwisely, I mutter, "No, you can leave that for Stanley."

"What?"

"Uh, nothing. Should we go to the lab?" I give her my best smile.

When I look at her face, she has a kind of far-off look, and she doesn't answer my question.

"Dr. Swan? You did want to go to the lab, right?"

Her face turns a deep shade of scarlet. "Yes, of course. Lead the way, Young Skywalker."

I stop mid-stride and turn around to face her. "What did you just call me?"

"You mean 'Young Skywalker'? Is that bad? You don't like Star Wars?"

I can't let this one go. "Seriously? Dr. Swan, we lab nerds live for Star Wars. We get into some pretty heated debates over the cheapening of the franchise by creating Episodes I-III. I'm of the mindset that they never should have been filmed. JarJar Binks is a travesty of the highest order."

"Totally! What in God's name was Lucas thinking?"

We both stand there, looking at each other in complete agreement, and we experience another moment. This time, I'm certain of it.

Like the total dork I am, I fumble this golden opportunity with a simple statement. "Uh, we should probably get to the lab, huh?"

"Oh, right. As I was saying before, lead the way."

I spend the walk to the lab kicking myself for fucking this up. Dr. Swan is a major league hottie, and everyone is going to be after her. It is one of the few times in my life that I kick myself for being so hardcore in the pursuit of my doctorate. Some past experience with women would be helpful right about now; I'm certainly out of my comfort zone when a female is present. My sister, Alice, has tried in vain to help me over the years. It certainly never helped, especially if you consider my ill-fated venture with Jessica Stanley. I should have known better than to date a behavioral epidemiologist, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight, it wasn't.

We make it to the lab, and I bring her on a brief tour, introducing her to our staff. Although she is attractive enough to make me trip over my words, as we spend a little more time together, we build a rather workable, if awkward, balance. She is seriously smart, and our conversation leaves me very, very impressed by the breadth and depth of her epi knowledge. My dad was a genius to recruit her. We end the tour with my area, the PCR lab. She grills me on everything about discovering the two separate strains, and we discuss it at length. Before we know it, it's time for lunch.

"Bella, do you want to get lunch?"

"You mean, together?"

"Well, yeah, I thought we could continue our conversation."

"Oh. Um, sure. I should go back to my desk and grab a few things. Should I just text you when I'm ready?"

"Yeah, I'll be right here."

I hand her my phone, and she hands me hers, so we can type in our personal information.

"Thanks, Edward. I didn't really want to eat that Balance Bar I brought for lunch simply because I didn't have someone to eat with."

She gives me a slightly embarrassed smile, and walks away.

Less than 30 seconds later, Jasper and Emmett are standing in front of me.

"Dude, how the hell did you of all people get that hottie into your office so fast?"

"Em, that is just disgusting. I was giving her a tour of the lab and we were talking over my PCR analysis. Strictly work related."

"Well, that answers my question about how you were able to talk to her. God forbid you should stray away from talking about microbes for more than a few seconds."

"I happen to be very passionate about my work. I won't apologize for that."

Jasper doesn't stay quiet for long. "Eddo, did I hear that you are taking her out for lunch?"

"We're going together, yes, to talk some more about the epidemic."

"Oh. Yeah. Right. The epidemic. Can I give you one word of advice?"

"Why do I think you're going to tell me even though I have no interest in hearing it?"

He doesn't even stop to pause. "Talking about your G1 Transformers collection isn't the key to her heart. In fact, you shouldn't even mention it to any woman you are remotely interested in. We've had this discussion before. It won't impress her; it will only scare her away."

"Do you guys have any idea what the market value is on those things? I have a couple that are still in their original packaging!"

"You see, that, right there, that is what I'm talking about. That excited look you get in your eye whenever Transformers comes up. It's not normal, and chicks pick up on that."

"The point is moot anyhow, Jasper. It's a business lunch. Transformers aren't going to come up."

"Hey, I have your best interests at heart, man."

My phone buzzes, and I reach down to look at the number. It's Swan. I stand up, put my phone in my pocket, and walk out of my office, shaking my head at the two idiots who are left standing there.

I find Bella standing in the hallway. She has her Team Diarrhea folder with her.

"So, what kind of food do you like?"

"I'll eat just about anything that's cooked. Since I'm the noob, why don't you just take me to your favorite place?"

"No raw tuna for you, huh?"

"Nope. Or salad. I've seen more outbreaks related to uncooked or undercooked food than I care to admit to. Especially raw shellfish. It's the downside of being an epidemiologist."

"Oh, you're preaching to the choir here. I don't do sushi."

We end up at my favorite Thai restaurant. Bella chooses the Thai Meek rob and I get the Pad Thai. After we place our orders, Bella pulls out some of her data, and we start poring over it. It's weird, because we're on the exact same wavelength about the nature of this epidemic. We keep finishing each other's sentences. It's uncanny and, frankly, a bit unnerving. It's as if she is my epidemiological soul mate, if that is even possible. On top of that, she is a woman, and I'm speaking with her as easily as if we'd grown up together. That never happens, even with geek women. Bella Swan has geek written all over her, even if she is a stunningly attractive one. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be scared away by my G1 Transformers revelation, but I decide to keep it under wraps anyhow. Just to be safe.

