The Practicum

Rating: M. Because why else do we do this?

Summary: Anyone seen "Grease 2"? Remember the song "Reproduction" from the Sex Ed class? Well, this is sort of like that, but not at all.

Disclaimer: Not mine, though I'd happily sit through a Sex Ed lecture given by one Edward Cullen. Who's with me? (Also, I'm not a health teacher. Good thing, too, if this story is any indication of what that train wreck would look like.)

Acknowledgement: HollettLA. Still beta'ing. Still awesome.

A/N: This is light. Fluffy. Like, cotton candy fluffy, and just as sickeningly sweet (except when it's dirty). If you're looking for angst, move along. If you like fluff and porn and naked Edward, pull up a chair.

Chapter One

"Youuuuu lucky bitch," Jessica mutters around the salted rim of her margarita glass and I laugh.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You get to teach Sex Ed with Mr. Sex-on-Legs? Like I said, youuuuu lucky bitch." She takes a generous slurp of her slushy drink and returns it to the table before snagging a corn chip from the black plastic basket between us and dunking it in the salsa.

"It's not like I'm having sex with him," I defend, even though the reality of teaching the ins and outs – so to speak – with the man doesn't leave me completely unaffected.

Jessica shrugs. "Still, if I'd known the ol' Clapper was going to keel over dead and be replaced by that fuckhot piece of man-meat, I'd have volunteered to be the female half of the Sex Ed lecture years ago."

I take a small sip of my own frozen Friday night libation. "Perhaps God's rewarding me for my selflessness," I suggest and smirk when she glares at me.

"If you were truly selfless, you'd use this opportunity to give him my number."

"Didn't you already give him your number?"

She shrugs. "Maybe he lost it."

I smile as Angela slides into the booth beside me. "Sorry, sorry, I'm late, I know, I suck." She dumps her purse on the floor beneath the table and shrugs out of her coat as the waiter appears beside the table. "I'll have one of those," she says, gesturing toward Jessica's and my glasses. "Frozen and salted." As the waiter disappears, she retrieves a chip from the basket. "What'd I miss?"

"Bella gets to teach Sex Ed with Edward Cullen," Jessica bemoans and Angela pops the chip in her mouth, nodding.


I roll my eyes again. "You guys. It's a health class, not a demonstration."

We all fall silent for a moment as our minds drift; it's Angela who brings us back. "Still. It's got to be better than filling that part of the curriculum with Coach Clapp," she says as she dunks another chip, and Jessica snorts into her margarita. "What?" Angela asks around her mouthful.

"I may already be buzzed because I desperately want to do something clever with 'fill' and 'clap' but I can't. It's Friday and my brain is fried."

"You guys. Stop. I'm sorry I even brought it up."

"That's what she said," Jessica interjects in an obvious attempt to eradicate any disappointment from her previous inability to be a pervert, and I shake my head in disapproval.

"That was a miss," I tell her.

She sighs and takes another slurp as Jasper appears beside the table. "I know. I'm late. I suck."

"So we've heard," Jessica replies, and his eyebrows climb slightly as he lowers himself to the brown plastic bench seat beside her. I wave a hand in Jessica's general direction.

"Ignore her. Sex Ed is coming up and her mind is evidently going to be in the gutter for the duration of the night."

"Ah, yes, the birds and the bees talk with the teenagers of Forks. Better you than me, Bella." He pauses to order a beer from the waiter who has reappeared with Angela's margarita before his blue eyes find me and a small smile pulls at his mouth. "Wait a minute. New PE teacher, which means no more watching Coach Clapp bumble his way through the female anatomy. Figuratively speaking, thank God."

"New hot PE teacher," Jessica amends, and Jasper nods sagely.

"Yeeeees, that's right, the famous Mr. Cullen." His eyebrows dance. "I certainly wouldn't kick him out of bed. Soccer players have phenomenal bodies."

I hold up a hand. "Okay. All of you, stop it. I'm going to have to listen to this man say things like 'erection' and 'ejaculation,' and if we keep talking about this I'm not going to be able to handle that like a professional, so cool it."

