A/N: So my good friend, who works in the Biology department at the University of Pittsburgh, tells me this story that had me rolling. And of course, I'm like... I gotta fic this.
So this will be maybe a few fun, quick chapters. I don't really expect a plot to develop, but you never know!
Professor Emmett McCarty flashed a grin at his colleague, Professor Carlisle Cullen. "Fucking with the grad students is a rite of passage," he argued. "And that one is a prime candidate. Have you seen the way he looks at you?" The larger man laughed his full bellied laugh. "He has a crush on you."
"He's passionate about the work, that's all."
Emmett snorted. "Sure, that's it. He'd do anything you asked, and you know it, unethical or not." He grinned. "There's no harm in having a little fun with him."
The other man was already shaking his head. "If you're right about how he feels, that's even more reason not to mess with him. It sounds like a good way to get fired."
"Come on, Carlisle. You just have to be clever about it. You know me better than that, I'd hope." Emmett crossed his arms, the look in his eyes playful. "That's half the challenge - to mess with the grad students in an entirely ethical way." He eyed the blond professor. "You're not usually this uptight. Maybe the feeling is mutual."
Carlisle just gave him a scathing look, and Emmett laughed again. He shrugged. "Then I guess you're just not up to the challenge."
Carlisle narrowed his eyes. He huffed, indignant. "We'll see."
Edward Masen stayed in his car, his hands gripped around the steering wheel for minutes as he stared at the shop he'd been sent to.
Under normal circumstances, Edward would have no qualms walking into a sex shop. He was no prude, and no stranger to the toys. Then again, he'd never had to buy them in quantity before.
This is absurd, he thought to himself, rubbing the back of his neck. There was no reason to be ashamed of what he was doing. Even if he intended the items for personal use, there was nothing wrong with that. As it was, he was making this purchase in the name of science.
Edward had to remind himself he was on an errand for Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Dr. Cullen was a genius in the field of Biology. As a first year graduate student, Edward had been beside himself with excitement to find he'd pulled a rotation with Dr. Cullen in the evolution and ecology program.
Carlisle's current project was a study in the behavior of spiders. In the lab, they had huge colonies with different breeds of spiders living in the same space. The experiment consisted of putting bug shaped papers on a web shared by four different species of spiders. A vibration was needed to alert the spiders there was prey about. The idea behind the experiment was to study the aggressive or docile behavior of the spiders - whichever proved more dominant.
Banging his head on the steering wheel, Edward thought back to his conversation with Carlisle, wishing again that he'd presented a better argument.
"We need a way to notify the spiders that there's prey to be had." Carlisle looked at the web, tapping his lips in deep thought. "Usually a bug caught in a web is wiggling. Trying to get free. It sends a vibration through the web, alerting the spider dinner is on the line." He was silent for a moment before he snapped, turning to Edward with an 'ah hah' expression.
Edward was on tenterhooks, enraptured by watching the genius at work.
"Vibrators," Carlisle said.
Edward blinked. "What?"
"Vibrators," Carlisle repeated, his expression absolutely serious. He went to his desk, retrieving his wallet. "You'll need a decent dozen vibrators. Make sure you're getting the kind with the different settings. Just to be thorough."
"Y-you... Are you serious?"
Carlisle looked perplexed. "It's just a tool, Edward. We need something that vibrates."
Edward kept waiting for the punchline.
"There's an adult entertainment shop about two blocks away." Carlisle handed him a credit card.
"You have another suggestion? We need something small. The mechanisms in those vibrators should be just the right size."
"Can't we just... flick it or something?"
Carlisle pursed his lips in amusement. You want to put your hand in the middle of a colony of spiders?"
Edward balked a little at that. "Or we can poke it. With a stick."
The professor continued to look at him patiently, as though he were being just a touch slow today. "If you're embarrassed, I can-"
"No!" Edward cleared his throat, knowing his protest had been a little too loud and fervent. The idea of disappointing this man was enough to overwrite his misgivings. He took the card. "I just thought you were trying to play a prank on me, that's all."
"Of course not," Carlisle said, blinking at him with innocent sincerity. "Sometimes it's just as simple as finding the easiest solution to a problem."
Taking a deep breath, Edward steeled himself and got out of his car, bolstered by the knowledge there was nothing to be embarrassed about. There was some comfort in the fact that he knew the credit card he carried was the card for the lab. If Carlisle could handle explaining why there was a rather large purchase from a sex shop on his expense reports, Edward could certainly handle buying vibrators in the name of science.
Edward strode into the sex shop with purpose. He took some time, analyzing the wide and varied selection of vibrators. He was looking for small but powerful and, as Carlisle dictated, multiple settings.
Of course, there were only three of what he needed. Edward frowned, rubbing the back of his neck and scanning the shelves. With a sigh, he went back to the drawing board, choosing adding his second and third choices to his growing pile to get the 'decent dozen' Carlisle had ordered.
"Need a little help there?"
Startled, Edward dropped the stack he was trying to manage, sending boxes of brightly colored vibrators all over.
"Whoa, let me help you with that."
