They don’t have sex. They don’t call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. They don’t hold hands, or cuddle, or kiss. They don’t go out on romantic dinner dates, bring each other flowers, feed each other chocolates, or have any truck with the notion that picnics are anything other than something to be endured for as brief a time as possible before getting back inside and back to work.
And yet there’s something there.
There’s the fact that Amy has replaced Mary Cooper in Sheldon’s phone as the most recently dialed number.
There’s the fact that Amy’s mother has finally stopped carping at her about finding a boyfriend, even if she does occasionally ask when she can expect grandchildren.
(“As soon as the IVF clinic accepts ‘unwilling to engage in sexual intercourse’ as a valid reason, Mother,” is apparently not the answer Mrs Fowler wanted to hear.)
There’s the fact that their names are paired as often as Howard and Bernadette’s or Leonard and Priya’s in conversation and that, as long as nobody abbreviates it to “Shamy”, neither of them quite mind “Sheldon-and-Amy” being almost one word. Their intellects fit well together; why shouldn’t their names?
And then there’s the fact that when a year has passed since they first met, both of them notice it.
Penny knocks on the door of 4A, bouncing on her toes a little. She’s had a crappy day at work and she’s ready to take it out on Sheldon. Well, Sheldon or Amy; she doesn’t mind, really. Whichever one of them gets in her way first. Failing that she’ll take Raj out; he may be on her side, but the fact that he can’t talk to her sometimes gets really frustrating mid-battle.
Sheldon opens the door and Penny notes with surprise that he’s not looking at his watch. It’s 8.02 PM; he should be clucking his tongue at her for being late.
Then she looks past him and sees that Amy’s sitting in his spot, and her eyes just about fall out of her head.
“Hello, Penny,” Sheldon says. “What are you doing here?”
“Um. Halo night? Like every Wednesday? Where’s Raj?” Why is Amy in your spot? Did someone turn the world upside down without telling me?
“Amy, you did send Penny the message informing her that Halo night was cancelled, didn’t you?” Sheldon asks.
Amy looks over at them, checks her phone, and nods. “Three hours ago, as requested. You were—“
“—paying for the new Batman Beyond comic. Now I remember. As I recall, you didn’t get a response at the time, and I assumed you’d received one by the time we returned here. You didn’t say that you hadn’t.”
“Penny may be my best friend, but that doesn’t make me responsible for making certain that she checks her phone.” Amy gives Penny a Look that, in the space of a mere second, clearly communicates, Bestie, the whole purpose of having a phone that you can carry with you is so that you can be contacted at any time, even when you’re being run off your feet at work and that stupid new waiter tried to pinch your ass and you really had more important things to do than try to sneak a peek at your phone, especially considering that your manager’s warned you that if you keep fiddling with it at work you’re going to be fired.
(Well. Maybe Amy’s Look just communicates the first phrase and Penny fills in the rest, but still.)
Penny delves into her pocket for the object of contention and pokes at the screen. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, you guys, I had it on silent and it doesn’t vibrate properly any more since the time I dropped it down the stairs—”
‘Apology accepted, Penny. Now, please leave.’
She doesn’t even have time to say anything to Amy before Sheldon gently but firmly closes the door in her face.
“I feel as though that was a little harsh,” Amy says.
“I’m not the one who didn’t send a follow-up message to verify that she had received the initial one.” Sheldon sits back down beside her and retrieves his own laptop from the coffee table.
“True. Next time I’ll be certain to make sure she’s aware.”
Sheldon looks sideways at her. “Next time?”
“We have a mutually beneficial arrangement here, Sheldon. I see no reason that it won’t extend for at least another year.” Amy clicks a button on her laptop and across the room the printer starts churning out neat little index cards. “Are you almost ready with your new set of challenges?”
‘Yes. I hope you’re prepared to be amazed.”
“I hope you’re prepared to be mercilessly beaten by reason and logic,’ Amy says, and Sheldon hits his own print button and gives her a gauntlet-throwing glare as he gets up to retrieve the new Counterfactuals cards.
“In a world where apples don’t exist, how did Newton discover grav—Amy, this is a joke.”
And Amy looks at him, the hint of a smile on her face, and says, “Bazinga.”
Penny can hear them laughing when she comes back upstairs, solitary noodle box in hand. Laughing. Amy laughs, sometimes, awkwardly. Sheldon doesn’t laugh. Sheldon does that chuffing thing. This is real laughter.
The thought occurs to her that she should actually read her message from Amy, and she fishes her phone out of her pocket once she’s sitting on her couch.
Bestie, I regret to inform you that Halo night is off tonight, as Sheldon and I are celebrating a milestone in our friendship. Amy.
(Someday she’ll get used to the way neither of them ever use text speak and always sign their messages, but today is not that day.)
What milestone? A full week without Sheldon being a condescending ass? Can’t be; he does that to everyone, Amy included.
She thinks about it as she eats her noodles, making a face at the too-chewy beef strips, and mentally counts the months, and then nearly drops her plastic fork when it hits her.
After a thoroughly satisfying round of Counterfactuals that challenges them both, Sheldon winning by the narrowest of narrow margins, they watch an episode of Star Trek and Sheldon doesn’t make Amy move out of his spot despite its superior position in relation to the television.
(There’s the fact that she needs to lean on the arm of the couch because she strained her back lifting a stack of textbooks last week and it aches if she sits straight upright for too long.
There’s the fact that the couch has another perfectly serviceable arm down the other end.
There’s the fact that if she sat down the other end, then they wouldn’t be sitting side by side. That he doesn’t mind Amy sitting in his spot because she won’t do anything like get paint on the cushion or spill Cheetos between it and the arm of the couch. That when they’re caught up in discussing how, in a world where computers never exist (the horror!), Stephen Hawking still manages to write A Brief History of Time, Sheldon doesn’t notice the difference in seat cushions.
Well, okay. He notices. He just doesn’t say anything.)
They drink chamomile tea together, tea that began steeping at just the right point during the episode for them to take their last sips as the credits roll, and when Amy rises to leave Sheldon moves to the door ahead of her.
“I’ll walk you downstairs.”
“Thank you, Sheldon.”
“It could be hazardous if you were to fall and further injure your back, and without someone there to call an ambulance you’d be in serious trouble.”
They go downstairs together. Neither of them hears Penny slip out of her apartment behind them and follow, one turn of the stairs behind, Nancy Drew in a tank top and short shorts.
At the door they pause, Amy settling her laptop bag properly across her shoulder and pulling her hair out from underneath the strap. Sheldon opens the door and waits patiently.
“This was enjoyable,” he says.
Amy nods. “Absolutely.”
“I find myself hoping that your prediction regarding a repeat of this occasion comes true, Amy.”
Their eyes meet. Amy opens her mouth to deliver the line she’s been holding back all night, and Sheldon choruses it right along with her: “May the Fourth be with you.”
Penny, poorly concealed behind the rubber plant at the foot of the stairs, bursts out laughing. “You two are the cutest nerd couple I’ve ever met.”
Sheldon whirls and glares at her. Amy sighs and shakes her head. “Penny, we’re not a couple. How many times do we have to say it?”
Penny just grins at them. “Whatever. Happy anniversary!” And she bounds back upstairs so fast she almost leaves her smile behind, like the Cheshire cat.