"I'd like to see him do more than just say it," Jessica mutters, and Jasper nods in silent agreement. My only comfort is Angela, who pats me on the shoulder.

"You're a pro. You'll be fine." She arches a brow in the direction of Jasper's just-arrived beer. "No margarita tonight?"

Jasper pinches the barely-there skin at his waist. "It's March. Time to start prepping the bod for the summer. Do you have any idea how many calories are in one of those things?"

"Yes," Jessica says, slurping away. "And every single one of them is fucking delicious. Stop being such queen."

"Darlin', I am a queen," he replies, winking as he takes a pull from the bottle of Corona Light, and before I can become too grateful that the conversation has moved on from my upcoming stint as a fill-in health teacher, Jessica brings us back full-circle.

"I'm so jealous."

"Jess. For the last time. It's a lesson. We're going to be teaching high schoolers how not to get each other knocked up or infected with gonorrhea. It's hardly a romantic evening for two. Plus, you teach these kids; you know exactly how ridiculous they can be."

Finally, she's yanked out of her hornball stupor. "Yes. God, did you hear about Royce King and Emmett McCarty getting into a fist fight in the lunch room on Tuesday over Rosalie Hale?" The conversation turns blessedly to run-of-the-mill school gossip, and I lean against the padded backrest of the booth. Our weekly margarita-fests are not only one of the few standing social engagements I have, but are one of the rare times we're all able to catch up on things. Although we're in the same building all day every day, we see surprisingly little of each other.

Jessica and I graduated in the same class from Forks High School, and when I returned after college to start teaching English, she was the other new addition to the faculty. To my surprise – and, I suspect, the surprise of everyone who meets her – Jessica is a science whiz and teaches the AP and advanced chemistry and physics courses.

Angela grew up in Seattle and taught in the city's public school system for a few years before deciding that she'd rather teach in a smaller school setting; when the art teacher packed up and shipped off to New York City to try to "make it big" as an artist, Angela became the new kid in town.

Jasper teaches calculus, geometry, and trigonometry and is perhaps the most unlikely math teacher ever. Everything about his appearance and persona screams "hippie cowboy," when in reality he's a homosexual math nerd. He had quite a time discouraging Jessica's affections in his first few weeks at Forks until he came right out and told her he liked men. Almost immediately he became the fourth member of our Friday night margarita troupe.

While our collective bond initially sparked because we were the only teachers at Forks High School under the age of forty-five, the four of us have since discovered that our personalities complement each other well and have built a pretty solid friendship. It occurs to me as I sip my margarita that there is now a fifth teacher under the age of forty-five in town, and I wonder idly if he likes Mexican food.

"We should invite him," I say suddenly in an interjection completely unrelated to the conversation at hand, and Jasper frowns.

"Invite who where, darlin'?"

I flush slightly, embarrassed at my train of thought given that I was the one begging for a subject change. "Edward Cullen. I was just thinking… he's young, and he probably doesn't really know anybody in town. We should invite him out for margaritas."

Jessica nods with the enthusiasm of a bobble-head doll while Jasper seems to be mulling it over. "Maybe," he says slowly. "Though he seems a little uptight."

"Really?" I haven't spent a single minute in Edward Cullen's presence since the welcome luncheon the principal organized shortly after he was hired, at which our interaction began and ended with a handshake and a standard "nice to meet you."

He shrugs, taking another swig of his chick-beer. "I dunno. See what you think. If you like him, I'm sure we'll like him." He waggles his eyebrows again, a Jasper trademark. "I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunity to get to know him while you guys talk about bonin'."

When the chip I throw at him bounces off his forehead, he grins and winks.

"Mr. Cullen?"

The figure hunched over the water fountain straightens, the whistle looped around his neck bouncing against his chest as he drags the back of his hand across his mouth. "Yes?"

"Hi, I'm Bella Swan." He frowns slightly as he considers me, and I extend a hand toward him. "We met at the welcome luncheon; I teach English."