I am notorious for arguing with everyone—including my own father—regarding my views of an ongoing epidemic investigation. But Dr. Swan? I can't seem to stop saying phrases like, "I know, right?" or "Exactly!" I have to stop and wonder if she possibly poisoned the water hole while I wasn't looking.

After we've finished eating, and exhausted the topic of our present epidemic, I fold up her data and set it aside. She looks at me with confusion.

"We're going to play twenty questions."

"Cullen, we have a lot of work to do. We don't really have time for this."

"Swan, I argue that we need to have time for this. You need to know how to work well with the lab, right? I mean, we're the ones that confirm nearly everything you need for your data. We can't possibly work well together if we don't know each other. So, we're going to play twenty questions, and then I will let you return to your lair, Ms. Taskmaster."

"That's Dr. Taskmaster, if you please! You drive an incredibly hard bargain, but your logic is sound. I cannot argue with that."

"You're absolutely right. Resistance is futile. Okay, so who should start?"

"I kind of feel like I should inform the lab guys you're two timing them, quoting Star Wars and Star Trek in the same day. They're going to start questioning where your loyalties lie, and I can't imagine this will sit well with them."

"Oh, Swan, you wouldn't dare—Emmett and Jasper would eat you alive," I warn her. I'm more than a little impressed that she recognized my Star Trek quote. She's a genuine geekgirl for sure.

That is so freaking hot.

"Uh, have you forgotten my reputation for tenacity?" Bella's laughter is almost musical. "Why don't you go, since you seem so eager to leave the starting gate?"

"Why did you choose acute epidemiology over chronic?"

"Are you serious?"

"Perfectly."

"Well, all the sexiness is in acute epi. I mean, dealing with cancer? That's not only dismal, it's slow. Nothing ever gets better. In acute, you can have an immediate impact. You can directly stop people from dying. You can discover new bugs. It's thrilling."

Oh my fucking God, I AM in love. "Exactly! I totally agree."

"I thought it was my question."

"It is; I just want you to know I concur."

"OK, Cullen. Why lab versus field work?"

"Well, I've never been interested in anything else. Being in a lab requires precision, tenacity, and focus. I like using my hands; when I young, I was always the kid building things out of LEGOs. I like working with data. I've always been better at dealing with things than with people. I know what to expect from microbes. For the most part, their behavior is predictable. People confuse me in general, and women confuse me even more. It's like I speak a different language than most people."

Bella looks down at my hand for a minute while I'm talking. She absentmindedly picks up one of my fingers and surveys it, like she's looking for flaws. "These are good hands," I hear her say, softly.

"Bella?"

She shakes her head quickly and is back in the moment. "Sorry, I don't know what got over me just there."

"James T. Kirk or Luke Skywalker?"

"Skywalker. Kirk was a pig."

"Skywalker was kind of a whiny brat who felt like he was entitled to everything."

"What is that supposed to mean?! Skywalker was total win."

"I'm just getting you riled up. I prefer Skywalker, too."

Bella whacks me on the shoulder. "Play fair, or I won't answer any more questions!"

I can't help but smile at her. She's beautiful, funny, clever, and smart as a whip. Probably smarter than me, because she can at least talk to people. And to think, I didn't even know her this morning.

She tries to give me a taste of my own medicine. "Woody Pride or Buzz Lightyear?"

Oh, now that's just wrong in so many ways.

"I can't choose between those two! It's like Sophie's Choice!"

"Oh my God, you did not just say that! They're cartoon characters, Edward!"

"I take my Pixar films very, very seriously. You must know this about me, first and foremost."

"Well, if the lab was burning down, and you had to take one action figure with you, who would it be?"

"Optimus Prime. Absolutely, Optimus Prime."

"Optimus what? I thought we were talking about Woody and Buzz."

I adjust my glasses. "You did not just say Optimus what."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Swan, were you raised in a vacuum? How can you not know who Optimus Prime is?"

"Well, I was an only child."

"That's no excuse."

"And I'm a girl."

"Well, that's a partial excuse. But still. Optimus Prime is leader of the Autobots, the good guy Transformers."

"Oh, Transformers. Aren't those the stupid things that turn cars into robots? Didn't they make fun of that in the movie Big?"

I take a deep breath. Did she really just call Transformers stupid? "They weren't making fun of Transformers. In fact, they were trying to create new toys like Transformers, because they were such awesome toys, and they wanted in on the money."

"Okay, I have to fess up. I totally know what Transformers are; I wanted to get you riled up. Oh, and tell you that I'm in love with Megatron. There's something about bad boys that gets to me."

I smirk at her admission. She's all right, this Dr. Bella Swan. Even if she sleeps with the devil by admitting her love for Megatron.

