With my thanks to VampsHaveLaws for her wonderfully inspirational banner that was entered in the "Talk Nerdy to Me Challenge" at TwiFicPics and to JandCo, for her ideas about this Geekward.
This was originally posted as a drabble (Quantum Theory in my Twilight Rambles collection) but I had an idea to expand a wee bit on it.
Disclaimer: This is a work of derivative fiction. I claim no rights to this fic in any of its parts. All things Twilight are the intellectual property of Stephenie Meyer and/or her assignees. Me, I just like rearranging canon. A lot.
Chapter One: Killing Schrödinger's Cat
"You have lovely hands," Professor Volturi murmured as he stared, seemingly transfixed, at my fingers on the piano keys.
Inwardly, I shrugged. I wasn't seeking his admiration, just his attention. He had a tendency, Music Department rumors whispered, to enjoy mentoring the pretty boys most of all. Professor Volturi was a legend in his own way. He was a master composer who also had key performances to his credit, including command performances for Queen Elizabeth II and multiple appearances for two different Presidents of the United States and three Prime Ministers of Canada, in addition to cable specials. It had been quite a coup, I understood, to be accepted by Professor Volturi.
Especially since I was a far cry from a pretty boy.
I finished the piece for my music mentor and waited while he sighed and reverently touched the keys nearest my left hand – almost as if he wanted to touch my fingers, but not quite. I felt creeped-out as his nearly black eyes traveled up my arm to my bony-but broad-shoulders. When he reached my face, I kept my expression impassive.
"Lovely hands," he said again, sounding regretful. "And you're quite talented, Mr. Cullen. Here, at the end of your sophomore year. Yes. What is it that you would like to do with your talent? How can we further direct your course load for the remainder of your degree?"
"I have a back-up in Physics," I told him proudly. Math and music were highly compatible. "But I was thinking I could..." Memories of concerts with my parents when I was a child swirled through my head. "Hoping I could play. In concert."
"Ah," he said, sighing out the syllable. Raising his brows into his pale forehead, he looked me dead in the eye. "You have lovely hands, Mr. Cullen. And if you wished, I could introduce you to the right people. I could. But..." Moving away, he eyed me up and down. No longer fawning, he was evaluating. I felt my muscles tense in response. "You have talent. You do. I'm just not sure if your...aesthetic...will show," he admitted slowly.
"Oh, your bone structure's good," my sister Rose had told me just over Spring Break. She was into technical photography. "And I'd kill to have your eyes." We both had green eyes, but hers were a murky, mossy shade while mine were a brighter color. I was often asked if I wore contact lenses. "We can at least get your hair tamed," she offered, trying to be positive and upbeat just before I had my senior portrait done in high school – years ago.
I let her do what she wanted. Rose and I were all that was left of our family, so I let her mother me sometimes. "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," I had to constantly remind her. My sister Rose was the ultimate in silk purses, really. If I wasn't her brother, I'd totally want to date her. But I am, so...no. She doesn't have a lot of dates, though; she scares the hell out of everyone. Her hair was Rumpelstiltskin. Well, I called it that when I was a kid. It was the kind of blond that looks like gold, not like hair. She had modeled a few times, but preferred being behind the camera. Still, I kept a scrapbook of her photo spreads. She called me a geek. I told her someone had to keep the pictures for her future progeny.
I rocked the sow's ear look, myself. At twenty-one, there was some statistical probability that I would add an inch to the six-two I carried in height, but nothing could fix the slightly crooked teeth, the skin problems, or the fact that, apart from my hands, I had all the coordination of lime Jell-O in the August sun. "Good thing you've got brains," my sister said on more than one occasion.
I guessed Professor Volturi thought so, too.
With a nod, I thanked him for his opinion, left the acoustically proven practice room, and changed my major. I could keep the minor in music, but I'd major in Physics for the remainder of my college career.
Physics was more practical, anyway.
"Now I know," Ms. Swan, Dr. McCarty's teaching assistant, said while crossing her legs – Damn! She had legs that went on for freaking days! – as she sat on the stool behind the lectern, "that you are all very smart. I know this. But you need to know that I am obsessed with detail. I will read every single notation on every single graph and lab report you turn in to me. It's my job, and I am very good at my job."
Well, hell. She threw down a gauntlet and those of us in her section of Physics 319 had to take it up.
Most of us in the class were guys. When Ms. Swan said she was very good at her job, the focus in the room heightened. As if pheromones poured from all of us into some kind of fluid force that extended to her. It was eerie.
"The TA is sporting some serious T and A," one of the guys said. In the hall. After class was over. Sexual harassment was serious and no one wanted to get busted for it.
Three others chuckled, but we were all watching as she walked away. She moved so fast, like she had to be somewhere in thirty seconds. Though Ms. Swan was a little under average height, I judged, she was perfect. I wasn't the only one who thought so, either.
"What the hell kind of perfume is she wearing?" T and A guy said. I wasn't good with names.
