Emily’s supervisor told the crew about the new guy who would join their lab in London the next week.

“Sandy’s lab in Boston has been having problems getting our PCR primers to work, so they’re sending us one of their students for a month.”

The chosen student was Bradley. He’d been recently dumped by his girlfriend, so was delighted to head to the other side of the Atlantic, far far away from her. It was sad, but he’d known from the off they hadn’t had enough in common for it to last.

Perhaps he could have a brief fling with an English girl? He’d love to hear one of those sexy accents in bed. Or a one-night-stand, at least.

He was embarrassed to admit it, even to himself, but he couldn’t prevent the thought coming back again and again: a girl who was up for a one-off sexual encounter might also be the kind who would like it in the ass.

That was his big fantasy, that threatened to take over his mind, sometimes. He’d never once had it come true, which meant he kept thinking about it all the more. Bradley liked to think he was a decent guy, wouldn’t pressure anyone, and definitely wasn’t the kind of man who would ‘oops’ into the wrong hole, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t sometimes tempted.

He reminded himself: any woman getting an unexpected dick in her ass would be incredibly unlikely to be enthusiastic about it. It wasn’t just his cock in a snug little hole he wanted, after all. What he craved was a woman who wanted it. One who would beg for it, push herself against him, rock and moan and love it…

He’d heard such women existed. Just needed to meet one. Jed’s psycho ex Maria, who’d screwed Jed out of hundreds of dollars, didn’t count. ‘Don’t stick your dick in the crazy,’ Jed had said. Bradley wouldn’t have been averse to a one-time dick-sticking deal, but Maria had disappeared shortly after ditching Jed.

“She was a fucking bitch, man, but man was she good at taking it in the ass!”

Bradley had found himself looking up porn with a resemblance to Maria. There was a lot of it, showing large light-brown asses, curvy and bubbly, highlighted for the camera as a guy slowly held those globes apart, revealed a glistening lubed-up asshole, and approached with a big cock…

His own cock wasn’t that large. It wasn’t small, either — he’d reassured himself of that in high school showers — but he hoped that not being oversized would make a woman more amenable to some backdoor activity, sometime.

It hadn’t worked with Gina, though. She’d been his first proper girlfriend that he’d had regular sex with — relationships that hadn’t got beyond making out didn’t really count. All good, until they’d agreed not to bother maintaining a long-distance relationship when they went to different colleges. They’d hung out a few times during spring breaks and, when they’d both been single, fucked a few more times too, because why the hell not? Gorgeous Gina was way sensible like that, not prudish or anything.

But as far as Bradley was concerned, she was totally unreasonable about one thing. Nothing went into her ass. Not even one little finger, and when he’d slid behind her to try his tongue instead, she’d simply snapped at him.

“Brad! That’s disgusting!”

“You just had a shower,” he pointed out. “Your ass is so cute! I just wanna eat it all up!” He did a playful munch on one of her wonderful little butt-cheeks, to push home the point.

“I know I’ve got a cute ass! I do not have a cute asshole! No-one has a cute asshole! Assholes are for poop to exit, and no damn entry!”

He didn’t even try to argue that her tight little asshole was adorable, all tiny and crinkled and hiding in her ass-crack. She’d never believe it. His attempt to persuade her to try anything once, that all those copies of Cosmopolitan couldn’t be wrong, backfired completely.

“Are you basically saying you want something in your ass? Or is it, you aren’t really into pussy? Are you really gay and that’s why you’re obsessed with anal? Is that it? You want a finger and cock up your ass and to fuck another guy’s? Huh?”

“No!” His instant denial might have convinced her, though she carried on joking about it forever. That kinda got on his wick, even though he pretended it didn’t bother him, but for sure it was certain: ass was nowhere near the menu.

Not that he would object if a girl did try fingering his ass — apparently lube made it quite cool, but he was darn sure he didn’t want a man, and he definitely didn’t want a cock there! Which meant he could see Gina’s point of view, but it didn’t mean he had to like it.

He’d had a few other girlfriends since then, plus a couple drunken nights where he’d copped off, but not got as far as that ‘would you do anal’ discussion. He was all too aware that if the girl wasn’t mentioning it, it probably wasn’t an option — only with that small hope that she might be as reticent as he about raising it.