We trade questions back and forth, laughing and talking easily. Her last question comes out in a soft voice, almost shy. I can tell that she is a reserved person, not opening up easily to anyone. I'm a little shocked she's opened up this much to me.

"Edward, have you ever been in love before?"

I pause before responding. I really wasn't expecting her to ask such a personal question. "No, Bella, I never have. I once thought I was. In fact, I thought we would end up married some day. Turns out, she was more interested in marrying the other guy."

She gasps slightly at my admission.

"I'm not saying it for sympathy. It was my mistake, and I made it. It was unfortunate, but I can tell you that I haven't dated much since we broke up. That was back when I was a senior at Hopkins, before grad school. Honestly, I keep so busy in the lab and conducting research, I don't really have much free time to think about it. In fact, I'm known around Health as 'the Dateless Wonder.' Have you ever been in love?"

She's momentarily surprised that I ask her the same question. "Me? Well, uh… yes. Once. I found someone who was my best friend and I fell in love with him. It turned out that I was just his best friend, nothing more. It was unrequited. I've been busy with my research ever since, too. It just seemed easier to focus on microbes than love."

We look into each other's eyes across the table, and we both see understanding there. She squeezes my hand lightly, as if to convey in actions what she cannot say in words.

"It's late, we should be getting back. Thanks for lunch, Edward. It's really nice to have a comrade in arms at Health, and someone whom I consider a friend in the lab."

"I'll always have your back, Swan. Even if you are playing for the bad guys with your love for Megatron."

*****

Team Diarrhea is hot on the trail of suspects in the E. coli epidemic. We have frequent meetings, and my dad gives daily news conferences. Like any outbreak, it takes a matter of time before anything is known for sure, and even longer to get to the exact source. It all depends on the organism's incubation period, the number of people affected, and how widely dispersed the product is in the marketplace.

Bella makes frequent visits to the lab for updates. She always ends up playing with the assorted cartoon characters and kitsch that I have on my desk. She loves to act out scenes between Woody and Buzz. I look over at her and hear her say, "Years of academy training wasted!" I wonder if it's wrong for me to be turned on by the fact that not only does she know and love all the Pixar movies, but she also has most of the dialogue memorized. She may be a geekgirl, but she's an incredibly sexy and seductive geekgirl. I want to make her mine.

We're spending so much time at work with the epidemic that I'm barely getting home to sleep. Somehow, Bella always manages to look alluring. Perhaps that's just the way my mind interprets the facts and data, but still. At times, it's all I can do to keep my eyes focused on her face instead of elsewhere on her body. Naturally, I undress her with my eyes every chance I get. Sadly, that's as close as I've been to a naked woman in a long time. I thank Christ for my lab coat, which conveniently covers my permanently rock hard dick.

There are times, when we're in a meeting together, where I zone out and stare at her eyes. She has these incredibly long lashes, and I find that I'm distracted by them every time she blinks. Even though she's one of the smartest individuals I've ever met, she has a habit of biting the corner of her bottom lip. It's a little self-conscious, and I find it incredibly sexy. I love it that she's accomplished, yet humble. She's damn appealing, no matter how you look at it.

During one of our impromptu meetings, Bella brings me some afternoon coffee. I'm beside myself with excitement, because my trifecta of perfect just occurred: A) Bella; B) Coffee; C) My lab. All my favorite things, together at last. That is, until Bella trips and spills her coffee all over the front of my lab coat. She looks positively mortified, but I have three spare lab coats in my office just for such occasions. Not that I would let her know that, of course.

"Jesus, Bella, you're so clumsy!"

"Oh my God, Edward, I'm so sorry. I am a total klutz. I shouldn't be allowed indoors with hot beverages. I promise to have it cleaned for you!"

"Are you kidding? Do you think I'd really trust you, the one who sullied this nice, white lab coat, with getting it cleaned? Think again, Missy!"

It looks like Bella has tears forming in her eyes, and her face is scarlet. Shit, I didn't mean for her to take me seriously!

"Bella, I'm just kidding! I have three other lab coats in my closet, because things get spilled in the lab all the time. Really, it's no big deal. I was giving you a hard time. The fact that I used the word 'sullied' should have given it away."

She responds in her usual manner, a quick WHACK! to my shoulder. "You asshat, Cullen! I totally believed you! I still feel terrible, though. How can I make it up to you?"

Does she really want to know the answer to that question? UNF.

"Homemade baked goods are always preferable as a peace offering."

"Really? You'd allow that? Knowing how unsanitary most people's kitchens are?"

"If it's your kitchen, Swan, I feel completely confident that it would be spotless. Is there a safer kitchen in the Olympia area? Or in the state of Washington, for that matter?"

"Honestly? Probably not. I happen to make killer Nutella brownies; I'll bring you some tomorrow."

"Best let me pick up our coffee then, hmm?"

Bella whacks me again, meaning to whack my hip, but hits my butt cheek head on when I turn suddenly.

"Sexual harassment! Sexual harassment! Where is HR when you need them most?"

