thestraggletag prompted Scientist!Belle for the "six months of Rumbelle" anniversary :o)

When she hears the phone in the other room ringing again, Belle is unable to keep herself from rolling her eyes and clenching her fists in exasperation, which causes her to drop to the floor the cuvette she was about to insert into the spectrometer. She knows from over two years of tiresome experience that the reason for their secretary's phone to be ringing unceasingly throughout the day is either that her research group has made a breakthrough discovery, or that Mr. Gold, the CEO of Gold Corporation, is menacing to cut off their funding. And from the direction in which their research has been going lately, or rather not going, she knows it has to be the latter. Again.

As she bends over to pick up the cuvette, she lets out a relieved breath, thankful when she realizes that it is merely chipped. She certainly wouldn't want to have to add another expensive item to the acquisitions list sent for approval to Gold's bureau, even if, in this particular case, he would be the one responsible for her breaking the darn thing. That smug bastard!

She was fine at first with going up to his office to present their results to him, as it seemed to keep the funds coming. She'd do that any time and place anyway, in front of any soul willing to hear her, and would do it in a heartbeat even after sleepless nights spent working on Powerpoint slides and finishing up experiments. There was no drawback strong enough to quench Belle's passion for science, particularly for the alternative energy sources her research group was currently working on, when she knew that the team's success would translate into the well being of so many people.

And so she did her presentations in front of Mr. Gold, at first about once a semester, then every couple of months, until it became a monthly duty and now it seemed that he was requesting her presence on a weekly basis. And she couldn't shake the feeling that her group selected her for this task as a kind of offering to Mr. Gold, if his intent, wolfish stares at her during said presentations were any indication. She wasn't quite sure on how she felt about that. The man was quite dashing, his mind sharp, his taste impeccable and his Scottish brogue… well, Belle didn't even want to think about what it did to her, but she would not be put on display for anyone's entertainment, nor would Gold steal any more of her precious time in the lab.

Well, if it would be up to Mr. Gold, Belle would be moving her entire research to his office. Forever. And it was, actually, he gloated at the thought as a satisfied grin contoured on his face. He picked up the phone and barked instructions at his secretary, ending with telling her to call Belle's research team for what it was the ninth time that afternoon. Since Belle kept postponing sending him her response on when she would be coming to share her data with him, he decided to simplify her situation by moving her and her entire group here altogether. The frequent visits were no doubt interfering with her work, and so he thought everyone would be more efficient and substantially happier with her coming to work into his building. Particularly himself.

He would give her a fair laboratory and an office, and make sure they're right around the corner from his own, of course. Then he could invite her to grab lunch with him. Scientists do have lunch, don't they? He could offer to escort her home, when she'd put out long hours on the job, just like he usually did. He was expecting for these things to happen… eventually. What he wasn't expecting was for Dr. Belle French to storm into his office that very late afternoon, putting a stop to his trail of thoughts by walking up to his desk and bracing her hands on it to stare him right in the eye.

"What did you mean exactly by 'Please inform Dr. French that she will be conducting her research inside a new facility'?" A flushed Belle nearly shouted at him as she fought to control her breathing and to keep her hands firm on his desk instead of letting them plunge towards his jaw. "Are you firing me, Gold?" Her eyes were locked onto his, awaiting for his answer.

Gold had to fight for his composure as well and, in the process, decide if he was displeased by her tone or overwhelmed to see her blue eyes so close for the first time. When he was able to shift his gaze from hers, he noticed that she was still wearing her lab coat and he knew it took her exactly eight minutes and fifteen seconds to storm out of her edifice and into his. It had to, since it took him, cripple as he was, the double to do the same, every evening that he would work until late and notice the flickering light coming out of her laboratory's window. So far, his every attempt to see her those evenings failed at her door, with him turning around and leaving without gathering enough courage to knock. On the other hand, every time she went up to his office, she stormed in. That's why she was a brave little thing and he was, despite all appearances, a coward. That realization only prompted him to over-compensate by arming himself up with witty retorts.

"Whatever do you mean, dearie?" and he did just say that on purpose, to rattle her more. It worked, considering her dangerously narrowing eyes.

"Oh, you meant the message my secretary has left for yours. Well, it would have been my pleasure to announce you personally, but you don't seem eager to answer any of my calls."

"Your… pleasure?" she grinded between her teeth.

"To inform you that you are now the proud owner of a fully equipped laboratory in the main Gold Industries building, of course." He grinned wolfishly once more and this time Belle's jaw almost unhinged. Smugly, he continued: "You see, I was paying attention to your presentations, dearie. What has it that you needed? A Raman spectrophotometer, named after that famous Indian scientist you were telling me stories about? A computer cluster to run your simulations? Well, they are all, and much more, down the corridor, awaiting your lovely presence." He ended his phrase stepping up from his chair and giving a flourished bow that was completely unnecessary but had the desired effect, winning him points for style and making Belle unable to restrain a soft giggle, and when did all her anger fade away?

"I… I don't know what to say…" And she truly didn't, because she didn't know if she was being shamelessly bought or bribed, merely humoured or spoiled in the sweetest way. Maybe she needed more time with this man to figure it out. To figure him out. It was certainly an offer she couldn't refuse. She managed a "Thank you" that almost startled him, and he tentatively replied "It's… no matter."

"Of course it is! With this kind of equipment we could really move forward in our research! I might have really good news to give you on my next presentation." She teased and looked at him expectantly, raising an eyebrow.

"The presentation, indeed. I confess I might have grown a little bit addicted to your exposing skills, Ms. French." She laughed genuinely and he looked slightly embarrassed and God, the intimidating CEO of Gold Corporation was certainly cute when he blushed.

"Well… " he cleared his voice, "before I leave you to explore your new kingdom", a genuinely sweet smile spreading across his lips, "going back to that annoying little matter of you not being reachable by phone…" he stared intently at her.

"Oh… that…" Belle became flustered… "well, I'm not one for socializing, not if I can use my time more productively instead."

"That makes two of us, Ms. French. However, would you be opposed to giving me your personal number, to be used only in case of an emergency, of course?" He gestured largely with his hands, as if a fire was already starting to spread in the corners of the room.

"Not at all, Mr. Gold", she smiled sheepishly. She had a feeling an emergency would present itself very soon.

In case anyone's wondering, the image cover of the story is indeed a little heart obtained by me, by accident, while recording data with said Raman spectrophotometer. ;)