As one, we all inhaled deeply. And then, I had to smile because we looked so weird. All of us scrunching our foreheads, trying to figure out what a woman smelled like. "Carnations?" I guessed, not being really loud or confident; hell, I was the new guy in the group.
"Maybe," T and A allowed.
We all speculated about her as Fall Quarter continued. The two girls in our section rolled their eyes whenever one of the guys did something to try to get Ms. Swan to notice them. One of the popular gimmicks was to replace the letters in the diagrams with letters to a question for her. Nothing major; none of us wanted to flunk out and have to take this over again. She scanned some of the homework assignments, pointing out that the drag co-efficient derivations, "Did not require apple pie, thank you. Pi will suffice. Points off!" she would state, and someone in the class would swear quietly.
Ms. Swan just arched a brow and smiled before moving on to the next "example."
I never did anything stupid like that. Ms. Swan – Isabella Swan, the class syllabus said – intimidated the hell out of me. She did more than that, though...
I found myself drawn to her.
"Isabella?" Rose asked me one morning. "Who the hell is that?" She leaned against my open door, arms crossed, eyebrow arched as she stared at the obvious morning wood I was sporting.
I felt myself blush. A lot. My ears even got hot. I pulled my sheet from my waist to my chest and bent my knees. "Huh? Isabella?"
"Yeah, you were moaning, brother-dear. Hey, far be it from me to comment on your fantasy life. I was just –"
"Nosey. You were just nosey."
"Hey, I'm all for you having a girlfriend, Genius. But you might want to clean up your room before you have her over, is all I'm sayin'."
"As if that'd ever happen," I muttered, willing the tent under the sheet to just go away. I thought hard about something that would do it. I was now a physics major, not minor, dammit, and had to figure out this basic physical property! "Schrödinger's Cat."
"What the hell? You talkin' about pussy, baby bro'?" Yeah, Rose could be a little crude, that way.
I blushed again, but at least thinking about Schrödinger's hypothetical feline got me, er, presentable. "Shut. Up. It's a physics thing," I said, trying to sound cool. "You wouldn't understand."
"Whatever. Get up. You've got to get the trash out before school."
I took the trash out and then took a shower. It was the day of the main lecture for 319. I wanted to be in a good seat to observe Ms. Swan. It was as if I couldn't help but zero in on her whenever she was within view.
The lecture hall filled quickly. One good thing about being a major in this field, is that no one gave me any grief for liking math and getting a laugh out of some of the ridiculous t-shirts I saw in stores or online. My sister did, but no one in my classes did. We all liked the same things. It really was a department where I felt more at home.
And if I had known someone like Isabella Swan was in the Physics department? I would have switched my major during my the first term of Freshman year!
I caught a whiff of her perfume before I saw her. She was taking the shallow steps down the hall, having come in through the back door –
Does she like it in the back door? the ever-present horny teenager inside my head wondered. He was the same one that probably pushed the wrong word out before about Schrödinger's cat, before...
I think I must have sighed loudly enough for her to hear me, because she paused and tossed a look over her shoulder, her golden eyes – gold irises were a mutation of the brown shades, I had learned in an early Biology class – alighting on me. Blood rushed to my face and I thought I saw her eyes get darker, but it was probably my imagination. I did not imagine the way she licked her lips and swallowed, though. I was paying way too much attention to her mouth.
Ducking my head, I resolved not to be such an idiot next time I saw her.
I should have known that was a stupid thing to expect of myself.
A couple of days later, I saw her at the 7-Eleven, picking up some breath mints. She was wearing low-rise jeans and a short t-shirt that had a symbol string on it that translated to "I 8 Sum Pi." But in order to figure that out, someone would have had to stare right at her chest for a few seconds.
Or minutes, if they weren't good at math. Physics students typically were. I wondered if she was physicist enough to get my Schrödinger's Cat shirt. It was sick, but cool in a physics geek kind of way. I got up the nerve to ask her if she knew about superposition. Pulling off my glasses, I tried to smooth out my hair – I hated all that hair stuff my sister Rose made me use – and cleared my throat.
"Uh, Ms. Swan?"
She popped a mint in her mouth and I watched her move it out of the way of her tongue. I was very glad I was wearing a big flannel shirt over my t-shirt. She blinked as if she didn't know who I was. "Yes?"
"I'm Ed - Edward Cullen. I - In your section. For Professor M - McCarty."
She nodded and looked down at her purse and then up at me again and then at my t-shirt and I wanted to hide it because it was my retro Marvel Comics shirt from ComicCon two years ago and she probably thought it was childish. I winced internally, but kept going because, well, she was hot and I thought that leaving then would be the worst thing I could do.
I was wrong. "I, uh, was wondering if you'd get a pussy. Cat. Shirt." Not again! Crap! That was not the way that was supposed to come out. "Uh, I meant, you know, uh, the shirt with the cat? Schrödinger's?"
One brow arched. "You want to know if I know about superposition?" She moistened her lips and I swallowed. Hard. "Or if I play for both teams?"
My face went up on flames, right there in the 7-Eleven. I bailed.
A/N: This is complete on my end...Look for an update soon! :)