We both start cracking up, and we can't stop. Jasper and Emmett come to the door to see what the ruckus is about. What they find is me, covered with coffee, Bella, with bright red cheeks, and both of us crying because we've been laughing so hard.

Emmett takes one look at Jasper, and looks back at us.

"Yeah, I'm not even going there."

Jasper shakes his head. "Me neither."

Bella looks at both of them, then says, "Hey, have you guys ever noticed that Edward is kind of like Dexter in Dexter's Lab? You know, when he's got his lab glasses on, and his black jeans, his lab coat, and his hair is all wild and messy?"

Both of them speak at once:

"Don't even get him started on Dexter's Lab, Swan!" Emmett shakes his head in warning.

"Is he ever not dressed like that?" Jasper laughs.

I slip on my lab glasses and start to gesture wildly, pacing in front of my desk.

"What do you want, woman?!" I say to Bella, taking on Dexter's faux Euro accent. Bella's laughter only eggs me on further.

While I rant in Dexter's voice, Jasper is playing charades with me, making cutting motions over his neck, away from Bella's direct line of view. Emmett has his hands buried in his face, mumbling something like, "No, no, no, no, no, no…" These guys are supposed to be my best friends? Do they not know highbrow comedy when they see it?

Despite all their warnings, Bella is clearly enjoying the show. She is giggling with her hand over her mouth, probably trying to maintain a slight modicum of professionalism.

"Edward, I will fully admit that you are, hands down, the best Dexter mimic I've ever known. You are also, hands down, the hugest geek I've ever known, too, by the way." She ends her commentary by messing up my permanently messy mop.

"Swan, you say that like it's a bad thing!"

"Naw, we both know geeks will rule the world someday."

I make an exaggerated look from side to side, then stage whisper, "I hate to break it to you, but we already do."

Bella and I look at each other, silent for a moment, stifling our giggles. The boys know when they are beat, so they shake their heads, turn, and walk away, mumbling something about "It takes one to know one." That only causes our laughter to recommence.

Bella finally slows down and sighs deeply. "Well, I guess I need to get back to my office."

As she starts to walk away, I blurt out, "Bella?" She turns to look at me, curious about my tone. "I didn't forget that little ass-slapping incident of yours. You know it's only considered sexual harassment if the other party is ugly, right?" I can't help but smile at my own cleverness.

"Fuck you, Cullen."

We both start laughing again, and I can hear her all the way down the hallway.

*****

The next morning, I appear in front of my office door, only to find a cartoon printout from Dexter's Lab, and the name Dexter has been replaced by "Edward." It says in bold print, "No Girls Allowed." I know exactly who the culprit is, and she is in big trouble. Homemade Nutella brownies or not, no one messes with the lab. NO. ONE.

It's on, Dr. Swan. Oh, it's on.

I go to my favorite website on the planet, thinkgeek(dot)com. They have just what I need. I place my order, then make sure it can be Fed Exed, so it will be here in time for—I look at my calendar to check the date—in time for the Valentine's Day Revenge Scheme for Dr. Bella Swan. Project VDRS, the DBS Edition, has begun.

I innocently amble over the Bella's office under the pretense of checking in and obtaining my homemade brownie peace offering. I'm going to let her believe that I didn't even notice the lab's new signage.

I knock on her door to announce my arrival, and find that she's wearing The Sweater. The close-fitting, dark blue, v-neck, enhance-her-rack Sweater. Thank you, God.

"Good morning, Dr. Swan."

"Good morning, Dr. Cullen." I see a blush spread across her face. It's obvious she's guilty.

"I have come in search of my homemade Nutella brownies. Are my lovelies ready for me?"

"But of course, Doctor. I never go back on my word."

She hands me a disposable pan of heart-shaped brownies. Hearts?

She notices my pause, and informs me, "I used my Valentine's Day pan. To be festive."

Shit. I should have known not to read into this.

"Oh, of course. I've never received shaped brownies before. My mom always cut them into squares."

"I usually do that, too, but sometimes I like to make them look more special."

"Well thank you, Dr. Swan, for these specially shaped, festive, Nutella brownies. I can't wait to have one."

"I'm warning you, they are sinful."

"Are they now?" I use an intentionally deep and seductive voice. My intent is to sound sexy, but I just come off like a guy who has a bad cold.

She looks at me conspiratorily, and grins. "Should we split one?"

Only if I get to bite into it while it's already in your mouth.

"I'd love to."

I'm completely unprepared for her next move. After splitting a brownie in half, she poises it in her fingers, and puts her hand underneath, to catch any crumbs. Then she places it in my mouth so I can take a bite, but her fingers remain a touch too long, so my lips close around them. The sensation goes straight to my cock.

She really has no idea how tempting she is, or she wouldn't go around putting her finger into co-worker's mouths. I'm mere seconds away from taking every one of her fingers into my mouth, one at a time, and sucking them clean. Then, I would kiss her palms. Then I would lick the chocolate from the side of her mouth, ending with a kiss on her soft lips. Her voice wakes me from my Nutella-induced, Bella-enhanced, braingasm.