His eyes widen in recognition, and he nods quickly as he accepts my proffered hand and gives it a vigorous shake. "Right! Right. Sorry, yes, of course. Edward, please." He releases my hand.

"How's it going so far?" I ask, tilting my chin in the general direction of the gym around us.

He nods again. "Good. Very good. Thanks." A basketball hits him in the shin and he flicks it up with his toe, catching it effortlessly at waist-level before turning his focus to the lines of students ostensibly working on their layups. "Heads up, Jacob!" he calls as he bounce-passes the ball to one of the boys near the end of the line in an easy, fluid motion. My mind flashes to Jasper's assertion about soccer players' bodies; Edward Cullen's physique is certainly a marked improvement over his pot-bellied, light-years-past-retirement predecessor. God rest his soul. "Sorry about that," he says, and I drag my mind back to the present.

"No problem," I reply. "I just wanted to reintroduce myself before Thursday."

His brow furrows in confusion again. "Thursday?"

I nod. "The sexual health education class?" He flushes slightly, and I instantly hope for his sake that he can curb that response before next week; teenagers can be ruthless, and if they think he's embarrassed, they'll have him for breakfast. "Principal Taylor asks me to sit in each year to address any questions the female students might have."

I leave out the fact that it's a state requirement to have both a male and a female teacher present for this part of the health curriculum; I don't want to sound like a snotty, by-the-book know-it-all.

"Of course, yes. Sorry, I'm still catching up on where we are in the school year," he says, and his flush has disappeared, replaced by an apologetic smile.

"I can only imagine. Coming in mid-year must be tough."

He chuckles. "It definitely has its challenges; plus, you should see the so-called 'filing system' Coach Clapp left behind. I don't think the man had any references published after 1972 in his office."

I shudder to think what those sex ed pamphlets look like. "I can only imagine. Well, I wasn't sure if you wanted to go over the lesson plan ahead of time, or if you just wanted me to show up on Thursday to be on hand as a back-up."

He scratches his neck as his eyes flicker to his students. "Use the backboard, Eric!" he bellows before turning back to me. "Sorry."

I dismiss his apology with a wave, feeling suddenly awkward as I shift my weight. "No, I'm sorry to interrupt your class. We can talk about this later; I just… had a free period."

"No, no, don't apologize. I just…" He glances toward the court again, frowning slightly. "Their layups are abysmal." He looks genuinely distraught by this fact, and I laugh, following his gaze to the line of ninth-graders I generally only see half-hidden by dog-eared copies of To Kill a Mockingbird. While I know very little about basketball, the lack of general coordination – forget about actual athleticism – of many of the students is obvious.

"Looks that way," I agree and he smiles.

"But yes, I'd love to go over the lesson plans with you. When do you have lunch?"

"Fourth period," I reply, feeling at that moment like we're actually in high school. "But I'm giving a make-up test today. I could come back after school?"

He shakes his head. "Soccer practice," he replies. I opt not to mention that I should know this because I routinely spend a not-entirely-insignificant chunk of my after-school hour glancing through my classroom window at regular intervals to watch him juggle a soccer ball while a gaggle of teenage boys run warm-up laps. "But how about tomorrow? We could do lunch in my office." He grimaces as he gestures to the small office off the gym. "If you don't mind complete chaos."

"I don't mind complete chaos at all," I assure him, and he gives me a polite smile and a tight nod. Maybe Jasper was right; he does seem a little uptight.

"Great." He opens his mouth to say something more but instead lunges suddenly toward me, one arm extended past my shoulder. I instinctively flinch, and a split second later hear the smack of a ball in the space near my right ear; I realize as he straightens again and steps back that the hot new PE teacher has likely just saved me from a probable concussion. "See?" he says, as I hear the deflected projectile bouncing away from where we stand. "Abysmal."

Glancing over my shoulder, I see Eric Yorkie sheepishly retrieving the ball. "Yeah. I think that's my cue. See you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," he agrees, turning back to the so-called basketball lesson. "You have to jump, Tyler!" he bellows as I push open the gym doors and retreat to safety.