He should have suggested it to Jenni before they’d called it a day.

Ah, well. Maybe he’d try online dating in the future, set out his stall out front. In the meantime, a few weeks in England should be cool.

He’d have his laptop to watch porn on. Though he didn’t like most of the porn stars, coated in make-up and fake tits and fake enjoyment. The real bodies, usually claiming to be ‘viewers’ girlfriends’, the modern version of readers wives, appealed much more.

The owner of the house he’d be staying in had left him to set up his computer and sleep off his jet-lag. So Bradley dozed, then dealt with his fuzzy head with some new videos of Tanni Bubble, all sweet innocent face, fingers in her ass, then a plug while she was teased, then a ceremonial withdrawal of the plug, a zoomed-in shot showing her gaping hole, and then the finale: a thick cock ploughing it.

Oh, yeah, Bradley wanted to do that. He’d be gentle and careful and all, but god, he wanted his cock surrounded by a tight ass. Even if, after a few days in London, he’d settle for anything other than his left hand.

The people were fine. A friendly bunch of scientists and support staff. He was given the materials to replicate the failed experiments in his home lab, and expected to get on with it. It was slow to start with, while he needed to ask a thousand questions — where can I get an ice bucket? Where do I find dry ice? Where do I dispose of this? What paperwork do I need to fill out for the radioactivity? – but soon sped up.

A week in, he stared at his first result, Verity the lab head and Emily the PhD student looking over his shoulder. He cursed under his breath.

Verity wasn’t so polite. “How the fuck do you manage to make the negative control work but not the positive? Fuck knows what those results show. Do it all again. Emily, you watch over his every move to see if you can figure out what’s happening. Brad, you’ll have to help Em with her genotyping and tube labelling — she’s got to write up her thesis soon so doesn’t have time to waste. Well go on, both of you, get on with it!”

Emily smiled at him, trying to reassure. “Welcome to science. 99% repeating what you did last week, in the hope of getting a different result!”

“Isn’t that the definition of insanity?” observed Roland the avuncular technician.

“Doing a PhD is the definition of insanity!” Emily retorted.

“Observe the mating call of the final-year doctoral student in her native habitat,” Roland jibed.

“Mating call? What is happen to zat Ben you were living with, eh?” This was Marion the French post-doc chiming in, proving labs were the same the world over when it came to everyone knowing way too much about each other’s lives, from all those hours doing routine manipulations at the bench, passing the time with all sorts of conversation.

“Still with him. Though, I don’t know…”

“He not good enough for you, huh? Foolish boy.”

It wasn’t so much that, Emily thought. Ben was kind and generous, supported her working long hours to get the final results she needed to write up her thesis for examination, really, a great catch, but…

But the butt.

It probably made her horribly shallow, but did she really want to spend the rest of her life with a man who seemed repulsed by her arse?

In fact, it wasn’t just that. He’d done anal sex with her a couple times, but the expression of distaste on his face as he’d gingerly removed the remarkably-clean condom, leaning as far back from it as he could, had jolted her out of her post-coital happiness. He hadn’t even been great at it, either — sliding in and making it as obvious as possible he didn’t really want to be there. It was just as well Emily had been facing away from him at the time, as looking at him would probably have put her off completely.

Thinking about it, Ben really wasn’t up for any interesting sex. If it wasn’t his cock in her mouth or pussy, he wasn’t interested. It was a big disappointment to Emily.

Was a good dose of receiving oral and the occasional good fucking up the arse too much to ask for? Was she too demanding, like he said? Or was he, maybe, just a bit selfish?

The previous night, she’d wheedled for him to slide backwards into her tighter hole.

“Go on. You’ve got a condom anyway because of my period, so why not? Feel me all tight around you…

“God, that’s just sick!”


He’d made a disparaging gesture. It looked like talking about menses was pretty similar to shit, in his book.

“Come on, love,” Emily encouraged. “Sex is meant to be dirty! Filthy, even.”

“No, it’s not. It’s only mentally ‘dirty’. If it were physically dirty, that’s just another word for unhygienic. Bleurgh.”

Could he even be more patronising?

She’d said forget it, and he’d rolled over in bed and gone to sleep.