"Just how sinful are they, Dr. Cullen?'

"Sinful enough that I need to get out my rosary beads, go to confession for the first time in ten years, and pray for forgiveness."

"You can't say I didn't warn you."

"Do you have plans on Saturday night?"

"What?"

"I said, do you have plans for Saturday?"

"Ah, no, nothing concrete. I assumed that I would probably be here until late. Why, what did you have in mind?"

"Well, I wondered if you wanted to come over and watch Star Trek with me."

"The movie?"

"Yeah."

"Which one?"

"Wow, I didn't think this was more than a simple yes/no question. The most recent one."

"I'd love to! I think we could both use a night off from this place, right? Do you want to make dinner together, too, or is that beyond your skill set?"

"Bella Swan, I am Esme Cullen's son. She would never let me survive into adulthood without basic cooking skills."

"I've never met your mom, but from what I've heard about her through your dad, she's a pretty amazing woman."

"You have no idea. The best kind of person."

"Are you a mama's boy, Cullen?" she says warily.

"I'm her only son and eldest child. Of course I'm a mama's boy."

"Well, I'll feel awkward if you do everything by yourself. Please let me know what to bring, so you don't have to feel like it's a date or anything."

Oh, hell. This is going to end up to be a "just friends" situation.

Bella bends her head slightly and gives me a furrowed brow. "Oh, um, did you mean this to be a date, Edward?"

"Well, yes, I guess I did."

She gives me a shy smile. "All right. That's…great. Really, just—great. I'd still like to bring something, though."

"I'll send you a text, Anal Girl."

"You aren't going to go all Joseph Gordon Levitt on me, are you?"

I refuse to answer her, so I just swat her square on the bum. I know what kind of response that will get.

"Sexual harassment! Sexual harassment!"

"Damn, so I am ugly, huh?" I laugh at her.

"Uh-huh. Yeah," she shakes her head at me and rolls her eyes. "Edward Cullen, you may be a lab geek, but no one is going to file a sexual harassment suit on you anytime soon. Now, take your brownies and vamoose—some people have real work to get done today!"

"Right. You are, of course, referring to the people processing all those samples back in the lab. It's amazing you guys have anything left to do at all, we're so busy doing all the real work."

"Fuck off, Cullen!"

I just laugh and walk back to my office.

*****

It's D-Day. I was busy all night putting the final touches on Project VDRS-DBS Edition. My thinkgeek package arrived as promised, so all I had to do was sneak into Swan's office to get it all in place. The problem was that Swan, like me, is a workaholic who never goes home. To add to my troubles, she also has a habit of stopping by the lab on her way home to say goodnight. While I have plenty of work to keep me occupied until she leaves, I am unable to focus. I've never really had that problem before, not until Bella Swan showed up. She is like my kryptonite; I cannot possibly achieve world domination with her around.

"Edward, it's 1:00 AM—why are you still here?"

"I could ask you the same thing! I'm just piddling around, finishing up some stuff."

"Well, don't stay up too late; we have a lot to accomplish tomorrow."

"We do?"

"I was referring to all the work we have to finish during the day, so that we can have a night free for Star Trek."

"Oh, right. Of course I won't stay up too late, Mom. Thanks for your concern. Did you call for an escort?"

"You aren't going to be leaving soon?"

"I still have a bit of stuff to finish up."

"I don't mind waiting, Cullen. Unless you think I will be a distraction."

You're always a distraction, Bella. Just ask my cock.

"You know, I will probably be a while, so you might as well head on out."

Her face looks defeated. "Okay, then. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yep, bright and early. I promise to drink my coffee first, so I will be nice and sharp."

She gives me a sad smile and walks down the hallway.

That was harder than I thought it would be. Damn, her tenacious reputation is well earned!

I grab the box of VDRS supplies and head for Bella's office. I know all the janitorial staff, and they agree to let me in. I take my time to hang things from the ceiling, place them on her chair, and fill up her desk. I place the heart-shaped boxes on top of her desk last. When I'm finished, it looks like a Mardi Gras carnival is taking place in Dr. Bella Swan's office. She's going to hit to roof, and I cannot wait.

*****

I'm at the lab bright and early, as promised. I got about 4 hours of sleep, but that isn't anything copious amounts of caffeine can't cure. I deliberately avoid Bella's office, even her department, this morning.

I'm compiling some data at my desk when my phone finally rings.

"Cullen."

"EDWARD!!" I hear Bella's screaming laughter over the receiver. It makes me smile.

"Good morning, Dr. Swan. What can I do for you today?"

"You schemer! I knew it was weird you didn't walk me out last night!! You sneak! This is all your doing!"

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Bella. In English, please?"

"My office is filled with microbes, Cullen! They're everywhere! I even have all sorts of STDs here!"

"You might want to tone down that information. People could get the wrong idea. I do appreciate your letting me know that you have STDs before we're intimate, however. That is very considerate of you."

Bella is laughing so hard she is snorting and having trouble breathing. "Get your ass over here. NOW!"

Don't have to ask me twice.