That afternoon I once again find myself glancing periodically through the window of my classroom toward the soccer practice field, where Edward is juggling a soccer ball with seemingly no effort. The black Adidas warm-up suit he's wearing cuts a stark line against the green and gray horizon, and I can see the three white stripes of his cleats each time he flicks the ball upward. Absently I begin counting, and I'm up to forty-three when my shoulder starts to ache; I realize that I've paused midway through erasing the chalkboard.

"Busted," I hear from the direction of the door, and I spin in my small heels to see Angela's head poking into the room, her hand gripping the doorframe. "That doesn't look like lesson planning, if you ask me," she says lightly, a teasing smile in place. "Something interesting going on outside, Bella?"

"Yeah, yeah. Hey, Ang."

"Hey. Can I borrow your bust of the Bard? Facial drawing unit starts tomorrow and I need a model."

"You got it," I say, nodding toward the small bookshelf against the far wall, atop which sits the faux-marble bust of William Shakespeare. "Take good care of him; he represents my first and most long-lasting relationship with a man."

I can hear her snicker as she crosses the classroom to retrieve it. "I'm fighting the urge to reiterate all of the ways in which Shakespeare is wildly overrated."

"Bite your tongue," I mock-hiss, returning the chalkboard eraser to its tray and dusting my hands together.

She grins, propping the bust against her hip. "I'll take good care of him," she vows in faux solemnity, and I nod.

"See to it that you do."

She pauses beside the window and peeks out toward the field; despite the fact that she knows exactly what I was gazing at, I still feel a little bit like the proverbial cookie-jar kid. "I don't entirely disagree with Jessica," she says after a moment, turning to face me with one eyebrow cocked. "Youuu lucky witch."

I note the edit and grin; Angela's a minister's kid through and through, and while she can switch it off and have fun over a round of margaritas, she is unfailingly appropriate during school hours. I change the subject. "Still want to go and see The Shop Around the Corner tomorrow night?"

"You bet," she says. "I haven't seen it in ages."

Angela is the only person our age I've come across who shares my admittedly nerdy affection for old black and white movies, particularly those with Jimmy Stewart in them, and she's my first call whenever there's something good showing at the independent film house in Port Angeles. "Awesome," I reply. "Do you mind driving? Buster is making that clunking noise again."

"You bet. Pick you up at six."

"See you then," I say, tidying the piles of papers on my desk and studiously attempting to avoid looking out the window. I almost succeed.

The forest green t-shirt pulled taut across Edward's shoulders is doing amazing things to his eyes, and I force myself to focus on the printed logo across the chest instead of daydreaming about what might be concealed beneath it. After a moment I give up, dropping my eyes to the Tupperware container of leftover vegetable lo mein I'm holding in my hand and spearing a bamboo shoot with my plastic fork.

"Did you go to Notre Dame?" I ask as he spins in his wheeled desk chair to peruse the shelving unit on the opposite wall.

"My brother did," he replies as he rises and scans the spines of the row of books. I force myself to look at the motivational poster on the wall above my head instead of eyeballing him from behind while I chew. "He was a football player."

"Wow. For the Irish?" I shift on the small plaid loveseat that's been in Coach Clapp's office since I was a student. Ostensibly, it's a place where a student-athlete can sit while he confides in his coach; in reality, it's where the old man used to keep stacks of papers and manila folders. It's also seen better days, as the springs are gone and I have sunk so low into the cushions that I may as well be sitting on the floor.

"Yeah. A kicker. But he blew out his knee sophomore year and never really made it back. Ah! Here it is." He drags a spiral-bound book from the shelf and hands it to me as he returns to his chair and picks up his own plastic fork from his container of salad. "This is the booklet that Coach Clapp used last year for worksheets, according to his lesson plans." I thumb through it, remembering at once how outdated the materials seemed the last time I "assisted" with this part of the health curriculum. While technically still approved by the Washington State Department of Ed, these sheets are obviously not the most up-to-date, and I risk a glance at Edward, who is watching me carefully. His eyes drop to his lunch and he spears a cherry tomato. "Are they wrong?"

