This story was originally written for the Taste of the Forbidden II contest, months and months ago. I meant to continue it after I concluded Fortune Favours the Bold, but got waylaid with Liberation, and then again by Christmas and The Letter, The Cat and The Holly and Ivy. But here we are, at the start of a new year, and I've vowed to finish all the unfinished bits of writing on my computer before I write anything completely new.
The story will be in two parts. Part One covers the timeline set out in the original one-shot i.e. the first ten months of Edward and Bella's relationship, and is based at The University of Oxford. Each chapter covers one month and unlike the one-shot which was written entirely from Bella's perspective, almost every chapter will contain Edward's view. Part Two is the absolutely brand new stuff that picks up where the original one-shot left off, and there will be no specific timeline to the chapters. If you read The Fox as a one-shot, I urge you to re-read the story as a multi-chapter fic, but if you want to skip to Part Two then put the story on alert, and look out for Chapter Eleven.
The obligatory disclaimer to cover all chapters:
I don't own these characters, Stephenie Meyer does. I just make them play and get dirty in my fiction garden full of plot bunnies. I'm a British writer; if my vernacular causes any confusion, please PM me to clarify. This fic deals with a younger woman falling in love with an older man, and contains considerable bad language and sexual content, hence the M rating. I didn't go to any of the universities in this story' I've done research but apologies if there are any mistakes.
SunflowerFran is my pre-reader, beta and all-around provider of support, encouragement and virtual hugs from across the pond!
Professor Edward Masen
Grapes, a copy of the journal Brain, and a giant cryptic crossword puzzle book. They were the only gifts I could think of getting John, other than chocolate, which I was pretty sure was the wrong thing to bring a man who was recovering in hospital from a massive heart attack.
As I approached John's bed on the Coronary Care Unit at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, I could hear his raised voice and an exasperated nurse, pleading with him.
"Professor Gerandy, you can't discharge yourself! You need at least another three days on the unit, followed by an extensive period of cardiac rehabilitation!"
"I must! You don't understand ... I have research, students, grant proposals ..."
"And if you leave now, you'll be back in here within a couple of weeks ... in a box!"
When I turned the corner, John was dressed in a hospital gown, attached to tubes and wires, his curly, grey hair wild and matted. He looked pale and shaky, but was standing up, packing various items into a plastic bag.
"John! What's going on?" I asked, setting down the bag of gifts.
"Edward, can you give me a lift back to the university? These people are telling me I can't go back to work for months, maybe never. What bullshit!"
"Professor, please mind your language," began the young nurse. "There are other sick patients ..."
"Nurse, please could you give me a few minutes to talk to my friend?" I interjected. She clearly meant well, but her presence was winding John up, and that was not acceptable. She looked me up and down and smiled softly. I got that a lot from women, but I definitely wasn't interested in reciprocating.
I'm way too old for you, kid.
"A few minutes," she agreed, before walking back to the nurses' station. I took John by the arm and made him sit on the bed before plunking myself down into an uncomfortable, plastic chair.
"They're crazy. I have so much to do ... the department ..."
"John, you know they're right. You nearly died." I shuddered at the memory of finding him hunched over his desk, clutching his chest and losing consciousness just as the ambulance crew arrived. "You had a massive blockage in your left anterior descending artery. You had to have CPR twice. John, if I hadn't found you, you would have died!"
"I know, Edward," he murmured, "but I still have so much I want to achieve. Our research has been making steady progress. I'm supposed to be supervising some of the most brilliant students I've ever come across. And the grant proposals ..."
"None of that matters more than your health."
"I can't just leave without knowing that everything will be taken care of," he replied, his tone softer and somewhat relenting.
"We will take care of it," I told him firmly, thinking on my feet as to how we could absorb John's work. "Between us, Jasper, Emmett and I can take care of the department management and the grant proposals. You and I have been working on our glutamate-mediated cell death hypothesis for five years, John, so you know I can handle your side of the research trials."
"But the students? Makenna's only got a year left, and what about my new doctoral student, Austin Jones?"
"I can supervise Makenna along with Charles," I replied, knowing that she and my own doctoral student got on well. "I've got my own, new doctoral student coming, Randall Smith, but Emmett doesn't have one this academic year, so he can supervise Austin." John sighed in relief. "See, we can cover it."
"But wait, what about Isabella?"
"My undergraduate. She'll be joining the lab in September. You don't work with undergrads and Jasper and Emmett already have their own ..."
My distaste for working with undergrads was well known. I wasn't the most patient of people, and found having to teach basic lab and research skills banal.
"Maybe Doug Banner could find her a spot in another lab ... Professor Molina may have a spot in the micro labs..."
"No! She desperately wants to be a neuroscientist, Edward, and she's already signed up for the appropriate study modules. She's a real find, and her talents need nurturing. We spent three months corresponding over ideas for her project, and her proposal is astounding. Look, you need to take her on, Edward. She'll be a real asset to our department, you'll see."
"Is she really that good?" John loved teaching the young students, but it was rare for him to gush over one.
"Yes. Edward, she's top of her class. She aced all her preliminaries and won every scholarship going. Her collection* record is impeccable. In addition, she's a nice girl. Polite, well spoken, and hard working. She's even spending the summer doing an internship at Harvard with Carlisle Cullen, so she won't be green when she comes into your lab."
That last comment made me reconsider my resistance to supervising this Isabella girl. Carlisle Cullen was a good friend of mine, and a highly respected, clinical neuroscientist, one of the world's foremost experts on excitatory neurotransmitters, our mutual field of interest. She had to be special if he was prepared to take her for an internship.
"Okay, look, I'll supervise her," I agreed, not wanting my old friend to suffer any more stress. "What do I have to do?"
"Nothing. I'll tell Doug when he comes to visit later, and he'll revise the supervision lists. When she gets there, treat her as you would a doctoral student, but just be prepared for more questions and to give her some extra guidance."
I could do that. It was just for a year, after all, and she didn't arrive for another two months.
"Great. Now that everything's sorted out, would you please get back to bed and let yourself recover?"
*Preliminaries: Exams taken by science students at Oxford University, at the end of the first year of their degree
*Scholarships: Financial prizes and honours bestowed upon undergraduates at Oxford by their college, for excellent performance in exams.
*Collections: Exams which Oxford University undergraduates sit regularly to monitor progress. They are informal i.e. they do not count towards the student's final degree grade.
*Neurotransmitter: Chemicals in the brain which carry messages across the gap between two neurons (brain cells). This gap is called a synapse.
Please read on for the next chapter.