When I get to Bella's office, she is nearly blue, she's been laughing so hard. I'm delighted to get this reaction from her. I was hoping she would be a good sport, but she has just enough ass-kicker attitude that I wasn't absolutely certain.

Her office is filled with dozens of stuffed microbe toys. I bought one of everything. She has heartworm, toxoplasmosis, toxic mold, the plague, flesh eating disease, ebola, and many others. For her desk, I reserved the best of the best. There are plastic petri dishes filled with more little stuffed microbes, like salmonella, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. The piece de resistance, however, is the two heart-shaped boxes I left on top of the desk. They are filled with the most endearing stuffed microbes of all: Chlamydia, HPV, more syphilis, penicillin, mono, and, to top it off, sperm and egg cells.

She has the hearts in her hand, and she's looking through the tags of all the little microbes, while smiling beautifully.

"This has to be the greatest surprise I've ever gotten, Edward. Thank you."

"It was payback for the Dexter's Lab sign you put on my door the other day."

"What sign?"

"You mean—you didn't put a sign on my lab door that said 'No Girls Allowed'?"

"No, I certainly did not. That would mean I couldn't visit you."

"Oh my fucking God, it was Jasper and Emmett. Oh, Bella, I'm so sorry; I really thought it was you."

"Are you kidding me? This is awesome! I LOVE these little critters. Still, I can't believe you gave me HIV, HPV, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, all before we've had our first date!"

"Hey, what can I say? We lab guys have skills."

Before I can say anything more, Bella's lips are on mine, her hands are woven into my hair, and we're kissing like it's the last thing we'll ever do. I am analytic by nature, but for some reason, I just want to sit back and enjoy this kiss. I don't have any desire to analyze it. For once in my life, I want only to feel her lips on mine. To be honest, if we stayed like this forever, I would consider my life's accomplishments to be many, and my life well lived.

When our lips collide, my many weeks of pining over Bella are suddenly gone. Doubt is erased. For some strange reason, this beautiful geekgirl has decided that she likes geekboys. In particular, I believe, she likes this geekboy. I feel like I've been empowered by Revenge of the Nerds—take that, you asshat jocks and frat boys—Bella Swan, Ph.D., is kissing moi. Yep, I just kicked every guy who ever made fun of me right in the 'nads, and damn, it feels satisfying.

Bella pulls her lips from mine to catch her breath. "Oh my God, you do have skills. Where did you learn to kiss like that, geekboy?"

"I'm not really sure. My lips just took over for my brain."

"I know this isn't really appropriate workplace behavior. I had to stop myself before I subjected you to all the STDs that are floating around on my desk."

I look her in the eyes, channeling all my intensity into my gaze. "Believe me, I wouldn't be the one who ends up laying on the desk."

Her eyes open wide, and I can hear her breathing pattern change, followed by someone clearing their throat.

Shit.

We turn around to see my father standing in Bella's doorway.

Make that double shit.

"I see that you two are getting along," he states matter-of-factly.

Bella's face is in her hands, but the skin that peeks through her fingers is blazing red.

"This is actually an office prank, Dad. I wanted to give Dr. Swan all the different STDs."

Thankfully, he laughs at my attempt at humor.

"Well, I won't keep you two from finishing your meeting. I just stopped by to let you know that the latest data suggest the epidemic is winding down, so you don't need to pound the pavement so hard any more."

"Thank you, Dr. Cullen. I appreciate your letting me know."

"You're welcome," we reply, in unison.

Bella laughs. "I keep forgetting there are two of you!"

"I'll leave you two alone. Give me a call if anything else develops."

*****

Since our Star Trek date tonight falls on the Saturday before Valentine's Day, I want to make the meal meaningful and special. I've never celebrated Valentine's Day with a woman before, so I feel as though I'm operating on training wheels. Typically, I would call my mom for assistance with menu planning, but if she catches wind that I have a date—a date for Valentine's Day—she will hound me for details for the next ten years. While I love my mom, I can do without the associated drama. My sister Alice isn't much better, but I know I can count on her to keep things quiet at home.

"You're going to cook the meal for her, Edward? That's so sweet and romantic!"

"Well, it won't be if I get the menu wrong!"

"Trust me, big brother. You will earn huge brownie points just for cooking the meal."

Brownie points. Makes me think of Bella's Nutella brownies. And her fingers in my mouth. Oh, that mouth…

"Edward? Did you hang up?"

"Hmm? Oh, no, I'm still here. So, menu ideas?"

"You're going to plan an aphrodisiac menu."

"I am?"

"Yes. It's perfect. Here are the best aphrodisiacs: Almonds; arugula lettuce; asparagus; basil; chocolate; coffee; carrots; figs; garlic; mustard; pine nuts; raspberries; strawberries; truffles; vanilla; and wine."

"I'm supposed to make something out of all that? I feel like this is an episode of Top Chef!"

