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If there was a more awkward place to have this conversation than a bed, Beaker didn't know what it was.

"Now you know we can't let this affect our work, Beaky," Bunsen said.

Beaker contemplated Bunsen's clavicle. If he concentrated hard enough, he could remember exactly what it had felt like under his mouth. "Right," he said.

"We're doing important work at Muppet Labs, Beaker, and that can't be put at risk."

"Right," Beaker agreed, watching the way his lips formed the words.

"If we keep this outside work hours, it will be no one's business but our own."


"Oh, for heaven's sake, come here."

And then the word about to roll off his tongue rolled onto Bunsen's instead.

* * *

They lasted three days. In their defense, they did try. But it was three days of sharing the same space, the same ideas, and the minute they got off work, the same breath. The brief touches that had been casually maddening before were now torture. Beaker wasn't new to these feelings he had for his boss; he'd been wrestling with attraction and worse, affection, for longer than he cared to examine. Before all this had started, Bunsen's handsy nature had been a mixed blessing. Beaker carefully saved up all the little touches, the way their fingers brushed as they exchanged instruments, the way Bunsen would hover a little too close to watch what he was doing, the way his fingers would linger just a bit too long as he attached electrodes to Beaker's face, and he would cling tight to them at night when his apartment was feeling too empty.

Now, though, the touches felt less accidental. Worse still, Beaker's scientific mind was only too able to extrapolate from each little bit of contact. Every time Bunsen's fingers brushed against the back of his hand, he could feel them skimming up his arms and down again. It was memory and it was imagination, and the combination of the two was more than Beaker could bear.

Bunsen didn't seem unaffected by their little tryst, either. Beaker could feel his gaze heavy on the back of his neck, and whenever he turned and saw Bunsen watching him over his glasses, Bunsen held his gaze, unashamed to be caught leering. They'd stare at each other even as the silence lengthened between them until Beaker lost his nerve and looked away, pretending to be interested in his calculations.

Honestly, it was only a matter of time before one of them broke. Beaker was sure it'd be him; he felt aflame all the time now, and that was coming from someone who was no stranger to not-so-spontaneous combustion. But it was Bunsen who, after accidentally slamming the break room door behind him, looked at the closed door thoughtfully, then at Beaker. Beaker barely had time to register the predatory look on Bunsen's face before he was crowded up against a bare bit of table. There was a hand braced on the table beside his hip and another on his shoulder, tugging him down, pushy as ever, and Beaker supposed it all made sense. Bunsen had terrible impulse control. And then he wasn't supposing much of anything, not with Bunsen's tongue in his mouth.

Their first kiss had been messy, borne of good spirits of the emotional and decidedly more alcoholic variety. They'd been tipsy at best, really, much less drunk than Beaker had ever imagined he'd need to be to finally kiss his boss. Maybe neither of them really needed the alcohol. Maybe they just needed an excuse. There hadn't even been a hangover the next morning to fall back on, just the hesitant feeling of a line crossed unrepentantly. That tenuousness, the fear that followed the first step over the edge of a precipice, was instantly dispelled when Bunsen curled up against him and kissed him good morning.

They'd practiced since then, slow and soft, hard and needy, testing the same hypothesis a thousand different ways, and now here they were. Kissing next to the donuts. Beaker knew he should pull away--they were on the clock, and food at this studio had a tendency to open its big mouth at inappropriate times. But this moment, with the hard edge of a table jutting into his back and skin-warmed cloth under his fingers, was too perfect to bear giving up.

In the end, it was Bunsen who had to pull away, looking anything but finished. "I'm sure the formula has adequately reduced by now," he said, breathless, and it took Beaker a second to realize what he was talking about.

Right. The experiment. Beaker stifled a sigh and reached down to adjust his clothing. Of course.

* * *

He would have liked to say that it stopped there, or even that Bunsen had initiated their subsequent encounters, but it would have been a lie. They'd kissed in the elevator and in the lab, in an unused sound studio and in at least three storage rooms. Even when they were practicing some modicum of professionalism and weren't actively touching each other, there was a familiarity between them, a warmth, that was almost tangible. Beaker wasn't sure how any of the other Muppets hadn't noticed yet that everything, everything that mattered in his life, had changed.

Beaker knew he was in love, knew he was in love with being in love, knew that he'd never felt this good before, not ever. But there was also guilt niggling at the back of his mind. It wasn't as if the Muppets never had office romances, nor were they ever particularly productive, Kermit aside. But... Bunsen had said it himself. Their work was important. They helped people, sort of, and no matter what bodily harm befell him, Beaker found that fulfilling. He was in love Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. And this had to stop.

It was late, but he could tell by the rhythm of Bunsen's breaths next to him that he was still awake.

Beaker stared up at the ceiling. "You said we couldn't let this affect our work." The words tasted stale in his mouth, too old, too out of date to be of any use to their current situation.

"Has it?" Bunsen asked, voice deceptively light in the darkness that hung between them.

"You dragged me into a closet for twenty minutes today," Beaker responded flatly.

"Mm, yes." Bunsen didn't sound at all contrite.

"At work," Beaker added, even more pointedly.

"And then we successfully tested the Gelatin Cannon and the NanoNurse," Bunsen finished.

Beaker was quiet. They had, hadn't they?

"Our output has nearly doubled in the past month, Beaky. Isn't it grand?"

Had it? Beaker hadn't even noticed. He'd been too wrapped up in Bunsen. But now that he thought about it, there'd been the Magnetic Popcorn, the Levitating Cell Phone, the Automatic Folder... So many breakthroughs. He swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat.

Bunsen went on talking as if he'd understood his silence perfectly. "Haven't you felt it, Beaky? We've been so perfectly in sync these past few weeks. You've always been an invaluable addition to the lab, my dear, but you've been truly irreplaceable lately. The things we could do together! The things we've done."

And Beaker, Beaker should have known. Bunsen was in love, too, with the exact same thing that Beaker was--the puzzles, the mad theories, the spectacular bang of a good experiment. It was the love of invention, and how could Beaker think that Bunsen would ever forget about that? "You think that's because of this?" he asked, voice just a whisper in the dark, and he reached for Bunsen's hand beneath the covers so his meaning would be plain.

Bunsen took it without hesitation. "Of course, Beaky. In fact," he said, voice growing impish in a way Beaker had only recently become familiar with, "I think you may be something of a muse."

Beaker held tight to his hand, unsure how to respond to something like that. "A muse?"

"Oh yes, darling. How should I put this..."

Beaker waited.

"It's as if a door has opened," Bunsen finally said. "I can look through it and see a thousand different things, hundreds of ideas ripe for experimentation, and all along you've been holding the key." Bunsen stroked at Beaker's palm, ran his fingers along the edges of Beaker's. "Our potential is staggering, Beaker. I admit that we might have gotten a bit carried away a few times--"

"A bit."

"But how can we be blamed for being swept away by such an intoxicating combination?"

Well, Beaker was pretty sure that Kermit would find it quite easy to blame them if he found out about some of their more risque "experiments". But... Maybe Bunsen was right, too. The two of them fit so well together, their sum so much greater than its parts. They were a chemical compound, powerful enough on their own, but something unpredictable and spectacular once bonded. What could they create when put together?

He turned over so he could lean over Bunsen, push him down into the sheets with a dozen little kisses and taste the laughter on his lips. He wasn't sure, but he couldn't wait to find out.