They’d made up the next day; Ben had done those things with his fingers that had made her fall for him in the first place, all cheeky confidence and ego. But doubts had been sown.

Did she want to spend the rest of her life with Ben? She knew, now, the answer was no. The only real question was how long the relationship could limp along, buoyed up solely by the size of his cock.

Back in the lab, after two weeks Bradley had finally made the materials work for him. Result!

“That’s what you lot get for relying on bought-in solvents and not making up your own,” Verity told him, not unkindly, having already taken out her schadenfreude on his boss Sandy. “Just because you Americans have money to waste.” Different levels of lab funding from their respective government grants was always a sore point.

“It claimed to be the same ingredients! How could it be such a different pH? Even if we hadn’t put it on ice?” Bradley still didn’t understand why, but prayed that the amendments to the experimental protocol would still work back home.

“No-one knows. That’s why they call it cutting-edge science,” Emily reassured him. “If it was easy, someone would have done it already. You wouldn’t believe how many experiments only work with someone’s lucky ice bucket…”

It was true — as sceptical and practical as scientists were, put them in high-stress positions with unpredictable results, and they became as superstitious as any Ancient Roman.

“Don’t laugh,” Emily told him. “If I thought human-sacrificing anyone would have helped my DNA plasmid stick together, after nine months of trying, I’d have done it!”

“It only worked after I prayed to Ganesh for you,” commented Dev, who had wandered in from the adjacent lab. “You heard, Brad! Don’t laugh! After eight months of failure, I felt she needed divine intervention from the god for hopeless causes. We wrote down the exact process of sticking sequences together and I put the paper in his box in the temple and lit a votive candle. The next week she repeats the same process, and presto — it worked!”

“Nothing to do with processing 96 samples for her one last go, instead of thirty-two, now, I’m sure,” Verity said sarcastically.

“Like I said, you’ll try anything,” Emily defended herself. “Anyway, what else did you want to learn while you’re here?”

His main task completed, he had a flight back to Boston in ten days.

Could he wangle a one night stand in that time?

It would be difficult, mainly as while the various students and young post-docs and technicians had a thriving social life which he was dragged along on, yet despite getting tipsy most nights, and telling him about all the affairs at the institute, they were a remarkably sexless crowd. It seemed almost all were already in established relationships and not looking to change that.

Which was a shame. Especially once Emily had shown him some of her fluorescence microscope work.

The rule with equipment more expensive than the cost of a student was that its comfort was way more important was that of mere humans. Students were infinitely more replaceable. So the five-foot tall scope resided in a small room well-insulated against vibration, noise, or change in temperature. Around it was just about enough space for two people to sit, looking down the two eyepieces. The room also had to be completely blocked to all light, enabling the faintest flicker of fluorescent red or green to show.

While he truly was fascinated by how the patterns of two different proteins overlapped, forming yellow, Bradley was equally enjoying how her thigh pressed against his, both with their other legs against the concrete walls. Her voice was breathy, near his ear, in the pitch dark.

“What I’d really like is to use DAPI staining at the same time, to get a clearer picture of where this red and green is in relation to cell nuclei… Besides, three-colour fluoro, four if you include the yellow overlap, looks so cool in photos! Like, someone goes ‘what did you do for your PhD?’, you can show them a photo. Bingo, they’re impressed.”

Bradley laughed. “I’m sure.” He forced himself to concentrate on her words rather than the scent of her hair in his face, her head close enough to kiss, and on their meaning. “But wouldn’t a Hoechst stain be better than DAPI, given it’s less cytotoxic?”

“The other stains wouldn’t work on live cells anyway. Really, it’s just what I’m used to, DAPI stain. Main reason, I think the pale blue would show up better than dark fluoro blue. And we’ve got it in stock. My budget’s run out for consumables! So if I can avoid ordering any new chemicals while I write up, Verity and Roland would appreciate it!”

“I guess. I could mail you some if you did need it, though.”

“Very kind. I’d give you an acknowledgement in my paper.” She squeezed him on the leg, and he thought he could see a grin in the dark. Presumably just friendly gestures. Or was she flirting?

Emily herself didn’t know the answer to that one, though when they emerged, blinking, into the bright corridor, she added, “There was a couple having an affair, here, who managed to shag repeatedly in there. I still have no idea how they did it!”