"Oh come on, the recipes are screaming out at us. Obviously, pesto with pasta. A side of roasted carrots and asparagus sprinkled with truffle oil. A salad with arugula, almonds, and strawberries, with a balsamic-fig vinaigrette. Chocolate soufflé with raspberry sauce for dessert, and then coffee, red wine, and champagne."

"If I never told you before, you are amazing, Alice. It totally makes up for all your annoying tendencies."

"Hey, someone has to point you in the right direction, or you will remain a single nerd for the rest of your life. I'll grab some recipes and e-mail them to you."

I spend the rest of the day preparing for our date. Since I want to keep the menu a surprise for her, I asked Bella to bring wine and champagne, but promised to let her help me prepare the meal.

When Bella arrives, I'm speechless. Honestly, for about 30 seconds, I can't say a word, because my mouth is all pasty and dry. I've been getting hard ons because of her for weeks, but the woman in front of me now is far more striking than the one I see at work.

"Edward? Can I come in?"

I wipe the drool from my mouth and kiss her cheek. "Of course. Sorry. You're just so…beautiful."

She blushes at my compliment and steps inside.

I take her coat and find that she's wearing my favorite color—a deep blue, which looks so stunning in contrast to her pale skin. She's wearing a close-fitting dress with a tie on the side, and my mind goes straight to imagining how easily it would be to get her out of that dress. Since I don't have the benefit of a lab coat today to hide the erection I have whenever she is within fifty feet of me, I try to will it down by thinking of unsexy things. Like Bea Arthur. Apparently, I'm on Bea's bad side today, because even she isn't enough to counteract Bella's pull on me. Especially her pull on my genital area.

I'd like her to pull on my genital area.

Focus, Cullen! Offer her wine. Yes, wine.

"Can I get you a glass of wine, Bella?"

She gives me a sweet smile. "Yes, that would be perfect."

Well, you're perfect. It only makes sense.

She hands me the bag of wine bottles, and pulls a small gift out of the bag.

"Open it. It's a thank you for decorating my office."

I give her a suspicious look, instantly wary.

"No, really, it's a good gift. Go on!"

I unwrap it to find that Bella has purchased the Star Trek movie for me, but that's not all—it is a special edition DVD that is stored inside a replica of the USS Enterprise.

Well, this is geek heaven, right here.

"Bella, I don't know what to say; this is amazing!" I lean over and give her a peck on the cheek.

I get her some wine, and we go about preparing the meal. When I glance over at her, I notice the wine has caused her cheeks to flush, and she looks like a goddess.

It is so easy for me to just be when I'm with Bella. She's vastly different than any other woman I've ever known. I don't have to play silly guessing games with her—everything is up front. It's so comfortable and natural, like I've known her forever.

The sound of her voice breaks into my thoughts. "Berries, Edward? Asparagus? Truffles? If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were trying to sex me up!"

Now it's my turn to blush, but, sadly, the chagrin doesn't reach my mouth.

"'Trying' would be the wrong word choice, Dr. Swan. I would use a less passive verb, such as 'going.' With that dress of yours, all I can think of doing is grabbing that bow and unwrapping my Valentine's Day gift before it is socially acceptable to do so."

Bella makes a little noise, almost like a whimper combined with a slight moan, and it is by far the most erotic thing I've ever heard in my life. Again, the wine does the talking for me.

"Do you have any idea of the effect that you have on me? You have a magnetic pull, and I have to work so hard to keep my hands to myself. I don't want to scare you away, but you simply have to know how badly I want you."

"Well, that's good, because I'm pretty sure that I want you just as badly, if not more. Do you think this dress was chosen by accident?"

Fuck dinner. I need to fuck Bella Swan, Ph. D.

I shove the dinner ingredients aside and scoop up Bella, placing her on top of the counter. My hands go straight for the tie on her dress, while our lips crash together. We are, apparently, making up for lost time.

There is nothing gentle in my kiss. I feel momentarily bad about that, but I want her too fucking much to take things slowly right now. Gauging from her reactions, we're in the same place. We don't require any background music, because our moans, pants, and stolen breaths are a symphony by themselves.

I move my lips from her mouth to her neck. My nose grazes her skin, and her scent is amazing. She's wearing some kind of perfume, but unlike most women, hers is soft and subtle, not cloying. It's pure essence of Bella.

I take a step back, because I want to see the body that has been tormenting me from inside her dress. She has on a deep blue bra that is smooth and shiny. Her nipples are hard peaks, and the bra is lifting her breasts up, as if they are offering themselves to me. My hands, acting autonomously from my brain, go straight for her perfectly round handfuls. Her dark brown hair is falling in curls around her collarbone and skimming the tops of her breasts, and the sum effect of her blue dress, the soft brown color of her hair, and her fair skin is dazzling.

"Bella, you're so beautiful. These breasts should grace the cover of magazines, because they are perfect."

She laughs at my statement, which confuses me. "Edward, I appreciate your sentiment, but it isn't exactly a great pickup line to tell a girl that she should be in porn."

I quickly remove my hands from her breasts, as if I just touched a hot frying pan. "Oh God, that isn't what I meant at all! I mean, they're just perfect—it's like they should be showcased as an example of perfect breasts. I really did mean it as a compliment."