I shake my head slowly. "Not wrong, no," I reply, and I suspect from his tone that Edward is someone who doesn't like to do things "wrong." "Just…the State Ed department puts a lot of materials on its website now, and they did a whole assessment over the summer of the sexual health curriculum with findings from last year's test results. I think maybe we could utilize some more up-to-date references this year."

"Okay," he says carefully and accepts the workbook I'm holding out toward him before grabbing the ninth grade health textbook from his desk. "Should we start with the chapter in here?"

"Sure," I say. "Actually, I haven't seen it; that's a new book this year."

He nods and hands me the text. I place my lunch of leftovers on the floor and flip it open to glance at the table of contents before turning to the appropriate chapter. "Do you typically like to assign the textbook reading as homework and then utilize other resources during the class period, or use the text during class?" I ask, flipping through the pages. It's mostly the same as the old book.

"Okay, confession: I've never taught this curriculum before," Edward admits, stabbing at lettuce.

I glance up at him. "Confession: I kind of figured."

"I'm sorry?" he says, his fork hovering above his lunch, blue-green eyes pinning me.

I rest the book on my knees. "You, uh, blushed when I first approached you about it." As the words leave my lips, a pink tinge touches his cheeks and I feel badly for making him uncomfortable in his own office. "Sorry."

He shakes his head. "No, it's fine. It's just. Um." He attempts to stab another tomato but it skids away and he drops his fork with a sigh. "It's a lot of responsibility and…"

I throw him a bone. So to speak. "And you're going to have to say things like 'penis' and 'vagina' in front of a bunch of teenagers?"

"Yes. Exactly. Thank you." Despite the relief in his words, his blush deepens. It's actually kind of endearing.

"A word of advice?"


"Do whatever you need to do to keep your discomfort from showing on your face. These kids can be ruthless. Take into consideration their hormones and toss in a couple of visual aids of their reproductive organs and things can get out of hand pretty quickly." He shifts in his chair, and as the soles of his indoor soccer shoes squeak on the linoleum of his office floor, sudden inspiration strikes me. "Okay, how about this: you're a coach. Just…talk to them like they're your soccer team."

He casts a dubious look in my direction. "Like, 'Newton, if you don't stop joking around about the word "scrotum" I'm going to make you run stadiums'?"

A laugh escapes my mouth before I can curb the impulse. "Not exactly. Just…be no-nonsense. Matter-of-fact. They'll respect you for it."

He seems to mull this over for a minute before nodding. "Okay. I can do that."

"Okay. So. It's a four-week curriculum which means eight classes total."


"How do you want to break it up?"

"Well, what did you guys do last year?"

I check the lesson plan book that I'd brought with me for this exact purpose and tick down the list. "Anatomy and physiology the first week, human sexuality the second week, reproductive health and sexually transmitted diseases the third week, and family planning and contraception the fourth week."

He nods. "Okay. That sounds good." He retrieves his fork and resumes eating his lunch.

"Great," I say. "I was, uh, thinking though, Coach Clapp had a very…textbook approach to things and didn't really tend to address issues that weren't expressly outlined in the book. I think we should maybe tailor the lessons a little bit more to be on the kids' level." Edward frowns slightly and I hasten to continue. "I mean, the sex education curriculum is pretty strictly governed by the state; I'm not suggesting we go rogue or anything. I just…sometimes I felt like the kids were losing the information in the presentation, and I just feel like we have a responsibility to make sure we're speaking their language. To make sure they really understand the facts."

"That makes sense," Edward says around a mouthful of lettuce. "Can you give me an example?"

"Well, okay, for instance, I think we need to be very clear that 'everything but' doesn't keep you safe from contracting infections."

He swallows. "'Everything but?'"