Bradley considered, moving his hands about and going ‘nah…’ s few times. Finally, he got it.

“Standing. The only way.”

“Even so, which way?”

“Eyepiece in the… yeah, that would be bad!”

She giggled and he blushed a little, caught having been thinking about it. They both realised that now, yes, they were flirting.

Both also knew they weren’t doing anything about it, which freed them to have leisurely lunches together, chat in the lounge while their cells replicated or stained or some DNA ran slowly along a gel, and to hang out in the bar or local pubs or at Marion’s house in the evenings. It was fun.

Emily’s boyfriend Ben was less impressed.

And after yet another night where Emily had got home at midnight, this time because her staining had finally worked and she’d had to spend hours photographing every slide in every manner possible before it faded, he’d accused her of seeing someone else.

Which was when she’d snapped, realising that it was sort of true: she’d been seeing all her colleagues in preference to him. A sad, tired conversation had them both agreeing it wasn’t working. He could move out, soon.

But in the meantime, they might as well prove they were the mature types who could stay friends, with some final fucking.

On her adrenalin high, from getting the final results she needed for her thesis, Emily figured getting fucked five ways to Christmas sounded like a bloody good idea.

“Mm. I love your big thick cock,” she breathed. “Oh yeah… Hey, if it’s the last time, slide it in where it’ll be extra tight. Go on. Fuck your filthy slutty ex!”

Even as she said it, she realised the dirty words weren’t turning Ben on. Off, more like.

“Sorry,” he sing-songed sarcastically. “I don’t want a filthy slut that’s been round half your building. I’ve heard the stories! Forget it. I’m going to crash at my brother’s — you sick slut…”

He banged the door on his way out.

Emily burst into tears. Then, realising it was 1 a.m. and too late to call anyone, she dug out her Hitachi magic wand and power transformer from a drawer, and decided if she was a slut — clearly an insult in Ben’s book — she was going to damn well start enjoying it.

She’d save her butt plug for the next night.

It was gone nine when she awoke, grateful for the flexible hours of the lab, when her experiments didn’t demand otherwise.

She was less grateful for the curiosity of her colleagues.

“Late night, love? Doesn’t look like it was much fun,” Roland observed.

“That Ben been a bit crap again? Dev asked.

“You look like sheet,” Marion stated with her typical lack of tact. “Did you dump him or did he ditch you?”

Which was when Emily ran out in tears.

“Oh, for goodness sake, Marion! Do you have to be less subtle than the average sledgehammer?” Verity shucked her nitrile gloves and ran out after her student.


Bradley tried to explain the phrase to Marion, while worrying about Emily. His friend Emily, he realised.

Verity and Emily returned to the lab half an hour later, both carrying fortifying coffees purchased from the canteen, with crumbs from pastries round their lips. “Must have been serious, if Verity coughed up for breakfast,” Roland muttered.

Verity tapped her pen on a glass saline bottle to gain attention. “Right, to avoid Em having to tell everyone, she and Ben split up last night, and he was quite unpleasant. That’s all. Now, Marion, how are the images for your paper coming along?”

Emily forced a weak smile. Now she was getting over the shock, she was striving to look forward.

“So, guys, still on for a night out tonight? It’s our Brad’s last night in the country, after all!” From Verity, it had the status of an order.

“Of course! You’re all packed, right, Bradley?” Emily sounded nearly as cheerful as usual.

He nodded. “I’ve booked a cab for midday tomorrow, to the airport.”

“Fab. Thanks so much for your help with my imaging last night. Do you have anything left to do today, or could you give me a hand sorting the photos and picking ones for a paper?”

“Sure. Which journal are you going for?” Bradley asked Emily.

Emily looked startled; she’d spent so much effort on getting her results she hadn’t yet considered how she was going to present them. She glanced up at Verity.

“Start with NCB, worry about rewriting if they reject you,” was the terse advice.

Bradley could tell Emily was pleased at her boss’s suggestion her work was good enough for a Nature paper — albeit Nature Cell Biology, just because the wider world wouldn’t care so much — and figured this Ben chap must be a real asshole to ditch such a lovely smile. Not to mention the rest of her.

He’d really enjoyed working with Emily. And now she was single. A fling on the rebound might be good for her, right?