She places her palm on my cheek and her thumb over my lip. "Shh, I know what you meant." Looking into my eyes, she puts my hands back on her breasts. "There, that's much better. Please continue."

While my thumbs circle her nipples, I vaguely realize that she is unbuttoning my shirt. The minute her hands touch my chest, I'm covered in goosebumps and I shiver.

"I like having that effect on you." I can hear the smile in her voice.

"You have no idea," I choke out.

She leans in to me, and suddenly her hand is rubbing my cock through my jeans. She whispers in my ear, seductively, "Oh, I think I do."

I can't speak, I can't think, I'm incapable of anything voluntary as long as her hand is on my dick. I let out a long, low moan. Meanwhile, Bella slips from off of the counter, so that she's kneeling in front of me.

"I'm just a girl who knows what she wants, Dr. Cullen. And I. stroke Want. stroke You. stroke."

I'm unclear as to when this occurred, exactly, but the little minx kneeling in front of me has my fly unzipped and she's reaching into my boxers to grab my cock and show him some happyfuntimes. The feeling of her hand on my naked skin is almost too much and my cock twitches. She looks up at me with those big eyes, and takes me in her mouth. That image alone is enough to be masturbatory fodder for years to come. Literally.

As if that isn't enough, she moans while she has my cock sliding in and out of her mouth, and I have to do everything within my power not to come right then and there. When her lips reach the top of my cock, she releases me, but keeps her hand wrapped around me.

"I somehow knew you had an amazing cock under that big lab coat of yours, Doctor."

Incredible. Speechless. Again.

I swallow hard before speaking. "Bella, I don't know how to say this any other way except that I want to fuck you, right now. You deserve to have someone take their time and slowly sex you up properly, but I'm not that guy, at least not this time. I'm sorry if you were expecting something different." While I'm talking I notice that she hasn't taken her hand off my dick, and I'm impossibly hard.

Suddenly, she stands up, determined, as if she's looking for something. She dashes over to her purse and grabs a condom, then comes back to me. She slides off her dress, then goes to work on my pants. In no time, we are standing naked in front of each other. Bella is known for her efficiency, after all.

Next thing I know, she is pushing me backwards, and into a chair. She unwraps the condom, makes quick work of putting it on my dick, and tells me, "Now, Cullen, shut the fuck up and let's ride."

Did I just die? Because if Dr. Bella "Serious Business" Swan is forcing me into a chair so she can have her wicked way with me, that can only happen one place, and it sure isn't the Third Rock from the Sun.

Bella straddles me, then barks out orders. "Put that gorgeous cock in my pussy Edward. I need you. Now."

Yes ma'am. Happy to oblige.

I feel her slide onto me, and I'm right where I need to be. You know those times when sex is described as some metaphysical joining of souls, where the woman has ten orgasms before her partner comes? Well, this isn't one of those times. My orgasm is totally a foregone conclusion at this point. Bella simply feels too good for me to last any length of time. Being a geek, however, I happen to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the female anatomy and it's mysterious inner workings, and I intend to fully make use of said knowledge. My hands are on Bella's hips, helping me thrust as deeply as I possibly can. I slide a hand over to her clit, and begin pinching it between my thumb and forefinger. Her loud gasp tells me I hit the right spot.

"Bella, I'm almost there…fuck!...I need you…there too."

"Just don't stop—don't…stop!"

I see a flush spread over her chest, and I know she is nearly there. I decide to help her along by focusing every ounce of my energy (which, admittedly, is limited, because I'm in the middle of fucking Bella Swan) on her clit. Suddenly, my geeky encyclopedic knowledge of female anatomy pays off, in the form of her screaming "EDWARD!" very loudly. I wait until she is done with her spasms, then bring both of my hands back to her hips. It doesn't take more than a few additional thrusts, some filterless, verbal diarrhea in which I promise her all my worldly possessions, and I'm gone.

When I finally regain my breath, and my ability to form coherent sentences, I tell her, "Fuck, Bella, best orgasm ever. Hands down. I knew you were a vixen underneath that tightly coiled hair!"

"Edward, it would be premature of you to release the orgasm data right now. There are many more clinical trials which must be conducted, and that was just the appetizer. Now, let's clean up, have some naked dinner, and see where the night leads us, hmm? I'll be happy to review your data in the morning."

"Jesus, I will never be able to hear you say the word data again without getting hard. You're a dangerous woman, Dr. Swan."

"Well then, as you always say, thank God for lab coats."


A/N: In reality, the Washington Department of Health labs are in a separate location from the main Department of Health offices in Olympia. I took some liberties in order to make it work for the story in my head. I apologize if this information threw any readers off.

"Team Diarrhea" is a real entity, but it is at the Minnesota Department of Health. It becomes fully functional during the duration of any food-borne epidemic that occurs in Minnesota.

The stuffed microbes are real and can be found at thinkgeek(dot)com. And yes, I own some myself. ;)