The man who'd spoken dropped to his knees beside Edward, helping him pick up the boxes. Edward looked up and was startled when he found himself staring at a pretty face.
A very pretty face. Mostly pretty - bordering on classically handsome. That was a deadly combination. He wore his dirty blond hair long so it fell - wavy and natural - down to chin level. The man looked up at him from under his lashes. His eyes were a light brown. Edward was vaguely aware of the slow smile that crawled up one side of the man's face. "Do you need me?"
Edward blinked, sitting back on his haunches. "What?"
The blond chuckled. "That's a lot of packages-" The inflection of this word made Edward instantly aware of the sudden tightness in his own package area. "-you have there. Can I help you get these up-" The man seemed to pause just a fraction of a heartbeat before he continued. "- to the front?"
Getting to his feet with a stack of six vibrators, Edward swallowed hard. As the other man stood, Edward let his eyes flick briefly down taking in a nicely shaped form and a name tag. Jasper.
"That would be great," he finally managed. "These are a little hard to handle all by myself."
Jasper's lips crinkled as though he was trying not to grin, and Edward felt his cheeks heat. He was mildly exasperated with himself. What was he, thirteen and giggling at double entendres? He berated himself for his bashfulness as they both made their way to the front of the store with a stack of six vibrators each.
He was an adult. There was nothing to be ashamed-
"Having a party, huh?" Jasper asked easily as he slipped behind the counter, beginning to ring the purchases up.
"A party?" Edward felt as though he were being slow on the uptake today, and it was frustrating.
Jasper glanced at the stacks and raised an eyebrow. "Well, if these are all for you..." He trailed off a moment before he grinned, the expression lascivious. "Maybe I could interest you in our fine selection of lube. One of the big bottles, clearly."
Edward choked on his own breath. "That's not... I'm not..." he sputtered.
The blond man was laughing, and if Edward wasn't so out of his head with ridiculous embarrassment, he would have been wrapped up in what a nice sound it was. "Take a breath, man. I was just teasing." Another disarming grin. "There's nothing wrong with a little variety."
"No, but, this isn't... They're not for... that," Edward finished lamely.
Jasper just nodded, but Edward could tell by the look on his face he didn't believe it. Of course. The man must have heard a lot of excuses from people wandering around a sex shop.
"It's not," he insisted. "This is for a class."
"You need vibrators for a class?"
"No! It's not a class, really. It's a rotation."
Edward growled. "No. I work for Dr. Carlisle Cullen at the university."
Jasper held his hands up in a placating gesture. "Listen, man. It's no skin off my back. You do what you want to do wherever you want to do with whomever-"
"No! It's for a science experiment."
Jasper just looked at him, biting his lip.
Realizing how idiotic he sounded - and that he was only making things worse - Edward burst out in a stream of uncontrollable giggles. It was not a very masculine sound, but he couldn't help it at this point. Normally, Edward was smooth and charming. Today was just not one of those days.
"Never mind," he muttered, wiping tears out from under his eyes as he tried to get his giggle fit under control. "I'm doing an evo/eco rotation. We need to make a few fake bugs vibrate." Edward had no idea why he was still trying to explain. "It's really not for any, er..." He looked up, catching the blond's amused brown eyes with his own. "It's not for any... fun purpose."
Jasper chuckled and again held his hands up. "None of my business," he said, not unkindly.
Edward watched him with interest. There was something about this man that attracted him. Maybe it was the challenge. Jasper's gentle teasing had sent Edward into a bit of a frenzy because he was already uncomfortable about buying vibrators in bulk. Edward was naturally competitive, and he had the odd compulsion to correct Jasper's first impression.
"You have a good time, now," Jasper said when Edward had signed for the items. He winked.
Pausing, Edward let a smile creep slow and sexy across his face. He leaned in purposefully, tilting his head. "Believe me. If any of these were for fun, I wouldn't have purchased the small ones."
Now it was him who winked, and he strode from the shop with his head held high.
"I really didn't think you had the balls." Emmett was straight out guffawing as Carlisle related the story to him.
Carlisle shook his head ruefully. "I'd have said nothing could unnerve Edward Masen. You should have seen the shade of puce he turned." He sipped his coffee. "I don't know how I kept a straight face."
"Shit, I'd have killed to be there." Emmett shook his head. He clapped his friend on the back. "I take it back, sir. Those are some big brass balls you've got there. You sent a student into a sex shop. That's... epic status."
Carlisle's grin was smug.
They were interrupted when said student came through the door. If it were possible, his cheeks were even more red than they had been before. He dropped the discreetly colored boxes on the desk, handed Carlisle his card, and declared, "I'm taking a break." Then he walked out of the room without waiting for Carlisle's go ahead.
The second the door clicked shut again, Emmett grabbed at the bags. Sure enough, there were a grand total of twelve vibrators. He cracked up laughing.
And that was how Esme Cullen, Carlisle's wife, found her husband - in his lab, laughing and red-faced with his equally red-faced colleague, surrounded by vibrators.
A/N: Many thanks to my friend Tony for the gem that started this percolating in my head. Thanks to songster for beta.
So! Thoughts? Ideas? Hopes?
Tell me what you think! *grabby hands*