"Yeah. You know how girls say if they don't go all the way, and they're still technically virgins, then guys can't call them sluts, so they stick to oral and manual stimulation and think they're covered, reputation-wise and disease prevention-wise? I think we need to emphasize the importance of using condoms even for oral sex." I pause as a particularly unpleasant memory hits me. "Apparently there was an episode of the Rainbow Game at one of last year's prom after-parties, and seniors aren't the only ones at those parties. Stories like that have a way of trickling down to the underclassmen."

"The Rainbow Game?" he repeats, confused.

"You've never heard of the Rainbow Game?"


"It's where, um, a group of girls all wear different shades of lipstick and perform oral sex on a boy and afterward his penis looks like a rainbow."

Edward's cheeks are flaming and he clears his throat. "Jesus," he whispers. "Okay. Good to know." Suddenly, the rest of what I've said catches up with him. "Wait, high school girls are doing this?"

"Edward. Believe me. The longer you teach high school, the less surprised you'll be by these things."

"That's…really sad," he says, and his eyebrows are drawn together in a frown. After a beat, he pushes his salad away and scratches his nose as he leans back in his chair.

"Yeah," I agree. "But information is power. We just have to do everything we can to enable them to make good decisions."

"Right. Okay."

"Okay. So, um. I guess this week we cover the anatomy and physiology stuff. That's pretty straightforward, and it's nothing they haven't seen before."


"They'll giggle and stuff when you pull up the diagram of the penis, and one of the boys will probably say something inappropriate, so nip it in the bud right off the bat and the rest of them should get the message."


I offer him a smile. "It'll probably be one of your soccer players, so the threat of running stadiums might work, after all."

He gives me a small smile of his own. "If I were a gambling man, I'd put my money on Newton," he says and I nod in agreement. I have Mike Newton in my English class and he's a good kid, if a bit of a clown.

"Fair assumption."

"And the physiology stuff will probably come with a couple of titters as well; talking about erections and ejaculation is usually good for it." Edward nods as he grabs a pen from his desk and begins twirling it between his long fingers. I force my eyes back to the plan book in front of me. "Next week, human sexuality. One point that was echoed in the state findings over the summer addressed the tendency of teachers to say things like 'husband and wife' or 'girlfriend and boyfriend' instead of 'partners.' They felt it implied a bias toward heterosexual partners and that it wasn't inclusive of people who weren't in committed relationships. So maybe just be sensitive to that."

"That's a really good point," he says, retrieving a clipboard from his desk and jotting down a note. "Are all of these findings online?"

"Yeah. State Ed website."

"Okay. I'll read them over."

"I, um…" Reaching into my bag I pull out a small stack of papers and hand them to him. "I printed them out to read over last night. You can take them. Save a tree."

He chuckles. "Thanks."

"Okay, the third and fourth weeks always tended to overlap a little bit in the past. It's hard to talk about disease prevention without talking about contraception as well, so we kind of found ourselves repeating a lot of information. Then again, I don't think you can drill the importance of condoms into the minds of teenagers too many times."

This time Edward's laugh is full-fledged, and a smile splits my face. "No, I'd imagine you can't," he says, and I close the plan book on my lap and rest my elbows on it. "Well, I'll read over this, and then maybe we can meet again next week to talk about the second unit?"

"Sounds good," I say, picking up my container of Chinese food from the floor. A part of me I'm not willing to acknowledge wants nothing more than to stay in his office for the duration of the lunch hour and talk about something besides the high school sexual health curriculum, but Edward's abandoned salad container has found its way to the trash and the bounce of his knee tells me I've invaded his space for long enough. I rise from the cavernous seat and smooth the front of my skirt. "Okay. See you in class on Thursday."

"Thursday," he replies with a nod, but his focus is already on the stack of papers in front of him, and he doesn't look up as I leave.

A/N: Thanks for reading. This is just some fun while I work up the courage for some heavy. Sex-Ed-Ward! (Win.)

Also, I posted a one-shot entry for the Ho Hey Contest. If you're interested, it can be found here:

s / 8904713 / 1 / Belong